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April 12, 2012, Sponsored by RMC Project Management, Inc.

From the Editor

Birds are singing, flowers are blooming, and the big blue room is calling. Sometimes, the hardest part of work is working. Even the best and most driven managers will admit that we sometimes need downtime. But sometimes, we just need to do it -- so we can enjoy that downtime with a clear conscience. Sometimes, we just need discipline.

That subtext kept cropping up in our blogs and conversations over the last couple of weeks, so we ran with it. Our highlights this week are all selected with an eye toward being lean, mean, and disciplined about getting our work done, and done right. The sooner we finish, the sooner we can go outside and enjoy that big blue room.

Live Webinar

How to Tame a Bully: Working Successfully with Difficult People
Tuesday, May 16, 9 a.m. Pacific (12:00 p.m. Eastern)

Do you ever find yourself rehearsing the perfect response after leaving a difficult meeting? Join Sinikka Waugh for this engaging, interactive session to prepare for your next meeting with those tough customers. Using real-life scenarios, this class helps participants improve their skills in dealing with the difficult people that sometimes populate our projects. You can learn to tame a bully. 1.5 Category A PDUs. $39.95 (Free for Premium subscribers!) Learn More »

Featured Article

Pipe Dreams and Agile Teams
By Geof Lory

Geof Lory Last night I had a strange dream. I dreamt I was a newly minted ScrumMaster on a dysfunctional team. We were not getting anything done, yet everyone was working long hours and feeling the pressure of an impending deadline. Struggling and frustrated, I did what any novice ScrumMaster would do: I went to see the Agile Coach in the PMO. (I said this was a dream, didn't I?)

I made my way down a spiral staircase to the basement and opened the door to his office. Peering in, I could see the room was sparsely decorated, with only an overstuffed chair and a leather sofa in the center of the room. A small plume of smoke was rising from the chair. I went over and sat down on the couch and looked up at the person in the chair. I recognized him immediately from a photo in my Psych 101 textbook in college… he was Carl Jung. Does your Agile team need a bit of psychoanalysis? »

Premium How-To Course

New! The Project Manager's Leadership Role
Presented by Michael Aucoin, Leading Edge Management

Being a PM is not just about managing pieces of paper! This course gives an overview of the full breadth of the "leader-and-manager" role of the most effective PMs. 1 PDU Learn more »

For Team Members

The most successful team members will exhibit lots of self-leadership: discipline to start, run, and finish all those little projects that crop up while still producing the deliverables required for the big Projects that dominate the organization.

Project or Software Release One-Page SummaryPREMIUM
This template provides a one-page format for communicating key information about a software release (or any other kind of project). It's a great way of capturing the high-level view of all those small projects you're heading up, and can help you stay focused and on track. (Not to mention providing documentation of everything that's on your plate.)

Small Project Tracking FileMEMBER
While we're on the subject of small projects, this template provides an example of how to track a small, short, straightforward project without going overboard on detail.

Agile Technique Guideline: Standup MeetingsPREMIUM
This guideline explains how a common agile technique can get team members into the habit of keeping each other in the loop without spending hours every week reporting status to the PM. Even if your team isn't agile, a quick meeting like this could save everyone time and hassles.

For Project Leads

Successful project leaders have the discipline to look backward as well as forward. It takes courage to examine the work we've done so far and see what could have gone better, but it's worth it.

Agile Technique Brief: RetrospectivesSPECIAL
This Premium resource is free to registered Members until April 26, 2012
Retrospectives are a technique that teams can use to inspect their progress in a project to date and identify opportunities for improvement in their processes, team dynamics, and decision-making as well as areas for continued excellence.

Coding Review GuidelinesPREMIUM
If you're finding all the bugs in test, you're doing it wrong. Any software group wanting to improve the quality of their code and the actual reviews code can benefit from elements of the process documented in this guideline. You may also find it interesting if you have to document your development process for regulatory compliance and review.

Managing PMs

If you're managing the managers, one of your key roles is to make sure everyone is working on the right projects for the organization, in the most efficient manner possible. In a word, you're helping the organization be disciplined about where all that effort is spent. These resources will help.

Strategic Project Prioritization WorksheetPREMIUM
An Excel template for analyzing and ranking project candidates under consideration for inclusion in a project portfolio. Rankings are based on the degree to which each project contributes to the organization's overall goals and related strategies. (You have established organizational goals, right?)

How To Implement and Develop Procedures and SkillsPREMIUM
Project discipline doesn't have to mean bureaucracy. This file gives you a step-by-step guideline for introducing new project management procedures to an organization and developing related PM skills to improve project performance as quickly as possible.

WBS and Schedule Models

New! Home Construction WBS and Draft SchedulePREMIUM
Building a house is one of the classic WBS examples. This schedule, from a real world project, brings the example to life in traditional project software format. In addition to task estimates and allocations, this example provides a detailed look at the resource requirements for the project. The number of roles and groups involved is a great model of how cross-functional dependencies can impact a project.

Project Practitioners

Morley Selver weighed this week in on the merits of constructing separate work packages for separate locations, even when everyone's doing essentially the same work. His explanation is a great reminder that even if the project work looks the same, the project environment is always different.

Ann Drinkwater's most recent post addresses Human Quality Considerations. As with so many things, output determines input. In this case, Ann reminds us that we'll only get the quality we want if we think ahead and actually plan for it -- and that includes the human resources for your project, too.

DeAnna Burghart riffed on Tony Schwartz's popular HBR piece on multi-tasking. Is the modern world really all that different, or do we just want to think so so we don't have to make the hard choices?

ProjectConnections Bundles

No Meetings! We Have Work to Do! – Effective Meetings Bundle

Effective Meetings Bundle Despite the prevailing corporate jokes, it is possible to have both, and still wrap things up on time. This bundle can help. Formatting examples speed up your meeting planning. Checklists guide you through meeting diagnosis and improvement. Special guidelines address unique meeting types, and a wide selection of agenda examples provides a starting point for one of your most important meeting habits. This bundle is a fast path to fundamental techniques and real world tools that will make sure your meetings are effective, attended, and worthwhile. Multi-user licenses available for PMOs. Learn More »

Where's ProjectConnections

Sinikka Waugh covers several Business Analysis topics at the DMACC Ankeny Campus in Iowa over the next few weeks. For more information on upcoming sessions like "Stakeholder Analysis" on April 24, call 515-964-6402 or email

Kent McDonald is at STAREast in Orlando, Florida on April 19 to present "Talking Quality to Business: Metrics for Improvement" with Todd Brasel. See the STAREast website for registration information. Later this month, he appears at an IIBA Professional Development Day in the Twin Cities area for Estimating in the Wild without Silver Bullets.

Carl Pritchard will be running a public Risk Management Essentials workshop at the Silver Spring (Maryland) PMI chapter on April 25. Check out the event details and registration info on the PMI SSC chapter website.

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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