Project Management

The Critical Path

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Welcome to The Critical Path--the home for community happenings and events on ProjectManagement.com! This is where you'll find community news, updates, upcoming events, featured member posts and more. We'll also be showcasing hot topics in the project management arena and bringing you interviews with industry experts. The Critical Path is our primary way of getting news out to members, so be sure to check back for updates!

About this Blog

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View Posts By:

Marjorie Anderson
Kimberly Whitby
Laura Schofield

Past Contributers:

Carrie Dunn
Danielle Ritter
Kenneth A. Asbury
Craig Dalrymple
Rebecca Braglio
Kristin Jones

Recent Posts

Changes Coming to the Online Community!

Apply Now for a PMI Sponsored Research Grant

Project Teams—The Whole is Greater than the Parts

4 Ways to Earn PDUs—and Reach Your 2020 Career Goals

Uncertainty. Really?

February Community News You Can Use

























 

 


We have surpassed the first month of the New Year and spring is right around the corner in North America! As the days continue elongating, so do the number of initiatives and activities within the community continue to flourish. By the way, did you know 2020 is a Leap Year? Yes, you have an extra day to engage with your fellow PM colleagues, so get excited! Whether fully engaged in projects or cramming to meet deadlines, we hope you can take a moment to read about new and exciting activities taking place here on ProjectManagement.com.

Have you registered for the 13th annual PMXPO Virtual Conference scheduled on 26 March 2020? If not, I urge you to take a sneak peek of our Keynote Speaker, Cara Brookins, a bestselling author who rebuilt her broken family by building her own house watching “how-to” videos on YouTube. The subject of an upcoming movie, Cara shares her inspiring story filled with determination, passion and grit. Cara shares tactics to blend an imperfect mix of personalities, talents and temperaments into cohesive, unstoppable teams. CLICK HERE to register!

Our next “Discover PMI - Ask Us Anything!” webinar, is scheduled for Thursday, 27 February 2020 at 9:00AM EST. As previously posted, the format, which is executed through non-PDU bearing webinars, is meant to encourage conversation with various PMI departments. Simply put, members having a one hour Q&A session with a particular PMI department. We're thrilled to have guest speaker, Lysan Drabon, along with her fellow colleagues, discover the value of PMIs 300+ chapters across the globe and learn how you can benefit from engaging with the one close to you. Face to face exchange with your PPPM peers - close by - in your language - relevant to your career, your industry and your market. All community members are welcome to register!

EMEA Congress 2020 in Prague, Czechia will be here before you know it! Register by 25 March 2020 to take advantage of Early Bird savings! Bringing together hundreds of project, programme and portfolio managers from around the world, EMEA Congress attracts professionals from leading organisations in a wide range of industries and sectors and 70+ countries. With a blend of traditional and non-traditional sessions, this year’s event will also suit professionals who put a high value on networking and being inspired to act. By joining us, you’ll empower yourself and your organisation with the knowledge, skills and connections to stay competitive in an ever-changing world.

As always, YOU are driving force within the Community, and we cannot thank you enough!  Continue posting your intriguing subject matters or questions in our various Discussion Forums. We want to hear about them all, and help you get to where you're going today and tomorrow. Your feedback and ideas are most welcome!

Posted by Kimberly Whitby on: February 06, 2020 06:51 PM | Permalink | Comments (5)

Measuring is Important for Project Work, but Beware of the Traps

Categories: standards

by Laurent Thomas, PMBOK® Guide-Seventh Edition Development Team member

As project leaders we have to understand where we are and, with the help of the stakeholders, take decisions to keep project work on track. Measures, most often numbers, are the usual way to identify and communicate the current state of the project, and upon which to base discussions and decisions. Unfortunately, numbers can be deceptive. Pitfalls in selecting the informative measures, errors in analyzing them, misinterpretation when communicating them can lead to less than optimal decisions. 

Cognitive biases, misapplication of statistics, cheating (gaming the numbers), or simply plain ignorance are all impediments to the benefits of using measures. Finding the relevant metrics, the right way to measure, to analyze, to understand and interpret their variance, and finally communicate metrics require a set of skills that every project team must possess.  

There must be agreement between the project team and organizational leaders or governance associated with the metrics and their associated measures. But it is also important to consider who will use specific measures. Consider velocity. This metric is an internal team measure to help the team consider ways to improve its performance.  But this measure is not intended for sharing with external stakeholders.   

Measurement, whether collecting, analyzing or communicating metrics, is considered an acquired skill. Every project team member and stakeholder is supposed to know how to deal with numbers. But one thing to consider is that a measure may not be necessarily a number. For instance, using letters rather than numbers to select an answer in a customer satisfaction survey would indicate more clearly that average is a meaningless representation of the centrality of the responses. 

As project leaders, one of our (numerous) responsibilities is to correctly assess the situation based on free-from-bias observations and interpretations, present it in a non-equivocal manner, and help the team take the right decision based on a rational analysis. Not a simple feat.  All hope is not lost, however. To reach a reliable understanding of the status of the project or facilitate decision making, project team members and project leaders alike must improve their ability to grasp the consequences of our human cognitive biases and limited statistical skills.  We must acquire the knowledge and capabilities that will help us navigate the complexity of number crunching. For instance, mastering the difference between causation and correlation is not out of reach, nor is identifying a Simpson paradox occurrence in a set of project data. Making sense of p-value will certainly help projects in forecasting the expected level of the quality of the next release. 

Measurement is necessary for every project, and measurement done right is useful and informative. However, we should not forget that measures are not the ultimate aim of a project; but a means to reach a much more important goal: delivering business value.  

Correctly interpreting measures is thus an essential skill for understanding elements of project work and has direct bearing on the ultimate outcome of the project. This skill must and can be learnt.  It is critical to know what to measure, when to measure, and how to interpret and present the measure without falling prey to the cognitive biases that lead to distortion or illogical interpretation. 

Therefore, I believe measurement should be considered as one of the Performance Domains for project success for any project. And I strongly urge my fellow project leaders to master basic statistics and be aware of our human brain deviation from rationality. By doing so we will rely upon sound project status to help our projects achieve their targets and generate their expected business value. 

Posted by Laura Schofield on: January 31, 2020 10:48 AM | Permalink | Comments (7)

Introducing the Ask the Expert Webinar Series!

The Ask the Expert Webinar Series is an extension of the Ask the Expert Program offered at PMI® Global Conference. Each year, experts from the ProjectManagement.com community offer one-on-one sessions to conference attendees, acting as mentors, coaches, and sounding boards for Project Managers at varying stages of their careers and across industries. Gain access to these leading project management and industry experts through the Ask the Expert Webinar Series – ask your most pressing Project Management questions, seek career advice, and gain insights into industry trends. Please join the webinar prepared to pose questions to the experts!

This quarter, the Ask the Expert Webinar Series will focus on the Healthcare industry with the first webinar launching on 16 March 2020. Our Experts are: Lori Wilson and David Davis. Register here!   

Lori Wilson, PMP and ITIL certified, is currently a Project Manager for LifePoint Health managing hospital IT projects for their national hospitals.  Having worked in Healthcare for over 30 years, she currently works on quality, productivity and financial software implementations in 18 North American hospitals. Additionally, Lori shares a monthly blog on projectmanagement.com, has been a guest speaker at previous INW PMI Chapter meetings and a presenter at PMO Symposium 2019.  She recently co-authored an article and presented a webinar on the topic of workplace bullying.

Ask Lori Wilson about: healthcare, leadership, talent management, career development, IT project management

Dave Davis, PMP, PgMP, PMI-PBA, PMI-ACP, Certified Disciplined Agilist, is a Senior Program Manager for Ohio Healthcare, transforming the ITPMO to an IT Strategic Partner. He is managing Merger & Acquisition projects with a heavy emphasis on both network technology migration and Organizational Change Management. Outside of “standard work”, he is chairman of the Judy Hug Christmas Event and an active member of other service organizations including: Mobile Meals, ALS Walk, S.A.V.E., and Nightingale's Harvest.

Ask Dave Davis about: ACP certification, strategic program management, PMO transformation, benefits realization, business analysis

 

Posted by Laura Schofield on: January 30, 2020 10:47 AM | Permalink | Comments (14)

January Community News You Can Use

Categories: community

2020 is here, and at PMI, we have hit the ground running! It’s certainly an exciting time in the world of project management – learn more about the Project Economy or explore one of PMI’s featured topics, such as Agile. Throughout the year, PMI’s online community offers a great way to stay up-to-date on the latest project management trends, get your most pressing questions answered, and network with your peers. Here’s a summary of what’s currently happening around the community in your January Community News You Can Use:

PMXPO 2020: Attend ProjectManagement.com's first virtual event of 2020...and the new decade! Whether you’re a seasoned PM or new to the field, PMXPO provides an excellent opportunity to learn, network, earn PDUs, and broaden your perspective on project management. Learn more, and register here!

New Discussion Forum: Certification Central is now available under Discussions! Are you actively pursuing a PMP, PMI-ACP, CAPM or any other PMI certification? If so, here's where you can ask questions about achieving your development goals! Alternately, if you already have earned one or more PMI certifications, why not help fellow practitioners who are in the process of attaining theirs?

Community Ambassadors Program: The Community Ambassadors Program was recently announced on ProjectManagement.com. The first group of Ambassadors, Emily Luijbregts and Andrew Craig, started in the newly created Ambassadors role in January. They are happy to help – so please reach out to them with any community and project management questions! To learn more about the program and get to know the Ambassadors, go here!  

2020 PMI Academic Awards: The annual PMI Academic Awards recognize and honor outstanding members of the profession who contribute in exemplary ways to research, teaching, and literature in project management and related professions. You can nominate your colleagues now for the 2020 Awards! Learn more here!

Standards Exposure Draft: Review and provide feedback to the exposure draft of The Standard for Project Management. The exposure draft will be available for public review and comment online from 8 a.m. EST, 15 January 2020 to 5 p.m. EST, 14 February 2020. Anyone interested in project management is welcome to participate here.

How to Prevent and Stop Workplace Bullying: Join Lori Wilson, as she discusses workplace bullying and its ramifications for individuals and organizations. Explore practical tips and suggestions for preventing and stopping workplace bully in Lori’s webinar on-demand.  

If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to a member of the Community Engagement team – we’re happy to help you. As always, stay tuned to the Critical Path for your community news!

Posted by Laura Schofield on: January 27, 2020 01:45 PM | Permalink | Comments (7)

Planning is Thinking ... But Don't Think About it Too Much

Categories: standards

By Giampaolo Marucci, PMBOK® Guide-Seventh Edition Development Team member

Planning is a common activity in everything we do. We could say that we plan because we think, or we think so we plan. Planning is thinking on what we have to do in the future (near or far) to get to an objective or to achieve a goal.

One of the core activities and functions in project delivery is planning, which is a Performance Domain in the new PMBOK® Guide. (See earlier blog post by Cynthia Dionisio on what are Performance Domains.) In project management, planning produces a common understanding of why we need to get to some objective and what to do next to get it. Common understanding is achieved by sharing of the information with all the stakeholders especially the delivery team. Planning activities can have output artifacts like “plans”—but not necessarily.

Plans can be:

  • at a high level like a Master Plan or Roadmap;

  • at a low level with much detail and fully predictive;

  • partially completed like a Release Plan; or

  • detailed only on some parts like an Iteration Plan, Sprint Backlog, or a Phase Plan.

We can also “plan to plan” like in Rolling Wave Planning. In any case we need to pay attention to the balance of effort we spend in planning with the threat of market erosion because of delays in having spent too much time in planning.

Planning is closely related to the project delivery approach and tailored for the project to realize the product, service, or result with benefits for the community of people who will use the end result. Planning activities are always in parallel with control activities. A plan is effective only if it is frequently/continuously verified by control actions to understand whether or not the plan remains aligned with the expected benefits the project is expected to realize.

At the start of a project we select a project delivery approach and we tailor it for the needs of the project based also on:

  • volatility of requirements,
  • level of knowledge of the base technologies and physical resources needed,
  • number of people involved, and
  • uncertainty of the context (i.e., market conditions or emergent risks—what we don’t know so we cannot predict).

Then we need to apply an appropriate planning strategy/approach.

If requirements are estimated to be nonvolatile, base technologies are well known, and the number of people is not many, then a full, advance predictive planning strategy could be applied. The adaptation of the “Plan,” artifacts, and re-planning activities during the project occur on the basis of the change control process defined for the project.

On the other hand, requirements can be volatile and base technology not well known, so we might use a project delivery life cycle with frequent feedback from stakeholders. For this kind of project, we need frequent adaptation of plans during development and many re-planning actions.

Also, projects that are closely aligned with “operations” functions, like continuous delivery of value, can apply Lean Kanban practices commonly used in IT or R&D projects. These types of projects need planning activities that adapt the plans continuously on the basis of feedback from experimentation. Adaptation here is so frequent that we could talk also about reactivity. But reacting to an event requires a short and prompt re-planning action immediately after the trigger event is recognized.

Objects to plan inside a project include cost allocation, time scheduling, physical resources, delivery, and many others. The way in which the planning takes place varies depending on the life cycle approach taken, but planning remains a key activity throughout the project. Planning could be led by a project manager, a Product Owner, or the whole project team. Self-organized and cross-functional delivery teams might plan from a backlog of prioritized items.

Planning, and generally speaking project management, is the application of knowledge, and it is important for the entire team to share in the planning regardless of who leads or the form the planning takes.  In any kind of project, planning activities are always required. Planning is a fundamental skill inside any project and has enormous impact on the delivery of intended outcomes. That’s why I consider it to be a performance domain for all projects.

Finally, planning is a passion, a knowledge we need to love if we want to apply it well, and a skill we need to improve continuously...Think about it.

 

Posted by Laura Schofield on: January 24, 2020 12:09 PM | Permalink | Comments (5)
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