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.

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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.

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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.

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In The Building

Delays can’t always be predicted. But once they happen, their impact on a project can be proactively analyzed, helping project managers reduce or overcome the negative effects. This is the domain of Keith Pickavance, senior vice president with Hill International, once of the largest U.S. construction management firms. Here, he shares his thoughts on delay analysis, other project management trends and the ideal project manager.

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Foundation Not Formality: Why Certain Processes Should be Uncompromisingly Followed

If you can’t deviate from a process, you can’t be creative. Project management processes actively stifle creativity whenever an idea requires out-of-the-box thinking and discipline discourages flexibility. Processes are designed to limit individual creativity but not everything can be derived from a standard template. So, how do we ensure that our processes reconcile with reality?

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A True View

As project and portfolio management processes spread throughout organizations, the greatest roadblock to executive visibility isn’t the software or methodologies employed. It’s individual contributors. Traditional top-down approaches just don’t work. Here are keys to increasing team member participation. Increased visibility and value will follow.

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What’s Your Schedule Like?

Microsoft Project is the dominant desktop scheduling software in the project management community, but it’s not the only game in town. Many project managers are turning to open-source alternatives, due to cost pressure or personal preference. Here’s a closer look at two of the more popular open-source project scheduling solutions.

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The Bad Old Days

Women who did project management in the 1970s and ’80s — before there was a name for it — often battled hostility, salary discrimination and harassment from their male bosses and co-workers. Three pioneers recall how they fought to enter a man’s world and overcome a system designed to keep them down.

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Special Agent

Most project management books and training focus on instilling capability through diligent repetition. But whether capability ever leads to results depends upon something more. Let’s call it Agency — instinct and knowledge embodied in the moment into productive action. The difference between agency and capability is the difference between fact and theory, reality and projection.

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Checkmate?

We’re not all just pawns. Managing IT investment in the current economy is a risky proposition. The economy will recover–will you? Here’s how to use program management and enterprise architecture to maximize the effectiveness of your IT investment before your kingdom falls.

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Open Communication

Project managers have hundreds of choices when it comes to open-source content management systems that can share files, post news, host newsletters, and manage communications across the project team. Best of all they’re free. But you do have to spend some time to find one that best suits your needs.

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How to Plan an Information Technology (IT) Risk Assessment

Risk management is the process that allows IT managers to balance the operational and economic costs of protective measures and achieve gains in mission capability by protecting the IT systems and data that support their organizations’ missions. The purpose of performing an IT risk assessment for IT systems is to minimize any negative impact to an organization and provide a sound basis for management decision making. Effective risk management must be totally integrated into the software/system development life cycle.

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2017 Pulse of Profession

Project success rates have climbed and waste has fallen significantly as more organizations develop technical and leadership skills, establish project management offices to align vision with execution, and adopt agile approaches, according to Project Management Institute’s latest Pulse of the Profession report.

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Frosty the PM (Part 2)

Everything this writer knows about project management he learned when frozen. Want to find out about the cold reality of project management in the Arctic? In Part 1 he looked at planning and risk; in the second part of this article he looks at a few other aspects of project management. Bundle up and read on…

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The Harmonization of DMAIC and the PMBOK® Guide for Pharmaceutical Lean Six Sigma Projects

With the increased emphasis within the pharmaceutical industry on business productivity through the integrated application of Lean Six Sigma (LSS) and disciplined project management methodologies, this paper offers an expanded definition of the classical Define-Measure-Analyze-Improve-Control (DMAIC) project life cycle by incorporating aspects of PMI’s PMBOK® Guide methodology and creating a new life cycle, DMAI2C2, that will assist productivity improvement project teams in creating a project roadmap that leverages the best of both the LSS and PMBOK® Guide methodologies.

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A New Vision for the PMO

The project management offices that deliver the best business value are always on the lookout for ways to apply their resources to activities that offer more to their enterprises than “order taker.” Vendor management and regulatory compliance are two critical areas to start. And in time, the PMO should strive to be viewed as the COO of IT.

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Wanted: EPMO Leaders

Most large global organizations will rely on “activist” enterprise program management office (EPMO) leaders by 2017, according to research analyst Gartner. The emerging role is a response to the need to significantly improve strategic execution, and increased pressure toward innovation and differentiation.

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Take a Risk (Part 1)

Don’t let today’s risks become tomorrow’s problems, and don’t sit back and wait for events to happen. Take a proactive approach to managing uncertainty. In this article, you will learn how and why using this risk management approach can greatly increase the chances of delivering your project on time and on target.

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Conscious Alignment

Ernie Nielsen, managing director of enterprise project management at BYU, shares his thoughts on the role of the PMO, the theory of conscious alignment, and other guiding principles. Along the way, he explains why momentum is not a strategy, when projects must be scrapped, and what makes a good project management tool.

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PPM Services Survey

This project portfolio management survey will take about 10 minutes of your time, but the results will go along way in understanding the state of PPM in organizations like yours, including the greatest obstacles to success and what should be done to overcome them. Your participation gives you access to the report and could win you a $400 Amazon gift card — how’s that for a decent ROI?!

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5 Keys to Training Success

There are a number of common problems that organizations encounter when launching project management training programs, from lack of executive involvement to poorly measured results. As you consider training providers, implement a program and monitor the results, here are five key best practices that can help your organization get the most out of training.

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OPM: Turn It Up to 11

Organizations are expected to deliver more and more with less and less, and that has in part led to the growth of organizational project management. But in this writer’s experience, organizations have not been able to define what a successful OPM model looks like. How do you maximize the return on Organizational PM?

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Taking Your PMO to the Next Level

A project management office should be an integral component of your organization’s project management practice, and it should be delivering results that are critical to business and mission success. This white paper examines key PMO functions, characteristics and challenges, and showcases attributes of a successful PMO. A four-step plan is also provided to improve your PMO’s value to the organization at large.

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The Project Social Network, Pt. II

Understanding the coalitions, alliances and other ties that bind and influence the project environment can give project managers a head start in influencing project communication and cohesion. Organization development techniques like Social Network Analysis create a bridge between the technical side of project management and the soft skills required to achieve desirable results.

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Need for Speed

As more organizations achieve bottom-line benefits from Critical Chain, the execution management approach is moving from high concept to best practice, and adoption is on the rise. But even proponents acknowledge that its hard focus on faster results is not for every project environment. Here’s a closer look at where and why critical chain is working.

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The Power of Less

“Essentialism” is more than a time-management or productivity technique. It is a systemic discipline that drives us to ask questions that go deeper than “Is this meeting important?” and venture “Is this project actually going to make a difference in our organization?” And it requires the scheduling of “blank space.”

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Breaking the Scheduling Barrier: The Advent of Web-Based PM and Collaboration

It used to be that getting project teams together meant sitting down in a conference room. Now projects can be managed with team members in different offices, cities, time zones–all thanks to project management software and the Internet. With so many advantages to online collaboration, why do so many PMs still think of these as only scheduling tools? It’s time to think again.

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PMOs, PMBOKers and Agilistas

Applying 30 years of domestic and international experience in IT from both the customer and provider side, Mark Perry has spent the past decade focused on developing and supporting project management offices. Here, the founder of BOT International and director of PMO Services for gantthead shares his perspective on PMOs and Scrum.

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Measuring Maturity As A Key Success Indicator

An organization’s project management maturity is a key success indicator, but only if companies know how to gauge it. This article explores how organizations can take several steps to effectively measure maturity. It explains how organizations need to balance their efforts to increase project management maturity with the need of ROI. In addition, it identifies five steps for evaluating maturity.

The article then looks at some of the pitfalls that can skew the results of a maturity assessment, particularly those that emerge from both conscious and unconscious efforts on the part of those involved to paint as positive a picture as possible. It also explains how employees believe a maturity assessment is audit-focused on compliance and dispels that myth. It then provides several tough questions that organizations may have to answer once the maturity assessment is completed.

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Scrum’s Scientific Method

The science behind Scrum is the notion of Empirical Process Control, which that is derived from (and firmly rooted in) industrial process control theory–and applicable to the complexity of human process management that often derails project schedules. This article is outlines the foundations of EPC and how it drives empirically based team management.

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Business Consulting Project Life Cycle

The benefits of disciplined project management have been proven by many years of practice in various industries, for different types of projects and team sizes. This article will cover some of the specific challenges facing project managers who run business-consulting projects.
There are many different types of consulting projects— engineering-centric, strategy-focused, human resource related, and so forth. This article concentrates on discussing business-consulting projects (when a consulting company is brought in to solve a specific business problem). A typical project has two important characteristics that drive additional challenges from the project management perspective:

1. Relatively short project duration (<6 months) 2. Highly variable scope/deliverables

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Topic Teasers Vol. 51: Why Bother With Earned Value?

Question: Computing Earned Value (EV) has always been challenging for me, and frankly I don’t see the benefit to my project. I learned to do the math for my PMP certification, but is there a clear and simple way to get the figures, make the calculations and then find a meaningful use for those numbers? My projects keep veering off track and I need a new approach.

A. Depending on their personality type, some managers are sticklers for details. The more metrics, the better. EVM translates project data into numbers to forward to management, but has less value for the project manager who is running the project day to day.

B. While PMP prep does a great job of explaining the math of Earned Value Management (EVM), keeping the focus on information needed to pass the test means there is seldom time to go into the subject of how useful EVM can be in the workplace. It is a key tool for running successful projects.

C. Since the U.S. Department of Defense requires EVM for all of its departments and departmental contractors, there are favorable tax advantages for corporations who can state their profit figures in EVM terms.

D. EVM provides a common language that the project manager, team and management can use to communicate about how much time and how many resources should be allocated at the first of a project in order to ensure that it will be guaranteed to meet the estimated project metrics of time, cost and quality.

Pick your answer then Test Your Knowledge!

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PMO 2.0: Resurrecting A Failed PMO

A project management office (PMO) is designed to manage projects and improve the management of an organization. However, what happens when the PMO fails? This article discusses how to resurrect a failed project management office. It reports the results of a study by Forrester Research that shows three-quarters of PMOs fail within the first three years of being launched. It then examines how an aeronautics and space institute in Brazil resurrected its PMO with a unified strategic plan by putting portfolio management and project management into one organizational structure. It details the many reasons why PMOs fail, including lack of direction, organizational changes, insufficient resources and cost pressures. The article looks at how a business case should be developed to convince skeptical senior managers that the PMO should be relaunched and lists the important components needed in the business case, for example, services performed and metrics. It identifies three key areas that can go a long way toward giving the new PMO longevity. Accompanying the article is a sidebar listing three signs that a PMO should be closed.

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