A Project Manager’s Thanksgiving Thoughts

Are you like me?  I go to the store, watch TV, and read the paper – but all I am seeing is “Christmas themes.”  So, What happened to Thanksgiving?

I like the Thanksgiving holiday. It provides a chance to get together with people you care about without some of the stress that characterizes other holidays. On Thanksgiving, you share food prepared from your family’s traditional recipes and it all smells wonderful. Some of us even forget about limiting calories and saturated fats for this one meal.

In the spirit of this uniquely American celebration, I thought about some things project managers (and all information workers) might be thankful for like:

  • Having a job in this tough economy
  • A boss and organization that respect family time
  • Clients who understand you can have faster, cheaper or better — but not all three at once
  • The opportunity to work on projects that solve problems and help people
  • The fact that you actually liked math and science in school
  • Working indoors when the weather is bad (of course, you also have to work indoors when the weather is wonderful)
  • Having some pretty cool job tools ( I really enjoy having SharePoint, MS Project and my iPad)
  • You have colleagues you admire and respect
  • Getting to learn new things frequently ( Especially in our profession –that is one of the traits of a good worker)
  • Being able to work from home sometimes (I usually spend a third of my time working out of my home office – which is where I get 50% of my work done)
  • The support from loved ones for the times when you have to spend many hours at the office or on the road

So to all of you that are clients, colleagues, friends, virtual team members, fellow bloggers, project managers, friends and family – I say:

I would also like to thank my fellow bloggers for keeping me interested in the profession and on my toes:

Glen B. Alleman –       Herding Cats

Todd Boehm –            World Class Technology Discussions

Barbara Brown –         Alternating Currents

Brad Egeland –           Brad Egeland Blog

Elizabeth Harrin –       A girls Guide to Project Management

Next week, I will continue with Part 3 of the discussion on content management systems.

Finding a Content Management System Solution – Part 2

Last week in part 1, I talked about selecting a content management system (CMS) (which has many names like records management or knowledge management) from a technical perspective. However, just as with any productivity-enhancing tool, the process does not end with getting the tool. Rather, the process begins by understanding the value of content management to the organization and ends with training, acceptance and implementation. If your organization truly wants to benefit from content management, there must be changes in “business-as-usual”.

Your organization will need to have all of the stakeholders participate in any project to implement a CMS so you should be prepared to involve business units, legal, finance, contracts, marketing, operations, human resources, PMO and any other groups who have a stake in the information flow of your organization.  You will also need a plan for the implementation project so that you can achieve outcomes that are beneficial to the organization.  To quote Lewis Carroll, “If you do not know where you are going, any road will get you there.”

In 2006, Dr. Karen McGraw, CEO of Cognitive Technologies, suggested 10 questions decision makers should answer before committing resources to content management system solutions (Dr. McGraw’s complete white paper):

  1. What content do we need to manage better or use more effectively?
  2. What types of content management initiatives are we involved with already?
  3. Where is the greatest impact for content management efforts?
  4. Where are the best opportunities to achieve business value and ROI?
  5. Where are we in terms of content management maturity?
  6. What kind of technical infrastructure is required to support content management?
  7. Are we prepared to implement and manage the cultural changes that may be required for content management to be successful?
  8. What are the characteristics and competencies our employees will need to succeed with content management?
  9. Does our content management initiative support our strategic business objectives?
  10. Am I providing the required leadership and support to ensure the success of content management initiatives in my organization?

Dr. McGraw emphasizes the point that implementing a content management system should not be undertaken lightly or perfunctorily if benefits are to be achieved. In my experience, the key to success is user acceptance. If staff members see value — or potential value — in content management, they will expend the time and effort required. If users do not anticipate gaining any direct benefit, they may perform only the minimal tasks needed to comply with the process. Worse, they may sabotage the system through inattention to detail, refusing to use the system or discouraging others.

Getting User Buy-in
The value of implementing a content management system may not be intuitively obvious to all employees when considered in light of their current job tasks. In addition, seasoned veterans of other management initiatives may sigh with foreknowledge that they will have to do something more and different. Therefore, it is up to management to sell a vision of the content management systems benefits to the organization and to individual workers.

Here are seven tips that will stimulate employee buy-in:

  1. Get a representative group of users to participate in setting up the CMS — identifying the source documents and agreeing on the tags and taxonomy — classification scheme — that they would find helpful when searching for information
  2. When rolling out the CMS initiative, use stories and examples of time saving and quality improvements that tie directly to the work being done by individuals in the audience
  3. Offer incentives for early adoption
  4. Ensure that managers and leaders serve as role models in using the CMS
  5. Provide training
  6. Make sure the tools provided by the CMS offer easy-to-use mechanisms for the employees to add and describe content
  7. Plan and implement a process to keep content updated and well organized (read that as tools, responsibilities and information). Nothing turns off users like outdated materials or hard to get to information.

Managing Change
Implementing a content management system across the board yields many benefits to the organization in capturing and accessing knowledge. However, a CMS based system requires changes in business-as-usual. Your organization can learn from other successful change management strategies to successfully transition to effectively using your new CMS.

In the past I have talked about change management and you will find some helpful hints and practices here: Role of Project Managers in Change Management, Project Management PMBOK – Monitoring and Change Control, and Planning Your Organizational Change. Best practice suggestions for change management include:

  • Have a plan
  • Involve key stakeholders and keep them informed
  • Use small projects or departments to test the CMS and polish any rough points before rolling it out over the entire organization
  • Expect resistance — because some people just fight change of any kind. Understand the source of their concerns and address them:
    • The known is comfortable
    • Change requires thought; many current work behaviors have become automatic and require no conscious effort
    • Some people resist change in principle
    • Change is scary—you don’t know what you will win or lose
    • You may fail in the new world order
  • Develop outcome measures to evaluate the CMS
  • Seek assistance from change management experts either in your own HR department or ask for outside training or coaching
  • Offer training
  • Reward effort

If you and your organization have implemented a CMS, please share your experiences and suggestions to facilitate success.

Next, in part 3 of this discussion, I will address one of the most important aspects of a content management system – what do you do after the implementation to maintain the effectiveness and use of the CMS?

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