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This content is from the TenStep weekly "tips" email dated 2017.26.4

Frustration Culture
When Actions and Principles Don't Align


Believe it or not, there are many fine companies in the world that have great products and treat their employees well. There are also many companies that are just plain rotten. Of course, most companies fall somewhere in the middle.

One of the reasons that employees don’t like working at their companies is that their companies are not intellectually honest with them. They say one thing and do another thing. They have lofty ideals or principles on paper, but they do not follow through and actually implement policies and processes to back up their words.

“Frustration Culture”

In a broad sense, the term culture refers to “how we do things around here.” Culture refers to the formal and informal policies and procedures that define how you do your job. This includes how you relate to your managers, peers and clients.

The term “frustration culture” can be used to describe the way employees feel when a company’s actions don’t follow their words because frustration is the most common feeling that people have in those circumstances.

Here is an example to see how this happens. Company A is a consulting company with a fine Mission Statement that explains that their people are their number one asset and that they invest in their staff to ensure they are well trained and capable. However, in reality, it appears that people are their number one asset only while profits are strong. When profits fall, training and employee development are the first things to be cut.

Company A is an example of a place with a frustration culture. Their problem is that they say one thing and do another. Their literature talks about their commitment to employees, but that commitment is only an inch deep when company profits are on the line.

Good companies usually tell you up-front what is important to them and, in fact, try to follow through on those commitments. They tend to set and manage expectations very well.

Managers should honestly evaluate their company’s actions and words. This includes their own personal actions and words. If the words don’t match up with the actions, then lobby for change. Each manager has a limited ability to change the entire culture, but they can start be changing their own organization. Start the change now. Start in your own organization, then look for ways to move it outward.
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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This content is from the TenStep weekly "tips" email dated 2017.19.4

Use Cost Accounts to Manage Budgets with More Precision

Many projects have one overall budget that includes all of the project labor costs, equipment costs, materials costs, etc. This is fine for smaller and medium-sized projects. However, as a project gets larger it helps to have the overall budget broken down into smaller portions. This is a similar to the decomposition technique of breaking down project deliverables into smaller pieces using a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS). It is easier to understand and manage things that are smaller instead of things that are bigger. Having your budget allocated at a more granular level allows you to keep better control of the details and may point out potential budget trouble quicker than having everything rolled up into one consolidated project budget.

Cost accounts are used to allocate the budget at a lower level. Your budget is allocated in each detailed cost account and the actual project expenses are reported at that same level. The cost accounts can be established in a couple of ways.

  • By resource type. One way is to create a cost account for each resource type.  In this approach, you could have a cost account for internal labor, external labor, equipment, software, training, travel, etc.
  • By WBS work package. Another way to set up the cost accounts is based on the WBS. You may set up a separate cost account and budget for each phase,  milestone, deliverable or work package.
  • By both WBS and resource type. If you set up cost accounts for work packages on the WBS, you can also track the resource types within each work package. these various resource types can be tracked with sub-account numbers within the cost account. Of course, the more detailed your cost accounts are, the more work you will have setting up, allocating and tracking the cost account budgets.
All of these techniques allow you to allocate and track costs at a more detailed level. If you manage the entire budget as one large chunk of money you may not see potential budget risks.

For example, let's say your estimated cost is one million dollars. You can allocate the budget into the different works packages on your WBS. For example:

·      Work package A - $20,000

·      Work package B  - $50,000

·      Work package C - $100,000

·      etc...

As the project progresses, it may turn out that Work Package A actually costs $40,000. Because your budget is allocated at this lower level, you can see immediately that you are trending over budget. This same $20,000 overage might be harder to detect of you only have one large one million dollar budget. You might end up catching this problem, but you may not see the trend early enough. Cost accounts give you a more detailed level of precision. 

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.
Last modified on Thursday, 20 April 2017 21:34
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389Click Here to Listen to the Interview: http://bit.ly/PMPodcast389
Read More: http://bit.ly/PMPodcast-389

Conflict in project management is inevitable. In fact they say that the only way to not have a project management conflict is to have a one-person project. And even then, some people have a tendency to argue with themselves.

Karin Brünnemann (https://www.linkedin.com/in/karinbrunnemann) recently gave a presentation on the topic of Managing Conflict in Projects to the Project Management Institute (PMI)® Slovakia Chapter. And because it was such a success she suggested that we bring it to you as well!

Karin’s presentation and our interview is full of solid advice and best practices you can apply to the conflicts you will inevitably encounter. We will discuss: Definition & Characteristics of Conflict

  • Conflict in the Context of Project Management
  • How to Analyse a Conflict
  • How to Manage Conflict

A big part of the interview is actually focused on that last part -- the actual project management conflict resolution. We are, however, not going to talk about conflict resolution on multicultural projects. That’s reserved for next week.

Friday, 14 April 2017 18:40

Use These Four Techniques for Managing Issues

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This content is from the Method123 weekly email dated 2017.13.04

Use These Four Techniques for Managing Issues

Issues are problems that will impede the progress of your project, and are not within the control of the project team to resolve. They need outside help. Use these four issues management techniques on your projects.

Understand the Difference Between Issues Vs Action Items

In many cases, project managers are not using the Issues Log to identify and track true issues. Many items that are classified as issues are really risks (potential problems) or just action items. Action items are minor activities that must be followed-up on in the short-term. Action items often come out of meetings. They may not be problems at all. If you find that your Issues Log has dozens of items on it, you are probably tracking many action items. Because issues are large problems, there should not be many items open at any one time.

Ask Team Members to Identify Problems and Solutions

Issues can come from team members or any project stakeholder. It is a good practice to encourage people to help identify solutions along with the issues. When a team member identifies a potential issue, ask him to look for options to fix the issue, and to bring one or more possible solutions. This process will help build accountability among the team members, but it will also help determine possible courses of action. In fact, if a team member proposes one or more viable solutions, the problem may be able to be resolved with the help of the project manager and never reach the level of an issue at all.

Break Very Large Issues into Smaller Problems

If a large issue looks too difficult to be resolved in a timely manner, break it down into logical sub-issues. In many cases, the resolution of an initial sub-issue will drive the solution for the remainder of the issue. If it does not, it at least lets people understand the components of the issue, so that they can be attacked and resolved individually.

Create Guidelines for When Can Team Members Can Make Decisions?

Since issues require outside help they need to be raised to the project manager. Sometimes it might seem that team members do not have the ability to make any decisions at all. You definitely do not want to give that impression. As a project manager, you need to encourage people to accept responsibility and make decisions when appropriate. This helps the team run more efficiently and allows individuals to grow professionally.

Team members can handle all the day-to-day problems and only bring items to you on an exception basis. Team members need to ask themselves some key questions before deciding if they need help or if they can make a decision themselves.

  • Is there an impact to effort, duration or cost? If there is, the project manager must be involved.
  • Will the decision require you to go out of scope or deviate from previously agreed upon specifications? If so, the project manager must be involved.
  • Is the decision politically sensitive? If so, the project manager must be involved.
  • Will the decision require you to miss a previously agreed upon commitment? If so, the project manager must be involved.
  • Will the decision open the project to future risk? If so, the project manager must be involved.
If none of these conditions are true then the team member can make the decision. It may sound like there is nothing left, but in fact, most of the decisions that are required on a day-to-day basis do not meet these criteria and can be made by the team or individual team members.
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, 13 April 2017 01:14

Practice Five Parts of Configuration Management

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This content is from the TenStep weekly "tips" email dated 2017.12.4


Practice Five Parts of Configuration Management

Configuration management is one of the many aspects of project management. It is applicable to certain projects that need to track components.  There are two major types of configuration management.

  1. Identification, tracking and managing of all the assets of a project. This definition would be especially relevant on software development projects where the “configuration” refers to the collection of artifacts, code components, executables, etc.
  1. Identification, tracking and managing of the metadata that describes the products that the project is creating. In this definition, the configuration is basically the detailed specifications of the product. For example, if you are manufacturing a laptop computer, the configuration would refer to the size of the hard drive, speed, DVD specifications, etc.  
The following items make up the Configuration Management Process.

  1. Planning. You need to plan ahead to create the processes, procedures, tools, files and databases to manage the configuration. You also may need to gain an agreement on exactly what assets are important, how you will define them, how they will be categorized, classified, numbered, reported, etc. The results of this up-front planning are documented in a Configuration Management Plan.
  2. Tracking. You need processes and systems to identify when assets are assigned to your project, where they go, what becomes of them, who is responsible for them and how they are disposed. Since a project has a concrete beginning and end, ultimately all the assets need to go somewhere. This could be in a final deliverable, into the operations/support area, scrapped, etc. You should be able to dissect each major deliverable of the project and show where all the pieces and parts came from, and where they reside after the project ends.
  3. Managing. Managing assets means they are secure, protected and used for the right purposes. For example, it doesn’t do any good to track purchased assets that your project does not need in the first place. Also, your tracking system may show expensive components sitting in an unsecured storage room, but is that really the proper place for them? Managing assets has to do with acquiring what you need and only what you need.
  4. Reporting. You need to be able to report on the configuration, usually in terms of what you have and where they are, as well as financial reporting that can show cost, budget, depreciation, etc. If you are tracking configuration metadata you should be able to report out a complete set of the current product specifications. 
  5. Auditing. It is important that the integrity of the configuration process be validated periodically through audits of the status of configuration items. This can include physically inspecting or counting these items and comparing them against the expected results of your configuration management system. You will also want to audit the configuration change process to endure that the appropriate processes are being followed.
If you practice configuration management on your project, it is suggested that you have a specific person identified as the configuration manager. This may be a part-time role, depending on how much asset tracking and management your project does. This person is responsible for the overall process, with focus on the planning, management and auditing responsibilities. 
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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