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When-Where Agility

Organizations don’t become agile overnight. It takes deep commitment at all levels, and it permeates all facets of the business. Missteps are to be expected, but to get started on the right track, we must first understand when and where agility makes the most sense for the organization.

Leadership Lessons Learned from PMs

Just getting your feet wet in the project management pool? The most important studying this practitioner has done is of those around him. Learning from others is a vital tool in a prospective PM’s toolkit.

Topic Teasers Vol. 89: Chasing the Shifting Target

Question: I’ve just been asked to begin to document how my projects and those of three fellow project managers meet the company’s strategic objectives. That’s not really part of what I do at work right now, so I’m embarrassed to admit I understand the term, but have no idea how to prepare what management is expecting. To be honest, that seems a little fuzzy and I prefer to deal with facts and figures. What shall I do?

A. Strategic objectives are marketing magic created to convince stakeholders that an organization is doing well. They are not important to a project manager or a project team, and if assigned you should quickly refuse their care and maintenance. Otherwise, when the company reports do not look good, you will be blamed.

B. While many project managers are familiar with a company having strategic objectives, and even a lucky few are allowed to know what they are for the assigned projects, not many realize that tracking them is very much a numbers game that is well within the skill sets and abilities of most of us.

C. Only the sales team has access to the numbers you would need to create strategic objective reports for upper management. They can manipulate sales numbers to make them look good, so the VP of Sales should ask his staff to capture the data and create the reports.

D. While having strategic objectives sounds good, all that matters is that the project teams are creating the deliverables they are asked to construct or create in the Project Charter. Since you are not involved with choosing them, you cannot fairly be asked to track them throughout the organization as it will take time away from the project work that should be your focus.

Pick your answer then Test Your Knowledge!

My Name Is Not Claire Voyant!

Jayne Sharp quickly discovered that her job description as project team member was missing an important and unspoken qualification: psychic ability to read management’s mind.

Task 040Identify BRE Team Members

Huge online community of Project Managers offering over 12,000 how-to articles, templates, project plans, and checklists to help you do your job.

Earned Value Management Study: Is Your Organization Ready?

The goal of this article is to encourage project managers to participate in an academic survey to help determine if an organization is ready to apply earned value management to its projects. If you are interested in learning more about EVM–and providing input into an assessment tool to help determine if an organization is ready to apply earned value–please read on!

3 Warning Signs Your New PMO Has Lost Its Swagger

What should you focus on if you’ve landed a job in a new PMO that is outright ineffective? Here are three signs that your newly branded PMO has lost its swagger—and tips to help you forge onward, even when the path is not clear.

Speed Up Project Cycles

With the increase in distributed teams and the rise of online meetings among them, a Web conferencing tool like GoToMeeting Corporate can help project managers accelerate project cycles by enabling better communication, increasing engagement and sharing ownership of project results.

Five Little Minutes

When recruiting team members, you can help even the busiest or most reluctant prospects find their project within yours. In Part III of our Developing Project Community series, the author explains his journey from half-hearted beggar to fully engaged listener, and how a brief, open conversation can win deeper involvement from participants.

6 Reasons Project Plans Fail

From simple problems to complex, and everything in between, there are many pitfalls that can plague a project. And with low-performing organizations wasting nearly 12 times more resources than high-performing ones on failed projects, there’s no time like the present to address the causes and implement much-needed changes.

Task 020Update Plans

Huge online community of Project Managers offering over 12,000 how-to articles, templates, project plans, and checklists to help you do your job.

Introducing the Project Controller

This emerging position can help to separate the art and science of project management responsibilities, freeing project managers to focus on leadership and meeting strategic business objectives.

Operational Metrics

What metrics are really important to help you manage your business more effectively? Here is some help in honing in on the critical few that matter.

The Importance of Playtime

Even though we’ve regulated play to children, wannabe children and employee training scenarios, there is a lot of value in promoting play in the workforce.

What Your Employees Mean To You

The way you treat your team–much like the way you treat your customers–is a reflection on you as a manager. So, how are you looking these days?

Task 050Activate Help Desk

Huge online community of Project Managers offering over 12,000 how-to articles, templates, project plans, and checklists to help you do your job.

Unlearning PM: The Control Dilemma

Widely used project control methods often require more maintenance than the systems (and the people) they are intended to control. The pursuit of control becomes more burden than value facilitator. But on real-world projects, independent agents act in ways no closed-loop or anticipatory control mechanism could predict — and often for the better.

Task M00Milestone PMC M00

Huge online community of Project Managers offering over 12,000 how-to articles, templates, project plans, and checklists to help you do your job.

What Role Should the PMO Play in Project Finance?

There is one aspect of project management where it’s rare to find any consistency at all within PMOs: project financials. Let’s look at some of the different options and see if we can figure out some models that might work effectively.

Project Decisions: Process & Pitfalls

A good project decision can produce a bad result, and dumb luck can save a bad decision. But in the long run, more good decisions will result from a process that avoids four common pitfalls and takes into account the triple constraint, stakeholders and the unavoidable fact of uncertainty.

Automatic for the Process

When it comes to automating software release processes, there are inevitable challenges that must be overcome, starting with resistance from developers, testers and other stakeholders. Change management is critical. Here are some recommendations to help navigate this often difficult journey.

Project Speed

A student engineering team at Delft University of Technology built the world’s fastest electric car with help from requirements management software that improved collaboration, resulting in faster decision-making and information-sharing. The team met all its initial design goals and delivered the record-setting vehicle on time.

Profit = Project Management Partners with Finance to Use EVA

One of the best ways of selecting a project is by utilizing economic value added (EVA) methodology. This methodology is also considered a criterion of project acceptance. EVA requires effective collaboration between finance and project management, an alliance that not only enables the project management professionals to understand how the company’s finance works, but also allows them to assist business leaders in making better financial decisions.

Turning Metrics into Maturity

Earned value management is a widely recognized system for planning and controlling projects, and project managers should consider a deeper education in the tool. But some of EVM’s benefits are overlooked at the organizational level, specifically strategic planning and risk and change management maturity.

The Power of Positive Leadership

What is your management technique? The benefit of positive leadership in project management is that it helps build strong connections between managers and their teams, thereby improving member performance, spurring creative and inventive solutions, and ultimately leading to greater project success.

Integrity: The Project Manager’s Level

Even if you’re able to stay within budget and complete your project on time, the key is keeping things in balance. Certain tools can only get you so far. The difference can be the human factor.

The 5 Hazards of PPM

There are five common pitfalls that trip up organizations attempting to institutionalize portfolio-based project management — and seven critical best practices that can help identify and avoid them to achieve greater potential from your PPM efforts.

Hot Technologies for 2016

The mash-up of technologies is becoming more and more evident. What is hot for 2016? Are recent hot tech trends riding the forefront of innovation? Maturing? Becoming commercialized? The answer is obvious: all of the above.

The Company Community

Remember what life was like before there was Facebook? We’ve come a long way with business and technology, but we’ve also found new ways in which to distance ourselves from each other–so building a community within our organizations is even more important in today’s world.

Global Marketing Misfire

Be careful: The inability of a market to fully appreciate the needs of its customers and adapt its product to a different culture is a huge mistake. Unfortunately, it’s all too common when it comes to many companies’ misdirection of their global marketing strategy.

PPM 101: Case to Case

In choosing which projects deserve scarce resources and which can wait, business cases, built on a common set of documentation, can help organizations better compare potential benefits and value, estimated costs and risks. Here is a checklist of information that should be included when building a common business case template.

How Much Do You Need to Know?

The purpose of a project is important, right? But what does that really mean? What do team members need to know in order to be as effective as possible? Let’s look at whether we can determine the “right” level–and perhaps more importantly, how we can ensure that happens consistently.

The State of the PMO 2014

A benchmark study shows project management offices continue to expand their influence as strategic resources for their organizations. In addition, high-performing PMOs improved the alignment of projects with strategy by 53 percent. Top priorities this year include implementing various processes to improve strategic capability.

Change Is A Process, Not An Event

When launching a significant change initiative, one of the biggest mistakes leaders make is to view the change as an event that happens at a single point in time. In reality, effective change is a process that involves a series of “conversations.” Here are five guidelines for successfully navigating the people side of change.

Task 020Review Integration Testing

Huge online community of Project Managers offering over 12,000 how-to articles, templates, project plans, and checklists to help you do your job.

Project Documentation Done Right

A project will live or die by its documentation. So how can a project manager stay on top of all the moving pieces and emails flying about in the midst of the high-pressure environment of a project?

Digital Transformation: The Time is Now

We now live in a digital age. Not because technology is new, but because the way we react to technology and interact with it is different. What does this mean for you as a business person?

The Good BA

What inherent characteristics must an effective business analysts possess? Here are three.

Next Year’s PMO Budget

It’s budget season, and the emergence of project management offices in recent years has added another piece to the annual puzzle for many organizations. From staffing to travel, here are six key areas that should be considered in the PMO budgeting process.

BPI (R)evolution

Is business process improvement best done through evolution or revolution? And what are the differences?

Bash PMI? How About Thanks?

People seem to think that the Project Management Institute is all about pushing burdensome, plan-driven, pre-codified approaches. Quite the contrary, PMI provides the worldwide platform, leadership and knowledge to help the community figure out what works, and it was on display in the person of PMI president Mark Langley at a recent event.

Task 070Analyze Benchmark Data

Huge online community of Project Managers offering over 12,000 how-to articles, templates, project plans, and checklists to help you do your job.

Task 030Train Team Members

Huge online community of Project Managers offering over 12,000 how-to articles, templates, project plans, and checklists to help you do your job.

Managing At-Risk Knowledge Adds Value

This article presents a structured approach to managing the risk of losing critical knowledge due to resources becoming unavailable for the project. For key resources, the activities of this approach are ideally carried out even before the project is fully ramped up and before project risk management is fully underway. The four sequential processes-initiate, analyze and plan, execute, and close-ensure that the project’s risk exposure to knowledge loss is effectively reduced in an efficient way.

The Resilience Factor

How resilient are you? An expert shows how you can improve it…and why that can make you a master of change.

Are You a Project Manager, Really?

You’ve read the new definition of project management. Some of you cheered, some of you jeered. Now we ask a frightening question for some, because you might not like the answer. Better that we ask it anyway, rather than continuing to accept only half of the role.

The Timebox

You have heard the adage, “Think outside the box!” Well, sometimes it’s best to think inside the box when time is of the essence.

Baby PMO Blues

Congratulations! Your proposal has been accepted, and you are now responsible for the implementation of a bouncing baby PMO. So now that you’ve got approval…what’s next?

Can Your Assets Raise Cash?

Like factoring, Asset Based Lending is a big industry and one of the most popular methods of securing commercial-industrial short-term credit. Do you know it and what it can do for you?

What Teams Need (But Won’t Ask)

A project manager has many responsibilities to the team. Some (direction, communications) are more obvious than others (providing context, looking for training opportunities, maintaining a work-life harmony). Obvious or not, these activities are essential to developing high-performing teams that deliver successful projects.

Anticipate Volume

Many changes in the business and technology world are undertaken explicitly to drive or support increased volumes: more clients, new services, or greater use of existing ones. Even small changes can drive huge changes in usage. Here are some examples of project nightmares that might have been alleviated, if not entirely avoided, if more attention had been given to the volume outcome.

Micro-managing or Macro-managing: What Works Better for a PM?

Micro-management can be advantageous in certain situations, but often becomes an obstacle in the on-time delivery of projects. This article provides some insights on which management style is considered the best. It also gives a few tips on how PMs can improve their management style and work toward ensuring greater success with project delivery.

Write Better User Stories

Writing effective user stories on Agile projects requires collaboration between the product owner and team. The effort involves agreeing on the depth of technical detail in the story, ensuring that epics are appropriately broken down, and adding acceptance criteria. Let’s look at some helpful examples for each step.

Project Governance: A Matter of Strategy or a Routine Activity?

Project governance has often been taken as something that is merely strategic in nature. This situation necessitates further discussion about how to make the utility of project governance simple and more applicable for organizations with little to no expertise and foundation in adopting this approach. One way to do that is to look at some of the challenges and work backward to identify solutions.

Slashing Risks with User Experience Engineering (Part 2)

In Part 1, we introduced the idea of User Experience Engineering (UX) and the core tools and processes we use today to conduct user research. Here we continue by showing the core principle that all user research is based on–and how you can use it to combat scope creep and other requirements-based risks right now.

The Five Keys to Successful Change

If you’re setting out to change the world (even a small corner of it), then you’ll want to be sure to consider each of these five keys and make sure that you proceed in a measured way that takes each into account.

Group Hug

Why should project managers embrace PPM? A look at a (fictional) multi-million dollar company provides some of the answers.

Quality in Projects: Don’t Confront Me!

Should quality matter to the project manager? Isn’t on schedule, on budget and to spec already a handful to manage? Use these quality tools and practices to ensure a positive project legacy.

Invest in Learning

I agree that lessons learned are a great idea, but I did not find an organic approach mentioned in “The Learning Curve.”

HP to Acquire PricewaterhouseCoopers

Why would a hardware manufacturer like HP spend a reported $18 BILLION on a consultancy like PWC? It actually makes a lot of sense when you look at the big picture.

How to Get More Done

In today’s sometimes overwhelming, chaotic world of too many competing demands on your time, you should try succeeding on a whim…or make that a WMMM: What Matters Most Management.


Recent appointments, promotions, openings and awards in the world of project management.

Why Bosses Screw Up

You’re about to see your boss in a new light. If he or she falls into the “not nice” category, at least you’ll know why they act that way…

Brave New World (Part 3)

What if we really were a profession? What would be the implications for project managers, the companies that employ them or for the associations that promote and support project management as a discipline? This article continues our portrait of what this brave new world would look like and some of the challenges that each of these groups would face as a result.

SOA 2007: Past, Present and Future

A year ago, Service Oriented Architecture seemed like the hottest thing on the block. Time has cooled it off a bit, or maybe just put it in perspective. Here’s an update on the current and potential impact of SOA–and how to spot a fake.

The Top Ten

Job searching is never easy. But rest assured…here we present 10 essential qualities that will pave the way to job offers.

A Critical Look at Project Initiation

You think you can justify that? Some organizations conduct an objective and formal analysis of their project opportunities, appropriately evaluate and prioritize them against objective criteria and make reasoned choices based upon independent assessment. There just aren’t many of them. Here, we’ll explore what does happen, and why. We’ll evaluate some alternatives and considerations in approaching project justification and talk about some of the changes that can lead to organizations making better decisions.

Review: The Single-Minded Project

What enables a project regime to successfully achieve its objectives are nine crucial capabilities, which are described in detail in the nine chapters that form the bulk of The Single-Minded Project by Martin Price.

Death and Taxes…and Customers!

Some things in life are inevitable–unfortuntely, customers are not. You have to build a strategy to get and keep customers, based on who your customers are. Different types of customers require different CRM approaches, but one thing is certain: You can’t afford to ignore CRM.

Better than Good Enough

Time-tracking solutions can help you uncover hidden opportunities to maximize your project’s value, from more efficient resource allocation to more accurate estimating and bidding. Here’s a closer look at how better time management produces more successful projects.

Do You Speak Agents?

For diplomats, teachers, journalists and travel agents, language is crucial to getting the job done. The same holds true for agents. If agents can’t understand each other, how can they possibly work together? Here is further discussion from Jim Odell on the language of agents and its importance to systems development.

Get Social with Your Innovation

If your organization has lost the courage to move innovation to its center and has gotten stuck in a project-focused, reactive innovation approach, now is your chance to regain the higher ground and refocus—not on having innovation success, but on building innovation capability. Are you up to the challenge?

Stage PMJJustify Project

Huge online community of Project Managers offering over 12,000 how-to articles, templates, project plans, and checklists to help you do your job.

Learning from Others: One County’s Story

Nowhere does project portfolio management play a more important role than in government. Government IT departments are under constant scrutiny from county budget officials, watchdog groups and citizens to ensure that the money spent on IT is well spent. Here, we take a look at a Project Management Officer’s implementation of project portfolio management for her county.

Mastering the Art of Inquiry

You receive massive amounts of information every day. But are you getting the information you really need? Do you know how to ask the right questions and actively listen to the answers — whatever they may be — in order to gain the knowledge and insights you need to be successful?

The Sum of Scrum

Command-and-control management often undermines teamwork. The principles of Scrum, which give teams autonomy to prioritize their work, help build a sense of shared commitment to project goals, which yields better results. Psychology, not hierarchy, is the key to high performing teams.