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Posts tagged ‘technology’

The Importance of Executive Leadership in Successful Projects – Part I

Today’s guest blogger is Don Pagel, Vice President, Public Sector Services at Kronos.  As the former Deputy Director in the Office of the Mayor for the City of Houston, Don has a lot of experience with project management particularly around large technology deployments like ERP’s.  In this two-part series, Don will share his wisdom and insight on Executive Leaders and their role in successful projects.  Projects live and die by the success of both project management and organizational change management.   The more complex the project is; the more people it touches; the more change it creates in the daily activities of those people, the more critical it is to plan, execute, control and lead. My father once taught me that you “manage” things, but you “lead” people. I raised three boys and thus spent a great deal of time in Boy Scouts. At one particular troop meeting, a patrol was on stage performing a silly skit to keep the scouts entertained. As the skit is progressing, an assistant scoutmaster keeps walking across the stage in front of the skit dragging a rope. Finally, after the third time, the other assistant scoutmaster helping the boys with their skit, turned and loudly called to the other, “Fred, why on earth do you keep dragging that rope around?”. Fred responds, “Have you ever tried to push a rope?” The implication of that simple statement was astounding to me. Project management is all about managing cost, time and scope….things. Organizational change management is about leading people through the change caused by the implementation of the project. Leadership requires knowledge, trust, influence, faith and vision. People do not like to be pushed and generally respond like the assistant scoutmaster’s rope. But given the right leader who has vision, people will follow willingly. Leadership does not require position or title just as position and title do not guarantee followers. The most important leader in a project is the executive sponsor. This is the person who both sees the value of the project and has the fiscal responsibility for its charter as well as its success. That said, every team member has the responsibility to help lead through the change that a project creates and help support the executive sponsor.


Knowledge requires effort and involvement. It is not necessary that the executive sponsor understand the details of the product being implemented but should invest the time and effort into understanding the product well enough to ask appropriate questions to make effective decisions. Additionally, the proper level of understanding can lead to trust in the product that allows the development of a vision. Lack of knowledge, or lack of involvement will lead to poorly executed projects.


Leadership requires trust. Trust in the product and more importantly, trust in the team you have assembled to implement the product. The team needs to feel that trust as well. Mistakes will be made and you want your team to stretch and be personally empowered, so they need to feel that “you’ve got their back”. Trust in both the product and team also enables the executive sponsor to exude faith and vision to external stakeholders. Lack of trust will cause fear, uncertainty and project stagnation because no one will feel comfortable to make a decision. In Part II, Don will explore other important leadership traits such as influence, faith, and vision…


Efficiency and the role of HR Technology

Remember the old days when your employer handed you a blank piece of paper with some boxes to fill in your hours worked and called it a “timesheet”?  That little piece of paper stood between you and an accurate paycheck.  It only had to go through three other hands (your manager, the mail courier, and a payroll clerk) to be manually entered into a system that processed the payroll checks.  Scary,right?

Unfortunately, too many organizations still rely on this manual, antiquated system of collecting employee’s time and other processes.  The Public Sector is notorious for being behind the times when it comes to technology, but HR departments have a lot of pressure to be more efficient.  In a recent blog by HR Bartender, Sharlyn Lauby states “It’s time to realize that HR and technology are forever intertwined. More and more human resources functions and solutions have a technology component to them. Human resources technology is part of our jobs. Frankly, technology is part of our jobs – no matter what position or level in the organization. Period.”1  How I interpret that statement is “put budget and the “we’ve always done it this way” sentiments aside and just explore what is out there”.

An open mind can lead to some innovative ideas that don’t necessarily change your entire way to doing things.  Remember the goal is efficiency.   Taking an existing process and just finding a more streamline way of doing it.  Let’s look at a couple of HR technology examples:

  • Village of Schaumburg, IL2 – With internal communication primarily being done through the village’s intranet site, Schaumburg knew it needed to modernize this approach and move to social media.  They quickly adopted a portal hub for all village employees.  Now, projects are open for all to share information, track progress, and keep phone/email communication to a minimum.
  • City of Orlando, FL3 – After being hit by three hurricanes in under 6 weeks, the city was going to have to rely heavily on FEMA funds.  Instead of manually calculating hours dedicated to the clean-up and public safety needs during those events, Orlando took advantage of their automated time tracking system for quick, real-time reporting on labor hours.  All leading to quick and accurate reimbursement.

So, if I can get you to walk away with one goal for the New Year, it’s to venture out into the world of HR Technology and see what’s new.  Go for some test drives, look under hoods, and kick a few tires.  You may be more ready for a change than you think.



1 HR Technology and 2014 – #HRTechtrends – HR Bartender, Sharlyn Lauby, posted 12/12/13

2 Village of Schaumburg Case Study – SuccessFactors

3 City of Orlando Case Study – Kronos