Project managers are pressured to deliver projects quickly. Sponsors think their project managers are magicians…and in a way, we are. Let’s explore eight ways to wave our magic wand to make the seemingly impossible possible.
Before we dive into our magic tricks, let’s walk through some preliminaries. We need first to break down our work into deliverables and activities.
The project manager’s role is to work with the project team to achieve the project objectives. How do we do this? The project manager and the project team develop a project plan that includes the project schedule.
The project manager must break down the project into pieces. The first exercise is the decompose the project into deliverables, verifiable work products (e.g., building, software, reports, yo-yos). In this exercise, we should consider:
Next, we decompose the lowest level deliverables into activities. What activities must be performed to create the deliverables?
Now comes the creative experience of sequencing the activities. Wise project managers ask:
“Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably the reason why so few engage in it.” -Henry Ford
Creativity is about solving problems. The project manager shows the schedule to the sponsor with a duration of eight months. The sponsor responds, “Six months max.” Let’s consider ways to compress the schedule. This is where magic starts to happen.
Not only can we expedite projects by modifying the dependencies, here are some other tactics:
Project managers have a responsibility to ensure their project meetings are efficient and effective. Here are five things to start and five things to stop in meetings.
Questions: What else would you start or stop in meetings?
Do you see the project planning process as a hoop you have to jump through to get to the real work? Yes, I know…we all want to bypass the planning and get on with the execution.
We are ready to develop the deliverables and solve the world’s problems. The project team wants to get their hands dirty and show the sponsor and stakeholders that they are in the thick of things.
Let’s skip the planning stuff and get on with it! Not so quick my dear friend. Danger lies ahead.
Every white-water rafter will tell you the same thing – scout a rapid when you are a safe distance away. You see the Danger! Rapids Ahead signs. The prudent rafter exits the river to check out what’s ahead and to determine their approach to the rapids.
Experienced project managers understand this principle too. Before entering the uncertain waters of a project, we bring the future into the present. We develop a plan that allows us to make our journey safely. Who knows, we may even have a little fun along the way.Continue reading
Have you ever had a customer accept your project work although they were not happy with the project?
According to the Project Management Body of Knowledge, customer is “the person(s) or organization that will pay for the project’s products, service, or result. Customers can be internal or external to the performing organization.”
Internal customers have many problems. The problems may include:
Well, it’s the time of the year when I evaluate my blog in preparation for the coming year. I want to make sure that I understand your topics of interest.
Thank you for a great year! I had more than 20,000 visitors this year. For some bloggers, this number is small. For me, I am amazed that this many people from all over the world visit my site. Visitors spent on average four and one-half minutes per visit.
The top countries included:
• The United States (8,102)
• India (1,446)
• Canada (1,197)
• The United Kingdom (1,137)
The top organizations were cable and communications companies.
Here are my top 20 blog posts and my observations:
1. Evaluating Risks Using Qualitative Risk Analysis (updated 1/27/15)
2. Evaluating Risks Using Quantitative Risk Analysis (8/3/14)
3. How to Determine Project Budget Reserves (2/14/14)Continue reading
Have you ever felt a tension between the business community and Information Technology in a software requirements session?
The users rattle off requirements like a Gatling gun. Developers want to meet the user’s needs but realize they don’t possess magical powers.
At the same time, the sponsor has set a demanding project deadline.
Demand exceeds supply. It’s like trying to put 24 ounces of fluid in a 12-ounce coke bottle…you just can’t violate the laws of nature, no matter how hard you try.
Tough decisions must be made. How will the team prioritize the requirements?
Many teams rely on the old fashion process of rating the requirements with the vague and undefined categories of High, Medium, and Low. Over time, users often develop a bad habit of rating more and more requirements as High. The developers push back. It can turn into a fistfight.
Allow me to introduce you to another prioritization method that can be used for traditional as well as agile projects. It’s called the MoSCoW Prioritization. The upper case letters stand for:Continue reading
Some project managers have a defensive mindset…they primarily focus on threats. It’s time to achieve more by thinking differently.
Opportunities abound. They are all around us.
Consider these day-to-day opportunities in our personal lives.
Your favorite clothing retailer is advertising a 30% discount on a new suit you been eyeing.
Starbucks is offering Pumpkin Spice Latte for a brief season. “Cinnamon, nutmeg, clove. Creamy milk and pumpkin pie spices. Your PSL is waiting for you.”
Your company is offering free flu shots for the next two weeks…I’ll take the Pumpkin Spice Latte.
What project opportunities are within your reach? What unique set of variables provide you with a chance for improving your schedule, budget, and quality? How can you convert uncertain opportunities into a realized benefits?
Many individuals have fuzzy notions about opportunities. We cannot leverage its power until we understand it. Let’s look closer with a magnifying glass.
The PMBOK defines risk as “an uncertain event or condition that, if it occurs, has a positive or negative effect on one or more project objectives such as scope, schedule, cost, and quality.”
Furthermore, the PMBOK defines an opportunity as “a risk that would have a positive effect on one or more project objectives.” Therefore, negative risks are considered to be threats and positive risks are opportunities.
I am a member of some project management LinkedIn Groups that have had heated debates concerning whether an opportunity is a risk ad nauseam. Some people define risks as strictly a negative event or condition. I understand their perspective.
The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines risk as “the possibility that something bad or unpleasant (such as injury or a loss) will happen.”
Once a project manager says they do not consider opportunities as risks, and then many of these individuals excuse themselves from the hunt for opportunities.
Don’t fall into this trap. Define [risk] and determine how you will identify and manage both threats and opportunities. Include your definitions and processes in your risk management plan.Continue reading