August 30, 2012, Sponsored by RMC Project Management, Inc.
From the Editor
Not all projects are created the same. Smart teams cope for the individual differences between projects and project environments by adapting their processes and expectations. So when we call something a template or a guideline, we truly mean that in the dictionary sense of the word â a starting place, not a finished product. Sometimes the template will be exactly what you need, and you can lift it whole hog. That's great. But sometimes you'll need a slightly different approach because of the circumstances, the players, the project type, or all of the above. This week, we thought we'd provide a few examples of what we mean when we encourage you to "fold, spindle, and mutilate."
Goals Enable Speed
While the specific physical training techniques of the athletes that compete in either end of the distance spectrum vary, they have something non-physical in common: A clear understanding of their goal, an Olympic medal. Just as a focus on a sustainable pace is essential for speed, so too is a shared clear sense of direction toward a compelling goal. It can be called a vision, mission, purpose, objectives or just plain old outcomes, it doesn't matter. Without a strong sense of where you are going it is certain you will stop and start, change directions or even go in circles. I've worked with many teams that lack this direction and all the "managerial encouragement" in the world does not prepare these teams for speed.
by Geof Lory
Everything written on teams or leadership stresses the importance of a shared vision. In this article, I want to talk specifically about how having a clear, common and compelling goal is necessary for teams to achieve speed and how it both pushes and pulls a team to speed.
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Geof Lory is in Hong Kong right now for an extended training gig. If you'd like to bring him to your neck of the woods, you can reach him through www.gtdconsult.com. To find what's going on with others in the ProjectConnections universe, check our Where's ProjectConnections calendar, below.
Premium How-To Course
Evaluating New Projects
Presented by Cinda Voegtli
Having enough project ideas is rarely a problem. Figuring out which ones are important enough to merit your organization's time, money, and attention right now, well, that's a different story. This mini-course with ProjectConnections founder Cinda Voegtli reviews techniques you can use to create and use selection criteria for your project portfolio. A detailed guideline and spreadsheet are included with this course recording, allowing you to work through the priority exercises as you listen, and see how your project portfolio might look when prioritized. The results may surprise you! 1.25 PDU
Learn more »
For Team Members
Adapting PM Techniques and Templates to a Mini-Project – MEMBER
Think your little 2-week assignment is too small for project management? Think again. Project management doesn't mean paper, it just means process and consideration of the variables and obstacles. This case study elaborates, with an unconventional example.
Micro-Project Plan Template and Example – MEMBER
A simple, fast template for planning so-called micro-projects -- short, usually low-cost, low-effort projects that will take just a few days, or at most a few weeks, to complete. A fast outline to keep you organized and help you spot and overcome obstacles to success.
For Project Leads
Project Definition: Statement of Work – PREMIUM
Your project scope definition doesn't have to be a lengthy document. In fact, it shouldn't be. The SOW is one approach to documenting high-level project objectives and key parameters in just a page or two. Make sure the team and all stakeholders understand and agree on the reasons for doing the project, what the project will produce, and various important constraints and assumptions.
Daily Hot-List Meetings – PREMIUM
When dealing with a struggling project, most people wouldn't consider more meetings as a rational strategy for catching up and getting ahead. But this guideline explains how teams can instill and reinforce a sense of urgency with fast, productive daily meetings that keep everyone in sync without sinking anyone's time. That is, if it's right for your project.
Development Process Quick Reference – PREMIUM
If your project management process doesn't get used, it's just so much useless paper. So this Quick Reference (an excerpt from an actual company methodology) is designed to put process knowledge into people's hands, without handing them a huge binder with ALL the details. Make the key elements of your process more visible and accessible to teams, and help them understand which parts of the process are malleable, and which are mandated.
Medical Product Risk Management Process – PREMIUM
This file contains an ISO 14971:2007-based process that serves two purposes: it provides an overview of what constitutes an acceptable approach to product risk management in the medical industry; and it provides a template for the process document a medical company must include in their quality plan to pass these FDA and ISO requirements. This is a potential model document if you are bound by these process standards. But it also illustrates just how far risk management processes can go in a safety-critical environment, and can provide ideas for teams who are sure they need to do more, but aren't entirely sure what that might look like.
Building a Better Project Plan
Plan Development, Step 5: Project Schedule and Critical Path – SPECIAL
This Premium resource is free to registered Members until September 13, 2012
Now that you've got workable estimates, resource allocations, and dependencies, we finally get to the part most people think of when they consider "project planning" – the schedule. This guideline outlines scheduling activities to perform on WBS tasks that have undergone a first pass at resource assignment, dependency identification, and estimation. The result is an integrated schedule in calendar time. Keep in mind, though, that it's just an interim schedule, which will be further refined in the optimization and trade-offs step described in the next guideline in this series.
WBS and Schedule Models
WBS Example: Vendor Selection Project – PREMIUM
If you're beginning work on a vendor selection project, especially for an ASP or SAP implementation, this WBS will interest you. It includes a work breakdown, general scheduling and dependencies, and preliminary resource allocation, running from project kick-off to contract negotiation.
Brian Irwin's recent entry on The Power of Failure is moving and motivational. Our favorite bit: "Good judgment comes from experience. Unfortunately, sometimes experience comes from bad judgment." Pile on, everyone: What have you failed at over your career?
Randy Englund shares some insights from his new book (with Alfonso Bucero), The Complete Project Manager. In You Are What You Integrate, he reminds us of the many facets of humanity and communication that are necessary to progress and learning. What does your spider diagram look like?
Morley Selver has a great itemization of the various roles and responsibilities of a Lead Project Engineer. His list is long, detailed, and specific, and explains why some of these responsibilities devolve to the PM rather than an unnamed consultant or staff member. It's a fantastic list, well worth reviewing. (And maybe bookmarking if you have a new project lead you're coaching.)
Alfonso Bucero weighs in on one of his favorite subjects with four reasons why character is a project manager's most important asset, and four solid suggestions for improving your character. This one is a Don't Miss read. Pass it around the office and post it in the break room. Character counts!
Kent McDonald will be in New York City on October 1 for the Agile Testing and BDD Exchange. His topic for that event is "Business Value: It's a Conversation, Not a Number." Later that week, he'll be back in the Midwest for the Central Iowa PMI Professional Development Day, where he'll discuss understanding roles on an agile project. In early November, look for him at Better Software East.
Randy Englund presents highlights from his new book The Complete Project Manager at ProjectWorld/Business Analyst World in Victoria, Canada September 17-20. Randy will be speaking during the Symposia and in a one-day workshop. He will do the same for the Project Summit/Business Analyst World in Chicago, Illinois on November 12-15.
Carl Pritchard presents "Communicating UP" for Baltimore PMI on September 18, and follows with a lunch presentation at the DOJ in Washington a couple of days later. He'll also be the dinner speaker at the Pittsburgh, PA PMI meeting on October 11. Plus, he's running another of his acclaimed PMP Certification Exam Prep classes in Rockville, MD October 17-18. Check out Carl's website for more information.
Corporate Subscriptions and Licensing
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