Category Archives for 5=Closing

Ask the Right Questions at the Right Time

The success of a project manager largely lies in the individual’s ability to communicate. Some project managers have great oratory skills but don’t ask the right questions at the right time.

Here are some key questions for each of the project management process groups. This is not meant to be a comprehensive list; just some questions to get you thinking. Neither will you need to ask all of these questions for every project.

Keep in mind, the project process groups are seldom sequential, one-time events; they are overlapping activities that occur throughout the project.

Ask the Right Questions at the Right Time

Initiating Process Group

  1. Why are we doing this project?
  2. Is your project sponsor fully engaged and on board?
  3. What is the authority level of the project manager?
  4. What do we wish to accomplish?
  5. What are the products and services we wish to deliver?
  6. What are the budget constraints?
  7. What are the schedule constraints?
  8. What assumptions are being made?
  9. Who will be impacted? Which stakeholders have the greatest interest and power?
  10. Who will comprise the project team?
  11. What are the most significant risks?
  12. How will we know if the project was successful?

The Project Charter

Unfortunately, many people think of the project charter as an administrative hoop they must jump through to get their project approved. Therefore, many charters are written hastily with little thought.


The value of the charter process is engaging stakeholders, discussing the issues, resolving conflicts, and getting agreement as you initiate the project. The stakeholder interest is considered and aligned, resulting in less likelihood of costly changes later in the project.


Read: How to Develop a Project Charter

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How to Develop a Successful Buyer-Seller Relationship

For most of my career, I have served in financial service organizations. As a project and program manager and PMO director, I’ve had the responsibility of procuring the necessary products and services from sellers. In other words, I was a buyer.

picture of handshaking

I recently left the corporate world to develop my LLC where I provide consulting services and teach courses to help project managers prepare for their PMP and PMI-RMP exams. Now, I am a seller.

Whether you are or a buyer or seller, good communication and doing what you say is critical to success. What can we do to get everyone on the same page and for the buyer and seller has a mutually beneficial relationship? Allow me to offer three recommendations.

1. Define the Buyer/Seller Relationship

First, healthy buyer/seller relationships require clarity in the roles and responsibilities. Think about a project that requires third-party professional services. Perhaps you need an outside team to develop a new software application.Continue reading

Four Practical Ways to Improve Project Procurements

As we initiate our projects, we may find that our organization lacks the skills and knowledge to create the project deliverables and meet the project objectives. In other cases, we may need products outside of our organization. Project managers use procurement management to secure these needed products and services.

picture of someone signing an agreement

The Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) says that Project Procurement Management “includes the processes necessary to purchase or acquire products, services, or results needed from outside the project team.” Our ability to find and procure the right resources at the right time will enhance our chance for success. 

Project Procurement Management

1. Develop a Procurement Management Plan

So, how can we improve our project procurements? Start by developing a Procurement Management Plan. The plan describes your approach to acquiring the necessary products and services from outside organizations. This plan may include things such as:

  • Types of contracts
  • Procurement process and documents
  • How you will identify sellers
  • How you will evaluate and select the sellers
  • Who will be involved in the evaluation process
  • Who will execute the agreements
  • Constraints and assumptions
  • How you will handle decisions such as make or buy

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How to Close a Surprise TKO Project

Have you ever experienced surprise TKO (Technical Knockout) project? You never saw it coming. There was no countdown. Bam! Your project was over.

How to Close a Surprise TKO Project

Photo courtesy of Adobe Stock (edited in Canva)

Imagine a marketing project. You and the team had been charged with implementing a fresh marketing program for a long-time product. Furthermore, you’ve been asked to deliver the program in record time.

The team had been working overtime for four months. Blood, sweat, and tears. You weren’t sure if you could make the deadline or not, but you were trying every trick of the trade.

Little did you know that senior management had been discussing the possibility of killing the project for the past month. Why? The senior team had discovered that a competitor would soon roll out a far superior product requiring your company to divert its resources into product development.

Then the day came. Your project sponsor called you to her office and told you that the party is over — close the project. As you left her office, you wanted to crawl in a hole.

Where does a project manager go from here?

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What I Learned About Risk Management from a Christmas Tree

My family has a tradition of going to a Christmas tree farm, selecting a tree, bringing it home, setting it up and decorating. This year was a disaster…here’s my story (please don’t tell anyone) and the risk mitigation strategies I learned.

Hobson wanted a selfie at the Christmas tree farm.

Hobson wanted a selfie at the Christmas tree farm.

Normally, we get our tree the day after Thanksgiving. Not this year. We waited until the second weekend of December to make our tree trek. My wife Sherri and I took our dog Hobson with us (our son and daughter now live out of town). There were very few trees left.

We finally found one that didn’t look like a Charlie Brown Christmas tree. The trunk looked straight, and the tree looked fine (no gaping holes if you looked from the right side). I cut the tree. The tree farm owner shook the needles out, wrapped the tree in a net, and helped me tie the tree on top of our car.Continue reading

10 Habits of Highly Effective Project Managers

Just because you’ve been a project manager since the days of “Gilligan’s Island” is no guarantee that you are getting better.

As a matter of fact, you may be stumbling about trying to get off your island. Even the Skipper and the Professor can’t seem to help…encouraging…huh?

Master Good Habits Words 3d Magnifying Glass

Photo courtesy of DollarPhoto.com

I have audited many projects through the years. Without exception, the projects in troubled waters have one common factor – a lack of basic risk management.

Why do project managers resist risk management? Don’t have time. That’s like saying you don’t have time to sleep.

Tried it but no one seemed to buy in? It’s time to apply risk management in a way that demonstrates the value.

Here are ten ways to improve your project risk management and improve your chance for success.Continue reading

Make Project Closeout more than just “Stick a Fork in it, we’re done!”

This is a guest post by Kiron Bondale. Kiron has managed multiple mid-to-large-sized change management projects, and has worked in both internal and professional services project management capacities. He has setup and managed Project Management Offices (PMO) and has provided project portfolio management and project consulting services to over a hundred clients across multiple industries. Kiron blogs at Easy in theory, difficult in practice.

Depending on how your project has gone, closure often feels like the mirage of an oasis witnessed by delirious travellers in the desert – close enough to touch, but tantalizing far away.

However, on all projects, that day arrives when the project team believes that all approved scope has been delivered, and the rush begins to transition to the next project.

Don’t succumb to the temptation to short-change the closure phase as there are a few critical activities which you will miss out on if you lock the project door and throw away the key.

What have we learned?  While valuable lessons are learned throughout the lifetime of the project, closure provides that final opportunity to assemble the team, key stakeholders and sponsor to review what worked really well and what could have been done differently.  Team members should now have some perspective to be able to prioritize which lessons were the most profound, and could be asked to distill and refine usable change recommendations which could be passed on to a PMO or other process improvement body for incorporation into your methodologies.Continue reading