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August 10, 2017 In this edition:
As project managers, one of our greatest fears is also one of our most common challenges: project chaos. How can we predict the unpredictable, manage the unmanageable, and project calm and confidence in the face of the storm? This week we're sharing seven tools to help you cope with project chaos. Plus, featured columnist Geof Lory explains why a lack of "rules" in Agile projects doesn't have to mean chaos and disorder.
» Featured Article
» From the Blogs
» Coping with Chaos
» Corporate Subscriptions

Featured Article
Rules, Routines, and Rituals
Geof Lory

Geof Lory Newcomers to Agile and organizations transitioning to Agile often struggle with what they perceive as a lack of structure. Used to working within a more defined, traditional project management approach, Agile can feel chaotic by comparison. To deal with the discomfort of this contrast in the early stages of their journey, clients often ask "If there aren't a bunch of processes, can we at least get a few rules to live by?" This usually brings a wry smile to my face. I understand the nature of the question, but I can't help noticing the irony.

The lack of heavy process in Agile should not be perceived as chaotic or without structure. There is plenty of structure in Agile; it just looks different. So, to answer their question, I start a conversation around rules, routines, and rituals.

You can have order and processes without rules. Here's how »

From the Blogs
Start Your Projects Right: PMBOK Tips - Initiating
Sinikka Waugh looks at five useful quotes from the PMBOK 5th Edition and shares insights about initiating and shares insights about how to apply them in your projects to ensure a stable, chaos-free kick off.

New Book: The Entrepreneurial Project Manager
This book by ProjectConnections blogger Christopher Cook contains tools, templates, checklists, and insights to help you become a more proactive project leader, focused on successful business outcomes. Don't settle for being a project manager. Become a project entrepreneur. (Auerbach Publications, CRC Press: August 28.)

Coping with Chaos
Even if your project is staying obediently within the guardrails, it's important to be clear about what you're in for, how the team will handle it, and what's going on every step of the way.

Project Risk Checklist – MEMBER
The best way to avoid project chaos is to predict and avoid it with a comprehensive risk list. This checklist prompts your team to consider common risks across a wide variety of categories, to reduce the odds of missing one of those dreaded "unknown-unknowns."

Establishing Ground Rules for Issue Escalation – PREMIUM
Once you know how things could go wrong, establish team guidelines for making them right again. This worksheet guides your team through a matter-of-fact discussion establishing ground rules for communicating emerging project issues. This can make it easier to raise critical issues later in the project when tensions are higher.

Project Escalation Process Guidelines – MEMBER
Once you've established ground rules, you may want to formalize your processes for escalating things like scope issues, major tradeoff decisions, and serious resource conflicts to higher management. Even informal environments can benefit from these sensible guidelines. (For example, just how long do you wait for an email response?)

Milestone Table with Driver Tasks – PREMIUM
One of the most frustrating factors in planning is making sure everyone has the same goals. This method focuses your extended team on business milestones that everyone and their bosses can agree on, along with the driving tasks that have to happen to achieve them.

Deciding Whether to Outsource Work on a Project – SPECIAL
This Premium resource is free to registered Members until August 24, 2017
If you're handling a crisis (or trying to avoid one) it may be helpful to bring in outside help. This step-by-step guideline will help you decide.

Issue Resolution Status Report – PREMIUM
Make sure management knows you have things covered by telling them. This template provides formats for reporting progress on work to resolve one or more open issues (e.g. project or technical issues).

Pre-empt Conflict: How to Actively Prepare for, Engage, and Overcome Project Conflict – MEMBER
What do you do when the conflict is in your team, not your project? This paper provides conflict-resolution strategies for project leaders who want to actively avoid the minefield, instead of just figuring out how to navigate it.

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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