Category Archives: Project Manager Tips

New Year, New Project Manager Attitude

This past year, 2011, my workplace decided to close our global organization down for 10 days total between Christmas and New Years for cost efficiencies (power, building maintenance, limited staff) and required us to use our discretionary time off (DTO).  At first, I actually bummed, as normally that 1 week is really quiet with so many out of the office, so you can get caught up with a lot of work before the new year begins.  I will say though, as the time came closer and closer to the break and during my time away, my thought process changed.   Take a moment and imagine yourself taking off time from work for longer than a week, where all of your other co-workers have the time off too and will not be sending you e-mails, calling you or even missing meetings.   This option provided all of us a way to all disconnect ourselves from work and enjoy spending time with our family & friends and making time for ourselves to relaxing at bit and recharge our batteries.

During my time off, I got to spend time with several of my family members and friends over coffee, dinner, movies, taking walking, and simply just talking to others.  I also took time to reflect upon 2011 and thought about what I want to accomplish next in 2012 and in the next 5 years, such as:

  • Where I what to be/go on a professional level
  • Time allocated to spend time with family & friends
  • Places to travel
  • Activities/Hobbies I want to do for myself
  • Classes I want to take
  • Organizations I want to join/support
  • Books I want to read
  • Make time for me for my own physical & mental health

Of course, it is not my intention to come across as bragging about my time off at all, as not everyone got to experience a break like I was grateful for.  My intention is to ask each of you to take a moment to reflect on yourself and found out what is important to you or what makes you happy and make time for it–DO IT!  Take a few days off or week, even if everyone else is still working for you to recharge once in awhile.   The last time I took that much time off work was back in high school, let alone taking a day or two off in the past years, so taking that time off allowed me to see what is important in life through a different lens.  You only live life once, so live it to the fullest!  I hope all of you had a fantastic holiday season!

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How Do You Gauge Success in a Project?

Success can mean different things to everyone.  For example, if you completed the tasks you set out for your day, then that most likely means a success to you.  So what makes a project successful?  Is a project successful by answering yes to any of the below questions?

  • Does the project meet the established time and budget criteria?
  • What beneficial impact does this project have on the customer?
  • Has the project meet its return on investment?
  • Has the project altered the infrastructure of the organization to increase future business success and customer impact?
  • Is it simply enough just to the complete the project?

Main Four Items that are Success Measures with the Ability to Complete the Project:

  1. According to the desired specifications outlined in the project plan
  2. Within the specified budget
  3. Within the promised time frame
  4. Maintain keeping the customer and stakeholders happy

Importance to Measuring Success

  • If you cannot measure the SMART goal, you cannot control it, but which if you can’t control it, you cannot manage it.
  • Ability to assess the current performance to monitor and control the project to make sure the project object is met on time, within budget, and to the satisfaction of stakeholders
  • Adjust any project initiatives during the project to take action sooner, rather than later
  • Set goals to achieve an objective
  • Ability to anticipate any potential deviation that needs to be corrected
  • Is the quality of the product the project is delivery up to expectations
  • Improved quality of communication by keeping everyone informed, on track, and involved in the project

Tools to Help You Measure Project Success:

  • Give a survey to the stakeholders in a project to see what feedback you receive
  • Have a lessons learned session
  • Complete a SWOT analysis on each element of the project (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats)
  • Project Budget Comparison between the beginning and the end of the project
  • Project Schedule:  Was the project completed on time?
  • Project Scope Outcome how the stakeholders expected?
  • End-user opinions of the project

What other tools do you use to measure a successful project?

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Project Portfolio Management

Project Portfolio Management (PPM) is more than running several projects under one umbrella, as each portfolio needs to be assessed in terms of business value and strategy of the organization.

Video: Develop an Effective PPM Strategy, Featuring: Barry Cousins, Info Tech RG

What is Project Portfolio Management (PPM):

Organizing and managing projects and programs as a portfolio of investments that contributes to the entire organization’s success.  Portfolio management focuses on meeting strategic goals, while project management emphasizes on tactical goals.

Success from Project Portfolio Management:

  • Better project planning
  • Varies projects in the organization (project size/goals)
  • Balance risks
  • Helps to align resources with business requirements
  • Less failed projects
  • Align projects with your organization’s goals
  • Helps to marry up the cost and resource effort with the project schedule
  • Decreased chance of missing out on business opportunities (Delays in time-to-market for new products, applications, services or IT initiatives)
  • Better investment decisions by helping to select & analyze projects from a strategic perspective

Steps to Develop a PPM Strategy:

  1. Clarify Goals
  2. Align Processes with Goals
  3. Select tools based on organization’s processes
  4. PPM Strategy Development Tool

Skills for PPM Organizer:

  • Strong financial and analytical skills
  • Experienced project management skills
  • Good business background
  • Ability to understand how projects and programs can contribute to meting an organization’s strategic goals

PPM Features To Consider in Your PPM Software Selection:

  • Project Evaluation Process
  • Cost/Benefit Measurement & Tracking
  • Schedule/Progress Reporting (Real-time enterprise reporting and support for ad-hoc queries)
  • Dashboards Used for Communication to enhance visibility & maintain compliance (Top-down portfolio planning that interfaces with bottom-up project plans)
  • Resource & Capacity Planning

PPM Example Software Solution:

What PPM Software or Tools do you use to increase your Project Portfolio success in your organization?


Project Turkey Management

While preparing a traditional Thanksgiving meal can be a daunting task for any individual, I thought to myself, what better way to look at this most anticipated meal that comes once a year, in terms of project management!  First, we’ll look at the 5 Phases of Project Turkey Management.

5 Phases of Project Turkey Management:

  1. Initiate: Come up with the idea of Thanksgiving Dinner plans with family and friends
  2. Plan: Gather recipes, make a shopping list, make a WBS, make sure you communicate plans to family/friends
  3. Execute: Cook the dinner
  4. Monitor/Control: Make sure the food is ready to enjoy by all
  5. Closing: Meal ends and ask your guests to provide feedback on the meal

Create a WBS for the Thanksgiving Meal: 

  • Outline the highest level of the courses of the meal: Appetizers, Salad, Main Course, Dessert, and Drinks
  • Under each course, add the individual dishes you wish to serve
  • Further sub-divide the individual dishes by adding the major & minor ingredients, which helps you to prepare the shopping list or “project bill of materials”

How can Project Management Skills help with the Thanksgiving Meal?

  • Help plan your holiday dinner with all the dishes ready to serve at the desired time
  • Planning ahead helps to ensure you have the sufficient time and room to bring it all together at the desired target for a large crowd.
  • Help reduce the number of trips and time spent in the grocery store
  • Help organize and determine which dishes you should prepare first & cook to optimize on your oven/microwave/stove time
  • Increase efficiencies in the cooking process
  • Reduce the number of surprises

Have you ever planned your special Thanksgiving meal using tools from your Project Management toolbox?

I am very thankful for my family, friends, and tangible things, such as a home and food, but also for my followers of my blog.  I started this project management blog earlier this year and I have been absolutely blessed with the opportunity to meet so many project managers from around the world and learn from you!  I hope each of you had a wonderful Thanksgiving with your family friends and enjoyed some yummy turkey with all of the fixing! 🙂

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Project Procurement Management

Procurement is used in project management to acquire goods and/or services from outside sources for several different reasons in a project, such as:

  1. Reducing both fixed and recurrent costs
  2. Extra help during peak performance periods
  3. Access to specific skills and technologies
  4. Allow your organization to focus on their core competencies

Problems with Outsourcing:

  • Less control over the aspects of projects that suppliers carry out
  • Organization becomes too dependent on certain suppliers, which leads to a high risk if they go out of business or lose key personnel
  • Security issues due to intellectual property, integrity of data and reliability of infrastructure of offshore locations

Procurement Process:

  • Plan: Determine what you want to procure (make-buy decision, contract to use, statement of work definition), when, and how (source selection criteria)
  • Execute: Research potential sellers, conduct interviews, award contracts.  Review: resource calendars, change request, project plan updates, and project documents
  • Monitor & Controlling: Administer procurement, managing relationships with sellers, performance evaluation, manage change requests and project plan updates
  • Closing: Close procurements, settlement of contract, resolution of open items, and asses procurement process “lessons learned”

Develop a Procurement Management Plan that includes:

  • Contract to be used
  • Procurement document/template
  • WBS & Statement of Work (SOW)
  • Roles & Responsibilities
  • Evaluation Matrix
  • Constraints & Assumptions
  • Process for coordinating procurement decisions & change requests
What tips do you have in regards to procuring outside resources?

 Project Management Plan Example

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Stressful Project Manager

Have you ever felt that you are not giving your 100% effort on a project and just trying to take one day at a time because you may be overwhelmed with several other projects, resolving hot issues, or busy with other outside work activities that are on your mind?  Problem that occurs when you have these feelings that I mentioned above, is most lead to an increased stress level, longer hours, and trying to keep a smile on your face, while keeping afloat with everyone.

As project managers, we are often stressed because we want to do our very best in all that we do.  Stress, of course, is not a good thing for our physical and mental health, so I thought it would be good to list a few helpful tips that could help to reduce your stress level.

Steps to Reducing Stress:

  1. Identify the sources of stress in your life
  2. What habits/attitude/excuses do you make?

Until you accept responsibility for the role you play in creating or maintaining stress in your life, your stress will remain outside of your control.

Helpful Stress Tips:

  1. One thing at a time: Try focusing on one task at a time.  One neat method you could try using is time-boxing and removing distractions such as phones, e-mail, so you can focus on one task and knock out pieces at a time.
  2. Simplify your schedule: Having a hectic schedule helps to increase your stress level, as you are trying to battle too many tasks at one time and can only do so much as 1 person.
  3. Go for a walk: Talking a 10-15 minute walk outside or inside your workplace will allow you to take a moment to get away from your work.
  4. Eat healthy: Improving what you intake into your body will help to improve your overall health and help reduce your stress level.
  5. Do something you enjoy: Whether this is watching a movie with friends, having dinner, going to Starbucks, talking to a friend on the phone, sewing, take a nap, play a sport, etc. Find that calming activity and try doing it each day, even for 10-30 minutes a day.
  6. Simply your finances: Money can always be a cause for draining your energy level and adding stress into your life.  For example, automate paying your bills, start a savings account, setup a plan to pay off your debt.  Find ways to have fun that doesn’t involve spending money.
  7. Get creative: Creatively, such as writing, painting, playing an instrument, building things always yourself to distress.
  8. Declutter: Take 10-20 minutes and get rid of stuff in your house that you don’t need any more or find a better place for it.
  9. Be on time: When you arrive late, it adds stress, so schedule some buffer time in between activities, so you can arrive on time to a scheduled appointment.  If you arrive early, you can also relax a bit, read a book, call a friend, etc.
  10. Learn to say no: Understand your limits and stick to them.  It is easier said than done, but is something each of us should work on.

What tips do you have that have helped you in stressful times?

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Posted by on November 12, 2011 in Project Manager Tips


Project “People” Management

People are absolutely the most important assets in any organization and especially when working on projects.  Therefore, it is essential for project managers to be good human resource “people” managers, which includes developing a human resource plan, acquiring the project team, developing the project team, and managing the project team.  What makes a good project manager great is their ability to motivate project team members to deliver the best work they can possibly do on a project.

In order to develop a human resource plan, it is important to identify and document the project roles, responsibilities, skills, and reporting relationships.  A human resource plan includes an organization chart for the project, detailed information on the project roles and responsibilities, and staffing management plan.

Some Key Tools for Defining Roles and Responsibilities on Projects To Build a Human Resource Plan:

  • Responsibility Assignment Matrix (RAM): Matrix that helps to allocate the work to responsible and performing organizations, teams, or individuals, depending on the desired level of detail.  Click Here for An Example
  • Staffing Management Plan: Describes how and when people will be added to and taken off the project team.
  • Resource Histograms: Column chart that shows the number of resources assigned to a project overtime. Click Here for An Example
  • RACI Charts:Illustrates the following (Click Here for An Example)
    • Responsibility for who does the task
    • Accountability for who signs off on a task/authority
    • Consultation of whom has the information necessary to complete the task
    • Informed of whom needs to be notified of a task status/results

Please click here for a Human Resource Project Plan.

Please comment below with your thoughts and suggestions on Human Resource Plans, as I’d love to hear from you!

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