Free Book

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That’s right – after three years of steady sales, Whitcoulls Ltd, New Zealand book-sellers, tell me that local demand for my “Managing Murphy” textbook is flagging. Bugger, no more orders. I’ll have to postpone retirement, write another book or even get a real job. But rather than face the ignominy of a fire sale, I thought that you, my blog readers, would appreciate a free copy of this book while its content remains current. Yeah – today’s technical books, unlike history books, have a diminishing half-life as new ideas flourish exponentially. Actually, that’s not entirely true – history too is frequently rewritten.

This free book comprehensively explores the subject of contemporary project risk management.  There’s more here than most people would ever wish to know, but it might look good on your desk when the boss or risk-averse … Read More »

Getting Back On Project Budget

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Part of successful project management is completing our project within the prescribed budget, yet a lot of projects overrun their budgets, particularly the IT variety.  Cost overruns are the additional percentage or dollar amount by which actual costs exceed our estimates, appreciating of course that an exact estimate is an oxymoron.

While this blog item is about getting back on budget when actual expenditure exceeds planned expenditure, clearly it is much better to have an adequate budget in the first instance.  See here for a blog item on estimating and budget preparation.  We then regularly track expenditure against the budget to detect cost variance (that’s the difference between budgeted and actual costs).  We need to detect such variance early, particularly if we wish to solve any over-expenditure easily.  Should cost variance be greater than … Read More »

The “Hardscape” Home Project

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Not all projects are huge construction jobs or complex IT jobs.  In fact, most projects are small or comparatively trivial and inexpensive – these being some 80% of all projects undertaken and represent only 20% of all project expenditure – being one interpretation of the Pareto principle.  Pareto was an “Italian economist” and how’s that for an oxymoron.  Although, Italy’s real affliction isn’t economics at present, it seems to be politics.

This blog is about a small project.  However, even big projects are simply a number of related small projects usually call tasks or activities (if we apply project terminology) that we do ourselves, delegate to a family member or occasionally contract out.  Attached here is a useful paper about managing small projects, such as the personal project I describe in this blog item.  … Read More »

Project Complexity

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Novopay has become a huge cost (some $1.5 billion) for us hapless taxpayers, and for schools in terms of the stress it is causing staff and the time schools have to spend attempting to fix the problems.  As at posting this blog item, principals say Novopay is still struggling to pay their teachers properly, with an average of almost six teachers at every school affected by incorrect payments.   Novopay complexity was completely under-rated and the ‘big bang’ launch proved disastrous.  Novopay like INCIS before it will be a case study on IT courses for years to come.  Hopefully the upcoming IRD project is more successful and perhaps Kiwi companies should get a chance to do this job?

It is surprising if not alarming that significant numbers of complex software and IT projects around the world … Read More »


My latest thoughts on Project Management and life.


My big thanks to the coronavirus lockdown that provided me with an undisturbed opportunity to put together this 104 page booklet on Earned Value...

Project Estimating Checklist

Hofstadter’s Law: “It always takes longer than you expect, even when you take into account this law.”

Hofstadter was right....

Earned Value Management Misconceptions and Limitations

Although EVM offers excellent benefits, and is undoubtedly a very clever thing, it’s not perfect. In this final chapter I’ve discussed in detail a...