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What is a Mind Map / Concept Map?

What is a Mind Map / Concept Map?
By SmartDraw.com

A Mind Map (or a Concept Map) is the product of brainstorming on paper. It consists of a central idea (normally represented by a large circle), related ideas (smaller circles), and lines connecting them together. They are sometimes referred to as Concept or Cognitive maps.

Typical Uses

Minds Maps encourage a more creative approach to problems, so they are helpful when very complex issues arise and need a solution that is not immediately apparent. Mind maps are also good when collaborating on projects with team members because they lend coherence to ideas that might seem otherwise unrelated.

Mind Map Example

A Mind Map Example

Best Practices

  • The central idea. Determine the central or main idea for your Mind Map. Start by drawing a large circle in the center of the page, leaving plenty of room on all sides. Next, write the central idea or problem in the circle.
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Project Gate Review Process

Project Gate Review Process
By John Filicetti

This article explains in step-by-step instructions the processes for both the Project Gate Review Board and the Project Gate Process

Project Gate Review Board Process

  1. Select Gate Review Board
  2. Select Gate Review Board (GRB) members.
  3. Working with GRB, create and validate Gate Review Checklists to include all phase deliverables and milestones.
  4. Create the Standing Phase Gate Review agenda and criteria (emphasize each GRB member will come to the Gate Review Meeting prepared to vote with little discussion)
  5. Select Gate Review Board (GRB) members
  6. PMO provides list of projects and their Phase Gate status
  7. End Gate Review Board Process

Project Gate Review Process

  1. Start Project Gate Review Process
  2. PMO publishes listing of project with Phase Gate Status
  3. PMs apply to GRB for their review and update checklist to represent deliverable/milestone completion process
  4. If Phase Gates are being tracked with tasks:
    1. Create a project schedule with the last task of each phase set as a milestone: Phase Gate Complete.
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Adaptive Project Communication

Adaptive Project Communication
By Jorge Dominguez

At the heart of project communications is to make sure that all communication requirements are effective and are met. But these requirements change from project to project and from stakeholder to stakeholder. So, let’s look at how to adapt the project communication while keeping it effective.

How to communicate about the project, when, who the audience is, etc. is all part of the communications management plan that is part of the project management plan document or one of its subsidiary documents. The most important thing is that it has to address the needs of all project stakeholders.

Today, project communication mostly flows through weekly status reports and/or status meetings, the latter being either in person or remotely via conference calls. Not all stakeholders have the time for either but are receptive to other methods of receiving and providing information. These are the communication methods suggested by PMI:

  • Written and oral, listening, and speaking
  • Internal (within the project) and external (customer, the media, the public)
  • Formal (reports, briefings, documents, presentations) and informal (memorandums, emails, ad hoc conversations, instant messages, body language, facial expressions)
  • Vertical (up and down the organization) and horizontal (with peers)

All of them are valid and have their place in every project. Read the Complete Article

Planning Phase – Project Communication Plan

Planning Phase – Project Communication Plan (#5 in the series Planning Phase)
By Michele Berrie, Queensland University of Technology

A separate communication plan may be provided, using the Communication Plan template1, as appropriate. The template comprises tables for training strategies, and marketing and communication strategies. A well-developed and comprehensive Communication Plan using both tables meets the change management needs for most projects. Keep in mind that managing change is required in all projects to some degree because change is embedded in all projects.

Communication is a critical component of every project plan because it provides the vital link between the project, the client and success. When developing a communication plan it is essential to answer the following questions:

  • Who will be impacted by this project?
  • What type of change does this project represent, is it only going to affect one department, or the entire organization?
  • When is this change scheduled to occur?
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The Importance of Project Objectives – Do We Know What We Are Doing?

The Importance of Project Objectives – Do We Know What We Are Doing?
By Christine Petersen

Just do it is a common refrain sung by management in organizations today. It is a major reason that projects are classified as failures, and this because nobody insisted on taking the time and effort to define and agree on a clear vision of what the project should achieve in the first place.

I often hear people say: well, we’ll work it out as we go along. We don’t have time to sit down and write down all the objectives now – we have to start the project or we’ll be late. Well, this is the best way I know of making sure that the project WILL be late.

So, why is it so important to take this time up-front to clearly define our scope and objectives? Well, the statistics speak for themselves: A study by Info-Tech research Group, IT Priorities 2005, based on a survey of more than 1,400 companies, mostly in the US, Canada and UK showed that 62% of projects failed because of poorly designed project scope. Read the Complete Article

Types of Project Management Communication – Developing a Plan

Types of Project Management Communication – Developing a Plan (#2 in the series Types of Project Management Communication)
By Alexander Hankewicz

Frequently when project teams convene to discuss post-project reviews, project team members feel that if communication had been better, the project would have gone smoother. The reason communication in project management is crucial is because it can impact a project’s success, and it is very important that project managers use the right types of communication during a project.

Types of Project Management Communication

The issues project managers (PMs) have to communicate about on a regular basis include:

  1. buy-in and acceptance of major project decisions and milestones
  2. acquiring resources and managing budgets
  3. providing status reports on project schedule and deliverables
  4. providing classroom training and preparing user guides
  5. negotiations with third-party software vendors
  6. presentations to project sponsors and stakeholders
  7. mapping current processes and validating their findings
  8. development of process models and managing project documentation
  9. kickoff meetings
  10. executive reports
  11. presentations
  12. financial reports
  13. issue logs
  14. risk logs
  15. change request logs
  16. role-responsibility matrix
  17. project organization chart

Given the nature of the communication models above, it is clear that listening is of equal importance to asking the correct questions and validating observations. Read the Complete Article

Project Management Process – Phase 3 – Implementing – Information Distribution

Project Management Process – Phase 3 – Implementing – Information Distribution (#18 in the Hut Project Management Process)
By John Filicetti

Description

Information distribution involves making needed information available to project stakeholders in a timely manner and requires the project manager and team members to perform the following five tasks:

  • Review and implement the communications management plan
  • Conduct project meetings as needed to keep people informed
  • Communicate all relevant project information informally and formally as needed through the project manager, the project focal point
  • Identify and communicate barriers to project execution
  • Attempt to respond to special requests for information from key stakeholders

Project team members are responsible for communicating effectively with one another as the project requires and forwarding all relevant project information to the project manager for disposition and broader distribution. Team meetings, e-mail, networked databases, enterprise document management systems, project management software, and the organization’s intranet can all be used to facilitate easy, effective, and timely distribution and recording of project information. Read the Complete Article

Project Management Process – Phase 2 – Planning – Develop Project Management Plan

Project Management Process – Phase 2 – Planning – Develop Project Management Plan (#11 in the Hut Project Management Process)
By John Filicetti

Description

The Project Management Plan is your project guide, outline, and main communications tool and provides a documented basis for making project decisions and for confirming or developing common understanding of project scope among the stakeholders. It also serves as guiding document for project execution and control and provides the rules and limits for your project.

The main inputs for the Project Management Plan are the Requirements Document, the Concept Proposal, the Risk Management Plan, and the Project Schedule. The Requirements Document and the Concept Proposal will provide the project goal, objectives, risks, assumptions, constraints, alignment, and other information. The Project Schedule will provide project timelines and milestones.

The Risk Management Plan allows you to highlight noteworthy risk items. The Project Management Plan should contain the following in the detailed level necessary for project information. Read the Complete Article

Conducting Effective Meetings – Part 2 – Planning and Preparation

Conducting Effective Meetings – Part 2 – Planning and Preparation (#2 in the series Conducting Effective Meetings)
By Tom Carlos (PMP)

Planning and Preparation

Planning

Define your goals and objectives for the meeting: A meeting without a “purpose” is a recipe for disaster. This is the most common reason for unproductive meetings. Make sure you define the purpose of the meeting and select agenda items that will help you achieve the desired results. You should also include the goals and objectives on the agenda (in the top section that contains meeting information).

Solicit agenda items: In addition to the agenda items you wish to cover, solicit input from team members and other stakeholders. Others will have valuable input to be shared and incorporate into your project.

  • Make sure the agenda items chosen for discussion are relevant
  • Coach the presenter and know what they will say (avoid surprises, that can be embarrassing)
  • Make sure the agenda item can be discussed within the given time frame (and this includes open discussion and questions for the other attendees)
  • Anticipate the results from the discussion (anticipate were the conversation will lead)

Select an appropriate room: Select a location that will accommodate your group comfortably. Read the Complete Article

Project Management – The Project Brief

Project Management – The Project Brief (#10 in the series Project Management Guide)
By Lasa Information Systems Team

The Project Brief provides a way into the project and acts as a first step to producing a Project Initiation Document. This template can be used successfully as the basis of an initial brainstorming session with everyone involved or interested in the project.

The Project Brief sets an agenda for the meeting and acts as a checklist to ensure that discussion covers all the major issues. It’s helpful to issue everyone with a copy of the Brief template and encourage them to think about the issues before the meeting. It’s important to prevent the discussion getting bogged down in any one area of detail. People may struggle with the difference between outcomes and objectives for example, but you’re not aiming for perfection at this stage, just general agreement on the various elements of the project. Read the Complete Article

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