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December 21, 2011, Sponsored by RMC Project Management, Inc.

From the Editor

ProjectConnections was founded in 1999 with a team of practicing project managers who had worked together for several years at a variety of different companies on a wide variety of projects. That means that ProjectConnections pre-dates iPods, Facebook, and World of Warcraft, none of which we could even imagine in 1999. (Cue the nostalgic 8-bit soundtrack.) Well over 300,000 people have turned to ProjectConnections for their project questions over the last 12 years. By the time you read this article, more than 330,000 people will be registered on the site.

To celebrate a dozen years with our readers, we decided to highlight a few interesting items we've been asked about over the years. Many of them are linked to a related Premium resource, all of which will be free to registered members until after New Year's Day. It's our way of thanking you for making us one of the most trusted project management resources on the web. Happy Holidays!

Featured Article

Little ITIL, Big Results, Step 4: Talk About the Score, by Alan Koch

Alan Koch In our last article, "Know the Score," we continued looking at our 10 steps to starting an ITIL effort in a small IT shop. Step 3 was about objectively measuring what is important, not only the internal technical metrics, but also external customer-oriented metrics.

Back in Step 2 -- "Talk About Getting Started" -- you probably heard a lot of complaining from your constituents. And if so, those complaints were likely broad generalizations that had more of a basis in emotion than in metrics. The metrics you started collecting in Step 3 will provide a tool for moving those conversations away from emotion and toward consideration of facts.

This fourth step of the process is focused on restating the complaints you are hearing in terms of metrics. You do that by showing both your customers and your IT Staff what the metrics say, and by probing to see if other metrics are needed to address some complaints.

The point of this is not to prove to the complainers that they are wrong or over-stating the problems. Rather, it is to replace emotion with a reasoned basis for a rational conversation so all of you can agree on problems that need to be solved, and how you will know when things get better. Read the rest »

Site Highlights – Did You Know…?

Projects, from A to ZMEMBER
ProjectConnections members live and work in every corner of the globe, from Argentina to Zimbabwe. One of our favorite customer letters ever came from a project manager in Ghana, who was using our templates to plan his wedding. It's true: Everything is a project!

No, Really, EverythingSPECIAL
This Premium resource is free to registered Members until January 5, 2012
Our representatives have addressed customer inquiries on every project topic you can imagine. Our most unusual request was for help locating plans for a missile defense facility. (We assume it was a homework assignment.) Coolest real project we've corresponded on recently: a hydroelectric project in southern Africa. We were able to help them with their stakeholder communication planning.

What Does Your Schedule Look Like?MEMBER
On average, ProjectConnections members download over 18,000 templates, answers, papers, and case studies a month. The most popular ProjectConnections template in 2011: Plan Development: Identify Tasks and Create the Schedule (part of a series on plan development). Incidentally, the most popular search term on the site is, and has always been, "WBS."

What's a Schedule Without a Plan?
Scheduling is important, but it can't happen without planning. We don't recommend searching on that term by itself, though. You'll turn up 1267 documents. For more on the difference between project planning and project scheduling, we recommend starting here.

The Sound of a Quarter-Million Project Managers LaughingSPECIAL
This Premium resource is free to registered Members until January 5, 2012
ProjectConnections has compiled answers to over 200 common project problems in our Burning Questions database. The most frequently accessed question: How do I balance features with time-to-market? Take heart: you're not the only ones being asked to do too much too quickly with too little.

But Seriously, Folks… SPECIAL
This Premium resource is free to registered Members until January 5, 2012
Our guiding star at ProjectConnections isn't process. It's practicality. That means that we not only have information on how to write requirements, for instance, but also what to do when you're having trouble prying them out of your stakeholders, or when your execs insist that you don't need to do requirements work because "nothing's changing." (If wishing made it so!)

Premium How-To Course

Dealing With ConflictPREMIUM
Presented by Mike Aucoin, Leading Edge Management

Michael Aucoin Even the best teams are not devoid of conflict! A strong team may simply have normal disagreements over project decisions; a weaker team may experience a range of style and communication conflicts. Either way, conflict management skills are important to the team, to the people on the team, and to the team leader trying to steer everyone toward the objectives management expects you to accomplish together (whether you want to or not). This course covers how to prepare for typical sources of conflict and deal with them constructively and quickly. 1 PDU Learn More »

Where's ProjectConnections?

We're taking a break for the holidays between Christmas and New Year's, but you'll still be able to reach us by email or voicemail for urgent issues. We'll be back the first week of January, with new mini-courses, exciting webinars, and all kinds of great project resources. Until then, Happy Holidays!

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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