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Thursday, 31 August 2017 04:11

Describe Project Value Using a Business Case

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This content is from the TenStep weekly "tips" email dated 2017.30.08

Describe Project Value Using a Business Case

It can be hard to compare and prioritize the projects in your portfolio because there are many different types of projects. Some projects might increase revenue, some might decrease costs and some might help build internal capability. All of them have some benefit but it may not be easy to know which ones are the most valuable and which ones are the most aligned to your goals and strategies.

One of the ways that you compare projects is through a common Business Case. The Business Case describes the reasons and the justification for the project based on its estimated costs, the risks involved and the expected future business benefits and value. The sponsor is responsible for the Business Case.

Business Cases should contain the following information:

·      Executive Summary. This section contains five components.

o   Opportunity Statement. This is often written as a problem statement, describing a current situation with a negative business impact, which the implementation of this project will resolve.

o   Desired State. Given the business opportunity, what do you see as being the final result of this project?

o   Benefit Analysis. We’ll cover more detail later, but at a high level describe the benefits of implementing this project and obtaining your desired state. How will the business be better off?

o   Alternative Analysis. If multiple alternatives were explored to realize the business opportunity, briefly describe these alternatives here.

o   Recommendation. Given your opportunity, desired state, benefits, and alternatives, what is it that you’re recommending being done?

·      Overview

o   Project Description. Summarize the project you are proposing.

o   Project Goals & Objectives, List the goals and objectives of this project.

o   Assumptions. There may be several items you are assuming to be true, which you have not been able to verify.

o   Constraints. List any constraints that will govern or limit the project team.

o   Proposed Solution Design. Describe the high-level approach that will be taken.

o   Project Resource Needs. Briefly describe the resources you will need to deploy this project.

o   Project Duration.  List the high-level milestones and best-guess as to the duration of each.

o   Risk Assessment. List initial known risks of the project.

·      Cost Benefit Analysis. Provide a high-level estimate of the costs and benefits of the project. The format of this section should be consistent for all projects so that the projects can be compared.

·      Alignment. All projects should align to your organization's strategic plan. Some align better and take the organization further. The alignment should be described so that it is clear how the project helps to move the organization to its desired future state. 

·      Conclusion. Summarize the business case and draw one or more conclusions regarding the proposed solution, business value, ROI, etc.

It may seem like this is a lot of work. In fact, it might be. However, the Business Case is used to determine the projects that get funding and those that don’t. So, it is important to spend the right amount of time on the Business Case. If you don’t do a good job on this document, your project may not compare favorably with other projects that have more detail and relevant information. 

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
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This content is from the Method123 weekly email dated 2017.10.08

Does Your Project Need a Quality Process or Quality Activities?

Quality management requires an investment of time and resources with the belief that your project and your deliverables will be of higher quality in the future. This higher quality, in turn, will lead to less rework and a more satisfied client. The basic value proposition for quality management is that you will save more cost and time over the life of your project (and life of the resulting products) than the cost and time required to set up and manage the quality management process.

Large projects need a formal quality process

Large projects have more that can go wrong in terms of the quality of their deliverables. They also have larger teams and more complexity in terms of how the project is executed. Quality management is not only helpful for large projects – it is required. On a large project, the quality management process can consist of: 
  • Awareness and training. You can invest the time to make sure your team understands the importance of quality and what their role is in making sure that quality results are produced.
  • Quality Management Plan. The project team can develop a specific Quality Management Plan that describes the quality assurance and quality control processes that will be followed.
  • Metrics capture. You need good data to show the overall quality of your processes and the products you are delivering. Identifying and capturing metrics gives you the information you need.
  • Process improvement. Analyzing the results of the metrics gives you the information you need to change and improve your processes in order to improve the overall quality of the deliverables you are producing on the project.  
Small projects rely on individual quality activities

Smaller projects cannot implement such formal quality management processes. The time it would take to set up the formal processes and metrics might take longer than the project itself. For a small project, specific activities might include:

  • Using pre-existing templates and checklists to manage work
  • Performing walkthroughs and inspections on deliverable components
  • Rigorous reviews of draft copies of documents
With smaller projects, the quality steps are usually seen as individual activities rather than in the context of a larger overall quality initiative.


Many of the same project management techniques that work well on a larger project cannot be implemented on smaller projects. Quality management processes must be scaled to the size of the project. In general, larger projects should have a formal Quality Plan and quality management process. Smaller projects can get by with identifying specific quality 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 or contact us at
Thursday, 24 August 2017 04:08

Add Green Thinking to Your Procurement Process

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This content is from the TenStep weekly "tips" email dated 2017.28.08

Add Green Thinking to Your Procurement Process

The TenStep model for sustainable project management (GreenPM®) integrates green thinking (“greenthink”) into every project management process. The point about green project management is not that you make every decision in favor of the one that is most environmentally friendly. The point is that you start to take the environment into account during the decision-making process. You might make most decisions the same as you do today. But there might be some decisions you would make differently.    


Procurement refers to the aspects of project management related to obtaining goods and services from outside companies.

Green Procurement

There are a number of areas within procurement that can be enhanced to consider sustainability and help you establish a green procurement approach.

  • Plan Procurements. Green procurement starts with the Procurement Management Plan. The Plan will incorporate green thinking. It is important to understand any organizational Environmental or Sustainability policies and standards you are adopting on your project. As you gather and rank the needs against which you will evaluate vendors, you can now include sustainability criteria that the vendors need to meet. You can also establish the weighting factors for these needs and ultimately rate the vendors on their ability to meet your environmental and sustainability requirements.
  • Obtain Seller Responses. In your RFP, you may include information on your organization’s environmental focus (such as describing your GreenPM processes) and have the vendor comment on how they will align to these, or make a general inquiry regarding the vendor’s use of green processes. Each vendor should be able to explain and demonstrate how they help accomplish your environmental goals, possibly describing how they have completed similar goals previously.
  • Select Sellers. Map the vendor capabilities against your requirements and weighting factors, including the environment requirements that you have established. Using GreenPM, it is possible that your vendor selection may result in a different vendor. For example, if your environment requirements are weighted highly, it is possible that there is a vendor with a significant focus in this area who ends up being your top ranked vendor.
  • Administer Procurements. You should validate that the vendor is performing as agreed throughout the project. This includes confirming that the vendor is following their promised green practices and meeting any defined environment criteria for deliverable completion. Procurement audits can be one approach to validating the compliance to your expected standards and processes.
Procurement is not simple and organizations seek to continually streamline and improve their procurement approaches. Green procurement may add another dimension to improving procurement processes.
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
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Are you using an adaptive life cycle to manage your projects? You know, something that falls under the general umbrella of Agile like Scrum, XP, Kanban or DSDM?

And if your answer to this question is yes, then think about when exactly you started using these approaches, because that date says a lot about you and your organization. If you started 20 or more years ago then you can consider yourself to be an innovator, but if you started just recently you are a laggard. (And just in case you are wondering, I would put myself in the middle with what is called the "early majority".)

But no matter when you started your journey into Agile it might be interesting to know how many of us out there are actually using Agile on our projects. And according to Joseph Flahiff ( -- there are more than you would think.

How many more? He doesn’t have an exact number, but then again nobody knows how many waterfall-based projects there are either. However, studies done on this subject and a number of other indicators lead him to believe that Agile is now the new normal. The number of Agile projects is massive, which is just one more reason to also get started with your PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)® Exam Prep

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Let’s face it: keeping on top of project management paperwork can be a big job. There are documents to create, get signed off and updated. And then there’s finding the information again when you need to revise or use it… A project manager is never far away from a document!

What I want to focus on in this article is the process for updating documents and also include some tips for the Project Management Professional (PMP)® exam. A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) defines a change request as a formal proposal to modify any document, deliverable or baseline. But does that really mean that you need to do a change request every time you want to add a new risk to your risk log? That would be really time consuming and add a lot of extra administrative overhead to the job of updating project management documents.

It is a question that we hear often from our PMP® exam prep students in the discussion forums. For example, Gunaseelan asked, “What all are the project documents which requires approved change requests to get updated?” Housa            m had a similar question.

In this article we’ll dive into when you need a change request to update a project document and when you don’t.

And unfortunately it isn’t a totally straightforward answer!

What Change Requests Are For

Change requests are there to help you keep control of the document. They ensure that if an important project document is going to change, everyone knows what that change is and how it could affect other project assets.

For example, if you update your Resource Management Plan, that might have an implication for the project schedule or budget.

Change requests bring transparency to this process and also a degree of formality. This can help stop stakeholders asking for lots of little changes; the fact they know they have to go through a formal process might make them think twice!

What The PMBOK® Guide Says

So what does the PMBOK® Guide say about the documents that are subject to this process? Actually, not a great deal.

The PMBOK® Guide doesn’t clarify the documents that require a change request, and equally it doesn’t say which documents don’t require one. It just says “any document” but if you have worked in projects you’ll know that this isn’t what happens in real life.

Change Requests Are Required For Controlled Documents

There is useful guidance in the PMBOK® Guide about the types of documents that we have on projects. This is split between “controlled” documents and everything else – the “non-controlled” documents.

Basically, the Project Management Plan (with all its subsidiary plans and baselines) is considered to be a controlled document, while all the rest are non-controlled documents.

That gives us a handy rule of thumb. If a change would require a modification to any of the Project Management Plan documents (controlled documents), then a formal change request should be issued.

This should be submitted to the Change Control Board (CCB) for consideration and possibly approval. However, if the change would only affect a non-controlled document, such as the issue log (for example, because you were updating it with a new issue), then no change request is required.

However, you will have to exercise your professional judgement. The milestone list, for example, is a project document that might not fall within your Project Management Plan. If a change to a milestone was approved, it would likely require the project schedule to be amended, which would most likely require a change to the schedule baseline, which is part of the Project Management Plan. The Project Management Plan is a controlled document, so that particular change would require a change request.

The trick is thinking through what needs to happen at every stage. While the first document that gets updated might be non-controlled, there is possibly an impact on another document that should also be taken into consideration.

What About The Project Charter?

The Project Charter is not a controlled document and it doesn’t change very often. However, instead of editing the text within the document if you do need to modify it for any reason, you can add an addendum. This is a short section at the back that details the updates or changes within the document.

It’s useful to keep this separate as it gives you the ability to see what has changed from the original Charter.

When You Don’t Need A Change Request

Generally, you don’t need a change request to update a document that is not considered “controlled”, like the Project Charter.

There is also one situation when you don’t need a change request to update your Project Management Plan. That’s when the plan is still being developed. If your plan is not yet approved, you don’t need to get a change request approved in order to modify any part of it. Phew! At this point in the project when you are putting the plan together it is likely to change often, so that’s one less thing to worry about!

The act of getting your Project Management Plan approved is the first sign off for this document, which creates the baseline. Any future changes are effectively deviations from the original document that was approved, and they would need a change request so that the impact can be understood and acted on.

PMP® Exam Questions on Updating Documents

Questions about which documents need to be updated, and which would need a change request, could come up in your PMP Exam.

The correct answer will heavily depend on the question and the context in which the question is asked. Therefore, we always recommend that students make reasonable assumptions based on all the available information in the question. Then select the best answer from the choices given. It will not always be the ideal answer, but it should be the best option from those provided.

Remember to think about the implications of a change on a project. Frequently, if a change request is issued and approved, different types of project documents are likely to be updated. Think of how many times you can see that ‘Project Documents Update’ is one of the outputs from one of the processes – it’s a lot!

Project management documents help to keep your project under control. Managing them, updating them and ensuring the right versions are available to the right people goes a long way to reducing the headaches on a project. Hopefully, these tips will help you manage your documentation, whether a change request is required or not.

About the author: Cornelius Fichtner, PMP is a noted PMP expert. He has helped over 40,000 students prepare for the PMP Exam with The Project Management PrepCast at and he guides credential holders on earning PDUs with The PDU Insider at
Last modified on Thursday, 17 August 2017 22:52

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