The intent of this Blog is to expand, instill innovation, inform and develop the Project Management communities, get people involved, and hopefully learn something from each other. Regarding Topics, as this cover Project Management of all industries and sectors then it can have a wide net but make sure it is relevant to the Blog title/subject do not go off piste. This blog does not endorse Companies or Products but if they are relevant to the discussion then ensure the information is qualified. This blog does not include discussions on general program management, however if there is a discussion surrounding; for example: the compilation of projects to form a program then please elaborate here.

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Risk, Issues and management of them

May 06, 2010 04:03 AM

Project Meetings - Benefit or Just a Risk

Risk, Issues and management of them

Categories: Risk

There are many off the shelf and web based tools available for managing and tracking risks and Issues but do you really need them?

I find the web based tools can provide a better/easier corporate reporting mechanism, and they have improved significantly with their functionality for project planning and management; but where your companies priority is to ensure the Risks, Issues are tracked and managed what is wrong with Excel/Calc tools to achieve this.

My answer nothing. I have created a Risk, Assumption, Issue and Dependancy (RAID) log for open use and it is available at my Linkedin profile

I have been in too many businesses where they either are not in the position, mature enought in PM methodology or have the capital to licence such systems.

It is for these reasons why excel/calc tools seem to still dominate in a lot of the busineses I have worked in and with.

I have created and had sign off in previous positions for moving to web based and/or server based project management systems, only for the market / business financials to change and remain on worksheet systems.

I have been in one business that moved to server based tools with web portal functionality and such excel tools remained with people extrating and managing information off line to ensure not every little detail was published for all to see. This is obvously company politics dependant (e.g. two global entities working actually against each other).

Please let me know if you can help me improve this tool in anyway.


Posted on: May 06, 2010 04:06 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

May 6, 2010

Posted on: May 06, 2010 04:03 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Project Meetings - Benefit or Just a Risk

Categories: Project Meetings, Risk

Aim:- The aim of this post is to gather peoples thoughts on project meetings and their benefit or are they jus a headache and an unmanagable risk to your project?

Blog Info:- I am the first to realise the importance of meetings for a project.  They enable us to structure and focus discussions when needed, they enable you to gain formal approval and record the decision as agreed by the attending parties and they provide a very beneficial record for the project decision process.

However I have also seen over many years the impact meetings have on a project, the meeting is delayed or cancelled entirely, key personnel are not available for the meeting that were required to enable a decision to be made or everyone attends but nobody is willing to commit to an answer and all you get are a list of actions that never get completed.

Meetings become their own risk to the project and there have been many attempts by PM's to manage this risk and here are just a few risks, issues and mitigation attempts I have done, seen and heard of:-

1) Include in the MS Project plan.
2) Add contingency time-scale to the project for meetings not occurring.
3) Schedule follow up meetings with no real scope knowing it will be needed to chase actions etc.
4) Make decisions on behalf of those that did not attend.
5) Try to envisage and subsequently plan all meetings at the start/very early in the project so only those missed become a risk for planning them in. 
6) Contingency added to account for planning meetings get’s removed by the project board as “it can not take that much time to hold a 1 hour meeting, make it so” 
7) Additional unexpected approval or pre-approval meetings blow your cost budget – This can normally be hidden in the cost work up if you need to but beware of people challenging your figures.  
8) Your company or you are dependant on one SME who is very over allocated but there is nothing being  done to address it, therefore you end up fighting for his/her time for critical decision meetings, thus impacting your project.

So what are the best ways to manage the scheduling and achievement of meetings so they do not become critical to your project?

Here are a few lessons I have learned the hard way:-

a) Do not include them in MS Project especially if it is a weekly review meeting, unless it is a key decision point meeting (e.g. can not be approved etc by e-mail/paper).  This is a balancing act, when is a meeting not a key meeting and if not held would it fall onto the critical path if so consider including. 
b) Gain agreement from the project sponsor / finance stakeholder as to the amount of meeting budget and contingency to include. (Always refer to similar previous project if you can!)  
c) If you need a decision making and a Senior person is not available, gain general consensus from all other attendees and then sit down 1-to-1 with the individual and gain the agreement that way. Harder in practice than the words read I know).
d) Brainstorm the phases, activities and the Meetings that may be required and develop a Meeting Matrix (See Attached), this reduces the ability for senior managers to remove budget/contingency without seeing an impact.  You would have done this in project before but now the matrix can be more flexible without changing your project plan every 2 hours, Mitigates 6 above. 
e) If your company really uses Risk management then detail your critical meetings as risks, but do not over-egg the impact be clear and explain in the contingency/mitigation plan that if not re-scheduled/done by x date the impact is thus accepted.  Biggest issue I have continually seen over the years is corporate/senior buy in to the Risk management.  Far too often I see lets include risks but then no senior person reviews or cares about them on a weekly/monthly basis.

In short Meetings are both a huge benefit and risk to a project and that is just another challenge for the PM’s toolbox is this your View??

Posted on: August 20, 2009 07:28 AM | Permalink | Comments (6)

"I would never die for my beliefs, cause I might be wrong."

- Bertrand Russell