Category Archives: Project Management

virtual board meetings covid-19
I know I don’t just speak for myself when I say that I miss in-person meetings. There’s something about face to face interaction that provides a bit more cohesiveness (and allows for a better attention span). While Zoom has been a life-saving alternative, I am eager to get the ball rolling again in person. In a time where we are forced to interact virtually, I’ve been on the hunt to find new ways to optimize virtual board meetings. Especially during the COVID-19 period, board members have a lot on their plate, and it’s critical these virtual meetings are productive, succinct, and packed with action items.

Pick a good time.

If you have board members in different time zones, this could be tricky. Make sure the meeting time you choose is respectful of everyone’s lunch hours and break times. If you can’t find a time that suits everyone, considering scheduling two meeting times so participants can choose, or record the meeting if participants can’t make it at all. Also, make sure you stay strict to your start and end times, just like you would with a normal meeting. Everyone’s time is valuable!

Come with a clear agenda.

If you are the host of the meeting, make sure you go in with a clear outline. What key points need to be covered? Do you need to leave time at the end for questions? What areas do you think will take the longest to cover? Establishing these questions early on will help keep the meeting focused. In addition, consider sending the agenda to participants before the meeting begins. This can be particularly helpful for virtual meetings because people often need extra material to help follow along.

Use video.

Seems self explanatory right? Well if you’re not familiar with virtual meeting tools like Zoom, WebEx, etc, there is typically an option for participants to turn off video and use only the audio function. From personal experience, I highly recommend either encouraging the video function or making it mandatory. It holds everyone accountable and ensures there isn’t any funny business going on in the background! It’s also a good way to stay engaged with the other participants.

Encourage interaction.

Just like an in-person board meeting, the conversation should be a two-way street. I swear, we are like children sometimes when it comes to our attention span! You might feel like a teacher calling out your students at times, but it’s necessary to keep the momentum going.

Add some flare!

Especially during COVID-19, I’m looking for any fun ways to keep the comradery going. Consider adding a fun pick me up to the end of a meeting. Has anyone discovered a new recipe? Or tried a new workout? Maybe some of your participants have kids, and can provide some fun tips for keeping the kids preoccupied (and saving your sanity)! Whatever it is, save a few minutes at the end of the meeting to discuss your personal lives. Remember, we are all in this together and that small chunk of time could be the pick me up someone needs.

Ask for feedback.

Most importantly, ask for feedback! Everybody interacts differently, and something that works well for one person might not work for another. If you’re looking to get the most honest answers, considering sending out an anonymous survey.

Have additional tips? I’d love to hear your suggestions! Leave us a comment below.

We all know that our job titles are not necessarily indicative of the work we do on a daily basis. As the budgets of nonprofits, government agencies and companies can fluctuate depending on the strength of our economy, we are tasked with many job functions. While the Project Management Institute (PMI) seeks to equip us with the skills and tools to become successful as project managers, regardless of our job titles and/or functions, people are still confused as to what project managers do and why the profession is so important.

Well, great news for all of those who are begging for the profession to become more appreciated in the mainstream. On December 16, 2016, PMI released a press release stating that, “President Barack Obama has signed into law S.1550, the Program Management Improvement and Accountability Act of 2015 (PMIAA), which will enhance accountability and best practices in project and program manux-788002_640agement throughout the federal government. The legislation, strongly endorsed by the Project Management Institute (PMI), was approved by both chambers of Congress with overwhelming bi-partisan support. President Obama signed it into law on Wednesday, December 14.”

Not only will this lead to a more standardized way of conducting business, but will help those cynical about the federal government to develop an appreciation of the sector. The corporate sector has long embraced the use of systems and credentials that promote efficiency. The fact that the federal government is embracing this approach shows a step in the right direction.

How can project management impact you?

  • Avoid challenges and potential issues
  • Promote efficiency and effective standards of practice
  • Help keep you on time and within budget
  • Embrace innovation
  • Ensure quality deliverables

I am thrilled to see this happening. If you want to learn more about project management or see how you can benefit from these time (and stress) saving techniques, don’t hesitate to reach out to me.

As a grants, proposal and project management professional, I see commonalities within my different workstreams. Why should we categorize different aspects of our lives when they all seek to help and inform the other? We live in a world of constant communication and activity, so everything is fluid and changing, as are our roles at work.

In keeping with this approach, I would like to illustrate how project management goes beyond the Project Management Professional (PMP) model to which many of us often aspire. We are resourceful, thoughtful, and capable multi-taskers throughout the day. This is clearly evidenced by some common tasks that we perform. These situations below are aligned with the Project Management Institute’s required skills for successful project management and attainment of the PMP certification.

 You might be a great project manager if:

  1. You manage to several projects at one time using white boards/electronic tools/Evernote/ calendars. Skill: Time Management
  1. You serve as a chair of a volunteer group or on the board of directors; thus you work and negotiate with multiple personalities. Skill: Communications Management
  1. You sometimes turn down the opportunity to seek a grant because the risk is greater than the reward. Skill: Risk Management
  1. You conduct a performance evaluation on an employee or subcontractor. Skill: Human Resource Management
  1. You coordinate a large-scale project, and requires patience, scheduling coordination and alignment of skills. Skill: Integration Management
  1. Prior to taking on a new assignment or task you review the scale and size of the project at hand. Skill: Scope Management
  1. You have to conduct a cost-benefit analysis to determine an outside vendor to use for your web design. Skill: Cost Management
  1. You oversee the web designer’s work and adhere to the contract. Skill: Procurement Management
  1. You develop a plan to determine if a new program offering or product is actually serving its intended purpose. Skill: Quality Management
  1. You decide to turn down a wealthy donor’s $500,000 check because the donor works for a company whose work is in direct opposition of your nonprofit mission. Skill: Professional and Social Responsibility

While this may be an oversimplification, it does showcase how we all do extensive amounts of work and aren’t always given titles or credentials to showcase our skills. What do you do as a professional that makes you a project manager?