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Project Management Blog
Here’s a question for you to quickly consider: effective risk management underpins a successful project – true or false?

Was “true” your first reaction? We believe that you’re right. All three of us are strong believers in the positive value of a well-managed and controlled approach to project risks. An Internet search for “images of risk management” will return many illustrations of dice being rolled. If it is done well, risk management measures the uncertainty involved when you “roll the dice” during your project, and allows the Project Manager to obtain a consensus on how to best handle risks and unexpected events on the project.

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Thursday, 21 April 2011 19:34

Project Management for the Small Business

If you walk into the offices of many small businesses, you are likely to see notes sticking either on or in close proximity to the desks of the people employed there. Such “reminder notes” are usually serving as prompts and/or notifications for projects or other operational work on which they are working. In the case of small businesses, the project plan may be held in a file; sometimes, it may only exist in the mind of management. With the low-cost tools available today for small-scale project management, and the value of project management being increasingly recognized by many in the government and in corporate sectors, why do some small businesses choose not to take advantage of formal project management techniques and tools?
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Tuesday, 12 April 2011 13:21

Under-Promise and Under-Deliver


I hope you can help me. I have a problem setting too high expectations for myself and my team. I am an overachiever and I normally can meet high expectations. But I keep forgetting that the rest of the project team does not have my same ability so it seems like we are always falling short of expectations in the client’s eyes. How can I learn to set more reasonable expectations so that the entire project team can be perceived as successful?


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Monday, 11 April 2011 01:50

The PM Survival Toolkit

Close your eyes and picture this. You have been set a challenge to trek through one of the great deserts of the globe, perhaps the Great Sandy Desert of Australia, the Mohave of North America, or the Sahara of Africa. As you prepare for your challenge, you calculate the distance, temperatures, walking speed, amounts of water to take and other critical factors that will undoubtedly influence and determine the success or failure of your challenge. You also begin to assess the skills required; survival skills, endurance, how to identify poisonous creatures, and the like. In your planning for this feat of endurance, you must prudently consider every detail and balance the risks and rewards associated with the items you pack for the trip. Due to the limits on the tools and rations you can select, only essential, value-added items will be taken. Several items are sure to make it into your pack: a knife, a map, a GPS, a compass and water to name a few.

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There are many aspects involved in successful project and program management: hard work, experience, good teamwork, solid processes and work practices, having good tools with which to work, adopting and displaying the right behaviours - the list could go on. This article focuses on two aspects of project/program management - the processes and the tools we use as program and project managers - and asks: what comes first - the process or the tool?

We do not seek to discuss the merits of different project management tools and techniques, nor will we examine the differences between program and project management; rather, we put forward what we hope are thought-provoking points for you to consider.

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Monday, 07 March 2011 11:03

Best Practices for Small Projects

small_projectSmall projects, though often overlooked, can make up the bulk of the portfolio and are crucial to a company\'s success.  They might not involve large sums of money, but the fact is that if managed improperly, these small projects can add up to some major costs in the long run.  The good news is that project managers need only apply standard best practices to these smaller projects in order to manage them more effectively.  Here are the top 3 best practices that can and should be applied to all projects, regardless of size.

Visibility into Resource Allocation

Let’s say you want to assign 40 hours worth of project work to Jack, and you need him to complete it this month.  Before making that assignment, do you know for a fact that he has the time to get it done?  Are you sure he isn’t going on vacation, working on someone else’s project, or spending the month in meetings?  Project managers must know who is available to do the work before they assign tasks to people (or, better yet, before they decide to take on a project at all).  Simply assigning tasks to team members without regard for their current and future allocation, including upcoming vacation time, is unwise.  The goal might be to complete the project on time, but it will never happen unless the resources are, in fact, available when you need them to be.

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Monday, 07 March 2011 05:00

Is the PgMP® Credential Right For Me?

PMI_ProgramGareth, Gary, Jeff, and Brian are PgMP (Program Management Professional) credentialed through the Project Management Institute (PMI)®. (In fact, that's how we met, became good friends and collaborators on articles.) We know from personal experience what it takes to obtain. Additionally, in early 2010, Jeff and Brian did a study and presentation on the overall results and benefits of having the PgMP credential, based on a survey of 225 PgMPs, over half of the PgMPs credentialed at the time. Their benefits study was one of the focus topics at the 2010 PMI North America Congress in Washington, DC.

As we weigh the value of the credential, let"s first consider the PgMP credential itself. Per PMI, the PgMP credential is intended to "recognize advanced experience, skill and performance in the oversight of multiple related projects and their resources, aligned with an organizational objective." We won't be going into the formal details and process steps to obtain the credential; that information is readily available through the PMI. However, the PgMP credential process can be broken down to three main areas or steps:

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Project Accounting is a critical concept for today's business world, yet most businesspeople do not know their project accounting data.

For the last 29,950 years, our hunter/gatherer and farmer ancestors have always understood their costs of production. Why is it okay that in the last 50 years, nobody does anymore? It's not.

Project accounting for the hunter/gatherer is easy. The ROI is easy to calculate and it's intuitive. And if the ROI isn't good enough, a harsh environment will make sure you don't make that mistake very long because you'll be dead. Farmers invented accounting - eventually double-entry bookkeeping - which many people argue is the basis for civilization because it enabled the measurement of and accumulation of capital - without which no progress is possible. Today, knowledge workers work with knowledge and information instead of with stuff. Accounting for knowledge work is different.

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pmo-of-oneMany of the clients we work with are a “PMO of one.”  Usually this person has been brought in to establish common processes and procedures around planning, managing and executing projects.  Most often, there is a broad spectrum of project work being performed by varied project teams within the organization, including a range of maturity levels spanning from no established, repeatable processes to very formalized and documented processes.

According to the Project Management Institute, “Companies with greater maturity should expect to see tangible benefits that include better-performing project portfolios, efficiencies that come with better resource allocation, and increased process stability and repeatability.”[i] On the other hand, companies that are less mature tend to be reactionary, trying to dodge problems as they come rather than strategically planning and executing projects.  Often, these companies have various groups working in their own siloes, so there is no centralized view of resource availability or up-to-date project status.  Project managers are consequently unable to prioritize projects or schedule them with accuracy.  This can lead to lost opportunities and failed projects time and again.  A new study on organizational maturity has confirmed the need for defined repeatable processes, finding that companies which use them have a much higher project success rate than those who do not.[ii]

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data-chartProject management data – which is obtained from time tracking information – is often an area that could be improved in many companies. Recent studies (1) have shown that cost reductions of 6.5 percent are common from improvements in tracking time from the project management area alone.  This compares with improvements of about 5 percent for billing automation (1) or 1 percent for payroll automation (2).

Time tracking data (payroll, billing, project management, and strategy) can be used to improve project management in the areas of:

  • Costing- How much have we spent?
  • Tracking - Are we done yet?
  • Management - What should we do next?
  • Estimation Improvement - How much is this going to cost us?
  • Sarbanes-Oxley Act- Are IT capitalization costs and revenue recognition numbers accurate? Or am I going to jail?

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