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Project Management Blog
This content is from the Method123 weekly email dated 2014.08.07.

Projects are not routine. They are managed differently than routine operational work. Projects have a start and end-date. There is a point in time when the work did not exist (before the project), when it does exist (the project), and when it does not exist again (after the project). This is the key determinant of whether a piece of work is a project.

Other characteristics of a project include:

  • All projects are unique. They may be similar to prior projects but they are unique in terms of timeframes, resources, business environment, etc.

  • Projects result in the creation of one or more deliverables.

  • Projects have assigned resources - either full-time, part-time or both. This is reflected in a true budget or an implicit budget based on allocated resources.

  • Projects have a defined scope of work. 

That being said, you need to be practical. In theory, projects can be one hour, 100 hours or 10,000 hours (or more). So, you must recognize that, although the creation of a small deliverable is a project, it does not need the structure and discipline of a much larger project. For a one-hour project, you 'just do it'. Any planning, analysis and design is all done in your head. A 100 hour project probably has too much work to plan and manage all in your head. For instance, you need to start defining the work and building a simple schedule. A 10,000 hour project needs full project management discipline.

Our model for scaling projects is to use a scale of small, medium and large. We use effort hours as the key criteria for sizing projects. This seems to be a true complexity factor. Duration is not a good factor since it varies depending upon the resources committed. For example, a 100 hour project could take 20 weeks if you can only spend five hours a week. The basic scale is as follows.

  • Small Project - less than 250 effort hours
  • Medium project - between 251 and 2500 effort hours
  • Large project - over 2500 effort hours 

In your company, the effort hours for categorizing projects may be different. However, in general, smaller projects need very little rigor and structure. Larger projects need more structure. 

Summary. The definition of a project covers work that could be as little as a minute. However, no organization is going to track one minute projects, or one hour projects. Even though these are all technically projects, your organization should have a minimum threshold that you use before you consider the work to be an official project. Our threshold is 250 hours. What is yours?  

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 or contact us at


Published in Blogs
Monday, 29 November 2010 04:22

What should a PMs Theme Tune be?

What should a PMs Theme Tune be? Through many LinkedIn discussions I raised the hugely important question - what should the theme tune be for all project managers? PMs  responded with 187 suggestions for this and, through assessing the most common suggestions together with ones that I just liked or made me laugh we now have a short list with 55 tunes. You can see the full list at if you wish.

So now it is time for the vote off - you can select the 5 tunes that you think should be the PMs theme tune at

Please help to spread the word to all of your PM contacts and let’s get them voting in their hundreds. Survey closes 23rd December.

Published in Blogs

maltzman-greenpm-bookAt last week’s PMI North America Congress, we were lucky enough to be at sponsor DeVry (Keller) University’s booth signing our new book and getting to chat with many project managers about Green Project Management.  Between that experience, getting to meet many of the really outstanding contributors – you know who you are – with whom we had only previously communicated electronically, and having President Bill Clinton not only address us as Project Managers, but to specifically challenge PMs to take on climate change, it was a fantastic week.

In conversations during the book signing, many of you reflected on situations in which you work in IT and so, you say, have “no effect” on the environment.  Also many of you said that there was nothing besides ‘altruistic’ reasons for trying to change your projects and your companies to do more to work towards sustainability.

We beg to differ.  On both counts.

Published in Blogs

Happiness is the full use of your powers along lines of excellence in a life affording scope…’ John Fitzgerald Kennedy, 35th President of the United States

An Analogy… Years ago as kids, when we all didn’t know (or worry about) what project management was, our PMBOK’s were comic books (we acknowledge that many adults read such material today). We couldn’t wait for the next monthly or weekly issue to come out of Superman or X-Men, or the Fantastic Four, or Spiderman to name just a few. Of course, not all comic books involved superheroes, but many of them did. Each superhero in our imaginary worlds has at least one or more special skills or powers that made them champions for justice and “the greater good”.  Let’s not forget the arch nemesis and villains like Lex Luthor, Magneto, or Dr. Doom that had similar powers but used them for the wrong intent.

Today we probably all know some of our colleagues as ‘superheroes’ for the efforts they give or the results they achieve individually and/or with their team.  Are they considered our champions or Olympians in program and project management? Do you admire them for their strength the same way one might respect a person who can undertake admirable feats of physical endurance or run at incredible speeds?

Published in Blogs
Wednesday, 03 February 2010 15:14

Risk Management – where it fits in Scrum?

This is about Risk. There are visible and invisible risks in any software project and those risks may appear any time during the project life. PMBOK has a separate knowledge area on risk management. YES it’s that important! So ..Then why most the SCRUM practitioners are so silent about risk management ( Ok we Agilists think the word “management” is evil ;-) So I will use the word “risk handling”). I think risk handling is one of the most unspoken areas in agile processes.

Published in Blogs
Wednesday, 06 August 2008 14:49

How Can a PMO Go Green?

Many companies are finding that they must build project management capability if they are going to meet the business challenges in the future. PMOs are increasingly being viewed as an essential component that enable the success of projects, and hence, the future success of the entire organization.
Published in Blogs
I wrote this in response to a friends inquiry about Outsourcing. The basic risks, concerns and strategy of outsourcing as I see them today are: The basic risks, concerns and strategy of outsourcing as I see them today are:

1.    Language Barrier - this often makes requirements gathering sessions harder. It takes longer which is more costly both in terms of capital dollars and opportunity costs.
Published in Blogs
Saturday, 15 December 2007 20:09

Chief Consultant

PMPal is a software tool for software project management and software metricsw tool. I has modules for software estimation (size, effort, cost & schedule), WBS, Defect Manager, Change Manager and software metrics that are adequate for a CMMI level 5 company
Published in Blogs
Tuesday, 04 December 2007 19:46

Using a PMO to Achieve Results in Your Agency

Government agencies continually strive to produce better results. With regular mandates and quarterly score keeping by the President's Management Agenda, agencies are constantly working to become more efficient and better spenders of taxpayer dollars. 

Distressingly, recent surveys have found that half of all projects exceed budget, are completed past scheduled deadlines and do not meet original business objectives. One solution to this problem that has been slow to gain popularity in the public sector is the implementation of a Project Management Office (PMO). By incorporating a successful PMO into the overall project management strategy, government agencies can reduce delivery costs, improve the quality of project deliverables, improve resource management and produce more effective results.

Published in Blogs

Bas de Baar,

Whatever your take is on projects, at the end of the day it is just a bunch of people working together to achieve a certain goal. To laugh, cry, pull pranks, play dirty tricks and show all other kinds of behavior towards each other. If you are lucky they even work to reach the final goal. If you take everything away, and put people in the center of what a “project” is, you will see a group of stakeholders interacting with each other, just like any other group of people would do. As a Project Manager it is your goal to herd the project crowd toward the required end result.


Published in Blogs
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