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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…
What do the leaders of top companies do to create an inviting workplace filled with fully engaged and enthusiastic employees? “The best leaders, are people who know how to listen, can make a promise and deliver on that promise, and have stepped up to the plate and made the necessary investment to successfully engage their employees”. The best leaders motivate, inspire and energize people by connecting the vision, values, purpose and business goals of the organization to individual values and needs. Here are some of the top actions I recommend to people seeking to improve their success as a leader.
Wednesday, 23 January 2013 08:10

Benefits of a Scope Management Plan

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By design, Project Managers (PMs) like structure, organization, and progress, and when there are deficiencies in one of these areas, we have a strong desire to jump in, correct it, and get the job done. In our quest to identify issues, and find and implement mitigation options during the control and monitoring phase, we sometimes overlook the use of a key document developed in the planning phase to help manage the chaos: the Scope Management Plan (SMP). This document is a best practice, but is often forgotten once a project transitions from the planning phase to execution or monitoring and…
Wednesday, 23 January 2013 07:44

Your Car Can Show You How Agile Estimation Works

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I obsess on watching the mileage my car gets. Every time I fill the tank I note how far I traveled on the last tank, and then I try to break that record with my new tank of gas. As I have experimented with trying to get more from a tank of gas I have learned one key thing: The only part of the equation that is a constant is how many gallons of gas my tank can hold. How far I get on a tank of gas can very significantly depending on the kind of trips I go on.…
To effect change, market a process not as something new, but as something everyone is doing already. Whether your organization follows the organic or top-down approach, appeal to human nature to drive adoption of new processes and tools. In a recent webinar on elements of successful requirements management, one of the attendees asked a question I hear all the time: “How do you get people to buy-in and participate, actively collaborate, in a new RM environment?”  Essentially, when it comes to adopting new processes or tools, how can one help effect change in an organization? Individuals take time to learn…
Creating successful project teams is a daunting task for any project leader, especially when they are pressed to deliver results within aggressive time scales and tight budgetary constraints. Overcoming challenges such as getting the right blend of youth and experience, skills and competencies, academic qualification and professional certifications does not necessarily lead to the establishment of successful project teams. Building successful project teams is about slotting the right individuals into designated team roles and fostering team spirit. This may sound easy at first, but in time it can become a cumbersome task, especially when project leaders have to choose from…
Wednesday, 09 January 2013 07:12

Learning from Instagrams Faux Pas

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Once again, a technology-based company has exposed to the world their classic misunderstanding of change. In Instagram’s case, the failure was two-fold: a failure in planning and an even bigger failure to communicate. In late 2012, Instagram tried to generate revenue by sharing its users' photos. (The new policy has since been retracted.) Unfortunately, the company’s new policy was not communicated properly and resulted in a predictable firestorm of bad publicity and the loss of a number of users. Instagram’s public change failure can provide important lessons for anyone or any organization pursuing change. Lesson 1 – Planning for Risk…
In many cases, managing stakeholder expectations while managing projects or programs within their constraints is as much an art as a science. It takes a balance of knowledge, tools, and “soft skills” on the part of the Program/Project manager, and an environment that is conducive to success. With so many factors to take into account, what does it take to successfully work with the stakeholders on your program or project? All of us who work on programs and projects face this question. A great deal of excellent guidance material, tips and techniques for working with stakeholders exists. In this brief…
Wednesday, 19 December 2012 07:59

Managing Project Risk – The Easy Way

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Question: How can you spot profitability leaks and cost overruns in technology projects before your peers – and then fix them? Answer: You can do it the hard way or the easy way. The path you choose depends to some degree on the consequences of failure and your budget. The Hard Way Standard risk assessment methodology requires you to first identify threats – human, operational, “reputational,” financial, technical, political, etc. Then, you have to come up with an estimate of likelihood for all those different threats and invent early warning systems that will notify you to launch your backup plans…
Wednesday, 12 December 2012 07:50

Turn Project Chaos Into Success, On Your Terms

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The Chaotic State of Project Management Today Despite the proliferation of project management technologies over the past 10 years, the low adoption of collaboration and project management solutions is truly astounding. Sure, many people have access to tools, such as SharePoint, Microsoft Project, or third-party software as a service (SaaS) tools (e.g., Basecamp, eRooms, etc.), but project management chaos still exists in many organizations. Where is the disconnect? Common Approaches and Why They Fail There are two common approaches that organizations usually take when it comes to implementing and managing collaboration and project management technologies: 1) self-service approach or 2)…