August 2, 2012, Sponsored by RMC Project Management, Inc.
From the Editor
Do your teams, and your organization, have their collective eye on the goal? Only if they know what the goals really are. Keep everyone looped in about the organization's intended results, and how their projects will support those results, and watch the magic.
The Power's Out! No Kidding.
Welcome to the mid-Atlantic, and as I write this, some of my neighbors are entering Day 6 without any electricity. It's been a model object lesson for anyone interested in risk management, project management or any kind of customer management. We have witnessed the best and worst of humanity out here, and there are some lessons that we all need to collectively learn if we're going to survive this kind of event in the future.
by Carl Pritchard
Carl summarizes 4 risk lessons from the Great East Coast Outage »
Premium How-To Course
Evaluating New Projects
Presented by Cinda Voegtli
Having enough project ideas is rarely a problem. Figuring out which ones are important enough to merit your organization's time, money, and attention right now, well, that's a different story. This mini-course with ProjectConnections founder Cinda Voegtli reviews techniques you can use to create and use selection criteria for your project portfolio. A detailed guideline and spreadsheet are included with this course recording, allowing you to work through the priority exercises as you listen, and see how your project portfolio might look when prioritized. The results may surprise you! 1.25 PDU
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WBS and Schedule Models
Consulting Planning – PREMIUM
If you're beginning work on a new client engagement, or if you're considering hiring an outside consultant to bridge over needed skills or resources on a project, this consulting planning WBS will be interesting. True to the "everything is a project" mold, this work breakdown outlines the high-level work required to ensure that a new contract covers all the necessary work, that all appropriate approvals are managed, and that the final engagement is thoroughly planned before work begins.
For Team Members
How an IT Team Broke Free From the Requirements Morass – MEMBER
This mini-case provides a very informative window into a critical project rescue. The IT department adopted new (for them) project approaches, broke free of their requirements thrashing, and delivered million-dollar performance insights to the division's business analysts on the original project timeline.
Team Member Status Report – PREMIUM
Want to really impress your supervisor? Start passing along a weekly status report like this one before you're asked to. This is supposed to be fast to read and even faster to create: if it takes you more than 10 minutes, you're doing it wrong. As an added bonus, reporting your progress and achievements can help you ensure you're keeping your eye on the ball, even when no one else is watching.
For Project Leads
Scheduling Checklist – PREMIUM
This checklist helps you ensure your schedule includes all project work, including cross-functional activities, testing, etc. It provides a few guidelines for getting your team through this critical phase. Before you've even gotten to detailed scheduling, it can remind you of items that should be included in the project scope and investigated during the planning phase.
Requirements Management Plan – PREMIUM
Requirements are the backbone of the project, and how effectively they are managed can make or break it. A requirements management plan captures the tools the team will use to record and track requirements, reinforces the importance of traceability, and articulates the project's risk management and change control strategies.
Agenda: Software Development Managers' Offsite Meeting – PREMIUM
Offsite meetings can be an important tool for a set of functional managers who are responsible for performance of many individuals on projects. This agenda was adapted from one used by an organization that wanted to place increased emphasis on job satisfaction, efficiency and effectiveness in the department, and career path definition. They decided to get the managers together to work on those issues for a set period, without getting distracted by the project crises constantly surrounding them. The template shows the steps one organization used to combine input from their developers, plus brainstorming, prioritization, and solution definition among their managers, to identify the most important areas to tackle.
Project Business Case – PREMIUM
Wouldn't it be nice if your teams (and their managers) all knew why their project mattered? Constructing the business case for a project documents anticipated costs and ROI, in context of all the reasonable alternatives, and gives executives info they need to make critical funding and priority decisions. Some managers will know just how to build this case, while others may need guidance (or even "permission") to ask the relevant questions, but all should be encouraged to do so.
Building a Better Project Plan
Plan Development, Step 3: Identify Dependencies – SPECIAL
This Premium resource is free to registered Members until August 16, 2012
Once you've identified the major tasks required to complete your project, don't rush to input everything in your scheduling tool. When you examine how the pieces fit together -- the dependencies – you may end up reorganizing the work breakdown. Scheduling software often has powerful graphical interfaces for entering and managing task dependencies, but an initial, manual pass at high-level dependencies may actually help you repartition the tasks more efficiently, before estimates and dates add another level of complexity to the plan. This guideline illustrates how to identify work dependencies and provides a table for capturing them.
Project Planning and Tracking Bundle
Get a handle on your project schedule and 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 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!
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Sinikka Waugh has 5 steps to kick-start the planning process -- the actual starting part that causes almost as much pain as the whole finishing-up bit. Check out her brainstorming questions for smoothing over the "elapsed time between idea and execution."
Alfonso Bucero weighs in on Winning Or Losing with 4 steps, not 5, but they're just as important. His high-level view is a nice conceptual counterpoint to Sinikka's fact-based questions. Lists are awesome, but they only help if they're the right lists, and if you have the right attitude toward them. Alfonso's post on is all about essential preparation of spirit and attitude, as well as documentation.
Morley Selver highlights the dangers of excluding operators from the project team. In this case, work stoppages and unexpected expense (not to mention safety concerns) would have been avoided if the operators had been included from the get-go. Contrary to common belief, what you don't know can hurt you!
Patti Gilchrist takes a humorous and sardonic look at the supposedly indispensable "elevator speech." Are you Superman? Wonder Woman? The Invisible Man? Or are you just trying to get it done? We love her advice on handling it, and her story about how not having a canned pitch ended up landing her a nice gig. (Of course, if all else fails, you can take the stairs.)
Kent McDonald will speak about agile methodologies at the Paragon IT Pros Leadership Forum on August 9, then adjourn to Agile 2012, where he will conduct a session titled Is It Worth It? Using A Business Value Model to Guide Decisions. (We're sure it will be worth it.)
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