Interview With Esteemed Project Management Coach, Praveen Malik

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Praveen Malik is a well-renowned speaker, trainer, author, and project management coach. Praveen is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP®) with 23 rich years of professional experience.

He is a computer science engineer by education and has good working experience of managing large multi-geography projects and programs.

Over the years, he has noticed that failure of projects and/or huge cost & schedule overruns can be primarily attributed to (inadequate) resource management, (reactive) communication management and (lack of focus to) risk management; insufficient project planning and/or poor execution along with little controls are as much a culprit.

He believes that proactive project management can leave a significant impact on project profitability; it can greatly enhance customer service and positively influence ROI.

Praveen has unique distinction of working in different business environments viz. product development, services & support, product-oriented services and software as a service.

His experience includes wide ranging exposure to different industrial domains such as Healthcare, Government, Infrastructure, Insurance and Banking.

He has worked and interacted with clients across different geographies – USA, Europe, and India.

Praveen has established a small boutique organization in India that provides project management advisory and training services to global clientele.

TaskQue: To break the ice, we are really curious to know what really inspired you to choose project management as a career.

Praveen: It would not be a travesty to say that Project Management inspired me to choose project management as a career. Let me start with a little bit of history.

I started as a software programmer way back in the mid-90s. It was a boom time for IT industry in those days and I got regular appreciation for my performance. I was quickly pushed into a quasi- management role. I was given responsibility for the client communication and team management.

This gave me initial thrust into project management. I really liked it. I started learning the ropes of finer aspects of managing projects and made it my full-time career.

Today, I take keen interest in furthering the cause of project management as a profession. I took a mid-career shift in the year 2008 and started doing freelance project management activities. I am a trainer at heart and have mentored & formally trained thousands of successful individuals.

TaskQue: You believe in success through collaboration. Which tools do you use for team collaboration?

Praveen: Projects are all about collaboration. It is impossible to deliver successful projects without a well-aligned team. Today, our projects revolve around content creation tasks. We use coschedule.com for defining publication schedule and content collaboration.

TaskQue: You have worked on different projects in myriad sectors globally. What differences have you noticed in the approaches of professionals from different regions of the world?

Praveen: I have noticed that different organizations employ different project management approaches and methodologies. I believe these differences arise because of the nature of industry and business.

Every business has some idiosyncrasies and every project is unique. Professionals use an approach that is best suited to their projects. However, they should always follow the underlying best practices of risk management, scheduling, budgeting etc. while managing their projects.

TaskQue: Being a project management consultant, what would you like to recommend to new professionals of project management?

Praveen: There are many obvious things that a project manager must do to ensure project success like proper scheduling, regular risk management, task tracking etc.

But these are given for every project. To be an exceptional project manager, one must use a proper project management tool. Many novice project managers use Worksheets & Excel to manage their project tasks. This is highly inefficient and prone to errors.

A tool like TaskQue can help boost productivity, team collaboration, and seamless delivery of projects.

TaskQue: You have trained many students for project management certification, please share some tips for passing PMP exam.

Praveen: There are a few things that a PMP aspirant must to in order to pass the exam in first attempt:

  1. Be extremely diligent, disciplined, and focused. Start by preparing a study schedule and stick to it.
  2. Join a good training program. Classroom trainings are the best for learning. But one can also join an online training if they have a budget constraint.
  3. Buy a good reference book for studying.
  4. Study the PMBOK Guide along with the reference book.
  5. Do lots of practice questions, preferably using a good simulator. A good score in practice tests will validate one’s readiness for the exam.

TaskQue: Please tell us about your blog PM-by-PM . How you initiated it? What was the motivation behind starting it?

Praveen: I started my first blog way back in 2008-09. My blog coincided with the first season of Indian Premier League. I used to write about day-to-day happenings in the cricket world.

I created the blog purely out of my passion for cricket analysis. I was never a good player, but I was always an avid follower of Indian cricket and had good cricketing knowledge. After 1-2 years my passion about cricket blogging started waning and I started writing infrequently.

Ultimately, I stopped writing after about three years. There were two reasons for it.

  1. I was not getting enough time to write about cricket.
  2. There were not many followers as, at that time, I did not know how to build followers. So, there was no external motivation for me to contribute to the cricket blog.

But there was a third, more important reason for quitting the cricket blog. I quit my job in 2008 and started conducting project management training classes.

I did a few consulting assignments as well. I did not get too much of business during the initial years but in the beginning of 2010, business picked up.

Around the same time, I started my project management blog. I thought cricket is one thing, but a PM blog can really enhance my reputation in the professional world. And to some extent, the blog helped my business.

TaskQue: Being a PM consultant, what are the methodologies which you think are more successful in IT projects?

Praveen: Nowadays Agile approaches are very popular. I think Scrum can be very useful in delivering successful projects. And I also like it.

Alas! Scrum just fails most of the time. Mostly because it is not implemented properly by the professionals.

In my opinion, any methodology or framework can work to make IT projects successful – be it waterfall, RUP, Spiral, or Agile. You just need a diligent project manager, involved sponsor, and an engaged customer.

Related : A Comprehensive Guide To Project Management Methodologies

TaskQue: You have been working in the community for a long time now. Please name a few individuals who have been your inspiration or whom you admire a lot?

Praveen: There are a few of them. But on top of my list would be Bill Duncan and Cornelius Fichtner.

Bill Duncan the primary author of the first edition of the PMBOK Guide. We have often interacted through LinkedIn. He has always been helpful in sharing knowledge and responding to queries.

Cornelius Fichtner has immense knowledge of project management and is a leading figure in certifications industry. I like him because of his altruistic attitude and simple approach to teaching.

TaskQue: Recreational activities help us retain our work life balance. What is your practice to keep yours?

Praveen: There are a few things that I do to keep myself off work. I spend time and play with my kids.

I read books on diverse topics. And once in a while, I spend some time with my old friends or extended family.

TaskQue: TaskQue is a cloud-based team management application created for making team collaboration, communication and task management more efficient, how do you see such applications helping teams being more successful?

Praveen: A wholesome project management tool is always helpful for project teams. These tools are also useful for non-project people who are working in teams.

A team is about collaboration, sharing responsibilities, working together, helping each other etc. And in today’s Global village, people work in different time zones and communicate virtually. A useful tool binds these teams together.

There are a plethora of project management tools out there and I have used a few in my long experience.

I did a dry run of TaskQue and found it very useful. It has a refreshing interface and an intuitive dashboard. The best thing is onboarding.

A new user can immediately adapt to it. New users can easily create projects & tasks and assign responsibilities. It’s integration with Slack makes collaboration much easier.

 

 

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