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This content is from the TenStep weekly "tips" email dated 2017.13.09

You Have Heard of Monte Carlo Scheduling.
Here is What is Means


Schedules are the way you estimate the work, resources and durations for your project. One way to manage schedule risk for large projects is through the Monte Carlo modeling. Here is an example to demonstrate Monte Carlo. The example is simple, but it requires some focus for it to make sense.

First, you need to assign multiple durations to activities, along with the probabilities of hitting each estimate. You could assign many durations and probabilities for each activity, but let's keep it simple. Let's say you provide three estimates that represent the best case, most likely case and the worst case. For each of these cases, you also assign a probability of each instance occurring. 

For instance, let's use the following estimates:

  • 20% change of hitting the best case estimate
  • 60% chance of hitting the most likely estimate
  • 20% chance of hitting the worst case estimate
You have to estimate these three numbers for each of the major work activities in your schedule (or all activities if it makes sense). For example, you may estimate an activity to most likely take 10 days, with a best case of 5 days and a worst case of 20 days.

Monte Carlo then looks at every activity in your schedule. The simulation uses a random number generator to select an estimate for each activity - best case, worst case or most likely. After the simulation has run for each activity, the entire schedule duration is calculated.

So far, so good. If we ended there, Monte Carlo would not be so interesting. However, the schedule simulation is then re-run. When the random number generator runs for each activity, differing durations will be assigned to each activity (best, worst, most likely), therefore calculating a different end-date.

The schedule model is run hundreds or thousands of times so that the percentages have a chance to play out. For instance, in the example above, if the simulation was run 1000 times, you would expect that each individual activity would be assigned the best case estimate 200 times (20%), the worst case estimate 200 times (20%) and the most likely estimate 600 times (60%).

As the modeling tool randomly picks estimated values based on probabilities, many different project end dates occur. Some show the project completing earlier since many best case estimates are randomly chosen. Some schedules show the project completing later since more worst case are randomly chosen. However, after running the project model 1000 times, a pattern emerges that allows you to estimate the chances of hitting any end date. 

Now instead of saying "we will complete the project by May 31" you would say "there is an 80% likelihood we will complete the project by May 31". If your sponsor wants the project completed by April 30 instead, you can look at your simulation and state "there is only a 45% likelihood we can complete the project by April 30".

Monte Carlo gives you the range of possible end dates and the probability of achieving them.

Kind of interesting isn't it? 

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 admin@TenStep.com
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397Click Here to Listen to the Interview: http://bit.ly/PMPodcast397
Read More: http://bit.ly/PMPodcast_397

There is no doubt in my mind that you have heard the term lessons learned before.

It is mentioned extensively throughout A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge, (PMBOK® Guide), I teach it as part of my Project Management Professional (PMP)® training lessons and my favorite search engine gives me over 51,000 results for the search term “lessons learned in project management”. In fact, as an experienced project manager you have probably participated or even chaired one or two lessons learned meetings yourself on your own projects.

But let’s consider the bigger picture around lessons learned. What process do we follow? What management techniques are there for lessons learned? Are all documented lessons learned equally valuable?

These questions need answers. And so I’m happy to welcome Elizabeth Harrin (www.girlsguidetopm.com -- www.linkedin.com/in/elizabethharrin/ - ) who has the answers for us!

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This content is from the TenStep weekly "tips" email dated 2017.06.09

PMOs Should Assess Projects to Validate Use of Common Processes

Many Project Management Offices (PMOs) spend quite a bit of time deploying common project management practices in their organization and building project management skills in their staff. But is it working? The PMO can validate whether their work is sticking through project assessments.

Project assessments serve two functions.

  • Compliance. They help ensure that project managers are using the new project management processes.
  • Coaching. Assessments can also be an opportunity for coaching. During the assessment, you can help the project manager understand how the processes are applicable to their project.
It is one thing for the PMO to provide training and have all the appropriate processes and templates defined. It is another thing for the new processes to actually be adopted and utilized by the project teams. If you want to change the culture and make sure that the new processes are sticking, you must make sure that the project teams are utilizing them correctly. The purpose of the assessment is to determine how well the project manager and project team are utilizing the project management processes. During the assessment, a member of the PMO asks a series of questions to ensure compliance with the required processes and procedures.

To help reinforce the responsibilities of the managers, the results of the project assessment should be documented and sent back to the project manager, as well as the manager of the project manager. In addition, the results are summarized and sent to the PMO sponsor, Steering Committee and other management stakeholders. If a project team is not using the standard processes, the senior managers and the PMO sponsor ultimately need to ask why. This is part of a governance process.  

It may not be practical to assess all projects. Actually, you don't need to. If you assess a project in a certain department and it comes out pretty well, it is likely that the other projects in that same area will also come out well, since the functional manager is probably helping with the push. The opposite conclusion might be reached if you find a project that is not using the required practices. Raising visibility of the problem projects should bring organizational pressure to make the proper changes. 

Summary

It would be nice if you could develop a common project management processes, train everyone, and then sit back and let the magic happen. Unfortunately, this rarely happens in a culture change initiative. The PMO must look at this project management implementation in a holistic manner; including validating that project teams are utilizing the new methodology as expected. These assessments will point out the overall progress (or lack of progress) that has been made up to that time.



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 admin@TenStep.com
Wednesday, 06 September 2017 10:42

3 Life Changing Tips for PMP Exam

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The Project Management Institute (PMI) is the governing body for Project Management Professional (PMP) certification, which is a sought-after project management certification by professionals working with projects. The PMP certification validates the proficiency of the candidate in PMI’s project management framework and management skills. This is one of the toughest exam to pass and requires extensive preparation for a definite period.

Are you also preparing for the PMP exam?

Here are the tips that will help you to prepare for exam preparation and become a certified PMP professional:

1.       Study Schedule: If you get a chance to go through the syllabus of PMP examination, you must have witnessed that you have an extensive syllabus to study and some of the points are completely new for your knowledge. Therefore, the best way to start PMP prep is to start with a study schedule that is consistent for a few months until you clear the examination.

You should commit towards the study schedule and follow it completely while keeping in mind that your dedication and determination is inevitable for the PMP certification.

 

2.       Resource Finding and Utilization: You can find several resources available that can help you to prepare for the PMP certification examination. You can join various PMP support groups, online study materials, online training programs or Bootcamp, etc. to improve your project management knowledge. Utilize theses resources to your study and take maximum out of them. You can take help of experts through digital means to enhance understanding about the certification exam preparation.

 

3.       Rate Yourself: After studying the fundamental concepts of Project Management certification syllabus, start attempting simulation tests. There are several practice tests available from different sources including online as well as offline. This will help you to judge your skills and assess your strengths as well as weaknesses that can decisively enhance before you actually attend the main examination. Spend time to work over your misinterpretations and mistakes and jot it down to avoid the repetition of the same.
Last modified on Wednesday, 06 September 2017 11:46
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This content is from the Method123 weekly email dated 2017.31.08

Use Two Criteria to Determine Your Estimating Threshold

When you create a schedule you generally don’t know enough to enter all of the detailed activities the first time in sequential order. Instead, you identify large chunks of work first, and then break the larger chunks into smaller pieces. These smaller pieces are, in turn, broken down into still smaller and more discrete activities. This technique is referred to as creating a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS).

How small should the activities be before they do not need to be broken down further? This is referred to as your “estimating threshold”. For example, if your estimating threshold was 80 hours, you would continue to break the work into smaller entities until all work was less than 80 hours. No work would be left at a higher level.

You can use the following criteria as a rule-of-thumb. For a typical large project (say 5000 effort hours or more), any work that is greater than 80 hours of effort should be broken down into smaller pieces. Medium-sized projects (say 1000 effort hours) should have activities no larger than 40 hours. If the project is small (say 200 hours), you should break down the activities into work no greater than 20 hours. Remember that this threshold is an upper limit. You can break the activities down further if you want.

There are two criteria for determining the threshold.

  • Better understanding the work. If you leave schedule activities at too high a level it may not be clear what is required to complete the work. You need to make sure the work is discreet enough that it is understandable and it is clear what is required to complete it. For example, if you assign someone an activity that is 240 effort hours, there may be a lot of work to do for completion, and it may be confusing. If you assign four activities of 60 hours each (or 6 activities of 40 hours each) it should be more clear what is expected for each piece of work.
  • Better able to manage the work. When you assign work to a team member you don’t know for sure how he is progressing until the due date (or the completion date if it comes first). For instance, if you assign a team member a piece of work that is due in eight weeks, you are not going to know for sure whether the work is on time until the eight-week deadline. Until that time you can just approximate if it appears things are on schedule. However, eight weeks (or longer) is too long to wait to know for sure if the work is on track. A better approach is to break the eight-week activity into four two-week activities. Then you will know after two weeks if the work is progressing on time or not.
It is possible that activities that are to be worked on in the distant future may not be able to be broken down less than the threshold because there may be too much that is unknown about the work itself. Work that is way out in the future can be left at a level higher than the threshold. However, if you leave future work at a high-level, it is still critical to break the work into smaller pieces at least two to three months before you need to start executing the work. This is part of rolling-wave planning. 

These two factors – understanding the work and your ability to manage the work effectively - should drive your decision on how small to make your activities.

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 admin@TenStep.com

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