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this content is from the TenStep weekly "tips" email dated 2017.20.12

The Challenges of Proving the Value of Project Management
(part 1 of 2)


There are a number of factors that make it difficult to quantify the value of project management to an organization.

You can’t precisely compare projects before and after

One of the characteristics of projects is that they are all unique. Therefore, you
cannot make a direct apples-to-apples comparison of what projects looked like before the use of project management processes and after the fact. What you would like to say is that it took us X hours to do a project before, and now it takes Y. However, two projects are never exactly the same to make this comparison.


You don't have the baseline metrics

You may be able to make some general statements by comparing projects with similar characteristics. However, most companies don’t keep any historical records of project
characteristics and costs to use in this type of comparison. You can track the costs and durations of current projects, but how do you compare to the past when you weren't capturing any information.


There is a lot of other stuff going on

A project management initiative in a large company requires a fair amount of time to be successful. In fact, it may take a few years in a large company before everyone is trained and using the new methodology. Of course, no organization can stand still while a long culture-change initiative is going on. The problem is that it is hard to tell how much impact the project management initiative has on the organization versus the other factors that are coming into play at the same time. 

Things may be a little worse before they get better

Lastly, the introduction of structured processes in an organization that did not have them
before might well result in some short-term incremental costs before the long-term value comes in. For instance, you may need to invest in training and perhaps some ongoing coaching. In addition, there will probably be a learning curve. If the project is long enough, the long-term savings could outweigh the learning curve. However, if the project is short, the participants may tell you that it took longer than it would have if the methodology were not in place. This is not surprising. The overall value of the project management processes must be measured over time, since much of the value will kick in through the reuse of the common processes.


Stay Tuned

All that being said, there are some ways to show the value of project management. Look for these ideas in the next email.

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
Monday, 04 December 2017 15:06

Estimate Project Costs Across Three Main Categories

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this content is from the TenStep weekly "tips" email dated 2017.13.12

Estimate Project Costs Across Three Main Categories


Once you understand the work of the project you can estimate the resources that will be required to complete the work. Knowing the resources allows you to estimate the costs of the resources to the project. There are three main areas where costs come into play.

Labor costs

The cost of labor is derived by looking at the effort hours of each resource and multiplying by the hourly (or daily) cost of each resource. In many companies, estimated labor costs for internal employees are assumed to be zero, since their costs are already accounted for in a departmental budget. This does not imply there is no cost. Rather, it assumes there are no incremental costs over and above what the company is already paying for.

If you are using external contract or consulting resources, their costs always need to be estimated and budgeted. You have to determine the type of external resources you need and the hourly rate of the resources and how many hours you need. If you are not sure of the actual resource cost, you need to make some assumptions based on the general type of resource. For instance, there may be a standard hourly cost for accounting contractors or programming contractors.

Non-labor costs

Non-labor expenses include all resource costs not directly related to salary and human contractor costs. Some of these costs, like training and team-building expenses, are related to people. However, they are still considered non-labor since they are not related to employee salary or contractor hours. Non-labor costs include:

  • Hardware and software
  • Travel expenses
  • Training 
  • Facilities
  • Equipment
  • Material and supplies
  • Depreciation
  • ... more
Each project manager must be aware of the accounting rules in his own company to make sure the labor and non-labor costs are allocated correctly.

Outsourced costs

This is a third category of costs. For practical purposes this is considered non-labor costs. However, it is a cost that is provided to you by a vendor to complete some pre-specified piece of work. As a project manager, you don't need to determine resources and the costs of resources. This is the vendor's responsibility. You just need to understand the scope of work to be completed and the cost of that work. In some projects, especially construction and engineering, the vast majority of the work may be outsourced to vendors. On those projects it is important to provide clear scope of work feedback to the vendors and then aggregate that costs of all vendors to come up with final project cost estimates.  

Document all assumptions

Don't forget. You will never have all the information you need with 100% certainty. Therefore, it is important to document all the assumptions you are making along with the estimate. If you change your assumptions, it is likely to change your estimates.

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
Last modified on Thursday, 21 December 2017 02:48
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406Click Here to Listen to the interview: http://bit.ly/PMPodcast406
Read More: http://bit.ly/PMPodcast_406

You've been there, right? You've managed a project where nobody on the team reported to you. But what can a project manager do to succeed other than beg borrow or steal in this situation?

This interview with Jeff Kissinger (LinkedIn Profile) was recorded at the superb Project Management Institute (PMI)® Global Conference 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. It is based on his presentation "Leading Without Authority: The Project Manager's Dilemma" and looks at what project managers can do to successfully deliver their projects even in situations where they have little or no authority at all over the people on their project. Here is what Jeff wrote about his presentation:

Leading project teams without direct authority is a dilemma that many project leaders face. Doing this well is an art. And, like art, it’s often practiced using a mixture of skills, techniques, and tools. Attendees will learn how to identify and resolve authority issues quickly that adversely affect their projects and learn how to lead their project teams successfully without direct authority.

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405.2Click Here to Listen to the interview: http://bit.ly/PMPodcast405_2
Read More: http://bit.ly/PMPodcast_405_2

The Agile Practice Guide was released together with A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) – Sixth Edition in September 2017. As a result the Project Management Institute (PMI)® wil implement a "lexicon update" to the PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)® exam om 26 March 2018. This is to ensure that exam lexicon is consistent with the new guide.

This interview with Alicia Burke (LinkedIn Profile) was not recorded at the grand PMI Global Conference 2017 in Chicago, Illinois because we had scheduling conflicts. So we recorded it via Skype after the Conference. We discuss the how, what, why and when of the changes that are coming to the PMI-ACP exam.

Although the PMI-ACP is not a test of the Agile Practice Guide, it will become one of the references for the exam. This means that students preparing to take the exam after the change can expect to see lexicon changes and terminology used within the exam to be consistent with the guide. Students planning to take the exam after the change are advised to use PMI-ACP exam prep materials that are updated to the new guide.

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this content is from the TenStep weekly "tips" email dated 2017.22.11

Four Planning Techniques to Save Time on Your Project

"Planning" is a very general term. When you say you are planning a project, you are really validating scope, creating a Charter, estimating, creating a schedule, and more. Here are four techniques to use when you plan your projects. They may take a little longer in the planning process, but will save you much more time over the life of the project.Use Multiple Estimating Techniques if Possible

An important part of planning is being able to accurately estimate the work activities. Estimates of effort hours will, in turn, drive the cost and duration estimates. There are a number of techniques that can be used to estimate work - analogy, expert opinion, PERT, modeling and more. If possible, try to use two or more techniques for the estimate. If the estimates from multiple techniques are close, you will have more confidence in your numbers. If the estimates are far apart, you can look at the reasons and determine whether one technique may be more accurate than another.

Plan at Least One-Phase Ahead

Doesn’t it seem that most problems that are encountered on a project tend to surface later rather than earlier? In fact, some project managers purposely hurry through planning because they think they will catch any mistakes and fix them as the project progresses. 

Unfortunately, the longer it takes for errors to be caught, the more time-consuming and expensive it is to fix them. Try to prepare for each phase of the project at least one phase in advance. For instance, fully planning the work will save time in the analysis phase. Getting the analysis work right the first time will make the design phase go more smoothly. In general, smart time investments early will more than make up for itself in future phases.

Create a Short-Term Schedule to Guide the Planning Processes

The process of planning the work may take a long time and may be very complicated. Therefore, the work should not be unorganized - for the same reasons that you are building the schedule for the project to begin with. Immediately after being assigned, the project manager should create a short-term schedule to cover the initial planning activities. For example, if the planning work is expected to take four weeks, you need a preliminary schedule that covers at least four, if not five or six weeks. This preliminary schedule covers all of the organizing and up-front planning activities until the formal project schedule is completed to guide the remainder of the project.

Establish the Triple Constraint when the Planning is Completed

At the end of the planning process you should have an agreement with your sponsor on the scope of work, the cost and duration that are needed to complete the work. These three items form a concept called the “triple constraint”. The key aspect of the triple constraint is that if one of the three items change, at least one, if not both, of the other items need to change as well. For example, if the scope changes, normally budget and schedule change as well. If the timeline is reduced, it may require a decrease in scope and/or an increase in cost.


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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