Project Management for Beginners and Experts

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Feasibility studies which failed: 4 Industry Examples

What is a Feasibility study?

The objective of such a study is to ensure a project is legally and technically feasible and economically justifiable. It tells us whether a project is worth the investment. 

When it comes to a feasibility study, the following represent failure:

Costs are higher than estimated

Revenue generated indicates the product will not be profitable
Project tasks are operating past schedule
Product does not meet quality standards
It takes a lot of effort and finances to sustain performance

Peter McCarthy, in his study of why feasibility studies fail, cites the following observation of a feasibility study conducted in metallurgy: 27% of the problems in feasibility studies were in the test work, project scale-up and equipment design. The wrong composites were tested, process contaminants were not identified, mining schedules were not followed and teams did not understand the composition of the orebody.

Other reasons for failure include:

The natural desire by human beings to see things to completion even when they don’t make sense,
Lack of stakeholder involvement,
Resistance to change by management and end users,
Communication breakdown between and among teams. This can often lead to plans being off schedule, or some operational parameters being misunderstood.

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Planning Your Marketing Campaigns: How a Project Management Solution Can Help

Friendly executive sitting in front of laptop Depositphotos 6082622 xsPlanning marketing campaigns is not a walk in the park. There is so much at stake, not the least of which is the reputation of the marketing team. It’s the entire organization, however, that suffers when all the planning crashes and burns.

It must be noted that when creating marketing plans, a good chunk of the marketing planning effort is spent on communication and coordination, and not on the actual conceptualization.

As BrandMaker’s focus paper on integrated marketing planning details, these essential but time-consuming tasks include:

  • Distribution of content and other materials
  • Details coordination
  • Approvals
  • Marketing plan updates
  • Consolidation of different departmental plans
  • Other administrative tasks that can fall prey to human error

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IT Project Management: 20 Questions to Ask When Taking over a Project

If you are an IT project manager in today’s current business environment characterized by shifting priorities and scarce resources, there is a good chance that sooner or later you will be asked to take over a project that is already in the development phase.

It may be that the current project manager is leaving the company, having been promoted to new responsibilities, or the company needs that person to take over another project more related to their background. It may be that the project did not have a project manager and now someone is needed to take over, or it may be a late or over budget project that the organization needs you to “fix”.

You are facing a significant challenge ahead of you; the project performance reports could be inaccurate, technical designs could be incomplete and have missed key user requirements, the project plan could be incomplete or proper risk planning could have not been performed. The degree of uncertainty for you as the project manager is very high, that’s why it is recommended to perform an assessment of how the project has been run so far, reviewing each previous phase to raise relevant alarms and recommend corrective actions.

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The Project Management Office (PMO): 4 Steps to Choose Its Organizational Structure

PMOThe role of the Project Management Office (PMO) continues to gain prominence; many organizations of all industrial sectors are positioning them as key partners in the achievement of strategic objectives.

It has been demonstrated that PMOs can solve many of the problems organizations face when managing portfolios, programs and projects, such as misalignment between projects and strategy management, failure to anticipate corrective actions over troubled projects, use of nonstandard project management practices, among others.

When implementing a PMO, the first thing that must be done is select a structure type tailored to the specific needs of the organization, which is not an easy task, as there is no “one size fit all formula”. Organizations can be very different from one another in their needs, size, structure and project management maturity, and selecting the right structure type is a key success factor.

In this article we will focus on defining 4 steps to choose the right set of roles for the PMO.

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My Projects are Constantly Late, Over Budget and Deliver Low-Quality Products. What Can I Do?

I get asked this question all the time. My consulting engagements start with it. My trainings – whether public or on-site – start with it. Sometimes, I even hear it during casual conversations with my friends. Usually this inquiry is followed by the following statement, “Well, you are the project management expert! Care to share your opinion on the subject?”

In reality the answer to this question is not that simple and exists in a two-dimensional space, so to speak.

First, if the company is experiencing these problems, there is a good chance that their project management processes are deficient. The word “deficient” in this context can mean a number of things: lack of proper methodology and templates, absence of experienced project managers or insufficient executive buy-in for project management just to name a few. Any combination of these factors severely limits the ability of the organization to scope, estimate, schedule and control their endeavors potentially leading to missed deadlines, overrun budgets and poor quality products and services.

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Case Study – Portfolio Scoring Model - Western European Pharma

Company assets were in dozens of billions of dollars in 2012 whereas its income was measured in billions of dollars. Despite an overall strong position of the organization, the executives of the company were somewhat concerned with a slow growth in revenues (4-8% per year) and net income (1-3% per year). Consequently they felt that the company was been falling behind the competition and, in the long-term, in danger of losing the leading position in the pharmaceutical industry.

The case study below is focusing on the organizational R&D projects – both pharmaceutical and diagnostics – while ignoring the maintenance and stay in business ventures.

Strategy

Just like in the previous example the company executives have developed a very clear unequivocal strategy void of any ambiguous goals. The strategy consisted of four pillars:
•    No OTC products – the company decided to avoid the generic drug market altogether and focus on the prescription drugs only due to IP protection and higher profit margins.
•    Five research areas – the company decided to focus its R&D efforts on five key pharma field including cardiology, cancer, infectious diseases, diabetes and neuroscience.
•    Focus on personal healthcare - attending to the physical needs of people who are disabled or otherwise unable to take care of themselves
•    Personalized drugs -  drugs that can customized exactly to the needs of a particular patient, including the exact dosage and combination with other medications.

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Will PM/PPM Software Solve Your Project and Portfolio Management Problems?

 

I remember a conversation I once had with a Chief Operations Officer (COO) of a federal government agency involved in several megaprojects, i.e. the projects with budgets exceeding $1 billion. The situation at the organization was really bad: enormous budget overruns, missed milestones and unhappy stakeholders.

The following exchange took place between us:
 
Me: I heard about your challenges and your CEO has requested that I come in and help you with establishing proper project management processes …
COO: Yes, I know. We do have serious problems with our projects. But I just don’t get it; after all we have MS Project software installed on every desktop in this office! Even receptionists have it!
Me: You know what? You better come to my project management training too, at least, to the first module …

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What is a Project? A Simple Question with a Very Difficult Answer

What is a Project? A Simple Question with a Very Difficult Answer

Written by: Jamal Moustafaev

This is a seemingly simple question, at least, for a certified project manager. After all we all know that a project is an “endeavor that has a definite start and an end, undertaken to deliver a unique product a service”. Usually this definition is followed by a couple of illustrative examples:

  • Creation of the first prototype of the Formula One car is a project since it does have a defined start, an end and produces a unique product.
  • Mass production of, say, canned soup is not a project, since while it has a defined start it does not have a defined end. Also, thousands of cans can’t be considered a unique product since all of them are identical.     

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The Art of No

Written by Todd C. WilliamsThe Art of No

1    The Art of No

There I was, in a nice Montreal hotel conference room, two customers on one side of the table, and my client and me on the other. Taped to the back of my laptop lid was a conference-center supplied piece of paper with a hastily scrawled note on it. The entire message consisted of only two letters followed an exclamation mark. The letters were “N” and “O.” They sent a succinct message that was hard to ignore as the customer incessantly strove to get a little more functionality brought into the project’s scope. For every request, I would drop my chin slightly, look over the top of my glasses, tap my right index finger on the top of my laptop, and they would eventually relent. Instead of being a pessimistic curmudgeon, I was bringing realism about the budget and timeline and doing what leaders do—making hard decisions.

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It’s Project Leadership, Not Management

2013-11-22-ProjectLeadership-PeopleOrgChartsmall

Written by Todd C. Williams

1    It’s Project Leadership, Not Management

We have all heard it before… “Project management is easy. We have been managing people for hundreds of years. Just take any manager, give them a project, and tell them to get it done.” Experienced project managers will quickly predict how this story will end—there is an overwhelming chance this project will fail. Leaders deliver project value on time and within budget, they do not “manage.” To distinguish the project manager further from functional managers—the latter only needs to manage subordinates, while successful project managers lead extended project teams. This fundamental difference drastically increases the responsibility of the project manager, since the extended project team includes an entire herd of stakeholders.

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Managing the Project Resources

By: Brad Egeland

In this article I’d like to address all of the key areas of the project where the project manager is managing the project delivery team, to some degree.  The PM has many responsibilities and tasks of their own, and intertwined with all of those responsibilities is fulfilling the management, education, oversight, watchdog, and communication needs of his own delivery team full of skilled professionals that he now has the responsibility of herding toward a successful end project solution.  There are touch points with the team, of course, throughout the engagement and key responsibilities that go with those, but I’d like to address critical phases or milestones of the project – at least from my own professional experience and perspective – when proper oversight and process was necessary to make sure things were running smoothly for the team, the project, and the customer.

The resource assignment process

Let’s assume the team is assembled by leadership within your organization – that has nearly always been the case from my experiences in professional services organizations.  I’ve been in organizations where one person managed the PMO and assigned PMs to projects based on availability, geographic location, and expertise, and another managed the business analysts and made assignments to projects based on those same considerations.  

The technical staff is usually managed by a development manager or CIO (or both) and the technical resource assignments are made based on availability and expertise and they are often not full project timeline assignments like the PM and the BA are.  Those technical resources are assigned as needed and as determined by the project schedule and resource forecast maintained by the project manager.

Formally kicking off the project

Prior to the project kickoff of the project, the PM distributes all relevant project and contract information to all assigned delivery team members that have been procured to this point.  For me, that has usually only been a business analyst or technical lead – almost never the entire team.  This relevant information and documentation should include, at a minimum:

•    Statement of Work
•    Original resource hours forecast/budget as finalized an account manager when the project was finalized
•    Initial project schedule as created by the account manager for the customer
•    Contact information for project team members on both sides
•    Any relevant travel and expense requirements as mandated by the customer

Prior to formal project kickoff, the project manager and the business analyst are preparing heavily for the formal kickoff meeting with the customer and planning for the move into an exploration and planning phase.  Frequent, adhoc communication is happening at this point to coordinate efforts and ensure that both everyone is on the same page.

Onboarding resources as the project gets underway

Once the formal project kickoff session is over, technical resources will begin being assigned – as needed – to the project and the effort of managing the delivery team resources and forecasting for their usage becomes a more important task for the project manager.  Bringing resources on before they are needed can break the budget, and bringing them on too late can disrupt the project schedule, so careful attention to the needs of the project timeline and tasks is critical.

As new resources are engaged on the delivery team side, four things must always happen…

•    Provide the relevant project/contract docs for review
•    Provide recent status reports and the project schedule for review
•    Provide the resource forecast for review
•    Hold a formal delivery team meeting to go over current status, key project info, and answer questions

Ongoing monitoring and control

As the project moves forward and the project delivery team is fully assembled, then the act of managing the project and resources basically becomes a process of utilizing PM best practices.  Maintaining proper communication and the structure that should already be set in place will help ensure that each team member is up-to-speed at any given time on project status and what is expected of them at that moment and for the upcoming weeks.  This proper communication/structure should be in the form of:

•    Weekly delivery team meetings
•    Adhoc delivery team communication
•    Weekly formal status meetings with the customer
•    Weekly delivery of the revised project schedule
•    Weekly delivery of the project resource/budget expenses and forecast

Successfully Juggling Multiple Projects

Successfully Juggling Multiple ProjectsBy: Brad Egeland

With the common failure rate of the projects we manage coming in at more than 50%, managing just one project to success is enough of a challenge. In reality though, rarely does a project manager have just one project on his plate – unless it’s a huge project that requires 110% of this time. A more likely scenario finds the project manager usually managing anywhere from 3 to 6 projects at time…maybe more.

If we are going to have any chance of experiencing regular success on the projects we manage, then a few things really need to be in place from a PM infrastructure perspective. The overall list could be incredibly long, for certain, and I welcome reader input on this subject as to their own thoughts and experiences. Here I present my list on what our organizations – and project management offices (PMOs), if applicable – should provide to help ensure ongoing success on the projects we manage.

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Earn PDUs in Your Car. For Free.

Earn 60 PDUs in Your Car. For Free.This article was updated on 2016-01-09 to reflect the changes to PDU rules when PMI introduced the Talent Triangle.

You worked hard to earn your Project Management Professional (PMP)® certification. You studied relentlessly, you passed the exam, and you put in your hours. Surely you’ll do whatever it takes to keep that PMP behind your name once it’s there. But who has time to complete those recertification requirements--60 Professional Development Units (PDUs) every three years? You’re probably not jumping to register for a night class on earned value management at the local college. Do you have time between your kids’ soccer practice and swim lessons to write a paper for the local Project Management Institute (PMI)® chapter? Is tonight the night you’ll sit down and author a book on project management? Do you really have the bandwidth to volunteer your service as the project manager for the new neighborhood park?

We get it. That’s why we’ve made it easy to earn those required PDUs when you’re on the go - or, just as likely - when you’re stuck in traffic. You can earn your PDU recertification requirements from the comfort of your car - or anywhere else. The best part is… it’s completely free and you won’t need to take an exam, make any presentations, write a novel, or deal with strong-willed neighbors.

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Project Management Concepts for Enterprise 2.0

Project Management Concepts for Enterprise 2.0Dennis Brooke has been using web based project management communications tools since the late 1990s. In his recent interview on The Project Management Podcast he discussed how Enterprise 2.0 project management tools can make the most of communications between team, sponsors and stakeholders. PMPs can earn free PDUs by listening to the entire series of podcasts

Effective Distribution

Once you complete a report, distribution is the next step. Most people send it as an attachment to an email but that isn’t the most efficient way to make sure that everyone sees it. This is because email, although very convenient, often gets lost in the maze of folders that people use to organize their inboxes. They will read a report, file it away and often forget where they put it when they want to refer back to it. Thus, the PM will receive repeated requests for duplicates which will, again, be filed away and lost!

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Developing Your Team’s Leadership Skills

Developing Your Team’s Leadership SkillsAndy Kaufman, PMP recently participated in an interview on The Project Management Podcast. PMPs can earn free PDUs by listening to the entire series of podcasts. Kaufman is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) from the Institute for Leadership Excellence & Development (www.i-leadonline.com), specializing in the development of project leadership skills; that is, what PM leaders can do to help their team members take on more leadership responsibilities. One important trait of a project leader is the desire and ability to help others lead.

Developing Leadership Skills

It is important to a project’s success that there is focus on developing leadership skills among the team. Just because there is a group of people working together it doesn’t make them a team. When the team is formed there will be conflict even among the most congenial group - issues about how to do things, personality clashes and other minor issues that can become bigger than you expect. Problems aren’t usually foreseen but they should be; there is always conflict when two or more people are thrown together and expected to cooperate to achieve a positive result. These conflicts should be anticipated and dealt with before they can disrupt the group dynamics.  

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Project Management for Beginners and Experts

Going beyond Project Management Professional (PMP)®, PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)®, and Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)®

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