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Back in 2008 when Bruce Taylor and I were writing our book the “Project Management Communications Bible” we found that a certain number of project managers were struggling with their project communications. Back then, we found surveys on the Internet that showed that project communications were the biggest reason for project failure and we talked to project managers and saw firsthand the problems they were having trying to deliver a successful project. Over and again we saw that project managers were consistently ignoring project communications on their projects. For example, we saw that many project managers were not building effective…
Projects can represent an investment of billions of $US over a development period that can be as long as five or more years. With such large investments at stake, it’s important to use a well-integrated set of best-in-class tools and methodologies to reduce the risk of either a less-than-projected return on investment, or worse, a total failure. If the chosen approach can also reduce the new product development (NPD) cycle time, its value is even greater. Many large organizations have adopted a gated approach to reduce NPD risk. One of the key features of such an approach is a set…
Wednesday, 11 September 2013 09:33

Acting Without Thinking Too Much

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As Project Managers when confronted with making important decisions, we always find ourselves carefully analyzing the situation before acting. We list all the alternatives, all the consequences, identify all the pros and cons for each option, and then employ very sophisticated tools to compute all utilities before reaching the optimal decision. Decision trees, linear programming methods, payoff tables and operations research are all at our disposal in the decision making process. Sounds soothing and elegant, but the reality is that all the above are exceptions. In fact, I probably lost those readers by now who were interested in reading about…
Wednesday, 11 September 2013 09:15

Commonsensical Project Risk Definition

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Definition of Risk The official definition of a Risk & Risk Management as per the PMBOK Guide is: A Risk is an uncertain event or condition that if it occurs, has a positive or negative effect on a Project's Objectives. I have a confession; the first time I read this it was like reading VCR instructions. I had to read it over and over again just to make the statement sound right in my head. After a while I realized exactly what they were trying to say. Simply put:  Project Risk is the possibility that something will not happen as…
Wednesday, 04 September 2013 08:16

Achieving Excellent Project Time Management

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Considering life, time is a unit of measurement since all events occur within its intervals. In fact, no two recurrent activities in history can be absolutely described without due reference to it. For instance, when intercontinental events such as the Olympics, Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) world cup and Wimbledon are occur repeatedly in the same location, they are mainly referenced based on their years or dates of occurrence. Again, time is generally an independent resource which we spend and can never retrieve –we can only attempt to compensate for it presently or in future. Therefore, in achieving project…
Recently we worked with an Agile team that was building an FDA-regulated medical device. Some team members were worried about how to produce the required verification and validation documents. “What do we do?” they asked us. “We’re not supposed to do documentation in Agile.” That’s a myth. In Agile, the question isn’t whether to document. It’s what kind of documentation to create, and when. Like everything else in Agile, those decisions are based on your assessment of value—in this case, the value of the documentation. More documentation is not necessarily better. In fact, the volume of product documentation often is…
Wednesday, 28 August 2013 09:07

6 Lessons Learned the Hard Way

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Being a Project Management practitioner is a choice many of us have willingly made (and enjoy!). Others may have joined the ranks due to necessity from their previous role being eliminated, outsourced or some other form of extinction. Regardless of our past experiences we’ve all made our share of mistakes and all have a unique relationship with the term “Lessons Learned”. In this article I share some of the lessons I learned the hard way. We can read as many books as we want, interview everyone we’ve ever known and read every Google article that exists on the topic of…
Wednesday, 21 August 2013 09:32

Lessons Learned - Mistakes Repeated Vol.1

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Re-Learning how to manage resources where there are fewer employees and more consultants/contractors (C/C). Every Project closure needs a time for lessons learned. Alas I am not the only one who sees the same mistakes repeated far too often. My experience over 40 years and insights from the recent Project World Conference held in Toronto leads me to start with a lesson learned/mistake repeated that I see as critical: The inability to effectively recognize and manage the fundamental differences in the relationship between organizations and their external contractors.  Quite simply the employer-employee relationship is different from the Corporate-consultant relationship. 
Wednesday, 21 August 2013 09:27

Follow-Ups - A First Step towards Project Management

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One of my stakeholders told me in a meeting the other day that I accomplished more in 10 minutes than it would usually take a couple weeks to do. I laughed and thanked him for the compliment. Later, I had to analyze what made him think that. I figured out that it was because of my follow-ups. In an organization that has not had an IT Project Manager before, I had set a new precedent for holding people accountable for what they said they would do. That seems to be the initial focus of this newly added project management role…
Collaboration in Collocated and Virtual Project Teams In the second part of this series,(click read to see part 1) I included a portion of Yahoo human resources head Jackie Reses’ memo announcing the end of telecommuting at Yahoo. It stresses Yahoo’s top priority is collaboration and concludes face-to-face interaction via employee collocation is the best way to enable it (Swisher, 2013). Different communication channels may be preferred for project work performed by a collocated team than for a virtual one. The degree to which project activities require a lot of day-to-day collaboration will also be a factor (Lojeski, 2008). The…

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