July 5, 2012, Sponsored by RMC Project Management, Inc.
From the Editor
Do what you've always done . . .
Have you ever wanted to completely re-make your project from the ground up? Make sure you know where the actual ground is. Too many people get hung up on the charts, graphs, and reports. No project ever got done successfully because of a Gantt chart. Successful projects happen because of communication, cooperation, and good old-fashioned compromise. You don't have to be a titled Project Manager to encourage those things on your projects. This week, we provide a dozen suggestions for revolutionizing your project work, regardless of your formal role. (Plus a new mini-course from Cinda Voegtli, a new WBS example, and more.) So it's up to you. Are you ready to take the risk of doing something different?
Project Closeout: Plan for the Peace, Not Just the War
I recently finished reading How Wars End: Why We Always Fight the Last Battle by Gideon Rose. The main message of the book is that the United States of America has a habit of doing a lot of good planning for war, often based on lessons learned from past struggles, but doesn't do a good job of thinking about the ensuing peace. This was a book about political and military history, but in my never-ending quest to apply lessons from history, I think there are some things we can learn for our project teams. A good analogy can be drawn between "planning for the peace" during war and planning for what happens after a project finishes.
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by Kent McDonald
Premium How-To Course
Making Tough Project Tradeoffs
Presented by Cinda Voegtli
Sometimes it's fun when people think of you as a miracle worker, but after a while it just gets exhausting. Of course it's hard to leave things out or delay much-desired features. But that doesn't mean your customer has to be unhappy. In this mini-course, ProjectConnections founder Cinda Voegtli shows you how you can lead your team in understanding, communicating, and making tough choices so the most important project goals are accomplished, including customer satisfaction, despite the upfront constraints on time and resources. 1 PDU
Learn more »
Premium Template Bundle
Software Release Lifecycle – PREMIUM
This comprehensive 10-phase Software Release Lifecycle that provides a practically turn-key methodology for software-heavy development environments. The collection includes release manager and team member job descriptions, an overview of the entire process, and over 70 one-page deliverable guidelines for the key activities in every phase of the SRLC. Jump start your methodology audit or overhaul, and make sure you're covering all the deliverables important to project success.
Subscribe today to download this collection »
For Team Members
Establishing Meeting Ground Rules – PREMIUM
Share responsibility for bearable meetings. Sometimes, someone just has to stand up and ask if we're really getting what we want from our time together. This file includes guidelines, examples, and a checklist of suggestions for establishing ground rules for productive meeting behavior.
Why Plan? Let's Just Get Moving! – MEMBER
Support your local project manager. This excerpt from Scrappy Project Management addresses one of the most common and most destructive pitfalls in project management -- the nearly universal resistance to actually planning anything. Kimberly Wiefling explains why planning is still important, even though schedules are almost always wrong and it's much more satisfying to simply charge ahead.
Project Alternatives Tradeoff Table – SPECIAL
This Premium resource is free to registered Members until July 19, 2012
Be flexible. Your first reaction to the proposed scope or features might be that we can't, shouldn't, won't. But project work will be more successful and less frustrating for everyone (including you) if you follow that up with alternatives worth considering. This template can help you cut through all the complex decisions to document alternatives, their impact, and your proposed compromises. Lead the way.
For Project Leads
How to Interview the Project Sponsor
Find out what success looks like. Never, ever accept someone else's interpretation of what the sponsor is looking for. Get it straight from the horse's mouth. Here's how.
Multi-Project Kickoff Meeting Agenda – MEMBER
Rally the troops. If someone hands you a plate full of projects, a simple meeting like this one can help you orient your team, convey relative priorities, and ensure everyone understands how it all fits in with business objectives. Information is power. Empower your teams.
Lessons Learned Survey
Learn from history. This survey can be sent to team members during or after a project, to get their feedback on how things went. Try it out with the team members who last worked on a project like the one you're driving. Their answers may help you predict the future of your project just a little better, and sometimes, a little is all it takes.
Project Flexibility Matrix – MEMBER
Be flexible, and teach your sponsor how to be flexible too. This simple but effective tool can help you guide tradeoff discussions about realistic scope, resources and schedule for your project. Getting it all out on the table (preferably with some information on alternatives researched by your team members) will help you highlight the real costs and risks of proceeding as planned or shifting targets.
Project Definition - Vision Document
Every project leader should know exactly why that project exists, and who cares about it. A high-level vision document like this one conveys that information in just a page or two, so they can make decisions that make sense for the organization. Make sure every project manager you supervise has a document like this, and watch results improve.
High-Impact Low-Overhead Project Management Techniques – MEMBER
Focus on results, not processes. You can't afford for your teams to get bogged down in paperwork for its own sake. This presentation details how to implement high-impact, low-overhead PM, how to do it fast but right, and how to use it on multiple projects now.
Performance Appraisal Process Summary and Forms for Project Leaders and Team Members – MEMBER
Give credit where it's due. If project work is a distraction from functional metrics, that's how it will be treated. This guideline provides a process and forms for promoting recognition of project performance as part of someone's normal yearly performance appraisal, for both individual team members and project leaders. Remember, what gets measured gets done.
Project Cancellation Guidelines – PREMIUM
Be flexible. Sometimes, the best choice really is packing it in. This file provides a comprehensive guideline for determining whether a project should be cancelled, or perhaps re-launched with a smaller scope. If it really is time to fold it, it also includes guidelines for a smooth ramp down and close out, taking into account possibly wide-ranging implications for your company and customers. But the most important thing is to really, truly think about it, not just drag everyone to the finish line out of sheer doggedness.
Building a Better Project Plan
Plan Development – Identify the Work – MEMBER
Have you ever wondered what really goes into developing a full-on project plan? Over the next several issues, we'll walk you through it. Assuming that you understand the project's vision and scope, your first step is to identify the work and start building the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS). This guideline â first in a series -- covers the steps for developing a WBS to identify all the activities required to complete a project. Several examples are provided.
Morley Selver recently treated us to a great piece on Project Expediting and how to do it right. (Key to this accomplishment: don't wait until you're late to expedite! MANAGE instead!) His entry even includes sample document clauses. Check it out.
Patti Gilchrist's thought-provoking entry on Why PMOs Fail comes complete with a Soup Nazi reference. (No soup for you!!!) Godwin's Law aside, she offers some great indicators that your PMO may be favoring procedures over results, and reminders for groups who want to be more flexible and worry less about keeping their PMs in line.
Sinikka Waugh has 4 tips for planning projects around holidays, whether local, or in the far-flung locations of your outsourced team members.
WBS and Schedule Models
WBS Example: Application Development – PREMIUM
The extensive notes in this file serve as a sort of mini-tutorial for project managers who are new to the job, or to the domain. The included notes supply advice on common practices and things to watch out for, as well as reasoning behind adopting certain tasks at certain points in the schedule. All in all, it's an excellent overview of the planning process in general, as well as showcasing a typical deliverable of the scheduling process.
This application development schedule illustrates how the various phases of a software development project build on information and understanding gathered and defined in previous phases.
Sinikka Waugh continues her Business Analysis series at DMACC in Des Moines, Iowa with a July 25 BA Survival Guide session. For registration information, call DMACC at 1-800-342-0033 or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kent McDonald will speak about agile methodologies at the Paragon IT Pros Leadership Forum on August 9, then adjourn to Agile 2012, where he will conduct a session titled Is It Worth It? Using A Business Value Model to Guide Decisions. (We're sure it will be worth it.)
Corporate Subscriptions and Licensing
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