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March 17, 2011, Sponsored by RMC Project Management, Inc.

From the Editor

A Happy, if somewhat belated, Pi Day to everyone! In honor of everyone's favorite irrational number, our guideline Estimating Process & Methods is the Special this week -- free to Members as well as Premium subscribers. (It'll make sense when you get to the Site Highlights. Maybe.) As for the rest, read on for more on keeping track of customer requests, task responsibilities, bright ideas, and more projects than you can shake a stick at, though we've never really understood how shaking a stick at your projects was supposed to help -- does it summon pi(e)?

Featured Article

Quality = Business Value - Part 2
by Alan Koch

Alan Koch We are used to measuring things on our projects. We can count requirements satisfied, or defects found. We can measure system performance and project Earned Value. And we can compute Schedule Variance and Cost Overruns. But the concept of Business Value is different from those.

The things we normally measure on a project are the "nuts and bolts" of what we are doing or building. But Business Value is on a different plane. Measuring Business Value involves stepping away from the details of project activity and looking at what is being done from the customer's perspective. It requires understanding what they are expecting from the project and why that result is important to them. Read more »

Site Highlights

How About a Slice of Humble Pi - Estimating Process and MethodsSPECIAL
This Premium resource is free to registered Members until March 31!
One of our officers consistently touts the value of pi for estimating: Make your prediction, then multiply by Pi for reality. It's humbling how often that's not wrong -- at least not as wrong as it should be. If you're trying to reduce your weekly Pi intake, you might need to try some different estimating methods. This guideline lists 8 different options -- some crusty, some fruity, but none flaky. Have a slice. (Then multiply by 3.)

I'll Get You, My Pretty! And Your Little Log, Too! - Customer Acceptance ChecklistPREMIUM
If your signoff and acceptance process has started to feel a little more adversarial than you'd like, call off the Flying Monkeys try this example process instead. It includes checklist areas for functional tests, documentation reviews, issue recording, enhancement requests. Use it as a standalone document, or as the short-form checklist and signoff form with a written User Acceptance Test Plan or Beta Test Plan. Either way, try to document requirements and requests in advance as much as possible -- start as you initiate the project, not as you're finishing it.

You Say Portfolio, I Say Avalanche-of-Projects… - Multi-Project Kickoff Meeting AgendaMEMBER
…either way, your group has a lot on their collective plate. Even if you're not managing a formal portfolio in the strict sense of the word, it's possible to take something from those management techniques. You need everyone focused, not fractured, and you need to spread out the demands to avoid ugly crunches. This sample agenda illustrates how to hold a meeting launching several projects at once, to orient (or re-orient) the team to their project set, relative priorities, and how it all fits in with business objectives.

The Dog Ate My Task List - Task Responsibility Matrix FormatsPREMIUM
Need a more reliable form of task documentation for your project? These forms provide a variety of examples -- some table-based, some more graphical, and none long enough to make your team members want to line their hamster cages with them. Whether you prefer RACI or an at-a-glance picture of the project's primary intersects, there's something here to help you keep the team organized and in sync.

Got Something to Share with the Rest of Us? - Brainstorming Meeting TechniquesPREMIUM
No, really, we want to hear from you. Please? If you're struggling to get a genuine brainstorming meeting going (not just an echo chamber), these ideas may help. This guideline helps you set up the meeting, suggests supplies and approaches to set the stage for success, and provides a few exercises that may get the creative juices flowing.

New Premium How-To Course

NEWSpeaking Up! Influence Skills for Getting What You NeedPREMIUM
DeAnna Burghart of
1 Category-3 PDU

DeAnna Burghart Don't leave the important stuff to other people; you owe it to yourself and your team to speak up! This short course and related guideline will help you bolster confidence and develop the most effective case possible in every venue available to you. By learning what motivates people to help and how to build an effective case, you can make the most of your time with team members, stakeholder conversations, customer advocacy, sponsor reports, and executive interventions. Learn how to speak up effectively, or brush up your current skills, and start making a difference. 1 Category A PDU

Project Practitioner Blogs

Dancing with the Stars, by Mike Aucoin
In Patrick Lencioni's The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, he describes one manifestation of trouble on a team as avoidance of accountability. Many would readily recognize this dysfunction as finger-pointing or placing blame elsewhere. A telltale sign that there are accountability issues on your project team is when you hear the familiar and irritating pitch of whining.

When a project isn't going as we'd like, it is a natural human tendency to find fault with someone else. "The customer keeps changing the requirements." "The sponsor didn't fund the project fully." "Sam lets his meetings get out of control." All those may be true, but what is left is an implied, things won't improve until someone else gets their act together. Read the rest »

Passion vs. Emotion, by Ann Drinkwater
Are you passionate about the subject, or just plain emotional? Ann discusses the sometimes-fine difference between the two, and provides some key takeaways to help us recognize and recover from inappropriate emotional reactions.

Coaching: The Rocket Science of Managing, by Ed Reynolds
Ed follows up on our last newsletter issue with an excellent and succinct summary of coaching rocket science. His examples provide an outstanding illustration of the difference between good coaching and bad -- one we can probably all identify with (perhaps enough to make us squirm a bit in the recollection).

Where's ProjectConnections?

Morley Selver will present the Fundamentals of Project Management May 4-6 in Calgary, Canada. For more information and to register, see

Randy Englund will be in Denver April 4-6 to teach the American Management Association's course on Improving Your Project Management Skills: The Basics for Success. (He'll teach the same course in San Diego June 8-10.) Next month, you can find Randy in Philadelphia to introduce a new computer simulation on "Managing People in Projects" for PMI's SeminarsWorld May 2-3. This simulation will also be offered in Orlando, Florida on June 2-3.

Kent McDonald is Down Under this month, with two presentations on agile business value at Software Development Conference (SDC) 2011 in Wellington, New Zealand (March 21-22) 2011 and Sydney, Australia (March 24-25). Kent will present Strategically Speaking: Why Are We Doing This Again? and Is It Worth It? Using a Business Value Model to Guide Decisions. Strategically Speaking will also be presented on April 29 in Cincinnati at Southwest Ohio Business Analysis Development Conference.

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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