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Auto Focus: Tips for Honing Your Attention

by Kenneth Darter, PMP

In this world of constant communication, being able to focus on one thing is sometimes a luxury--but a luxury that is sorely needed. Whether you are a detail-orientated expert or someone who is easily distracted, it is important to keep the following points in mind while managing projects.

Saving a Slipping Schedule

by Kenneth Darter, PMP

When a schedule starts to slip, the project manager should be ready to jump in and get things back on track. Here are some strategies the PM can use that do not involve forcing everyone to work 80-hour work weeks.

Topic Teasers Vol. 25: Wooing Functional Managers

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

Question: My team is made up of people who work for several different functional departments. When not working on my project work, they also produce for other project teams. How can I estimate how long my project will take when I never know if people are available when I need them?
A. Add a +15% pad to the project estimate, then meet with functional managers to set up an on-demand workflow system.
B. Ask each potential team member to vow to put aside what is on their desk if your project work needs to be done.
C. Ask Human Resources to institute a 10% bonus for the workers if your project meets the original project estimate deadline.
D. Demand a dedicated team from upper management, as this is the only efficient way to do a project.
Pick your answer then Test Your Knowledge!

Don't Forget the Schedule Process!

by Kenneth Darter, PMP

Having a schedule process is sometimes more important than having a schedule. A schedule without a process to keep it up will turn into just a wistful dream about how one person thinks the project should go. Here are some points to ponder.

Slowing Down to Go Faster

by George Dinwiddie

It's hard to know if we're producing systems as fast as we could produce them. We can, after the fact, always identify ways in which we "wasted" time without contributing to our desired outcomes. But why can't we identify which will be waste before the fact? Because we want to go as fast as possible!

What to Do When Milestones Don’t Easily Get to 'Done'

by Ken Whitaker

One of the most complex issues in project management to handle is when a team struggles at getting to “done” at key milestones. This article presents the problem along with suggestions on how to combat it.

The Four Keys to Task Organization

by Kenneth Darter, PMP

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.

Why Planning Can Be Bad

by Mike Griffiths

Why would you not always do as much planning as possible before starting a project? Could it actually be harmful? It all depends on the quality of that input data--when the input data is good, we can reliably plan; when the input data is bad, then we need to get better data and keep evolving the plans.

Insourcing vs. Outsourcing

by Kenneth Darter, PMP

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?

The Highs and Lows of Contract Project Management

by Andy Jordan

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.

Project Plan Reality Check

PREMIUM presentation

Before you submit your project plan for final approval, you'd better check it over. Learn the steps for cross-checking a project plan.

WBS Planning Worksheet

PREMIUM deliverable

There is a lot riding on your project's work breakdown structure. Use this worksheet to help you plan the WBS smarter and better.

List of Common Schedule Risks

deliverable

This list and overview of common schedule risks will help you maintain vigilance against pitfalls that can interrupt, stop or ruin your software development project.

Effort-Based Project Forecasting Workbook

deliverable

The attached workbook is useful for these many projects out there where no costing data can be used--or is not available--so the classic Earned Value Technique cannot be applied. It provides not only a progress tracking mechanism but also effort based project forecasting based on the above consideration.

Agile Estimation: Key Principles and Practices for Successful Agile Projects (slides)

presentation

This webinar provides an overview of key principles and practices for effective Agile project estimating and planning that have helped many Construx customers greatly increase the accuracy of their project forecasts, enabling them to make better go/no-go decisions, increase the predictability of their projects, and deliver their projects successfully... on time, within budget constraints, and with the desired functionality.

Project HEADWAY: Scheduling: What Comes First?

PREMIUM presentation

Alot of project management is wrapped up in the idea of scheduling. Many project management software packages put the management of schedule front and centre; for some, it's all they really actually provide support for managing. Project management courses emphasize the ideas of managing the critical path, building Gantt charts and analyzing PERT networks. Much stress is created about project schedules, milestones, dependencies and deadlines.

Using Special Situation Estimating Techniques

PREMIUM presentation

If you don’t have any good metrics on which to base your estimates, what do you do? Reading tea leaves or dissecting the entrails of dead chickens won't cut it. This presentation will explain sound estimating techniques that really work.

Project Schedule Quality Control

PREMIUM deliverable

Use this quality control checklist to identify all the ingredients of a healthy, flexible and dependable project schedule.

Project HEADWAY: Effectively Estimating Effort

PREMIUM presentation

Your sponsor comes to you and asks how long your project will take and how many people you will need. You quickly grab your papers and your calculator, pull your basic numbers together, add some on-the-fly padding and voila!, your project schedule is built. This Project HEADWAY webinar will examine the different types of estimating, the key factors to consider when developing effort estimates, and some different tools & techniques you can use to ensure your estimates are more than pure fantasy.
This file requires the WebEx Player. It is 4.8Mb.

Project Schedule Risk Assessment

PREMIUM deliverable

How risky is your project schedule? This assessment template will help you catch scheduling risks and address them before they become problems.

PERT Effort Estimating Chart

deliverable

This sample template performs a PERT based estimation for a project when you provide quality estimates. The tool performs all the required calculations (including graphical display of the destribution and probability functions).

Developing a Schedule

PREMIUM presentation

If developing a schedule were easy, no project manager would ever have a problem with it. This presentation serves as a guide to the key points that must be mastered to develop realistic project schedules.

How to Estimate Effort and Duration

PREMIUM presentation

No one can predict the future, but you as project manager will be asked to estimate the duration of tasks. You can get yourself a crystal ball, read tea leaves, or download this presentation for some real help.

Calculating Earned Value

deliverable

Earned value is a project technique you can use to monitor, track and report on the performance of any project. This document is a cheat-sheet of formulas you can use to confidently calculate earned value.

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"Only two things are infinite, the Universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former."

- Albert Einstein

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