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5 Tips for Achieving Project Success

5 Tips for Achieving Project Success
By Ben Snyder, CEO of Systemation

When it comes to project management, sticking to a project’s timeline and budget is never an easy task. While there are countless factors that can alter a project while it’s being completed, project managers need to adjust to these changes to achieve project success. But, that’s easier said than done.

According to, many large projects, particularly in the information technology sectors, have a poor track record. The vast majority of these projects overruns their initial timelines and never gets completed. A recent study analyzed 10,640 projects from 200 companies in 30 countries and across several industries to find that only 2.5% of businesses successfully completed 100% of their projects. Another study found the average cost overrun of all projects was 27%, with one in six projects experiencing a cost overrun of 200% on average and a schedule overrun of 70%. Read the Complete Article

Seven Top Tips for Being a Better Project Manager

Seven Top Tips for Being a Better Project Manager
By Michelle Symonds

No matter where you are in your career, sometimes you need to take a step back and ask yourself if you are really doing the best you can. Even the most experienced project manager could do with a refresher from time to time, so run down our list of 7 top tips for better project management and see if you can make some small changes yourself.

  1. Be the ‘why’ in the room

    As a PM, you are no doubt bombarded by requests, actions and reports on a daily basis. Be the one to ask ‘why’ and ‘what for’ at each and every juncture. By seeking reasoning behind other people’s requests, you can better understand what it really is they need or want and may be able to suggest a better way of doing it.

  2. Maintain a can-do attitude

    No matter how mountainous the task may seem, you are the one person on the team who needs to be able to think positive.

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Project Management: Arbitrary Deadlines Can Be Your Friend

Project Management: Arbitrary Deadlines Can Be Your Friend
By Preben Ormen

A lot of projects are launched with plans based on essentially arbitrary deadlines. By arbitrary deadlines I mean the finish dates were set by decree, which may or may not have been accompanied by a rigorous feasibility analysis of the plan dates themselves. This may sound bad, but arbitrary deadlines can be your friend.

Quite often, the process is as simple as someone saying that, OK – I get we need this so have it in by X date. The X-date could be end of the year, end of the quarter or some other date that has meaning to the executive irrespective of what the project actually require. System implementations are commonly in this camp.

If you were to do a Monte Carlo simulation for such a project, you would find the plan has little or no theoretical chance of actually meeting the target. Read the Complete Article

Project Manager Question List

Project Manager Question List
By Bill Gutches

Every project has topics that are relevant to its success and are rarely talked about. Why is this? What are these topics?

Here is an ever growing and refining list of questions that should be discussed by every Project Manager and their Project Team Members!

  1. What are the Business Objectives for this project?
  2. What results / deliverables from this project are directly aligned with and can support / deliver the Business Objectives for each project?

  3. What are the financial, operational, marketing, and/or compliance benefits that are expected to be derived from the results of this project?

  4. What levels of security and permissions are necessary for the users in order to use and operate the results of this project?

  5. What Risks are always present in managing each project?

  6. Who is responsible for deciding on the fate of Change Requests (Accept and incorporate, Accept and schedule for later, Delay until further notice, Reject) once the project is underway?

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Project Management in 3 Envelopes

Project Management in 3 Envelopes
By Murali Ramakrishnan

I chose the title “Project Management in 3 envelopes” because of a popular joke about Project Management.

The joke goes like this:

A new PM takes over a troubled project. The previous-PM hands over 3 envelopes and asks the new-PM to open one whenever the project gets into trouble.

After 3 months, the first trouble comes. The new-PM nervously opens the first envelope. The note inside the envelope reads “Blame your predecessor”. The new-PM starts blaming the previous-PM and project goes on.

After 6 months, the second trouble comes. Now the new-PM is slightly comfortable with his predecessor’s wisdom and opens the second envelope. It directs him to “blame the environment“. The new-PM blames the external market, the Global Financial Crisis (GFC), etc… and project still goes on.

After 9 months the third trouble comes. This time the new-PM is fairly confident. Without any hesitation he opens the third envelope. Read the Complete Article

Defining Your Project Into a Box

Defining Your Project Into a Box
By Ben Snyder, CEO of Systemation

The hardest thing to do when launching a project is to define it into a box. Yes, I said define it into a box. When a project starts there are lots of interviews with stakeholders. Every one of them has their vision for what the project should include. This gets added, that gets added and pretty soon you have a big hairy monster on your hands. And, one that needs a serious haircut not just a little off the top.

Project managers and business analysts are responsible for defining a single vision for the project. A vision with little ambiguity that can be realistically accomplished and accepted by all parties involved. I’m not talking about detailed requirements here. I’m talking about the description of the project’s scope that is created for the project plan at the beginning of the project. Read the Complete Article

The CHAOS Report 2009 on IT Project Failure

The CHAOS Report 2009 on IT Project Failure
By Jorge Dominguez

The Standish Group collects information on project failures in the IT industry and environments with the objective of making the industry more successful and to show ways to improve its success rates and increase the value of the IT investments. The latest results have been compiled into the CHAOS Report 2009 published by the organization in April.

Problem: it measures success by only looking at whether the projects were completed on time, on budget, and with required features and functions (met user requirements). What happened to the rest of the “six triple constraint”!

The organization leaves out of its measures the quality, the risk, and customer satisfaction. Not that we are complaining. They have the right to measure whatever they want and we have stated before that we have to consider the CHAOS Report results in a recent article on my theory on why IT projects fail. Read the Complete Article

Preparing the Business Case

Preparing the Business Case (#4 in the Hut Introduction to Project Management)
By JISC infoNet

Preparing a Business Case need not necessarily be a lengthy or difficult exercise. The amount of time worth spending on this is necessarily related to the likely scale and cost of the project. Even if you are faced with the second of the above scenarios, where the project is already something of a fait accompli, it is worth drafting a short outline and confirming with your sponsor that this is indeed what they have in mind. As a minimum this would summarise what you are doing, why you are doing it and what alternatives exist. The Business Case is an important document as it states what the project is intended to achieve. Throughout the life of the project as you come to the end of each stage, this document is referred to as a basis for deciding:

  • can the business case still be achieved?
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Why A Project Fails

Why Projects Fail (#2 in the Hut Introduction to Project Management)
By JISC infoNet

It is a sad fact that many projects, particularly those involving information systems, fail to deliver against their objectives on time and within budget. Projects fail when they are not managed well – when planning is not rigorous (or ignored altogether), when insufficient control is exercised, when the necessary skills are missing and when elements or people are ignored or forgotten.

Why Projects Fail

Why Projects Fail

A common scenario arises where miscommunication of requirements, resources and timescales result from poor management, planning and control such as the tongue-in-cheek example depicted here. This may look extreme, but of course whilst the image of the car may have been in the user’s mind, what was actually asked for was ‘something with wheels that I can move stuff about in’…

Common Reasons for Project Failure

  • Poor project specification
  • Unrealistic timescales
  • Timescales that are too long
  • Inappropriate staff
  • Insufficient involvement by senior management
  • Failure to manage user expectations
  • Failure to manage the change required

JISC infoNet aims to be the UK’s leading advisory service for managers in the post-compulsory education sector promoting the effective strategic planning, implementation and management of information and learning technology. Read the Complete Article

What Is Project Management – Characteristics of a Project

What Is Project Management – Characteristics of a Project (#1 in the Hut Introduction to Project Management)
By JISC infoNet

There are many definitions of what constitutes a project such as ‘a unique set of co-ordinated activities, with definite starting and finishing points, undertaken by an individual or team to meet specific objectives within defined time, cost and performance parameters’.1

We are all aware that our organisations undertake projects and, rather than debate the merits of different definitions, it is perhaps more helpful to look at a few of the characteristics that make projects different from other work. Projects are usually characterised by being:

  • Instruments of change
  • Non-routine
  • Unique
  • Composed of inter-dependent activities
  • Carried out by people who don’t normally work together
  • Temporary with defined start and end dates
  • Intended to achieve a specific outcome
  • Frequently risky and involving uncertainties

There is no magic formula for ensuring that a project is successful, but there are well proven techniques available to help plan and manage projects. Read the Complete Article