Progressive Elaboration Is the Only Sane Approach to Planning!
By Kiron D. Bondale
Imagine that you are planning a multi-day road trip across the country to a town which you’ve never visited before. Chances are that you will load your smartphone with maps to help you navigate the journey as well as identifying some points of interest and regularly spaced hotels along the way. What are the odds that you will plan your trip down to the hour? For most of us the answer will be pretty slim.
So why is it that some of us continue to develop plans to a level of detail which is unrealistic given the level of information we possess about the project at that point in time?
Some times this could be caused by low organizational project management maturity. Financial policies or methodology standards might require project teams to provide detailed high confidence detailed cost and schedule estimates for the entirety of a project before funding gets released. Read the Complete Article
How to Develop a Project Plan that’s Right for Your Next Project
By Ben Snyder, CEO of Systemation
The baseline. In project control, everything you do refers to it. It’s the expectation you’re setting with stakeholders.
The main medium you have for communicating that baseline is by developing a project plan. It documents the time, cost and scope baseline so that everyone can stay on the same page throughout the course of the project.
A good project plan is one of the most important tools for minimizing risk and keeping a project on track through execution. But while there are a number of things that all good project plans have in common, what’s “good” for one isn’t necessarily good for all.
Here are some key points to keep in mind as you develop your next project plan.
Project Plans Are Living Documents
As the name implies, by developing a project plan, it sets the context and communicates all planning facets of a project. Read the Complete Article
The Work Breakdown Structure: One of the Project Manager’s Most Important Tools
By Ben Snyder, CEO of Systemation
The work breakdown structure is one of the most important project management tools you have as a project manager. It’s the foundation for estimating, budgeting, sequencing and scheduling of activities, reporting, and controlling a project. In short, it’s the basis for nearly everything that goes on in project planning.
A work breakdown structure isn’t a static document—you’ll continue to refine and revise it along the way—but it serves as a consistent, general structure for moving forward so it’s important that you do it well. And while there’s no one right way to do it, there are some common traps you should avoid.
Breaking it Down
You‘re probably aware of the technique of decomposition, which is used for dividing and subdividing the project scope and project deliverables into smaller, more manageable parts. Here’s how decomposition typically plays out in the work breakdown structure. Read the Complete Article
The Second of 8 Habits of Highly Successful Project Managers: Plan the Achievement!
By Richard Morreale
This article is a part of a series. You can find the previous article here.
There are loads of reasons why the second habit of very successful Project Managers is Plan the Achievement. We know that without a plan we are never sure of what we are supposed to be doing, when we are supposed to be doing it, when we are supposed to have it finished, who is dependent on us finishing it, when the entire project is going to be completed and how we are going to know if we are on time for delivery. I think those are enough reasons for Project Managers to pay particular attention to Planning the Achievement on their projects.
The Importance of Planning
One of my mentors (he doesn’t know he is a mentor of mine but I have read so many of his books and listened to so many of his audio programs that I feel like I know him), Zig Ziglar, says that, “Failing to plan is planning to fail”. Read the Complete Article
Plan Projects like Albert Einstein!
By Ray W. Frohnhoefer
As we’ve learned from projects like healthcare.gov, Agile isn’t always the best method to follow for software development. If we look at its strengths and weaknesses, Agile is not especially well-suited in its pure form for projects with fixed deadlines and fixed scope. It also exhibits limitations in complex projects which require strong integration testing. So there are other methodologies and techniques which can be used standalone or combined with Agile when trying to meet project criteria. Let’s take a look at one that is not restricted to the software world, but can be used in virtually any industry.
Albert Einstein said that if he had an hour to solve a problem, he would spend 55 minutes understanding the problem and 5 minutes solving it. Suppose we applied that type of ratio to project planning and execution? Some might label it “Extreme Planning”. Read the Complete Article
How to Develop a Plan to Manage IT Risks
By Harry Hall
Want to know the secret to managing IT risks?
A Risk Management Plan.
So simple as to be, well, let’s say completely useless. Because if you knew the secret to consistently managing IT risks, you’d already be doing it, right?
But instead, you continue doing what you’ve always done with a gnawing apprehension that your worst nightmare is just around the corner. You are too busy to “add risk management” to your list of things to do.
The problem is that many CIOs – even the top-tier CIOs – lack an adequate grasp of their IT risks. Even these top dogs understand that they’re one event away from losing the farm. Which risks are greatest?
- Data security breach with reputational harm
- Regulatory risks
- Social media
- Recruiting and retaining qualified IT staff
- Improper balance of outsourcing
- Cloud technologies
- Transition to agile methods
- Disaster recovery
- Outdated operating systems
- Data on user-owned mobile devices
- Third-party risks
But there is a way to give you a better chance of not only surviving, but thriving in the face of great uncertainty. Read the Complete Article
Leading the Project? Define Your Charter to Support High Performance
By Art Petty
Effective leadership is a critical success factor for projects of all shapes and sizes.
And breathing is good for living.
It’s hard to argue with either of these statements, nonetheless, too many project managers deeply skilled in the mechanics of their vocation fall short on learning and practicing the soft-skills critical for high performance team development. When project fail…and too many do, there’s a safe bet that people-related issues are key contributors to the initiative’s demise.
Great project managers define their role beyond the project mechanics liberally. Working with team members at the front-end of the project to define the role and accountabilities of the project leader is a great practice that improves the odds of team success. The development of a Project Leader’s Charter is a simple, powerful technique that helps everyone involved gain a clear, consistent and comprehensive view of the leader’s role. Read the Complete Article
How to Kick Start Your Project Plan with Learning Objectives
By Ben Snyder, CEO of Systemation
A learning objective describes what training participants should know or be able to do at the end of a project management training course that they couldn’t do before. Learning objectives are related to a participant’s performance. Each individual learning objective should support the overarching benefits (goals) of the course, that is, the thread that unites all the topics to be covered and the skills participants should have mastered by the end of the course.
There are many different models for writing learning objectives. A simple, yet effective approach focuses on objectives that speak to the knowledge and skills training participants will learn in the class:
- Each objective usually starts with a verb and is specific in scope.
- Each learning objective must be measurable through some form of assessment.
Developing a Training Course – It’s a Project
The funny thing is that developing a training course is very much a project. Read the Complete Article
Why Is Planning Important in Project Management?
By Jim Murray
As project managers our success and compensation is tied to how well we perform against the triple constraint of time, cost and scope and in order to effectively manage the triple constraint planning must be conducted. Here is an analogy…
If my wife and I wanted to drive from our home in Saratoga Springs to Helena, we could get in the car and start driving west. Moreover, when we got to Colorado, Utah, or Wyoming we could start heading north and hope that we would see signs directing us to Helena. Would we eventually get to Helena? Yes. However, in all likelihood, it would take us longer than if we sat down for a couple hours and looked at a map, called AAA for advice and made hotel reservations ahead of time.
Would it cost us more if we didn’t plan? Read the Complete Article
How Do You Know that Your Project Plan Is Fully Baked?
By Kiron D. Bondale
“It’s the question that drives us, Neo. It’s the question that brought you here. You know the question, just as I did.”
No, it’s not “What is the Matrix?” but rather, how do you know when your team has done enough project planning to feel confident that commitments can be made to your customer?
Isn’t there an app for that?
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if there was the equivalent of a meat thermometer that could let you know if further planning is required or if you are at risk of realizing business value shoe leather?
There is no expert system which codifies the shared knowledge of the world’s project management experts to help you know when enough is enough. The essence of projects is uncertainty, and it is that uncertainty which stymies the best efforts of project teams to find the sweet spot. Read the Complete Article