Project Management Articles > Guest Columnists

Guest Columnists

On occasion, ProjectConnections receives articles from leading PM experts and front-line managers wishing to share their experiences and lessons for our members. Those articles are archived here and feature valuable lessons learned, best practices, and general insights into the field of project management.

If you have an article you'd like to contribute, send it to us for consideration. We'd love to hear what you have to say.

Projects to Celebrate in 2016 - by DeAnna Burghart
At a time of year when retrospectives can easily descend into the maudlin or morose (especially this year), we decided to shine a light on the accomplishments of the year, and the hopes and expectations for the next one.
Read more ...
Archived articles -- Accessible to All

Project or Process? That Is the Question! - by Chris Hill
In a label-centric world where we try to find the right boxes to put things in, there is a tendency to use a label that fits for convenience or other corporate cultural reasons.
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TPM – Total Productive Maintenance - by Chris Hill
Total Productive Maintenance (TPM) focuses on increasing the productivity of a plant and its equipment while making appropriate (small) investments to maintain productivity and process health. These philosophies are just as applicable to IT and software processes as they are to lean manufacturing.
Read more ...

Special K (Kaizen, Kano Model Delivered through Kanban) - by Chris Hill
This article explains how Kaizen and Kano can be used in conjunction with Kanban. Building on the previous discussion on Poka Yoke, we will explore additional continuous improvement topics and how they relate to software development or operational support of a legacy environment. Let's start with defining each of the components and how they support each other.
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Poka-Yoke without Getting Egg on Your Face - by Chris Hill
Poka-yoke is at the heart of prevention or mistake-proofing in product manufacturing. It plays heavily into industrial design and as we will see has a strong analog in the development of technology solutions for the customers. This article will focus on Poka-yoke in software design and delivery. The consequences of omission in a technology solution may not result in death or bodily injury in most cases. But a poorly designed software product which does not protect the user from making mistakes can still have serious consequences, including rework, business process impedance, distrust of the product, or creation of latent errors that are yet to be discovered. In broad terms, Poka-yoke is fool-proofing or idiot-proofing your product. Read more ...

Quality Function Deployment (QFD) - The House of Quality - by Chris Hill
Have you ever looked at your requirements catalog or product backlog and felt there were some missing pieces? Like you were searching for clues that would lead to a holistic set of requirements or the ability to show a graphical representation of them? This should not be a mystery or a whodunit. (Professor Plum in the Testing Lab with the Poison -- or was it the Lead Pipe?) In this article, we explore some clues and methods that you may not have thought about when working with your customer to pull together a set of diverse requirements. Read more ...

Design of Experiments (DOE) - by Chris Hill
It has been said that one of the first signs of madness is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. If you have worked on a scrum team or used some other iterative methodology this concept will be familiar. Outwardly, iterative teams may appear to be doing the same thing over and over again, but in fact successful teams are making changes -- sometimes very small changes -- that can make dramatic differences in their results. Read more ...

The Softer Side of Change – GE CAP Model - by Chris Hill
Have you ever been in a situation where the solution to a business problem requires a significant rethink of the current process or product? In a nutshell, Organizational Change Management, where the solution being advocated is so clear to you, but others may not see it that way? Read more ...

Stakeholder Risk Analysis Using Forcefields - by Chris Hill
When looking at the risk profile of a project, teams primarily focus on the risk of doing the project and -- as mentioned in a prior article -- failure modes regarding product features. In this article we will explore another risk dimension that's just as important. "If you build it they will come" may work in movies, but it does not always work when delivering the product of a project. Read more ...

SIPOC/COPIS - by Chris Hill
Projects all have one thing in common: They all have customers or stakeholders that use some product of the project. It could be a report, feature, or an indirect enhancement to the primary business process they are actors within. Regardless of their role, the product has some impact on these customers or suppliers. It is important to note that some of these customers may also be suppliers. Customers and suppliers can also be external to the team or company. Read more ...

Failure Modes and Effect Analysis (FMEA) - by Chris Hill
When I first started using Six Sigma tools and was introduced to FMEA, I thought it would be as complex as the name implies. I was wrong. The concepts behind FMEA are really quite simple and logical. Looking at risk from a hazard perspective just takes a slightly different mindset. Using the FMEA mindset can benefit all phases of the risk management lifecycle. Read more ...

Six Sigma and PMLC/SDLC Are Odd Partners, But Harmonious Relatives - by Chris Hill
We tend to stereotype as belonging to a specific methodology such as Waterfall, Agile, or Six Sigma. It is almost sacrilegious to think of them being used in other methodologies, especially by methodology zealots. I think more holistically of tools and use them when appropriate, regardless of their origin… Read more ...

Now Is A Great Time To Be A Business Analyst - by Sinikka Waugh
If you've been thrust into "playing" business analyst as a sideline to your "real" career, thank your lucky stars, because it may just be the career opportunity of the moment. But if you've navigated here deliberately, pat yourself on the back; you've made an extremely well timed choice.… Read more ...

A Question of Degrees - by Sinikka Waugh
The B.S., M.S., or Ph.D. after a person's name is never a measure of their greatness. What matters is how far a business analyst is willing to go to excel in each assignment. The difference good business analysts and great ones is, quite simply, the extent to which they deliver more than they promise… Read more ...

When it's time to plan and schedule a project, what matters most? - by John DeWitt
Learn what to take into account when planning, how to engage people who don't seem to care, and how to keep your plan based in reality—or at least a reasonable facsimile thereof.
There is much more to planning a project than the mechanics of defining the work and how long it will take to get it done. The project manager's most important tasks are the coordination and management of the people assigned to the project… Read more ...

Achieving the Unachievable - by Ann Drinkwater
Practical suggestions for keeping the business and IT teams on speaking terms during critical system automation efforts.
To succeed at system-related projects, it is important to join business and IT professionals early in the process. Bridging the communication and cultural gaps between these groups can be a challenge, but very rewarding to the project and future joint endeavors. Read more ...

It Wasn't a Dark and Stormy Night - by Anthony McNelly, PMP
Our 2007 Project Horror Story Contest Winner shares the trials and tribulations of a project gone horribly wrong. Read more ...

Operating Across Organizations - by Randall L. Englund
Success in a project involving several organizations requires extra effort to develop relationships. This article provides a wealth of advice for establishing and maintaining strong working relationships on cross-organizational projects. Read more ...

Project Management and Agile Methodologies - by Avneet Mathur, PMP
Creating the right environment for agile development requires commitment to these key principles and techniques.
The installation of a system or new features inevitably changes the users' working practices, and thereby their requirements; and in any case, the world changes and consequently so do the requirements. Project Management must cope with this fluid environment to give rise to a successful project.Read more ...

Time Tracking as a Productivity Tool - by Rocco Costa
Tracking the time spent on products and activities throughout the workday has many applications, most importantly as a cost-saving instrument for business.Read more ...

Putting the Cart Before the Horse: How to keep your requirements session on track. - by Ann Drinkwater, PMP
With approximately 85% of software defects introduced during the requirements stage, it is critical to concentrate on the intended behavior of the system. I've been in many joint application development (JAD) and other types of requirements sessions where the technical team's wheels start turning, quickly taking the meeting from one of requirements definition to technical design. Read more ...

Chartering Projects - by Todd Fuller, PMP
Root cause analysis of project failures often identifies "poor vision" or "lack of a charter" as a key reason projects go awry or are cancelled. Knowing this, why is developing a good project charter apparently so difficult? Read more ...

Empowered Outsourcing - by Ann Drinkwater, PMP
Six key questions you should answer before outsourcing, and eight things you should keep in mind while writing the contract. Read more ...

Expectation-Setting and Critical Communication with Outside Vendors - by Brian Jaffa, Senior Account Manager, Quest Diagnostics
Eight concrete steps you can take to make your vendor engagements easier to manage and more productive. Read more ...

Safer Status Emails - by DeAnna Burghart, ProjectConnections staff
A few minutes spent analyzing your message before you hit Send can save you hours, or days, by avoiding a chaotic aftermath—and have huge implications for your career. Read a real case, and learn how to do it yourself. Read more ...

Communication: The Lifeblood of a Project - by Ann Drinkwater, PMP
More than scheduling, project management is about managing information and communicating it where it's needed. Read more ...

Operating Across Organizations - by Randall L. Englund
When several organizations are involved in a project, unique challenges arise for the project manager and team members, especially the need to influence without authority across functional areas, businesses, and geography. Geographical location and organizational boundaries affect the dynamics of any project, offering opportunities as well as challenges. Read more ...

Learning Styles & Teams - by Paula Martin and Karen Tate
We tend to think that everyone processes information in the same way that we do. If we prefer to take in new information in an auditory mode, through hearing someone explain it to us or by having a discussion, we assume everyone prefers that mode. Read more ...

Working Cross-Functionally - by Paula Martin
Working cross-functionally poses a challenge for any project manager. Team members have functional commitments and loyalties. Resource managers have functional goals and priorities. Read more ...

Defining Customer Requirements - by Paula Martin and Karen Tate
One of the most important things you'll do in any project is define the customer requirements. But before you begin, you'll first need to determine what the customer needs and wants. The best way to get this information is directly from the customer. Read more ...

Overcoming Resistance to Change: Top Ten Reasons for Change Resistance - by A. J. Schuler
... Making a change requires a kind of leap of faith: you decide to move in the direction of the unknown on the promise that something will be better for you. Read more ...

Lumbering Buffalo and The Death of Discipline - by Paula Martin
A long, long time ago, a now almost extinct species once roamed the halls of our organizations. The natives of this species lumbered along at the speed of buffalo, maintaining standards and following procedures. Read more ...

What About Close Out? - by Paula Martin
After the final deliverable is delivered to the customer, most project leaders and teams think they're done. They've completed the task and they're poised to rush off to the next overdue activity demanding their time and attention. Whoa, just one second. What about close out? Read more ...

Principles of Project Leadership - by Paula Martin
Principles serve as guideposts or beacons that help you stay on course with your project. Let's review six principles of project leadership. Read more ...

Executive Corner - Project Selection - by Paula Martin
Do all of the projects in your organization fit with the your strategic plan? Will your project portfolio enable you to meet your strategic goals? Is there a structured process for selecting which projects will be pursued? Read more ...

Executive Corner - The Project Steering Process - by Paula Martin
Much of the focus today seems to be on training project managers and project teams on how to employ a standard project management methodology. Don't get me wrong. Implementing a standard methodology is one of the 7 keys to creating successful projects across an organization. Read more ...

It's All About Deliverables - by Paula Martin
We all know that the point of any project is to produce a final deliverable that satisfies the customer, is delivered on time and is within budget. So, if it's a deliverable we're after, why not manage our projects with a focus on deliverables instead of activities or tasks? Focusing on deliverables at the main project level has several advantages. Read more ...

Sponsor's Corner - Project Management Myths - by Paula Martin
Debunking a few common project management myths which can undermine your organization's projects.
Many of us carry around in our heads a set of beliefs about projects that, when we step back and examine them, it's immediately obvious that they just aren't true. Read more ...

Of PMPs, Milestones, and Makeovers - by David Kohrell with Cinda Voegtli
Getting answers about PM education, applications, and career paths means asking the right questions. So that's what we're doing.
The last three years have been challenging for our profession. When I say our profession, I mean those who are given the task of shepherding projects, people and products toward a common end. Let's call them project managers - whether or not they have that title, that's what they are! Read more ...

Assertiveness 101 - by DeAnna Burghart
Can you assert yourself without alienating people?
It's almost impossible to be a project manager without running into situations where you end up feeling frustrated, helpless, and even angry. Managing conflicts is a part of the job - a part that almost all of us wish we could do better. Read more ...




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