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January 20, 2011, Sponsored by RMC Project Management, Inc.

From the Editor

Show of hands: who among us can say that they plan, and plan well, and in advance, on every project they do? ... Hats off to you if your hand is up. We have to confess that, even here, we don't always meet that standard. Sometimes, it helps to get back to basics and remind ourselves what we're really doing here, and why it matters, even when you're in a rush.

This week, we got reminders of that critical truth all over the place, so we're capitalizing on it. Carl Pritchard reminds us that, for some projects, we should be managing like there really is no tomorrow. Sinikka Waugh provides a 25-minute blueprint that could help you regain control and sanity. And our Premium telecourse and highlights remind us all that planning (not just scheduling) matters, and why, and that it can be done without getting lost in the trees.

Featured Article

2011, and There's No Tomorrow!
by Carl Pritchard

Carl Pritchard There's now less than a year to go until we hit 2012, the year that the Mayan calendar runs out; the year of endless calamity; the year that the world is supposed to cave in on us. Pretty dramatic stuff. If you were one of the few who saw the movie (2012), you may be thinking that the corporate five-year plan is just a paper exercise, since we'll be back to stone knives and bearskins in no time.

I'm actually a believer. I don't believe that 2012 will be a pivotal, cataclysmic year, but I do believe that from a project management perspective, we should act as if it will be. With a fatalistic view of reality comes a perspective of urgency, legacy, and innovation. It's time to start thinking like there's no tomorrow.

How would you manage if this was your last chance? »

Site Highlights

NEWTwo Scoops Please! Whatever You've Got ... - Project ScorecardPREMIUM
You got pistachio, but you really wanted funky monkey. Was this ice cream run a success? This one-page worksheet, designed by Kimberly Wiefling of Wiefling Consulting, helps your team define the project finish line in clear, measurable terms. Prioritizing against key categories also helps identify areas of acceptable tradeoff (as well as critical must-haves). The worksheet format encourages measurable goals, go/no-go criteria, long-term progress reports, and active risk mitigation. The end result is a high-level project dashboard that helps you understand not only where the project is, but how to get where it should be.

Let's Start with Vanilla - Plan Development: Task ID and WBSMEMBER
Start your project planning off well by first figuring out what it will take to finish. This guideline, the first in a series for project plan and schedule development, covers the steps for developing a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) to identify all the activities needed to fulfill the project objectives. Several WBS examples are provided as well. Remember, this is just the first step to a full project plan, but it's a crucial one. (For more on what it takes to build a useful project plan, see this month's Premium how-to course, linked below.)

This Feels More Like a Rocky Road Project to Me - Agile Method Brief: ScrumPREMIUM
Sometimes plain vanilla just won't cut it. If you're looking for a different approach to managing a different project, there are many to choose from in the Agile methodologies. One of the most popular -- Scrum -- is described in this brief guideline. It explains why and how scrum works, and outlines the basic steps in adopting a Scrum approach to your project. (For more on Agile methodologies, see our Agile index.)

Why Plan? Let's Just Get Moving! - Scrappy Project Management, Chapter 5MEMBER
All this planning activity is a huge distraction from getting project work done. It would be so much more satisfying to just dive right in, wouldn't it? Not so fast. This excerpt from Scrappy Project Management by Kimberly Wiefling offers a no-holds-barred view of project management in the real world and why planning really matters, along with some of the funniest and most accurate project flowcharts ever drafted.

Duck! Here Comes Another One! - Planning and Managing Multiple Small ProjectsSPECIAL
This Premium resource is free to registered Members until February 3!
Some of us don't have the luxury of drowning under one big project; instead, we get buried under a flurry of little ones. Not that we're speaking from personal experience or anything, but we have some idea of how to handle that too. First of all, abandon that impulse to create a separate set of deliverables and plans for every project. If the projects are related -- 10 little projects for the same client, for instance, or a dozen new feature enhancement projects run as separate entities -- you may be able to consolidate them under umbrella documents like the ones represented in this kit.

What Matters, In 200 Words or Less - Executive Summary of Project Status and RisksMEMBER
Once those dozen or so projects have landed on your desk, you'll need to explain your overwhelm to the execs at some point. Killing trees isn't the answer. The fewer words you use with execs, the more likely you'll sound confident and successfully make your case. In addition to being a huge career booster, that makes it much more likely you'll have time to explain what help you need. This template shows you how you can keep executive status reports limited to a single page (possibly two), and keep it focused on the core items they really care about, instead of the details they shouldn't need to wade through.

Premium How-To Course

NEWProject Plans as a Thinking Tool – The Project Plan, and the Process to Get TherePREMIUM
Cinda Voegtli, founder and CEO of
1.25 Category A (formerly Category 3) PDUs

So you need to plan a project. What does that really mean? In spite of what many people think, a project plan is far more than just a schedule, and certainly far less than a book. Above all, project plans are -- or should be -- a thinking tool to help you and your team get started well.

This course by ProjectConnections CEO Cinda Voegtli walks you through what's included in a useful project plan (and what isn't) and explains how to get the most out of this critical project management document. Drawing on her extensive experience, Cinda also illustrates how the process -- and the plan document -- may vary for different kinds or sizes of projects, and why that is not only acceptable, but recommended. Learn More »

Project Practitioner Blogs

Feeling overwhelmed by multiple projects? Take Five, by Sinikka Waugh
Some percentage of project managers have the luxury of focusing all of their time and attention on a single project. But the reality is that the vast majority of us are juggling multiple efforts simultaneously. And sometimes, the flurry of activity can cause us to become overwhelmed or lose sight of what we need to focus on. In a perfect world, we would collectively do such a nice job planning, anticipating and preparing for risks and issues, and adequately resourcing our initiatives, that everything would run like clockwork. But ours, my friends, is not a perfect world. Read Sinikka's 5-step process for regaining control »

Plus, Margaret de Haan "goes caveman" on 17 projects at once -- mostly undocumented -- without going off the deep end, in Sometimes Basic is Best.

Also on the blogs:
Mike Aucoin challenges us to consider how our narratives shape our projects in What's Your Story? - Part 3.

Ann Drinkwater is starting A New Year With Tried & True Wisdom - her 10 favorite quotes and what they say to her about project management.

Stay Tuned next issue for webinar announcements for early 2011!

Where's ProjectConnections?

Kent McDonald will speak at Software Development Conference (SDC) 2011. SDC is being held at Wellington, New Zealand March 21 - 22, 2011 and Sydney, Australia March 24 - 25, 2011. At both locations, Kent will present Strategically Speaking: Why Are We Doing This Again? and Is It Worth It? Using a Business Value Model to Guide Decisions.

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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