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Watermelon Reporting in Project Management

Watermelon Reporting in Project Management
By Marc Löffler

From Wikipedia: The watermelon fruit, loosely considered a type of melon (although not in the genus Cucumis), has a smooth exterior rind (green, yellow and sometimes white) and a juicy, sweet interior flesh (usually pink, but sometimes orange, yellow, red and sometimes green if not ripe).

For my metaphor, I’ll use the one with red flesh but orange and yellow would work too. I think most of us experienced the phenomenon when the project status is red but is getting greener and greener when climbing the management ladder. The project’s core is red but for the management it has a nice green paring, so it looks like a watermelon. This is why I call this phenomenon Watermelon Reporting. But why are we creating such reports and how can we avoid it?


The bearer of bad news already had a bad time in the ancient world. Read the Complete Article

The Five Universal Project Checkpoints

The Five Universal Project Checkpoints
By Preben Ormen

I have been working in or alongside projects for over 35 years now and have certain notions about what projects are alike and how they differ.

One way all projects are more alike than different is in what I think of as the five universal project checkpoints.

I think of each checkpoint as a process whereby stuff gets done and then we are done so we can get on to the next piece of work.

After each checkpoint we should know we have our back clear so we can focus on the future and not worry about the past (well, OK, hopefully only as little as possible – we can never escape it entirely as we will be held accountable).

So without further ado, my Five Universal Project Checkpoints are as follows:

  1. Kick-off
  2. Requirements
  3. Design
  4. Build
  5. Commissioning


This checkpoint occurs when we conduct the kick-off (or start-up or initiation) meeting with the sponsor and the project team. Read the Complete Article

Leading Indicators in Project Management

Leading Indicators in Project Management
By Randy Wills and Kerry Wills

There are two areas where diligence is important on Projects – (1) Planning and (2) Execution. Let’s assume that planning is done as well as possible and we are now in the midst of running the project. What I often find is that projects turn yellow just before a deadline is due when the PM realizes they won’t hit the date. This is usually less than one week away which really doesn’t give the team much wiggle room to take action and correct the problem. That is why I am a big fan of leading indicators.

The one I think works best is what I call “schedule earned value” which gauges the progress of a project against its ability to meet the commitment. In the simplest definition earned value tracks how much work is performed (earned) against how much time or resources is used (burned) to determine trending. Read the Complete Article

How to Run a Project Performance Review

How to Run a Project Performance Review
By Jennifer Whitt

Many project managers dread giving performance reviews as much as they dread giving presentations. Why is that? Well, much of our time in project management is spent building and nurturing relationships to get things done, so when we have to give a performance review, it can be very uncomfortable to evaluate performance of trusted team members, whether we are delivering good or bad news. To that end, I want to share five steps you can implement in your next performance review to achieve greater results. When I think of performance reviews I think of sports, because sports team members work together for the same result, to win. Similarly, the performance review is all about learning how to support someone so they can do their best in a role. We provide the training, skills, practice and feedback to make that person better for greater results. Read the Complete Article

Who’s The Best Person To Do An Assessment?

Who’s The Best Person To Do An Assessment?
By Michael Pruitt

When watching Good Will Hunting, I couldn’t help but relate when Matt Damon’s character, Will, picked up a piece of chalk and solved an incredibly complicated math problem that couldn’t be cracked by others. Despite being MIT’s janitor, Will bested graduate students because he had a natural ability to make connections between numbers.

I’ve found that successful business people are a combination of three personality types. There’s the charismatic type – people who have the ability to really believe in an idea or product and articulate it at a high level. There’s also the hard worker type – those who tend to be linear, tactical and task-oriented. Finally, there’s the intuitive type, which is the toughest to explain. In short, people who are strong in this type are the “Wills” – people who are very talented at seeing patterns and picking out critical details among a lot of noise. Read the Complete Article

Earned Value Management Versus Traditional Management

Earned Value Management Versus Traditional Management
By Atul Gaur

Earned Value Management (EVM): is a technique used to track the progress and status of a project and to forecast its future performance. EVM systematically integrates measurement of cost, schedule, and scope accomplishments on a project. EVM was developed in 1960’s by Department of Defense (DOD) to keep track of defense projects and currently is most preferred Project Management technique world over. EVM provides organizations with methodology needed to integrate the management of project scope, schedule and cost.

How Management Can Benefit? EVM can play a crucial role in answering the following management questions that are crucial to success of every project.

  1. Are we ahead or behind schedule?
  2. How efficiently are we using our time?
  3. When is the project likely to be completed?
  4. Are we currently over or under budget?
  5. How efficiently are we using our resources?
  6. What is the remaining work likely to cost?
Read the Complete Article

Managing a Real Review Process

Managing a Real Review Process
By Carl M. Manello

“Unless a reviewer has the courage to give you unqualified praise, I say ignore the bastard.” –John Steinbeck

I have seen the program review process in many companies reduced to no more than a “dog and pony show.” These so-called Gate Reviews are nothing more than the equivalent of Mr. Steinbeck’s unqualified praise. With little substance offered–such as true metrics that help to predict delivery–the reviews are reduced to nothing more than a chance for management to attend another meeting.

The intent of a program process life cycle is to ensure quality and cost effective delivery by flexibly applying a rigorous process for major business initiatives. The process consists of sequential milestone gates configured around standard program life cycle phases. Reviews should be used at each quality gate to gauge the progress and direction of the initiative (not just to supply unqualified praise!). Read the Complete Article

Project Management at a Glance

Project Management at a Glance
By Hauke Borow

Evaluation generally means the description, analysis and assessment of e.g. projects.

I’ve made the experience that most of the description and analysis part is not that hard to do. The assessment of a particular project situation has always been the big challenge.

Have you ever been in the situation where you actually knew what the status of your project was, but you just couldn’t put it on paper somehow?

And when you started a trial to do so, you’ve lost yourself in comparisons of planned efforts to actual efforts or presentations of different milestones.

Please don’t get me wrong now. All these things are extremely important for your project planning and are therefore deeply discussed in this blog.

But it is just one aspect of the whole project: the schedule.

Your gut feeling expresses much more than that. It tells you something about your schedule, the available resources, the costs that incurred so far, the upcoming risks, the substantive level of achievement, etc. Read the Complete Article

Project Management: Gantt Chart and CPI

Project Management: Gantt Chart and CPI
By Larry Gunter

How does a Gantt chart helps communicate project progress?

A tracking Gantt chart depicts progress by the amount of time each task takes. This progress is the calendar dates for the project, a department task or even an individual task(Russell, 2007, p. 142). Using the tracking Gantt chart helps provide critical project information to the project manager, the project stakeholders and any interested person in the project. The adjustable nature of the chart allows for changes in resources, constraints in costs and personnel turnover. The structure of the chart also allows for consistent reviews when addressing progress of the project during various stages. The ability to show the task status on the chart and the resources assigned will allow communication to be more efficient when necessary.

How does a Project Manager would use the cost performance index (CPI)?

The cost performance index is used to determine if a project’s actual costs is on track, under budget or becoming a cost overrun(Gray & Larson, 2008, pp. Read the Complete Article

Project Management: Phase Gate Review Process

Project Management: Phase Gate Review Process
By Larry Gunter

How does the Phase Gate Review methodology improve project effectiveness?

The Phase Gate Review methodology improves project effectiveness by reviewing all stages of the project from the initial selection process through the entire process of development to the final stages of closure. The phases of the project are natural stopping points to stop and look back over what has been accomplished and determine if the required deliverables are being met and the project scope and schedule needs to be adjusted going forward or the project has a green light to proceed or red to stop or abandon elements or all of the project (Gray & Larson, 2008, p. 524).

The Phase Gate Review methodology is an easy structure to understand and work from. The stages are natural fits into the overall project portfolio. The methodology will answer key questions at each stage of the process to help improve effectiveness of the tasks being performed or the teams that are performing the tasks. Read the Complete Article