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Lessons from a Successful Nuclear Project

by Bruce Harpham

Nuclear technology and project management have a long standing relationship. The River Corridor Closure Project was a finalist for the PMI Project of the Year award in 2015. As a large-scale project that dealt with significant hazards and large budgets successfully, there is much to learn from this project.

Project Communications: Easily Difficult, Difficultly Easy

by Bruce Garrod

How can something that is fundamentally quite simple be so difficult to understand? How can a skill that is the foundation of project management, and in fact all business, become so difficult so quickly? And why do we often make it so challenging to do something so easy?

The Importance of Department Ground Rules

by Erick Pino

Organizational values, project boundaries and performance expectations are all important areas that exist within every organization with varying degrees of thought and implementation behind them. Here we look at how organizational rules and norms are presented and communicated to employees and project team members, and how they can be interpreted.

The Importance of Project Preparation

by Kenneth Darter, PMP

No matter how much money or people are thrown at a project, it will not be successful without the proper amount of preparation. There is much that can be accomplished prior to the work beginning, and throughout the project there are key activities that must be done in order to support the project correctly.

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

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

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!

Successful Project Management: All the Little Things

by Fernando Smye

A solid business case, a well-thought-out plan and fit-for-purpose business requirements are important. But what about "all the little things" that we do each and every day, things that--when added together--help create the recipe for successful projects and programs?

Managing Through the Doldrums

by Andy Jordan

Every project has those slow periods, the times when nothing seems to be happening. Should we just accept that certain times of the year are just quieter and less productive? No! Those are the times project management can really make a difference.

Making the Right Choice

by Kenneth Darter, PMP

Making the right choice is not always easy, and it is not always as straightforward as it should be. How can project managers rest soundly knowing that he or she made the right choices--or, at the very least, the best possible choices that were available?

Estimating Resources

by Kenneth Darter, PMP

If you cannot make a plan to have the right people at the right time, then your project will not succeed. But how do you arrive at that plan with the number of resources? And how do you ensure that the number of people is right, and the start and finish dates are correct? It all starts with estimating.

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.

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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Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there.

- Will Rogers

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