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When I was a software developer I once received a phone call from my manager. “Got an hour?” he asked. My manager had received what seemed to be a trivial request from one of our customers. However, by the time I had understood the customer’s real need and wrote a small application to satisfy it, I had devoted 100 hours to this project. Not all project estimates are off by a factor of 100 but this is a striking example that it is indeed possible to go that far wrong. This three-part series (adapted from my book Practical Project Initiation:…
Conventional wisdom dictates that project manager should lead the project for the whole duration of the project - since creation of the charter and up until closing phase is complete. Usually this is the case. However, there are times when original project manager has to leave the project and new person is assigned to manage and control the resources. This can be a breaking point. Schedules can potentially slip because of the learning curve project manager has to go through to catch up, especially when project is well into the execution phase. Every project is different, but there are five…
Social networking has changed the traditional communication channels in today’s era of tablets and smartphones. This has created different ways for project managers to manage projects, collaborate in real time, and find solutions quickly by going through the problems. A social network is a social structure made up of a set of actors including individuals and/or organizations and the dyadic ties between these actors. The social network perspective provides a clear way of analyzing the structure of whole social entities. The study of these structures uses social network analysis to identify local and global patterns, locate influential entities, and examine…
Wednesday, 13 March 2013 07:15

The Video Test

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The Video Test is about . . . Separating out what people are saying, or think they are doing, from what they are actually doing so you can help them improve their behaviours. When I was being trained to facilitate groups I was often asked to conduct an experience with a group under the watchful eyes of my mentors. Following the session we would meet together to debrief, with honest feedback, about what I had done and how I had done it. They would say, “We saw you being aggressive and interrupting people.” (A set of behaviours that I get into when…
One of the top 5 mistakes Agile teams make is to over estimate how much work they can deliver in sprint. Is this due to customer pressure, a desire to please, a hero mentality, or pressure from a manager? I see all of these items being a factor, but I believe the main issue is a lack of knowledge. Specifically, teams are bypassing a critical process, sprint planning. In my experience teams often talk about story points and how they use them to estimate project releases and sprints. You can see how story points are used to create release plans…
Wednesday, 27 February 2013 07:08

Beware the Unchartered Project

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An unchartered project is an oxymoron to most project managers. Kind of like the unsponsored project. It just doesn’t compute. No sponsor, no project. No charter, no project. But take a look at the mountain of stuff on your desk. How many unchartered projects are in there? After all, it’s not like there’s a magic threshold for budget, time, or other resources needed for something to be a project. If it’s got a beginning and an end, i.e., it’s temporary, and it’s creating something new or unique, it’s a project and it should be chartered. Look again. How many do…
Wednesday, 20 February 2013 09:02

Step Up or Step Out of the Way in 2013

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Money’s tight. Resources are constrained. And clients’ expectations continue to rise. Yet, there’s more work than ever and the right projects need to get done faster. Welcome to 2013 and the world of project management—a world dominated by the need for better project leaders, faster development cycles, and project management offices (PMOs) that are adding value not cost! As we look at the year ahead, here are the trends shaping our industry. 
Winston Churchill once remarked: “He who fails to plan is planning to fail.” There are number of other variations of this famous saying, and all of them imply that without proper planning success cannot be achieved. However, there are situations in the real world, especially in project portfolio management (PPM) where the exact opposite holds true. Now you may be wondering why professional PPM practitioners would allow this to happen. After all, many of us recognise PPM as an indispensable practice that is essential to aligning the company’s strategy to its performance. Or in other words, PPM practitioners help companies…
Wednesday, 13 February 2013 07:33

Principles of Scoring Models

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When I was running an IT-PMO at my previous company we faced an interesting dilemma. As we finished work on a large integration project there was a ton of unmet demand for IT work from all corners of the enterprise. This ranged from tweaks to the purchasing system to an all-new global training environment. We quickly realized even our ability to analyze the demand would be swamped by the incoming flood of work. So, we devised a scoring system. Why? There were three main reasons, all of which really comprise some fundamental principles when creating a scoring model.
Do you remember the old saying "the bucks stops here"? US President Harry Truman had a sign of it on his desk, making it clear he was accountable for all decisions. Everyone knew if there was a decision to be made, he would make it. The buck stopped with him. I heard another version of that saying the other day, and I began thinking about Project Managers and Project Management, in general. I thought if project managers would take on the same kind of accountability, leadership, and decision-making attitude that is stated so succinctly on that sign on Mr. Truman’s…