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Comments Off on When In Doubt, Communicate!

When In Doubt, Communicate!

The stakes are high: according to a 2007 PMI study, 28% of projects fail due to poor communication—the single most common cause. Data hoarding, ill-defined communication expectations, and sheer inertia all conspire against open communication channels. But if you hammer the communication basics, you’re contributing a vital ingredient to project success.

If you want to encourage communication, practice it yourself.

Lay out realistic channels, with your audience in mind . How well have you communicated with your team today/this week/month? Right-size your communications: don’t use the communications structure required for a shuttle mission for your migration to SharePoint 2010. Keep your stakeholders’ risk tolerance levels in mind. Lack of communication almost always aggravates risk.

Focus on available tools.

There’s a reason that Microsoft Excel is the world’s most popular software for documenting and managing project plans: it’s everywhere, and most everyone knows how to use it. Check your organization first for communication standards, and then broaden your search for communication formats and procedures that make sense for your project. Why reinvent the wheel? And, PMBOK provides a complete (at times excruciatingly so) roadmap for effective communications.

Find an appropriate cadence for communicating project information.

When do the c-level offices prefer their briefings? How much hand-tooling, and how much broadcasting, does your corporate culture want in its messaging? Build team consensus on how much documentation of communication is required.

Establish who communicates which information, and to whom.

Better internal communication propagates beyond your project, first to sponsors and external stakeholders, and then throughout your organization. A Role Report Matrix is a handy way to define responsibilities for communication to project stakeholders and media outlets.

Imposed solutions are often ignored/rebelled against.

Be willing to change communication methods midstream as your team gains traction, and management articulates or changes preferences. You could try inferring the right amount of touch for each audience. Better yet, ask.

Adherence to PMBOK principles adds to project clarity.

Staples like the project Org Chart, Risk Register, and Gantt should be public touchstones. And, don’t forget Lessons Learned as a function of effective communication. Both you and your organization will be smarter for future projects.

Lee J. Tarricone, PMP

Lee J. Tarricone, PMP, is a project management consultant with BCforward. He currently manages projects for business process enhancement and web search optimization.

Contact us to learn how PMforward Project Management Solutions can assist your organization.

Comments Off on 5 Attributes of a Great Contract Project Manager

Managing Projects for over 20 years has taught me a few things about what attributes a good project manager must possess. A good part of my role today is to find and place contract project managers. Great PMs have many traits and you can read tons of articles on what attributes comprise a good PM. After reading and reflecting on several of these article and then looking back over my years of project delivery and hiring PMs, I have compiled these 5 attributes I look for in a great contract project manager:

PM Technical Knowledge:

You must be able to demonstrate that you know a little about most PM methods of management, and a lot about a couple. The ability to articulate project management methodology and the classic structured approach to managing a project instill confidence. That is, a good contract project manager MUST be able to articulate and demonstrate that they understand the mechanics of a structured approach to managing a project. This is important to any client who is purchasing PM expertise to supplement their workforce. The understanding of the mechanics instills the confidence that you can pull them through this project and have many methods to choose from in your toolbox. A PM who cannot debate the pros and cons of Critical Path, Critical Chain, Waterfall, Agile/Scrum is not ready to be put in a contract PM position. Secondly, the PM must be highly skilled in the software tools required to manage a project (MSProject, SharePoint, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.)


Contract project managers are not for the faint of heart and to do this well you have to have confidence in yourself. You have to have the ability to be thrust in a situation and say I can do anything given enough time and information.


Demonstrating consistent personal integrity is your golden ticket. Clients need to trust that you will provide what they are paying for. Respect their time and money by giving 110% during your work day. As well, the ability to provide honest information and feedback in a constructive way demonstrates your intention of integrity.


As a contractor you are often looked upon as an outsider in the beginning. You require the ability to win the confidence of your team who might be initially threatened by your presence.  Personality and humor work wonders and are a necessary tool of all contractors.


Having a passion for what you do and doing it well is another attribute that is key for contract PM’s.  As a contractor a genuine concern for serving the client and the project and making them successful is key.

Of course, there are other attributes that make up a great contract project managers but these are the top five in my, not so humble, opinion.


Patty Cline is a Senior level Project Manager with 20+ years in project delivery.  Patty is currently the BCforward PM Engagement Manager.  Patty recruits and hires entry, middle and senior level PMs. Her experience in project delivery spans across many industries including, Healthcare, Education, Government, Insurance and Finance. 

Contact us to learn how PMforward Project Management Solutions can assist your organization.

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