Category Archives for 4=Control

How to Think Ahead With a Project Plan

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.

woman thinking

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

10 Surprising Ways to Make Your Project Customers Happy

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.”

Group of People Standing Holding Customer

Internal customers have many problems. The problems may include:

  • A product that lacks certain features or functionality
  • Too many defects in a manufacturing process
  • A regulatory requirement
  • Insufficient sales
  • Lack of a building or infrastructure
  • Unhappy external customers due to poor response times
  • Vulnerabilities to a cyber attack
  • Not enough coffee (just kidding)Continue reading

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

Want Better Results in Software Projects? Try 3 Simple Questions

Project managers crave successful software projects. They dream of crossing the finish line with a win. Project managers want to help their company and advance their career.

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

Unfortunately, some project managers fall into a rut and fail to make progress. They do the same things from one project to another project and expect a different result. They take the wrong actions, pursue the wrong things and operate under wrong assumptions.

Continue reading

How to Cash In on Project Opportunities

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.

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

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?

Fuzzy Opportunity

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.

The Family Feud

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

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

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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

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