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May 26, 2010, Sponsored by RMC Project Management, Inc.

From the Editor

Do you REALLY know where your project is now and should be going, and whether it has a chance to get there? Is everyone (including you) working on what matters most? "Paranoid PM bulldogs" make it their job to constantly ask those questions, monitoring the immediate area for threats and scanning the reaches of their project territory for looming issues. Then they do something - quickly, strongly, and relentlessly - about what they see - including standing up for key needs, making or forcing tough changes, or even calling for a halt to the proceedings while the team assesses and adjusts to reality.

This week we've highlighted tools to help take stock, make and continually assess the plan, evaluate options and tradeoffs when something needs to change, bat down changes that are NOT a good idea, and justify a new path when it's called for. Make sure you're taking every opportunity to eradicate team complacency by asking piercing, clear-eyed questions to keep your project solidly on the right road!

Featured Article

ITIL - Why Should I Care?
Alan S. Koch, PMP

Alan Koch If you haven't heard of ITIL®, you will. But should you care? If you're in IT or in a related PMO; a business person interfacing with IT for services; or a process implementer, process consultant, or just plain process-curious, we maintain that you SHOULD care about ITIL. This Information Technology Infrastructure Library is a framework of good practice in IT Service Management. It has been widely embraced over the past couple of decades in Europe, is now making significant inroads in the US and the rest of the world, and is one of the few widely accepted frameworks that directly address IT operational practices.

But why should any of us care — what is ITIL in terms of true in-the-trenches, concrete tools, practices, and benefits? Cinda Voegtli asked Alan Koch, our resident ITIL specialist, just that after experiencing a number of less-than-satisfying introductory presentations to ITIL. Those presentations left her wondering what ITIL really looks like in practice on projects, to help her judge the benefits for herself. Read their long-distance conversation, including Alan's "true practitioner" explanations, and decide if you should care about ITIL too. Read the rest »

Project Practitioners

The Criticality of Common, Concrete Language, by Margaret de Haan
I have recently joined a company that is in its Project Management infancy, and I have come on board to assist in creating a PMO with all of the bells and whistles that will work for the organization. The company works in providing online software programs, and has been experiencing explosive growth over the last few years, which has opened up the need for structured Project Management within the organization. Putting in this structure offers a huge opportunity for improvement, but realistically is an uphill battle climbing a very steep mountain. Read More »

Featured Bundle

A Little Planning Goes a Long Way – Bundle: Planning & Tracking
Planning & Tracking Bundle If you're out to set some changes in motion, this bundle can help: ten of our most popular planning and tracking tools, so you can bring a little order to your project, no subscription required. If you're new to ProjectConnections, or to project planning in general, these tools are a great way to implement a little planning discipline without going overboard on paperwork or reinventing the wheel. It will help you identify and order tasks, figure out who you need to communicate with and how, and track and report status without drowning in minutiae. It's a fast path to fundamentals that can make a real difference for your projects.

Looking to change the way your organization does projects? A multi-user license for this package allows you to distribute these tools to up to 20 users, for a lot less than you'd spend on sending them to a training class. What a great way to get everyone using some consistent tools without a huge investment!

Single-user license: $41.95 – free for Premium Subscribers (after trial period)
Multi-user license: $419.95 – 25% discount for Premium subscribers

Check out our other great bundles too! »

Site Highlights

Paranoid PM Bulldog - Are you one and should you be?GUEST
This is not the most flattering picture you've encountered of the PM role. But it gets to some important truths about the impact we can have on project success - if we keep patrolling our territory, growling at potential intruders, and generally refusing to let go of the issues that matter. Make sure you're continually taking stock and taking action strongly, by checking yourself against this and a few other strong visuals of the PM role.

SWOT your team today! (No, really!) – SWOT AnalysisPREMIUM
SWOT analyses (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) are commonly done at the business, market position, or product level. But what about at the team level? To get a fresh perspective on how your team is really doing, good and bad, try our SWOT analysis - whether as a key tool for a "pause and evaluate" meeting on a project in trouble, or a quick-take periodically during a project seemingly going well.

First, Assume a Spherical Project... – Agile Technique Brief: Planning PREMIUM
You have to make some assumptions about the project in order to plan it, but you need those assumptions to have some basis in reality. Enter agile planning: an iterative, feature-based approach to predicting the future of your project. This technique brief provides an overview of the process, including a discussion of which kinds of projects are likely to benefit most from these methods, and describes how to successfully organize planning at the release, iteration, and day-to-day level. Just follow the bouncing cow...

Sniffing out schedule threats beyond the current horizon – Scheduling Checklist PREMIUM
Before you call that plan complete, make sure you understand everything that makes it real. The people least present in early planning sessions are most likely to surface nasty, unexpected, disruptive, schedule-killing late-project work. Use our Scheduling Checklist to find the omissions, eradicate wishful thinking, and start off with a plan you can believe in.

Psst. Hey, You. How About a Change? – Change Control Form PREMIUM
Tired of your project requirements shifting on a moment's notice? It might be tempting to "shoot the engineers" (or the execs), but a bright line isn't always the answer. It's not so much the change, as the lack of any consideration of the impacts of those changes, right? A simple change control form like this one can help you quietly shift mindsets. You may not be able to change the culture of mid-project spec changes, but just the act of filling out the form can help your team, as well as the people requesting the changes, identify potentially overlooked effects.

Psst. Hey, You. How About Some Real Change? – Requirements Change Management SPECIAL
This Premium resource is free to registered Members until June 9, 2011
A form can help, but if you really want to take control of your project requirements management process, you need more than just forms and approvals. This guideline condenses 20 years of lessons learned to provide a complete overview of change management components, processes, and controls, including often overlooked elements like impact evaluation and communication. It's a detailed, comprehensive guide to the components, processes, and workflows you'll need for a robust change management system.
    Related Resources:
    Think requirements management is just for big companies and government projects? Think again. This case study details Anita's success implementing software requirements management that shatters all the myths: small organization, low-cost implementation, full buy-in, and not a government contract in sight. – MEMBER

Mind Like Ping-Pong – Personal Time Management Assessment Log MEMBER
David Allen aficionados aspire to his ideal: Mind like water. That can be hard when you're bouncing around to a lot of unrelated tasks. Every now and then, it helps to take stock of where your time is going and make sure you're concentrating on what really matters. This form is designed to make that a relatively painless process. In fairly short order, you'll have a broad overview of where your time goes, and whether those are really high-value activities. Long-time readers know that we like to remind everyone of this template occasionally. Even if you've done this recently, it can help to revisit it. Things change, and what was most important six months ago may be a pointless time sink today; or vice-versa.

You and What Army? – Project Cancellation Guideline PREMIUM
Can you still pull that project off? Maybe it's not too late to save it, but you need to make a dispassionate analysis of the situation. This comprehensive guideline walks you through the critical decision of whether to cancel a project. If you decide it's worth a reboot, you'll get tips for managing that process so you can begin salvage operations. And in case it really is time to pull the plug, there's also an extensive checklist of activities required to smoothly accomplish ramp down and close out, including considerations for fiscal and material impacts, resources and personnel, related activities (like mar-comm production), and customer relations.

Premium How-To Course

So What Is This Agile Stuff Anyway?PREMIUM
Overview of Agile Development
Presented by Kent McDonald, President of Knowledge Bridge Partners
MP3 Download
9mb zip

Premium Course Agile teams don't do this. They don't use that. What do they do? What, exactly, makes a project or a team "Agile," and why does it work? Without lots of pre-ordained processes and techniques to guide (or restrict) them, Agile teams rely on key Agile values and principles as guardrails. Those values guide their decisions, and help them create the right amount of risk mitigation for their project, while still building business value. Understanding those values and principles and how they can be applied enables a richer understanding of Agile methods and their value. 1 PDU Learn More »

Where's ProjectConnections?

Carl Pritchard is heading to sea again for PDUs@Sea 2011. "Risk Management Excellence: Taking YOUR Risk Experience to the Next Level" sails from Baltimore on August 20 for a 6-day cruise to Bermuda and back, racking up PDUs the whole way. Registrations are due by June 15. For more details, check out the cruise website at

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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