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Project Management Huts

A Project Management Hut is a collection of articles, covering the whole process to manage a project, from project initiation to project closure, including all the necessary templates, and written by one or more elite project managers.

Below is the list of available Project Management Huts on PM Hut. More on the way…

Project Management Process by John Filicetti
A Project Management Primer by Nick Jenkins
A Quick Guide to Project Management by Manjeet Singh
Project Management for Construction by Chris Hendrickson
Project Management Handbook by Wouter Baars.
Introduction to Project Management by JISC infoNet.


More Articles

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Control Factors in Project Management

Control Factors in Project Management (#1 in the series Coordination of Projects in Project Management)
By Wouter Baars

Control factors in Project Management are the parameters along which projects are reported on and directed. These factors also play an important role in the coordination of multiple projects:

  • Money: determining whether projects are financially feasible
  • Organisation: arriving at mutual agreements concerning the hierarchy among projects and between the projects and other departments

  • Quality: determining whether the goals of a project are consistent with the strategy of the organisation

  • Information: establishing who will report what about the project and when to the management team?

  • Time: estimating how many personnel will be needed within a given period to arrive at a good distribution of workers across the project teams.

Before the start of a project and after each project phase, a project leader should provide an estimate of the control factors for the rest of the project. Read the Complete Article

Top 11 Causes of Delays in IT Projects

Top 11 Causes of Delays in IT Projects
By Wouter Baars

This article contains a description of the eleven most common causes of delays in projects. For a detailed analysis of these and other causes of delays, see the works by McConnell and by Goldratt (McConnell, 1996, Goldratt, 2002).

  1. Expansion of functionality

    The expansion of functionality is a phenomenon in which new functionalities continue to be conceived and requested as the project proceeds. The software can never be completed in this way.

  2. Gold plating

    Gold plating is a phenomenon in which programmers and designers try to make many details of the software or design too elaborate. Much time is spent improving details, even though the improvements were not requested by the customer or client. The details often add little to the desired result.

  3. Neglecting quality control

    Time pressure can sometimes cause programmers or project teams to be tempted to skip testing.

Read the Complete Article

The Follow-up Phase in Project Management

The Follow-up Phase in Project Management (#30 in the Hut Project Management Handbook)
By Wouter Baars

After an adequate result has been achieved in the cyclical phase, the project enters the follow-up phase. In this phase, the project result is secured. What this means depends upon the type of project and on the agreements that have been made with the client or customer. For a research project, a final report would probably suffice; the development of a new product would require more follow-up.

Most of the problems in the follow-up phase arise because no clear agreements were made between the customer or client and the project team at the beginning of the project. The following are among the points that should be taken into consideration:

  • How long should the follow-up last?
  • What does the follow-up entail?
  • How quickly must errors be repaired?
  • Is there a guarantee on the project result?
Read the Complete Article

The Cyclical Phase in Project Management

The Cyclical Phase in Project Management (#29 in the Hut Project Management Handbook)
By Wouter Baars

The working methods in the cyclical phase are borrowed from XP. In this phase, a number of cycles are performed in succession. A cycle lasts no more than one to two weeks. The following activities take place within each cycle:

  • Planning
  • Examination of Functionalities
  • Design of Functionalities
  • Implementation of Functionalities
  • Testing of Functionalities
  • Delivery of Functionalities

Planning

At the end of the design phase, an estimate is made of the number of cycles that will be needed to achieve the project goal. This occurs according to the functional and technical design. Cycles are never long; they usually last between two and four weeks. A cycle always includes the activities of planning, investigating, designing, implementation, testing and delivery. Each cycle, therefore involves only a few functionalities (or sometimes only one).

The procedures for planning are as follows. Read the Complete Article

Project Design Phase

Project Design Phase (#28 in the Hut Project Management Handbook)
By Wouter Baars

With the list of requirements that was developed in the definition phase, the project team is able to make choices concerning the ultimate appearance of the software.

A design document is the result of the design phase in IT projects. The design document contains an elaboration of the concept and a broad outline of a technical design. The goal is to investigate what the software will look like, both technically and functionally.

In this regard, it is helpful to work with dummies in the design phase. A dummy is a quickly assembled, non-operational (or only partially operational) piece of software that serves primarily to evaluate the design. These dummies are presented to the clients, customers (or both), as well as the end users. One advantage of dummies over schemas on paper is that they resemble the finished product. Read the Complete Article

Project Definition Phase

Project Definition Phase (#27 in the Hut Project Management Handbook)
By Wouter Baars

After a project plan has been approved, the project enters the second phase: definition phase. In this phase, the requirements that are associated with the result of the project are determined as clearly and as completely as possible. This is in order to identify the expectations that all involved parties have for the project result. This list (mentioned previously) can serve as a memory aid in this regard:

  • Preconditions
  • Functional requirements
  • Operational requirements
  • Design limitations

The collaboration of all parties that are involved in a project is very important in the definition phase, particularly the end users who will actually use the project result.

Activities in the Project Definition Phase

  • Compile list of requirements together with client, (possible) customer, end users, experts and project team.
  • Balance requirements.
  • Test the feasibility of the requirements.
  • Report to client, customer or both about the requirements.
Read the Complete Article

Project Initiation Phase

Project Initiation Phase (#26 in the Hut Project Management Handbook)
By Wouter Baars

The initiation phase begins with an idea for a project. No budget is yet available for the project. The goal of this phase is to write a project plan according to which internal or external financing can be requested.

Activities in the initiation phase

  • Elaborate the concept.
  • Examine the base of support.
  • Contact possible partners.
  • Investigate funding opportunities.
  • Prepare an initial global estimate of the control factors for the project.
  • Prepare a concrete estimate of the control factors for the definition phase.
  • Establish project boundaries.
  • Prepare a project plan.
  • Apply for funding or establishing contract agreements with possible customers.

Output of the initiation phase:

  • Approved and funded project plan
  • (Possible) contract with customer Operations/Decisions:
  • (Prospective) project leader
  • Client
  • (Possible) customer

If possible, installment financing is preferable to lump sum financing following the initiation phase. For installment financing, a relatively small amount of funding for the operations of the definition and design phases is requested during the initiation phase. Read the Complete Article

Cyclical Methods of Project Management

Cyclical Methods of Project Management (#23 in the Hut Project Management Handbook)
By Wouter Baars

Because of the issues described previously in this Hut, a number of other methods of project management have emerged in recent years. These methods are particularly suited for IT-development projects. Examples of these relatively new streams within project management include DSDM, RUP, eXtreme Programming (XP), RAD and agile project management.

Although the above-mentioned methods of project management differ according to a number of aspects, they are essentially the same. Because the path toward the final goal of IT projects has proved so uncertain, these methods assume that the goal will be achieved in a number of short cycles. This is the background for the term ‘cyclical’ project management for these methods.

In cyclical project management, the project goal is pursued in several short, successive consecutive cycles. Each cycle is relatively short, preferably lasting less than one month. Read the Complete Article

Waterfall vs. Cyclical PM: Estimating Time to Implement a Functionality Is Difficult

Waterfall vs. Cyclical PM: Estimating Time to Implement a Functionality Is Difficult (#21 in the Hut Project Management Handbook)
By Wouter Baars

The waterfall method assumes a number of phases. In their project plans, project leaders must include estimates of the amount of time (and therefore money) that will be needed for each phase. We have already seen that time estimates are generally difficult for any project, particularly if they must be made in the early stages of a project. For software projects, it is simply impossible. Imagine that it were feasible to compile a qualitatively adequate list of functionalities in the definition phase. In theory, the project team should then be able to provide a reasonable estimate of how much time will be necessary to implement each functionality. In practice, however, there are too many uncertainties to allow a reasonable estimate (e.g. McConnell, 1996):

  • Once a functionality has been made, it is often discovered that the customer does not need it after all.
Read the Complete Article

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