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 Gallup.com, 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
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.
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- 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.
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.
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
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!
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- What are the Business Objectives for this project?
What results / deliverables from this project are directly aligned with and can support / deliver the Business Objectives for each project?
What are the financial, operational, marketing, and/or compliance benefits that are expected to be derived from the results of this project?
What levels of security and permissions are necessary for the users in order to use and operate the results of this project?
What Risks are always present in managing each project?
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?
What if Project Managers Had Mandatory Counseling?
By Bruce McGraw
I was watching a police drama show on TV as background noise the other night and someone in charge was telling an officer, “What you just experienced is stressful and carries potential long term emotional impact. You need to schedule an appointment with the department shrink to help you deal with your feelings.”
Hmmm, I said to myself. Project management can be very stressful at times. I have had nightmares about unanticipated problems, start-up failures, and integration debacles. However, I do not remember anyone suggesting I get counseling support to deal with my feelings.
So I wandered around in my head and constructed this possible dialogue between a PM and a therapist:
Good morning, Bruce. Have a seat. I understand you are a project manager and you may be experiencing some job-related stress.
Yeah, I guess so.
Tell me about your job. Read the Complete Article
The Value of a Business Case
By Ty Kiisel
I was lately invited to co-present with Scott Sax of Loyola University regarding how they approach projects, operational initiatives and other work done within their IT organization. The presentation was well-received and it was certainly a pleasure to be associated with such an exemplary organization as the crew from Loyola.
Aside from our presentation, Rich Sigler, the director of the PMO at Loyola gave an excellent presentation about how he perceives the responsibilities of his PMO. the title of his presentation was: Technology Project Selection and Governance at Loyola University Maryland. It was outstanding, one of the best presentations I’ve seen on this topic.
He compared establishing a PMO to building a playhouse for his daughters. He suggested that the PMO needs the following four walls and roof:
- A portfolio of projects
- A project management process
- An information system
- A support strategy
He described how (in his opinion) the PMO’s responsibility was to promote a best practice approach to managing projects. Read the Complete Article
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
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
Breaking Project Work Down
By Dave Nielsen
The Work Breakdown Process
At the outset of every software project everyone’s attention is focused on defining the scope of the project. This can be a very demanding undertaking; the project is often an integral part of a strategic objective that is of vital importance to the whole organization and getting the requirements properly defined is key to success. Of equal importance to gathering the right set of requirements is defining the work that must be done to build a software system which meets those requirements, and then performing the work. Breaking the work down and creating the project schedule is the first step in building the system. Failure to break the work down properly can lead to miscommunication with the project team or missing work necessary to deliver a requirement, and could ultimately result in failure to deliver the system the organization needs. Read the Complete Article
Stop and Smell the Successes
By Sarah Adams
I was recently asked to talk about project management and provide examples of:
- a successful project that I had led, and
- a project that did not go well and my lessons learned from the process and outcome.
I could easily think of a number of projects that didn’t go quite as planned and how I would do things differently for future projects. But, I found myself stumped as to what project I had led that was a “success.” Anything that goes well seems to be quickly swept into the past. A success is rarely reflected upon, as everyone quickly moves on to the next project or catches up on those that had been put on the back burner. With fewer resources in the nonprofit world, time is an extremely precious commodity. There is little time for patting ourselves on the back.
We spend much more time thinking about what went wrong, how things could have been better, and how processes could be improved for the future. Read the Complete Article