IntroductionOver the course of my career in software development, I have had the fortune of working in a wide variety of companies employing radically different approaches to the software development life-cycle (SDLC). Some strictly stuck to traditional Water Fall. Others called themselves "agile" but never actually bothered to adopt any agile framework, and were thus a blend of Water Fall and Agile—and all too often, not a successful blend either. Another strictly adopted a true agile methodology and decided that there was no need for a PMO since, as they put it, "we're SCRUM." Other companies used the same Scrum methodology but saw the value of having a PMO as well.
As I have closely followed discussions on Project Times (and other blog sites), I have noticed some discussions around Project Management methodologies that are fine in theory, but often seem divorced from real-world applications. You can often find arguments prefaced by statements such as "good project managers do X," or "the PMBOK methods require Y," or even "any experienced Scrum Master knows..."
I don't doubt it. The relentless battle cry to reduce waste and increase productivity has many project managers feeling like they are expected to build a bridge over the Mississippi River with one team member and a box of toothpicks. By tomorrow.
How much of this challenge is exacerbated by the lack of clear organizational priorities to guide how those precious resources are allocated?
One of the critical factors for project success is having a well-developed project plan. This article provides a 10-step approach to creating the project plan, not only showing how it provides a roadmap for project managers to follow, but also exploring why it is the project manager's premier communications and control tool throughout the project.
Step 1: Explain the project plan to key stakeholders and discuss its key components. One of the most misunderstood terms in project management, the project plan is a set of living documents that can be expected to change over the life of the project. Like a roadmap, it provides the direction for the project. And like the traveler, the project manager needs to set the course for the project, which in project management terms means creating the project plan. Just as a driver may encounter road construction or new routes to the final destination, the project manager may need to correct the project course as well.
What qualities are most important for a project manager to be an effective project leader? It's a question often asked and one that makes us sit back and think. Over the past few years, the people at ESI International, a leader in project management training, have looked at what makes an effective project leader. They quizzed some highly-talented project leaders and compiled a running tally of their responses. Below are the top 10 qualities in rank order, according to their frequency listed.
Co-authored by Jeff Hodgkinson and Gary Hamilton
"A Project Success Plan can be a platform for ensuring all project stakeholders start off, and continue on, the right footing."
Setting up projects to succeed in the view of the customer/stakeholder is a critical part of the Project Manager's role. We suggest that, as part of project planning activities in the early stages of your project, you should hold a Project Success Plan (PSP) meeting with all key team members to agree on the project's goals, and to discuss the emotional success factors that will ensure the team gels successfully to deliver the required outcomes.
Co-authored by Jeff Hodgkinson
We believe a simple methodology can be applied to attain Benefits Realization. You can achieve true project success by ensuring that:
- Project benefits are clear, concise and relevant in 'value creation' terms from the Business Case onwards, and that they directly relate to your organisational strategy
- People are held accountable for achieving these benefits
- Benefits stated in a Business Case are actively measured throughout the entire initiative, ie:
- During the project lifecycle (particularly if it is released in phases)
- After the project is closed
- When the product/output starts to be used
- Appropriate action is taken if required to alter direction (i.e. the organization changes course and the intended project benefits are no longer relevant)
Companies that sell services to other businesses-project management, data management, software development or IT consultancies, for example-often track time in order to automate invoicing, but they may be overlooking the other benefits these systems can provide. Real-time access to relevant Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) such as 'percent billable' and 'completed vs. estimated' can give early warnings of project problems and lead your company to faster growth and more profitability. I would first like to explain what KPIs are, and then show you how to use some simple ones to improve your business or rate of project success that can be calculated from any time and data labor source.
1. Play with whatever and whomever you have around you
If projects aren’t opportunities to produce “unique products or services”, introduce change to an organization, increase productivity or enhance the capabilities of your customer then they shouldn’t be in your project portfolio. That being said, projects present the chance to make a real difference, and that is FUN. Manage your projects like a “prison camp” and you or your project team won’t be creative, won’t grow, and will not make the most of the collective skills present on the project. Lighten up, take lunches together, organize a project ping-pong tournament or try a new project management tool – there are many free options on the internet. Create a project environment where you can work hard and constructively “play” a bit and watch your success rate soar!
Getting the Most from Your Project Staff: Part 1 of 3 Tips to Gain Commitment from Your Project TeamWritten by Brenda Hallman
What is reality is that project resources are often assigned work beyond your project and may even be involved in other projects. It is typical in the popular matrix project organization that team members do not report directly to the project manager, but rather a functional manager. This makes it even more important that the project manager have the skills to get work accomplished through others. Even the most experienced project managers continually report this as one of their top challenges.