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.

The Project Office’s Coffee Machine Is Your Friend

enjoying-coffeeI used to work a few feet away from the worst coffee machine in the world. I never knew this at the time, of course, just as we never know about the really horrible things which are right under our nose all day.

I only realized how bad that piece of junk was when I moved to a new office and made friends with a smart modern machine which offered me several types of coffee, hot chocolate and even two types of hot soup. I was in hot beverage heaven.

As you can probably tell, I love reminiscing about seemingly insignificant stuff like this but what does it have to do with being a project manager? Well, as strange as it might seem, the coffee machine in your project office can be a great help to you in your day to day work. No, really, it can. Ok, why don’t you grab a caramel macchiato and make yourself comfortable while we look at a few of the reasons why I say this.

Buy Time

There always comes a moment in a project when the project manager needs to buy themselves some time. In fact, this [Read More…]

By |July 29th, 2015|0 Comments|

Some Interesting Ways to Enhance Your Career

thinkingOnce you start out in a project manager role you could be forgiven for thinking that you will be restricted in your future career to similar jobs to the one you are now doing. The good news is that this doesn’t have to be the case provided that you know how to diversify and enhance your career as you go along.

Focus More on People Management

As you progress your career in the project world you will find that your people management skills become ever more important. This is because you will look to run bigger projects all the time and you will be expected to do this using bigger project teams as well. By working on your people management skills you can be sure to feel more confident about being able to move on in your career and deal with the running of large teams. You might also find that as your career improves you get handed geographically disperse teams as well as those who sit next to you. This is another big challenge and you will need to feel confident about your ability to lead a team which is close [Read More…]

By |July 22nd, 2015|0 Comments|

Don’t Make a Mess of Your Email Communication

postThese days most project managers use email for a lot of their communication. It is quick and easy but, sadly, it is also easy to mess up. If you don’t want to enjoy email communication which is clear and useful then here are some top tips to follow.

Don’t Send Long and Confusing Emails

One of the most common mistakes when sending emails is to make the messages more long and complicated than is advisable. If you have to spend more than 5 minutes writing out the email then there is a good chance that it falls into this category. When this is the case it might be better to set up a meeting to discuss the matter instead. Most of us don’t like to see long winded and complex messages arrive to our inbox so try not to inflict them on your stakeholders and team members. If you do need to ever send a long and complicated mail then you should look to at least use bullet points to make it easier to read. An alternative approach is to divide up the content into a number of different messages instead of [Read More…]

By |July 15th, 2015|1 Comment|

5 Reasons to Go the Extra Mile

climbing-rocksIt can be easy to make the decision for settle for your current level of effort on a project. After all, you are probably already doing a good job, so why make your life more complicated by trying to go the extra mile if you don’t need to?

Well, here are 5 great reasons why you should do more often.

Feel Good About Yourself

If there is one overwhelming reason to go the extra mile it is to make sure that you feel better about yourself and how you are doing the job. We all like to look at ourselves in the mirror in the morning and know that we are looking at a serious project manager who does a great job every time. If you can do this then it will be well worth going the extra mile and doing a little extra work in order to give the business users what they need. If there is one thing I hate at work it is thinking that I could have done something better, and it is definitely worth working hard to avoid this feeling. If you have never felt the warm glow [Read More…]

By |July 1st, 2015|0 Comments|

Oh No! My Project Budget Just Got Slashed

furious-project-managerOne of the most difficult aspects of project management work can be the managing of a budget. If you aren’t used to controlling a lot of the company’s money then you could find this both difficult and stressful to do on your projects.

Of course, the situation will get even worse if your budget gets cut part of the way through the project. This is something which would test even the most resourceful and experienced project manager to the limit. If it happens to you then the following are a few tips for trying to carry on with your work as effectively as possible despite the budget cut.

Evaluate the Situation

You don’t want to just accept the budget cut and then carry on working away as before. Instead, you need to work out exactly how this big change to the project is going to affect your work. If it is now going to make it absolutely impossible to do what you have been asked to do then the best time to say so is right away. By that I don’t mean flying into a panic [Read More…]

By |June 17th, 2015|0 Comments|

Don’t Let the Project Routine Rob You of Your Creative Spark

bored-project-manager-at-workIn my experience the role of project manager is one in which you will have less of a fixed routine than in many others. This is great news if you are like me and enjoy having a varied and interesting day at work. However, there is no job in the world which offers you a complete break from the routine. I guess that even astronauts and clowns get fed up with doing the same old tasks every day.

So how will you make sure that the routine in your project management job doesn’t get you down and rob you of your creative spark?

Do Different Things

The simplest and most obvious way to take a step back from the daily routine is to do different things, isn’t it? The good news here is that the project manager job gives you more flexibility in this respect than many others. If you are working on a big project then there are probably a good number of tasks which you could look at doing when you need a break. In fact, I would suggest that it makes sense to [Read More…]

By |June 3rd, 2015|0 Comments|

End the Day with a Bang

Explosion Of Nuclear BombWe have looked in the past at starting the day with a bang, and this is something which will get you off to a great start and go a long way to ensuring that you get a lot out of your day at work. However, what about ending your day with a bang as well?

I sometimes travel home at the end of the day with some regrets about not having taken full advantage of my time in the office. There are some days in which I feel that I haven’t gotten very far or, even worse, have gone backwards. To avoid this happening I would suggest trying to end your days with a bang whenever you have the energy to do so. The following are a few suggestions for doing so.

Do Tomorrow’s Most Difficult Task Today

If there is one thing I hate seeing more than anything else when I tidy up my desk at the end of day it is a note for something difficult which I need to do the following day. It can ruin my evening if I [Read More…]

By |May 27th, 2015|0 Comments|

Could You Be an Inspirational Project Manager?

inspirational-project-managerThere is someone on your project who needs to inspire everyone else and if you are the project manager then that person is you.

The idea of being inspirational for other people might come naturally to you but it isn’t quite so easy for some project managers to handle this part of the role. So what can you do if you feel that you need to do more in order to inspire your team as much as possible?

Get Inspired

You can’t be expected to inspire others if you aren’t inspired, can you? As the leader of the project you need to feel inspired by the piece of work you are doing. There are a few different ways of trying to do this and perhaps the best one is to consider what improvements you will make to people’s working lives by delivering a good, fit for purpose solution. If you have been tasked with bringing in a new process or streamlining an existing one then presumably some workers are going to benefit from what you deliver for them. This is something you should never lose sight [Read More…]

By |May 20th, 2015|0 Comments|

Are You a Project Manager of Action?

project-manager-of-actionThere are two different types of project manager I have come across in my career; those who get things done and those who talk about it but never seem to produce anything tangible.

Talking is necessary in every project, as this is how you will build up a strong team spirit, find out what is needing done and resolve problems. However, until you become a project manager who knows how to turn their thoughts and plans into action you won’t be able to say that you do a great job. So how will you go about this?

Know When to Talk and When to Produce

There is a time for talking and a time for action. All of the best project managers know when once ends and the other one needs to start. If you are handed a particularly difficult looking piece of work then you might be tempted to keep the dialogue going for longer than is necessary in order to avoid facing up to the rest of the work. However, I have always found that this just makes the situation worse. It is usually [Read More…]

By |May 6th, 2015|0 Comments|

Will Your Project Management Role Provide a More Global View of Work?

airplaneMost jobs have traditionally restricted our view of the world to a strictly local or regional outlook. For example, when I started in my first ever job I worked beside people who lived in the same town as me and all of my customers lived within a couple of miles of the office, just as I did.

This is a comfortable way of working and I guess that a lot of people pass their entire careers in this sort of environment. However, if you feel that you would like a more global view of work then a project manager role could be just what you need.

Travel on Business

The furthest I had travelled in my first job was to buy my boss a cheese and ham sandwich in the shop across the street. This all changed when I started working on projects. My new job involved regular trips to London, workshops in other cities and even a team meeting in a zoo’s conference centre out of town. If you like the idea of travelling for business reasons then working on projects will probably let you [Read More…]

By |April 29th, 2015|0 Comments|