By Susan Peterson
As project managers we are expected to be able to process a great deal of information from a variety of sources. Some might say that the explosion of email as a communication medium has increased the volume of information exponentially but has drastically decreased the quality. Project managers can find themselves drowning in a sea of useless information while not being able to obtain the few “jewels” of information necessary to ensure project success. Some “information management” tools to assist in “keeping afloat” include templates, filters and categories.
Sometimes the information overload issue centers on unnecessary data. Progress and problems need to be monitored, but “status” does not. Status reports waste time and energy that can be better channeled into proactive project activities. It can be effective to provide a template of what information is really needed. For example, progress reports can include the following: 1) progress against deliverables; 2) issues with recommended resolution strategies; 3) actions on outstanding items. Read the Complete Article
Communication in Project Management – Communicating what Matters
By Thomas Cutting
Several of the brain dump entries center around “Communicating what Matters.” This shouldn’t be a surprise. Some have estimated that 80% of project management is communication. Others claim that 63% of all statistics are made up on the spur of the moment.
The mark of an excellent project manager is communicating the right amount to the right people in the right format at the right time: making it matter.
The Right Amount
We’ve all sat through long winded, slide enhanced meetings that completely fill the4-hour morning time slot and spill over into lunch. If you are like me, you grasped the concept, impact and expectations of the topic within the first 20 minutes, but have to endure the remaining torture. In truth, I probably delivered some of those presentations.
The purpose of any communication is to allow the audience to make informed decisions (#2 on February’s list). Read the Complete Article
The Essence of Driving – A Crash Course in Project Management
By Ivo Manolov
About a year ago, I got feedback from my team that I needed to clarify what I meant by “drive this effort” or “lead that effort”. So I decided to create a quick document explaining what I meant. Below is that document.
There are a lot of books on project management. From that point of view, there is nothing special about the techniques below – all of them are pretty much common sense and all of them can be found in those books. What is special about the post that follows is the condensed presentation (my goal is to essentially save you from reading a PMP book) and the fact that we actually used every single one of these techniques to manage the WPF 4 and Visual Studio 2010 products, which we released in April 2010.
The techniques listed below are:
- Trend (and glide-path)
- Backlog / Burn-down List
- “Branded” status emails
- Schedule in Excel
- Schedule in Visio
Enjoy! Read the Complete Article
Types of Project Information in Construction Project Management
By Chris Hendrickson
Construction projects inevitably generate enormous and complex sets of information. Effectively managing this bulk of information to insure its availability and accuracy is an important managerial task. Poor or missing information can readily lead to project delays, uneconomical decisions, or even the complete failure of the desired facility. Pity the owner and project manager who suddenly discover on the expected delivery date that important facility components have not yet been fabricated and cannot be delivered for six months! With better information, the problem could have been identified earlier, so that alternative suppliers might have been located or schedules arranged. Both project design and control are crucially dependent upon accurate and timely information, as well as the ability to use this information effectively. At the same time, too much unorganized information presented to managers can result in confusion and paralysis of decision making. Read the Complete Article
The Importance of Documentation in Project Management (#3 in the series Brief Tips for Project Managers)
By Sondre Bjørnebekk
Even if you use lightweight methods, which can be an excellent choice, with less focus on documentation it does not mean that you abandon writing down conclusions from meetings, internal discussions or how a difficult project issue was agreed to be handled. My most basic, but maybe the most useful, tip is:
Be sure to put conclusions in writing immediately, even if not using documentation heavy methods
I find over and over in projects that same discussions will be repeated throughout the project because participants are unsure what was concluded. To settle a discussion can sometimes be hard and time consuming work. Then you ought to think that writing it down and sending it by email just “to confirm and summarize my understanding of the conclusion” would be easy and done at once? Read the Complete Article
Information Distribution in Project Management
By Gina Abudi
Ensuring that the right people (such as stakeholders, project team members, project sponsors, etc.) get the right information at the right time for project status updates and to make decisions on projects requires a great deal of planning. Effective distribution of information relies on the selection of the right tools and methods to ensure you reach the people you need to reach in the manner beset suited for them to evaluate and/or make decisions.
The method to communicate that you select should be based on:
- The type of information to be distributed
- The audience requirements
- The timeline for a required response
Any or all of the following are acceptable methods for distributing project information to stakeholders and other relevant interested parties:
- Project team meeting
- Individual, one-on-one meetings
- Stakeholder meetings
- Video conferencing
- Conference calls
- Portal or project intranet site
- Collaborative work management tools
The method you choose is based on your audience, the environment, company policies and/or access to software, the size of the project and other factors. Read the Complete Article
The Project Scorecard
By Dave Nielsen
Senior executives use Project Scorecards, also known as Balanced Scorecards, to ensure project activity aligns with the strategies and visions of the organization. The scorecard is a little like putting the reader in the driver’s seat of a car. They need a view through a clear windshield to determine the direction the project is headed in and instrumentation such as the speedometer, tachometer, oil pressure gauge, and water temperature gauge to ensure the car is performing correctly and not in danger of breaking down or crashing. By the way, the reason these scorecards are often referred to as “balanced scorecards”? Previous to their introduction, executives had only a view of the financial performance of operations or projects. A need was identified for a more “balanced” view of activities, one that would include measurements of other aspects of performance.
Project Scorecards should satisfy 2 project requirements: the need for a vehicle to communicate project performance and health to busy executives and the need to compare performance across multiple projects. Read the Complete Article
Communication in Project Management – When to Communicate
By Thomas Cutting
Rarely do you hear a project sponsor say, “There is way too much communication going on here.” Unfortunately a common complaint is the lack of communication. True, the loudest complainers are often those that opted out of the weekly status meetings and never responded to your emails. You are left wondering when it is appropriate to connect with them.
When to Speak Up
This weekend I was listening to The Tech Guy on a local radio show. Google is piloting a new gmail feature that checks your sobriety before letting you hit the send button. You have a minute to answer math questions correctly to proceed. Evidently too many drunks were waking up in the morning with a hangover and some explaining to do. For the record, late night may not be the best time to send an email. Sleep impaired judgment can make the worst email look like Shakespeare. Read the Complete Article
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
By Thomas Cutting
I heard an interesting quote the other day: “Desire without dedication is fantasy.” It was said in the context of maintaining a solid marriage, but it struck me that it was such a universal truth. If an athlete desires to be a professional but lacks the dedication to practice he is just dreaming. A farmer that wishes to have a good crop doesn’t lay around all spring thinking about it. It seems obvious in those contexts, yet it seems to fall apart in the world of management.
Many times management recognizes the need for establishing guidelines and following best practices but lacks the will to follow through with it. They get a glimpse of what consistent processes can do for them but can’t or won’t enforce them long enough to see the benefit. Granted, if it were easy everyone would do it.
I always enjoy starting in an environment where there is a lack of project management processes. Read the Complete Article