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March 1, 2012, Sponsored by RMC Project Management, Inc.

From the Editor

Exactly what do you mean by that? This week, it's all about defining your terms, tests, and value, so you know you're all speaking the same language. Alan Koch explains how to define the low-effort, high-yield improvements, Cinda Voegtli puts a new spin on coaching, and several highlighted templates help you define important boundaries around critical project efforts. Plus, our newest WBS example provides a draft schedule for launching a new business venture. Enjoy!

Featured Article

Little ITIL®, Big Results: Pick the Low-Hanging Fruit, Part 1
By Alan Koch

Alan S. Koch Consider the apple tree out in the field with apples hanging from every branch. Some of the apples are gorgeous, others less enticing, some not quite ripe yet, and others way past their prime. Some of the branches are really far up, while others are more accessible. Just now, an apple sounds like a mighty nice treat. Which one would you pick?

A "Low-Hanging" improvement opportunity is one that will be relatively easy to do -- one that, like the apple, is easily within reach (or at least easier to reach than the others). It is important that we start with the easier improvements for several reasons. First, since we have been talking with our stakeholders for some time about making improvements, they are probably wondering when all this talk will turn into action (which as the saying goes, speaks louder than words). Second, getting started with improvements is its own challenge, so we want to pair this new behavior with something that is less difficult to do. And third, a quick win will help us establish momentum, which is particularly important in improvement efforts.
Find out how to choose your first improvements »

Premium How-To Course

New! How Will We Know If That Process Change Worked?
Measuring Process Improvement Success
Presented by Alan S. Koch, ASK Process, Inc.

You can't manage what you don't measure." It's true whether you're discussing deliverables, bug lists, or process changes. You may have a great idea for tweaking processes, but the real work is in monitoring and measuring what happens, to be sure you get real value from those changes.

This course by Alan Koch covers how to measure, communicate, and adjust as an organization undertakes changes to its processes. Learn the 4 steps you need to follow in order to monitor any process change for real effects, how to find the missing metrics you need to make those decisions, and how to make measurements that mean something. 1 PDU Learn more »

ProjectConnections Bundles

Project Planning and Tracking Bundle

Project Planning and Tracking Bundle This bundle of planning and tracking tools will help you get a handle on your project schedule. Learn how to build schedules and estimates that make sense. Go beyond Gantt charts for better visibility into what's really happening on your project. Make sure that everyone involved in the project knows what's going on, and that you know who's involved. Generate status reports that are useful and readable, that can be written and read quickly. If you don't have a Premium subscription yet, this is a great, economical way to get ten of our best Premium resources quickly, for a single low price, and put them to work on your project right away. Multi-user licenses available! Learn More »

For Team Members

Business Data Dictionary TemplatePREMIUM
A business data dictionary organizes and defines all the data elements relevant to a particular software system, and includes additional information that helps establish a common understanding of the nature of the data element.

Ownership and Initiative: Victims and Vanquishers During Development and TestGUEST
In the face of tight deadlines, changing project requirements, resource conflicts, and so forth, vanquishers understand the role they can play, the influence they can have. They speak up, identify problems, suggest solutions, take a stand on tough issues, make things happen–and participate from the beginning to help the team avoid problems in the first place. Vanquishers are highly valued team members.

For Project Leads

Master Test ListSPECIAL
This Premium resource is free to registered Members until March 15, 2012
Start defining your tests early, and your testing activities will be a lot less stressful. This template provides illustrates a table for listing required tests during different test cycles, along with categories, descriptions, provide pass-fail criteria, scheduling, and results. On smaller projects, this may be the only test plan you need.

Creating a Manufacturing Plan for a New ProductPREMIUM
This model Manufacturing Plan is written with early insight and tracking in mind. It allows Operations and Manufacturing to do adequate preparation for people, capital, facilities, and other resources while giving visibility to early back and forth tradeoffs with Development.

Managing PMs

Project Manager Support SurveyPREMIUM
Find out what your project teams need to do their best work. Use this short survey form to determine what training and support your Project Managers feel they, their team members, and related functional managers need.

PM Support Website Requirements ChecklistPREMIUM
Once you know what your PMs need, make sure you can supply it. Compare your development plans to this requirements list and prioritization template created by a company planning an internal website to support its project managers and teams.

Executive View

Beyond the Limits of Endurance: Lessons for Being Great Managers! By Cinda Voegtli

Cinda Voegtli Why do we just sort of do our jobs each day -- deal with what hits our desk, go from one meeting to the next -- and expect to be truly great managers?

The real pros out there know that the highest levels of performance require ongoing learning that includes active practice and feedback. I love the can-do spirit of Nike's Just Do It! slogan. But let's face it -- the athletes making the big bucks don't "just do it." Elite athletes are elite precisely because they do way more than just show up, play, and essentially hope for the best. They invest serious time in preparation for the big moments of performance. They get coaching even during the performances themselves.

You may be thinking that all this doesn't apply to us as PMs. "All well and good for athletes. They only really perform at certain times of the week. We don't perform in a periods of a few hours here and there; we do important work all day long." I take issue with that. I think we actually do have our own specific times of most important "management performance." Read Cinda's suggestions for high-leverage PM coaching »

WBS and Schedule Models

New! WBS and Schedule for New Business PlanningPREMIUM
One of our most frequently requested schedules is for launching a new business effort. This example includes a work breakdown, draft scheduling, and more, from the initial corporate entity setup to production of marketing materials and hiring employees.

Where's ProjectConnections

Blogger Morley Selver is in Houston, Texas for his Fundamentals of Project Management Workshop March 7-9. For more information, see the course page on the PEICE website, or Morley's most recent blog entry, " Due Diligence.

Sinikka Waugh is conducting several sessions at the DMACC Ankeny Campus this month, including "Effective Elicitation Techniques" on March 6 and "How to Tame a Bully" on March 14. For more information, call 515-964-6402 or email jmbundy@dmacc.edu.

Kent McDonald will be at the Cleveland (Ohio) IIBA chapter meeting March 5 with "Beyond Requirements: Becoming a Business Advisor."


Corporate Subscriptions and Licensing

Want your team members to have their own access to templates and how-to resources for their project work? Need to share documents and deliverables beyond your project team? We make it easier with affordable corporate subscriptions and licensing. Detailed information regarding corporate options is available online. Give your whole team, or even the entire organization, cost-effective access to our comprehensive online library of resources. You already know how helpful it's been for you. Now it's time to share with everyone else. Find out more »

Not sure if corporate terms apply to you? Check out our licensing terms at the top of our Terms of Service page, in refreshingly ordinary, everyday English.


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