Project auditing is a formal type of “project review”, most often designed to evaluate the extent to which project management standards are being followed – that we are doing the right things, and doing things right. Project audits are rarely welcome and often contentious, but when done correctly, they offer unparalleled opportunity to uncover the issues, concerns and challenges encountered in the execution of our project. It affords us the project manager, project sponsor and project team an interim view of what has gone well and what needs to be improved with our project to successfully complete it. Such an audit is often triggered when:
Situations come do not give a clear picture of the happenings on a project.
Reports give a project manager the feeling that facts are being glossed over.
A doubt arises on whether the project deliverables are being achieved.
The … Read More »
We project managers need to be constantly on our toes to ensure that our project is on the right track. Monitoring includes all the efforts and activities to collect and analyse project performance data. Accurate and effective monitoring helps us stick to our timeline and identify and resolve problems early to ensure our project success. To help achieve this we typically use the following three-step controlling process:
Measure: Keep a strict vigil on progress against the project plan.
Evaluate: Determine the root causes of deviations from the plan.
Correct: Make appropriate corrections to address deviations.
Finding a good balance between monitoring too much or too little is often a challenge, especially if we’re new to project management. If we’re constantly checking our team or expecting them to report to us every day, it can feel like we’re micromanaging and don’t trust … Read More »
Professional relationships between us project managers (PMs) and our sponsors are organic – they are born, they grow, they mature, and ultimately they conclude. Importantly, we must clearly agree our respective roles and responsibilities at the start of the project and any changes to these as our project proceeds. The first thing that we might do is interview each other to assess each other’s skills, experience and philosophy. Our agreed roles and responsibilities may be included in the project charter and plan. Other than deciding our respective roles and responsibilities, two essential matters for us to clarify with our sponsor at this first meeting are:
Problem. What is the problem, opportunity or compliance issue that our project is to address? We want to clearly establish why the project exists.
Success. What would a successful project outcome be? We want to … Read More »
Failure to apply critical thinking can have a negative impact on our project. A logic fallacy is an incorrect argument in logic. A key element of critical thinking is being able to spot logical fallacies to reduce risk and enhance our ability to complete projects successfully. We project managers must be aware of common logic fallacies such as these:
Sunk Costs. “Sunk cost” is an economic term for any expenses that can no longer be recovered. Sometimes we might invest ourselves so thoroughly in a project that we’re reluctant to abandon it, even when it turns out to be fruitless and futile. It’s natural, and usually not a fallacy to want to carry on with something we find important, not least because of all the resources we’ve put into it. However, this kind of thinking becomes a fallacy when we continue … Read More »
Estimating is one of the most controversial subjects in project management. Project estimation can even make the best project management experts pull their hair out. We all know that cost and time overruns can lead to project failure. The challenge with estimating is that it always involves some uncertainty. Some of the factors that contribute most to this uncertainty are:
Experience with similar projects: The less experience we have with similar projects, the greater the uncertainty. If we’ve managed similar projects, we will be able to better estimate the costs.
Project duration: The longer the project, the greater the uncertainty. If our project is of a short duration we are more likely to account for most of the costs. Also, we will be able to better estimate costs for the time periods that are closer to the present.
People: The … Read More »
“So, how is your project going?” This is a question project managers are frequently asked by the project sponsor, customer and other stakeholders. One technique used by project managers to explain progress is to plot the plan spend curve and the actual cost expenditure curve as shown in the diagram below. The curve looks good, but what can we tell about the health of this project based on this graph? Is our project team accomplishing the planned work and doing it for less money? Or is the team behind schedule? The point is this curve does not provide sufficient information to properly communicate how the project is going.
To provide the essential information about project progress we need to apply Earned Value Management (EVM). Current performance is the best indicator of future performance, and, therefore a useful … Read More »
With effect December 2019 the PMP exam is to be structured around three domains, including the first domain: Leadership and Teambuilding that will represent 42% of the marks. This topic is not addressed in the PMBOK, hence this blog article.
However, a much more thorough explanation of project management soft skills is the subject of my soon to be published book “Princess – A Soft Skills Companion for Prince2” that explores the human factor that every project manager, regardless of the project management methodology applied, should master whether or not we are contemplating the PMP credential. “Princess” will address the following topics:
Chapter One: Introductory Stuff
Chapter Two: Leadership and Project Teams
Chapter Three: Communication
Chapter Four: Stakeholder Engagement
Chapter Five: Delegation
Chapter Six: Motivation
Chapter Seven: Personal Time Management
Chapter Eight: Issues, Problems and Decisions
Chapter Nine: Negotiation and Conflict … Read More »
To survive or preferably thrive, organisations cannot stand still. They must evolve and progress to remain alive. Such evolution and progress requires projects. And to ensure a project succeeds, among other things, it often helps to involve a business analysts (BA) particularly for complex technological endeavours. BAs aim to ensure we PMs produce the right products first up. The core thing about business analysis is engaging with project stakeholders and product users sufficiently to accurately elicit product requirements, to develop a sound business case that justifies the investment, and to create positive change for the organisation through the effective introduction and assimilation of the new product or service into business-as-usual routine. Essentially, BAs are agents for change.
BAs seek first to understand the organisation as it is and then imagine how it could be. They shape their understanding of this desired … Read More »
I acknowledge with sincere appreciation the contributions to this book from numerous clients, student, colleagues, friends and project management practitioners. Their sometimes unwitting input has been invaluable. I’m particularly indebted to Dr Russell Radford, a valued friend, fellow author and former military colleague, for his expert scrutiny of my draft book, and to my wife, Esmeralda, and my younger daughter, Emma, for tolerating all this writing silliness. And my grateful thanks to Auldhouse, our premier training organisation, for adopting the hardcover version of this book as a handout in support of their popular project management training programmes – http://www.auldhouse.co.nz/courses-schedules.
This book provides a pragmatic and holistic view of project management with a focus on smaller and medium-sized endeavours, which of course most projects are. The book kicks off with project selection and justification, and carries through the planning, … Read More »
Lean is an often-used adjective in business these days, but there’s some confusion over its exact definition. In essence, the goal of Lean is to maximise value while minimising waste. In other words, creating more value for the customer with fewer resources. Lean was born on the factory floor, so many people think of it as a manufacturing technique. However, that’s a misconception because every process, whether in production or services, can benefit from a Lean approach. Today, Lean is finding a home in every industry from finance to healthcare.
The attached slideshow developed for classroom presentation purpose, will help demystify and describe Lean. You’ll find here some useful information to guide you through a Lean implementation project. Lean practices can also be applied to the project management process itself.
The adoption of Lean thinking owes … Read More »