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!

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Marjorie Anderson
Kimberly Whitby
Laura Schofield
Heather McLarnon

Past Contributors:

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

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Ask Us Anything - Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about PMI Membership Offerings to Support Your Career Journey!

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Viewing Posts by Laura Schofield

Important ProjectManagement.com Updates

Categories: community

In an important step for PMI’s digital community transformation, all community members will access ProjectManagement.com with their PMI.org account credentials going forward. There will no longer be a separate ProjectManagement.com and PMI.org login, simplifying access across sites. With this change, the option to access the online community with your ProjectManagement.com or Facebook credentials will be sunset.

Beginning 18 February 2021, when you click Login on ProjectManagement.com, you will be directed to the PMI.org login screen. Once you have entered your username or email and your password, you will be brought back to ProjectManagement.com.

Prior to this change, many community members already had a PMI.org account; please utilize your existing PMI.org credentials to login to ProjectManagement.com. For those users who did not create a PMI.org account and/or link an existing PMI.org account to their ProjectManagement.com account, you will need to set a new password and security question the next time that you attempt to access ProjectManagement.com. An email will be sent to any affected users on February 18th.  

We are excited for what the future holds for PMI’s online community and look forward to hearing your feedback, as the new community experience evolves! Please see below for answers to potential questions arising from this update. If you are in need of further assistance, please reach out to [email protected]

FAQ – Can I login utilizing my email address instead of username?

Yes, you may utilize your email address or username to login.  

FAQ – Why do I now have a PMI account?

This action was taken in preparation for PMI’s upcoming community transformation. The new community experience will be fully integrated with PMI.org, eventually allowing you to manage and update your profile in a single location. For that reason, a PMI.org account has been created for users who had not yet created an account and/or linked an existing PMI.org account to their ProjectManagement.com account. Going forward, all community members will access ProjectManagement.com using their PMI account credentials.

FAQ – Why do I need to set a new password?

Only users who did not have a PMI.org account previously need to set a new password; affected users will be prompted to do so the first time that they attempt to access ProjectManagement.com following the change to the login. Going forward, you will access ProjectManagement.com with your PMI account credentials, rather than a separate login.

FAQ – I am attempting to set my password, but I cannot locate the email to verify my email address and finish setting a password. Could you please resend the email?

Password reset is only relevant to community members who did not previously have a PMI.org account. To trigger a verification email to your email address, please attempt to Login to ProjectManagement.com. Go to ProjectManagement.com, and click Login. Enter your username or email address and any password, and click Log In. This will send the email to the email address that is on file for your account; please check any spam folders if the email is not showing up in your Inbox. Open the email, and click the link to set your new password and the answer to a security question. Going forward, you will access ProjectManagement.com with these PMI account credentials. If an outdated email address is reflected on your account, please note that the email address can be updated by Customer Care.

FAQ – What are the implications of having a PMI.org account?

You will now access ProjectManagement.com using your PMI account credentials, simplifying login across PMI’s sites. The upcoming community experience will be fully integrated with PMI.org, eventually allowing you to manage and update your profile in a single location. More information to come!

 

 

Posted by Laura Schofield on: February 16, 2021 03:34 PM | Permalink | Comments (10)

Project Management Institute announces the winners of the 2020 Research & Academic Awards

The Academic & Research Achievement Awards recognize individuals, groups and published works that significantly advanced the concepts, knowledge and practices of project, program and portfolio management.

We are happy to announce the 2020 award winners.

The PMI Linn Stuckenbruck Teaching Excellence Award recognizes and honors an individual faculty member for excellence in teaching project management, and for their strong commitment to improving and enhancing project management curricula in higher education.

The winner of the 2020 PMI Linn Stuckenbruck Teaching Excellence Award is Callum Robert Kidd

Callum has been at the forefront of Project Management education for over 20 years at the University of Manchester. He has been a significant part of the success story of many highly innovative initiatives such as the groundbreaking Project Management Professional Development Program (PMPDP) and the launch of the joint MSc Project Management initiative with Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore. His development of the PM-PAL (peer assisted learning) project was twice awarded funding from the Deans Teaching and Learning Awards in the Faculty of Engineering and Science at Manchester. He continues to innovate on programs at both undergraduate and postgraduate level, and in his new role as Head of Education for the Engineering and Project Management Discipline, has the task of setting the longer-term strategy for PM course delivery across the Faculty of Engineering and Science. “I feel incredibly honored in being chosen to be the 2020 recipient of the PMI Linn Stuckenbruck Teaching Excellence award. To be rewarded for doing something that you passionately enjoy doing always comes as a great surprise, and I thank the Project Management Institute for continuing to champion project management education around the globe,” says Callum Kidd.

The PMI Research Achievement Award recognizes and honors an individual or group of individuals whose work has significantly advanced the concepts, knowledge, and practices of project management through a published body of academic research.

The winner of the 2020 PMI Research Achievement Award is Professor Monique Aubry, PHD, MPM

Monique Aubry, Ph.D., is an associate professor at the School of Business and Management, Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM). Now retired from full professorship, she pursues her research on two main topics: the development of megaprojects and organizing for projects. The results of her work have been published in major academic journals in project management and presented at several research and professional conferences. She founded the Lab for Transfer on Innovative Practices in Project Context and serves now as the director of the scientific committee. She is also a research member of the ESG UQAM Project Management Center and the UQAM’s Health and Society Institute. “This Research Achievement Award has several meanings to me. First, I am proud for the recognition of my research to the advancement of project studies. I feel this pride not only for me, but also more importantly for my colleagues involved in the project management program at UQAM and students. Second, this is a wish at the same time as a meaning; it signals encouragement to embark strongly in research”, shared Professor Aubry.

The PMI David I. Cleland Project Management Literature Award recognizes the author(s) of a published book that significantly advances project management knowledge, concepts, and practice.

The winners of the 2020 PMI David I. Cleland Project Management Literature Award are Professor Ofer Zwikael and John R Smyrk, for the book “Project Management: A Benefit Realisation Approach”.

Ofer Zwikael is Professor of Management and Director of the Research School of Management at the Australian National University. Ofer’s research broadly focuses on project benefits management and has been published in a number of books and leading journals. Ofer’s research excellence has been recognized in several ways including receiving multiple research awards by the Academy of Management, British Academy of Management, International Project Management Association, Emerald and the Australian Institute of Project Management. Ofer has held leadership roles such as Associate Dean and Associate Editor for the International Journal of Project Management. He has led, trained, mentored and consulted projects and program groups in dozens of organizations. “I fell in love with projects by observation, engagement and participation when working as a project team member. I then learned more about projects in practice, as well as in academia. It is hence a great honor and privilege to be able to share this knowledge and experience with the project management community. I hope that the book will contribute to the education of a new generation of successful project managers who will make a difference to their organizations and our society. I would like to thank PMI for this recognition and their continuous support of the project management community”, says Professor Zwikael.

John Smyrk worked for many years as a senior advisor on significant projects in Australia and across Asia.  These covered a variety of settings including: heavy engineering, industrial processing, business, government and infrastructure. John taught project management on postgraduate programs at a number of Universities for over 25 years and played an active role in various project management research programs resulting in a number of published papers. “Winning this award represents an acknowledgement and acceptance by the project management profession of the (often radical) ideas to emerge from many years of challenging conventional wisdom,” says John Smyrk.

It is with sadness that we share that Mr. Smyrk passed away subsequent to the publication of this article. 

The PMI Project Management Journal® Paper of the Year Award recognizes the best paper published in the Project Management Journal in the previous year.

The 2020 PMI Project Management Journal® Paper of the Year Award winning paper is “How Digital Information Transforms Project Delivery Models” by Professor Jennifer Whyte

Jennifer Whyte is a Professor at Imperial College London, and holds the Royal Academy of Engineering and Laing O’Rourke Chair in Systems Integration. Her research is on the delivery of major infrastructure projects, and on the integration of systems, modular and digital delivery strategies. Her work is published in leading international journals including Project Management Journal, International Journal of Project Management, Organization Studies and Research Policy. As a member of Construction Leadership Council in the UK, she has strong links to industry and policy, giving advice based on her research. She has been visiting faculty at Stanford and is Co-Director of the Centre for Systems Engineering and Innovation at Imperial College London. “I’m delighted to win the 2020 PMI Project Management Journal® Paper of the Year Award. It is great that the committee recognize the work on How Digital Information Transforms Project Delivery Models. It is an honor to be part of this Project Management Journal Special Issue on Project Delivery Models. I feel passionately about research on projects, and am deeply honored to join such a distinguished set of best paper award winners” shares Professor Whyte.

Congratulations to these 2020 PMI Research & Academic Award winners!

Posted by Laura Schofield on: November 12, 2020 01:59 PM | Permalink | Comments (12)

Careers in project management – what does the latest research say?

Categories: PMI

How did you become a project manager? Chances are you “stumbled into it” in the course of your job, but now it’s become your career.

As we move through this uncertain time and into what the future holds, project managers will continue to be in high demand as corporate and government entities plan projects to adapt to new ways of working and living. That’s why its more important than ever to understand how PMs become PMs, and how they progress in their career paths.

The latest issue of the Project Management Journal takes a close look at project management careers. It features research that identifies how project managers enter into, and progress within, the profession. The journal is a peer-reviewed academic journal published by the Project Management Institute (PMI)

The April 2020 issue of the journal opens with what we know about the project management career path, and why we need to know more. Project manager careers are often accidental, cross-occupational, and eclectic. Building our knowledge helps PMs plot more productive and satisfying career paths, and helps organizations foster their talent in order to benefit from more successful projects. This opening editorial is open access, which means it is available for anyone to read.

Articles in the issue investigate: the benefits of integrating project management with career studies; students’ readiness for project work; graduates’ readiness for project work; project manager competencies; factors that predict career success among project managers; and factors that stall careers. If you’re a member of PMI, access to all content in the journal is a benefit of your membership. Many universities and other academic institutions also have subscriptions to the journal.

You can find this special careers issue of the journal at https://journals.sagepub.com/toc/pmxa/51/2

Posted by Laura Schofield on: May 06, 2020 08:54 AM | Permalink | Comments (7)

Building the Right Product or Building the Product Right: Two Sides of the Same Delivery Coin

Categories: standards

by Nick Clemens, PMBOK® Guide–Seventh Edition Development Team member

Focus is a key part of successfully leading project teams and managing projects. A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide®)–Seventh Edition outlines eight interdependent areas of focus or performance domains that combine to form the project management delivery system. Through this system, projects deliver outputs (products and services) that provide benefits and deliver value to our customers and organizations. These performance domains cover, Stakeholders, Teams, the Life Cycle, Planning, Project Work, Delivery, Uncertainty, and Measurement. Let’s look more closely at the Project Delivery Performance Domain.

The Project Delivery Performance Domain focuses on meeting requirements, defining scope, and quality expectations and driving results to meet intended outcomes. It is the correct elicitation and interpretation of requirements that lead to good scope definition and meeting customer quality expectations. In the next few paragraphs, I will briefly look at each of these elements focusing on requirements.

As project managers, we not only want to “build the product right,” i.e., building our deliverable correctly or according to specification, but we also want to “build the right thing,” i.e., deliver the output that enables the outcome expected by our customer. By building the right thing, we deliver what our customers need, which then drive the benefits to value delivery train. Requirements fall into two broad categories, those dealing with managing the project and those associated with defining the deliverable. Here I will focus on requirements related to the deliverable.

First, every project creates something unique. There are always unknows at the start of any project. The amount of unknows and the deliverable drive the type of project approach used. Under a predictive project approach, most product requirements are defined near the beginning of a design effort. On the other hand, most agile approaches use multiple deliveries over time, where requirements are also defined over time with each iteration. In both cases, the goal is the same, to deliver or build the right thing to meet our customer’s needs and expectations.

Second, building the right thing is the hard part of interpreting requirements. Language and meaning may not always be precise.  I may express what I want, but the person I am talking to may not understand precisely what my needs are. For example, I may express to my associate that all effort should be taken to deliver the new product by the end of the quarter if practicable. In this case, complete understanding rests with how my associate interprets the words “if practicable.”  I may express what I want, but my associate may interpret those requirements through a different lens than mine.  We may think we have a common understanding but find that we mean different things. The same is true of our project teams, and the situation is made more complicated by the fact that we usually deal with multiple individuals and customer teams from different organizations.

Lastly, we need to understand that not all requirements are the same. Some requirements are high-level and relate to the project’s business case. Other requirements are user-level or related to customer needs and wants. Finally, requirements may also be at a lower or design level. These lower-level requirements deal with product design and specification. Building the product right relates to meeting these low-level specifications and standards. Usually, a good design team will get this right. However, a quality control effort should be in place to assure adherence to standards. As outlined above, making sure you build the right thing relates directly back to understanding your customer needs and desires. Here is where user or product level requirements come in. At this level, the project manager and the team deal with customer expectations. The customer’s expectation of our deliverable defines how our product is perceived, and hence it’s level of quality as seen by the customer.

When the overall quality of the product is tied to our customer’s expectations, the strong link between building the thing right and especially building the right thing is clear. A good quality control effort assures quality production or building the product right. However, building the right product or meeting customer expectations may only be achieved thorough a continuous elicitation and cross-checking of customer needs and desires throughout the project. There should be no surprises with delivery, whether that delivery is iterative or singularly based.  

If I had to sum up what I believe constitutes the Project Delivery Performance Domain in four bullets, I’d say:

  • Understand the intended outcome, not just the desired result. Build the right thing!

  • Building the product right and building the right product realizes the intended outcomes.

  • Quality derives from customer expectations being met.

  • Customer expectations are understood through requirements elicitation and interpretation.

Posted by Laura Schofield on: April 15, 2020 09:21 AM | Permalink | Comments (13)

Project Work: The Art of Orchestrating

Categories: standards

by: Klaus Nielsen, PMBOK® Guide-Seventh Edition Development Team member

 

 

Having dabbled with musical instruments, I remember hearing Walter Murphy’s disco version of The Fifth of Beethoven which spurred a whole collection of up-tempo classic works like the Hooked on Classics compilation. All of these recordings took the notes and rhythms of the classical pieces and updated them for a different sound. And properly guiding the orchestration was key to synchronizing the various instruments with the new beat.

Project work is about orchestrating the range of project activities in such a way that the team aligns to produce the desired result. The conductor does not control the musicians or performers. Instead, that role cues individuals so they know their part is coming up, seamlessly integrates them into the current movement, and signals when some players can conclude their part and rest for a bit.

In a project environment, the project manager, team lead, or other “conducting” role keeps the focus on the sheet of music that links the project team together. Team members know their individual parts and look to the conductor to guide the interfaces within the team, between the team and other parts of the organization, and among the project stakeholders. The conductor ensures the team has or secures the necessary resources to keep the musical score on track, such as stands to hold the sheet music, clips to keep the music in place, lighting at the right levels for reading, etc. The conductor is constantly listening to the team—individually and collectively—to ensure that everyone is playing at the right pace and seamlessly helps the team adapt and recover when the harmony and melody are no longer in synch. Throughout the performance, the conductor and the team learn together to improve the next movement or piece that follows.

It is important to note in this analogy that the conductor is not above the team but rather performs a critical role within the team. There are countless videos on YouTube showing what can happen when a random group of individuals try to make music without any organizing force and how that ability changes once a conductor joins the group. The conductor is always listening to and sensing how the performance is advancing. This involves taking the pulse of not just the musicians but also the audience to discern how they are responding to the music. The conductor has a position from which to spot possible pivot points to keep the performance on track. The conductor also understands the work that is coming in the next movement and prepares the team to seamlessly make the shift.

With a large, multi-instrument orchestra, having a formal conductor may represent the best way to organize and structure the team effort to produce harmonious music. But there are often instances where teams come together without any previous rehearsals or practice sessions and find a way to make music together. Many jazz artists can improvise music on the spot with other musicians. One of the players “conducts” by setting the melody. The other band members pick up the beat, and then they all adapt with each other as they play. When major shifts occur, they use calls-outs and other mechanisms to signal the shift so the rest of the band can follow. If one or two musicians need a break, the rest of the band can keep playing without disruption. Thus, the mechanisms and tools for conducting can be highly structured and formal or light enough to keep all of the musicians aligned.

To make the orchestra or the jazz band function effectively, the musicians needs to understand and appreciate each other’s role in achieving the end result. They need a common musical score or initiating beat that sets the path forward. They use language, signals, and other mechanisms to keep the work on track and adapt to changing circumstances. They learn together so they improve individually and as a team. And after each performance, they reflect on where they are now, how much they have accomplished, and what lies ahead.

The PMBOK® Guide–Seventh Edition is organized around eight Project Performance Domains, which are a group of related activities that are critical for the effective delivery of project outcomes. Project Performance Domains are interactive, interrelated, and interdependent areas of focus that work in unison to achieve desired project outcomes, just like making marvelous music.

The Project Work Performance Domain focuses on facilitating the production of fantastic music (project deliverables). It includes the work necessary to support the performers as illustrated above in creating music (products, services, results), and achieving beautiful music (the ultimate outcomes of the project). Project work keeps the team focused and project activities running smoothly—without it, no harmony.

Daily, musicians practice their instruments for many hours, they sometimes teach, and now and then play a concert. Their performance runs continuously throughout the year, just like work throughout a project life cycle. Some musicians might be more experienced than others at aspects of their craft; however, all work to create a unified whole, which is what a performance is all about.

I hope you now understand why I think project work is a Project Performance Domain. Let’s turn the music on and the volume to maximum, and let’s perform the project work as a high-performing team.

Posted by Laura Schofield on: April 07, 2020 01:06 PM | Permalink | Comments (6)
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"The purpose of art: to make the unconscious conscious."

- Richard Wagner