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You’re Not Fired!

Kelly Perdew survived one of the toughest job interviews in securing his win on television’s hit The Apprentice 2. The successful businessman took some time out to share his winning project management strategies and philosophies with gantthead.

Churchill: The Agile PM (Part 7)

This article looks at how Churchill, faced with the destruction of the British Expeditionary Force, is left with no option but to evacuate straining the Allied relationship to breaking point as we turn gears to Dunkirk and the end of the Battle of France.

Lost in Transition

When systems are operational in nature and not being implemented or changed, the organization changes from project management to just plain management. The PMO should not get lost in this transition.

5 Symptoms of a Sick Project

There are few diagnostic readings that a project manager can take to determine if their project is out of control. Think of them as temperature and blood pressure. By identifying a critical mass of these readings, project managers can sooner identify problems–and change project behaviors for the better.

3 Secrets to Successfully Managing Product Development Programs: Q&A

Randy Iliff presented the 3 Secrets to Successfully Managing Product Development Programs webinar to the ProjectManagement.com community and provided three secrets to successfully manage product development programs. Randy provided a wealth of information in his presentation. We were not able to get to all of the questions during the live session, but we have included them here.

2012 PMI Project of the Year Award Finalist: Lab On the Move

Securing buy-in from a lone stakeholder group can be difficult enough, but when Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) (Richland, Washington, USA), launched a project, which was a 2012 PMI Project of the Year finalist, to move its facilities, it had to engage three high-profile government stakeholders and its own staff of scientists. This article discusses how the company moved a laboratory without disrupting its cutting-edge work for some high-profile government agencies.

Listen to What You Cannot See

Are you aware of cognitive biases and how they influence a project’s outcome? They are a source of project risk that anyone new to project management may not be aware of because they aren’t easily quantifiable–and are expressed through the behavior of project participants.

Brainstorming Demons

Scary creatures and evil spirits are fine on Halloween, but they have no place in brainstorming sessions, where they’re sure to thwart innovative thinking. Here are five ways your organization may be scaring away good ideas, and tips for how to exorcize the most disruptive brainstorming demons.

Do We Need Another Certification?

There’s a new certification by PMI–the Program Management Professional (PgMP). What is this certification, and where does it fit? And is it something that we need to be thinking about including in our development plans?

Agile and Lean: Helping a Marriage and Getting Kids to Do their Homework

Rather than force people to do their work, why not create a system and a structure that allows people to manage their own work? Agile techniques used by software developers can also be used at home to create a positive, motivating environment where progress can be tracked visually. In this article, we’ll show you how you can set up a simple tracking system that you can use to manage your family, or your kids’ homework, more effectively.

Implementing CRM Systems: Not All Sunshine and Roses

It’s easy to understand why organizations would want to implement an efficient and effective CRM solution. So what goes wrong with these initiatives? Why are around 70% of CRM deployment efforts fraught with problems and unforeseen complications? Let’s explore some remedies…

The Path to the PMP (Part 11)

If you think your projects will go exactly according to plan, you’re naive. The Risk Management knowledge area is, in this writer’s informed opinion, the most useful and practical knowledge area in the entire PMBOK. Be sure to know it well before taking your exam.

The Importance of Oblique Goals

What are your big goals? Productivity? Speed? Happiness? All of these are understandably desirable. They also share another attribute: They all are best achieved by seeking other, lesser goals rather than by seeking them directly.

Going With the Flow

As agile project management gains popularity, other progressive techniques are finding their way into project managers’ toolkits. One is Kanban, a “continuous-flow” approach to handling requirements, based on Lean Six Sigma concepts. Here’s a look at how Kaban can beneft software project teams and improve results.

Outsourcing for Medical Device Studies

An emphasis on well-controlled clinical trial programs and increased regulatory pressure for more meaningful, clinical data means that medical device companies must develop strategies to expand their capabilities for carrying out clinical trials.

Perception and Reality in Stakeholder Management

Even when everything seems to be going well, things may not be as rosy as you think. All the facts might point to success, but perceptions can often trump that reality. Here’s some practical advice on aligning how things are and how they appear.

Project Management: A Tale of Two Futures

Project management in practice struggles to evolve, and we consistently fail to take the actions we know we should. Human inertia is too strong an influence to ignore if we want the future of PM to be that much different than it is today. If it were to be different, however, where might it go? There are two overall directions that appear to be emerging, and each has advocates and detractors. Whether (or indeed if) one attains dominance will depend upon the intersection of many forces.

What Makes an Initiative Strategic? And Why Does It Matter?

We hear a lot about strategic initiatives. What we don’t hear about, however, is how and why they get that label in the first place. What makes one project strategic, where another one is just a project? And just what kind of impact does labelling a project “strategic” have on its ability to be successful?

Managing Virtually, or Virtually Managing? Personal Connection at a Distance

Technology, mobility and the sheer expense of office real estate has taken distance working from daring and uncertain trend to fully embraced reality. What this has mostly produced is a state of affairs where many of our most meaningful professional interactions are mediated by technology, rather than face to face–and that’s where the danger lies.

Churchill: The Agile PM (Part 15)

With an invasion imminent, this article discusses how Winston Churchill stiffened resolve, took the offense with decisive action and focused on the moral dimension of events.

Task 010Confirm Executive Sponsors

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

PM in the Cloud

Is there any advantage to using Cloud-based project management tools to manage projects? Is it cheaper and more effective? Are the tools more feature-rich? And what about the disadvantages? Here is what some research has revealed…

Mastering the Unpredictable

There is a push for a more flexible, dynamic approach to supporting knowledge work through technology. Software architect and author Keith Swenson is a leading advocate of adaptive case management, which recognizes the creative, unpredictable nature of knowledge work. He shares his thoughts on the concept.

Think Fast! (Or Maybe Don’t)

You’ve probably heard about “paralysis by analysis” but relying on gut instinct to solve problems and make decisions also lead projects astray. Understanding the psychology of decision biases can help us become better decision-makers and project leaders. Ultimately, we must incorporate a balanced approach that uses both intuition and analysis.

Study Time: Pros and Cons

There isn’t a single best way for everyone to study–people have different needs and learning styles, so using multiple methods will likely bring the quickest comprehension. To help formulate the optimal blend, let’s review the main pros and cons of each available approach to help create a personal study plan.

Don’t Shmooze? You Lose!

This book review takes a look at the art of schmoozing in Mr. Shmooze: The Art and Science of Selling Through Relationships.

Going Off

Taking a team offsite to build trust, brainstorm or just take a breath is a common practice but a risky proposition. If any team members resent the imposition on their time or suspect a touchy-feely vibe, the effort is bound to fall short of goals. Here are some tips to keep offsite meetings on the mark.

Pushing Back Is Leadership

Project managers must also be leaders within their organizations — after all, a major part of your role is to make sure that the right things are being done in the right way to maximize the chances of the enterprise achieving its goals. And to do this, you can’t blindly follow what you know is wrong.

R&D: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Research and Development. R&D. Most of us have heard this phrase without paying much attention to it. As a matter of fact, most of us work in R&D. But what do these two terms mean? And more importantly, what is the implication of doing research versus doing development on your company’s bottom line?

Butcher, Baker, Project Maker

When companies begin a search to add project leaders to their staff, they often make the mistake of looking primarily at an individual’s leadership qualities. To assume that a good leader would necessarily be a good project leader is a misconception.

Not-For-Profits Addressing SOX Act

Survey shows 48 percent of not-for-profit organizations have made changes to their corporate governance policies as a result of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.

Big IT Brother (Part 2)

Are you always looking over your shoulder at work? Are you being monitored? This article will explore both sides of the employee monitoring debate and offer some guidelines for developing an e-mail and Internet usage policy. In the second part of this two-part series, we will focus on the deployment of monitoring policies, processes and procedures and provide a short checklist of features to look for when selecting electronic monitoring software.

Task 010Recruit 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.

IT Outsourcing: What’s Next?

Outsourcing will continue to be prevalent and grow into new areas over the next 10 years. However, just as the IT industry evolves, the models of outsourcing will change. As we near the 10-year mark of the inception of the outsourcing binge, this author shares his thoughts on what the next 10 years will hold in terms of the evolution of the outsourcing trend.

Task 040Obtain Training

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

iPhone Development: Go Web, Young Programmer

This article will provide an overview of the process of developing Web-based applications that look and feel like iPhone apps when accessed via that marvel of technology–but that are still attractive and useable by the unwashed masses who haven’t been able to summon up the funds to buy their own little slice of the future.

Hot IT Jobs for 2015

After years of wage stagnation, it looks like 2015 is promising to be a great year for those in the IT jobs market. There are great opportunities out there as hot technologies are creating new opportunities. Here is an update on what the hot IT jobs are shaping up to be over this and the next few years.

E-Commerce: (Best) Practice Makes Perfect

Best practices help businesses become more efficient, effective and competitive. They provide you with insights on how leading organizations perform. Then, you can identify the performance gaps and learn ways to improve your business. This is true whether you are executing an e-commerce project or implementing minor adjustments or major reengineering in your processes.

10 Unbreakable Rules for Project Success (Part 1)

Why do so few projects succeed? Despite the decades of increasingly complex attempts to manage projects, far too many managers overlook the 10 Unbreakable Rules for Project Success. As outlined in this two-part series, these common sense guidelines hold the key to increasing your success rate and delivering greater consistency across your project’s lifecycle.

Stress Mess

Are you aware of the dangers of over-extending yourself? PMs can easily fall into this career trap if they’re not careful. Here’s some help on battling the stress.

Task 010Assess the Pilot

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

Topic Teasers Vol. 91: Calculating Benefits?

Question: Recently, my job has expanded to include helping management look into the future to calculate the benefits from investing in a project today. I vaguely remember doing these formulas to get my PMP, but to be honest I have not really used them in an actual project planning situation. Other than just the math, how do these figures help me recommend amounts that can and should be invested toward projects?

A. The economic marketplace is so dependent on stakeholder interpretations of the news and political events that it is impossible to try to predict the value of organizational projects in the future. Since 2011, businesses no longer use the present and future monetary calculations in their strategic planning.

B. When choosing projects, the one which will offer the highest return on investment is always the best one to choose. Financial value, even if it is delayed longer into the future, is always the wisest way for an organization to direct its investment dollars.

C. Present Value (PV) and Future Value (FV) can be used to see how much business value a project can provide to the organization in the future. It allows mathematical calculations to pinpoint amounts rather than just predictions of good “growth” or “return.”

D. There are many types of value for a company to consider. Each project can be focused to lead to whichever type of value is most important to the organization, but only one of four portfolio value categories for projects can be met by a single project.

Pick your answer then Test Your Knowledge!

Goin’ Contract

You have your game plan–you are going to put out your own shingle. You have the world by the tail and are getting ready to jump in there and grab your piece of the American pie? Go for it! I am behind you 100 percent! However, before you walk into the first project, let’s make sure excitement doesn’t cloud your vision of exactly what you are getting yourself into on your first gig.

Beyond Cost-Cutting

The pressure has never been greater to drive efficiency and contain costs, yet, in the words of Tom Peters, “You can’t shrink your way to greatness.” So wise companies use any business contraction to prepare for growth. They also realize that the kind of growth available to companies emerging from recession is not based on old business processes and models, but on innovation.

Keep the Change

An international IT project management veteran (and poet) shares some thoughts on the importance of change management, including why so many companies do it poorly and how it can enhance instead of stifle creative thinking. Indeed, embracing projects in flux is the only way to move your agenda forward in turbulent times.

Stage PPMSProject SelectionPPMS

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When Estimates Go Wrong

Custom software development is notoriously difficult to estimate. We start with vague ideas of what we want, expecting to fill in the details later. We’re usually doing something a little different than what we’ve done before, or completely different. How can we act more productively?

Navigating Emerging Techniques

When is “new” good, and when is it just a fad? Sometimes, new processes and approaches may seem appealing and effective simply because they’re new and optimistically presented–and we haven’t yet been faced with examples of where they’ve been perverted and compromised.

Agile Risk Management: Running the Games (Part 1)

We’ve already looked at the opportunities agile methods offer for proactive risk management and examined the benefits of engaging the whole team in risk management through collaborative games. As our agile risk management series continues, we walk through those games and explains how to engage a team in the first three of the six risk management steps.

IT Risk in the Digital Age

In an era of digital transformation with increasing levels of complexity and new threats, organizations must go beyond agility and commit to three risk principles to Increase trust and resilience among people, processes and technologies. Regulatory compliance is not enough, according to Gartner analysts.

Retaining Talent

It can be very difficult to hire good employees, but what about retaining them and keeping them in your organization? While every company and team have differing policies regarding employees, there are still many things that the PM can do to help retain talent for their project.

The Sponsor and Client Conspiracy

While internal clients can be difficult at times, there is a tendency for external clients to be a bit more high maintenance. Have you noticed how many horror story projects come down to a combination of sponsor and client? Why is that, and how can we change things?

It’s the Little Things

When it comes to innovation, many organizations seek the big, sexy, paradigm-shattering new idea. But smaller innovations can be just as important as the market-disrupting kind — maybe even better. Here are seven reasons why, and five examples of small initiatives that can be hugely powerful.

Certification: Commodity or Differentiator?

The PMP is no longer the only certification available from PMI. What does this mean for the project manager, and what does this mean for the organizations that are looking to hire project managers? Are certifications of value as a differentiator, or have they become a commodity?

24 /7: You Da Man, and It’s Not So Great Anymore

No, not the job, the job is great! However the work schedule that goes along with it is increasingly out of control due to 24/7 pager expectations. Let’s talk about getting some control back in your life. We all have to work some weekends, but frankly, your friends are beginning to cringe when your cell phone rings, and stepping out in the middle of the movie isn’t doing wonders for your dating!

5 Questions PMs Must Ask

There are five immutable principles of project management that must be addressed by project leaders and teams in order to succeed. In this new series, we begin with an overview of these principles before exploring in detail how you can put them to work in a variety of business and technical domains.

Organizational Change in Your HR Project (Part 2)

Human resource-related projects can be high visibility and affect a large number of employees. Understanding organizational change management critical success factors will help you monitor effectively—and focus the attention of your project team on the highest-priority risk areas.

The Trend to Call Agile a Trend

How much longer will project management see agile as a trend? That perception of agile identifies some underlying issues organizations need to deal with.

Stage PMPPlan 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.

The Project Implications of Technology Flywheels

A rare occurrence called a technology flywheel is around the corner. If you look at the Internet era, we have experienced this before…but this time, it’s different. What will multiple simultaneous technology flywheels mean?

PM Blind Spots (Pt. 3)

Projects are often run by inexperienced project managers who are unfamiliar with techniques to manage projects more effectively. In the final part of this series, Jim Stewart, PMP, brings some more of these common blind spots into sharper focus, including resource assessment and estimating.

Monsters Under the Bed

When it comes to risk management, hope is not a strategy. You have to approach risk as a contact sport and be willing to make concrete choices in the moment.

2015 Agile PM Software Report

A new research report from Software Advice sheds light on which functionalities of agile project management software have the greatest impact on efficiency, and the extent to which agile methods are used in teams beyond software development.

Grassroots PPM: 4 Best Practices

When small and mid-sized companies determine a need for project portfolio management capability, they must take care with four particular areas of potential risk, including trying to implement it in one phase; ignoring current business and resource realities; valuing automating over knowledge; and glossing over the importance of training.

Are You Ready to Go Agile? (Part 3 of 3)

This is the final article in a three-part series on the factors to consider when determining whether an organization, team or project is “ready” for agile. This third installment continues the discussion by examining factors that are specific to the project itself and whether it is really suited to an agile approach.

The Agile Schedule

Need help scheduling agile delivery dates? We’ll examine a pragmatic way to derive a schedule (and subsequently a project cost) for a process framework that is inherently flexible–but one that still must plan for a release date. The approach covered will hopefully satisfy both your management and your team’s desire for practical schedule planning.

Heroic Projects: The Domesday Book

In its broad scope and aggressive timescale, an unfinished medieval “balance sheet” remains an astonishing feat of public administration, the oldest U.K. public record in existence. With limited resources, teams undertook a massive canvassing effort and developed one of the first questionnaires to capture data.

Stage PCMPPlanChange Management

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CollabNet Acquires Danube

Acquisition of Scrum project management tools and training provider helps position CollabNet to expand presence in application lifecycle management market.

Much More Than the Triple Constraint

For a long time, the constraints of time, scope and cost have been the key attributes that a project management professional had to handle effectively for project success. However, project success encompasses much more.

Delivering Complex Data

Clear, concise communication is key to the success of any project, but when you’re trying to share and explain complex, data-rich information it becomes a greater challenge to run efficient meetings that don’t confuse or frustrate participants. Here are three tips to help.

To BA or Not to BA: What’s a PM to Do?

It can be a blessing and a curse for project managers to do business analysis, whether appointed or defaulted. Here are the pros and cons from someone who’s been there.

IT PM Maturity

Are you lost on the road of IT maturity? Get back on track to becoming a better project manager and learn how to help mature your skills as an IT PM as you drive through each phase of the CMM process.

Churchill: The Agile PM (Part 13)

As our Lessons From History series continues, we take a look at how Churchill put in place a communication plan to bolster morale in the government, media and public.

The Future Project Manager?

Project management has been a little slower to embrace the technology advancements, in part because it is still a very process-driven profession. But as technology replaces the role of the project manager in many areas, where does that leave the PM?

The Power of Variance Analysis

By using variance analysis to identify areas of concern, management has another tool to monitor project and organizational health. People reviewing the variances should focus on the important exceptions so management can become aware of changes in the organization and the environment. Without this information, management risks blindly proceeding down an uncertain path.

How Do You Reward Achievement Within a Team?

With the shift to a more agile, team-centric organizational structure, singling out individuals can become a cumbersome and stressful task for even the best and most experienced managers. In this article, we cover how rewards can actually backfire–and give you three rules of thumb for rewarding your best performers.

Alternative Resistance

Ignoring resistance is futile. Use these tactics to be prepared for inevitable resistance to alternate project management techniques. Otherwise, be prepared for a whole lot of frustration.

How to Cope With a Heavy Workload

Workers at all levels are being asked to do more with less. That could mean fewer bodies to do the work, insufficient supplies or outmoded technology–or all of the above. One thing is certain: You’ll have to deal with heavier workloads throughout 2009.