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.

What Should Every Project Manager Have on Their Desk?

project-manager-covered-in-yellow-post-it-notesHave you ever stopped and looked at what is in front of you on your office desk? If you have sat in the same place for a long time then the chances are that you have built up an impressive collection of objects but do you really need all of them? More to the point, is there anything which you should have there which is missing?

As far as I know there is no definitive list of objects which every single project manager should have on their desk but there are some things which I reckon it would be good to have on there.

A Pen and Paper

Now that most of us have a work surface which is dominated by a computer it is easy to forget the importance of the good old fashioned pen and paper. I always try to have these to hand even when I walk away from my desk, because you never know when something is going to happen which causes you to want to write some notes. I know that there are hi-tech devices you can use to do this [Read More…]

By |April 22nd, 2015|1 Comment|

Will You Have a Champagne Moment This Week?

champagne-poppingNot every single week of your project can provide you with exciting moments such as when you meet an important milestone or successfully complete some testing. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t manage to fit in a weekly champagne moment to make everyone feel better. Here are a few ways of doing so.

Give Out Some Awards

I have never been a big fan of handing out awards left, right and centre but it is a tactic which can come in useful if you use it now and then. For example, if your piece of work is going through a bit of a lull then organising a small awards ceremony for your team might help get them feeling good again. I don’t think that this is something which is really worth doing when you have other reasons for celebrating a champagne moment in any given week but if can give you a high spot in an otherwise uneventful week. This is something which can be done in a formal, expensive way but you could also have more of a homemade type of project [Read More…]

By |April 15th, 2015|0 Comments|

Coping with Promotion from the Project Team

promoted-project-managerIf you work as a project team member and get promoted into a project management role then this is sure to be an exciting yet daunting progression in your career. Moving from one job into a more senior position in the same company is something which not everyone is able to handle very well. The following are a few points to bear in mind when you find yourself in this position.

Make the Mental Shift

One of the most important changes to make early on in your new role is the mental shift which this change involves. If you carry on thinking of yourself as a member of the team instead of as the new project manager then this is going to make your task of settling in far more difficult. Instead, you need to ensure that you think of yourself as being a project manager who is responsible for the overall running of the piece of work. I guess that this is probably most difficult when you have worked in a different role in the team for a long time. In any case, the [Read More…]

By |April 8th, 2015|0 Comments|

Which Fictional Character Would Make the Worst Project Manager?

homer-simpsonIt can be confusing to read about all of the skills and personality traits which you need to be a great project manager, can’t it? After all, is it possible that one person can embody all of the things you need to be in order to do this job?

Let’s look at in a different way and check out a few fictional characters who definitely couldn’t do this.

David Brent – The Office

I had to start off with our old friend David Brent because he would make one of the worst project managers in the world without doubt. I realise that there is a different version of this show in the US but I imagine he is the same sort of bumbling, arrogant, hopeless twit which Ricky Gervais brilliantly portrays in the UK version. His people skills are nil, his presentations are as cringe inducing as his dancing and he doesn’t actually ever seem to do any work either. If this guy was put in charge of an important project it would be a complete disaster. In fact, I can’t think of one good project [Read More…]

By |April 1st, 2015|0 Comments|

Stop Getting So Cranky at Work

cranky-project-managerIf you sometimes find that you get too cranky at work then it is time to do something about it before it becomes a lasting problem for you. This sort of attitude isn’t going to help you progress in your career, won’t help you build up strong working relationships and will make you feel bad about yourself as well. All in all, it is one of the worst kinds of mood you can get into at work if you are project manager.  So how can you do this? Let’s take it one step at a time and see how to do it.

Work Out What the Problem Is

Do you really not know why you now get more irritated than you used to do? Deep down you probably do, so thinking about it for a while might be all that you need to do in order to start the process of making yourself feel a lot better. Firstly you need to see whether it is a work related issue or something from your personal life. If it is related to your current project then it [Read More…]

By |March 25th, 2015|0 Comments|

Driving Your Car is Very Much Like Running a Project

autobahnMany of us drive to work every single day without ever taking a few minutes to consider how driving is very much like running a project in many ways. If you don’t believe me then here are a few examples to chew over the next time you get behind the wheel.

Know What Trouble Might Be Ahead

Driving is a lot safer and far less stressful when you know what potential dangers lie ahead. To do this properly you need to pay attention to the road signs and to listen to the traffic updates on the radio. When it comes to keeping your project ticking along nicely you have other ways of making sure that you know what possible problems lie in wait for you further along the road. For a start, your project plan can be an invaluable tool if you use it properly. By tracking the plan on a regular basis you will be able to see at a glance when there is a danger of slipping off schedule. Another way of doing this is by keeping close control of your risks and [Read More…]

By |March 18th, 2015|0 Comments|

What Winston Churchill Can Teach Us About Project Management

winston-churchillSir Winston Churchill is one of my personal heroes. He is a man who hugely influenced the Second World War through the power of his speeches and his will to win, going on to be widely regarded as one of the most influential figures in history.

This inspirational statesman left us with a huge number of fantastic quotes, as he was noted for being very quick witted and for having a formidable sense of humor. One of the things I find most intriguing about truly timeless pieces of wisdom is that they can be applied to just about any walk of life, so let’s see how Churchill’s most famous quotes relate to project management.

You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.

This phrase can easily be applied to project management, although it presumably was originally spoken with politics in mind. It is tempting to try and keep everyone happy all the time but this simply isn’t possible when working on projects, just as it isn’t in any other aspect of life. Occasionally you might need to tell someone [Read More…]

By |March 11th, 2015|0 Comments|

How to Sell Yourself as a Project Manager

A project manager looking like a used car salesman.If you have been keen on a project management role for some time then you might think that once you achieve this the hard work is over. However, you should approach this as being just one more step in your career instead of being the final one. There is presumably still plenty to get done before you get the career satisfaction you want.

Once you are working as project manager you still need to sell yourself in order to get given better pieces of work to handle and maybe get promoted within your company or head hunted by a different one. So how will you do this?

Talk a Good Game

When I first started my new life as a project manager the area I was least comfortable with was the fact that I would have to talk a good game. Having come from an operational background I was far more used to getting the job done and not sitting around talking about what I was going to do or [Read More…]

By |March 4th, 2015|0 Comments|

How Will You Spend Your Day at Work?

female-project-manager-considering-how-to-spend-her-dayWhen you are in the midst of a busy project your days can fly by in the blink of an eye. In my experience it can be extremely stressful to discover that it is now 11 o’clock, you haven’t done anything you had planned to do in the first couple of hours at work and the coffee which has been on your desk for two hours is now stone cold.

So how you can organise your day in order to spend your time in a better way? I have never found a scientific way of doing this but here are the tips I have picked up over the years.

Prioritize the Tasks

It kind of makes sense to do the urgent stuff first, doesn’t it? So why don’t we always do it? I am pretty sure that I am not the only person who sometimes gets towards the end of the day and realizes that I still have some urgent stuff to finish before I can go home. The best answer I can find to this problem is to prioritise the tasks. Actually, prioritising them is [Read More…]

By |February 25th, 2015|0 Comments|

Which Cartoon Character Would You Have on Your Project Team?

doraMy little girl makes sure that I see plenty of cartoons even when I would rather be doing something else like sleeping. If it isn’t Dora running about with that annoying little monkey of hers it is that little boy who thinks he is a knight from the Middle Ages.

Anyway, as I tried to close my tired eyes and block out the singing of the Backyardigans this morning I fell into a strange kind of stupor in which I imagined working on a project with some cartoon characters. Here are some of the people and animals who I started to think about as project workers, and my thoughts on how they might get on.

Top Cat

This cat is one cool dude. I think I remember reading that he was known as Boss Cat in the USA, or maybe he changed his name at some point. Anyway, this is a vintage cartoon which I would love to see again sometime soon. How would this alley cat cope in the project world, though? He is certainly smart enough to do a great job but he seems [Read More…]

By |February 18th, 2015|2 Comments|