Archive for category workforce management

Webinar: Rise of the Project Workforce, October 18

The Rise of the Project Workforce will be presented in a live webinar on October 18, 10:00 am Pacific Time, 1:00 pm Eastern Time.

Register for the webinar here.

You will learn the disciplines, processes, and tools required to operate in today’s economy from Rudolf Melik, author of the new book, The Rise of the Project Workforce: Management People and Projects in a Flat World.

The Rise of the Project Workforce In this webinar, I will explain how you can compete effectively by embracing and adopting flat world principles. We will talk about how Tenrox, as a company, has adapted to changing times over the last ten years.

We will talk about how your company can:

  • Adjust to the changing economy using project-based solutions
  • Analyze project performance in real-time
  • Achieve optimal resource utilization levels
  • Standardize processes and implement best practices
  • Facilitate compliance and corporate governance

We will end with a 15 minute LIVE demo of Tenrox Project Workforce Management.

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Jim Carroll on Project Workforce Management: Faster is the New Fast

Jim Carroll, author of What I Learned from Frogs in Texas, gave an entertaining and informative keynote at the Tenrox User Conference last week. One of the biggest take-aways was: be ready for change–more of it and at a faster pace than we can yet imagine.

Jim talked about how young people don’t only bring about rapid change, but since they have grown up in a world where change is a given, change is simply part of their lives. Whatever the next wave of change is going to be, they won’t just be early adopters–they will be rapid adapters, and they will adapt without even giving it much thought.

His title to the foreword of the book Rise of the Project Workforce, "Don’t mess with my powder, dude," refers to a snowboarder’s response to a job offer. What many of us would call a "regular job" just gets in the way of what is really important to young people’s lives. In fact, over half of people under 25 consider self-employment to be more secure than full-time employment.

We are already seeing what this new attitude is doing to the project workforce. First of all, it is making it more possible–there is a new batch of project workers for whom the "Hollywood Model" will fit like a glove. Second of all, it will force those of us ahead of this curve in experience, but behind in and adaptability (i.e., older) to take a hard look at the "innovation killers" we habitually put into place that could slow down the process of teams becoming more agile, flexible, and less constrained to the home office.

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The Two Way Street: A Lesson for Project Workforce Managers

BNET is a good source for insightful articles, news, and blogs. In particular, their blog "The You in Team" (which takes its name from the tired old adage, "There is no ‘I’ in ‘team’"), authored by Jeff Palfini, has frequent posts and lots of intriguing commentary about the nature of teams, teamwork, and how we all work together in a flat-world, "Workforce 2.0" environment.

Among many good posts, a recent favorite is: "A Two-Way Street Will Get You There and Back Quicker," about the value of enabling communication from the bottom up, as well as from the top down, within any team, large or small. For example, the post tells the story about how one CEO’s ability to listen to a junior engineer led to Sun’s development of the Java platform.

Not only is the "two-way street" a good idea on a philosophical level, but technology-enabled collaboration is simply making it an imperative. We see this everywhere, from "The Great Firewall of China"–where even one of the world’s most powerful governments is threatened by public communication and collaboration–to the ways corporations are optimizing their business practices around new collaboration tools.

As much as we talk, write and blog about global communication and collaboration, and the leveling of the playing field, the "two-way street" philosophy appears to be a difficult lesson for humans to learn. Yet it is clear that we are in the midst of making this fundamental shift in our ways of thinking and working together.

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The Hollywood Model: A Project Workforce Approach

The following article by Rudolf Melik has been published as an opinion piece on SandHill.com:

Hollywood producers must find it frustrating that an amateur YouTube video can attract a bigger audience than a studio blockbuster with a multi-million dollar budget. The same dynamic has taken over the software industry: a startup with a few people can compete for enterprise business with multi-billion-dollar mega vendors.

To stay competitive, mid-sized and large vendors can fight back against more nimble startups by adopting a “Project Workforce” approach. Software vendors can improve their agility and competitive edge by breaking down internal barriers and improving collaboration.

For the complete article, click here.

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Zen and the Art of Project Workforce Management

In our globalized world, it is natural that the philosophies of our many world cultures will begin to influence how all of us work together. Here is an interesting interview in Projects at Work (login required) with George Pitagorsky, PMP, author of The Zen Approach to Project Management: Working from Your Center to Balance Expectations and Performance.

Pitagorsky, a project management veteran of some 40 years and a long-time practitioner of meditation and yoga, uses his personal and professional experiences to illustrate how Zen — a distinct school of Buddhism that de-emphasizes theoretical knowledge — can cut through complex issues to arrive at practical solutions.

Pitagorsky applies his experience to project management by suggesting methods for conflict resolution and avoidance, better planning, big-picture thinking, and "taking a breath and coming back to a reality check"–all excellent skills for better management of people and projects.

The first comment below this article on the Projects at Work site led us to discover Bob Tarne’s blog on Zen, Project Management, and Life. This is a well written blog with helpful information and a soothing, meditative tone. (Quite a contrast to the Angry Aussie, whom we blogged about the other day.)

As the world becomes more global, and as more of projects from Western-based companies are offshored to parts of the world where Eastern philosophies have a greater influence, will we arrive at a more balanced work culture? Or are these philosophies not ultimately compatible? Time will tell. Looking forward to your comments.

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Resource Planning for the Small and Mid-Sized Service Organizations

by Mike McRae, CMA, Vice President of Professional Services, Tenrox

If you’re like most SMB Professional Services Organizations (PSOs), you’ve probably got a good handle on things like utilization rates, average billing rate, profit per project, and revenue per resource. These metrics are widely used across all PSOs and are relatively easy to capture with any Professional Services software tool. The problem with only focusing on these metrics is that they only provide you with insight into how well you’ve done – past tense. They don’t provide you with any insight into how many resources you’ll need next month or next quarter, or more specifically, the number of Project Managers, Database Administrators, and Consultants you’ll need in the US, Europe, and Asia.

More importantly, these metrics will not alert you to upturns and downturns in the sales pipeline. This blind spot limits your ability to ramp up and threatens the new business you’ve just acquired.
Similarly, in a downtrend environment this reduces the amount of time you have to scramble before having to layoff quality personnel. In this regard the SMB organization is greatly disadvantaged over larger competitors. With formalized recruitment and on-boarding processes, larger organizations have an easier time attracting and training new talent and have a much greater ability to withstand lulls in the market, thus making them tougher to compete against.

With so much on the line, why do SMBs spend so little time on Resource Planning?

Read more on PSVillage.com, where Mike McRae is a featured author.

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The Keys to Success in Implementing Project Workforce Management

On the blog HiringExchange, there is an excellent article about how to achieve success when implementing a new Contingent Workforce Management program. The same principles apply to Project Workforce Management as well. And, by applying these principles to both, we can elevate our thinking to a Workforce 2.0 level.

The post, authored by CWM consultant Elaine Taylor, is here:
http://hotgigs.typepad.com/hiringexchange/2007/06/achieving_100_u.html

Taylor states: "Achieving 100% adoption of your program by the managers who engage contingent workers" is the critical success factor. I would add that the same is true of any type of workforce management system. Just as I discussed in this post about using and re-using "Your Go-To People," you aren’t really managing any type of workforce effectively unless you use the tools to leverage the whole workforce–not just your own "usual suspects."

Taylor recommends four strategies for implementing contingent workforce management, which I believe apply equally well to Project Workforce Management or any other system that helps the enterprise make the best use of its internal and external talent pool. Taylor’s strategies are quoted below, and my additional comments are in brackets.

a) Simplify the user’s life. Reengineer and streamline business processes with the goal of reducing the manager’s administrative burden rather than complicating it with low-reward, convoluted processes.

b) First and foremost, consider the users’ needs. Choose a supplier model that ensures client satisfaction. [The "user" is the workforce manager who uses the system. The idea of a "supplier model" applies, whether the "supply" of workers is an internal talent pool or a contingent workforce.]

c) Use a "carrot and a stick" approach. Market the benefits of using corporate contracted suppliers; but put “teeth” in your program for those who will “resist out of principle." (Once they understand the risks and costs they personally assume by working outside the official guidelines, managers are likely to become enthusiastic supporters of a well-designed CWM program.) [Again, the risks of working outside the system also apply to an internal workforce. Managers must feel the pain of managing less-than-optimal teams because they don't leverage the entire talent pool.]

d) Listen to what the users say. Incorporate a formal feedback loop that ensures the continual process improvements inherent in any successful program.

The real Workforce 2.0 model is to create a uniform system for managing both contingent and internal workers on projects. Companies tend to place more value on contingent workers–and manage them with more care–because they are perceived to be more expensive. But why not give the same attention to internal workers as well?

When we start to "think globally," a worker is a worker, no matter whose bank his or her paycheck comes from. The processes for finding, engaging, managing work, and tracking costs all deserve the same care and attention. Project Workforce Management can be implemented to help workforce managers assimilate these processes for all workers, and compete effectively in a flat world.

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The New New HR? The Changing Role of Human Resource Management: Part 2

In a previous post on this topic, I explained how HR’s role has changed from enterprise talent management to global workforce planning and talent sourcing. With HR’s new role, it is only natural to conclude that the traditional methods of human capital management have to change.

The HR of old manages its function as any tribe chief would. In fact, traditional company structures are highly tribe-oriented. Every company has its finance tribe, its service delivery tribe, its sales tribe, its IT tribe, and so forth. Department managers run their tribes like chiefs–turf wars are much more common than any true sustained collaboration.

The new new HR has a very different mandate; it is viewed as a peer and collaborator with the other departments in the company–regardless of their tribal nature. This new HR is plays a key role in project management, process improvement and compliance initiatives. In effect, the new HR is an active member of the “virtual buying committee” for such initiatives and is a user of these now cross-departmental tools.

With HR as the peers and collaborators around the table, they can gain influence on how departments collaborate, and the tools they use to do so. One of their strategies: to get the company to stop purchasing and rolling out departmental tools, such as:

  • A project management application just for IT
  • A CRM application just for Sales
  • A time and billing application just for Services
  • An accounting application just for Finance

By enabling, even mandating, that department heads (ex-tribe chiefs) to work as peers and collaborators, the company selects and implements tools that serve the enterprise as whole. In turn, tools that cross the tribal boundaries encourage collaboration.

In the next post, I will describe a common enterprise software investment scenario and how the need for inter-departmental collaboration is fundamentally changing the decision-making process.

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Enterprise 2.0: Part 3, The Rebirth of Software

By M.R. Rangaswami, Sand Hill Group

Enterprise 2.0 is a new phase for the software industry. The advantages and benefits for software vendors are tremendous. Innovation has driven the industry since its beginning, but now, rather than developing software internally and delivering it to customers, end users, business managers, CIOs, partners and other members of the ecosystem will be included in the innovation process.

An important part of the Enterprise 2.0 promise is the self-service application realm. The user-driven nature of these applications will revolutionize the workforce and the nature of collaboration.

Workforce management applications will emerge as a critical component of Enterprise 2.0 success. Companies that deploy these applications will witness increased visibility, better decision making and improved productivity—all core to the promise of Enterprise 2.0. And as Enterprise 2.0 influences workforce management, “Workforce 2.0” will emerge as companies leverage unprecedented ways to bring together teams, collaborate, share and develop talent, and build knowledge.

The results will be products that are more effective than ever before, customers that are more demanding than ever before and a software vendor ecosystem that will rise to the occasion—or be passed by.

The software industry is being reborn—yet again. Enterprise 2.0 will bring massive innovation to business computing. I stand by the assertion I wrote last year: in five years, we will look back and not recognize the software company of today.

M.R. Rangaswami is co-founder of Sand Hill Group and founder of SandHill.com, a strategic online resource for software business executives. This piece first appeared as part of an op-ed on SandHill.com.

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Enterprise 2.0: Part 2, Reaping The Benefits

By M.R. Rangaswami, Sand Hill Group

The Enterprise 2.0 opportunity for software vendors is to seed the ground for the next era of software applications. Over the next 5 to 10 years, software that leverages the tenets of Enterprise 2.0 will let “a thousand flowers bloom.”

There are a variety of possible scenarios. What if a consumer packaged goods company could introduce products via podcasts? What if a retailer could corresponds with its customers via a RSS? What if Fortune 500 companies could tag all internal documents and create proprietary indexes for future document searches? What if vendors’ software upgrades could be incremental instead of a big bang, all-or-nothing scenario? What if a customer could integrate a legacy application with a new one using only a few keystrokes?

For enterprises, the advantages of Enterprise 2.0 software are numerous.

  • Lightweight—Requiring minimal system and maintenance resources
  • Easy to use—Simple interfaces will mean no user training is required
  • Quick adoption—Company-wide rollouts can be provided via services or downloads
  • Easy to integrate—Web services and open source code will ease integration
  • Vendor accountability—On-demand and service-based apps keep vendors responsive

As leading-edge CIOs embrace the philosophies and potential of Enterprise 2.0, some software vendors struggle with how they will fit into this new world. The reality is that the benefits for software vendors are also compelling.

  • Fast development—New development models such as co-creation and global development will improve go-to-market speed.
  • Reduced capital investment—Open source, components and shorter development time translate to lower production costs.
  • Shorter sales cycle—Self-service and try-and-buy models mean products prove themselves.
  • Committed, satisfied customers—Better products and service-based pricing means customers remain loyal.

In Part 3 of this series, I will describe the implications of Enterprise 2.0 on the users of software, and on Workforce 2.0.

(Jump to the next post in this series.)

M.R. Rangaswami is co-founder of Sand Hill Group and founder of SandHill.com, a strategic online resource for software business executives. This piece first appeared as part of an op-ed on SandHill.com.

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