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Monday, October 30, 2006

Project Change Management

I have returned from Seattle, and PMI put on another great global congress. I'm reenergized about my profession and the opportunities available for Project Managers. If you haven't attended a PMI Global Conference I would strongly suggest you try to attend the next one in 2007 in Atlanta, GA.

One of the things I'm trying to focus on this year is doing a better job of managing project change. Remember, project management is really about controlling change. As project managers we need to control change in order to control our project's scope. If we don't do a good job of controlling change our project will get off track quickly.

Develop a good change management process during project initiation, and utilize it throughout your project.

Some other change management tips:

Capture all requests for change in writing

Have a common process for approving or rejecting change requests

Understand what the change(s) will impact

Understand how the change will impact your costs, schedule, scope, and quality

Make sure you have the right people review the change

If changes are approved, ensure you update any baselines that are impacted by the change

Changes in your project are inevitable, but controlling change is the responsibility of the project manager. Are you in control of your project's change?

Friday, October 20, 2006

PMI Global Congress - Seattle


I'm headed to Seattle for the annual PMI Global Congress. I always enjoy this conference because I'm able to see the latest products the vendors have, and always learn a lot from the various presentations.

I have really been busy this week. I'm in the final stages of implementing an Asset/Work Management system for our IT group and the challenges have been a bit overwhelming at times. I long for the days when I had a strong sponsor and some level of commitment from all stakeholders. I work in a very challenging environment where Earned Value and IT Project Management aren't always highly valued.

I have learned in my current environment that results aren't always as important as managing perceptions.

I have always believed as Project Managers we should be judged equally on what I call the PCA Triangle. At the top of the triangle is a "P" for Process. On the bottom right is "C" for Communication, and at the bottom left is "R" for Results. Remember I said we "should" be measured equally in regards to our overall performance.

Some organizations focus mainly on results when evaluating projects and project managers. This is a big mistake. If I manage a project and make everyone mad, don't communicate up, down, and across the organization, but deliver the project on time and on budget did I succeed? What if the scope wasn't properly captured due to poor communications and lack of process? Will people really embrace the project's deliverables? Will they project even be accepted?

Results are important, but the process you use to get the results and the way you communicate along the way are just as important.

Hope to see some of you in Seattle. E-mail me using the following address if you are in Seattle next week and we can meet for coffee - sseay(at)scgov.net

Until next week!

Stephen F. Seay, PMP

Monday, October 09, 2006

Projects, Leaders, and Discipline

One of the things that hurt project teams most is the lack of an enterprise (executive) focus and oversight regarding the management of projects. It takes discipline to manage projects, and enterprise project discipline is lacking when executives are disinterested or disengaged. Great organizations (not project managers) manage projects well, and in doing so they have employees with higher morale, they get better project results, and implement projects faster with higher quality.

So why don't more organizations keep closer tabs on their projects at the enterprise level? Some would say the executives are too busy strategizing, and the projects are running just fine without their oversight. I think people that say this are fooling themselves and have little to no project management discipline. The data is clear that projects are delivered faster, cheaper, and with higher quality when projects results are reviewed by the enterprise (executives).

Before we go further, we need to ensure we have a clear understanding of the word discipline. Discipline is the act of encouraging a desired pattern of behavior. George Washington said: "Discipline is the soul of an army. It makes small numbers formidable, procures success to the weak, and esteem to all". In other words, discipline is the glue that holds organizations together.

We can't have agile and effective project methodologies or organizational processes without discipline. In short, effective discipline requires effective organizational oversight. Finally, discipline begins at the top and works its way down. Organizations with poor discipline have weak, ineffective leaders at the top. Weak, unengaged, ineffective leaders kill organizations. Can you say Enron?

The lack of project discipline is the fault of all project team members, but the cause of a lack of discipline lies at the top of the organization.

Disconnected, disinterested, and unengaged leadership is unacceptable in any organization. Undisciplined organizations have high turnover, low employee morale, and poor project results. These organizations cheat their investors and customers by not providing the highest level of service possible. Highly disciplined organizations make and keep commitments, manage to clearly stated and measurable goals, and have executives that are engaged and visibly participate in the oversight of projects and day-to-day operations. If you aren't visible, your aren't relevant. If you aren't relevant, you aren't needed.

In closing, dysfunctional organizations believe that the workers are solely responsible for managing projects and other day-to-day work. These organizations believe that the executives should spend the majority of their time strategizing and making policy. This is a failed approach (see General Motors, Ford, K-Mart, etc), and ensures the work, including projects, will take longer than planned and cost more than what was budgeted.

Executive leadership and oversight of projects has been proven to motivate project teams to be accountable, results driven, and focused on achieving a common goal. Good executive leadership provides the glue that keeps teams working together, provides inspiration, exhibits integrity, sets an example for others to follow, and is accountable.

Leadership is action, not position - Donald H. McGannon.

Monday, October 02, 2006

A Message by George Carlin

This has been around for quite some time. I thought it was worth posting here for people that haven't read it. Very profound, very true, very sad.

The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings but shorter tempers, wider freeways , but narrower viewpoints. We spend more, but have less, we buy more, but enjoy less. We have bigger houses and smaller families, more conveniences, but less time. We have more degrees but less sense, more knowledge, but less judgment, more experts, yet more problems, more medicine, but less wellness.

We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get too angry, stay up too late, get up too tired, read too little, watch TV too much, and pray too seldom.

We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values. We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often. We've learned how to make a living, but not a life. We've added years to life not life to years. We've been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet a new neighbor.

We conquered outer space but not inner space. We've done larger things, but not better things. We've cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul. We've conquered the atom, but not our prejudice. We write more, but learn less. We plan more, but accomplish less.

We've learned to rush, but not to wait. We build more computers to hold more information, to produce morec opies than ever, but we communicate less and less. These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion, big men and small character, steep profits and shallow relationships.

These are the days of two incomes but more divorce, fancier houses, but broken homes. These are days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throw away morality, one night stands, overweight bodies, and pills that do everything from cheer, to quiet, to kill.

It is a time when there is much in the showroom window and nothing in the stockroom.