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Wednesday, 31 May 2017 21:30

Use These Six Elements to Charter a PMO

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This content is from the TenStep weekly "tips" email dated 2017.31.5

Use These Six Elements to Charter a PMO

Before you can start up a PMO, you must first define the purpose of the PMO and the value that the PMO will provide to the organization. Without this foundation, all of the other work you do will be in jeopardy. This helps gain clarity and agreement on what you are doing and why. You can think of this as chartering the PMO. This information is communicated to clients, stakeholders and your own staff so that everyone starts off with a common set of expectations.

The following major components are used to define your PMO.

  • Mission. Describes what the PMO does, how it is done, and for whom. It is a very general statement, usually aligning the PMO to the value it provides to the business. An example of a PMO mission statement is "The Acme Project Management Office (PMO) supports project managers to enable them to deliver projects faster, cheaper, and with higher quality."
  • Sponsor. All organizations do not have a sponsor, but a PMO typically does. The sponsor is the person responsible for the PMO funding, and in many cases the sponsor is the manager that the PMO reports to. Sponsors are important for all initiatives, but they are absolutely critical for a culture change initiative such as this.
  • Customers. Customers are the main individuals or groups that receive the benefits of the products and services your PMO provides. While there may be many stakeholders (below), it is important to recognize who the customers are. They should be the ones the PMO focuses on - to help them meet their project and business objectives. PMO customers typically include the project managers and the organization management team.
  • Stakeholders. These are the specific people or groups who have an interest or a partial stake in the products and services your PMO provides. Internal stakeholders could include organizations you work with, but who are not directly under the PMO umbrella.
  • Products / Services. Products describe tangible items that the PMO produces, and are typically produced as the result of a project. Products include project management processes, templates, training material, PM tools, role definitions, etc. Services provide value by fulfilling the needs of others through people contact and interaction. For a PMO this might include training, coaching, assessments, and more. The PMO achieves its objectives through the creation of products and the delivery of services. An organization assessment is used to determine the right products and services the PMO should offer.
  • Transitional Activities. Transitional activities are the specific activities and projects that are required to implement the PMO. If the PMO is new, these activities describe the work required to build and staff the new organization. Most of this work is designed to build the products and services described previously with input from the organization assessment. 
There are other aspects of the organization that can be defined as well, including the PMO vision, principles, goals, skills, roles and responsibilities.

TenStep-logo-pngAt TenStep we are dedicated to helping organizations achieve their goals and strategies through the successful execution of critical business projects. We provide training, consulting and products for organizations to help them set up an environment where projects are successful. This includes help with strategic planning, portfolio management, program / project management, Project Management Offices (PMOs) and project lifecycles. For more information, visit www.TenStep.com or contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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This content is from the Method123 weekly email dated 2017.25.05

Use a Risk Management Plan to Proactively Manage Risks on Your Project

Your Risk Management Plan describes how you will define and manage risk on the project. This document does not actually describe the risks and the responses. This document defines the process and techniques you will use to define the risks and the responses. The information in this plan includes:

·      Purpose. Include a general description of the purpose of this plan to solicit buy-in and the acceptance of proper risk management. You may use this to highlight the importance of your project and describe how this plan will help its success.

·      Risk Identification. This section should describe how the team will identify project risks. Often teams use status meetings to raise and discuss risks. More formal teams can use a Risk Form.

·      Risk Categorization. You may choose to group risks into similar categories. Sample categories include: schedule, budget, scope, vendors, communications, and resources. If desired, list and describe the categories your team will use.

·      Risk Impact Assessment. Your team must assess the impact a risk would have if it were to come true. Describe here how you will assess and measure the impact of each risk. The impact of risk is often measured in likelihood of occurrence and impact.

·      Risk Prioritization. Based on the probability of a risk occurring and its impact on the project, your team should prioritize risks and deal with them appropriately. Use this section to describe your method for prioritizing risks; ensuring risks with a higher priority receive more attention and focus.

·      Risk Response. Describe how your project team will plan a response for each risk.

·      Risk Tracking. Describe how risks will be tracked for this project.

·      Risk Monitoring. Explain how project risks will be monitored during a project.

·      Roles and Responsibilities. Describe the main roles and responsibilities on the team for risk management.

·      Tools & Templates. Describe any software tools and/or templates to be used when analyzing and tracking project risks.

Projects need solid processes to be successful. The processes are very difficult to apply without a corresponding set of templates. 



TenStep-logo-pngAt TenStep we are dedicated to helping organizations achieve their goals and strategies through the successful execution of critical business projects. We provide training, consulting and products for organizations to help them set up an environment where projects are successful. This includes help with strategic planning, portfolio management, program / project management, Project Management Offices (PMOs) and project lifecycles. For more information, visit www.TenStep.com or contact us 
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This content is from the TenStep weekly "tips" email dated 2017.24.5

Use These Six Options When Managing Projects
With Unrealistic Deadlines


If you are a project manager dealing with what you perceive to be an unrealistic deadline, the first thing you will want to do is talk to your sponsor to see if there are any business factors that are driving the deadline. For example, there may be some event occurring that this project needs to support. On the other hand, sometimes managers set arbitrary end-dates just to provide what they consider to be stretch objectives. You may find that by better understanding the reason for the deadline, you may have an easier time getting the team motivated to achieve it.

Once you understand the cause for the deadline date, there are project management techniques that can be utilized to increase the chances of success.

  1. Increase resources. If you find that the deadline is not in alignment with your resources, talk to your manager about increasing the resources that are available for the project. Adding resources to the project may increase the cost, but may allow you to hit the deadline. If the deadline is most important this may be a viable option. 
  2. Reduce scope. Talk to your sponsor about reducing the project scope. See if there are features and functionality that he can live without for now so that you can deliver the project within the deadline specified.
  3. Identify and manage the deadline as a project risk. Utilizing risk management will help better manage expectations early in the project and also be a way to gather input and ideas for ways that you might be able to hit the deadline.
  4. Manage scope with zero tolerance. On many projects, you start with an aggressive delivery date, and then the situation gets worse because you do not effectively manage scope. It is absolutely critical that you manage scope effectively and do not increase scope without an appropriate increase in budget and timeline.
  5. Manage the schedule aggressively. In many projects, you might get a little behind but have confidence that you can make up the time later. However, when you start a project with the deadline at risk, be sure to manage the schedule diligently. You have no margin for error. As you monitor the schedule, treat missed deadlines as problems and work hard to solve the reasons behind the slippage.
  6. Look for process improvement opportunities. Lastly, take a hard look at your schedule and your approach for executing the project. Talk to your team, clients, and manager about any ideas they may have for making the project go faster. This will get everyone thinking about being part of a solution. 
Although it appears that you are being held accountable for events and circumstances that are not within your control, you do have control over the processes you use to manage the project. Use them proactively and wisely.
TenStep-logo-pngAt TenStep we are dedicated to helping organizations achieve their goals and strategies through the successful execution of critical business projects. We provide training, consulting and products for organizations to help them set up an environment where projects are successful. This includes help with strategic planning, portfolio management, program / project management, Project Management Offices (PMOs) and project lifecycles. For more information, visit www.TenStep.com or contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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This content is from the Method123 weekly email dated 2017.18.05
Use Special Techniques to Manage Virtual Teams

Many years ago, a project team almost always resided in one location. The reason is obvious: it was not easy to communicate and collaborate with people that were not in the same physical location. Today, it is becoming more and more common to have team members physically located in many different places. This may be because of pulling in resources from other company offices. In some cases, you may have team members that are teleworking from home. In other cases, you may be partnering with a third-party company - perhaps even internationally. When it is not easy to meet team members face-to-face, we saw that we are working as a virtual team.

Virtual teams are more common today because of advances in technology. People can access their company's computer network remotely with almost the same speed as if they were in the office. Software is available to share documents and make updates available real-time to the rest of the team. The team can get together as needed using audio conferencing. You can even see each other using video technology.

That is all good news. However, there are still challenges managing virtual team members. There is no technology that can take the place of reaching out and touching someone or talking to them face-to-face. That being said, there are techniques that can help you be successful. Consider the following ideas:

  • Make sure everyone has the right equipment. Make sure that your remote team members have the right hardware, software, and other equipment to get their work done. The virtual team members need to access the company network and need to be able to work as if they were in an office in your building. There are many products on the market that allow for much easier collaboration among people who are in different locations. Much of this is web-based. For instance, you can get products that allow everyone to participate in a common meeting on the web, including viewing and changing common documents.
  • Make sure people have the right attitude. Both the project manager and team members must be especially diligent and sensitive to collaboration and teamwork concerns when part of the team is remote. It is easy for a remote worker to fall into a mode where he is isolated from what is going on with the rest of the team. People who are working remotely must be proactive communicators and must be especially good at working independently and meeting their deadlines.
  • Establish good communication processes. The project manager needs to develop a proactive Communication Plan to ensure the dispersed team works well together. For instance, if possible there should be regularly scheduled meetings where the remote workers attend in person. If the team members are in different cities or different countries, look for common times when you can have a videoconference or audioconference.
  • Try to meet in person - even if only one time. You may not be able to easily meet face-to-face, but can you at least do it one time? You could get the team together for project planning and team-building. This can go a long way to help build team cohesion. If possible, try to meet periodically, but worst case try to at last meet once.
  • Plan the handoffs. Sometimes multiple people in different locations are working on the same, or related, deliverables. In these cases, the project manager may need to establish rules for handoffs, especially if different time zones are involved. Don't leave the handoffs to chance. Set up processes to ensure that work on shared deliverables transitions smoothly from one person (or team) to another person (or team).
The bottom line is that the project managers must recognize that there is inherent risk associated with remote team members. The risk gets larger if people also are many time zones away. However, a proactive project manager can work through the difficulties by looking holistically at the people concerns, process concerns, and technology concerns. 
At TenStep we are dedicated to helping organizations achieve their goals and strategies through the successful execution of critical business projects. We provide training, consulting and products for organizations to help them set up an environment where projects are successful. This includes help with strategic planning, portfolio management, program / project management, Project Management Offices (PMOs) and project lifecycles. For more information, visit www.TenStep.com or contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Thursday, 18 May 2017 00:27

Two Techniques for Qualitative Risk Analysis

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This content is from the TenStep weekly "tips" email dated 2017.17.5
Two Techniques for Qualitative Risk Analysis


After you identify project risks, you need to analyze them to see which ones are important enough to manage. The most common form of analysis is called qualitative risk analysis. This is referred to as “qualitative” since it is a quick approximation of the risk severity and does not reflect the rigor of a detailed, numerical analysis. The overall risk level can be as simple high, medium, or low (or even high/low), depending on the severity of impact and the probability of the event occurring.

There are many techniques for performing qualitative risk analysis using simple tables. Here are two examples that are fairly common.

High, Medium, Low Table

For example, you can use a table like the one below as a starting point. It helps identify high, medium and low level risks by looking at the probability of the occurrence and the overall impact to your project. For instance, a highly likely / high impact event is obviously a high risk. Likewise an event that has a low impact to your project, and has a low likelihood of occurrence anyway, is obviously a low risk. The other combinations fall somewhere within these two extremes.

Severity of Risk Impact / Probability of Risk Occurring

Overall Risk

High negative impact to project / Highly likely to occur

High

High negative impact to project / Medium likely to occur

High

High negative impact to project / Not likely to occur

Medium/Low

Medium negative impact to project / Highly likely to occur

Medium

Medium negative impact to project / Medium likely to occur

Medium/Low

Medium negative impact to project / Not likely to occur

Low

Low negative impact to project / Highly likely to occur

Low

Low negative impact to project / Medium likely to occur

Low

Low negative impact to project / Not likely to occur

Low

Ignore, Caution, Respond Chart

A second technique uses a simple table that provides guidance on whether you should respond to a risk.

Probability ->

Impact




Low




Medium




High

Low

Ignore

Ignore

Caution

Medium

Ignore

Respond

Response

High

Caution

Response

Response




The green boxes represent a combination of probability and impact that you may safely be able to ignore. The red boxes represent combinations that need to be managed. The yellow box represent risks that should be evaluated individually to determine if you should respond or not.

Summary

These are examples of techniques used to analyze project risks. There are many other techniques as well. The point is that qualitative risk analysis relies on subjectivity to determine whether a risk is worth managing or not. For the vast majority of projects this subjective decision is good enough.
At TenStep we are dedicated to helping organizations achieve their goals and strategies through the successful execution of critical business projects. We provide training, consulting and products for organizations to help them set up an environment where projects are successful. This includes help with strategic planning, portfolio management, program / project management, Project Management Offices (PMOs) and project lifecycles. For more information, visit www.TenStep.com or contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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