In This Issue:
From the Editor
Kent McDonald on Tying Projects to Organizational Strategy
You Keep Using That Word
Yes, You Do Need To Know How the Sausage Is Made
Setting Up a Well ROI-led Machine
I Want It All, and I Want It Right Now
If That Is Your Real Name...
Project Practitioners Blog:
Love Your Projects and Respect Your Team Members
This month: Pennsylvania, Scottsdale, Frederick, San Francisco and Osaka Japan
Next month: Philadelphia, Amsterdam
April 2, 2009, sponsored by RMC Project Management, Inc.
From the Editor
Last month we made much of the need to truly understand what your customer wants from the project, and the difference between that and what they really need. But what about what your organization needs? This month we're shifting focus to the other end of the spectrum: understanding your organization's strategic goals and making sure your projects support them. This isn't an activity just for the executives. It's true that steering committees are usually composed mostly of upper management, but that doesn't mean they're the only ones who need to understand it. Knowing your organization's goals and strategies means you'll know which way to jump when confronted with day-to-day project decisions (as Kent McDonald illustrates well in his column this week).
Plus, as promised, we have an excerpt for you from the 3rd edition of the Dictionary of Project Management Terms. J. LeRoy Ward of ESI International has graciously excerpted some project management definitions from this essential project management reference and shared them with us, so if you've ever been curious about the details of Brooks's Law, but not curious enough to read a whole book on the subject, check it out.
Next issue we'll have some more detailed perspectives on how to determine your project's real value to the organization, along with a new template to help you build a business case for your IT projects.
Featured ArticleTying Projects to Organizational Strategy by Kent McDonald
In my spare time, I serve on the board of the Greater Iowa/South Dakota Chapter of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF). I got involved with the organization about 8 years ago because I have a nephew who was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes, and it provides me an opportunity to give something back to the community while providing another outlet to practice my project management and leadership skills. I mention my involvement with JDRF because it provides an excellent example of how tying projects to strategy can make managing projects easier. It provides a clear picture of your end goal, and guiderails that help you make those day-to-day decisions on your projects.
In our local chapter, our strategy is centered on utilizing the most effective and efficient way to raise funds for research by establishing and maintaining strong relationships with our donors and volunteers. To accomplish this strategy we have three "projects" that we pursue on an annual basis. Because these projects are directly driven from our strategy, we are able to understand why we are doing them and clearly state what we are trying to accomplish. This is a powerful effect, because aside from a few staff members, the events are planned by teams of volunteers that are all motivated to make the events a success because we are all working toward the same goal—to raise money for funding research.
You can replicate this type of focused effort and motivation at your organization, with people paid to work on these projects, by identifying a similar tie to the organization's strategy. If you can identify what value the project adds to the business and communicate that clearly to the project team, chances are you will have a similarly motivated team. Read more »
Featured TemplatesNEW – You Keep Using That Word... – 25 Project Management Terms Defined – MEMBER
Does it mean what you think it means? Project managers sling lingo like "sunk costs" and RACI as if everyone gets it, when sometimes no one does. This guideline defines 25 terms from common PM-centric lingo, so you can be sure everyone is speaking the same language. Excerpted from the Dictionary of Project Management Terms (3rd ed.), by J. LeRoy Ward, PMP, PgMP, and Executive Vice President at ESI International. The full dictionary defines over 3,400 business and project management terms; this guideline provides the full definitions for 25, from Brooks's Law to unk-unks.
Yes, You Do Need To Know How the Sausage Is Made – Introduction to Project Portfolio Management – SPECIAL
This Premium resource is free to registered Members until April 15, 2009
Portfolio management shouldn't be arcane or mysterious, but it can be intimidating. The process will be much more productive and informative if everyone involved understands how it works and why it's worth it. This PowerPoint presentation template will help you make the case for portfolio management in your organization and explain what it really involves. Presentation slides are organized in three sections explaining what Project Portfolio Management is, why it's valuable, and how to implement a PPM process. Your projects will be governed by a good portfolio management process, so shouldn't everyone understand what's going into the sausage?
Dear John... – Portfolio Data Collection Letter – MEMBER
No, not that kind of letter! Sometimes the biggest challenge in a portfolio management effort is finding out about all the projects that are floating around out there, taking up resources and time. This example letter can be used as a cover memo asking everyone to take the time to line up all the projects in progress, so you can start considering priorities, staffing, and budgets on something more than an ad hoc basis. You can start your portfolio efforts without this sort of comprehensive inventory, of course, but like that Dear John letter, it can only end in tears.
Setting Up a Well ROI-led Machine – Setting Strategic Project Selection Criteria – SPECIAL
This Premium resource is free to registered Members until April 15, 2009
Organizations can take months identifying the criteria used to screen project candidates, in order to assess which projects will be deemed the highest priorities and gain the commitment to launch. It's easy to get lost in the weeds, and spend more time on the criteria than the project assessments. This guideline helps you stay on track and develop the right screening criteria. Providing "some" value isn't always enough; you want projects that will truly move the organization toward its overarching goals. Using that kind of laser focus in your portfolio insures you'll get the best possible return on your investment of people, time, and increasingly scarce cash.
I Want It All, and I Want It Right Now – Strategic Project Prioritization Worksheet – PREMIUM
Don't we all. Unfortunately we live in a limited world, and ponies are in short supply. That leaves us figuring out what criteria to use when choosing between the projects vying for our time, attention, and money. If you don't want to spend weeks sorting through the possible selection criteria, this worksheet provides an out-of-the-box strategic project screening system. The pre-selected categories are designed to help you develop and enforce a discipline for measuring which projects directly support the unique goals and strategies of your organization. Rankings are based on the degree to which each project contributes to the organization's overall goals and related strategies, and extra columns are provide for information that can assist in high-level tradeoff decisions. Unsurprisingly, ponies aren't on the list. (But you can add them if that's important to your organization.)
If That Is Your Real Name... – How to Interview a Project Sponsor – GUEST
Project sponsors often come across like something in a spy novel -- everyone talks about them, but has anyone actually *met* one? Shift your sponsor relationship from fiction to reality by taking the initiative to talk to them about the scope and vision for your project before things get rolling. This article from Doug DeCarlo coaches you through a productive interview, including suggestions on what to ask and what *not* to say. You and your sponsor will be more real to each other, and the project scope will be more real to both of you.
BUNDLE – Project Closeout and Lessons Learned Remember the saying about those who don't learn from history being doomed to repeat it? Projects are no different. It's pretty rare to work on one that no one in the company has done anything like before. And even if the project is completely new, the players, politics, and resource constraints probably aren't. That's why starting your new project by reviewing lessons from the previous ones is such a powerful tool—assuming those lessons have been recorded and disseminated in some way. This bundle of 12 project tools equips you to document project lessons as you close them out, so the next time around you won't be starting from scratch. There's a lot to be said for learning from history. If you don't do it this time, you're bound to do it sooner or later.
Free to Premium subscribers, or buy the bundle for $29.95.
Project Practitioners BlogLove Your Projects and Respect Your Team Members
Most people want to be needed, required and loved by others. You, as a project manager, must not forget that your work with human beings. I remember one project I managed in Spain for a software development organization. I had twenty five people in my team. At the beginning of the project we finished our work days very late. I was not leading by example. I did not respect myself, and I did not respect my people; that behavior stressed my team members. After five weeks of hard work, my team got frustrated and the team performance decreased dramatically. I looked for a solution, and I decided to finish the work every day at 6:00pm. My customer expected us spending long days working for the project. I talked to him and explained two key things: first that we were working very long journeys without making good progress, and second for achieving project success it is important to have people committed and motivated."
Other blog activity this week:
Margaret de Haan has some practical suggestions for managing project teams stuck with reduced staff, but no changes in workload.
Matt Glei explains the appeal of use case techniques and asks how they've helped or undermined your projects.
New blogger Nova Rose discusses the importance of measuring project success beyond the iron triangle.
Ann Drinkwater challenges us to document project roles sooner rather than later, and explains why.
Sinikka Waugh says "I told you so" as often, and as constructively, as possible, and illustrates how you can do so too.
Niel Nickolaisen encourages us to cut through the hype (pro and con) and consider pragmatic Six Sigma.
Where's ProjectConnections?Carl Pritchard is back from the Big Apple, and moving on to the Steel City. He'll be conducting PMP Prep in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania April 7-8. April 14-15 he'll be teaching Risk Management at PMI SeminarsWorld in Scottsdale, Arizona, and at the end of the month (April 27-28) he'll be back in Frederick, Maryland for another PMP® Exam Prep course. In May he'll be at PMI SeminarsWorld in Philadelphia. Details and registration information for Carl's public courses are available on his website, www.carlpritchard.com.
Randy Englund and Bob Lauridsen will be "Powering Up Your Interaction Quotient" (powerinteract.englundpmc.com) on April 10th for the PMI San Francisco Bay Area Chapter (www.pmi-sfbac.org). Next week, Randy is teaching "Project Management Negotiation Principles and Techniques" at UCSC Extension in Silicon Valley (courses.ucsc-extension.edu). May will find him teaching the "Project Management Office" course at UCSC Extension, and in Amsterdam to present at the PMI Global Congress.
Kimberly Wiefling is in Osaka, Japan next week for the Pharma Global Leadership Program. She'll be back there in May for another round, then on to Tokyo for a client session there. We hear her Japanese is becoming quite passable. She has certainly had time to practice it!
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