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Start Every Project with a Detailed Description of the Project

Start Every Project with a Detailed Description of the Project
By Richard Morreale

Too many times I have seen Projects go bad because there wasn’t a common understanding at the beginning of what the Project was supposed to deliver – poor communication. People assume, even on small Projects, that everyone has a common understanding of the deliverable and too late everyone realizes that they don’t.

I suggest that the Detailed Project Definition should be completed before or at the start of the Project. In fact, ideally, this should be the initial definition used to brief the Project Manager as to what the Project is all about. What usually happens, though, is that the Project Manager will have to produce this as the first Deliverable and will get it agreed by whoever is sponsoring the Project. In addition, once this Detailed Project Definition is written and agreed, it should be used as the foundation to everything that follows. Read the Complete Article

Stop Conducting Project Progress Meetings

Stop Conducting Project Progress Meetings
By Richard Morreale

I want you to stop conducting Project Progress Meetings, Project Highlight Meetings, and Project Status Meetings and stop producing Project Progress Reports, Project Status Reports and Project Highlight Reports. Instead, start conducting Project Achievement Meetings and start producing Project Achievement Reports. When I’m running a Project, I want people to continually remember that we are on this project to achieve.

I remember being called in to provide consultancy support on a major financial systems project that was in a little bit of trouble. The project manager was in the process of putting together a Project Status Report for the Board. I suggested that he rename it Project Achievement Report. He told me that would be fine but that they really hadn’t achieved anything since the last report. My comment to him was, “Well, shouldn’t that tell you something?” It does and it is not something that, as a project manager or as the project managers boss, you want to hear. Read the Complete Article

The Third of 8 Habits of Highly Successful Project Managers: Organize for Success – Part 2!

The Third of 8 Habits of Highly Successful Project Managers: Organize for Success – Part 2!
By Richard Morreale

So far in this series, The 8 Habits of Very Successful Project Managers, we have covered the first Habit – Know Your Outcome, the second Habit – Plan the Achievement and Part 1 of the third Habit – Organize for Success. This article will cover Part 2 of Organize for Success. This includes working with a Project Support Office, working with the Users and working with an Independent Test Function.

The Project Support Office

The Project Support Office (PSO) is organized and implemented to do just what it says – support the project. That is done by providing support to the Project Manager, the Project Team and the Project Board. So what is the Project Support Office and how does it work?

The PSO is a central pool of resources with specific support skills. Read the Complete Article

The Second of 8 Habits of Highly Successful Project Managers: Plan the Achievement!

The Second of 8 Habits of Highly Successful Project Managers: Plan the Achievement!
By Richard Morreale

This article is a part of a series. You can find the previous article here.

There are loads of reasons why the second habit of very successful Project Managers is Plan the Achievement. We know that without a plan we are never sure of what we are supposed to be doing, when we are supposed to be doing it, when we are supposed to have it finished, who is dependent on us finishing it, when the entire project is going to be completed and how we are going to know if we are on time for delivery. I think those are enough reasons for Project Managers to pay particular attention to Planning the Achievement on their projects.

The Importance of Planning

One of my mentors (he doesn’t know he is a mentor of mine but I have read so many of his books and listened to so many of his audio programs that I feel like I know him), Zig Ziglar, says that, “Failing to plan is planning to fail”. Read the Complete Article

The First of 8 Habits of Highly Successful Project Managers: Know Your Outcome!

The First of 8 Habits of Highly Successful Project Managers: Know Your Outcome!
By Richard Morreale

This article is a part of a series. You can find the previous article here.

The lack of an agreed, properly controlled Requirement is one of the top ten reasons that Projects fail. In fact, some people, including me, believe it to be the top reason that Projects fail. So, what do highly successful Project Managers do to help to ensure success on their projects? They ensure that they have a properly documented, agreed and properly controlled Requirements Document. This article is focused on the importance of the Requirement, the criteria for well defined Requirements, ways of defining the Requirement, ways of handling unknowns, documenting the Requirement, getting it approved and controlling changes to it.

The Importance of Knowing Your Outcome

Having a proper Requirements Document in place on your Project delivers a number of real benefits to you, to your team, to the customer and to the successful completion of your Project. Read the Complete Article

Smooth Resources, As Required, To Create The Most Optimum Schedule

Smooth Resources, As Required, To Create The Most Optimum Schedule
By Richard Morreale

In the last article of the Project Planning Process series, we examined the topic of scheduling each of the activities/tasks either automatically using an automated planning tool or by hand – Today’s article is the 9th installment of this series.

Most automated planning systems advertise that they can be used to automatically smooth resources to the most optimum use thereby providing the best possible schedule. They say that they take into consideration the Activities, effort estimate, resources that have been allocated, either by name or resource indicator and the estimated elapsed time for each Activity.

Well, I’ll tell you what happens. They might do it totally logically with the above information fed into the system but they don’t have much common sense built into the algorithm. So what do you get? You get 7-day Activities that should be started and logically continued until they are completed being broken up into 3 2-day Activities and a 1-day Activity and being completed over a much longer period in terms of the schedule. Read the Complete Article

Develop an Activity Breakdown of the Work Required to Produce Each Product

Develop an Activity Breakdown of the Work Required to Produce Each Product
By Richard Morreale

This is the 4th step in a series that I have been presenting on the 9 Step Structured Project Planning Process. I’ve already covered Steps 1 to 3 in previous articles before. Step 1 broke the project down into major stages of work. Step 2 identified the products to be developed and delivered in each stage. Step 3 defined, as much as possible, the content and format standards for each of the products identified in Step 2. Now, in Step 4 it is time to identify the activities that will be required to develop and deliver the products. Until you know the activities that have to be accomplished to develop and deliver the products, you won’t be able to identify the process you will want the team to follow in producing the product nor will you be able to identify the resource requirements accurately. Read the Complete Article

Define the Content and Format Standards for Each Product To Be Delivered

Define the Content and Format Standards for Each Product To Be Delivered
By Richard Morreale

This is the third installment in a series of articles about a 9-Step Structured Project Planning. Today I’m going to write, in as much detail as possible, the content and format standards for each of the Products to be delivered during the project.

One of the big things that I stress when I’m running a project or teaching a project management course is to ‘know what you are supposed to deliver before you start working on delivering it’. What I’m talking about here is that no matter what you are having to deliver, whether it is an entire system, a project or a document the principle remains the same – ‘know what you are supposed to deliver before you start working on delivering it’.. If you know what you have to deliver in terms of what the Product will look like before you start, you will have a much better chance of defining and organizing the work to deliver it. Read the Complete Article

Identify the Products to Be Delivered at Each Stage

Identify the Products to Be Delivered at Each Stage
By Richard Morreale

A while ago, I wrote about the first step in a 9-step structured Planning Process. That step was to break the project down into major stages of work each delivering a major product. The purpose of this step (step #2) is to identify the products to be produced and delivered during and at the end of each stage. I suggest that one of the last activities you perform in any stage is to put the plan together for, at least, the next 2 stages. As part of the 9-Step Planning Process, Step 2 says that you must identify the products to be developed and delivered during the completion and at the end of each stage. Therefore, if you are going to plan the next 2 stages and I’ve already suggested that all your plans be product based, you will need to identify the products for the next 2 stages as part of the whole process. Read the Complete Article

Breaking the Project Down Into Major Stages

Breaking the Project Down Into Major Stages
By Richard Morreale

In one of my previous articles, I introduced my 9 step process for producing a structured plan for your project. In this article I’ll be talking about the 1st step which is to ‘Break the project down into major stages of work with each stage delivering a major ‘end of stage’ product.

Almost every Project can be broken down into major Stages of work. In fact, I haven’t found one yet that can’t. Let’s look at two examples which, although fairly simple, should give you a good idea of what I’m talking about in this Blog.

A Project to build a house, for instance, could be broken down into Stages and major end of Stage Products as follows:

Stage End of Stage Products
Requirements Definition Statement of Requirements
Design House Plans/Drawings
Build Completed House
Acceptance Owner Inspected/Accepted House

Each of these Stages meets the requirements for a Stage in that they include major effort and the output for each Stage is a major Product. Read the Complete Article

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