Monday, September 30, 2013

Stop using Project Schedules for Resource Management

By Gary L Chefetz

The project management practice that most exemplifies Einstein’s definition of insanity is the use of project schedules as a single basis for measuring and forecasting resource demand across a shared resource pool. While a resource-loaded project schedule can produce interesting and useful data, in reality this data source is highly suspect much of the time. It is time to declare project schedules a perspective in forecasting resource capacity and demand rather than a focal point.

With the perspicuity that more than a decade of watching other people manage projects brings, I can say with strong certainty that most project managers are not very good schedulers, at least not skillful enough to produce the network integrity necessary for a detailed resource-loaded schedule to produce highly reliable predictive work load data. Note that I exclude big projects with dedicated resources, schedulers, and planners. With a team of specialists at hand, supporting your scheduling efforts, you can get great data; but achieving this level of precision is out of reach for the mainstream project manager working in a typical IT department. Not only is it an unrealistic expectation, it is an unnecessary burden.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Project Management Software: a Help or a Hindrance?

By Christopher Stainow

"Project management is like juggling three balls - time, cost and quality. Program management is like a troupe of circus performers standing in a circle, each juggling-three balls and swapping balls from time to time." - G. Reiss

As with so many things in life the use of technology can either make things so much simpler, or that much more complicated. Project management in and of itself is a multi-faceted, intricate process that doesn't need any further difficulties. As such the central idea behind project management software is to facilitate the operation.

Common attributes of Project Management Software

Techopedia provides a good list of the primary functions of project management software:

  • project planning (mapping project tasks)

  • task management (the creation and allocation of tasks)

  • document sharing and collaboration (a central document hub increases productivity)

  • calendar and contact sharing (meetings, activity dates, calendars etc)

  • bug and error management (notifies users of erroneous reporting)

  • time tracking (tracks the time taken for completing tasks)

  • Of course each function is far more complex than just the examples listed here and TechSoup provides a more in-depth look at each component.

    Sunday, September 15, 2013

    5 Critical Factors for Project Manager Success

    By June R. Jewell, CPA

    Succeeding as a project manager (PM) is a tough job these days. When you consider all of the tasks that the typical project manager has to perform, it is no wonder that many project managers get frustrated or even fail! I did an analysis of the typical duties of the PMs that work for our clients, and here is a comprehensive but not necessarily complete list of the responsibilities that get thrown at PMs on a daily basis:
    • Responding to RFPs and creating proposals
    • Estimating project fees
    • Business development and networking (including events, social media, etc.)
    • Budgeting and planning projects
    • Project financial management
    • Project quality control
    • Management of the project timeline
    • Reviewing and approving employee time and expenses
    • Reviewing and approving client billing
    • Collecting Accounts Receivable (AR)
    • Managing subcontractors
    • Scheduling and using resources effectively
    • Maintaining high utilization
    • Solving client problems
    • Nurturing client relationships
    • Recruiting and interviewing new hires
    • Mentoring and training staff
    • Managing staff performance, and dealing with performance and behavior issues
    • Managing contractual requirements and deliverables
    • Preparing for and attending internal and external meetings
    • Documentation of work product

    Monday, July 22, 2013

    The Human Factor Formula for Project Managers

    The Human Factor Formula for Project Managers
    Kevin Ciccotti is a Certified Professional Coach/Speaker/Trainer who has written an e-book specifically to help Project Managers to more effectively lead their teams. He is an authority on creating empowered, sustainable relationships within organizations that lead to increased engagement, higher productivity, and overall greater success while also reducing stress and conflict.

    In his first e-book, "The Human Factor Formula for Project Managers; What the PMBOK Doesn't Tell You About Working With People," Kevin brings to light some of the foundational elements of his work as a Coach and Trainer. This e-book provides Project Managers with the ability to more deeply understand themselves and how they respond to the circumstances and challenges of their day-to-day work, and tips on how they can make meaningful changes to help them become more effective in leading their teams to success. If we are to become more effective leaders within our organizations, our communities, and our families, we must first learn to lead ourselves better. This e-book will give you the ability to do just that.

    If you're looking for a new approach to leading project teams, one that doesn't rely on "the way we've always done it" and truly offers the most forward-thinking, cutting edge tools and strategies in personal development and human behavior, then this is the e-book for you. Read it, practice it, and use what you've learned to redefine your personal leadership style.

    Friday, May 24, 2013

    Project Management Book Club Shut Down

    It saddens me to announce that after two years I have decided to shut down the Project Management Book Club. I think the club was a good idea, but I just wasn't able to figure out a way to get the level of participation that I desired. As a result, I've decided to direct my efforts elsewhere.

    I'd like to thank the authors that allowed us to feature their books in the early studies:

    Peter Taylor--The Lazy Project Manager
    Elizabeth Harrin--Social Media for Project Managers
    Todd Williams--Rescue the Problem Project
    Gary Nelson--Gazza's Guide to Project Management

    We also had about a dozen other authors and booked lined up. To you I am also greatful.

    Finally, thank you to those that participated in the studies. I wish I had of come up with a way to make the experience more collaborative for you. I will continue to think about this and maybe someday come up with a 'round two' version of If you have any suggestions, please leave your comments below.

    Until then,

    Thomas Kennedy, PMP

    Saturday, April 27, 2013

    PMP or PRINCE2? Which Is Right for You?

    Certification in the Project Management sector has long been associated with improved employment opportunities and increased salaries. If you need proof, check out the latest Project Management Salary Survey from PMI taking feedback from more than 30,000 Project Management professionals.

    If you’ve been following the news regularly then you’ll also know ‘the Global Economic crisis’ and ‘a shrinking job market’ appear to be the current order of the day. With that in mind, it’s no surprise Project Managers are increasingly turning to certification to get the edge over their competitors for that promotion they are looking for, or even just to hold onto their current role.

    The Big Two

    Those considering a certification will most often turn to the two globally recognized Project Management certifications:
    1. The Project Management Professional (PMP) - is the flagship certification offered by the Project Management Institute (PMI). PMP is based on the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBoK) guide which is about to move to its Fifth edition. 
    2. Projects in Controlled Environments (PRINCE2) - split into Foundation and Practitioner certification is the leading offering from APMG
    As the title suggests this often leads to the question “PMP or PRINCE2?”

    Thursday, March 28, 2013

    5 Project Management Secrets You Can Use

    Project management is one of those fields of which many people have heard, but few are familiar. In fact, some people can view it as downright intimidating, especially considering the size and complexity of some of the projects they handle: construction, software, etc.

    While project management does employ specialized knowledge and strict procedures, it uses key principles that everyone can use, regardless of your industry.

    1. No goal, no success.

    How can you tell if you’ve achieved success if you haven’t defined what success is? Sales people know this to a T, which is why they work off sales targets and projections. But this applies to any aspect of a business, whether its customer problems solved within a week, bugs squashed in a day, or words written in an afternoon. Keeping your goals measurable and achievable is a great way to track performance while improving morale.

    2. You don’t have to know all the answers to lead.

    This is one of the biggest secrets of good leadership. Project managers lead teams of highly talented and educated people, with technical knowledge and experience far beyond the norm. Project managers are not there to show you up, or be a threat, or expose your ignorance. They’re there to extend your knowledge base. Knowing where to get answers is just as important as knowing the answers yourself.

    Tuesday, March 12, 2013

    The New Microsoft Project Online

    A couple of weeks ago Microsoft released to the public Project Online, its cloud version of Project Server 2013. I am really excited about it and can't wait to implement it at my company. But I have a big problem... I can't find a Microsoft Partner that knows anything about it!

    I've contacted some of the "Gold Project and Portfolio" partners but they all seem to want to push me to Project Server 2013. I can't find any training classes for it and even my EPM Rep at Microsoft doesn't seem to know much about it.

    Am I too far ahead of the curve here?

    Need some help! If you know of a Microsoft Partner that is up to speed on Project Online, or you know of any virtual classes available for this product, please post a comment with the details.

    Appreciate the help!

    Friday, February 1, 2013

    7 Responsibilities of a Project Management Office

    By Alvin Soltis

    PMO responsibility can vary greatly depending on who you ask. In my career I have had the opportunity to setup a few Project Offices. The first we won’t talk about, the second and third turned out very well. I am sharing some of the key routines I used below:

    Manage Proposed Projects Pipeline
    • Score proposals. This is a quick way to gauge the cost, benefit, and risk of the project so you know how much effort should go into it and who to involve. You also score this against other competing proposals who take from the same budget pool.
    • Vet that project Business Case is sound. The bigger the project the more work in this area.
    • Ensure that the project aligns to the organizations vision and strategy. It could be a great idea, but does it advance the greater goals of the organization?
    Manage Project Portfolio
    • Project Dashboard. This will list key metrics and is usually color coded so leadership can quickly see where to focus attention.
    • Exception Reporting. This regularly goes out to all the project managers and points out anything that is missing from the project. I recommend you score the projects so ones missing a lot go red. It works wonders in getting projects in tip top shape.
    • Portfolio reviews. This is done with an operating or governance committee who has the authority to move the projects through each phase and make major changes to the cost, scope, and time of the project.
    • Ensure projects are following the process. This is a combination of active monitoring and reviews done at the end of each phase.

    Thursday, January 31, 2013

    Top 10 Project/Portfolio Management Systems

    The Forrester Wave: Project/Program Portfolio Management, Q4 2012, "How The Top 10 Providers Stack Up in a Newly Divided Market", by Margo Visitacion and Phil Murphy (December 20, 2012) was a very timely and useful read. Margo and Phil well capture our environment: organizations migrating through strategic analysis, supported by portfolios that are comprised of agile and waterfall projects.

    They analyzed PPM (project/program portfolio management) tools that fall above the dividing line "Strategic Planning" and below the line "Work Execution". Margo and Phil highlighted the vendors that shine in both areas and commented on their wide range of capabilities. The reader will see how there is a dividing line in PPM tools and the need to consider a layered approach to mirror organizations that adopt multiple management practices.

    You can download your reprint from the Forrester website.

    John Curley
    Director of Research
    PMO Community of Practice

    Sunday, January 27, 2013

    Gazza's Guide to Practical Project Management Online Book Study Now LIVE!

    The Project Management Book Club has announced the online book study of Gazza’s Guide to Practical Project Management: Tips and Advice on Surviving the Project Management Journey. The study has been developed in collaboration with author Gary Nelson, PMP (Gazza)!

    Wondering what it takes to make a successful project? The online book study will teach you the critical importance of soft skills on every project - after all, the best metrics and toolkits on the market will not help you succeed unless you work with your team and the customer to deliver a successful project. The people on your project teams are the key differentiator between a successful project and a failed one - and the difference between a high performing team and a poor performing team comes down to you, the Project Manager. The task of managing projects can seem quite daunting – but the truth is that managing successful projects can be broken down into practical, easy-to-understand concepts that will help you and your team deliver projects of any size.

    Join in on the discussions at

    Monday, January 14, 2013

    Newly Updated PMI Standards Available

    Announced today from Project Management Institute...


    This is an exciting time to be a member of PMI as we have released the latest editions of three key standards that have long been considered the most influential in the profession.

    This month, PMI published:
    • A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK®Guide)—Fifth Edition
    • The Standard for Program Management—Third Edition, and
    • The Standard for Portfolio Management—Third Edition.

    Member Access to Standards
    As part of your PMI member benefits, electronic versions of these standards are now available to you on Access PDFs of these and all PMI global standards at and log-in to your myPMI profile.

    Exam Date Change Information
    Also this year PMI will update our credentials and certifications and release 10 official translations of the PMBOK® Guide—Fifth Edition. You can find information about exam date changes and read our FAQs at

    Thanks to Our Volunteers
    PMI is very appreciative and proud of the hard work of our dedicated volunteer committees. Our volunteers gave countless hours of their time to help PMI staff update and publish these standards during 2012. Without their expertise, knowledge and time, PMI would not be able to deliver a quality product that is the foundation of the profession.

    Saturday, January 12, 2013

    Interview with Gary Nelson

    Over the last couple of days I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Gary Nelson, author of Gazza's Guide to Practical Project Management. The Project Management Book Club is featuring Gary's book in an upcoming online study. Here's the interview.


    Hi Gary,

    For starters, please tell me a little bit about yourself.

    Well, I am Canadian, though I currently live in New Zealand. I was born in Alberta but lived most of my life in Vancouver, BC. I guess I am a technical project manager with a strong "T" - I have always had some technical aspect to my role, even when primarily managing projects.

    I have also been quite fortunate to have been able to travel for projects as part of my work - I have done projects in Hong Kong, Taiwan, New Zealand, Canada and many states in the US. I even got to man a booth for a trade show in New Delhi in 1993. One of my favourite projects was an implementation in Nashville, Tennessee, which spanned three years. A great place, and a great group of people to work with.

    My first overseas work trip was to New Zealand in 1990, where I met my wife. We moved back to Canada together, but after 17 years and three children, we decided that we could move "back" to New Zealand and I could still do the same job - for the same clients! I have been a virtual project manager since 2008, managing a team in North America and clients around the globe. When I first worked in New Zealand there was no internet, just a slow modem between the home office and the client site. I never could have imagined working the way I do today. I have local clients in New Zealand now, but am still involved with the overseas team.

    Friday, January 11, 2013

    50% Discount on Gazza's Guide to Practical Project Management

    The author, Gary Nelson, is offering a discount on his book, Gazza's Guide to Practical Project Management, to Project Management Book Club members participating in its upcoming online study. online study special! Gazza's Guide to Practical Project Management now 50% off Kindle and Paperback during the Project Management Book Study. (Original price $24.99 paperback/$9.99 Kindle). 

    To get the discount, use the following links:

    Order Kindle Version (read on almost any device!)
    Order Paperback Version (Use code XRUSK3WH)

    (Note that the paperback discount code only works on the above direct sales link, not on the Amazon store).

    Thanks for participating in the study - I hope you enjoy the book!
    Gary Nelson (Gazza)

    You can also purchase the paperback version directly from Amazon or from Barns & Noble.

    Wednesday, January 2, 2013

    New Book: Customer-Centric Project Management

    Click to Order!
    Customer-Centric Project Management, by authors Phil Peplow and Elizabeth Harrin, is a short guide explaining what customer centricity means in terms of how you work and its importance for project performance. Using tools and processes to guide customer-centric thinking will help you see the results of engagement and demonstrate how things can improve, even on difficult projects. This book provides a straightforward implementation guide to moving your own business to a customer-centric way of working, using a model called Exceed. It also provides guidance for ensuring that customer centricity is sustainable and supported in the organization.

    There has been a sea-change in the focus of organizations – whether private or public – away from a traditional product- or service-centricity towards customer-centricity and projects are just as much a part of that change. Projects must deliver value; projects must involve stakeholders, and Elizabeth Harrin and Phil Peplow demonstrate convincingly that stakeholders are the ones who get to decide what ‘value’ actually means.

    This is a practical, rigorous and well-researched book. It draws on established models and uses the example of project implementation in a healthcare environment to demonstrate the impact of this significant way of thinking about value.

    The authors can’t guarantee that the Exceed process will radically improve project success rates, and no process can. Adopting a customer-centric mindset and using the Exceed process to measure and monitor customer satisfaction will, however, help you move towards working with happier, more engaged stakeholders.

    Order your copy of Customer-Centric Project Management today!