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Project Management for Beginners and Experts

Episode 317: The Details Behind Project Workflow Management (Premium)

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Rich Maltzman Dan Epstein

If you are like me then Project Workflow Management, the topic that we discussed with Daniel Epstein (https://www.linkedin.com/pub/dan-epstein/1/10b/308) and Rich Maltzman (https://www.linkedin.com/in/exclaim) last week, needs a bit more discussion.

For example, I want to know why Dr Harold Kerzner thinks that it’s the best thing since sliced bread, how it is "better" than traditional methodologies, how it adds value to my work, and of course -- how exactly does Project Workflow Management work?

Well, you are in luck, because Dan Epstein and Rich Maltzman are back to discuss just that.

And please don't forget to take a look at their book Project Workflow Management, and stop by at their website http://www.pm-workflow.com for all the free tools and teaching aid CD.

Below are the first few pages of the transcript. The complete transcript is available to Premium subscribers only.

Podcast Introduction

Cornelius Fichtner: Hello and welcome to Episode 317. This is the Project Management Podcast™ at www.pm-podcast.com and I am Cornelius Fichtner. Welcome back to one of our premium episodes. Premium means that only you our supporting subscribers have access to it all and you even get a transcript of the interview. If you are like me, then Project Workflow Management, the topic we discussed with Dan Epstein and Rich Maltzman last week needs a bit more discussion. I want to know why Dr. Harold Kerzner thinks that it’s really the best thing since sliced bread, how it is "better" than traditional methodologies, how it adds value to my work, and of course, how exactly does it work? Well, you are in luck, because Dan and Rich are back to discuss just that. So let’s keep things flowing along. Enjoy the interview.

Podcast Interview

Cornelius Fichtner: And we are back to talk about Project Workflow Management and once again, I am welcoming Dan Epstein and Rich Maltzman. Hello, Dan. Welcome back.

Dan Epstein: Hi, nice to be here again.

Cornelius Fichtner: And also Rich, welcome.

Rich Maltzman: Thank you very much, Cornelius.

Cornelius Fichtner: So the topic is your book Project Workflow Management. And when I turn it over, I see a quote by Dr. Harold Kerzner and it says, “Project Management is not the ultimate cure for all of your project management ills.” But right now, it appears to be the best alternative and significantly more valuable to the project manager than complex methodologies and processes. Can you please tell me and elaborate on what is it that Dr. Kerzner means by this?

Dan Epstein: Well of course, I cannot speak for Dr. Kerzner, but my feeling is when he said group methodologies may be able to limit some problems happening in your projects. But it is highly more likely that the good understanding of and adherence to workflow can prevent them from happening. This is exactly the essence of PM Workflow – to prevent problems in your projects and to build quality into the end product.

Rich Maltzman: Yes, and I have worked with Dr. Kerzner on his Best Practices books, and PM Workflow reflects at least again, I can’t speak for him directly but I feel that it reflects what Dr. Kerzner has found in his studies of hundreds, maybe thousands of organizations – the selection of, and adherence to a methodology, yields – what he’s found is yields have stepped up in maturity and increased project success rates, and even better morale for the PM population in their application.

Cornelius Fichtner: Okay, thank you. So what we want to do for the rest of the interview is we want to do a walkthrough, not necessarily a walkthrough of the book that you wrote but we’ll use that as our guide, it’s more a walkthrough of the Project Workflow Management framework. And do you have divided the framework into, if I get this right, there are five frames, is that correct?

Dan Epstein: Four frames.

Cornelius Fichtner: Four frames.

Dan Epstein: Yes.

Cornelius Fichtner: Okay. In that case, let’s start out. The first one I think is that requirements frame, right. What happens here?

Dan Epstein: Yes. If you let me mention a couple of other things before we start.

Cornelius Fichtner: Please, please.

Dan Epstein: So first of all unfortunately, listeners cannot see any process flow diagrams. So it’s kind of a little bit difficult and then we’ll try to do that without really referring to too many details of the diagram. You know, one of the things that the book attempts to use much of the PM terminology, but still there are some differences. For example – PMI terminology, I mean – for example, PM Workflow doesn’t use the word phase; instead, they use the word frame. I mentioned in part 1 of the interview that the standard PM matters presumes that the project execution path is sequential. It starts with the initiation phase, it moves onto the planning phase and so on. In the PM Workflow, the execution path will go forth and back between related group of processes which are called frames as well as between individual processes in each frame. And before we can speak of the book contents, we have to clarify some definitions to eliminate any misunderstandings which – this is important for understanding of the contents. The first of them is a term process model. Process model is a description of the purpose of the process and what we are trying to achieve by executing the process, outlining extra patience of the process implementation. It will answer the question what to do – what, how to do it or not when to do it by just what to do. Process models are presented in the PMBOK, Six Sigma and some PM methodologies, even told they are often called processes or rhythm process models. Very few of those process models explain how to execute processes in the step-by-step details; many definition of the process which is implementation of a process model. Process answers the question how to do that in order to achieve the outlined expectations of the project model – process model, sorry. High-level processes must be decomposed to elementary level processes, and by the way, the business process the composition rules are entirely different from the work breakdown structure the composition rules. Elementary process is the lowest level of process which can achieve a specific business purpose. For example, if you try to decompose process print report for their creating say, processes called print header where you line those processes do not have any business meaning. Business needs a whole report and not separate elements. When you put all processes in a sequence, it is called process workflow. It is usually depicted in the process workflow diagram. There are around 40 process flow diagrams in the book, diagrams show all procedural steps along with their detailed descriptions and a decision logic.

Cornelius Fichtner: Okay, Dan. Thank you very much for these definitions. Now let us walk through the four frames that you have defined in the book. The first one is the requirements frame. Can you tell us on a high level, what do we do in the requirements frame?

Above are the first few pages of the transcript. The complete transcript is available to Premium subscribers only. Please subscribe to our Premium Podcast to receive a PDF transcript.

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