How most projects are at the same time both wildly successful and spectacularly disappointing, and everything in between, depending on the point of view of different stakeholders.
Tom Taylor visits the North West Branch
Posted by APM on 20th Mar 2014
As part of his planned tour of all the APM Branches during his 3 year tenure, the North-West Branch welcomed APM President Tom Taylor on Tuesday 18 February at the Manchester Conference Centre situated on the North campus of Manchester University.
The full day of events commenced with a lunch for around 20 people, hosted by Tom, and was held for delegates from some of the corporate members in the North West region.
As part of the lunch event the branch was able to release a new case study brochure highlighting key projects recently completed or still under way in the North West. The intention is to actively pursue more examples from the regions corporate members so that the brochure remains a live document.
In a brief post-lunch address Tom was keen to promote the specific role of corporate liaison where a small group of only 2 or 3 people in a business acted as the key contacts for the local APM branch committee. This is particularly important where large organisations are registered in a different area of the UK contacts must be developed at a provincial level with APM representatives for the interaction to have the best chance of success.
Later in the day Tom was able to meet a number of students currently studying in Manchester. The NW branch has initiated a competition and sponsored several prizes for the best performing students in one of the modules of the Management of Projects MSc course offered by the MACE school at Manchester.
The module chosen for the competition is primarily based on the APM Body of Knowledge. Tom presented two joint winners with second prizes, Awatif Binti Zaini and Nur Izzati Binti Abdul Ghani who both received A4-sized certificates signed by Tom to mark their award and Amazon vouchers of 50 each. The overall winner was Khalil Akar who also received a signed certificate, an Amazon voucher for 100 and who was briefly interviewed by Tom about his win.
The branch is keen to expand this type of sponsored competition and will be aiming to build on the Manchester event and a similar one which has been operating for the last few years at Salford University which is for teams of undergraduate students.
This section of the day was rounded off by Tom giving a presentation to the students about one of his early project management experiences working on the construction a small naval repair workshop within the site of the Portsmouth dockyard close to where HMS Victory and the Mary-Rose are now exhibited.
The days events were completed by a members' CPD event in the evening which drew an audience of around 35 people. At this event another prize was awarded by the branch. The membership of the North West branch has traditionally been around 10% of the national APM membership. However, over the past 12 18 months membership has been rising above that percentage. Consequently, the branch was able to award a prize [a copy of the APM Competence Framework ] to Mrs. Uchenna Akunna Agunwah as the 2500th member of the branch. Hopefully this trend will continue as the project management community in the region grows.
To complete the day Tom led an interactive presentation entitled Creativity does this involve thinking? The audience, forming small groups, were asked to consider how to overcome several different problems. With each group working on a particular problem, the various methods of overcoming or adapting to those problems were considered.
It was apparent that, rather than immediately trying to solve the problem, more information about it is needed first. For example; Power to your office block is going off on Thursday and Friday next week how are you going to react? Instead of immediately coming up with solutions perhaps the next questions should be:
All the office block or only part of it?
Is the power off for 10 seconds, an hour or 10 hours?
As project managers we all like solving problems and when presented with some, perhaps in a scope document, will start to think of some solutions straight away. You may have to be creative to solve some of these problems but it is certainly worth asking a few simple questions to establish the size and extent of the problem before you start.
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So what do people actually do on projects, and in particular do they collaborate with each other? If they do collaborate how has this come about?, and if collaboration is lacking, how then do we as project managers and leaders, encourage more collaboration?