Category: Blog


Project Estimating Practices

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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 »


Project Earned Value Management

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“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 »


Project Leadership and Teambuilding

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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 »


Business Analyst (BA) and Analysis

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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 »


Free Book: “Managing Smaller and Medium-Sized Projects” by Dr Jim Young PMP

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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 »


The “Lean” Project

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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.

Core Principles

The adoption of Lean thinking owes … Read More »


Monte Carlo Simulation

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The Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Edition 6) advocates the use of Monte Carlo simulation for performing quantitative risk analysis.

In the project management discipline, Monte Carlo method, or probability simulation, is a computer-based mathematical technique used to understand the impact of risk and uncertainty. Its most common use is in the creation of the project schedule and the determination of the project end date. The Monte Carlo method was invented by scientists working on the atomic bomb project in the 1940s. They named the method after the city in Monaco famed for its casinos and games of chance.

Monte Carlo simulation provides a number of advantages over deterministic, or single-point estimates:

Helps to evaluate the overall risk in the project.
Converts uncertainty on the project into tangible numbers to assess the overall impact to the project.
It can be applied to assess the … Read More »


Time Management

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Among other changes, the Project Management Institute in their latest Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Edition 6) has sensibly renamed the “Time Management” knowledge area “Schedule Management” to distinquish it from personal Time Management. However, personal Time Management skills remain essential for our success in any project or workplace.

While we cannot actually manage time, which zooms on relentlessly, we can make better use of this scarce resource by working smarter to improve our personal productivity while combating the rising tide of workplace stress.

People who manage to get a lot of value-added work accomplished each day aren’t superhuman; they’ve simply mastered a few simple tools and techniques that we’ll discuss here.

Time management is about more than just managing our time. It is about setting priorities and taking charge. It often means changing habits or activities that cause us to waste … Read More »


Quitting our Project – Prematurely!

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“You’ve got to know when to hold ‘em

Know when to fold ‘em


Know when to walk away


And know when to run.”

Kenny Rogers – “The Gambler”

“The Gambler” reminds us that in poker, folding is part of the game. It allows us to take risks, knowing that if things don’t take a positive turn, we can always abandon the pursuit, although as in poker our project might be seduced by sunk costs – irreversible financial “investment.”

In 1996 there was a fatal attempt to climb Everest, when five people died on the mountain unwilling to heed the mandatory turnaround time and pull the plug on an expedition that faced deteriorating conditions. How do these projects continue in the face of evidence that the plug should have been pulled? How can we make sense of … Read More »


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

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Authors launching their books sometimes find themselves at a bookstore or other venue surrounded by empty seats except perhaps for their loyal family members, a solo ardent fan, random stragglers, and bored staff. Fortunately, my frugal, hooplaless and haka-free book launch collared a few curious people. Here’s me with colleagues and friends from our MBA days (some 30 years ago) including in the foreground Mark and Murray – successful entrepreneurs and clearly extremely intelligent and very discerning readers!

Free Sample

Click here for the FREE first chapter of this 204 page book. If you want a hard copy of the entire book please contact me by email jim_young@xtra.co.nz. The book will cost you NZ$38, which sum includes GST and free delivery within NZ.

The book is easy-to-read and is written in a friendly, … Read More »



Blog

My latest thoughts on Project Management and life.

Project Management: Communication

We can’t be an effective project manager if we’re not able to articulate what we need our project team to do. And we’re not...

Preparing a Project Resource Schedule

In project management, resources are required to carry out the project tasks. Having a plan for our project doesn’t mean we should only have...

PRINCESS: A Soft Skills Companion for PRINCE2

I’ve been busy. Here is another one that you may wish to buy.  If so, I’ll post you a copy – a mere $28.75...