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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Stress Busters

With two teenage daughters at home I know stress. In order to be effective and productive we all need to manage stress so that it doesn't control our actions (think road rage).

I think we all can agree that project management can be stressful, however we need to manage stress or it will manage us.

Here are some great ways to reduce stress.


Schedule your day to avoid back to back appointments; allow time between appointments to gather your thoughts.

Reduce your intake of caffeine

Don’t depend on your memory. Write things down.

Learn to enjoy waiting. Take an iPod or book to read while you wait.

Don't procrastinate. Don't put off until tomorrow what you can do today.

Don't be Rigid. It isn't the end of the world if the yard doesn't get mowed this weekend.

Get enough sleep.

Learn to say "No"! Sometimes it is hard, but necessary to keep your sanity.

Don't be negative. Stop saying things like, "I'm not smart enough", or "I'm too old".

Learn the difference between "need" and "want”. We need food, water, and sleep. Most everything else is a "want". Don’t let life's "wants" take control of your time and resources.

Do the tasks you don't want to do early in the day.

Have a forgiving spirit. Accept that people aren't perfect, and they will make mistakes.

Be optimistic. Believe that most people are doing the best they can.

More to come next time.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Project Scorecard

I found this document in my inventory of Project Management templates. I apologize that I can't credit the original author. If someone knows who created this template let me know and I will edit this post and include the author's name.

Project Scorecard Overview

1. Identify criteria for success. Review the objectives and deliverables in the Project Definition, as well as any other existing information that is relevant to the project. Based on this existing documentation, define what information is needed to show that the project was successful. This can be from two perspectives:

• Internal – These characteristics indicate that the project was managed and executed effectively and efficiently. This might include having deliverables approved with no more than two review iterations, hitting major internal milestone dates on time and having a minimum amount of errors uncovered in user acceptance testing.

• External – These characteristics indicate that your project objectives were completed successfully. Examples here include completing the project within approved budget and timeline, ensuring your deliverables meet approved quality criteria and customer satisfaction surveys.

2. Assign potential metrics. Identify potential metrics for each success criteria that provide an indication whether or not the criteria is being achieved. These can be direct, quantifiable metrics, or indirect metrics that give a sense for success criteria For each metric, briefly determine how you would collect the information, what the effort and cost of collection would be, and what value would be obtained.

3. Look for a balance. The potential list of metrics should be placed into categories to make sure that they provide a balanced view of the project. For instance, you do not want to end up with only a set of financial metrics, even though they might be easiest to obtain. In general, look for metrics that provide information in the areas such as:

• Cost
• Effort
• Duration
• Productivity
• Quality of deliverables
• Customer satisfaction with the deliverables produced
• Project team performance
• Business value delivered

4. Prioritize the balanced list of metrics: Depending on how many metrics you have identified, prioritize the list to include only those that have the least cost to collect and provide the most value to the project. There can certainly be as many metrics collected as make sense for the project, but there may end up being no more than one or two per category. In general, look to provide the most information with the least amount of work.

5. Set targets: The raw metric may be of some interest, but the measure of success comes from comparing your actuals against a predefined target. The target may be a single value you are trying to achieve, or it may be a range. For instance, you may need to complete your project by a certain fixed date, but your actual cost might need to be +/- 10% of approved budget.

6. Add workplan detail: For each metric that remains, determine the specific information necessary to add the appropriate activities to the project workplan. This will include:

• What specific data is needed for the metrics?
• Who is responsible for collecting the metric?
• When will the metric be collected and reported?
• How will the metrics be reported (status reports, quarterly meetings, metrics reports)?

Note: Define your success criteria upfront and get project sponsor sign-off.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Why Is My Project Late?

Design Changes – Design changes during project execution almost always cause delays and impacts to your budget. Once the Scope document has been signed, any changes to the design need to go through your Scope Change Request Process.

Skill Sets – When planning, assumptions are made regarding people's skills. Sometimes these assumptions turn out to be wrong. Also, you will usually have people on your team who are new or are less experienced. These new or lower skilled workers won't be as productive or effective as higher skilled workers. Make sure your project plan has accounted for skill levels.

Unplanned Work or Workarounds – Many times changes must be made to the sequence of planned work. These changes can impact time, cost, budget, and quality. Think about these risks up front and discuss what if any workarounds will be used.

Rework – Rework happens; it is part of project management. Ensure your project plan accounts for rework.

Team Morale – Turnover, project conflict, sick time, vacations all can wreak havoc with your schedule and budget; plan for these things. A happy team is a productive team. Ensure your team is working towards a common goal and not working against each other. Remove disruptive team members from your project if their behavior can't be changed.

Schedules – Trying to do too much in too little time will result in delays. Once you get behind it is very difficult to catch up. Your project will have delays. You need to have contingency plans to get back on track quickly.

Work Environment – Ensure that your team has a proper workspace. Cramming people into poorly designed work spaces will lower productivity.

Tools – Ensure your team has the right tools to do the job. Having the right tool, but not getting into the teams hands at the right time will cause delays in your schedule.

Project Manager Overload – Too many people on a project team without the proper management oversight can cause major problems for the project manager.

Overtime – Adding hours to people's schedules in order to make a deadline will usually do nothing but increase your budget. Adding overtime rarely results in getting a late project back on track.

Executive – Executive apathy can kill your project. People are usually not going to make your project a priority if their boss isn't willing to tell them it is important.

Plan for the above "risks" and you will start to bring your projects in faster, cheaper, with higher quality.