Category Archives for "Project Management"

5 Reasons To Sign Your Project Managers Up For Remote Mentoring

You haven’t heard otherwise, so you assume everything is going well with your Project Managers and their assigned projects.

They – and all their stakeholders – have worked from home continuously since the pandemic began in March.

You’ve assumed that they are happy working remotely, and that they have adapted seamlessly to this new model where they only get to see their stakeholders on Zoom…

…and that’s if their cameras are enabled!

Surely you’d know if things were operating at a level that was less than optimal.

Right?

Maybe you need to take a closer look. Because if you do, you might see some tell-tale signs which initially seem insignificant.

But if you put them all together? You have to admit that your projects and delivery timelines are suffering, and your allocated budget risks spiralling out of control as a result.

The truth is that Project Managers are struggling in this pandemic for a number of different reasons, through no fault of their own. What used to be simple tasks such as running meetings and workshops have had to take on completely different formats now that they are conducted virtually.

And along with different formats come different considerations.

While we are fortunate to have access to innovative technology and tools such as Microsoft Teams, Slack and Zoom as we try to make our way through this pandemic, the truth is that they cannot replace face-to-face interaction. A completely different skill set is required to navigate projects and the world of work in general, which is now predominantly virtual.

Specifically, your Project Managers need more than their existing technical knowledge and experience to bridge the gap created when they and their teams started working remotely.

Given that this is to be the case for the foreseeable future, it’s best to equip them with the support they need to deliver the results you’ve planned for in your business forecasts.

Tackling the unintended and unforeseen consequences of the rapid changes to how we work is why I created a Remote Mentoring Service for Project Managers.

There are more details of how it works here, but it’s also worth highlighting the 5 reasons to sign your Project Managers up for Remote Mentoring:

It Gives Them the Best Chance of Working Effectively Amid the Chaos of Lockdown:

It’s not clear when the pandemic and what has tirelessly been referred to as “the new normal” will be over.

However if your business is in the fortunate position of being able to operate and implement various projects in this season, it’ll be obvious that the dynamics have changed. They are easy to underestimate, but these changes will invariably have an impact on teams and stakeholders, as well as your Project Managers and the way they work.

Signing them up for Remote Mentoring will give them the best chance to adapt their working practices in such a way that they are effective, and remain productive.

An Objective Sounding Board:

With Remote Mentoring, your Project Managers will gain access to an objective sounding board.

While my goal is to ensure they hit their targets and deliverables, the nature of my role means I am detached and objective enough to have an unbiased perspective, and provide input accordingly.

It Boosts Morale:

One of the most common pieces of feedback I have heard from Project Managers this year is that they feel unsupported, and have been left in the lurch as far as coming to terms with the current situation resulting from the pandemic is concerned.

This has led to a deterioration in morale, which the last thing you want right now is to have the people in charge of critical deliverables to be demotivated!

Signing your Project Managers up for Remote Mentoring will ensure they get the support that’s been lacking, and ensure their morale remains high.

Opportunity To Work With Someone Who Can Relate:

When you sign your Project Managers up for Remote Mentoring, they will gain access to someone who is very familiar with the concept of working and delivering under pressure.

And not only that, I have previously done so in circumstances when every member of my team was based in a different location!

And in the course of doing so over a number of years, I learned how to make up for the absence of face-to-face communication. It is this experience I will use to guide your Project Managers through this season.

Protect Your Timelines & Bottom Line:

Ultimately, the 4 reasons above lead to this one: you need to protect your timelines and bottom line.

Because you cannot afford to let inefficiencies – unintentional they may be – lack of objectivity, poor morale, and lack of experience impact the quality of your project delivery.

Not at a time like this!

Though challenging, now more than ever you need your Project Managers to focus on every crucial detail. You cannot afford for them to be derailed by the circumstances and changing tide that is this pandemic.

How To Sign Up For Remote Mentoring:

Contact me to book your Project Managers in as soon as possible.

Why I Created a Remote Mentoring Service for Project Managers

Since the start of the pandemic, I’ve had a lot of feedback from Project Managers along these lines:

“I’m in over my head.”
“I’ve had no support since lockdown started. None. At. All.”
“I’m managing a massive project that’s due to be delivered soon. My milestones are critical, and I can’t afford to get this wrong in any way.”
“Everything feels chaotic, and my success in managing stakeholders has deteriorated overnight.”

Working from home 5 days a week for an extended period of time has taken its toll on all involved and ultimately, on the end results. This means that the quality of projects is missing the mark, and achieving completion on time and within budget is becoming a rarity as opposed to a certainty.

Reading between the lines, what Project Managers have really struggled with these past few months is the lack of support.

Granted, no one foresaw the pandemic, and there is no rulebook.

But the Project Managers I’ve spoken to feel they’ve been left in the lurch in what are unprecedented circumstances, to come to terms with everything on their own.

It’s not that they are inexperienced; quite the opposite. They are seasoned professionals who have managed and delivered more than their fair share of projects and programmes in various industries in the past.

What’s different is that where previously, they and their stakeholders worked from home one or two days a week, doing so has been a constant feature since lockdown restrictions were announced in March.

And until the coronavirus is under control, it looks like movement will remain restricted in one form or another. One thing is for sure, there will not be a return to offices en masse for quite some time. How long that is? Nobody knows…

…so while Project Managers and all the people they need to provide input and contributions to projects work from home for the foreseeable future, it’s important to acknowledge that:

The shift to working remotely for the foreseeable future has had – and will have – an impact on their working dynamic and ultimately, how they perform.

This previous blog post examines why your Project Managers are struggling during this pandemic, and goes into more detail about exactly how that shows up and the effect it has on project outcomes and results.

Essentially, some of the signs include tension in the Project team that didn’t exist before, communication just doesn’t seem to run smoothly.

And crucially? Delivery timelines and milestones have been missed.

These observations and the feedback I’ve had from Project Managers are why I created a Remote Mentoring Service for Project Managers.

What Is My Remote Mentoring Service?

My Remote Mentoring Service is a one-to-one, individualised service that helps Project Managers address the complexities that arise from the fact that they, their Project Team and stakeholders are working from home for the foreseeable future.

Those unintended consequences of working remotely take their toll on team morale and their ability to deliver. The Remote Mentoring Service provides crucial support and the opportunity for such consequences to be addressed in real-time.

Who is the Remote Mentoring Service For?

The Remote Mentoring Service is for experienced Project Managers who are busier than ever!

However as they navigate the murky world of remote work, they need support to ensure they continue to work effectively and efficiently.

How Will You Benefit From My Remote Mentoring Service?

You’ll get 5 things from my Remote Mentoring Service:

  • Crucial support.
  • An experienced and objective sounding board.
  • A place to seek counsel.
  • A safe space to discuss the issues you are experiencing while managing your project(s).
  • Recommendations on how to resolve these issues and tackle roadblocks.

What Support Will You Get?

Each week we’ll review specific issues and challenges you highlight in detail.

As well as being a safe place to discuss them I’ll work with you to address each one, so you can feel better equipped to do what you do.

How Does My Remote Mentoring Service Work?

This blog post explains how my Remote Mentoring Service for Project Managers works but essentially, there are 4 weekly sessions.

Each one lasts between 60 and 90 minutes.

How Much Does It Cost?

The service costs £2,500 + VAT for 4 weeks.

Can You Have More Than 4 Sessions?

If you wish to continue getting support after the initial period, you can!

Each additional session costs £500.

How Can You Sign Up For Remote Mentoring?

Send me a message with your details and I’ll book you in!

How My Remote Mentoring Service for Project Managers Works

(Source: getstencil)

In my last post I explained why your Project Managers are struggling in the pandemic.

I also wrote about how my Remote Mentoring Service will help them overcome the added complexities that arise as a result of them working with teams and stakeholders who now have to work remotely for the foreseeable future.

Here, I go into more detail about how my Remote Mentoring Service for Project Managers works:

What Is It?

My Remote Mentoring Service gives Project Managers the support they need to deliver crucial pieces of work in this climate.

Since the start of lockdown, I have noticed that:

Project Managers are finding it a real challenge to deliver their projects as normal in this climate.

Since restrictions started in March forcing everyone to work from home, the assumption was that a switch would be flipped, and projects would be automatically continue being managed, run and implemented as usual. Only remotely. But unfortunately, this has not happened.

Company bottom lines have been affected.

You wouldn’t have thought working remotely would have such a significant impact, but it has. Key milestones and timelines are routinely missed, causing costs to overrun. Which, even if your business is doing well in the middle of this pandemic, you cannot afford.

Key stakeholders have raised complaints about several things that are not going well on projects they are involved in.

And rightly so!

These complaints have cannot be ignored any longer, and the growing feeling of dissatisfaction and discontent needs to be addressed.

In response to these issues and many more, I created the service to help Project Managers overcome these obstacles and deliver their projects efficiently.

I’ll help you address the added complexities arising purely from the fact that you, your team and stakeholders have to work remotely for the foreseeable future, so you can deliver your projects successfully.

Who Is It For?

(Source: getstemcil)

You’re an Experienced Project Manager.

You already have the “hard” skills, so this isn’t about teaching you how core Project Management.

You’ve coped with managing your projects and meeting those deliverables in the months after the pandemic broke out back in March 2020.

But the truth is that it’s been anything but smooth sailing. And now with a second wave afoot, your business has announced that everyone should work from home until 2021 at least. Maybe even indefinitely…

…and you are busier than ever!

While that’s a good thing and you’re grateful to be busy when so many have lost their sources of income, you’ve found that working remotely involves a lot more than having a good WiFi connection, finding a pretty backdrop, and running your meetings on Zoom.

You’re finding it increasingly difficult to complete standard tasks such as running workshops, getting feedback and approvals on essential elements, and managing stakeholders to your usual standard.

Since the plan – inasmuch as you have one – is for you and your delivery teams to work remotely for the foreseeable future, you’ve to this conclusion and are having to admit the inevitable:

You can’t do it without support.

Whereas the pattern was for people to work from home mainly on Fridays or for a couple of days during the week, your working world is now fully remote and virtual. And you need guidance on how to translate what you used to do into that world.

You need a sounding board that is experienced and objective. A place to seek counsel when you feel like pulling your hair out!

How Long Does It Take?

(Source: getstencil)

The Remote Mentoring Service takes place over 4 weeks and over that period, we’ll meet at an agreed day and time every week.

The sessions will take place on Zoom.

What Sort Of Support Will I Get?

Each week we’ll review specific issues and challenges you highlight in detail.

As well as being a safe place to discuss them I’ll work with you to address each one, so you can feel better equipped to do what you do.

How Long Are The Weekly Sessions?

(Source: getstencil)

Each session in the Remote Mentoring Service lasts between 60 and 90 minutes.

How Much Does It Cost?

The Remote Mentoring Service costs £2,500 + VAT for 4 weeks.

Can I Have More Than 4 Sessions?

If you wish to continue getting support after the initial period, you can!

Each additional session costs £500.

What Should I Do Now?

My advice?

You can’t afford to drop any more balls, miss any more crucial deadlines or overshoot your budget. There just isn’t the bandwidth to do that in this current climate…

so book your place on my Remote Mentoring Service now.

And if there are any more questions you’d still like to ask before you sign up, send them through to me here.

Are Your Project Managers Struggling In The Pandemic?

(Source: getstencil)

You head up the Delivery function in your organisation, and one of your responsibilities includes managing a number of Project Managers.

They are a team of experienced women and men who have previously delivered various initiatives successfully.

Whether those projects were to deliver commercial outcomes for the Senior Leadership team, or implementing systems in the IT space, you were secure in the knowledge that your team was capable, dependable, and reliable.

Every Project Manager in the team was a safe pair of hands…

…but along came 2020!

(Source: getstencil)

And with it a global pandemic of epic proportions; the kind we have never seen or experienced before.

The lockdown and restrictions on movement followed in March, and that meant working from home was no longer a perk or optional extra available to those privileged enough to have it.

Or, those who had the choice of working flexibly to improve their work-life balance.

Because of the pandemic working remotely – from home – became the enforced status quo.

The “new normal”, if you will.

So, working from home became the norm for your Project Managers, and they had to adapt quickly to the change.

At first, the switch to long-term home working appeared to be smooth.

All the team needed were tools such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams, and access to wi-fi.

Right?

You thought your Project Managers would get by easily.

But as the weeks and months rolled by, you started to notice a few things:

Delivery timelines and critical milestones were being missed.

And this happened more often than you’d like or can afford to tolerate.

There was tension in the team that hadn’t existed before.

This surprised you, as the core team know each other well and had a good rapport pre-COVID.

Communication was a major sticking point.

In the sense that in spite of all the technology and tools, it’s been obvious that it’s not working smoothly. Which is having a detrimental impact on efficiency.

In summary, things haven’t been the same since your Project Managers started working from home earlier in the year.

And with the latest set of restrictions announced by the Prime Minister, it’s anybody’s guess how long it will be before the team can go back into their offices.

Can I tell you what the problem is?

It is not about your Project Managers needing more training to hone their core project management skills. They are seasoned professionals who know their stuff, so the current disruption you’ve noticed isn’t down to a lack of having those skills.

The problem has to do with the shift to working remotely indefinitely.

(Source: getstencil)

We may not want to acknowledge it but human beings are made for social interaction, and even the best apps and technology cannot act as a substitute.

While such disconnection is fine for a few days or weeks, dealing with it consistently over a long period – or even indefinitely – introduces a different dynamic to working relationships.

Which subsequently has a negative effect on productivity and project outcomes.

So, how can you tackle this problem?

How can you get your critical projects delivered successfully – so, on time and on budget – when your Project Managers have stakeholders who are all remote?

I have something that can help.

Introducing my Remote Mentoring service for Project Managers.

Over a 4-week period, I will work with them to:

Develop the skills they need for successful project delivery in the current climate.

Implement that project that’s been dragging on which you urgently need to get over the line right now.

Tackle the specific challenges they are facing when it comes to delivering the outcomes your business needs on time and within the set budget.

Because now more than ever, you can’t afford for either of those to slip!

There’s more detail on how my Remote Mentoring Service for Project Managers works here; contact me to book your spot.

5 Things To Consider When Hiring A Project Manager

I did a straw poll of some small businesses recently, and it
was interesting to find that the majority did not use a Business Plan for
planning and forecasting.

It might be the same for you. Maybe you don’t have anything
formal; perhaps you jot down your goals and thoughts from month to month (or,
week to week)?

If you run your own business, or department within a
business, you may wonder if writing a Business Plan is worth the hassle. You understand
that it’s important to plan, but you’re not sure you want to spend the time
doing it.

If you’ve ever wondered what the point of a Business Plan is,
here are 4 reasons you need one today:

It sets out your business intentions

More businesses than you’d think waste time and money
pursuing white elephants that have no bearing on their goals and objectives.

With a Business Plan, you’ll get to clarify and specify what
you aim to achieve in the coming weeks and months. You can always refer to it
when the next shiny object comes along; it will serve as a good way tp keeo you
on track!

It prompts you to think carefully about your what your customers need

Entrepreneurs are by nature creative, and left to their own
devices, could easily dream up a warehouse full of cutting-edge products and
services. But…

…is anyone out there asking for them?

A well-written Business Plan poses the questions of customer
demand, and how your products and services meet that demand.

It helps you zero in on your target market

A good Business Plan poses will contain a section on your
target market.

So apart from the obvious bit on just who your product or
service is designed for, it will prompt you to analyse and detail things like the
current state of the market, how it’s changing, trends and any gaps.

Researching and knowing these things will help you position your
proposition, and make the most of any gaps that your competitors are not
serving.

It forces you to plan for the money

This is the section of Business Plans that people struggle
with most!

It’s also THE most important part.

How else will you know how much you should aim to make as a
minimum to cover your costs, and how much cash you must have in the bank each
month to keep the business running?

Ignore the finances, and you could end up in dire straits
very soon.

 

And, don’t forget, a Business Plan is a living
document! You will get clearer on some of the elements, and you can adjust
these to be more specific or realistic as time goes on.

Most business owners and bosses I speak to agree on one
thing: having a Business Plan is crucial for goal-setting and the success that
comes with it.

When it comes to writing that plan however, I find that
actions don’t match the rhetoric!

Writing a Business Plan can appear intimidating, but it isn’t
as difficult as you might think. The fear of it can make the task into a
monster it’s not!

So, have you ever made these excuses to NOT write a Business Plan?

“I don’t have time”

A common reason used to get out of doing just about
anything!

But as the saying goes, if something is important you’ll
make time for it.

Right?

Besides, this nut doesn’t have to be cracked all in one day.
You can purpose to work on one section every 2 – 3 days and at the end of the month,
you’ll have your Business Plan!

“I’m not good with numbers”

And my response to that is, who is?

Not many of us can be described as mathematical geniuses,
but that doesn’t preclude us from running – and planning for – our successful
businesses.

While section headings in the document like “Sales Forecast”
and “Projected Cash Flow” may discourage the numerically challenged, taking the
time to stop and think about what those words actually mean will remove the dread
you feel deep in the pit of your stomach!

For example, “Projected Cash Flow” is simply a summary of
how much cash you need to run your business day-to-day, and for your Sales
Forecast, put in estimates for what you anticipate your best and worst case
scenarios will be in terms of sales (be realistic!). Also, work out the minimum
number of units you need to sell to cover your costs.

See? It’s not so scary when you break it down.

“It’s don’t want to pay someone to do it for me”

Yes, paying for a Business Planning service like ours
requires a financial commitment.

You can certainly
do it yourself, and my Business Plan template here breaks it down into manageable
chunks designed to help and guide you.

But if you can’t dedicate the time or effort needed to do it
yourself, is the cost really worth the risk of going from one day to the next
without a plan?

“It will change as time goes on, so why bother?”

A Business Plan is a living document, so yes, you will need
to keep updating it.

When you plan for months, a year or more in advance, there
are conditions and elements that you will become more aware of, things that
will happen and need to be finetuned in the plan.

That doesn’t mean it’s not a worthwhile exercise. I’ve written
about why it’s something you need here.

Do have a read, and let me know if you have any queries.

(If you’re still wondering what the point of having a
Business Plan is, have a quick look at this).

(I’ve put together a post explaining what the jargon in a
Business Plan means; here it
is. Start by reading that; it will help you with this part).

I know this sounds patronising. After all, who knows your
business better than you?

I can assure you it isn’t meant to be. The point I’m making
is that, as well as giving an overview of your business, you have to be able to
articulate things like the main idea behind it, your mission and objectives,
and who your main competitors are.

Think about what the market is like, and where it is going

So, what’s the current condition of the market?

Is it growing, fairly stable, or declining?

Are there any notable underlying trends?

What is the demand in the market, and how do your products
or services meet that demand?

What’s your Unique Selling Proposition, and are there any
gaps in the market which you intend to fill?

Know the audience you are selling to

Which segment of the market have you designed your products
and services for?

Women, or men, or both?

Working women, or stay-at-home mothers?

People within a certain age range?

Are they based in cities, suburban or rural areas?

Are they early adopters or technophobes?

What are their problems, and which of these will you solve
with your products and services?

These are some of the questions which will frame your
offering. And they are crucial, because sometimes it’s easy to forget that our products
and services are NOT for us.

They must meet the needs of your target market. Give the people
what they want, as they say!

Brainstorm some ideas about how you will price, market and sell your
products and services

Take some time to think about your pricing strategy.

Most of the time, people think this involves plucking a
price out of the air, but there’s more to it than that!

How much does each unit cost to produce, and what margin
will the market tolerate on top of that?

How does that then match your expectations for income and
profit?

Then, you need to think about how you want to market and
sell products and services. Social media makes advertising and marketing more
accessible, but bear in mind that what works for a similar business may not
work for yours.

So, do a bit of research, and have some intentions for how
you will conduct your sales and marketing campaigns.

How will you measure your success?

“Measure your success” sounds boring, I know!

But if you don’t work out in advance how you’ll do this, how
will you know what you’re working towards?

And more importantly, how will you know when it happens?

Take some time to think through the finances

This part is easy to skip, but is probably the most important
of all.

You need a certain amount of cash to run your business every
month. Sum up your expenses (and don’t forget to include your salary).

What does the total come to?

That’s what the amount you need to have available. Not invoiced
and waiting to be paid; actual cash in the bank. Anything less, and you
immediately have a cash flow problem.

Many a business has been successful on paper and in terms of
invoiced amounts, but ended up filing for bankruptcy because it simply couldn’t
meet its obligations when they were due.

Another key point to address is the length of time you think
it will take to make a profit.

It’s not unusual for some businesses not to make a profit
for some months, or even years. As long as you know that upfront and are
prepared for it, that’s fine!

But if that’s the case, do you have an idea of what the losses
will come to each month? How will this be funded, and how long can you sustain
that?

In my experience, people either don’t plan for these
scenarios, or are far too optimistic with their figures.

P.S. Where I’ve recommended doing research, please don’t think
it has to be onerous.

Ask your family and friends. Use the internet. Create a poll
using Surveymonkey or Google Polls. Some professional bodies – such as the Institute
of Directors – offer research sessions which you can access as part of their
membership. Check with your professional body and see if they can help you do
some, maybe they’ve even done something similar already and have some
statistics they can share with you!

The deadline to submit your self-assessment tax return is 31
January. With just over two weeks to go, it’s a good time to go over the 5
steps you need to follow to complete your self-assessment tax return.

The purpose of the return is to tell Her Majesty’s Revenue
and Customs (HMRC) how much you earned in the last tax year and based on the
information you provide, the appropriate income tax you need to pay is
calculated.

If you are self-employed – so you don’t earn a salary from
which your tax is automatically deducted – or have more than one source of
income, this applies to you!

You can either do the return yourself, or hire an accountant
to do it for you (check out the ICAEW or ACCA websites to find an accredited
professional near you).

If you do decide to do it yourself, there are 5 steps I
suggest you follow. Before I tell you what those are, there are a few things
you need to know:

·       
Tax years in the UK run from 6 April to 5 April,
e.g. from 6 April 2016 to 5 April 2017.

·       
The deadline to submit your return and pay the
tax due is 31 January after the end of the tax year*. Using the example above,
the deadline is 31 January 2018.

·       
Act NOW if you haven’t already, because late
payments attracts a penalty! If you suffered from a serious illness, family
bereavement or a natural disaster you’ll be given a pass, but forgetting or
being away on holiday do not count as reasonable excuses. So don’t put this off
any longer!

Check to see if you qualify

You have to complete and submit a tax return if you were
self-employed in the last tax year, or earned more than £2,500 in untaxed
income.

For example, for landlords with rental properties, or people
who rent out rooms in their homes, if the income after expenses is more than
£2,500, a tax return must be submitted.

Some of the other criteria to consider are earned interest
or dividends more than £10,000.

There’s a full list of these criteria here https://www.gov.uk/self-assessment-tax-returns/who-must-send-a-tax-return,
and there’s also an online tool where you can confirm if you need to do this
https://www.gov.uk/check-if-you-need-a-tax-return

Register with HMRC

If you haven’t filled in a self-assessment tax return
before, you’ll need to register with HMRC before beginning the process of
filling in the return.

You can do that here https://www.gov.uk/log-in-file-self-assessment-tax-return/register-if-youre-self-employed

HMRC will send you a Unique Taxpayer Reference – or UTR –
which you’ll need when completing the return online.

Collate all the information you’ll need

Before you start filling in the return, I’d recommend you
get all your records and information ready.

You’ll be asked to provide details for a whole raft of
things which I’ve listed below:

·       
The total of what you earned in the year. That
includes income from your business and any employment.

·       
Any income earned from dividends.

·       
Any income earned from rent.

·       
Any income earned from business interests you
may have outside the UK.

·       
Any interest earned on your savings.

·       
Any interest you paid on borrowings.

·       
Any contributions you made to a pension.

·       
Any benefits you received, such as state
pension, Child Benefit or unemployment benefit.

·       
Any perks you received, such as private
healthcare or a car allowance.

·       
Any income earned from the sale of property or
shares.

·       
The sum of any valid business expenses.

Complete the return online

Now, you need to fill in all this information online.

Log into the HMRC system here, and input the relevant
information when prompted
https://www.gov.uk/log-in-file-self-assessment-tax-return/sign-in/prove-identity

You can fill sections in, save, and come back at a later
time to complete it, if you need to.

Organise your records

Haven’t been that prepared this year? You can always start
now to organise your records, so next year’s return isn’t so tedious! These are
some of the documents I’d recommend you start filing.

·       
Invoices

·       
Payslips

·       
Receipts

·       
Bank statements

·       
Pension statements

·       
Benefit documentation

·       
P11D expenses and benefits form.

HMRC requires that you keep records for up to 5 years after
the deadline.

So even though you’ve completed this year’s return, it’s
never too early to get your digital or physical filing in place for next year.
I do both for a catch-all approach – you can never be too careful with the
taxman!

There is a range of online accounting software you can use
to keep track of all these items, and you can also file away hard copies.

 

And if you get stuck?

HMRC has lots of resources online https://www.gov.uk/topic/personal-tax/self-assessment
which you can look through.

And remember, you can appoint a qualified accountant to do
this for you.

*The 31 January deadline applies if you do your returns
online. You can go old school with your returns if you prefer, but the deadline
for paper returns is 3 months earlier in the October.

An effective headshot can give theviewer a sense of who you are more than words can say.

Here, you need to commit to some timelines.

So, remember those objectives you listed above? Break them down
even further into tasks, and for each one put down a realistic completion date.

That will make sure your plans are firmly rooted and realistic,
as opposed to being pie-in-the-sky aspirations that you have no chance of achieving.

The second Payment Services Directive – also known as PSD2 –
becomes UK law on 13 january 2018.

From the name, it’s easy to think it only affects banks.

But hold on! It has implications for you too.

Here’s a summary of what it’s about, and the main ways it
will affect you.

So, what’s PSD2?

The first Payment
Services Directive (PSD) from 2009 put in place a legal framework for payments
and related services across Europe.

It covered the rights and responsibilities of consumers,
users and providers of payment services, and ensured that European countries
implemented, and were held to, a uniform set of standards.

PSD2 builds on the success of PSD, and at its core wants to increase
competition in the industry while reducing the dominance of banks.

Big banks have traditionally held all the aces when it comes
to the business of payments, and when you consider the amount of information
they hold on their customers – data is big business, just ask Facebook! – there’s
been little incentive for them to innovate what they have on offer. Save for a
few companies such as PayPal, Apple and Stripe, few have been able to make even
the tiniest dent in the banks’ market share.

Why is this a problem, you ask? It means that you as a
consumer don’t have much of a choice. When you look at the UK, there are 4 big
banks, with VISA and MasterCard being the two dominant payment card schemes. So
where do you go for a truly different sort of service?

Why was PSD2 introduced?

PSD2 is set to become law in the European Economic Area
(comprising the 28 EU member states, as well as Norway, Iceland and
Liechtenstein) on 13 January 2018, and here are some of the reasons the wheels were
set in motion:

1.      
To encourage new players, especially those that
are NOT banks, to get into the business of payments.

2.      
To encourage the introduction of new,
cutting-edge technology which will revolutionise the way payments happen in
Europe.

3.      
As a result of increased competition and
technology, the expectation is that the cost of payments will fall. A bonus for
consumers!

4.      
To improve security around payment processes,
and the way consumer data is handled.

Who is responsible for
PSD2?

PSD2 is a directive issued by the European Commission, which
becomes national law on 13 January.

 

How does PSD2 affect you?

You already have many rights when it comes to protection
against misuse of your data, and any potential fraud.

PSD2 takes these even further, by mandating that banks and
businesses that process payments use what is referred to as strong customer
authentication (SCA) for payments.

This means they have to take significant steps to make sure
any payment you make is actually coming from – and authorised by – you.

So if you find you’re asked to verify your identity or
payment in a different way, don’t be alarmed. It’s all PSD2-related.

Talking about your data though, in a bid to promote
competition and open it up to new organisations, banks could potentially share
what they know about you with these new players to the market, who will fall
into 2 categories:

Payment Initiation Service Providers, and Account
Information Service Providers.

Agreeing to use these services could make your online
payments simpler and more seamless, and you’ll be better placed to compare
what’s available in the marketplace. It also means you could make a payment
directly from your bank account without using a debit or credit card, which
could save you any card charges and fees.

Don’t worry, your data won’t be shared without your
permission! Banks – who as well as being dominant forces in the landscape, are
also the largest repositories of consumer data – are required by PSD2 to share
this data when you give your permission, as a way of levelling the playing
field.

In preparation for PSD2, your bank will have sent the last
few years developing technical integrations to make the data sharing process
easier. There’s a whole initiative around this within UK banking called Open
Banking, and your bank will have already sent you something that looks like
this:

 

PSD2 is also meant to end a practice that’s been a pain for
consumers for a long time.

You know when you go into a shop, or book theatre tickets
online, and you’re charged an additional percentage for using your credit card?

That practice – known as surcharging – ends with PSD2.

That’s not to say that shops and retailers will take this
lying down; it’s hard to know how they will respond. They might swallow the
costs, put their prices up across the board (which would affect ALL buyers, not
just those using cards), or offer shoppers an incentive to use different ways
to pay.

The jury is still out on this one, so keep your eyes peeled
to see what happen when you shop after 13 January!

 

How does PSD2 affect your business?

PSD2 only affects payment institutions, credit institutions,
and electronic money institutions.

If this is not your core business, there is no impact.

The only thing to note is that, if you add a surcharge for credit
cards when collecting payments, this practice will no longer be allowed.

 

Will Brexit affect PSD2?

The UK government has confirmed that PSD2 implementation
will not be affected by the process of leaving the European Union.

Since that only takes effect in 2019, PSD2 will be fully
implemented and transposed into UK law.

If you’re like most of my clients, you’re running – or are a leader in – a business that’s growing fast.

You smashed it last year, and your revenue targets for this year are even more aggressive.

To hit them, there are several projects you’ve identified as being crucial for your business at this point in time. You need to get those done to give you a good chance to get where you want to go by the end of this year.

The projects could be product-based – such as introducing Apple Pay as a payment method for your customers.

They could involve researching external vendors, running a Request For Proposal and finally, making a decision based on the findings in a business case.

Or, the projects could include assessing what your teams do now in terms of governance and implementation, and devising a system that works for where you are as a business right now.

In addition to those revenue targets, there are also a number of regulations on the horizon you need to implement and comply with (GDPR, anyone?)

Which means that as well as running your commercial agenda, you need to projects to ensure that you meet your regulatory obligations too. And those are NOT negotiable!

Sounds like you have a lot on.

You’re also acutely aware that implementation isn’t one of your strengths! There’s too much riding on your plans to juggle alongside the one million and one other things you and your team have to do, and you’ve tried leaving it in the hands of someone inexperienced before.

That didn’t work out so well!

So you’ve decided to bring in the big guns. You’ve decided to hire an expert to manage these projects for you.

But, there seem to be so many Project Managers out there. Where should you start, and what should you look out for?

Here are 5 things to consider when hiring a Project Manager:

Temperament

As someone who has worked in and around projects for more than a decade, the one thing I can guarantee you is this:

Things do NOT always go according to plan!

Deadlines for tasks are missed.

Vendors deliver late.

That stakeholder whose input you desperately need at that workshop? They won’t turn up.

And what’s worse, they won’t have the courtesy to tell you beforehand either!

That’s all part and parcel of managing projects.

What you want to know is HOW your Project Manager responds to unexpected change.

Is s/he calm or considered?

Or does s/he fly into panic mode when things don’t work out as planned?

Is their instinct to react in the heat of the moment, or do they give a considered and appropriate response?

Conflict Resolution

In the course of a project, there will be times when conflicts arise.

Some stakeholders may disagree vehemently with each other.

Others may resent the fact that they have been assigned tasks to complete, and they now have these project responsibilities in addition to those of their day job.

Or, there could be a Senior Executive who isn’t very engaged. Which isn’t helpful, as his / her support would demonstrate to the teams that this project is important!

How would a potential Project Manager handle these scenarios?

Would s/he get to a point where they are loggerheads with most of the stakeholders and project team members?

Or, do they have the emotional intelligence to recognise the different personality types involved?

And crucially, understand how to motivate those different personalities and get them inspired to play their roles?

Ability to Influence

One of the peculiar characteristics about projects is that the Project Manager has to manage people who do not report directly to him / her.

It’s different being someone’s line manager: you can use both carrot and stick to incentivise performance.

However, when that’s not the case – and when some of these stakeholders are at the very top of the organisation! - you need a very different set of skills to get through to them.

So, does your Project Manager have the ability to influence others?

Can they get people to stop, listen and act, even if they don’t exercise the direct authority which a hierarchical reporting relationship bestows?

A Collaborative Approach

When you’re bringing someone into your organisation –particularly when it’s not on a permanent basis, as most of my client do with me – you want to make sure they strike the right balance with your teams.

So, they have to be strong enough to challenge the status quo. The “we’ve always done it this way” kind of thinking.

But, at the same time, you do not want the kind of disruption that has such a negative impact on your team dynamic, to the point where your key performers become insecure.

Familiarity with Your Industry

Having a Project Manager who has prior knowledge of your industry or sector is a plus.

However, I don’t consider this essential. In the majority of projects – and to guarantee their success – the Project Manager relies heavily on the subject matter experts. They need the support of you and your team for details around what needs to be delivered, how and when.

So, if the person you are considering isn’t familiar with your industry, don’t panic!

What you want to understand instead is, the kind of projects they have managed and delivered over the course of their career.

Also, are they a quick study?

Do they learn fast? Are they asking the right questions?

Someone who is quick on their feet will quickly overcome not having in-depth knowledge about your industry, and their experience in bringing themselves up to speed will mean you, your projects and your business do not suffer as a result.

If after reading this, you’re ready to hire a Project Manager to deliver a specific project (or two) within your organisation, click here (will insert hyperlink) to book a call with me.

Not convinced yet? Watch this video (will embed the About Me video here).