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Avoid Gold-plating Through Agile Delivery

Avoid Gold-plating Through Agile Delivery
By Kiron D. Bondale

As it is with jewelry, on projects gold-plating is all form with no substance. The increase in costs is rarely justified by the value provided by superficial “bling”.

It could be an analyst adding in requirements which they came up with on their own without ensuring that those are actually required, a developer who introduces a code change or feature they believe is useful without checking with others or a quality control specialist who decides to test above and beyond approved test plans.

Don’t get me wrong – the intentions are usually good and I’ve yet to encounter an instance of gold-plating which was done maliciously. But it doesn’t matter – gold-plating is work creep.

What’s the worst that could happen you ask?

On a project which follows a traditional or waterfall delivery approach, that innocent feature which the developer added might cause regression to approved functionality but at the very least when it finally gets identified will generate unplanned work for other team members. Read the Complete Article

Reinforcement for Running Retrospectives

Reinforcement for Running Retrospectives
By Kiron D. Bondale

Retrospectives are a common, regularly practiced ceremony on projects managed using an agile delivery method.

But why stop there?

There’s no reason that retrospectives couldn’t be applied to traditional projects too, it’s just that some improvement ideas might not be immediately applicable in a non-iterative lifecycle.

But won’t it cost a lot more effort to conduct regular retrospectives rather than waiting till we get to the end of our projects? To defuse that concern, here are some reasons why retrospectives are superior to traditional lessons learned approaches.

We all want to help our company but charity begins at home! Why wait till the end of a project where the only beneficiaries of learnings will be teams on future projects if there is an opportunity to reinforce good practices and course correct on others to the benefit of your project?

Sharing knowledge is a good first step, but actually applying that knowledge is when we now whether the lessons are valid or not. Read the Complete Article

Progressive Elaboration Is the Only Sane Approach to Planning!

Progressive Elaboration Is the Only Sane Approach to Planning!
By Kiron D. Bondale

Imagine that you are planning a multi-day road trip across the country to a town which you’ve never visited before. Chances are that you will load your smartphone with maps to help you navigate the journey as well as identifying some points of interest and regularly spaced hotels along the way. What are the odds that you will plan your trip down to the hour? For most of us the answer will be pretty slim.

So why is it that some of us continue to develop plans to a level of detail which is unrealistic given the level of information we possess about the project at that point in time?

Some times this could be caused by low organizational project management maturity. Financial policies or methodology standards might require project teams to provide detailed high confidence detailed cost and schedule estimates for the entirety of a project before funding gets released. Read the Complete Article

Three Things You Should Do Whenever Someone Leaves Your Project

Three Things You Should Do Whenever Someone Leaves Your Project
By Kiron D. Bondale

We start our projects with a small core team but as we proceed further down the rabbit hole we add team members to support planning and delivery activities. Then as work streams get completed, team size shrinks until we reach project closure where we are back to the original core team. On large, multi-phase projects, team expansion and contraction occurs frequently but even with much smaller projects, it is common to have team members exit before the project itself is completed. Some times this could be the result of their assigned activities being completed, but it can also be caused by external factors such as their being required on a higher priority project or a financially motivated decision to shift their work to a cheaper resource.

There are three things which you should do before any team member departs. Read the Complete Article

Does Anyone Benefit from Your Project Management Information System (PMIS)?

Does Anyone Benefit from Your Project Management Information System (PMIS)?
By Kiron D. Bondale

A project management information system (PMIS) is not an investment which most companies would make lightly. The one time and ongoing hard costs coupled with the change management effort involved in implementing such tools can be significant so it is reasonable to expect that there will be some tangible value derived once the dust settles.

Unfortunately, in spite of PMIS’s being commercially available for more than a couple of decades, they sometimes provide us with a live example of the Abilene paradox with everyone involved being fully aware that their system is a joy and money-leeching false deity which bestows no boons on anyone, least of all those who are required to offer information tithes to it on a weekly basis. Yet, investment in the system continues unabated, and the mandate to use it is frequently reinforced. Read the Complete Article

What Challenges Will Project Managers Face a Decade from Now?

What Challenges Will Project Managers Face a Decade from Now?
By Kiron D. Bondale

The hurdles which today’s project managers face are likely to be replaced by new threats over time. For example, when the profession first started to be formalized, the tools weren’t available to facilitate highly virtual projects and hence the advantages and disadvantages of those types of projects weren’t realized.

Improvements in virtual reality technologies, near zero communication latency, increased global literary, self-serve professional development and crowdsourcing becoming commonplace should help to reduce the impact of human resource constraints on knowledge-based projects.

However, sustainable practices are gaining greater importance and this is only likely to accelerate if we hope to have a habitable planet beyond the next fifty years. Companies and, by association, projects will be challenged for their carbon, electrical and water-usage footprints. It is not inconceivable to imagine the introduction of a tiered resource tax tied to the scale or complexity of a project. Read the Complete Article

What Superpower Do You Wish You Have as a Project Manager?

What Superpower Do You Wish You Have as a Project Manager?
By Kiron D. Bondale

Project managers are often asked to perform miracles, so they can be forgiven for occasionally wishing for magical powers to be able to bend or break the laws of the Universe. After all, that’s what sponsors must believe them capable of doing when they demand scope, schedule & cost constraints in advance of sufficient planning!

Let’s imagine that between project assignments, you are taking a vacation in a tropical destination. While walking on the beach, you stumble over what appears to be an ancient brass lamp. You rub the sand off it and lo and behold, a genie appears in a puff of smoke! As a reward for releasing him, he offers to bestow one super power on you.

Which will you choose?

  • Invisibility

    I’m sure that you’ve wished more than once that you could be a fly on the wall when decisions were being made about your project or when key stakeholders were talking about you or your project behind your back.

Read the Complete Article

Don’t Be a Project Management Lemming!

Don’t Be a Project Management Lemming!
By Kiron D. Bondale

Given the progressive decline in oil prices over the past year, economic slowdowns in Asia impacting other global markets, and poor performance to date across multiple stock exchanges, it is not a surprise that many investors are tempted to sell their investments at a loss and make like Punxsutawney Phil seeing his shadow, planning to re-enter the market only when the bulls start a sustained run.

This is generally not a good idea as markets will eventually recover and the upside opportunities of buying during a bear run can be a worthwhile prize for those who are able to control the reaction to their fears.

In the project management domain, you might have witnessed project teams panicking in the face of some looming crisis. Decisions made by the teams or their project managers under these sorts of conditions are usually driven more by emotions more than measured analysis. Read the Complete Article

Can You Prove that Your PMO Has Improved Project Delivery?

Can You Prove that Your PMO Has Improved Project Delivery?
By Kiron D. Bondale

Some project management offices (PMO) are like Rodney Dangerfield – they don’t get no respect. While there are many causes for a PMO to be shut down, the inability to demonstrate their value proposition is one of the more common reasons.

So how can a PMO prove that there has been an improvement in project delivery?

To answer this question, we need to identify one or more metrics which will be used to represent project delivery capability. A commonly used metric these days is time to market which could be calculated as the duration from the start of project investment to the first delivery of customer-facing value.

You might think that it would be a simple matter of calculating the average time to market based on a sample of pre-PMO and post-PMO projects, but this is not statistically defensible. Read the Complete Article

Portfolio Metrics Need to Advance Beyond on Time and on Budget

Portfolio Metrics Need to Advance Beyond on Time and on Budget
By Kiron D. Bondale

While simply meeting the triple constraint is not the best method of evaluating project success, on time or on budget statistics continue to be used by Project Management Offices (PMO) as proof that project delivery capabilities are improving. After all, if the department was formed when on time or on budget rates were very low, it can be very gratifying for the PMO leader to publish a steadily increasing trend for these metrics over time.

But do these improving percentages demonstrate that the organization is experiencing improved returns on its portfolio investments?

Lets consider a project portfolio which is composed of a large number of small projects and a few large, strategic ones which were all planned to complete this year. Lets assume that all of the small projects were completed on time and on budget, but the two strategic projects were completed significantly behind schedule and vastly over budget. Read the Complete Article

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