Project Management

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A blog that looks at all aspects of project and program finances from budgets, estimating and accounting to getting a pay rise and managing contracts. Written by Elizabeth Harrin from GirlsGuideToPM.com.

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3 Ways To Be More Strategic As a Project Manager

Introducing The Public Sector Advisory Community for Estimating

Setting Up Programme Budget Tracking

Quick Tips for the Testing Phase

Programme Management: Planning Your Finances

5 Reasons to Crash Your Schedule [Video]

Your sponsor has asked you to get the work done faster… who hasn’t been in that situation?! That’s one reason why you may want to crash your project schedule, but there are others. In the past, I’ve written about 7 reasons to crash the schedule, and in this video, I pick out my top 5 to discuss in more detail. I talk about schedule compression (obviously), when part of the project has the potential to put the overall project at risk, when you’ve got a fixed deadline, when the team is needed for other work and when there’s a general delay which affects your ability to hit your expected deadlines. Crashing can help in all of those situations, used sensibly. Engage professional judgement before you go for it!

What are your thoughts on crashing? Personally, I try not to do it too often because it’s a lot of effort and it doesn’t always give you the results you were expecting, but it is a useful skill in the toolbox for predictive project managers, so it’s worth knowing when you would consider to use the technique.

Posted on: February 01, 2022 04:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (3)

How to ask for more project managers [Video]

Categories: budget, resources

Do you work in a PMO and desperately need extra project managers? I’ve got some tips in this video that should help you make a pitch for the resources you need.

You’ll need to put together a proposal that explains what the person (or people) will do, when you need them, what they will be doing, and what kind of level you are anticipating recruiting at. It also helps if you can make the case for their work being directly linked to a faster delivery of business strategy – in other words, you can help the organisation meet its goals more effectively if you have the bodies on the ground to support the delivery.

There are more tips in the video.

Let me know in the comments: have you been successful in leading the charge to secure more PM resources for your delivery teams? I’d love to hear more tips about how to make the case and get the funding to grow the team!

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Posted on: October 05, 2021 09:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (3)

What to do when resource costs spiral [Video]

resource costs

When you have to pay for internal or external resources, the costs can soon mount up. It’s not difficult to find yourself with spiralling resource costs, even if they are just wooden dollars being moved between departments.

The most likely causes are poor estimating and too many change requests.

It’s often hard to drill down into the detail of where a resource is spending time, especially if you don’t have a timesheet application. If you don’t record time, then start doing that first! It will really help you improve your estimates over the longer term.

Short term, you need to sit down with your team and reforecast the whole project. If you then can’t afford to do all the work that you’ve planned out, you need a frank conversation with your project sponsor about what can be taken out of scope for this phase.

This video explains more.

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Posted on: March 02, 2021 01:55 PM | Permalink | Comments (6)

What’s New in Project Resource Management: Trends & Tailoring

Categories: resources

trends and tailoring

In this instalment of What’s New In the PMBOK Guide®-- Sixth Edition, we’ve made it to the end of Project Resource Management. The only thing remaining to cover is trends and tailoring.

Trends and tailoring is a relatively short section for each Knowledge Area, but it is helpful because it reminds you that the book is only a guide. You can make it relevant to the way you work, your organisational culture and the needs of your team by tailoring the way you implement the processes.

So what’s it all about for resource management?

Trends and Emerging Practices

The big shift in resource management – although I’d argue this is hardly new and has been with us here in the UK at least for some considerable time – is the move away from the command and control structure of old. Collaboration and supportive management is in. Telling people what to do is out.

Because of the culture of businesses I have worked in, I find it hard to accept that this is worthy of mention as a trend, but I can’t speak for how things are in the rest of the world. Plus, I do know that despite businesses saying they are all modern and collaborative, when it comes to delegating decision making they tend to be a little bit more reticent.

There are some particular emerging practices called out.

Methods

The main guidance in the PMBOK Guide®-- Sixth Edition is to look at what is in operation in your business and manage your project in line with that. If your company has adopted Kaizen, just in time manufacturing, or any other management buzzwords for productivity and managing throughput of work, then you’ll need to make your project management practices fit around those.

Emotional Intellignece

Given that Anthony Mersino’s book  on Emotional Intelligence for Project Managers came out in 2007 (and is now in its second edition), this again feels a little behind the curve. However, we are all a work in progress and it doesn’t hurt to remind ourselves that a team with good EI skills are more effective and benefit from a reduced staff turnover.

Self-organising teams

As more and more projects take on agile approaches, teams become self-organising. I like this way of working. I think that trusting people to get the job done is empowering and teams can be very effective this way.

However, as with all teams, I do think you need to keep an eye on how things are going to make sure that everyone is contributing and that the right things are being worked on.

Self-organising teams seem to work best when the work is generalist and the people are generalist i.e. they can serve multiple roles within the team to get the work done. You couldn’t have a self-organising surgical team, for example, but it can work with multi-skilled IT roles.

The personalities in the team are also important. You want people who can take feedback on board and flex to the ongoing needs of the team and the business. And they need to be able to provide feedback as well.

Virtual teams

Virtual, or distributed teams are also not really a trend in my opinion. I remember speaking about the rise of virtual teams at a conference over a decade ago. Personally I don’t think it’s relevant to include them as a ‘trend’ but they are definitely a cause for tailoring your project approach. You need diffferent tools and techniques to get work done in a virtual enviornment.

Communications technology becomes even more important, as does trust. You need to work harder to build a sense of team and shared goals, because working virtually can feel lonely. Plus you have the practical concerns of time zone differences, culture and language.

Tailoring

Take all of the above into account when thinking of how you are going to make your own personal project managemetn of the team work. The PMBOK Guide®-- Sixth Edition calls out several areas to consider:

  • What is the background of the team in terms of diversity?
  • Where are team members and physical resources located?
  • What industry-specific resources are required?
  • How are you going to get people to work on the team?
  • Are team members part time or full time for the project?
  • How are you going to develop the team and provide training, and how will the diverse needs of the team be met with regards to delivering training?
  • What life cycle approach will the project use?

These are all good questiions to be asking yourself about how to manage project resources.

Agile/Adaptive Environment Considerations

Finally, the section on ‘making project resource management work for you’ ends with considerations for teams working in an agile or adaptive environment.

The PMBOK Guide®-- Sixth Edition makes the point that if your project has high variability, you may be best served with a self-organising team of highly skilled and multi-skilled individuals who can work collaboratively. People who have worked in an agile environment for some time won’t see this as news, but it is a helpful reminder for businesses who are just starting out with adopting agile. If you don’t provide the environment for collaboration and productivity, you won’t get the benefits of being agile.

And there ends our tour of Project Resource Management in the PMBOK Guide®-- Sixth Edition!

Posted on: November 06, 2018 11:49 AM | Permalink | Comments (10)

What’s New in Project Resource Management (pt 6: Control Resources)

Categories: resources

In this instalment of What’s New In the PMBOK Guide®-- Sixth Edition, we’ve made it to the sixth and final process in Project Resource Management (see here for Plan Resource Management, Estimate Activity Resources, Acquire Resources, Develop Team and Manage Team).

This is a brand new process. The old section on Resource Management focused purely on managing human resources, so this new process is a response to the fact that the Knowledge Area is now far broader and includes other types of resources.

Control Resources Process

This is the sixth process in the Knowledge Area. We’re in the Monitoring and Controlling process group.

This process is all about ensuring that resources are assigned to the project effectively and that they are used appropriately. That includes looking at actual utilisation of resources against what was planned and taking action as necessary to course correct should that be required.

Inputs

This is a new process, so all the inputs are new! And yet not new. They are things we have seen time and time again across all the other processes. Here we go:

Project management plan: This will include the resource management plan, which is your baseline statement of what resources will be required.

Project documents: this could include the issue log, lessons learned register, schedule, resource assignments (however you record them, in your software, for example), resource breakdown structure and resource requirements and risk register. All of these help you understand the reality of what is going on so you can take appropriate action.

Work performance data: for checking what has gone on. This could include timesheets, for example.

Agreements: this vague term means things like agreements for resources made with line managers of the people involved, agreements around overtime worked or extra hours needed.

Organisational process assets: these turn up all over the place. In this process, the OPAs could be policies around resource assignments and task allocation, the process for escalating issues when work doesn’t go as planned and lessons learned.

Tools and Techniques

As this is a new process, there is nothing to compare to.

Data analysis is in there as a technique. This broad term includes different ways of reviewing what the resource information and working out what might be needed. For example, performance reviews and cost benefit analysis.

Problem solving is another tool. This isn’t rocket science. If resourcing on your project isn’t going well you need to solve the problem.

You might need to do some negotiating and influencing to secure resources or work with your colleagues to resolve resource issues. Interpersonal and team skills are core to being able to monitor and resolve problems.

Finally, your project management information system is a tool to help. If you use your project management tools for timesheets or resource allocation, then you can see how this would be useful. You might be able to get resource allocation reports out of your software. Reports like utilisation, over/under resourcing could be very useful.

Outputs

Again, nothing to compare to as this is a new process. But it all makes sense. I’m not actually sure why this process is new. It feels like it should have been around for a long time.

There are four outputs:

  • Work performance information: information on how work is going so you can look back on what was planned.
  • Change requests: like many processes, once you’ve done it you might end up with a change request. That could be for a task to be allocated to another resource, to change the timescale of a task due to resource constraints or something similar.
  • Your project management plan: because you might need to make changes to the resource management plan, and baselines for cost and schedule.
  • Project document updates: this catch-all covers basically everything else. Whatever you need to update as a result of your monitoring and controlling activity, you can. For some clues around where to look, common documents that might need updating include the resource breakdown structure, resource assignments, risk and issue log and your assumptions log so you can track any new assumptions that you have had to make as a result of tweaking the work.

And that is the end of the Project Resource Management Knowledge Area!

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Posted on: October 17, 2018 08:59 AM | Permalink | Comments (9)
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