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Need Help with a Tight Schedule?

Need Help with a Tight Schedule?
By Christian Bisson

One of the main concerns for project managers is delivering the project on time. More often than we would love to admit, this can be hard, and a variety of reasons explain why it can be a challenge (events, client expectations, business need, etc.).

Either while we’re planning the initial schedule, or as the project evolves, there are many different ways to help shortened a schedule so you can deliver your project on time.

In the past, I’ve written an article that listed a few tips to help you out, here is complementary information and more alternatives:

The two typical tools that can applied to all projects are the following:

  1. Fast tracking

    Fast Tracking consists of starting a phase of a project sooner, overlapping with the previous phase.

    For example:

    • If design is only partly approve, development could start earlier with what is approved;
    • If only parts of the projects are developed, QA can start for those pieces instead of waiting for the very end of development.

Read the Complete Article

Get Rid of Your Project’s Contingency

Get Rid of Your Project’s Contingency
By Christian Bisson

How many times have you heard this while creating estimates? Or how many times has the thought of doing this crossed your mind?

Regardless, contingency is needed in all your estimates, and it’s important to protect it.

A Few Typical Misconceptions About Contingency

  • It’s so we can give stakeholders added value throughout the project

    Contingency is often seen as this bundle of money we can use to give stakeholders some freebies as the project evolves and they make requests. Although in some circumstances it can help improve or maintain the relationship with the stakeholders if used wisely, it is still scope creep at the end of the day and can have a larger impact on your project then you think.

  • It adds unnecessary costs

    Some people simply do not know what contingency is and think it’s added costs that could prevent a potential contract to be signed.

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Change: Before, During, After

Change: Before, During, After
By Christian Bisson

When planning to move forward with a change that will impact your colleagues, it is important to remember that you must manage what comes before the change, during the change, and after the change.

  • Before

    Before you proceed with changing a process, a tool, or anything else, you have to keep in mind that the more informed the others are, the better. In times of change, people need to feel safe in what’s coming and the more unknown their is, the less safe they will feel. Therefore, explain the reasons of the change, the plan, and how they will be supported not only throughout the change, but after.

    Make sure people can ask questions or talk to someone to express their concerns or their ideas. How you communicate with colleagues at this stage will give them a first impression on what’s coming, and you want to make sure they have a good first impression in order to reduce resistance.

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5 Tips To Help Control Your Project’s Budget

5 Tips To Help Control Your Project’s Budget
By Christian Bisson

Controlling your project’s budget can be challenging; there are many obstacles that can lower your budget’s health but there are many tactics you can use to keep it healthy.

Here a are a few tips to help:

  1. Reduce scope

    As simple as this may sound, we may be so focused on the client’s requests that considering to reduce scope skips our mind. However, often the scope includes lots of “nice to haves”, which means that your project could be just as successful without a few of the requested features .

    By identifying and removing those “nice to haves”, you can reduce costs and focus on what’s really necessary.

  2. Leverage past work

    Leveraging work from other projects can save a lot of time in a new project. This is often an overlooked strategy and for 2 main reasons:

    1. Lack of visibility of what’s been done: We cannot be aware of everything that is available within an agency.
Read the Complete Article

One Great Tip to Help Control Scope

One Great Tip to Help Control Scope
By Christian Bisson

As project managers, controlling scope can be very challenging.

You’ll want to avoid scope creep but if managed properly, scope changes can mean more budget. At first glance, this seems like a good thing, and in a way, it is. But there are a few others aspects to verify.

Be careful

For example, you can negotiate more time to the schedule, but this can result in the project dragging over a long period of time, and actually never end.

Another aspect to watch out more is as scope changes, team motivation diminishes. People need to close down projects and move on to the next challenge.

Still in the subject of team members, depending on how your organization work with resources, team members may not be available past the initial deadline planned. This may result in resource switches that add risk or cost to your project. Read the Complete Article

What’s Scope Creep and Tips to Avoid It – Part 2

What’s Scope Creep and Tips to Avoid It – Part 2
By Christian Bisson

Scope creep is a very important subject, something every project manager is challenged with.

In my previous article What’s scope creep and tips to avoid it, I listed a few tips to help people face those challenges, and that article was very popular, so I thought it would be great to add more to it and focus on the team:

Scope creep can be 100% an internal issue, so watch out!

Often we are under the impression that scope screep is something we forgot, or something the client asks for and we have no choice but to accept for whatever reason. But, you know what? Sometimes, it’s simply an internal thing.

Often, what will happen is that scope is defined in a certain why, and then, from there, you will create the estimate, and work will get started. Read the Complete Article

Risks: Not Always Negative

Risks: Not Always Negative
By Christian Bisson

A common thinking about risks is that they are all negative and should be mitigated or avoided as much as possible. That common thinking is wrong!

A negative risk is a threat, but a risk can be positive and considered an opportunity so instead of mitigating or avoiding, you’ll want to exploit or enhance.

A good example is the risk of having too many visitors on your brand new website on the day of the launch. Having lots of visits is positive, so it’s not a threat unless it’s poorly planned and can crash the server, so you have to take it into consideration.

You may want to enhance the risk (plan a marketing blast to attract even more visitors) or exploit (use cloud hosting that can adapt resource accordingly, or have more resources ready for the server so you can welcome more visitors). Read the Complete Article

5 Tips to Help Make Changes Happen

5 Tips to Help Make Changes Happen
By Christian Bisson

Bringing change is always a challenge. The human reflex towards changes is pushing-back due to being scared of the unknown it may bring. This constant resistance could bring a halt to even the best of ideas if they are not shared appropriately with other.

From changing software, to changing process, to anything really, changes are a challenge, especially when dealing with a large team.

Here are a few tips to help with that:

  1. Explain why

    One of the top reasons people are not motivated to change is not knowing why the change is being done in the first place. Not only that, this demotivator is often worsened by giving other limited information because “They don’t need to know everything” which brings frustration and can even damage the trust they have in you.

    Changes have reasons, and people who are affected have a right to know why; let them know and you reduce a lot of resistance right at the start.

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4 Tips to Avoid Building a House Without a Hammer

4 Tips to Avoid Building a House Without a Hammer
By Christian Bisson

IT projects have the particularity of having us work with nothing ‘physical’; this opens a whole new world of advantages and disadvantages. One disadvantage is the illusion of not needing proper tools to manage a project.

For example, you wouldn’t go build a house without proper tools, right? It wouldn’t even be possible. Unfortunately, its possible to manage projects without tools (result being debatable of course), so people go straight into it before they prepare. No matter if you managed to finish a couple of projects without so much pain, here are a couple of tips to prepare yourself before you tackle bigger projects:

  1. Find a proper PM tool

    A project management tool should be useful to do the following:

    • Track project information;
    • Create your project’s schedule;

    • Help communication between team members.

    A ‘proper’ tool is one that can be useful to you, and saves time more than you spend trying to figure out how it works.

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4 Reasons Why You Should Track Time

4 Reasons Why You Should Track Time
By Christian Bisson

Time is precious, especially when it comes to using the very little that’s available to do all the work that’s in front of us, or in front of the very limited resources we have for our projects.

So why not try to manage it a little better? Tracking time is a very good start, and just to be clear, I do not mean just tracking how much time you spend on a task, but also track how much time is available while it’s being used. For example, if a developer enters “4h” for a task, that’s great, but it’s even better if he is informed that 10h are left for that task.

Here is why it’s important:

  1. Makes us realize the truth

    How many time have you heard “in will only take two minutes”? Or maybe you are the one who has a habit of saying that!

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