Tag Archives: project management

Agile Project Management – 5 lessons for the unwary

Over the last year or two we have reviewed a number of programmes and projects that are using an “agile” approach. There are a number of common problems that have come to light that should be of interest to any organisation setting out on an agile endeavour for the first time.

Agile, Lean or project management are not cures for unproductive or incompetent teams, weak leadership or poor performance management. All methods have their place and can add value and improve performance, but none on their own are a panacea as they all depend on the capability of the people involved.

This article sets out some of the key lessons that we have taken from our reviews.aspire-logo

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Why project planning matters

Would you set off on a journey without planning your route first? Effective project planning ensures you reach your project destination on time and on budget. To read more click here

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APM Project Challenge – Our Story Part 2

Last week we posted part 1 of our APM Project Challenge Story. Below is part 2, enjoy.


To maximise our collections, we spent time with the TRT sponsor to enable us to competently speak about the charity publically. We were proud to attend two rugby matches to fundraise and raised £187.00. We sourced T-shirts, personalised buckets and charity ID tags to make us feel part of TRT. BristolvEaling Fundraising

We contacted over 100 organisations for raffle prizes and donations and we received some encouraging support:

“Well done to all concered, a worthy cause” – Julie Thomas, Wales Rugby Union reprensitive

“What a superb project you are involved in” – Tim Wainwright, England Rugby Union Social Responsibility Manager

We undertook (or will be undertaking) the following fundraising activities:CardiffvFrance Fundraising

  • Fitness Challenge
  • 15,000 ft. sky dive
  • Collection pots in local establishments
  • A prize draw
  • Cross channel swim (May)
  • Coast – to – coast bike ride – (July)


We achieved all objectives, delivered to success criteria, managed requirements and have a plan to realise the benefits. We are disappointed to report that the target of £5,000 was not met. We raised £2,500 and have developed a roll-out plan to ensure this project makes a significant impact to this fantastic charity and deserving recipients.

The project has provided us with many lessons and new project management skills that we can use throughout our careers. We have taken foundation qualifications, however the theory and reality have been very different. We undertook the work mostly in our own time.

We have reached the milestone set by the APM Challenge, but this is not the end. Fundraising will continue &  we will be supporting the TRT with the eLearning rollout. Future plans include a trip to Uganda this summer to see how our fundraising has supported the TRT.

On 11/04/16 we received notice that we had made the finals of APM Project Challenge! We are all so happy and pleased our hard work has been recognised and we will get the chance to present to all participating teams and their sponsors at the Finals night on April 28th in Bristol.

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A Practical Guide to Project Planning: Ten Key things

Ten things that will you find in the Practical Guide to project planning – a step by step guidA Practical Guide to Project Planninge that you won’t find in other
planning books:

  1. It is written with you in mind! We are not expecting you to be a guru, building the Olympic Park or managing High Speed 2, everyday projects are hard enough
  2. Successful planning is about people and behaviours! Rather than techniques and tools, the data needed for planning is assembled through a number of activities, not making up numbers to feed into a software package
  3. Business projects are different to technical projects! So we have used a business project as the case study, these tend to be less predictable and have elements of different project types in them
  4. Moderating optimism! We have included guidance on setting priorities, estimation and helping to moderate the optimism bias gives you more chance of finishing successfully
  5. Planning lifecycle! We have used a lifecycle that shows the stages and events that trigger planning activities, instead of giving you a list of techniques, we bring it to life for you. The focus is on “How” to plan rather than telling you “what” to do
  6. Techniques at the right time! Every step of the way we offer a technique to use at each point, with an explanation of what it does and how you should use it
  7. Worked examples! We illustrate each technique with a worked example based on a case study that provides an example of everyday challenges we face
  8. Templates and tools! All part of the process, but effective planning is based on having the right information available at the right time, the focus of the book is on systematically collecting this information
  9. Useful check-lists! Common areas of failure for most projects, to help you avoid making them, we also include an example template on how to assemble your planning information
  10. Clear responsibilities and tasks for all the main roles involved with planning, which is everyone involved with the project!

For more information on  the book and how to buy from The TSO, click here

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APM Project Challenge Update

Since October 2015, Team Aspire Europe have been working hard raising money for the Tag Rugby Trust and taking part in the APM Project Challenge.  Our final report was submitted on 18th March and today we received notice that Team Aspire Europe have made the finals of APM Project Challenge!

We are all so happy and pleased our hard work has been recognised and we will get the chance to present to all participating teams and their sponsors at the Finals night on April 28th in Bristol.

We would like to thank everyone who supported us during Project Challenge and helped us raise an amazing £2,907,74 for the Tag Rugby Trust. TRT will now be using that money to purchase equipment to screen our eLearning modules that were created to build project management skills for the young leaders of the TRT. As well as this they will use the money to support the branches of TRT all over the world.

Team Aspire Europe will ensure to keep you all updated and provide a review of our presentation after the final on April 28th and thank you once again for the support to help such an worthwhile charity.

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APM Project Challenge – Our Story Part 1

In October 2015 Team Aspire (TA) met Lucky and Fortunate, two participants of the Tag Rugby Trust (TRT) Uganda branch. At just 10Project Challenge Photo years old, we were inspired by Lucky’s ambition to create a bright future for herself. When presented with the opportunity to compete in Project Challenge, TA thought this was the perfect way to make a difference through the TRT.

Planning Stage

The plan proved more challenging than anticipated despite TA being PRINCE2®/AMPIC qualified. We realised our conscious incompetence when working on an actual project. It was challenging moving from colleagues, to a performing team. On plan submission, we received a blow. An issue arose from the APM board – our project may have been out of scope due to not being “local” enough, there was concern expressed about the benefits in the feedback. This was resolved as the TRT is a deserving charity with Bristol Headquarters and we were allowed to proceed.

Moving into Delivery 

Workstream 1 – eLearning

Initially the intention had been to use our Project Fundamentals course as base materials. However, we were presented with a video from Uganda of the young leaders discussing project management. We realised that we had overestimated their literacy. Therefore a re-write was needed to match their ability and make the content suitable for the audience.

The video was a fantastic morale boost and reminder of our purpose.

Workstream 2 – Raising Awareness

An important early task for us was setting up a Social Media campaign and completing daily updates on Twitter, Facebook, and Just Giving. This resulted in a social media following of over 250 people including international rugby players.

All Aspire employees added links to the sites in their signatures. We communicated with 3,000 clients & suppliers through regular blog and newsletter updates, supported by emails and calls explaining our challenge. This resulted in a client contacting Aspire Fundraisng Prepoffering technical support for the eLearning creation.

We met with a local journalist which resulted in our project being featured in three media publications (Gordano Living, The Mercury and North Somerset Times) to increase publicity. Upon reflection, we should have followed these publications with regular updates to raise further awareness and engagement from the community.


We will be posting part 2 next week. This will cover the Fundraising and the overall summary.

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APM Project Challenge Update

The Aspire Europe APM Project Challenge Team are pleased to announce that they now have reached the delivery milestone set out Project Challenge Photoin the project plan and  have now completed and submitted the project final report. On Monday the 11th of April they will found out if they have been short-listed as finalists. Fingers crossed!

Many Thanks to all those who donated to the project.

Next week, we will be blogging the teams story (in two parts) of working on the project.

For any further information or to make a donation please visit https://www.justgiving.com/Aspire-Europe


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