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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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

A Story of Monks, Trees, and New Horizons for the Evolution of the PMBOK® Guide

Navigating Complexity in Project Management

Register for our next “Discover PMI - Ask Us Anything! Webinar

The Communication Net: Navigating Project Teams with an Active Listening Approach

Stakeholder Engagement

To Tailor or Not to Tailor: A Foregone Conclusion?

Categories: news, PMI, standards

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

Did you know that many organizations have unsuccessfully tried to implement an off-the-shelf, or ready-made, project management methodology and found that it was unsuitable for their projects, their organization, and their level of organizational project management maturity?

This often results in a lot of money, time and effort spent with little return and a decrease in staff morale. The one-size-fits-all approach is not working, because no two projects are the same. Different people, clients, vendors, technologies, cultures, approaches, sizes and such require extensive tailoring.

Designing the delivery approach based on the context of the project, its objectives, stakeholders, and the environment is much more difficult than it may sound. Designing the delivery approach requires tailoring. We use tailoring to our project management methodology with the hope of buy-in from team members.  In some cases, a tailored approach produces a more customer-oriented focus, centers on best-for-project approach, and reflects a more efficient use of project resources.  It also helps to ensure that when the team agrees to use specific processes, tools, or ceremonies, everyone is aligned, and use is consistent.

But who has not experienced the damage from tailoring not done correctly? I have! It’s when project team members are not using the methodology, independently modifying the methodology, or following the process for the sake of the process.

When we tailor, we have a wide range of options. I tend to look at the processes and see whether it would work or not.  Often, I have been faced with too many processes of little value. In some cases, inputs, tools, and techniques may be omitted or changed to make them work within a specific context. Also, when tailoring I examine the level of documentation required, as it’s often a great chunk of work.  I want to make sure all project artefacts, documents, and plans provide value — not just documentation for the sake of documentation. Thinking back, if you had to apply everything the same way to all your projects for the last 20 years, that would be a nightmare. Firstly, I rarely do the same kind of projects the same way twice. Secondarily, if I had to do it all over, I would make a lot of changes (hopeful that I have learned something along the way). Think of tailoring as your opportunity to apply lessons learned.

I think it’s difficult to talk about tailoring without touching upon efficiency and effectiveness. Now it becomes slightly trickier. I don’t see one without the other. I know some of you may have concerns about the connotations of these terms, so let me try to explain my view.

Effectiveness talks to providing our customers with value through product delivery and producing the intended or expected result. It is also associated with the results from the actions of the team members and the project manager.

On the other hand, efficiency talks to how we are performing or functioning in the best possible manner with the least waste of time and effort. It is also associated with how things are done.

Who has not heard the following statement: “The fundamental reason why projects are late is because of inefficient use of resources. My job as a project leader is to move our expertise around to tackle as much work as possible, and to do so seamlessly?” In this case, efficiency means getting more work done with the least loss of time, which is done by maximizing utilization. In this case, efficient IS effective. In my native language of Danish, we use the same term for these two concepts.

For others, efficiency is a poison. For them it also means maximizing utilization, which requires that we overcommit and confuse our staff, leaving them no slack to breathe or innovate. To them, efficient is the OPPOSITE of effective. However, that was not the intention.

Just to wrap it up: Design the delivery approach based on the context of the project, its objectives, stakeholders, and the environment. Maximize value, manage costs, develop flow and enhance speed by utilizing just enough process. I think there might be a principle or two in there.

Posted by Marjorie Anderson on: October 01, 2019 02:25 PM | Permalink | Comments (13)

September Community News You Can Use

It’s the most wonderful time of the year at PMI! Global Conference is just around the corner, and with this year’s exciting 50th anniversary celebrations, we are certainly counting down the days! If you will be in Philadelphia for the conference, please stop by the ProjectManagement.com Community booth and say hello. We would love to meet you!

In this month’s look at what’s currently happening around the community, we’ll let you know how to keep up with all of the excitement at Global Conference – from near and far – as well as the other great community activities occurring in the final months of 2019!

Register for PMI® Business Analysis Virtual Conference 2019: Registration is open for the PMI® Business Analysis Virtual Conference 2019 which will be held on Wednesday, November 13th. This virtual event will explore the latest trends in business analysis and provide you with the insights, resources, and tools to advance your career and enhance project success. Register today! This year, we welcome:

  • Bob Prentiss – Battle for the Planet of the Business Analysts: 5 Key Strategies to Prepare for Your Future
  • Anton Oosthuizen – Managing Requirement Risks: A Different Perspective

  • Joy Beatty – Curiosity Never Killed the Business Analyst

  • Frank Saladis – Managing Difficult Stakeholders

  • Barbee Davis – What Should I be doing as a BA in an Agile/Waterfall Hybrid World?

  • Joyce Onore – Importance of Communication in a Business Analysis Role

PMI® Organizational Agility Conference Available On-Demand: If you were unable to attend the recent PMI® Organizational Agility Conference on Evolving Approaches to Resilient Value Delivery, you can view all of the sessions on-demand here.

Ask the Expert at PMI® Global Conference: Ask the Expert is back by popular demand at PMI® Global Conference 2019! These one-on-one sessions allow you to discuss your project question or problem, get advice about navigating the project management career path, or talk through issues currently facing the profession from a trusted and established ProjectManagement.com expert. If you are attending Global Conference, sign-up for a session here.

For those who will not be in Philadelphia, you can follow our Experts at Conference through the PMI Global Insights blog where they will share their experiences and insights from the event.

Industry Discussion Threads: This year, PMI launched a new initiative focusing on four industry segments in the fields of IT, Finance, Government and Construction. As part of that focus, we have been highlighting some existing PM Network content on ProjectManagement.com in order to engage the community and learn more about specific industry needs. Check out the industry discussion threads in Project Management Central!

Discover PMI - Ask Us Anything! Series: Learn more about PMI’s Job Board by viewing the latest session on-demand - Powering Your Career with PMI: Explore the PMI Job Board to Power You Career - featuring Ansley Stauffer.

Project Health Framework: Join fellow community member, Uri Galimidi, as he discusses A Billion Dollar Project Health Framework in his eight part webinar series. You can now access Part 1 through Part 5 on-demand! Check the Live Webinars calendar for the remaining sessions.

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: September 25, 2019 10:24 AM | Permalink | Comments (10)

A Systems Approach to Project Management

Categories: news, PMI, standards

Written by Randy Iliff, Systems Engineer and fellow Project Manager

Updating the PMBOK® Guide every five years presents a fresh opportunity to ensure that the standard and body of knowledge properly reflect current practice within project delivery.  With the kick-off of the Seventh Edition update this month, the PMBOK® Guide will make a dramatic shift from a process-based view of the project environment to a systems-based view.

What is a systems-based view, and how does that relate to project management you may ask? 

The INCOSE Systems Engineering Handbook defines a system as: …an integrated set of elements, subsystems, or assemblies that accomplish a defined objective. There’s a lot more in there about systems of course, but the key is that systems produce outcomes as a function of not only the contribution by individual elements, but also the result of all interactions between all elements.

In Systems Engineering that’s called an emergent property and the concept is one of the most fundamental insights practitioners must master. In people we use terms like personality and soul, and all agree that there is no single cell or molecule you can point to as the origin. Every project manager will attest that despite a host of common elements, individual projects are as unique as fingerprints. You cannot understand why a project succeeds or fails simply by examining the task list - to truly master the effort you must see the entirety of interactions as well as the tasks.

I’ve worked on an enormous range of projects over my career–some simple, others as demanding as standing up launch facilities for the US Space Shuttle and placing a cubic kilometer of instrumentation called “IceCube” under the South Pole. The list of tasks and parts were always different, but the connections between the tasks were surprisingly common. Over time, I realized that the underlying logic was something I could easily build upon and reuse.

Without exception I found the system perspective essential to satisfying the wide range of stakeholders involved. It helped me transform competition between interests into successful compromise. I found that view so helpful that I helped found INCOSE as a way to share the message with others.

The next edition of the PMBOK® Guide presents us with the opportunity to better reflect key interfaces that must be properly enabled in any given application context.  It can take into account the implications of those interfaces for project delivery as well as enhance the understanding of a host of other relationships that inevitably drive project outcomes.

Because our projects are always systems – not just a stack of parts or tasks—only a system view offers the richness needed to fully support the PM community and the stakeholders who depend upon us. An interactive workshop at the PMI Global Conference in Philadelphia, 5-7 October 2019, will explore the concept of a systems view of project management and its implications for the underlying principles for managing projects. If you are planning to be at Global Conference, plan to participate in this workshop that will help to inform the development of the next edition of the PMBOK® Guide.

Posted by Marjorie Anderson on: August 19, 2019 01:27 PM | Permalink | Comments (10)

Speakers Announced for PMI® Organizational Agility Conference 2019

This year, the PMI® Organizational Agility Conference will explore Evolving Approaches to Resilient Value Delivery during an exciting day of networking, professional development, and learning. The members-only virtual event will be held on September 12th from 9am to 5pm ET, offering the opportunity to earn 6 PDUs.

Join us as we examine the concept of change resilience with professionals who are driving it within their organizations—and those who are living it as part of their own development. We are excited to welcome the following speakers:

  • Josh SeidenSense & Respond: Principles for the Next Century of Work

  • Tony MaughanAdopting New Ways of Working: ANZ's Delivery Transformation

  • Johanna RothmanThe 3 Principles of Organizational Agility

  • Mike GriffithsThe Change Resilient Professional

  • Michel BiedermannLessons Learned in Hybrid Agile/Waterfall Delivery

  • John MedcofReinventing the Playbook: Driving Change in the Canadian Federal Government

Register for PMI® Organizational Agility Conference 2019 today!

Posted by Laura Schofield on: July 31, 2019 11:10 AM | Permalink | Comments (10)

PMI Project Management Journal Paper of the Year Award Announced

Categories: news, project management

On 27 June, three members of the academic community were recognized for their contributions to research in the profession with the 2019 PMI Project Management Journal Paper of the Year Award.

The Project Management Journal Paper of the Year Award honors the best paper published in the Project Management Journal in the previous year. The award recognizes the significance of academic research and the importance of refereed journal articles to the creation and dissemination of knowledge in the field of project management.

The winning paper was “Coordinating Knowledge Work in Multiteam Programs: Findings From a Large-Scale Agile Development Program,” appearing in the November/December 2018 issue (Volume 49, number 6).

The paper was authored by Professor Torgier Dingsøyr, chief scientist at the SINTEF research foundation in Trondheim, Norway, and adjunct professor at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology; Nils Brede Moe, senior scientist at SINTEF; and Eva Amdahl Seim, a senior research manager at SINTEF.

“I think this award is a sign of the growing interest in project management practices which have developed in software development, and which become increasingly relevant also for other domains with the current importance of digitalization,” said Dingsøyr.

“As the study is understood as a significant contribution to the field of large-scale agile and agile transformation, the award will motivate for more studies within the same topic,” explained Moe.

Seim added, “We have been researching coordination in work and particularly software work for two decades. To me, this award is recognition of years of hard and gratifying work.”

This recognition took place during the European Academy of Management (EURAM) Conference in Lisbon, Portugal, at the ISCTE-IUL University. The award was presented to Professor Dingsøyr on the evening of 27 June at a reception for the EURAM Project Organising Strategic Interest Group, sponsored by PMI.

 

Posted by Laura Schofield on: July 23, 2019 03:05 PM | Permalink | Comments (9)
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