October 27, 2011, Sponsored by RMC Project Management, Inc.
From the Editor
It's that time of year again. The dead walk, paranormal activity has tripled, and one never knows what horrid thing lurks in the darkness between projects. As usual, we're planning ahead, with survival tips and tactics to help you cope with unexpected changes (recombinant DNA side effects, uninvited incorporeal house guests), manage risks (alien invasions, the previous residents), and survive the horrors to come (they remade what?!).
The Second Five Traits of Risk Management Excellence by Carl Pritchard
Risk management is more than just the fine art of predicting what may happen and coming up with strategies for those eventualities. It is the art of doing all of that and still being able to lead. The second five traits (the first five were discussed in a ProjectConnections webinar this past summer) drive to this sense that there is a need to take positions and cope with the vagaries of the environments in which those positions are taken.
Read about the second five traits » (We assume one of them involves good running shoes or a chainsaw.)
Want to hear more about risk management excellence? Join us on November 21 for Part 2 of Carl's webinar series: The Second Five Traits of Risk Management Excellence. 1.5 PDUs, just $39.95.
Premium How-To Course
Defining What Each Person Owes the Project – PREMIUM
Presented by Cinda Voegtli, founder of ProjectConnections.com
Reduce project confusion and head off problems by defining crystal clear expectations for what each person will do, own, and take responsibility for on your project, no matter what organization they're in. These practical, real-world techniques emphasize explaining why each person is involved with the project, and make it easier to understand how and when their contribution is critical. You'll have better cooperation between team members, better support from cross-functional managers, and fewer of those awful "Oh, I didn't know they were waiting on me" moments. 1 PDU.
Learn More »
7 Things a Project Manager Should NOT Be Doing, by Brian Irwin
There is no shortage of information on the activity, processes, and tasks that project managers should be performing. It is more difficult to find information on those activities project managers should not be doing. Whether I am teaching, mentoring, or just speaking to a group of project managers about how to manage a project or what they should be doing on a daily and/or weekly basis, the most over-used excuse that I hear is, "But I/we don't have time to do these things."
If a project manager has little or no time to do the things required in the managing of a project, on what is time being spent? Perhaps the time is being spent on things that a project manager should not be doing.
Plus, Ed Reynolds discusses the risks and rewards of Managing in Superstar Cultures and Sinikka Waugh weighs in with a quick reminder: Agendas are important even if you've done this meeting 100 times already.
ProjectConnections Rules for Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse
Rule 1: Glowing Eyes Are a Disqualifier – Vendor Assessment Checklist – PREMIUM
You need some outside help to build that zombie-proof bunker, that's a given. But is this contractor really the best choice? This checklist helps you assess a company or contract resource to be sure you have a common understanding and good fit in goals, skills and experience, processes, and priorities. Choose well. You may only have one chance -- or one bunker.
Rule 2: Travel Light – Product Requirements Specification – PREMIUM
Do you need that bazooka mounted on the truck, or just want it? It's important not to confuse those words. Sometimes, agility outweighs feature-heavy development. This annotated outline guides early decisions about your product design, based on end user needs and wants. Make sure you know whether you're building a getaway vehicle or an assault craft, and equip accordingly.
Rule 3: Don't Ignore the New Kid – Personality Types Impact on Team Interactions – MEMBER
Have you ever noticed that the quiet, misunderstood loners have a higher survival rate? It might be a good idea to listen a little more closely when they point out that the closet door is rattling again. You're used to it by now, but they've noticed the claw marks. Understanding the differences in the ways people perceive and process information can be a life saver.
Rule 4: Don't Solve Puzzles That Open Mysterious Portals – Project Risk/Opportunity Assessment Models – PREMIUM
This one is a no-brainer, folks. Do you really want to know what's on the other side of that door? You have seen the movie, right? But on the off chance that you still want to try it, weigh the pros and cons carefully. This Excel workbook from Carl Pritchard provides a numbers-based approach to assessing multiple, very specific risk and opportunity factors. Before you start that incantation, make sure the payoff is worth it.
Rule 5: Believe Your Eyes and Ears – Project/Pipeline Status Report – SPECIAL
This Premium resource is free to registered Members until November 10, 2011
Yes, it really is haunted. Why do people never believe the clear evidence of their senses? Coffee machines are exploding. Walls are moving. Something. Is. Wrong. For those who are slow to believe, this concise, comprehensive status report provides an at-a-glance dashboard format you can use to drive the point home. Consider lamination for easy markup and durability on the move.
Rule 6: Obstinacy Is Not a Virtue – Project Cancellation Guidelines – PREMIUM
Once you've established that it really is haunted, consider walking away
or running, in some cases. This guideline will help you decide if it's time to call it quits (buzz saws and gnashing teeth are unusually bad signs), and help you make the most graceful exit possible. Remember, stubborn heroes rarely make it as far as the closing credits. Discretion, valor, etc.
Rule 7: Cardio – Training Plan – PREMIUM
To cope with what's coming, you need conditioning. So do your end users. Take a page or two from this example plan and assess the key decisions, tasks, and resources required to prepare everyone. Treadmills for the win! (Remember, you don't have to outrun the zombies, you just have to outrun the accounting department.)
Rule 8: Never Run Into a Graveyard at Night – Opportunity Screening Worksheet – PREMIUM
It doesn't matter what's chasing you, this option can only end in tears. Don't believe us? Use this worksheet to help you decide. Consider your group's capabilities (How good is your aim? Can you all see well enough to avoid newly disturbed soil?), the potential risks (Do you know of anything that hangs out in graveyards at night that is more likely to help you than eat you?), potential returns (Screaming OUT of the graveyard comes to mind), and so on. Then consider safer alternatives -- like that deserted ice cream shop.
Rule 9: Avoid Sewers and Swamps, Too – Breaking Free from the Requirements Morass – MEMBER
While we're on the subject of areas to avoid, it's worth mentioning that the requirements swamp you're waking next to is bad news. See, there was this team working on a 9-month project once, and they started collecting requirements. Someone got curious about something on the side of the road in the weeds, and the whole team went to check it out. You've heard this one, right? Stay on the road unless you want your next status report to end in "
and they were never heard from again."
Rule 10: Double Tap – Risk Strategy Selection Matrix – PREMIUM
If it's going down, make sure it stays down. When you decide to turn and fight the monsters, don't settle for a glancing blow. Use the strategies that are most likely to have a lasting effect, preferably on multiple targets at once. (Bonus Rule: Area effects always trump.)
Kent McDonald is in Florida next week for the national IIBA conference October 31 - November 4 and the Better Software Conference East November 7-9. Keep up with Kent on Twitter at @beyondreqs.
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