Five Vital Skills for Project Managers – Organisation

This is the third in our series: Five Vital Skills for Project Managers – Organisation. We have previously talked about Communication and Leadership. Today we will explore the need for strong Organisational Skills.

Organisation

Most of us do not have the luxury of being able to dedicate all our time to manage a project. Organisational skills are especially vital when you need to balance the demands of a project with everyday business-as-usual tasks. This is also the case when managing multiple projects.

Plan to succeed

The key to a successful project is in the planning. This includes understanding how to break down your project into manageable tasks and to create and monitor schedules. It also helps you delegate to the right people and to multitask. In short, Project Managers need to learn to juggle!

Here are some tips to help you stay on top of things:
  • Designate one place to house all your projects

To give all stakeholders easy access the information they need, keep all of your team’s projects in the same place. This will help create visibility across the project so that if you are unavailable, the project will not be delayed for lack of information.

  • Prioritise the work that will make the most impact

Prioritising both project tasks and business-as-usual (BAU) will help you to focus on what has the most impact for the business. The Urgent vs Important prioritising matrix is a powerful productivity tool that will have an immediate effect. To be proactive, a Project Manager needs to take a bird’s eye view of all the work to be able to quickly shift priorities.

  • Enable your team to be flexible when priorities change

When priorities shift between projects and BAU, you will need to reassign tasks. This will require your team to be flexible so that they are able to refocus quickly. As a Project Manager, you need to provide them with the skills and support they need to do this effectively. You will need to balance workloads and have a way to measure workloads across projects and BAU.

  •  Schedule projects to maximize team productivity

When Project schedules and BAU are not coordinated, people get overbooked, work gets blocked, and projects get delayed. When creating your project schedule, it is vital to consider what else is happening so that work can run smoothly. A Project Manager needs to negotiate the project deadlines at the outset, to ensure that neither BAU nor the project suffers as a result.

As a Project Manager, juggling your Project and BAU is often a reality of the job. Hopefully, these tips will help you keep track of all your moving pieces, stay organized, hit your deadlines, and achieve your goals—every time. This concludes our look at Five Vital Skills for Project Managers – Organisation.

If you want to learn more, please take a look at our Project Management and Time Management courses.

Track performance with Conditional Formatting in Power BI

Conditional Formatting is an amazing tool that allows you to track and monitor data more efficiently. It highlights information of interest. For many years, it has been the ‘go to’ tool in Excel, and now it is also available in Power BI desktop.

What is Conditional Formatting

Conditional Formatting is based on setting rules on certain data and if any of this data meets this rule then it will change its appearance in some way e.g. display an icon or change colour (see below)

In this example, there are 3 separate rules all set according to specific bands or ranges of numbers. If a number falls into a specific band, then it will change to the appropriate colour. The world of finance has coined the term ‘RAG’ status – or Red, Amber, Green. Each colour  represents low, medium, and high numbers respectively. Whilst the Power BI desktop has many pre-set icons and colour ranges to help you to adopt this useful tracking system.

Why use Conditional Formatting

Power BI desktop is all about being able to analyse the latest data. Thanks to its powerful connections to the original data, Power BI can always display the most up-to-date data with Conditional Formatting. This makes it possible to see who or what is performing well/not so well in an instant. Simply by using the colours previously set. In a word, Conditional Formatting is ‘dynamic.’ Therefore it will always reflect the latest data if it happens to change at source level. This in itself will allow you to be more efficient in spotting key trends and performance indicators.

How to use Conditional Formatting

  1. In Power BI Desktop, import your data to analyse sales figures e.g. Extended Price for various items/products sold by a number of salespeople.
  2. In the Report View, create a Table visual to show the total Extended Price for each salesperson by dragging both Extended Price and Salesperson fields into the field well.

 

 

 

  1. Click on the Extended Price down arrow and select CONDITIONAL FORMATTING > BACKGROUND COLOUR.

 

  1. Note the ‘Format Style’ is set to GRADIENT. For a simple colour distribution set your Maximum and Minimum colours – e.g. blue and white (see above) and click OK

 

  1. The table below shows the figures from high to low using the blue to white gradient

 

This example is really quick. It is great for achieving a ‘rough and ready’ analysis. For a more precise method, you need to create rules to apply different colours to different bands just like the RAG status example shown at the beginning

 

  1. Create another table using the same visuals and select CONDITIONAL FORMATTING > BACKGROUND COLOURS as before

 

 

  1. Change ‘Format Style’ to RULES and enter values/colour as above. Click on the ‘add NEW RULE’ button

 

 

  1. Now add 2 more rules entering the following values/colours and click OK to apply the RAG colours to the visual

 

 

There are other ways to ‘tell your digital story’ through Conditional Formatting as seen below:

Conclusion

Conditional Formatting is a powerful tool that will help you become more efficient and productive in the process of tracking the most up-to-date performance figures .

 

If you’re interested, you can read more on Data Visualisation here.