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Gaining Momentum

by Kenneth Darter, PMP

At some point, a project will gain its own momentum. That motion can hurt or benefit the project depending upon how it’s directed and focused. How can you stay ahead of it?

Topic Teasers Vol. 74: Rescuing Failing Projects

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

Question: A major strategic project in my company has failed! The current project manager has been reassigned and I have been asked to take over. The spotlight will be focused on me and my team, and while we have the chance to be heroes, we can also end up tarnishing our own reputations. Any innovative ways to pick up a messy assignment mid-stream and up our chances of beating the odds for success?
A. Start by meeting with the previous project manager to ascertain which people, vendors, stakeholders and unavoidable events led to the failure. As you plan your own Work Breakdown Structure, restaff with new, more competent employees and other surrounding people.
B. Start by calculating how much you have left in the budget and on the timeline and make sure the plans you create will not further stretch the company financially. This is the most important factor in having your outcomes ultimately checked in the “success” column.
C. Often, teams picking up previously failed projects start with what went wrong, who is to blame and how to avoid making the same mistakes. Find a more innovative approach if you want to have the outcome be positive this time.
D. A savvy first step that will jell your worth in the mind of management is to question whether or not this project should be completed at all. If you can convince them that it is an impossible quest, too expensive or beyond the scope of what your internal team can undertake, they may cancel it completely, leaving you without the risk of failure.
Pick your answer then Test Your Knowledge!

Finding the Right Tools

by Kenneth Darter, PMP

What tools do you need to manage a project, and how do you find them? You cannot plan for every eventuality, but by covering the bases, you can deal with most problems and expand your tool set along the way.

A Theoretical Approach to Traditional Project Metrics-Bridging the Gap Between Earned Value and Critical Path Project Management

by M.W. Settlemire, PMP

Since work completed from tasks not on the critical path does not affect the completion date of a project, it is important to differentiate tasks that are “critical” from those that are not in order to better monitor and control them. The project performance metric, critical path task index (CPTI), offers a more holistic view in terms of schedule performance for tasks directly related to schedule completion.

Project Status: Reporting the Truth

by Kenneth Darter, PMP

There are some project managers who will set high expectations or low expectations strategically depending upon their stakeholders. In reporting project status, as in all things, the truth will serve you best.

The Functions of a Manager

by Sreekumar Menon

What are the functions of a manager? What is his or her job? Here we look at the management processes one by one, and try to find out how the manager does the job--and what the job really is.

Three Strategies to Mitigate Project Team Attrition Risk

by Jhonasttan Regalado

What happens when a project manager faces team attrition? This article covers three strategies that can be applied during project planning, executing and controlling within the project human resources management and project risk management knowledge areas.

Effective Use of Kanban for Monitoring and Controlling Low-Complexity Projects in a High-Volume Project Environment

by M.W. Settlemire, PMP

Kanban is an effective tool for monitoring and controlling high-volume/low-complexity projects when the goal is to increase throughput, limit work in process (WIP), and measure flow in project environments. Implementation of this approach has the ability to reduce the project management team’s level of effort while optimizing resource utilization.

Divide and Direct

by Ronald B. Smith

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.

Standard Business Case

PREMIUM deliverable
by Michael Wood

Document a business case to persuade upper management to fund your project. Keep it short and succinct enough that the busy executive management audience will read and digest it. It should directly convey the information they need to know with salient, hard-hitting, supporting evidence that addresses the bottom line. This is a basic instructional framework of the information you should include in your business case. Enhance it as you wish!

Project Concept

PREMIUM deliverable

Finding sponsors to back your project is an art. Make a compelling case for the project to gain sponsor support when you are pitching your business case to executive management. Here is an example of a brief, direct project concept designed to lure sponsors into your camp.

Risk Assessment Summary Checklist

PREMIUM checklist

This checklist is a quick and dirty way of weighing risk factors against project criteria to discover level of risk.

Business Case Planning Checklist

PREMIUM checklist

Formulating a business case and proposing your project to senior management for buy-in can be tricky. Don't dive right in and start writing. Begin with a solid checklist of guidelines to ensure a business case that's more than buzzword hype.

Business Case

PREMIUM deliverable

Mission-critical projects need to be well-justified, with clear goals that can be referenced throughout the life of the project. This business case template offers an excellent approach to goal-setting and a way to communicate those goals effectively.

Methodology Implementation Project Charter

deliverable

This is a high-level example of a Project Charter for implementing a methodology, but the structure and approach will work for many projects. This example is heavy on risks and assumptions, light on budgeting, role descriptions and conflict resolution.

ROI Calculator

deliverable

The attached tool has been developed to assist you in generating some solid payback data to be used to evaluate the return potential of your proposed method. Not only will it help the gods of finance see the light, but will also help you to understand whether your project is a winner or loser before you ever put your signature on the purchase requisition.

Tips for a Successful Business Case

deliverable
by Joe Wynne

This excellent project justification guide will provide sophisticated advice to maximize the impact of your business case, making it accurate, complete and persuasive. In addition, learn some handy tips, techniques and strategies to complement existing procedures, templates and spreadsheets that you already use.

Presenting Your Business Case to Management

PREMIUM presentation
by Michael Wood

Presenting a winning business case with the right amount of the right information for the right audience is the key to getting approval and funding for your project! Here is a presentation that will give you the fine points on how to do just that.

Risk Analysis and Contingency Plan Guidelines

deliverable

No project was ever completed on time and within budget. Identifying risks associated with a project and mitigating them is a crucial activity of project planning. Managers need to not only analyze project risks, but also must develop contingency plans to address those risks.

Project Sponsor Checklist

checklist

The project sponsor checklist describes ways for the project sponsor to provide commitment and project support in an effective, visible manner.

Application Development Risk Assessment Checklist

PREMIUM checklist

Building an application? This checklist outlines 52 potential risk areas in application development, defining low, medium and high risk levels for each. Classifying your project risk in each of these areas will not only guide you in forming mitigation strategies, but really help you focus your management attention during the course of the project.

Quick Project Risk Assessment Questionnaire

PREMIUM checklist

What's the first step in looking at the risks you face in delivering your project? Before performing a full-blow assessment, you may want to ask yourself a few simple questions. This 10 minute, 27 question worksheet will help you quickly identify a number of risk factors common to many projects. It's a great first step in looking at the risks you may be facing at a macro level.

Strategy-Focused Project Charter

deliverable

This template outlines a classic Project Charter with a focus on project definition and strategic ties. Risks and stakeholder needs are covered, but not in granular detail. It is appropriate for fairly low-risk projects where the goal is to get everyone on the same page up front.

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"I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work."

- Thomas Edison