PM Answers just got more interesting

We are delighted to announce that the much anticipated PM Answers Club has launched.

In response to numerous requests for a low cost, great value project manager coaching and mentoring solution PM Advisor has this week launched PM Answers Club.

PM Answers

A unique resource providing project managers with honest advice from renowned experts on their project management issues

All professionals need support to develop and grow from time to time.  Project Managers in particular have a great deal of expectation placed upon them in terms of ability, specific skills and experience.  Increasingly PMs are assigned, despite them not necessarily carrying all of the pre-requisite competence.  Traditionally, in-house mentors have been a major part of the solution, but big business is under increasing pressure to do more with less.  More and more project professionals are working in smaller organisations where there is little or no expert support available.  These factors mean that external expertise is needed.  However competence development budgets are constantly being squeezed, and so there is understandably a need for great value, both in terms of quality, time and budget.

That is where the PM Answers ‘Club’ from PM Advisor can help.  This new and unique service provides a personally blended mix of learning, mentoring and coaching, built from modules of group and individual sessions led by expert PM Advisors.  Sessions are held securely online, and your first Group Learning session is free!  To secure your taster session download and email this application form.

Feel free to contact us if you have any questions.

Popular Project Management Blogs

We are often asked which PM Blogs we follow at PM Advisor.  Here are a few of our favourites:

APM Blog: http://www.apm.org.uk/blog

Guerrilla Project Management: http://www.guerrillaprojectmanagement.com

Herding Cats: http://herdingcats.typepad.com

How to Manage a Camel: http://www.arraspeople.co.uk/camel-blog/

Project Accelerator: http://www.projectaccelerator.co.uk

Project Excellence: http://blog.projexc.com

Project Management: http://project-management.com

PM Crunch: http://pmcrunch.com

PM Hut: http://www.pmhut.com

The Sensible PM: http://www.sensiblepm.com

The Tao of Project Management: http://thetaoofpm.blogspot.co.uk

Project Management News Digest w44 2013

NewsDigestBad Project Managers: 6 Archetypes

Information Week

Phil Simon takes a consultant’s perspective to describe the 6 types of Bad Project Manager he has come across:

  • The Yes-Man,
  • The Micromanager,
  • The Procrastinator,
  • The Know-it-all,
  • The Pollyanna, and
  • The Pessimist.

 

Deltek Vision 7.1 Update

Deltek

Deltek’s integrated project-based software for professional services firms has been updated with some new functionality, including document attachments, Adobe InDesign integration, improved security, improved billing & approvals, graphical dashboards and expanded mobile functionality.

 

New PM Tool: Cloud Startup Swyvel Brings Project Management To The Cloud

Swyvel

We’re not sure this is the best name for a PM Tool, but putting that aside the system appears to pack a functionality punch.

 

10 Project Management Rules Every Business Owner Should Know

Connectwise

  1. project management is a specialisation
  2. without scope you’re doomed
  3. establish milestones
  4. define how you will document the project
  5. build an extra week into every phase
  6. plan for the worst
  7. set recurring review meetings
  8. know your bench
  9. provide customers with a post-implementation checklist
  10. send a post-implementation survey

 

The business analyst: The project manager’s best ally

TechRepublic

Ken Hardin shares a tale from his days as a TechRepublic manager that illustrates why PMs need a direct channel to the business analyst.

 

How to build a good project KPI framework

ProjectManager.com.au

Clear thoughts with 7 main considerations for project KPIs:

  1. Meaningful
  2. Measurable
  3. Benefits related
  4. Mix of lag and lead
  5. Aligned with program and/or portfoilio
  6. Regular reporting
  7. Measure into operations

 

More Reading: Project Management Blogs

We are often asked which PM Blogs we follow at PM Advisor.  Here are a few of our favourites:

APM Blog: http://www.apm.org.uk/blog

Guerrilla Project Management: http://www.guerrillaprojectmanagement.com

Herding Cats: http://herdingcats.typepad.com

How to Manage a Camel: http://www.arraspeople.co.uk/camel-blog/

Project Accelerator: http://www.projectaccelerator.co.uk

Project Excellence: http://blog.projexc.com

Project Management: http://project-management.com

PM Crunch: http://pmcrunch.com

PM Hut: http://www.pmhut.com

The Sensible PM: http://www.sensiblepm.com

The Tao of Project Management: http://thetaoofpm.blogspot.co.uk

 

Project Management News Digest w42 2013

NewsDigestInternational Project Management Day 7th November
Mark your diary and plan your event.  Tell PM Advisor what you are doing.
 
Warning Signs Your Project May Be in Trouble
Governance is a hot topic in project management recently, and in our opinion, rightly so.  In this article Harold Kerzner explores increasing pressure on project managers and sponsors, what this means to the project and weaknesses in understanding governance roles & responsibilities.
 
Quote of The Week
The root of most project evil is poor governance“, from an article by Brian Wernham in an article in the APMs Project Magazine looking at the UK government’s Universal Credit programme.
 
Top 7 Wishes of IT Project Managers
There’s nothing wrong with dreaming.  These are the 7 wishes:
  1. Involvment from inception
  2. The perfect team
  3. Powerful yet simple to use PM Tools
  4. Clearly defined objectives
  5. Buy-in from stakeholders and end-users
  6. Be treated with respect
  7. Be allowed to adjust
 
7 Critical Skills for Project Managers
This could be a controversial one, and at PMAdvisor we were particularly surprised to see communication missing.
  1. Scheduling
  2. Resource allocation
  3. Risk management
  4. Budgeting
  5. Team management
  6. Change management
  7. Issue management
 
Howler of the Week
Simplifying project management basics is a good thing, so we were excited to came across this article on Coach4Growth.com
We were excited until we realised how many critical elements were missing, by focusing purely on the schedule.  Think strategy, locations, stakeholders, risks, issues, methods, budgets, …..
 
Triniforce releases Project Kaiser version 12
This new version of their web-based project management software includes a number of improvements in team collaboration, projects’ creation, project tree configuration etc. 
 
PowerSteering 10 Introduces Innovative Portfolio Planning Capabilities
The latest release extends PowerSteering’s capabilities in portfolio management and analysis, introducing a number of enhancements.

PM Answers to your burning Project Management Question?

PM Answers from PM Advisor.

PM Answers

A unique resource providing project managers with honest advice from renowned experts on their project management issues

Have you got a burning project management question or issue that you are looking for an answer to?

Ask us.  Our project management experts will do their best to answer your question, or point you in the right direction.  The best questions, along with our answers, will be posted back onto the PM Advisor site.  This allows others in the PM Advisor community to benefit from the advice,  and to add their comments, ideas or other pearls of wisdom, creating a unique community directed Q&A forum.

Project Management News Digest w41 2013

NewsDigestProject Management Frameworks for SMEs

Project Accelerator

More and more organisations are looking for a Framework for successful project management, and for SMEs PRINCE2 can be overkill.

Handbook of People in Project Management

A new PM book by Dennis Lock and Lindsay Scott looking at one of (and probably the most important) the 3 elements for project success – people.

UK Economy Strengthening – Signs in the Projects World

Two of the biggest indicators that the UK economy seems finally to be turning the corner to us here are:
  1. There is a steadily increasing number of PM jobs being advertised, and
  2. There are more people talking to us about now being the time to take the plunge in that big project, where would they find a good PM, and how would be the best way to apply appropriate governance to the project.
Both suggest that projects are being started, and we all know that projects are huge investments.

Flow Upgrades to Full PM Suite

The web and iOS tool has been updated with additional team functionalities.

The Power of Project Governance

An interesting insight and useful checklist from Anita Potgieter.  We’re not sure that the only project management system is Project Server 2013 though!

APM Launches The PM Channel

A great online resource with on demand PM training & development

Glossary of IT PM Terms You Should Know

TechRepublic

Wrike Raises $10m from Bain Capital for PM Tools

AllThingsDigital

New Infographic Shows the Need for a PMO

The Intersect Group

5 Mistakes You Don’t Want To Make As A PM

  1. Omission of milestones
  2. Disregarding your risk log
  3. Failing to communicate
  4. Losing sight of the big picture
  5. Not updating your calendar
5 Best Personal PM Tools
Lifehacker recently asked their readers to describe their best personal project management tool.  The top 5 were.  Some interesting surprises there..
  1. Asana
  2. Troll
  3. Microsoft OneNote
  4. Evernote
  5. Azendoo
5 Best PM Techniques to Steal
  1. Kanban
  2. Scrum
  3. GTD
  4. CCPM
  5. Kaizen
Popular iOS Mindmapping Tool iThoughts Now On OSX
iThoughtsX

Did we miss something?  Let us know.

Critical Chain Project Management

iStock_000018782205SmallPM Advisor and our consultants at ProjExc are constantly looking for ways to help Project Managers to be more successful, in what we call the Post-PRINCE era of project management.

One “new” methodology that has been growing in popularity for a few years now, albeit mostly under the radar, is Critical Chain Project Management, or CCPM. CCPM is based on the ideas presented by Eliyahu Goldratt in his books The Goal and Theory of Constraints.

CCPM promises the successful delivery of projects significantly earlier, with more confidence and using less resources. The cost for this is a huge leap of faith, and the need to get every department involved in a project (from executives to manufacturing and sales) completely engaged and committed to the concept from the outset and to keep that faith to the end!
That said, a growing number of big organisations are adopting CCPM having recognised a significant opportunity to compete. For example, only yesterday, we read in Business Insider that the 3 books which Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos asks his senior managers to read includes Goldratt’s The Goal.

We have read the books, done the research, and seen, heard and read about a number of success stories, as well as one or two horror stories of implementations gone wrong. It was fascinating therefore to get an opportunity at a recent APM event (The Real Reason that Projects Fail & How to Fix it) to hear from Gary Palmer of Critical Point Consulting, a CCPM consultancy from Kent, explaining the differences between traditional PM methods and CCPM. Clearly a convert to the “teachings” of Goldratt et al, Gary passionately believes that the only way to make projects successful is to adopt the principles and methods of CCPM.

Interestingly, and regardless of views on the suitability of CCPM, we wholeheartedly agree with Critical Point that project objective failure rates of 66%+ are unacceptable, leading to unnecessary disappointment, frustration, poor productivity, late market entry and impact on the bottom line. Liberal application of common sense together with a pragmatic implementation of waterfall, agile or a combination can make a huge difference to success.

What is CCPM?
Palmer sees this as a set of interlinked techniques & tools that work individually and collaboratively to significantly improve the processes and operation of scheduling & execution in projects, portfolios and programmes alike. The key to CCPM is scoping and scheduling. As the project proceeds the main role of the project manager is to ensure that the focus of the whole organisation is to ensure that potential critical/key resource constraints are always avoided at all costs.

The main observed problems in traditional PM:
1. Deadline driven scheduling feeds the impact of Parkinson’s Law meaning that early finishes never materialise,
2. Task level contingencies tend to have a product rather than summing effect, leading to resources adopting student syndrome and having no incentive to start early.
3. Critical Path focus completely ignores resources when planning resulting in frequent changes to the plans.
4. Multi tasking slows everything down, reduces quality and destroys productivity.
5. Poor measures & control tend to only focus on %age complete reported to expectation, and spend to date and subjective retrospective opinions of progress. However does the PM really have objective data to understand is the project on target?

CCPM solves these problems, in turn, by:
1. Creating a dependency “relay race” with no dates in the schedule.
2. Placing a total project “buffer” to be shared by all resources at end of the schedule, before an agreed project “commit” date, thus aggregating uncertainties.
3. Focus on the Critical Chain including resources. This forms resource dependencies rather than task dependency.
4. Single Tasking. Only one task is worked on in the chain, with no interruptions and dedicated resource until complete.
5. Good measures & visible control. Daily reporting of whether a task is complete, or if not how much task time remains. This is reflected in a Fever Chart.

Two other major benefits.
1. CCPM removes the need for schedule changes greatly simplifying life for the project manager, and
2. Each individual problem encountered no longer perpetuates others.

Tools
There is a small but growing pool of critical chain project management software meeting the needs of the new market. Some are standalone, some are add-ons to traditional tools like MS Project and additionally some of the all-in-one tools are integrating CCPM. These include:
Concerto
Exepron
Novaces
ProChain
Sciforma

The key management tool which is easily adopted and communicated is the Fever Chart. This powerfully visualises how much of the critical chain completed, and how much of the buffer has been consumed, and the PM would generally share this with the whole team on a daily basis.

Other Useful Links and Related Resources
Goldratt Books on Amazon.
Kelvin Youngman’s A Guide to Implementing the Theory of Constraints is a super guide with many useful resources.
The Billion Dollar Solution, Robert Newbold’s secrets of ProChain Project Management.
UK Goldratt Consultancy.

Project Management News Digest w38 2013

NewsDigestAs we have now moved out of the holiday season there’s more going on in the world of Project Management.  Here are some of the things that have caught our eye over the last couple of weeks.

Cancelling Doomed Projects Early Saves Money
David Walton argues that most large organisations are victims of compulsive, blinkered spending on failing projects on a grand scale.
Consultant News

Talygen Adds Project Collaboration Functionality

Talygen the Business Intelligence specialist has added project collaboration tools to it’s suite with easy access via web, tablets and smartphones.
Talygen

5 Signs You Need Better Business Processes
Edward O’Brien suggests these 5 signs:
1. Non-repeatable processes or process duplication across your business/project.
2. Information and knowledge ‘silos’ across your business or project.
3. Poor internal controls, especially over manual processes.
4. Unable to identify the impact of change, including the costs and benefits of process improvements.
5. Lack of accurate, usable and timely information
Project Manager

MSc in Business Project Management to rival MBAs?

The specially designed MSc in Business Project Management gives students the skills to manage and transform business operations. “Projects are not about ‘business as usual’ – they’re about business change,”
The Guardian

5 Efficient Android Apps that Make Project Management a Less Daunting Task

This article extolls the virtues of Evernote, Dropbox, PrinterShare, LiquidPlanner, and TeamworkPM
SellCell

Companies Risk Project Over-runs as Training Budgets Are Cut
argues Bill Goodwin and ESI International

Computer Weekly

Cranfield to Present at Project Challenge Expo in London
The 2 seminars will be:
Success through developing The Energised Projects Organisation, and
Managing Different Forms of Complexity – what you and your teams can do today.
Project Challenge

Telerik updates TeamPulse to Ease Multiple Projects
Telerik

What’s Missing in Project Management Training?
Kevin Eikenberry argues that we train project managers, but fail to adequately equip members of the project team.
Business Management Daily

The Six Deadly Sins of Project Management Leadership
1. You think like an employee not a CEO,
2. You think you are the smartest person in the room,
3. Project success is all about delivering to time, cost, and scope,
4. Your team is there to get the job done – no matter what,
5. You leave yourself in the parking lot, and
6. You fail to promote – and keep the right people informed about – your project.
IT Business Edge / ESI International