Retentions

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To an increasing extent we are outsourcing project work – maybe our entire project or at least part of the work is given over to a contractor to complete who in turn may contract out packages of their work to subcontractors or subbies as we call them.  Thus contracts between the client and the principal contractor and between the principal contractor and their subcontractors are commonplace.  A practice, particularly in the construction industry, is for the client or principal contractor to have a provision in their standard contract that allows them to retain a portion of payments until both parties agree that the work is properly completed.  So retention or retainage in this sense has nothing to do with improving customer loyalty, reducing customer defections or even a medical complaint, but everything to do with creating an incentive to retain … Read More »


Project Charter

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The conception or initiation phase of a project typically culminates in the preparation and publication of an important artifact – the project charter or initiation document, assuming of course that the proposed project has survived the various selection hurdles along the way.   A project charter is a formal high-level written contract agreed between our project sponsor, ourselves as project manager, and sometimes other key stakeholders, that formally authorises us to commence our project.

Strictly speaking we do not have a project until our charter has been agreed, signed and published.  Until the charter is finalised we only have a possible or probable project, and if we are managing a project at present and do not have a written signed charter, we should prepare one and get it signed off by the project sponsor as soon as possible.  This … Read More »


Project Evaluation Reports and Lessons Learned

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A completed project usually culminates in the preparation of a report concerned with project performance over the period of the project life.  For larger projects this report may consist of the covering letter, cover page, summary, contents, introduction, purpose, methodology, discussion or findings, conclusions and lessons learned, recommendations and possibly numerous appendices.

Some ways of collecting the necessary project performance data for evaluation are surveys, questionnaires, interviews, focus groups, observation, and through study of project documentation, diaries and logs.  It is particularly useful to maintain a Lessons’ Learned Log.  There is no single way to structure the body of our reports (sometimes referred to as discussion, findings or observations), but one of following may be appropriate:

Knowledge Areas.  The PMI PMBOK identifies the following ten knowledge areas in terms of which project success can be evaluated:

Project … Read More »


Measuring Progress and Predicting Outcomes

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First of all let’s distinguish between the expressions “project management success” and “project success.”  Project management success is primarily about producing the final deliverable as per specifications, on time and within budget, whereas project success is mostly about realising business case benefits, and achieving these are usually beyond the control of us project managers.

There are several predictors of project management success including the competence of the project manager, the project team cohesion, the adequacy of the original time and cost estimates, and the riskiness of the undertaking.  Too little time and/or money make it very difficult for us project managers to achieve on-time completion within our approved budgets no matter how effective and efficient we are.  And too little time and money is not uncommon.  It is sometimes the consequence of poor estimating, unanticipated variations, rework and … Read More »



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My latest thoughts on Project Management and life.

BOOK LAUNCH – “Managing Smaller and Medium-Sized Projects”

Authors launching their books sometimes find themselves at a bookstore or other venue surrounded by empty seats except perhaps for their loyal family members,...

Project Durations and Contingencies

Predicting project completion times is one of the challenges of Project Managers. Project schedule overruns are quite common due to uncertainty in estimating task durations,...

Project Cost Estimating

Estimation is notoriously difficult. Projects by definition are unique ventures. We do not have the luxury of “having done it before” enjoyed by our...