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The Art of Stakeholder Management

The Art of Stakeholder Management
By Mark Norman

A stakeholder can be defined as someone who can impact or is impacted by either the project or the project outcomes. Stakeholders exist at many levels of a project but also extend out into the wider environment influenced by the project. The project sponsor is an obvious example of a key stakeholder as are those impacted by the desired outcomes of the project are also stakeholders. However, caution is required as almost anyone could be classed as a stakeholder. By understanding the context of the project the good project manager will be able to discern those stakeholders that require management.

Early identification and engagement of key stakeholders will be crucial. The situation to avoid is a previously unidentified stakeholder emerging at a crucial stage of the project and derailing the plan. Key stakeholders to identify are those that can influence the commitment of resources to the project and those that will accept or be recipients of the project outcomes. Read the Complete Article

Agile Project Management – A Misnomer

Agile Project Management
By Mark Norman

Agile project management is almost a misnomer, in Scrum there is no such role as the project manager. However as project managers we may be asked manage agile projects.

Scrum consists of three roles namely product owner, ScrumMaster and the wider team. The product owner is responsible for ensuring the right product is being built. This is a challenging role and the product manager has to juggle a range of priorities. He should be available to the team and be able to make decisions about the product. If the product manager cannot make decisions then this can have a significant impact on an agile project. We do not want to deal with decision making as exceptional events, the information should be quickly presented and the team empowered to make decisions.

The scrum master works to manage the progress of the team. He should remove any hurdles to progress, facilitate workshops and meetings and monitor progress. Read the Complete Article

The Art of Negotiation in Project Management

The Art of Negotiation in Project Management
By Mark Norman

Today we have a look at art of negotiation and what we, as project managers, need to consider when involved with negotiations during project delivery.

I have previously looked at aspects of risk and stakeholder management and I have presented tools and processes for creating a risk and stakeholder management baseline. The on-going management of risk and stakeholders will depend, to a degree, on your ability to negotiate with people to achieve desirable outcomes. A key distinction should be made at this point; a desirable outcome may not necessarily be the best case outcome but lies within a tolerance we have set ourselves in advance of the negotiation.

As project managers we are used to dealing with the management of constraints but also dealing with conflicting views, agendas and interests. To resolve these conflicts we are often call upon to negotiate. Read the Complete Article

7 Scope Questions to Ask at Project Initiation

7 Scope Questions to Ask at Project Initiation
By Mark Norman

There are many scoping questions that the project manager must ask during a project. Below are a series of questions I use during project initiation:

  1. What is the objective of the project

    Preferably this should be recorded in a single sentence and reflect what your sponsor wishes to achieve. Everything you do in the project should be able to be referred back to this statement.

  2. What are the deliverables

    All projects produce something, these are the project deliverables. These need to be defined early in the project, clearly and have a measure of quality that can be used to judge their fitness for purpose.

  3. Are you solving a problem or building a solution

    This defines whether you are working to deliver a prescribed solution or working to find a way to solve a problem with, as yet, undefined deliverables. The answer to this question will drive how you allocate resources and manage the project.

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The Project Brief

The Project Brief
By Mark Norman

The Project Brief is a key quality document used when we begin a project, it is a powerful tool and there to help us. Its purpose is to provide a clear definition of the project’s direction and scope and forms the ‘contract’ between the project team and corporate management. Once the document has been approved, any significant change to the material contained in the Project Brief will need to be referred to corporate or program management for re-approval.

The document will define the requester’s acceptance criteria and the required final objectives and outcome. It will detail the constraints and assumptions that impact on those responsible for the project. It will also highlight an outline business case along with any known risks. This level of detail will allow management to make a considered decision on whether to proceed with the request.

On gaining approval to proceed, the contents of this document will be used to form the Business Case as well as the Project Initiation Document. Read the Complete Article

5 Things a Project Manager Should Not Do

5 Things a Project Manager Should Not Do
By Mark Norman

The project manager is often asked to do many things, some of which he should do. However, there are certain professional activities that should be carried out by a subject matter expert. Be wary if, on your projects, you are to do the following:

  1. Requirements Engineering

    Certain types of projects such as software development projects require the collecting, ordering and communication of complex requirements. If the gathered requirements are incomplete, wrong or not relevant to the desired outcome then the project may fail. Business analysts or requirements engineers should be used to collect the requirements.

  2. Testing

    The project manager is responsible for delivering the products that achieve the desired project outcomes. He is not responsible for the unit, integration and acceptance testing that ensures the products fit together. A skilled tester will be experienced in creating test scenarios and scripts that test the delivered products.

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