There is no silver bullet that will allow us to remove all uncertainty, but we can apply some business intelligence practices to the concept of annual planning to at least increase our confidence levels and reduce the risks around the decisions that we make.
A lot can happen during planning and requirements. The business may be discovering what it wants for the first time, or stakeholders may see what the solution demands. Those are just a few of the creatures lurking in the dark...
One of the most important things to have is self-awareness--we have to recognize when it is us as project managers that are causing the problems, and when our team members are telling their colleagues about horror stories where we are the bad guys. Here are three swivel-eyed demons to watch out for...
As our series concludes, we continue to examine Moneyball--and how enlightening it is with its instructive lessons about the effective use of metrics, ones that go beyond the narrow world of baseball and provide some insights into how those lessons might be applied to projects generally.
The PMO needs to ensure that the information contained in that database of historical information is organized in a way that not just the data can be retrieved, but also that the context of that data can be understood. If we don’t, then not only may the information not help PMs, it could lead them to significant errors in their planning.
If we don’t conduct the proper analysis but rather make assumptions about what is causing a problem, then we jump to our perceived solution--and more often than not we end up wasting time, money and effort on implementing the wrong solution. This article supports the presentation for Cause and Effect Analysis and provides a more detailed explanation of how the tool should be used.
Everyone loves a good project management horror story--especially ones where the writing was on the wall and failure so very predictable. With the season in mind, here are one expert's all-time favorites. Can we learn from these blunders?
Question: Amazingly, my team and I have come up with the idea for a very clever, innovative product and have secured time with the board to present it for potential production by our employer. We would get a cut of the profits. What do I need to consider in order to present the most professional case for getting this produced?
|A.||Why take a percentage of the profits when you could have it all? Find an entrepreneur to back you, quit and make a fortune.|
|B.||Check with other organizations with similar production facilities to see what costs will be and where it is best to buy raw materials; then you have a realistic selling price to present.|
|C.||Use social media to begin to build demand for this item. If you can show the board a high number of Twitter, Facebook and YouTube hits, they will be convinced to support you.|
|D.||Think beyond the product itself to other considerations from the corporation’s point of view. Bring in information on more than your design, and show you would be valuable business partners.|
When things go crazy, how do you ensure that process doesn’t suffer? PMOs will benefit from having a “process-lite” concept that could be used in emergencies--and more importantly, a framework for determining when the approach could be used.
Given the fast-paced environment within which most project managers operate, it is only natural that the closeout phase of the project lifecycle is often addressed in a rush. A closeout survey using one of the many tools available today is one approach to consider.
Many PMs collect lessons learned after a project is complete or after a phase is over. But what is the best way to apply those lessons learned to future projects or phases?
Question: Projects come to my team with time, scope and cost set. We are expected to add high quality on our own. No matter how skilled we are, we always fail to meet these arbitrary metrics. I’m getting burned out always coming up short, and the team has very low morale. Short of finding a new company, is there action I can take to change this scenario?
|A.||Management teams see and know more than project managers. You are paid to work with the parameters you are given, so do the best you can.|
|B.||Work with your team to do a slowdown. This will force management to listen to your concerns and change things to give the projects a better outcome.|
|C.||Figure out a set of things that would help get projects started more realistically and list them in order of desirability. If you try the first one and it doesn’t work, try the next one.|
|D.||Organizations that work in this manner are led by people who don’t understand projects. You are better off to find a job in another corporate setting where they assign projects in a way that you can always be successful.|
There are times when a customer or a stakeholder demands that you change your process or method of managing something on the project. How can you cope with their demands without getting swept overboard? Keep these four things in mind.
If you don’t have a Plan B, you don’t have a plan. Let’s walk through the four easy steps to building a risk management plan. Each step is based on straightforward questions--which add a level of clarity that is sometimes missing.
If you think your projects will go exactly according to plan, you're naive. The Risk Management knowledge area is, in this writer's informed opinion, the most useful and practical knowledge area in the entire PMBOK. Be sure to know it well before taking your exam.
There are hundreds of different methods to organize your never-ending project management “to do” list--and they are not all created equal. Whether the list is a page long or hundreds of rows in a project schedule, you need to have a good and efficient way of organizing your tasks.
Question: I have been fairly successful with past projects, but the one I’m leading now deserves to die. I don’t think it’s just that I’m discouraged with my team’s performance; it doesn’t seem to me like there is much to be gained by the work we are doing. What do I do now?
|A.||While you probably do not have the authority to decide whether or not the project continues, you have a responsibility to convey your thoughts to management.|
|B.||Keep cashing the checks. Although this may not be your most successful project, in this economy as long as you and your team are employed--just keep working away.|
|C.||Since project managers can’t see the overall strategic plan for the organization, they are in a poor position to know whether or not this project has a place. It may have been constructed as a tax write-off and will save more money on taxes than a traditional project would earn.|
|D.||Tell your manager that you and your team would like to be reassigned, that you have met, and all agree that there is no value to the organization in completing it.|
Sometimes it's a knock-down, drag-out brawl between proponents of insourcing and outsourcing. When the final bell rings, who will still be standing?
Done well, contract-based project management can deliver the kind of results that simply wouldn’t be possible using only employee resources; done poorly, it can be a disaster.
Is "consultant" a dirty word? Many consultants get a bad name from the fact that they become indistinguishable from the organizational employees that they work alongside. How do you know that hiring a consultant is a good idea?
Some studies have indicated that the real benefits of offshore outsourcing can be diminished by issues in communication, skill sets and accountability. But if managed properly, offshore IT projects can reap substantial rewards.
What each vendor and client might think is black and white about their project can actually be gray. Just recognizing and accepting this is a conundrum--and resolving it requires aligning perspectives for the good of the project. Do you have the flexibility to change, collaborate and communicate?
Sometimes the project manager needs a report to glance at quickly to see the status of the project. Are you seeing the right information on your dashboard?