Ben Ferris

About Ben Ferris

Ben Ferris is the founder of Cobalt Project Manager. Ben has over 10 years managing IT projects, leads the development team for Cobalt and is responsible for the overall product vision.

Which Film Star Would Play You in a Movie About Project Management?

robert-deniroHas there ever been a movie made about project management? I don’t remember ever seeing one and while it might sound weird to suggest this subject to a Hollywood producer you just need to think for a minute about some of the other strange subject matters which have been given the movie treatment in the past. So, if someone were to make a movie about one of your projects who would play you? Let’s see who would play me, to see if it gives you any ideas.

Tom Hanks

Hanks is an actor I like more all the time. I used to find him a little annoying to be honest but he seems to have been in a few roles which have been more to my taste. He’s a few years older than me I guess but, hey, he stills looks good enough to play me as long as he has a good sleep before each scene and puts on enough make up. I think he would portray the project manager in the movie as a being a sympathetic, intelligent guy who likes a bit [Read More…]

By |January 6th, 2016|0 Comments|

How Will You Stay Calm When Everything Is Going Wrong?

project-manager-meditating-to-stay-calmWe might as well start with the bad news. Things will go wrong on your projects. This might be a shock to anyone who hasn’t worked in the project world before now but anyone who has worked on projects isn’t likely to have fallen off their chair in shock when reading it.

So, how do you cope when everything seems to be going wrong at work? The first step is to stay calm and the following are a few points to help you do this.

Look at Your Plan Again

The project plan can be a very soothing document once you learn how to use it in the way that it is intended to be used. If the project is going badly then you could spend maybe an hour looking at it and working out what changes you need to make in order to get the work back on track. With a bit of luck it just needs a few tweaks here and there to sort it out. I used to work with a project manager who said that he could see the project plan like [Read More…]

By |December 23rd, 2015|0 Comments|

Getting the Right Project Atmosphere

project-atmosphereThe atmosphere you manage to build up in your project office is going to go a long way towards determining how successful the piece of work is. If you haven’t ever thought about this before then now could be a good time to do so.

Inspiring Surroundings

Here’s a little test for you to take before you start working the next day you go into the office. Take a seat and look around you to see how inspired you feel. If you are surrounded by those charmless office dividers then the answer is probably not very. There are lots of things you can do in order to make your surrounding more inspiring. For a start, I always like to go for the kind of open plan layout which lets everyone take to each other and feel part of a big team. I also like to put up on the wall some graphs or pictures or whatever else might be interest to the tea members. We all work better when we are in an interesting and stimulating environment, so you should be sure to give this [Read More…]

By |December 9th, 2015|0 Comments|

Why Does This Project Look So Easy?

desk-blurryIf you are ever tempted into wondering why a project seems so much easier than you had expected then this should set some alarm bells ringing. Projects are rarely easier than they appeared to be at the start. In fact, in my experience they tend to gain in complexity the more you study them.

So what if you sit back one day and realize that you are having a far easier time of it than you had expected? It isn’t time to panic yet but it is time to think about where you could have gone astray.

You Got the Scope Wrong

The first option to consider is that you are working on the wrong scope. We know about the risks of scope creep but having the opposite of this (scope shrink?) must be even more dangerous. When you come across this in your work then the first problem is going to be around how recognize it. There seem to be few options for doing this other than taking a step back and looking at the big picture; is what you are doing really going to deliver what was asked for in [Read More…]

By |November 25th, 2015|0 Comments|

How Team Meetings Can Help You Cope With a Terrible Project

None of us is safe from the risk of running into a terrible project at some point. It would be nice if all of the work we were given was easy to do and a lot of fun but sadly we are bound to run into projects which we like a lot less than would be ideal.

The good news is that there are some ways of getting around this and one of the best methods is to use your team meetings to help you deal with those projects which make you want to pull your hair out.

Get Things Off Your Chest

When your projects start to go wrong who do you turn to in order to get the problems and issues of your chest? I have tried speaking to my partner or to my friends but to be honest none of them really know what I am talking or all at that interested in hearing about project plans or milestones. The truth of the matter is that your project team is made up of the only people whom you can really speak to when you have issues you want to talk [Read More…]

By |November 11th, 2015|0 Comments|

How Working Abroad Can Help Your Career

aboveI got an unexpected but welcome email from my old boss in Spain the other day. To be honest, I sometimes forget that I worked there but he writes to me every few months to tell me how things are going at the firm and how his kids are growing up.

I worked on projects before and after my time in Spain but while I was there I did more of a client facing job in a bank branch. Still, the simple act of working abroad can help your career no matter whether you move into a different kind of role or not.

Impress People at Interviews

After a couple of years abroad I moved back to the UK and started looking for a project job. For my first interview I didn’t have a great deal of hope of it working out well. It was a more senior, better paid position than I had been used to and I had been out of the industry for a couple of years. The lady carrying out the interview was clearly reading my CV for the first time while we spoke to me and she didn’t seem too [Read More…]

By |October 28th, 2015|0 Comments|

How to Love Your Project Instead of Just Tolerating It

proud-project-managerWhen you are given a new project to run it is likely to take up a big chunk of your life in next year or so. This means that rather than just tolerating it and trying to get through it without any pain you should try and take the steps to help you love it instead. This might even be easier than you think.

Put More of Yourself Into It

The more you put of your own thoughts and ideas into the piece of work the more chance there is of you really enjoying it. It is a wonderful feeling to see something you have invested a lot of energy in come to fruition, while it isn’t quite the same when you work to bring other people’s ideas to life. This doesn’t mean that you need to control every single aspect of the project and not let anyone get their ideas anywhere near it. However, it does mean that you should try your best to feel as though you are running a piece of work which you have invested a lot of time and ideas in. This might only take you a [Read More…]

By |October 14th, 2015|0 Comments|

Could You Start on a Lower Level and Become a Project Manager Over Time?

female-thinking-about-project-managementIt isn’t easy to walk straight into a project manager job so maybe you would like to think about a different way of getting there. My introduction to the project world was as a business analyst and I can recommend this approach as a long term career strategy.

So what could you gain by starting at a lower level and working your way up to become a project manager? Here are some of the main benefits to taking this approach to your project career.

Learn the Job

Most business analysts know what the project manager role is all about. This doesn’t mean that they could do it well but they understand it. In fact, if you are lucky you might even get given control of a sub project or a small piece of work. It is a great feeling to learn the job while you work and build up your career piece by piece. This also means that you are less likely to make big mistakes when you become a project manager, unlike someone who is plunged right into it. As you work away in the business analyst role you will come across [Read More…]

By |September 30th, 2015|0 Comments|

Looking After Your Project Is Like Looking After Your Car

car-repair-wrenchWhen you bought your first car you probably looked after it well and lavished a huge amount of love and attention on it. In the same way, when you were given your first project I bet you took a great deal of care to get the plan right and follow all of the correct steps.

However, once we have had a vehicle for a while it is easy to forget to wash it or to change the oil regularly and before we know it the old thing has become an unreliable eyesore. Clearly your project is subject to the same sort of risks, although hopefully no one will scrawl “wash me” on the dust covering your project documents.

Keep It Running Smoothly

The biggest benefit to looking after both your car and your project is that it will keep on running nicely if you do this well. A vehicle which hasn’t been well maintained can start to run into problems if you aren’t careful and this is exactly the same with your projects. By being constantly on the lookout for anything which needs modified or tidied up you can get a better performance out of [Read More…]

By |September 16th, 2015|0 Comments|

Help! My Project Is Sucking the Life Out of Me

tired-dogThere are few worse feelings at work than that of the life being sucked out of you by a terrible piece of work you have been given. This is even worse if said project is one which you are going to deal with day in and day out for the foreseeable future.

The answer is either to get really depressed or to fight back and try to stop your work getting you down. I know which approach I would prefer to take.

See the Bright Side

Even the kind of project which makes you almost weep with frustration and which turns the daily commute to work into a form of torture can have a bright side. It is now up to you to find it and to work out how it can help you. For example, could it be that you could make life better for yourself by focusing more on the parts of the project you enjoy most? I am not talking about just dumping the horrible stuff onto other people. Instead, this is about working out what is going to keep you happy and finding out how to make it happen. [Read More…]

By |September 9th, 2015|0 Comments|