What Are Facilitation Techniques In Project Management?

What Are Facilitation Techniques In Project Management?
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Summary: Facilitation refers to the act of bringing together a group of people to create new knowledge. Let's explore facilitation techniques in project management.

Exploring Facilitation Techniques In Project Management

Facilitation techniques are an important part of eLearning project management, as they ensure that the session's participants work together effectively. The role of facilitator falls on the project manager, who chairs the meeting, encourages ideas, prompts advice, and so on. The ultimate goal of the facilitation session is to chart out the best possible course for the project to ensure its success. If done effectively, facilitation techniques can turn out to be a game-changing project management method. The project manager doesn’t contribute anything to a facilitation session but oversees the contribution from other members and defines objectives for the session.

Proper planning is the key to success for any facilitation session. The project manager needs to decide a single issue to be addressed in one session. It must be extremely clear to everyone what major issue will be addressed, and everyone must have prepared for that only. The agenda of the meeting must be based on this objective only, while also outlining the contributions expected from all the participants of the facilitation session. The research work might need to be done by the participants beforehand. Successful execution of a facilitation session is considered as one of the most necessary project management skills of a leader, as sometimes the whole progress of the project depends on the outcomes of a session.

Where Are Facilitation Techniques Applied?

As per the PMBOK® Guide, some of the processes where facilitation techniques can be utilized are:

Developing Project Charter

Facilitation is used here to reach a common perception regarding the objectives, scope & outcome of the project, project deliverables, etc. for aligning the objectives of various groups towards a common solution. The project manager can use facilitation techniques, in this case, to get all the major stakeholders on the same page.

Developing Project Planning And Management Plan

Facilitation ensures effective participation of stakeholders, who are able to reach a mutual understanding and result in creating an ideal project management plan to generate the scope, schedule, and outcomes of the project.

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Facilitation techniques are required in the following situations: 

  • Joint Application Design/Development (JAD) – JAD sessions are mostly utilized in the software development industry, where such facilitated sessions emphasize on bringing the development team and the Subject Matter Experts together to chart out the optimal development plan.
  • Defining Scope of the Project – Facilitation is utilized in working sessions or workshops with major stakeholders from varied fields of expertise, and each of them possesses a variety of expectations from the project. The goal of facilitation techniques here is to reach a common understanding of the outcomes and the boundaries of the project.

Identifying Risks

Facilitation improves the effectiveness of the various tools and techniques used for risk identification within a project. A great project manager has the ability to keep the team focused on identifying the risks by following the methods associated with the technique to ensure clear risk descriptions and deal with disagreements (if any).

Facilitation techniques can help improve the effectiveness of deploying individual or overall project risks. A good project leader must have the ability to inspire the team to identify and understand the risk, develop and fool-proof the risk aversion or tackling strategy, choose an appropriate alternative response strategy, and overcome sources of bias. As any huge disruption in the market also counts as risk, change management also falls under the scope of facilitation techniques.

So these are some facilitation skills or techniques required for any organization.

Facilitation techniques involve getting people together to create new knowledge. As the facilitator, the Project Manager needs to encourage all ideas, resolve conflicts between contributors and achieve the goal of the exercise – be it a set of requirements or a Project Charter. Suggestions need to be encouraged, while criticism must remain objective. No idea is so ridiculous that it should not get a hearing – something that is totally crazy might trigger an ingenious idea from someone else around the table. A successful facilitation session should have surprising results! – Velopi Seamus Collins, Being a Facilitating Project Manager