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Project Workflow Framework: An Error-Free Project Management Environment

by Dan Epstein

The project workflow framework enables even the inexperienced project manager to use detailed step-by-step guidance, examples, tools and practical advice, freeing experienced project managers to manage programs and portfolios and promoting better use of project resources to reduce the cost of projects across all industries.

Project Task Duration Estimation and Scheduling

by Jon Quigley, Kim H. Pries

In this article, we look at the key to schedule success, historical and repeatable tasks, why schedules fail, how to eliminate the target date tango and build a schedule defense that manages the risks.

Taking Over a Failing Project

by Anand Thiagarajan, PMP

Continuing to develop a failing project is a big challenge. Improving the environment and culture to ensure successful delivery requires integrating the bottom-up approach from a small task level with a top-down orientation of strategic management. Learn how to diagnose failure and implement useful techniques.

Project Management and Business Value Creation

by Diego Escobar

Project managers must ensure that projects are aligned with business strategy and value creation for their company and its shareholders. The author demonstrates the importance of the bridge between the business and project worlds, even when there is not a clear link between their objectives. But one objective always remains the same: to create economic value.

Project Levels: So You Think You Know What a Level-4 Project Plan Is?

by Wayne Ragas

Outside of the discipline of cost engineering, the concept of project levels isn’t well documented. That hasn’t stopped the spread of the concept, but without supporting documentation, project managers have been left to make up their own definitions. Let’s question our own creative definitions by exploring some common themes, then look at a best practice to help clear the fog. Finally, we’ll apply what we learn to our own projects and programs.

Topic Teasers Vol. 73: Multi-year/Complex Projects

by Barbee Davis, MA, PHR, PMP, PMI-ACP, PMI-PBA

Question: When projects are a normal length, I’m experienced. But now I’m being asked to head a multi-year project that promises to be very complex. Is it just frying fish in a bigger pan, or are there special procedures to know when the undertaking is massive and international, or even just longer and involving more personnel than normal?
A. Long-term projects are challenging and offer a great sense of accomplishment, but there are some risks and procedural modifications to layer onto your usual processes if you hope to be successful. Thinking ahead is crucial, as any errors or missed estimates are magnified.
B. Large projects are scary at first, but because you have so much time and such a large budget, it is easier to balance small errors and still come out within your original metrics. Just be sure the team is signed to a contract of at least six months past the estimated completion date.
C. Projects that will take more than six months and exceed $1 million dollars need more than one project manager. The escalation metric is simple: each quarter on the corporate calendar and each quarter of a million dollars added to the budget equal one additional project manager.
D. Create a rolling staff plan for this endeavor, as people will get too bored and lose their ability to find creative solutions when a project drags on. Perhaps manning it with team members from a third-party staffing service is the most efficient choice.
Pick your answer then Test Your Knowledge!

Project Charter Template (PMBOK® Guide Aligned)

PREMIUM deliverable
by Markus Klein, PMP

This sample Project Charter, aligned to A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK®Guide), includes sections for project goals, success criteria, risks, assumptions, restrictions, budget and more.

Project Status Report Template

PREMIUM deliverable
by Daniel Grzybek

This Project Status Report template was developed to be utilized in smaller, vendor-to-customer projects. The ideal report frequency is short, such as weekly. Its simple format focuses on communicating key indicators of any project's health (schedule, cost, scope, risk, etc.), activity progress, action items/issues and risk with the goals of being 1) quickly and easily comprehensible to the general stakeholder audience and 2) easily maintained and/or modified by the project manager.

Project Status Update (Presentation)

PREMIUM presentation
by Daniel Grzybek

This presentation template is a formal customer-facing status report used for medium to larger projects, or for reporting multiple projects with the same stakeholder audience.

How to Better Manage Fixed Bid IT Projects

by Subhasis Purkayastha

In fixed bid projects, effective project selection, vendor management, a good contract, organizational change management and project management all play a role in ensuring a positive outcome. In this article, the author discusses how to manage fixed bid IT projects with a focus on the vendor's perspective. The crucial phases in the lifecycle of a fixed bid project and how to effectively navigate them are examined.

The Art of the Estimate

by Stacy King

Early on in the career of a project manager, there are things known, things that are unknown and things that he or she doesn’t know they don’t know. And therein lies the dilemma of estimating. There is no perfect estimate, and this is where the foundational techniques of estimating bridge the existing estimating gap that exists between senior leadership and the project manager.

Divide and Direct

by Ronald B. Smith, PMP

Dividing your project into smaller parts that are more controllable helps you move closer to your ultimate goal: successfully achieving your project deliverables and high user satisfaction. Follow these seven tips to gain more direct control over your project.

Methodology Weakness in Project Control

by Arild Sigurdsen

Budget overruns are typical for all industries, especially for those dealing with complex, non-repetitive projects. Control over projects is often lost because the most popular project control tools simplify the control issue to the extent that vital steering parameters are lost or missed. A probabilistic forecasting tool like the Range Forecasting Method (RFM) can help address uncertainty and reduce extra costs.

Dynamic Project Management

by Pradeep Sangal

Large infrastructure project teams continuously struggle to manage several issues posed by the volatile environment of projects. It's time to develop a holistic and dynamic project planning and monitoring tool for the effective management of ever-changing project requirements and environments.

Project Managers: The Level-Headed Heroes that Prevail

by Mike Donoghue

Being a project manager may not be flashy and inspire flowing-cape theatrics, but there are quiet ways in which you can work behind the scenes to ensure that everyone becomes the hero when your projects are completed on time, within budget and to everyone’s satisfaction.

An Agile Look at Change

by Andy Jordan

The alternative to embracing change doesn’t have to be completely rejecting it. Are there ways we can introduce more flexibility to waterfall projects without losing control of change? Can traditional project execution approaches learn anything from the agile approach to change?

Project Management as a Service: The New Model

by Elizabeth Harrin

Do you deliver Project Management as a Service? That doesn’t mean outsourcing your PM to a consultancy, but changing the way you think about project management and your customers--they are clients of the project management processes that you provide.

Preparing for the Exam with PMBOK Guide—Fifth Edition (Part 6): Cost Management

by Bruce Garrod

The latest in the ongoing series of articles helping you get “PMP fit” explores the often avoided Project Cost Management knowledge area. To paraphrase a well-known company, just get at it. When you have read this article and completed your studying, you may well be asking yourself why you were so concerned about it…

Combining Soft Skills and Hard Tools for Better Software Estimates

by Carol Dekkers

One measure of project success hinges on the ability of the estimator to predict the right schedule and budget, since projects that go over budget or fall behind are deemed failures. This article looks at the factors behind the difficulty of getting good estimates and suggests a combination of psychology (soft skills) and science (robust estimation software) to increase project success rates.

Managing Contingency

by Rob Seiler Jerry B. Insall

Contingency covers costs that are reasonably expected to occur but are not specifically known on a given project. Keeping estimates of contingency up-to-date and relevant to the current environment and phase of the project in real time can be a challenge. Through the use of a project information database, application of a PMO reserve, and the use of iterative risk planning, the authors offer a solution to this problem.

Six Questions on the Path to Financially Justified Projects: Developing Cash Flow Models

by Bill Kay

Projects are financial and strategic investments that exist to deliver value. Cash flow modeling is an essential step to produce return on investment (ROI) financial measurements that support the project selection process. The author poses six key questions project managers should ask at the onset of the process to produce an accurate financial representation of the project and enable value creation.

The Use of Task Rates in Monitoring and Evaluating Projects

by Francisco J. Toro

The author presents an approach for using a rate to monitor projects, based on the re-evaluation of two key concepts, work total, and the rate per unit of work. By periodically recalculating and updating rate values, considering the comparison of the actual work vs. the planned work, the project manager may develop reliable databases for use in future evaluations and follow-up projects.

How to Keep a Project Under Budget

by Mike Tressler, MBA, PMP

Using a step-by-step approach to budgeting will make your life easier in the long run, allow you to accurately answer any questions about project expenditures, make much more accurate future cost estimates for similar projects and generally give you more control over the project. Here's some help.

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"I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."

- Voltaire

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