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July 21, 2010, Sponsored by RMC Project Management, Inc.

From the Editor

No matter how often it happens, Kent McDonald is always more than a little surprised to hear team members speculate that risk management isn't really part of their job. Huh-wha? This reaction inspired his column for this week, and our newsletter picks. What other not-my-job misperceptions are hampering your project?

Featured Article

Risk Management Takes a Village by Kent McDonald

In my sessions, I discuss the various ways teams can manage risks by considering the approach they use and the decisions they make. Without fail, as soon as we finish these discussions a developer, tester, or business analyst will say something like, "That's great Kent, but I don't see how risk management applies to me."


Maybe the project management community has done such a great job of claiming project risk management as their domain that all other professions have gladly washed their hands of that responsibility. Trouble is, risk management is not very effective if the people in the best position to identify potential risks and affect their impact or probability aren't paying any attention. What's even scarier is that I often hear these comments in financial services and insurance organizations, two industries that make a majority of their income from properly managing risks.

Risk management may be part of a project manager's job, but it's the whole team's responsibility »

Premium How-To Course

Agile Development: Core MethodsPREMIUM

Presented by Kent McDonald, KnowledgeBridge Partners
MP3 Download
26mb zip

Premium Course Agile is not a One Size Fits All solution. This mini-course provides a fast introduction to four major methods collectively referred to as "Agile development": Scrum, Extreme Programming, Crystal, and Feature-Driven Development. His high-level orientation will help you understand the ins and outs of various Agile methodologies along with their strengths and weaknesses. You'll come away with a better understanding of the various Agile camps and which approaches might be most applicable to your project environment. 1 PDU. Learn More »

Webinar – A Simple Approach to IT Process Improvement

Little ITIL®, Big Results: 10 Steps for Kicking Off ITIL in Small Shops
Friday, July 29, 10:00 a.m. Pacific (1:00 pm Eastern)

Alan Koch With all of your demands and constraints, how can you even spend time thinking about process improvement in your understaffed IT department? In this detailed session, certified ITIL Expert Alan S. Koch provides a basic overview of the ITIL framework, explains why it matters, tells you how to use it to define and support your IT quality goals. Even a little ITIL can yield big results for any IT shop -- large or small. $39.95, 1.5 Category A PDUs.

Learn More »

Site Highlights – Yes, It's Part of Your Job

Understanding the Project Vision – Project Vision DocumentGUEST
This one is a no-brainer, folks. At least half a dozen all-too-trite expressions spring to mind about maps and goals and compasses, right? But here's the plain truth: If your project, large or small, does not have a vision, it's struggling. Why make things harder than they have to be? Make sure everyone shares the same vision of project success. You'll save yourself some serious hassles later when people start agitating that they're not getting what they expected. (Well, what did you expect?!)

Weighing Business Value – New Project/Product Business Plan SPECIAL
This Premium resource is free to registered Members until August 4, 2011
Most projects of more than a few weeks should have a plan like this in place. Even if it's not this long, you should be able to answer the same basic questions: How does this project add business value? How are we helping the bottom line? If this plan isn't already in place for your project, make sure you understand those basic answers for the features and tasks you're currently working on. If you don't, press for the answers. Something may be amiss, or your time may be better spent elsewhere.

Testing Requirements – Requirements Measurement PlanPREMIUM
Have you asked your developers lately if the requirements you've handed off make sense? If you're getting requirements that don't make sense, have you pushed back? Why on earth not? These kinds of basic hand-off issues create all sorts of project problems that you don't have to suffer through. In more formal environments, a measurement plan like the one modeled here can help you insure your requirements aren't causing more problems than they're addressing. In less formal environments, a few simple meetings to review for these kinds of ambiguities may save you hours of late-project headaches.

Making Sure the Meetings Work – Meeting Ground RulesPREMIUM
You don't have to slog through another painful meeting. You can be the one who suggests that maybe it's worth it to establish a few simple, non-bureaucratic ground rules for the group. Enforcement can be as simple as being the one stuck with bagel-buying duty for next time, but anything will help, right? Or you can wait for another 15 minutes while your team members finish taking that phone call and checking their email. Your call.

Rewarding Team Members – Project Team Rewards and Recognition GuidelineMEMBER
If you want to make sure the guys who saved you with that last minute crunch get recognized, make it happen. If you're grateful to the boss for handling that last customer crisis while keeping the team out of it, say so. Recognition between team members can be as effective – or more so – as getting a perfunctory raise at the end of the year. Consider these ideas for building some team spirit and camaraderie without breaking the bank.

Saying Something – Speaking Up ChecklistPREMIUM
Yeah, it's uncomfortable sometimes. So is doing your taxes. It's still important. In fact, in a team environment, it's critical. Do you really want to be on a team with someone who sees trouble coming and doesn't say a word about it? This guideline helps you make your case effectively, so you can make a difference when you're convinced it counts – even if no one else has noticed.

Project Practitioners

Managing Up, Part 2: What Motivates Your Boss?
Wouldn't you love to know? Blogger Ed Reynolds pulls back the curtain on some surprising motivations he has encountered.

Learning by Dancing With Pigs
Why isn't your team on board yet? Margaret de Haan points out that you may be waltzing to a tango. Make sure you're hearing the same music as the rest of your team.

Bureaucratic Barriers to Agile
If you want to try Agile methods, you need to cut some red tape. Ann Drinkwater highlights several specific areas that can get you hung up, and suggests some probing questions to help you decide how to prepare.

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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