It’s a Plan, Not a Grocery List
By Kerry Wills
Creating a project plan is an art; it really is. A plan should be a facilitated inventory of all deliverables with associated activities organized in such a way as to be tracked and communicated at a granular level. Let’s look at each of those components…
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- A facilitated inventory – The PM should gather all information from the team who should be the expert in the project. This also involves them and gives the team a sense of ownership over the plan.
Deliverables and associated activities – Plans should be organized around deliverables and activities to perform the work.
Organizated in such a way as to track – Deliverables should have milestones that are able to be tracked. This does not mean having 40 day long tasks. Milestones should be 5-10 days and able to be tracked.
- Communicated – A plan has to be organized logically and be clean so a project manager can communicate it effectively to the team.
Enough is Enough: Planning is Important, But…
By Ben Snyder, CEO of Systemation
Over and over we hear how inadequate we are in planning our projects. Lots of people judge it to be this way because they think project managers do not know how to plan. Supposed experts say we need to be more rigorous in our planning. As a result, templates and forms are beefed up to give the impression of planning strength but really don’t produce any tangible value.
Two misunderstandings need to be considered when evaluating our planning success. The first overarching misunderstanding is that projects should be completed just as they are planned. This never happens and thinking it is possible is living in a fantasy land. The second misunderstanding is that people do not spend time planning because they don’t know how to or lack a rigorous process. Most people actually do know how to plan but like to design and build (produce) more than they like to plan and analyze (prepare). Read the Complete Article
SMART Requirements – Introduction (#1 in the series SMART Requirements)
By Jessica Popp
In my opinion, requirements are the most under-rated aspect of most projects. In an unbelievable number of corporate projects they are completely non-existent and in the vast majority they are really no more than a paragraph or two of high-level requests which are unlikely to be delivered on successfully. In a very few of the countless projects I have worked on I have seen adequate, or an attempt at adequate, requirements. These projects, without fail, are the most successful projects that I have seen.
Why the passion, you ask? Without clear, complete and agreed upon requirements there is almost zero-chance, yes zero, that the project will be delivered successfully. And when I say successfully, I mean on-time, on-budget and matching the desired scope. Sure, most projects will get delivered without good requirements but you will see project delays (possibly numerous), budget overruns, and final scope that doesn’t satisfy the customer. Read the Complete Article
Milestone Planning and Criteria
By Johanna Rothman
Effective project managers and software engineers understand that a general approach of
- Requirements planning
- Feature definition (leading to feature freeze)
- Design and implementation (leading to code freeze)
- Verification and Validation (leading to ship)
is a time-effective and cost-effective way to implement a project. In addition, early and often reviews and inspections will reduce project time (Gilb, 1993). Project managers following this technique can get a better handle on the milestones of feature freeze, code freeze, system test, beta freeze, and ship freeze.
In an iteratively planned project, it is critical that the project team agrees on what each milestone means. The project manager depends on accurate information about the current state of tasks from the project team. How can the project be successful if the project manager and team do not understand what the milestones mean?
To use the iterative planning technique, the project manager plans the major milestones (e.g. Read the Complete Article