PMI® Switzerland Chapter


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PMIEF - Medair Workshop

Author: Ka Yi Hui, PMP

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PMI Switzerland Chapter Social Good team workshop with Medair

On Friday 26th October 2018, the PMI-Switzerland chapter social good team (Agata Czopek, Ph.D., PMP; Devendra Rana, PMP and Ka Yi Hui, Ph.D., PMP) held a 5-hour project management training workshop at the Medair headquarters in Ecublens, Canton Vaud.

Medair is a humanitarian organization inspired by Christian faith to relieve human suffering in some of the world’s most remote and devastated places. In 2017, Medair served more than 2.1 million people in 13 countries. The staff in the Switzerland headquarters play an essential role in facilitating and supporting the teams in the local target countries in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia.


In 2018, they welcomed the new CEO, David Verboom, to further Medair's mission. New initiatives are rolled out to improve efficiency, impact and flexibility, so the organization can grow and better adapt to the increasingly challenging and changing contexts in which it operates. As the need for managing projects increases, that’s where we jump in and promote the best practices in project management and the activities in the PMI Switzerland chapter.

We were happy that the whole organization showed great interest in project management. The 20 participants came from different departments, from logistics to finance, marketing and human resource. We covered the project management fundamentals, like the typical project cycle, the benefit of project management and avoiding scope creep. They also took the chance to work on their internal project planning template as an exercise. The participants were engaged in the discussions and Q&A session.


Medair not only provides humanitarian aid in areas with on-going crises but they also respond to emergencies like the Tsunami in Indonesia. The staff in the HQ are always ready to travel to the field and help those in need. This dynamic nature of their work poses a unique challenge for the organization when it comes to managing the human resources in projects. Because of that, we dedicated a session in the workshop focusing on this topic.


To practice the project management principles they have learned, we played the entertaining tower game (provided freely by PMIEF), where the participants built a tower with plastic cups and bamboo sticks. With their creativity and pragmatic approach, all the teams were able to complete the task on time, with spared resources, good quality, and some laughter. After the game, we reflected on the process together, discussing different leadership styles, teamwork, communications and what makes a successful project.


Finally, we would like to thank Andrew and Artur from Medair for helping us to organize the workshop. We look forward to going back there next year!



Event Report: Learn from the best – the way to Project Excellence

Author: Carlos Martinez, PMP

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On the 1st of December, Mr.Jürgen Ekert presented at the Hotel Victoria (Basel) the event "Learn from the best, the way to Project Excellence."

The room was full for the event, and few of the attendants knew that it was going to be a very interactive presentation.

Initially the attendants were asked to "Break the Ice" by meeting with another and sharing with them an experience they considered as a good achievement. This direct communication aims at bringing people together, to loosen up the atmosphere.


This can also be blended with a session of Lessons Learned fom previous projects, which will help the project with the learnings captured in other projects by different teams.

Continuing, Mr. Ekert explained how generations differ in the learning process, which is important as training has to be adapted to the different processes, and for this, the department he manages, Project Office, has created several training processes.


As a recommended practice, trainings should not be series of PowerPoint slides, but rather as interactive as possible, for this flipcharts are ideal, together with forming working groups so that they can apply the training with their day to day. The flipcharts can be prepared upfront with prints that can help the development of the workshops.

When starting the training workshop it is necessary that the goals are laid out, for this all trainess should indicate what do they want to do different? The so called"Future Perfect".

One interesting learning from Mr. Ekert's trainings is that he has realised that in most cases teams actually know how to solve a problem issue, but they still need someone from outside to guide them, someone who is neutral and can challenge the team, someone who knows how and when to ask the right questions and that at the same time facilitates the workshop.People need time for reflection which will even be deeper if different questions are asked. With this the participants find much better Solutions.

When asking questions, the facilitator has to make team face the hot topics, also recall the achievements done by the team.


After that the targets for improvement have to be identified, for this the project team vote the points they think would improve most the results.

Now that the team has a clearer understanding on how to achieve the "Future Perfect", it is recommended to re-visit how they foresee this and give a clear definition to what this would look like and the requirements for such. First steps / action items need to be defined.

Finally, the training workshop does not end here, but should be reassesed at some point in the near future, indicating what will be the team's next steps, who will take care of what and when in time will the team reasses how far have they progressed towards the "Future Perfect".


To ensure that each team member "takes something home", there are 2 questions that will help them to understand better how they have progressed during the workshop. "What will be different after the workshop?" and "What else?" with this second quesiton, the team is challenged further, helping them to deeper understand their progress and how to achieve it. The second question can be repeated multiple times.

Another question that helps people is "How would they recognize that a problem has been solved?" and "How would a colleague recognize this?"

My personal big thank you to Mr. Jürgen Ekert for sharing his experience both professional and personnal and for organizing it. Looking forward to participating at the next PMI event, I wish all the readers a happy and successful 2017.

Kind regards,



Event Report : Managing Virtual Teams

Author: Harish Ramakrishnan

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What is the most important element in managing virtual teams?

How is communication different between physical and virtual teams?

Will we continue to manage virtual teams?

Some questions answered by the PMI-Switzerland chapter event "Managing Virtual teams" , which was hosted in IBM Zurich and presented by the CIO of Le Creuset AG - Mr. Rafael Almoguera .

There is no better way to start a session on managing virtual teams than having virtual participants, our audience was located in 4 locations, Spain, Japan, UAE and ourselves in Switzerland. This provided a practical example of what the future of team management, training and overall business looked like.

First, Rafael introduced what is a virtual team and which companies have virtual teams - practically every one. He then introduced to the concept of 3T- Trust, Time and Technology.

Addressing the elephant in the room, Rafael then talked  about the key challenges faced by project managers while managing a virtual team, and as well the challenges faced by the team members in such a project.  With communication being one of the most important elements of a project, we learnt that for those who manage a Virual team and for those who are part of a virutal team, ability to communicate with out the use of Non verbal cues is important.

He then explained the characteristics of good teams and how those characteristics need enhancement when the team becomes virtual. He detailed the most important ingredient needed for building the best virtual team - Trust, he clarified how simple team building activities could improve the working relationship in virtual teams, for example he explained how things changed when his team flew for a team dinner activity of having a dinner together with the team physically once or twice a year can build such a high level of trust and comfort among the team.

We learnt to be able to succeed in managing a vritual team, we need to be able manage across cultures, use technology effectively, have a well understood process and most of all have Trust. Both those who manage and those who are being managed in a virtual team have the advantage of work life balance, diversity of perspectives, reduction in unnecessary travel -> inturn CO2 emissions , reduction in costs and increase job satisfaction.

With so much at stake, I understood from the session, virtual teams are to stay and more and more leaders are going manage their companies from their holiday homes .

Kind Regards,


Event Report - 12th of May - Successful Agile Integration into Existing Methodologies

Author: Arbin Bhaghat


Agile implementation was started for small projects. Does it work also for big projects and structured large companies?

If yes, how can we integrate successfully Agile into existing methodologies and processes? Is it worth trying it?

These are the questions that Sascha Wyss, PMP, PMI-ACP, answered at the conference in Basel.

Sascha started with an example, based on his own experience.

A CRM solution implemented for a big concern over multiple countries in Asia. The project was rolled out in Agile and it worked! A tangible proof that Agile can work also in big companies.

Sascha examined then differences with traditional methodology - in particular Waterfall - and Agile, and key topics about implementing Agile successfully, including documentation, regulatory requirements and management approval.

Agile is a group of software development methods based on iterative and incremental development. In a company with traditional development methods,typically these problems occur:

  • Comparison with Existing methods, e.g. Waterfall, with defined milestones and deliverables
  • Depending processes, which stakeholders want to keep as they are
  • Wrong perception, when you think Agile as a method with no control, no budget, no documentation
  • External regulations, e.g. SOX
  • Hesitant management

When implementing Agile here, one has to consider that important milestones are at the starting and closing phases of the project lifecycle and that during these phases deliverables and documentation remain the same, regardless of the methodology.

Agile comes into plan during the Define/Plan phase and Executing. Inputs to the Define/Plan phase is the Requirement Specifications Document which is translated in user stories stored and elaborated in the so called Product Backlog.

How about documentation? Agile is considered often a methodology without enough documentation.

Sascha identified three categories of documents in Agile, when comparing it with Waterfall:

  • Untouched documents, delivered in the initiating and closing phase of the project: Project Charter, Lessons Learned, Closing Documents and so on
  • Open documents, created and delivered during the planning and executing phases. Those documents are taken one-to-one from the Waterfall method and applied to Agile, adapting them accordingly (Release Plan, Test Plan, User Acceptance Testing Plan, Defects Log, etc.)
  • New Documents, Agile typical documents that help the iterative implementation (Product Backlog, Sprint Backlog, Burndown chart)

In most of the cases, there are no documents that you would use in Waterfall and not in Agile. Sometimes Agile amount of documentation exceeds the Waterfall based.

Differences are also in roles: n Agile you might have more roles than in Waterfall. For example in Scrum, an Agile methodology, the Product Owner has the vision of what he or she wants to build and the Scrum Master ensures that the team applies Scrum properly. Where is the figure of the Project Manager? Does the team really need a Project Manager? The answer is yes, especially in big companies. PM's responsibilities would be communication with Senior Management, working with finance and reporting to the PMO, talk to the HR department for resources and so on.

How about regulatory requirements? Can Agile work with those? No doubts for Sascha, who suggested also two approaches. In the Agile's iterative process you can:

  • Perform validation at the end of each release, that means more work but possibility to deliver the product increment at each release
  • Perform a retrospective validation at the end of the development phase, with the big disadvantage that you are not allowed to deliver until the product is completely implemented and validated

Last, but not least, management buy-in is key in the introduction or integration of Agile in big companies. Sascha suggested organized workshops or conferences led by well prepared and experienced mentors. Important is not to use any pilot: they are easy to be failing, and if this happens, Agile is out.

In conclusion, Sascha presented ways how to integrate successfully Agile in traditional methodologies and how to overcome obstacles:

  • Preparation is required
  • Mutual trust and team spirit
  • Collocation, e.g. in Scrum at least the team and the Scrum Master must be located in the same room
  • You need management buy-in.

I am thankful to him for this interesting and valuable conference and to Arcondis for sponsoring the event.

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