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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

Earned Value Management for Absolute Beginners

Earned Value Management for Absolute Beginners
By Mike Griffiths

Let’s imagine our project is to build a wall around a garden.

Our Project - Build a wall around a garden

For simplicity, let’s assume 4 equal sides and a budget of $200 per side. Our schedule is one side per day so we should finish in 4 days with a cost of $800.

Here is how the project progresses:

Our Project - Front wall is complete (Day 1)

Day 1 Progress: Front wall completed and the budget of $200 spent – perfect!

Our Project - Side 1 Started (Day 2)

Day 2 Progress: Side 1 started, but the foundations had to go deeper than expected using more materials so the side was not quite completed and the spend was $220

Our Project: Side 2 started (Day 3)

Day 3 Progress: Side 1 was finished, only half of the back wall was built, but the team left early and only spent $140 that day

So are we ahead or behind? How much over/under budget are we?

This is the type of thing that happens on real projects, some things go fine; other things go slower than anticipated and before long you need to determine, on balance, how much ahead or behind from the original plan you are. Read the Complete Article

Change Management – Adopting A Continuous Improvement Program

Change Management – Adopting A Continuous Improvement Program
By Terra Stern

An Organizational Development (OD) professional may have a special challenge regarding change when a company decides to adopt a quality initiative program. These programs commonly referred to as Continuous Improvement (CI) or process improvement programs are popular and used by most Fortune 500 companies. They include but are not limited to ISO, CMMI, Six Sigma, Lean Manufacturing, Lean Six Sigma and TQM. To understand the OD professional’s role in change management it is important to first understand CI programs in general.

All CI programs are designed to increase quality and revenue. Each program includes a set of analytical problem solving tools and statistics to guide employees through a particular quality model. ISO 9000 – The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) is an international standard-setting body composed of representatives from various national standards bodies. CMMI – Capability Maturity Model Integration – is a process improvement approach that provides organizations with the essential elements of effective processes. Read the Complete Article

The Invasion

The Invasion
By Charles Kettner

This subject pertains to the traveling team that invades offices or businesses that are not living up to expectations. The dreaded moment when corporate sends in their team of so called experts to FIX the problems. I have repeatedly seen these so called teams of experts come into locations only to leave it worse then it was when they arrived.

I was visiting with the leader of one of these so called teams recently and was appalled by his planned course of action. After quite a bit of discussion the leader asked “The Specialist” for some tips. First let me tell you his opening strategy. He proudly went on to inform me that since no one knew his appearance he was going to hide and hang around and find out all the mistakes they were making and then inform them it was going to be his way or the highway. Read the Complete Article

When Good Companies Go Bad – Part 3, the Killer B’s

When Good Companies Go Bad – Part 3, the Killer B’s
By Charles Van Duzer

Change, make that constant change, is the way of the world. A double edged sword, change provides opportunity on one edge and creates outdated services, products, processes, marketing and manufacturing methods with the other. Companies slow to embrace change and adapt as conditions shift ultimately face a crises of financial viability and survival.

Whenever a company is in decline/distress, among the usual suspects one can find: declining profits, trouble complying with loan covenants, customer complaints on the rise, customer defections, talent loss- high turnover, absence of short and long term planning, supplier problems, failure to adapt to new technologies, reduced working capital, and changing accounting principles; just to name a few. The number and mix of problems will vary from company to company.

So, several of the more common trouble signs have emerged and your business is in trouble. Read the Complete Article

Components of Construction Project Management Software

Components of Construction Project Management Software
By Caitlina Fuller

Most of the time project management is the concept that is majorly used to efficiently use and manage the resources the way they are supposed to be handled. Projects are generally the starting point of a future product or service which builds up with time as the project projections and outcomes comes out positive as expected. Every project has unique terms and ways of management and process control. Therefore, it becomes very important to understand the limitations of any project which a project manager should overcome and try to turn them in favor of expected growth.

When we talk about construction project management, it’s actually different from the term project management as we are only going to talk about things which are relevant from a construction stand point. This also includes selection of construction area, cost involved etc. Also, with the involvement of digital software’s, construction work can now be projected in a simple way. Read the Complete Article

Creating a Measurement Culture

Creating a Measurement Culture
By Dick Grimes

The phrase “a measurement culture” usually makes people think of places where tangible objects are produced that we can count, inspect, reject, or ship to buyers. We can measure (count) the number produced; measure (inspect) them according to some quality criteria (Are there blemishes? Does everything work properly?); and measure (count again) how many we ship to waiting buyers.

Or, they may think about measuring how late people are getting to work (the time clock); measure attendance (do we actually see them at work), or measure our seniority by checking off days on the calendar.

In reality, a measurement culture is much more than just the tangible items we see everyday. Its roots, from an organizational development perspective, are found in two very subtle, but critical questions:

How skilled are we at      defining our work performance expectations?Do we, as an organization,      know the difference between being “productive” and just being      “busy?”     The need to improve skills in defining work performance expectations is more than the typical vague examples we hear at work everyday such as:

“Make it      look professional or ‘Act professionally”, or ‘Dress professionally”      (What does “professional” look like? Read the Complete Article

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