EU project management is not necessarily the easiest task. There have also been quite a few articles on project managagement I wrote throughout the years, which may be helpful to you.
You have to deal with different cultures, different interests, different habits. Yet apart from these lovely activitites like reporting, monitoring and budget planning.
So sometimes, specifically being a newbie, one might feel they need some support.
End of last year I’ve therefore invited some experienced EU project managers, who I – in some way or another – worked with or who I met in the past, to provide you with their most important tips on how to successfully manage an EU project.
You will find a first summary of their input hereunder (one more from net4society) will follow in roughly one month). Many thanks to all of you for your valuable contributions!
IPPT PAN – BioHorizon
My first tip is about the people you work within your project. Getting to know your team you work with and understand how they work and communicate is important when trying to set up goals and plans to achieve them. So I would recommend to use any project tools for the efficient management, plan your project tasks, meetings and workshops in a smooth way and never forget about the social part of this.
My second tip is about the communication. It’s a fact, any project will fail without a line of solid communication. Throughout the entire project, communication should be consistent, open, honest and clear. Make sure you keep in touch with all partners and the EC and team members, stakeholders during the project process. Ensure that everyone has the information necessary to proceed with the project. You can also keep everyone on the same page by creating a special way of addressing them. To create enough space for their creativity and efficient contribution by interactive way of performing meeting and trainings is also essential.
Therefore in the BioHorizon project we use the interactive methods of working and performing our meetings. We already experienced its positive and efficient effects of achieving the goals during different meetings.
Birgit Baumann and her training on moderation in which I participated made me experience how I could develop and improve my interactive moderation skills as well as communication. The use of visualisation techniques was my favourite element in that training, because it draws so much on the creativity of workshop participants.
IIPT PAN – WIDE.NET
Be inclusive and empower
A project is an activity space for all partners. Yet, a big consortium might be relatively hard to manage and keeping the level of motivation equal in all partners is a challenge. The most important point is to create an added value for the partners. However, the way you lead and facilitate collaboration is also crucial. De-concentration of activities, geographically and thematically, enhances involvement of project partners. This (together with soft skills trainings and proper moderation) builds the space giving all the right and tools to act. An interactive and inclusive Kick-Off Meeting certainly is a great starting point, too.
Go for external evaluation of your activities
Does the project fulfil its goals and achieve its impact? Are we effective in our activities? Do we reach our target groups? To honestly reply to this questions, you need a different perspective which can be provided only by a proper external evaluation. Internal one allows monitoring of action plans and indicators, however in most cases is biased by the initial concept and the consortium’s expectations. Whereas, the socio-economic, research and political environment is a subject of a constant change. External evaluation provides you with valuable feedback, incentives for reflection or even re-modelling of the project. For the sake of the impact and target groups.
Enterpreise Ireland – NCP Academy
Choose a good consortium, agree on working procedures and respect each other and the Deadlines!
Our monthly conference calls are central to keeping on track. It’s great to know each other well, to be able to chat informally and iron out any issues as they arise. We are using TTT (Train-the-Trainer) learnings in day to day project activities!
At our latest consortium meeting – facilitated by Birgit – we started with a drawing exercise that immediately showed how different we, as individuals and small groups, can think and behave. It was amazing how much detail we could get into using methods like brain-walking. We moved from diversity of opinion to a shared vision and even an agreed action list. A huge achievement in a short timeframe.
Remember we have a common goal and with good cooperation we will arrive at it in a good mood!
We use energizers at our consortium meetings now, a great way to maintain that buzz, a positivity in the room. We left our recent consortium meeting with a strong feeling of camaraderie, we’re in this together and looking forward to an exciting project future.
Project: NCP Academy
WWF Austria – Fish Forward
The key factors for successful project management:
- A highly motivated and professional project team
- Clear guidance from the project lead
- Local embedding of the project by project partners
- Clear plan with certain flexibility
- Build and keep trust
- Keep the fire burning
Project: Fish Forward
Also see some further articles about the successful management this project and about some inspiring workshops – facilitated by Birgit here (inception workshop) and here (closure meeting).
Stadt Wien – Smarter Together
Idealism: I can only carry out projects well and authentically if I believe in the project mandate, and I always focus on that. I also subordinate all formalities to the Big Project Picture. In the team, we regularly discuss if and how the targets can be reached or changed as a result of implementing the project, and base our activities on that. And naturally, a healthy dose of self-irony doesn’t hurt, either.
Agile, lean management: I try to reduce the formalities to their absolute, essential minimum so my team is free to concentrate on their work. We also try to leverage synergy effects in research and project execution: for example derive all reports and documentation from one interview per expert per half-year. Here, the content experts hardly need to do any paperwork purely for the project, we take care of that centrally (knowledge management).
Project: Smarter Together
FFG – Fit for Health 2.0
From my experiences as project coordinator of EU-funded projects the Kick Off meeting is highly important and one of the major events that needs to be planned well in advance, considering some few aspects that help you to have a smooth start and easy-running implementation of your project.
Try to show your partners in an interactive way, how workpackages are connected. Emphazise that activities are not stand-alone tasks, detached in the work plan, but that everything is connected for successfully implementing your project.
You can do this for example in selecting 2-3 deliverables / activities from your workpackages, writing the title on a flipchart for each of them. Make a brainwalk with your partners and ask them to assign which tasks / activities are needed to obtain results for the particular deliverable when looking at the whole Description of Action (DoA). Ask them to have a look at all workpackages, trying to raise the awareness that there might be parts in your DoA that are still not so well known by all partners.
As additional step, your partners could add the names of those colleagues who are in charge for the respective tasks / activities identified. After your Kick Off Meeting you can send a flipchart protocol to all partners together with the meeting minutes.
Next to updating your project partners in terms of responsibilities I would highly recommend to organize some social activity in addition to a dinner. This allows your project partners, in particular new ones in your group, to better know others and to reduce any kind of shyness or barriers. Activities are not necessarily expensive, depending on the location your Kick Off meeting takes place you could organise a (guided) citywalk or a small hiking tour. You can take pictures that you are sending later on to all project partners or that you are putting in a photo album that you bring to all further project meetings.
Project: Fit for Health 2.0