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Benefits of an “Agile” Mindset

Benefits of an “Agile” Mindset
By Perry McLeod

Projects are a social endeavor. Traditional project management approaches have shied away from the social advantages a more agile project environment brings. By nature, we are storytelling, pattern seeking and social people. We need colocation to shine truly in a project environment. Agile is about creating and fostering a culture that has:

  • responsible stewardship
  • individual empowerment
  • open and transparent communication
  • self-organizing, self-determining, collocated groups
  • knowledge sharing
  • consistent face-to-face interaction with customers and each other

In a waterfall environment, resource management is always an issue in any project. Especially when the stakeholders have operational duties to perform. If our requirements team was 100 percent at our disposal, always completed activities on target and worked a full eight-hour day without distraction or a loss of productivity, then estimating time would be simple. This is never the case, however.

Command and Control Organizational Structures

Many business analysts, project managers and other project team members such as subject matter experts(SMEs), customers, users and other stakeholders classically work in a functionally organized environment. Read the Complete Article

Four Steps for Passing the PMP Exam

Four Steps for Passing the PMP Exam
By Dan Stober, PMP, Global Knowledge

If you have been a professional project manager for a number of years, then it is highly likely that you have considered earning your Project Management Professional (PMP®) credential. And why wouldn’t you? It is well known that the PMP certificate is not only a demonstration of your mastery of project management concepts, but it also shows that you have the dedication to take on a rigorous course of study. For some the task can seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. The key to successfully navigating the exam process is to approach it like a project, which you already know how to do!

I want to share with you my four-step plan for earning your PMP credential. While your goal is passing the PMP exam, it will just be an abstract concept unless you have the systems and processes in place to make it a reality. Read the Complete Article

Thoughts About Motivation

Thoughts About Motivation
By Bill Scott, Global Knowledge Course Director and Instructor

I delivered a Project Management, Communications and Leadership class at our NYC training center last month. We discussed motivation and how project management was being influenced by Frederick Herzberg’s Hygiene Theory (which has little to do with hygiene). The Herzberg theory is more related to the two-factor theory than hygiene. But that’s another story for another day. Herzberg developed a list of items the he classified as hygiene factors, better known as demotivating events, such as:

  • Policies/procedures/administration
  • Management
  • Physical working conditions
  • Working relationships
  • Salary/status and security

Herzberg’s list of motivating factors included:

  • Achievement
  • Recognition
  • Job interest
  • Job responsibility
  • Growth
  • The work itself

Herzberg’s theory basically says almost all demotivating factors have to be removed before the motivating factors will motivate. Imagine a motivating meter hanging around one’s neck with a pointer at the 12 o’clock position (neutral). The 12 o’clock meter pointer position indicates no motivation and no demotivation. Read the Complete Article

Common Project Manager Mistakes: #6 Project Management Is All in the Details

Common Project Manager Mistakes: #6 Project Management Is All in the Details
By Samuel T. Brown, III, PMP, Global Knowledge Course Director and Instructor

This article is part of a series. The previous article can be found here.

Many of us are accidental project managers. We entered our profession with a different path in mind but we were recognized as individuals who were technically competent, focused and detail-oriented. Often we were given project assignments with little or no preparation or training in project management and we had to figure out how to use the skills we had in different ways in order to meet the different expectations of project stakeholders.

Project managers certainly need to attend to the details in their projects but they also need to see the big picture. As much as anything else, project management is about balance. A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge, (PMBOK® Guide - Fifth Edition, Project Management Institute, Inc., 2013 says that project management is “the application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to project activities to meet project requirements” (PMBOK® Guide Glossary, page 554). Read the Complete Article

Common Project Manager Mistakes: #5 Assuming Estimates Can Be Right

Common Project Manager Mistakes: #5 Assuming Estimates Can Be Right
By Samuel T. Brown, III, PMP, Global Knowledge Course Director and Instructor

This article is part of a series. The previous article can be found here.

Estimating is fortune telling. When we estimate how long something will take or how much it will cost or how much resource will be needed, we are using the best information available to us and our experience to predict what is required for an event, activity or deliverable before we begin. This is self-evident, particularly when we see it in writing, but it belies assumptions that we usually fail to account for in the way we estimate or plan.

Since estimating is an attempt to predict a future event, it will never be done with consistent accuracy, and yet we often present our estimates to our stakeholders as if they were clear facts. Read the Complete Article

Common Project Manager Mistakes: #4 Murphy vs. Parkinson

Common Project Manager Mistakes: #4 Murphy vs. Parkinson
By Samuel T. Brown, III, PMP, Global Knowledge Course Director and Instructor

This article is part of a series. The previous article can be found here.

We all know Murphy’s Law: Anything that can go wrong will go wrong. It’s thanks to our deep and abiding faith in Murphy’s Law that many of us, and most of the folks on our teams, always add a bit of “padding” to our estimates. We’ve got to allow for Murphy’s impact. Though we joke a lot about Murphy’s Law, we have learned through consistent and often difficult experiences that something will not go as planned so we had better build in some safety to give us a chance to deal with the problems.

We’ve also learned through experience, or from our preparation for the Project Management Professional (PMP)® certification exam, that risk management is necessary, proactive and applied throughout the life cycle of every project. Read the Complete Article

Common Project Manager Mistakes: #3 Overlooking Organization Change Impacts

Common Project Manager Mistakes: #3 Overlooking Organization Change Impacts
By Samuel T. Brown, III, PMP, Global Knowledge Course Director and Instructor

This article is part of a series. The previous article can be found here.

All projects, by their nature and definition, are undertaken to change the organization. Think about it. Why would you or your organization decide to invest resources in doing something if you are satisfied with the way things are? This means that all projects, all of the time, are about changing an organization — making it better, more efficient or more profitable. Projects are about attracting new customers; updating or upgrading the tools, equipment and infrastructure needed to do business, etc.

Now, when we combine this recognition with the reality that people tend to resist change most of the time, we easily see why well-executed projects still have difficulty succeeding. As project managers, we are often so focused on managing the project constraints and stakeholder expectations that we lose sight of the organizational impacts our project have, or will have, on the current environment and culture. Read the Complete Article

Common Project Manager Mistakes: #2 We Don’t Have Time for Risk Management

Common Project Manager Mistakes: #2 We Don’t Have Time for Risk Management
By Samuel T. Brown, III, PMP, Global Knowledge Course Director and Instructor

This article is part of a series. The previous article can be found here.

I was recently working with a neighbor (I’ll call him Gene) to help him plan a project at their home. They live in the country and have a small dilapidated barn that they wanted to replace with a building in which they could indulge their favorite hobby — beer making.

When we first started talking about the project, they were full of enthusiasm and planned to demolish the barn over an upcoming weekend. As we talked, I asked questions like: Are there any hazardous materials in the barn? Have you inspected the barn to make sure it will support us as we remove the roof and rafters? Is there clearance around all sides of the structure so that we can get in close enough to work properly? Read the Complete Article

Common Project Manager Mistakes: #1 Limiting Stakeholders

Common Project Manager Mistakes: #1 Limiting Stakeholders
By Samuel T. Brown, III, PMP, Global Knowledge Course Director and Instructor

According to A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge, (PMBOK® Guide)-Fifth Edition, Project Management Institute, Inc., 2013, stakeholders are “individuals, groups, or organizations who may affect, or be affected by, or perceive itself to be affected by a decision, activity, or outcome of a project.” This is a simple definition from the PMBOK® Guide and yet we often focused our attention on only those who requested the project or who are actively involved in project execution and decision-making.

Obviously our project’s initiator, sponsor and team are stakeholders. Equally obvious is the fact that the customer is a stakeholder, but here’s the rub: Who is the customer of the project? Is it the group that will use the results of the project? Is it the group that asked for the project to be done? Read the Complete Article

Q&A: The Project Manager as Business Analyst

Q&A: The Project Manager as Business Analyst
By Dan Stober, PMP, Global Knowledge

Attendees of last month’s webinar “The Project Manager as Business Analyst” had a lot of great questions for PMP-certified Global Knowledge instructor and webinar host, Dan Stober. So great, in fact, we decided to share them, along with Dan’s great answers.

Q: Speaking of building something that doesn’t meet the business need, can you talk about how this fits in the Scrum/Agile method?

A: Many times, especially in software development, the finished product doesn’t look anything like the original vision. Usually this comes from either expanding scope or poor initial requirements development. What we want, in the end, is to build a product that meets the business need. But, many times after every stakeholder get his/her wish list into a product, we find that many of the features/functions are not a business necessity.

Q: If the project manager (PM) writes the requirements charter, how does it give them authority? Read the Complete Article

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