Manage Political Problems as Issues

The larger your project gets, the more you will find that the issues you encounter are political in nature. “Politics” is all about interacting with people and influencing them to get things done. This can be a good thing, a bad thing, or a neutral thing, depending on the tactics people use. Let’s consider some examples of how utilizing political skills might be good, but can also be bad.

  • You are able to move your ideas forward in the organization and get people to act on them (good), by currying favor, suppressing other opposing ideas and taking credit for the ideas of your staff (bad).
  • You have an ability to reach consensus on complex matters with a number of different stakeholders (good),by working behind the scenes with people in power, making deals and destroying people who don’t get on board (bad).
  • You receive funding for projects that are important to you and to your organization (good), by misrepresenting the costs and benefits, and by going around the existing funding processes (bad).

The point of the examples is to show that influencing people and getting things done in a company is a good thing and “office politics” can have good connotations or bad. 

Dealing with office politics is not a standard project management process. However, once the politics start to impact the project adversely, the situation should be identified as an issue, since it is a problem whose resolution is outside the control of the project team. You can’t utilize a checklist to resolve political issues. Political problems are people-related and situational. What works for one person in one situation may not work for another person in the same situation because people, and their reactions, are different. Identifying the problem as an issue will bring visibility to the situation and hopefully get the proper people involved in the resolution. Keep three things in mind to manage a political issue.

  • Try to recognize situations and events where politics are most likely to be involved. This could include decision points, competition for budget and resources, and setting project direction and priorities.
  • Deal with people openly and honestly. When you provide an opinion or recommendation, express the pros and cons to provide a balanced view to other parties. Make sure you distinguish the facts from your opinions so the other parties know the difference. 
  • If you feel uncomfortable with what you are asked to do, get your sponsor or your functional manager involved. They tend to have more political savvy and positional authority, and they should be able to provide advice and cover for you.

If you feel good about what you are doing, how you are influencing and how you are getting things done, then you are probably handling office politics the right way. If you feel guilty about how you are treating people and if you have second thoughts about the methods you are using to get things done, you are probably practicing the dark side of office politics.

Determine Whether Full-Time or Contract Resources are Appropriate

Perhaps the place to start is to understand whether there are employees available in the time-frame needed for your project. It usually doesn’t make sense to hire contract people when you have employees that are available and otherwise would have nothing to do (assuming the employees have “close-enough” skills).

Let’s assume that you do not have current employees available to staff your new project. Let’s also say you work for an organization that is open to utilizing contractors or hiring employees depending on the needs of the specific project. Let’s look at some of the criteria that you can use to make the hiring decision.

    • Urgency. If you need to get started very quickly, you may need to hire contractors. In most organizations you can put a call out to the local contract companies and be interviewing people in a couple days. Most organizations can’t (and don’t want to) hire employees that quickly.   
  • Length of the need. If you need a resource for a short, finite duration, then a contractor may be the way to go. You can bring them in for a short contract and then release them when the work is done. If you have a full-time, long-term need, an employee would make more sense.
  • Strategic vs. non-strategic work. Many companies identify certain types of work to be more strategic that other types. For instance, many companies chose to staff the senior project positions, like the project manager, with employees, and are more willing to use contract labor to assist with project team members. 
  • Skills and knowledge needed. Many companies make decisions about staff based on the type of skills needed. For instance, if you are moving into a new technology or new equipment, you may hire contractors that already have the expertise. If the skill is needed long-term you might want to transition in some employees so that they can learn the new skills before the contract staff leave.


  • Confidentiality. Many companies chose to staff positions with employees if the project team will handle confidential or proprietary information. There is a sense that the information might not be confidential once the contractor leaves the company.
  • Cost. With a contractor, you typically pay a higher hourly rate, but only for the length of time the contractor is needed. Employees may cost less in the short-term, but you are taking on a long-term cost commitment.

If you look at the decision criteria above, you can see that much of the answer for using employees of contractors comes down to risk. If a project is short, it might be risky to hire an employee since you may not be sure if you can keep the employee busy long term. If the project involves core skills to your organization, confidential information, or is strategic to your business, it may be too risky to hire a contactor.

Organizations tend to keep a leaner staff of core employees these days. The core staff stays relatively constant from year to year, while increases in workloads are staffed through contract resources.


Six Reasons You Need a PMO

We all have many wants in our lives but only a handful of needs—food, clothing, and shelter being the top three. Similarly, companies may want many things, but really only find a few things absolutely necessary for survival. A Project Management Office (PMO) should be at top of that list of priorities, along with sales, profits, and growth. Read on for the:

Six Reasons You Need a PMO

  1. Consistent Methodology – The bane of many organizations is when departments and groups develop home-grown ways of completing projects. Some processes may work beautifully, some may work terribly; the point is that none are consistent with each other or across the organization. You need a common project management methodology. A PMO allows everyone in the company to speak the same language and follow consistent processes.

  2. Economies of Scale – It’s not uncommon for a company to have a half dozen or so timesheet or project management applications within a company, each with its own financial cost for implementation and training personnel. A PMO implements affordable and sustainable enterprise-wide solutions.

  3. Objective Opinions – Departments running their own projects can sometimes be compared to a fox watching a henhouse. Project sponsors may be looking for the current status of a project, but a departmental project manager may stretch the truth just a bit so that their department is viewed in a favorable light. A PMO provides an unbiased and objective opinion regarding the status of a project. This is invaluable to project stakeholders and executives.

  4. Perpetual Improvement – A PMO is always on the lookout for new and better ways to get things done. They have the benefit of aggregating lessons learned from previous projects and the missive of implementing those best practices across the organization. Additionally, there are countless opportunities for project managers to continue their education and bring newfound knowledge back to their companies.

  5. Transcends Departments – “Why can’t we all just get along?” is a common refrain in many companies. One department may go head to head with another department over unrealistic demands or unreasonable timelines. A PMO can mediate their heated conversations and keep everyone focused on the bigger picture. Members of the PMO can facilitate sessions between departments for the purpose of identifying root cause and coming up with alternatives.

  6. Reduces Cost – All of the benefits of a PMO as described above are realized at the bottom line. As unnecessary tangible expenses are uncovered, such as paying for multiple versions of the same software, they are removed from the income statement. Real savings derived from resources being able to do their work faster will appear as net income. The value of everyone getting along better? Priceless!

You can benefit from a PMO regardless of the size of your company. Even though larger companies are likely to benefit in greater ways exponentially, a small but growing company needs to at least foster the spirit of a PMO. It’s easier to put the foundation in place while small rather than go back and implement a PMO later.

Manage Virtual Teams

Manage Communication
Eight Steps to Manage Virtual Teams


There are some special techniques that can be used to manage these virtual teams.

  • Establish team objectives. The team members need to know and understand what it is that they are doing together. If people only understand their own role and their own work, they will always just be individual contributors.
  • Remind everyone they are a team.  If the team members think they are all working independently, they will act independent.  If they know they are part of a team working on common objectives and deliverables, they will tend to feel better about their work and be more active in their collaboration with other team members. 
  • Obtain the right technology. The technology is there to support virtual teams – there is really no reason to be without it. This includes fast access to the Internet, audio conferencing, videocams, collaborative software, shared directories, etc.   
  • Look for opportunities to “socialize.” Team members located together have opportunities to socialize throughout the day. Virtual teams don’t usually have this same opportunity to interact with each other, so it is more important for the project manager to look for ways they can bond.  This might include getting everyone together one time in a face-to-face setting – perhaps a Project Kickoff meeting. 
  • Be sensitive to cultural difference. It is possible that your virtual team all thinks and acts the same way. However, more and more virtual teams consist of people from multiple countries and multiple cultures. If you are the project manager on this type of team, make sure you have some appreciation for the differences in how people work and how they behave.
  • Communicate, communicate, communicate.  The project manager needs to be extra proactive in his communication to make sure everyone understands what is expected. People can start to feel isolated if they do not receive regular communication. It is hard enough to keep everyone informed on a “regular” project.  The communication lines on a virtual team must be opened up especially wide. The project manager can provide this steady stream of communication.
  • Adjust and compromise on time differences. The project manager needs to recognize that what is convenient for the project manager is not always convenient to the team members. For instance, if you are a manager in a global company it may not be practical to start all project meetings at 9:00 am. That may be convenient to the manager but it can result in resentment from people in other global locations that need to stay very late for these meetings.  
  • Give people shorter assignments. This is not the time to give people long assignments and hope that they are completed by the deadline.  Instead of assigning a six-week activity, for instance, the project manager should assign the work in three two-week activities. In the former case, you would not know for sure if the work was done for six weeks. In the later case, you can tell every two weeks if the work is on track.

These techniques will help your virtual teams be as successful as your co-located teams. 

Purchase Order Form is a Simple Line of Approved Credit

In a purchase order form, there is a complete description of what your organization is in need from by a particular supplier. The greater the detail that is includes will mean the less ambiguity the message will hold. This will allow for the correct item or material to be sent as requested.

When using a purchase order form the best ones today that are used will be created with the aid of a computer program. This is one of the many project management templates that most project managers have access to today. This type of template allows for the vital information to be placed in the form in the same manner each and every time this particular third party vendor is contacted. This makes it possible for a concise and consistent message to be sent out each and every time you are in need of suppliers or material from another organization.

This use of a purchase order form that is made this way also helps to ensure the message you are sending will be received as it was sent. This allows for the correct material or items you need to be sent. This will reduce the number of errors that can occur when dealing with a third party organization that is outside the control of your business. The receiving of the wrong material can be hazardous to the schedule of your project.

Inside the purchase order form is also the information for the billing requirements and data necessary for both parties to make this type of transaction. This is the portion of this business deal that is important to the third party vendor. They need to know how much they are going to make off of this transaction and when they can expect it.

The use of a purchase order form is very common today in all sectors of business. The more complete it is with accurate information on every aspect of the transaction, the smoother it will be preformed. A successful transaction of this type builds the credibility and reputation of all parties that are involved

RFP is a Necessary Document

Today one of the templates in a project management program is the RFP template. This digital outline can help you to create a consistent document so you will receive from your raw material suppliers what you ordered for inclusion in your business venture.

Inside an RFP has to include what you need from your third party vendor in detail. This way there is no ambiguity in just what you need for your project and what you are willing to pay for it. There will also be a schedule when the material is needed that the third party vendor has to confirm they can meet for this proposal to move forward.

There is another section in the RFP that will list the vital information you need from this third party vendor. This can include payment schedule and time frame for delivery of the entire order if it is going to be sent in different loads or times. This will let them know in advance all the terms and conditions for this business arrangement before they agree to it.

The issuing of a RFP is not the final document to confirm any transaction; it is the one just before a deal is made. This document can be modified by both parties to fit the needs of each. The reissuing of this document after the alternations if necessary are easy since this document is saved in its digital format.

To get the best price, several RFP’s can be sent out concerning the same raw material. This allows for your project to not only be provided with the best price on any item, but also an alternative delivery of the item. This is sometime necessary in the business world where businesses are not always dependable because of the state of the economy. This allows for you to cover all the bases to ensure the success of your business venture.

The RFP will help you plan your project in more detail and less time so a positive result can be the conclusion of your business venture. It is one of the necessary requirements of doing business in the global market place