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Effective Nagging: The Fine Art of Project Management

Effective Nagging: The Fine Art of Project Management
By Kim Wasson

n my professional life I’ve done a whole lot of project management, sometimes as a project/program manager and sometimes when I was supposed to be doing something else (according to my title). Almost no one outside the groups in which I worked really understood what that meant. Now I’m a consultant specializing in project and program management; more than ever I get the question ‘so what exactly do you do?’.

So what exactly does a project manager do?

Now that I’m making a living with program and project management in my charter the question comes from all over – friends, business associates, prospective clients. By this time I have plenty of explanations and examples I can pull out of my hat to try to make it clear that I actually do have real job. I realized the other day, though, that it all comes down to this: I nag people for a living. Read the Complete Article

Project Management Lessons Our Grandparents Taught Us!

Project Management Lessons Our Grandparents Taught Us!
By Kiron D. Bondale

What are the most impactful ways to learn about project management?

We tend to think of the experience (and scars) we’ve gained through managing multiple projects, the formal education we’ve taken and the certifications we have achieved.

No doubt, these are all contributors to our current competency, but we are underestimating how much valuable project management advice we received from our grandparents through old proverbs.

Here are just a few examples of what we’ve unconsciously learned about project management from previous generations.

  • A stitch in time saves nine – yes, that lingering low priority issue could probably go another week without being followed up on, but wouldn’t you rather be safe than sorry?
  • Look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves – it does pay to review actual time logged by your team members even though that might seem administratively onerous!

Read the Complete Article

Why You Need a Project Charter – and Why You Don’t

Why You Need a Project Charter – and Why You Don’t
By Ben Snyder, CEO of Systemation

Here’s a riddle for you: If a project goes ahead without a project charter, does it really exist?

Before you answer, I should tell you, it’s a trick question.

A signed-off project charter formally recognizes the existence of a project. But that doesn’t mean every project needs one.

Don’t worry. This isn’t a philosophical dilemma. There are some easy ways to understand how and when to use a project charter and when to forge ahead without it.

A Great Planning Tool

A project charter’s primary purpose is for planning. They’re commonly used when you’re in the process of establishing initiatives and budget for the upcoming year or identifying various ad hoc projects. By giving you a “placeholder” for that moment in the year when the project will actually take place, they help you plan the year and get everyone on the same page about roles, responsibilities, and other key issues. 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

Top Ten Rules of Project Management from Kindergarten

Top Ten Rules of Project Management from Kindergarten
By Pam Stanton

Those of us in project management live with this conundrum: how can something so simple be so complicated? After all, a project is just a group of people trying to get something done, right?

Looking back at the earliest lessons from kindergarten, I realize that we learn all the basics of teamwork and project management. Somewhere along the way, though, other things get in the way. Politics, ego, fear of failure, personality conflicts, and stress cloud our perspective. We seek comfort in layers of methodology and formal process, instead of relying on the most basic things we learned at the age of five.

  1. Listen to Your Teacher.

    Understand what your Sponsor wants, and doesn’t want. This generally involves using your ears instead of your mouth.

  2. Get on the Right Bus.

    Know where you’re headed, and make a plan to get there.

Read the Complete Article

Is It Time to Rethink Project Management Theory?

Is It Time to Rethink Project Management Theory?
By Robert Prieto

Consider this a transition point in my various thinking and writings about program management and by extension management of the projects that comprise these programs. It is driven by a simple glaring fact that our industry more often than not “fails” in our delivery of large projects. I will leave the debate on whether failure is the right term to use until another time but it would certainly be safe to say that large projects “underperform” with respect to the baselines upon which final investment decisions are made and projects “sanctioned”. This performance issue has been well documented by others.

  • IPA

    “Mega Projects executed around the world have a failure rate of 65%…”

  • E&Y

    “64% of Oil/Gas Mega Projects suffered Cost overruns…”
    “73% of Oil/Gas Mega Projects suffered Delays…”

  • PMI

    “…2/3 of projects fail to meet their goals… and 17% fail outright…”

This persistent performance challenge drives me to question whether the theoretical foundations of project management theory as it is widely practiced today are sufficient to meet the challenges of large projects. Read the Complete Article

Living out Loud. Or “Why Teams Fail”.

Living out Loud. Or “Why Teams Fail”.
By Joshua W. Frappier

At my company, I have had the privilege of serving countless software development teams, helping them build their best stuff. This has come primarily in the form of developing tools that help them to communicate. It has also come in the form of consulting directly with teams. These roles have put me in a position to see which teams do well and which teams fail.

Often, we get customers who are looking to our product as a tool to help solve their communication problems. I am proud to say that it can! But sometimes, teams fail even though they use good tools. Maybe you have the perfectly curated software development stack, the best developers, the end-all-be-all of project management methodologies. But something lacks.

Why is this?

Communication and transparency sound easy. But they’re not. They’re hard. They are learned. They are practiced. 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

Top 10 Project Management Trends for 2015

Top 10 Project Management Trends for 2015
By ESI International

This post is the 6th installment of ESI International’s Top 10 Project Management Trends. The first installment was back in 2010!

ESI International’s trends will shed an in-depth look at how the field of Project Management will evolve in 2015. This year’s trends were created by a council of ESI executives and subject matter experts. Topics include managing sponsor expectations, aligning projects with organizational culture, and creating links between strategy and execution.

  1. Lofty expectations.

    As cloud-based solutions continue to flood the market, project organizations will persistently find themselves in the middle of the cost-benefit tradeoff between standardization and customization. Cloud-based solutions solve a lot of problems; however, they create many as well. As customization gives way, and centralization wins over complexity, the expectations of business owners will need to be managed. Though a strong case can be made that highly customized, client-server applications never really delivered the promised business value, the high expectations of business owners still exist.

Read the Complete Article

One Size Does Not Fit All

One Size Does Not Fit All
By Joanne Wortman

Have you been to the mall and purchased a shirt that says “one size fits all” for the size? While the shirt may fit some of us perfectly, it might be too large or too small for others. The same goes for a project. This “one size fits all” mentality for all projects can put your smaller projects at great risk by bogging them down in a project management methodology that is too rigorous for the size of these projects.

So what can you do?

Establish a flexible project management methodology framework

  • Define what a “small” and “large” project is in your organization (e.g., a small project can be between 6 – 12 weeks and a large project is anything greater than 12 weeks)
  • Identify the deliverables or documents needed for each project type

  • Monitor smaller projects to validate the success/failure rate of these projects and adjust the deliverables within the framework as necessary

The key point to remember is that the project management methodology is a framework for all projects, not a straitjacket. Read the Complete Article

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