Project sponsors, typically C-level business executives accountable for project spending and outcomes, can be excused for being sceptical about Agile project delivery approaches because there is a perception that they don’t support governance. Agile should not be ignored though, because it is proving to be a more effective way to deliver change faster and in a more flexible manner. In contrast, traditional methods used for delivering software solutions have not been very successful, industry studies (e.g. Standish Group research) have been reporting failure rates above 60% consistently for many years.
In thinking about the hundreds of client projects I’ve completed over the last ten years, if I had to pick one key to success, it would be project leadership. For example, I worked with one client on multiple projects simultaneously with several project leaders over the course of many months. The same senior leadership sponsored every project. A few were downright frustrating as we struggled to move an inch a week whereas others leaped forward a mile in the same timeframe. Of course my focus was to accelerate progress on the ones that inched forward; however, significant acceleration could go from an inch to 5 feet; still slow as molasses as compared with moving a mile.
We know that the active and sustained participation of a project’s decision-makers is the primary contributor to project success. Even Project Management Institute (PMI) research reveals “that having actively engaged executive sponsors is the top driver of project success.” So what does it mean to have actively engaged executives and how does one ensure that their project’s decision-makers are, in fact, actively engaged? Measure their level of satisfaction, of course!
What does swearing, kissing, chewing gum and eating garlic all have in common? Well, apparently they are just some of the more unusual ways you can quickly reduce your stress levels.
Mention Delphi method to anyone who has passed their PMP certification exam and you will likely be told that it’s an information gathering technique used to gain consensus from a group of experts. Press for more information and you’ll hear that it involves anonymous submission of initial feedback. All true, but that is like saying that a rose is just a flowering plant!
Eager project managers – and new project managers – may like to jump in head first into a new project and show enthusiasm to prove to their senior management that they are go-getters. That’s nice, but it may also be stupid. These overly eager PMs may be sending the wrong message to their leadership, who are really looking to see if they show any knowledge at all about how they should go cautiously into the night on a project… not jump in with pistols blazing.
Project Management is a relatively old profession. Some say it is not really a profession, but more of a line of work or collection of activities. Others say it is a discipline, a business practice that is somewhat challenged in the complex world of business.
If you were to have asked me about five years ago about agile team and organizational assessments, you might have gotten your head bit off. You see I used to be violently opposed to formally assessing agile teams in any way.
Accountability is one of those interesting things that everyone knows is a critical success factor for effective performance but is avoided like the plague.
“I’m a project manager. Why do I need to know about automated acceptance testing?
Isn’t that for the quality assurance people? Our user stories already have acceptance criteria – is this different?”
Businesses do not fail due to poor strategies; instead, they fail due to poor execution. The same is true for projects. My most successful clients understand the critical importance of execution to not only their bottom line but also to the success of their company.
Managing to the triple constraint is table stakes – it’s time for project managers to go further.
The natural concern which might be raised is that in many cases a project manager has moved on to their next project while the product owner and other stakeholders are still working on the change sustainment required to achieve benefits. The project manager might have had limited direct involvement with the staff who are required to successfully adopt the changes, or might have no influence over the external factors which could impact benefits realization.
Project and portfolio management software (PPM) is essential for any successful company. PPM software helps you plan and strategize to obtain the optimum result for any project. The software enables you to control your internal processes from project generation through workflow and approvals to a successful conclusion.
A perfect storm of circumstances in public sector project management is helping open the door to agile methods.
First, some projects have not been as successful as expected – either not delivering a product or not meeting stakeholder expectations. Combining those issues with the likely continuation of Government austerity measures and greater scrutiny makes it highly appealing to have access to methods that will help run projects more effectively.
Often, it’s once bitten, twice shy. We try something. It doesn’t work out. We go on to something else. Yet, many discoveries and innovations are launched from an initial failure that yields valuable lessons and ultimately paves the path to success.
I had to laugh at this one. I was meeting with a potential new client this morning and he talked about the concept of the "good meeting" on projects. You know the ones - everyone comes out of the meeting saying, “good meeting!" But when asked what was accomplished no one can really pinpoint anything of any significance.
While you might not realize it, you could be exhibiting the symptoms of a project manager who follows McGregor’s Theory X management philosophy from the very start of your projects!
Use case models have been around for decades. Long after Information Engineering was all the rage and through object-oriented analysis and design they hung around. They threatened to disappear when Agile methods gained popularity, but here they are--discussed, dissected, and the subject of many blogs. Aren’t they “old school” and not needed in today’s Agile world?
There is a buzz about agile project management being the “in” trend. There are workshops, seminars and lots of conversation about agile. However, what does agile mean? According to Webster’s dictionary, it is the ability to think quickly or a quick and well-coordinated movement. I see it as meaning flexible. In the project management world, there are countless discussions geared towards agile. But is it really just common sense?
If we don’t know our history, we are doomed to repeat it. Knowing an organization’s past failures and successes are keys to smooth project management in the future. Unrealistic expectations are avoidable, and colossal barriers to project success. So, how do we manage these expectations from the very beginning of a project before it’s too late?
It’s difficult to produce your best results when you’re under attack from your boss. Unfortunately, management applied duress, intimidation, pressure, bullying, and browbeating of individuals and teams is a too frequent occurrence. And it is incredibly costly in both the short and long term, in lost productivity, poor morale, staff and customer turnover, and bottom line impact.