Monday, 29 June 2009

Packing tips from a trainer

By Tiffany Childs, Training Consultant at Maven Training

For a while now our Marketing Manager Joanna has been hassling me to write something for the Maven blog. To be fair Joanna would say she was “encouraging” me, I perhaps would have labelled it “harassing” me, so hassling seems a fair compromise. The trouble I always faced was what to write about?

I have sat on the proverbial fence debating whether to write an in-depth but hard hitting review of one of the latest release books relating to Change Management or whether perhaps to tackle the issues faced by women in the world of Project Management. But each time I sat down to type the inspiration was not quite there.

Well my inspiration has finally struck. As part of a Maven Train-the-Trainer session last weekend I succumbed to being interviewed about some of the key changes and benefits of the new PRINCE2:2009 for vox-pops material that was being collated. This got me thinking about the sort of probing questions I am normally asked by people about my role as a Trainer.

Besides the standard questions about how I decided to be a trainer, what courses I deliver, what my delegates are like etc, one of the most common questions people hurl in my direction is whether I have any tips on packing.

Yes, you read right – one of the most common questions people ask me is whether I can advise them on how to miraculously convert 36kg of checked in luggage into 7kg of on board baggage. The first time I was asked this by a close friend I nearly fell off my chair. But it turns out they were serious.

As a trainer working for Maven – which has a large market share and a diverse client base – I do travel within the UK and Europe frequently. I manage to pack and repack my bags at lighting speed; have never missed a plane or train; have never forgotten any essential course materials; and always make sure that I pack light enough to manage public transport. This is no mean feat when you consider that I carry around a projector and straightening irons as part of my luggage!

So I figured that as we were coming into the peak of the Summer travel season Joanna might be OK with me writing up a few lines where I share some of the travel tips that I have passed on to others. I’m hoping that my reputation as a bit of an odd-ball Trainer that sometimes get sidetracked debating strange topics (I once spent 20 minutes during a PRINCE2 course explaining my experience of building a mud brick house) will give me enough eccentricity brownie points for this to be published…
So here’s my top 7 travelling tips – do with them what you may:

1. Don’t be a fool, use a planning tool: One of the most important things to know when travelling is where the relevant places are, how long it is going to take you to get there and how you can get there. Sounds simple right? Well it is if you use the planning tools available to you, such as Transport for London, National Rail, BAA, The AA, Google Maps etc. Remember to access these prior to travelling, print them out and keep two copies – one for your check-in luggage, another for the bag you will have on you at all times when travelling.

2. Pack tight, pack light: I used to scoff at the saying “everything including the kitchen sink” until I saw how some people packed. Remember – you are not running away to get married! You will be home in a day/week/fortnight (delete as appropriate). Pack lots of underwear, 2- 3 sets of shoes and some clothes you can mix and match so it looks like you are wearing different outfits. Oh, and when it comes to rolling vs. folding I don’t think one is better than the other (see my note re steam below). Whatever makes you pack tighter is better!

3. Convert me! Power and money: The heading says it all really. Have you got cash? Is it in the right currency? What about a power adapter? Is it the right socket and voltage?

4. All those pretty bits of paper: The dreaded “P” word (Paperwork)! As a minimum you will need tickets, but also potentially a passport and relevant visas. If in doubt check ahead what the requirements are.

5. Check and check again: Related to the point above, I would suggest that you check what you have packed just before you do the last zipping up of your bag. Even better, have a pre-prepared list so each time you pack you don’t have to strain your brain but simply cross check against a pre-existing list. Martha Stewart, eat your heart out!

6. Make yourself at home: Unpacking when you get there can make you feel more organised, save you time scrabbling around your suitcase looking for that elusive sock and make sure your clothes are as crush-free as possible. I promise you, it’s worth the 5 minutes you invest in it.

7. The power of steam: Linking to my point above, as part of your unpacking any items that are looking a little crinkled after your trip may benefit for a little steam treatment. Hang them on clothes hangers and place them around the bathroom. Close the door and have a hot shower, allowing the hot water to keep running for 5 minutes after you have finished. Keep the bathroom door shut for roughly 20 minutes after you have turned the shower off to ensure maximum benefits and voila! Your clothes should look refreshed and crinkle-free!

Friday, 26 June 2009

Best Practice showcase – the Maven Trainers’ point of view

Following the APM Group’s 7th annual The Best Practice Showcase, Maven Training’s Client Relations Director, William Franklin, has asked Maven Training Trainers, a community of experts, to take some time to reflect on the most relevant finding from the event and share them with you. Here are some comments from our dear trainers Susan Tuttle, Tiffany Childs and Paul de Havilland.

Susan Tuttle, who delivered four out of our five Birds of a Feather sessions on the next steps for Project and Programme Management, said that the two questions that were most posed by the attendees were: “Project Managers – to professionalise or not to professionalise?” and “I need a training course on how to manage my manager – managing up and how that affects the effectiveness of a Project Manager”

Tiffany Childs was surprised at the level of interest/general appetite for P3O – several government organisations were keen to discuss and debate their current situation and were particularly looking for suggestions on how to improve the structure of their Portfolio/Programme/Project Offices. Given the current economic climate, the focus of conversation was on the need to maintain the functionality and credibility of the support office(s) while working with reduced access to resource. She goes on saying that there was little discussion on the upcoming launch of the P3O Practitioner qualification, but it would still be interesting to see what the uptake of this qualification will be, nonetheless – people seemed to be searching for answers!

As I'm a member of the APM, Paul de Havilland often mentions to delegates on courses the moves towards chartered status for project managers. He said he has not yet come across a delegate who's heard of this before my mentioning it! In fact, I find it's a minority of delegates who are even aware of the APM, as opposed to the PMI which seems to have much wider recognition – especially with people from multi-nationals. He also said that he’s personally enthusiastic about chartered status because, amongst other things, it could help to change decision makers' perceptions of project management to that of it being a discipline in its own right, with its own distinctive set of skills. One upshot of this might be for organisations to be more selective about who they entrust projects to – no one would consider the appointment of a an accountant with no qualifications or experience, yet this happens all the time in project management (he’s lost count of the number of nervous delegates who say 'I've just been moved into a project management role and I have no idea what it entails'). However, given the increasing profile of PMI, will even chartered status be enough to make the APM the natural 'professional body of choice' for UK project managers?

What about you? what did you think of the event? Please leave your thoughts and comments here!

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Self-awareness – Best Practice in action

By William Franklin, Client Relations Director at Maven Training.

Yesterday saw 750 people register for the APM Group’s 7th annual The Best Practice Showcase. Held at the QE11 Conference Centre next to Houses of Parliament, the juxtaposition of an industry constantly seeking to evolve and adopt Best Practice in project and programme management was stark when placed alongside the current MP expenses scandals rocking UK politics.

Alan Harpham, as Chairman of the APM Group, gave the delegates and exhibitors a multi-cultural welcome that reflected some of the many countries now adopting PRINCE2® and other Best Practice products. After that, delegates entered a whirl of their own as they tried to find the first of many 'Birds of a Feather' sessions planned throughout the day. This possibly led to the early negative feeling of personal project management capabilities (see later) as many got lost and ended up in the wrong sessions. That said, the sessions themselves were well delivered on the whole with limited 'plugging' of individual organisational capabilities.

From the marketing perspective, the opportunity to hold in-depth conversations with delegates was limited as many were hurrying between Birds of a Feather sessions. Maven Training was particularly innovative in capturing delegates’ views by asking the following question: "Does your organisation run an EFFECTIVE project methodology?" with the only answers possible being YES or NO. By getting delegates to address this question up front we were then able to take the temperature of the industry. As mentioned earlier, the initial confusion over format, combined with uncertain expectations of what the day could deliver led to 67% of respondents in the morning session answering NO. After lunch we started to see a swing towards 50/50 as delegates started to see that their existing knowledge base when benchmarked against others in the industry was in fact quite strong. However, at the end of the day, the final balance of those that had confidence in their organisational methodologies was 38% with regular comments being "...but my skills and those of my team are very strong".

So what subjects were of highest concern to delegates? Interestingly enough, there was little interest in the updated PRINCE2® (2009) with many delegates recognising this was purely an evolution rather than structural change. At the top of the list of interest was a desire for implementation services from companies that had the breadth and depth of capability to deliver methodologies, irrespective of source of the method. Maven Training was therefore delighted to be able to showcase our new Wheel of Delivery (see below) where irrespective of the client maturity or project stage, they could benefit from a range of scalable implementation services.

An additional delegate request was for the three Birds of a Feather topics we spoke on to be delivered directly to clients at their offices around the country. While an unforeseen outcome from the sessions, we agreed to a small number of additional sessions to be included in our Project Health checks that clients seek from Maven Training.

Overall, the 7th Best Practice Showcase delivered what it set out to – an opportunity for experts in the industry to share experiences and learn from each other to continue the development of Best Practice with project and programme management. We look forward to seeing you all next year.

The Wheel of Delivery™
Click on the image to enlarge it

Monday, 22 June 2009

Best Practice Showcase - TOMORROW

We’d like to reinforce our invitation to all our readers, trainers, partners and clients to come and spend the day at The Best Practice Showcase tomorrow at the QE11 Conference Centre.

The Showcase, which is in its seventh edition, is FREE TO ATTEND. Its interactive format proves a real hit with delegates, who spend the day discussing issues, talking to experts and sharing experiences with each other.

Maven Training will be hosting five Birds of a Feather sessions at the event – these sessions entail sitting round a table with ten to fifteen delegates and grappling with pertinent programme and project management issues – our idea of heaven!

Melanie Franklin, our CEO, and Susan Tuttle, Associate Trainer, will be hosting sessions on where Project and Programme Management stand and what is happening next with these disciplines. They will present a step by step guide as to how to go about establishing and implementing a project and programme environments within organisations.

Melanie is also scheduled to deliver her popular presentation on Interpersonal Skills for Projects and Programmes at 10am at the BMP stand space.

In addition to these discussion groups, the Best Practice Showcase will also feature a full seminar programme. Emma Jones, Chief Examiner for PRINCE2® Qualifications will update delegates on the impact of the 2009 Refresh.

The event is free so we’d love to see you take part. Click here for details of all the sessions on offer, and to register.

The Best Practice Showcase
Tuesday 23rd June 2009
QE II Conference Centre, London

PRINCE:2009 Twitter Hour – Live

Our friends at Arras People hosted a PRINCE:2009 Twitter Hour – Live on Friday 19th June – check the full result here

Friday, 19 June 2009

Maven Training takes another step towards female professional development

By William Franklin, Client Relations Director at Maven Training.

Back in March 2009, Maven Training once again demonstrated its innovative approach to delivering the most innovative training solutions by offering PRINCE2 for Girls accredited training. This event came about from our partnership with Women in Technology and Women in Business, as well as because of our dear relationship with pm4girls, where not only their members access tailored courses such as the one above, but also they receive discounts on all Maven Training courses.

Following on from this success and keeping to a theme, Maven Training is proud to announce a new partnership with Women in Transportation. In a move that again addresses the under-representation of women in management roles, the WTS is aimed at promoting the skill base and career opportunities for women working in all aspects of the transportation sector. When I and our Marketing Manager, Joanna Burigo, met with Nicky van Domburg, Sponsorship Chair of the WTS (interestingly at Waterloo Station on the day of the TGWU strike!) it became immediately apparent that the work we had undertaken with WiT and WiB was directly beneficial.

Maven Training was then invited to the WTS Summer Party that had Baroness Jo Valentine, Chief Executive of London First, as key note speaker, who spoke about The Planning and Economics of Transport in London. Notable for the evening was the drive and passion of women within Transport for London, London Underground and CrossRail to name but a few. In a final slide from Baroness Jo Valentine, the major challenges and associated timelines facing London transportation were listed, the final one of which was getting the Boards of 51% of FTSE100 listed companies comprised of women… the timeline for which was 2100?!? Well, through partnership with Maven Training, we aim to ensure that this is achieved long before then, through application of professional skills development.

While still confirming details, we will be offering WTS and its members a series of benefits, including discounts on all Maven Training courses, key note speakers discussing the role and value of professional qualifications and naturally access to the Maven Training community of professionals that is growing at an ever increasing rate. Watch this space for next speaking engagements for Melanie Franklin.

Thursday, 18 June 2009

PRINCE2 2009 Q&A Twitter and Blog Hour

Our good friends at Arras People are giving everyone an opportunity to put any PRINCE2:2009 questions directly to Andy Murray, the lead author.

By getting involved with the PRINCE2 2009 Q&A Twitter and Blog Hour on Friday morning the 19th June, you can pose any question you like to him.

Read full article here.

Who was at the PRINCE2:2009 launch?

By Melanie Franklin, CEO, Maven Training.

Last Tuesday (16th June) I attended the PRINCE2:2009 launch event, which was sponsored jointly by the OGC, the TSO and the APMG. There were lots of people from these three organisations, along with the authoring team for PRINCE2.

Also there were Liz Berryman (who has built up a lot of knowledge in how to write OTE-style questions), APMG assessors Emmanuel Gianquitto (Quality), David Watson (Change) and AnneMarie Byrne (P3O), Colin Bentley (former PRINCE2 Chief Examiner) and Emma Jones (the current one). From the APMG, Richard Pharro (CEO) and Nikki Kelly, along with Collis Boucher (representing translations).

Mike Allen from BPUG was there along with Mike Acaster. From the OGC were there, along with Ray Frew (who is a PRINCE2 trainer) and Scott Spence (who flew over from Australia representing Crazy Colour).

Sue Vowler (P3O writer), Kate Winter and Elizabeth Harrin were also at the event.

There was a quick presentation about the changes to the method, and it was overall an interesting event. I had a chance to see lots of the community and was delighted to exchange some ideas about the market.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

PRINCE2®:2009 – the official launch

Last night was a busy one for our CEO Melanie Franklin – she had dinner at the Women in Transportation Summer Event, where Baroness Jo Valentine, Chief Executive of London First, spoke about The Planning and Economics of Transport in London.

Before that, though, she attended the much awaited launch of PRINCE2®:2009. According to Andy Murray, the main author for the refresh, 150 people have been invited to attend – most of whom have been involved in the project in some capacity.

As we’ve already said on this very blog, the PRINCE2® manual gets updated every few years, based on current best practice, as well as any issues raised on the existing version. Since its launch (in 1996) it has been updated in 1998, 2002 and 2005 – the 2009 structure of PRINCE2 remains the same as the other versions, although there are some changes to the naming conventions. See further details about all the changes here.

Our dear friend Elizabeth Harrin, from pm4girls, has come up with a very special report on the launch – watch the video here!

Maven Training is proud to announce that we are already offering PRINCE2®:2009 courses on our schedule – the first one will take place in London on the 06th July; on the 13th July London and Nottingham delegates will be able to attend PRINCE2®:2009 courses and from the 20th July onwards all our courses will be PRINCE2®:2009.

Monday, 15 June 2009

More on Programme Management

By Melanie Franklin, CEO, Maven Training.

We are getting a lot of demand from clients to help them with their programme management at the moment.

For example, lots of Primary Care Trusts in the NHS are creating new programmes to delivery World Class Commissioning, which means reorganising their internal processes. Other clients are reorganising to save money, and they need to get things done fast.

One of our clients told me the other day "I am not worried about whether we are doing it right – I just need it done. How can we get a cost reduction programme underway and delivering benefits NOW?"

In response, we have created a series of three-hour 'Quick Fix' workshops that cover all the difficult topics – scope and strategic objectives of the programme, defining benefits, being an effective sponsor.

These workshops are defined to get everyone on their feet and contributing their ideas – see the pictures of the ‘workshop in action’!

Are you under pressure to deliver quickly, and are you getting the message that 'we don't mind how, just get it done?' I would love to hear your views.

Friday, 12 June 2009

Come to The Best Practice Showcase!

We’d like to reinforce our invitation to all our readers, trainers, partners and clients to come and spend the day at The Best Practice Showcase on Tuesday 23rd June at the QE11 Conference Centre.

The Showcase, which is in its seventh edition, is FREE TO ATTEND. Its interactive format proves a real hit with delegates, who spend the day discussing issues, talking to experts and sharing experiences with each other.

Maven Training will be hosting five Birds of a Feather sessions at the event – these sessions entail sitting round a table with ten to fifteen delegates and grappling with pertinent programme and project management issues – our idea of heaven!

Melanie Franklin, our CEO, will host sessions that will focus on Programme Management – where are we and where do we go next? Melanie will present a step by step guide as to how to go about establishing and implementing a programme environment in your organisation. The examples she’ll be exploring are derived from our work with public and private sector organisations. She’ll also ask delegates to share their experiences and challenges.

Melanie is also scheduled to deliver her popular presentation on Interpersonal Skills for Projects and Programmes – exact timing still to be confirmed, but watch this space for further details.

Susan Tuttle, Associate Trainer, will be hosting sessions on Project management – what next? Susan will discuss how project managers can get commitment from their sponsors, how to persuade line managers to release staff to work on projects, and how to engage support staff fully. The session will give those involved in project management a chance to share their experiences, and set this against our roadmap for increasing organisation wide project management capability. This is an opportunity to devise practical steps to address these issues. Using a combination of interactive examples and our in depth experience in resolving these issues, those attending this session will feel empowered to return to work and make a tangible difference.

In addition to these discussion groups, the Best Practice Showcase will also feature a full seminar programme. Emma Jones, Chief Examiner for PRINCE2® Qualifications will update delegates on the impact of the 2009 Refresh.

The event is free so we’d love to see you take part. Click here for details of all the sessions on offer, and to register.

The Best Practice Showcase
Tuesday 23rd June 2009
QE II Conference Centre, London

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Effective Project Management Delivery in tough times

Due to popular demand, the Maven Training and Arras People FREE breakfast event, which will give you an overview of project management market trends in these difficult times, will happen on two dates: the 26th June (fully booked) and the 13th July.

On both events, Melanie Franklin , CEO of Maven Training, will be talking about personal and professional development and how you can get the balance right between accredited qualifications and skills-based development, as well as finding the right balance of organisational needs vs. individual needs, and John Thorpe, MD of Arras People will share his thoughts on current trends in the PM marketplace – recruitment and people strategies, and current benchmarking information.

Venue: Maven Training Centre Location and Map
Cost: FREE

Dates and times:

26th June 2009

08:00am - 10:30am
12:00am - 14:30pm

13th July 2009
08:00am - 10:30am
12:00am - 14:30pm

Limited availability, so BOOK NOW!

Monday, 8 June 2009

Programme Managers: wanted!

By Melanie Franklin, CEO, Maven Training.

For a recent client assignment, I was asked to supply a representative sample of job descriptions for programme manager roles. These job descriptions had to come from the public and private sector, and explain in as much detail as possible what would be expected from a 'typical programme manager'.

To get the information, I surveyed a number of job sites. The biggest surprise was the jump on number of programme manager jobs being advertised. I did a similar review in 2007 and on average there were about 1100 programme manager jobs being advertised a day by jobserve. Using the same criteria for this search, there were on average 3500 jobs being advertised, a threefold increase.

However, in checking with the APM Group, who are the examining body for MSP™, they have seen a doubling in the number of candidates taking this qualification (now over 8000 candidates a year) since 2007 and a five fold increase since 2005.

I have also surveyed the key words appearing in these job advertisements and found that 50% stated that an MSP™ qualification was a mandatory requirement. 25% also stated that PRINCE2® was required and 50% of the roles sought project management skills, leading me to believe that many employers are seeking out qualified project managers to move into programme management positions.

However, only one third of the adverts asked for change management skills, or communication skills, which indicates either a lack of understanding of the role of programme manager, or these skills are so obviously a part of the role that those writing the descriptions don't think they need to include them.

I will be very interested to hear what your views are on this subject are. Do you think the demand for programme management roles is growing? Do you think employers value the MSP™ qualification? Where does change management fit into this world? Comments appreciated!

Friday, 5 June 2009

PPM Council calls for Standardized Project Management in the UK

By Carol Elliot, Associate Trainer

Whilst doing a bit of research last night on the web, I came across an announcement from the UK Government's Programme and Project Management (PPM) Council – they have called for the standardised use of PRINCE2®, MSP™ and M_o_R® across the public sector to support the delivery of better value for money outcomes from their programme and project management.

The body, which provides strategic direction for the government's skills and capability in Project and Programme Management, has stated that the standardised use of these methodologies will bring consistency on cross-government programmes and projects, as well as help avoid duplication of design efforts and the costs associated with this.

The Council will make further recommendations on the use of other methodologies and tools developed in government throughout 2009 and 2010.

See full article on PM Forum.

Thursday, 4 June 2009

PRINCE2:2009 – a series of vodcasts

The Best Management Practice, comprising the OGC, the TSO and the APMG have a number of official websites for its best practice guidance (PRINCE2®, MSP™, M_o_R®, P3O® and ITIL®).

One of them, Best Management Practice TV, offers a range of videoed seminars, workshops, debates and interviews. They also have a series of vodcasts which are all about PRINCE2:2009 – and you can watch them here!

A history of PRINCE2:2009 – Mike Acaster (OGC)

PRINCE2:2009 Publications – Andy Murray (lead author)

PRINCE2:2009 Examinations – Emma Jones (chief examiner)

Maven Training’s first PRINCE2:2009 training course will start on the 06th July – check our website for further information.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Research proves that it pays to be qualified!

If proof were needed that it's well worth keeping your qualifications and skills up to date, some new research confirms that it's well worth the time and money you'll invest in getting your qualifications. What more, PRINCE2® and ITIL® come out high on the list of desirable qualifications.

The research was conducted by The IT Job Board and surveyed 139 IT Professionals in April 2009.

The findings show that 75% of recruiters believe IT candidates with additional qualifications stand a better chance of securing a job. This finding was also supported by the candidate response, where 84% of IT professionals consider that holding industry certifications will improve their employment opportunities. And a massive 87% of techies believe that recruiters and hiring managers would look for additional qualifications when recruiting for jobs in IT.

When it came to the certifications most valued by IT professionals in the current market, 25% believed that the PRINCE2® Certification was most important, followed by the ITIL® Certification.

Alex Farrell, managing director of The IT Job Board, said: "It is clear to see that both recruiters and candidates value certifications, and the fact that these can have a huge impact on peoples' IT job opportunities: during difficult times, when employment is harder to come by and the competition is fierce, holding additional IT certifications could be vital."