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Monday, March 26, 2012

Project Role Definition and Responsibilities

What are your thoughts?  Do these roles exist in your organization?  Do you agree with the definitions? 

Executive Steering Committee - Sets the strategic vision and objectives for a given program or project. The team leads efforts to build consensus through the organization to support the project or program’s objectives.

Governance Board - Formal team of executives from across the organization that ensure projects will meet/are meeting enterprise goals.

Project Sponsor - Provides clarity of the project vision, and directs the activities of the project team. Allocates funding and resources to the project. Provides executive authority necessary to overcome organizational obstacles and barriers. The guardian of the business case, and ultimately responsible for project success.

Performing Organization - The organization whose personnel are most directly involved in doing the work of the project. This organization usually provides sponsorship for the project.

Project Management Office - An organizational body or entity assigned various responsibilities related to the centralized and coordinated management of those programs/projects under its domain.

Project Stakeholders - Persons or organizations (customers, sponsors, performers, public) that are actively involved in the project or whose interests may be positively or negatively impacted by executing or implementation of the project.

Program Manager - Person responsible for the centralized, coordinated management of a program (group of related projects) to achieve the program’s strategic objectives and benefits.

Project Manager - The person assigned by the performing organization to achieve the project objectives. The project manager is responsible for coordinating and integrating activities across multiple functional lines, and managing stakeholder communications. The project manager accomplishes the above by managing project scope, time, cost, and quality. Finally, the project manager applies project management, general management and technical skills, as well as team management, negotiation, financial and business acumen, combined with an understanding of organizational politics to meet project objectives and to meet or exceed stakeholder expectations.

Project Team - All the project team members, including the project management team, the project manager, and for some projects, the project sponsor.

Functional Manager -  In regards to projects, the person responsible for ensuring agreed-upon project tasks are completed using pre-defined resources under the functional manager’s control within scope, time, budget and quality constraints.

Project Team Leader - Responsible for ensuring that agreed-upon project tasks and assignments are completed on time, on budget, and within quality standards for personnel under their realm of control or influence. The team leader should be knowledgeable of the principles and practices of project management and understand the business unit’s strategic and operational issues.

Technical Manager/Liaison - Responsible for the technical implementation of the project as measured against the project requirements, quality targets, and budgetary constraints, and timelines. Ensures technical deliverables are consistent with the overall technical strategy of the enterprise.

Business Analyst - Primary interface between projects and business partners. Responsible for understanding current and future processes, including processes for the entire enterprise. Documents business requirements, generate business cases, assists in defining project benefits/ costs, and participates in project reviews

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Mastering Your Work

David Allen is known for great training and tools to help people and organizations efficiently manage work.  Check out David Allen's website for some great information!

David Allen wrote an article for the NYT this past weekend. Check it out here!

Click the image below to enlarge.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Estimating Project Management Tasks

As stated so eloquently by Bob Lewis in his book "IS Survival Guide", There is no way for you to successfully estimate projects. Take that as a given. It can't be done, and for a very simple reason: Every one of your projects is one-of-a-kind. Mr. Lewis makes a very good point, however in my experience, I have yet to have met a manager that will let me get away with saying "I can't estimate this project".


I like to call the solution to this problem rolling-wave estimating. By that I mean when the project is in the initiation phase and you have very little information your estimate should reflect that fact. This means very early in the project your estimate(s) could be off by as much as +200/-75% (or more). As you progress through the project planning phase you will breakdown the project into smaller, more manageable pieces of work (decomposition). This process helps to narrow the range of your estimates.

Do not be fooled into thinking that because you have broken down your project into phases and/or small manageable pieces of work that you can just add up the estimates and have a total overall project estimate. Many times, especially on IT projects, there are integration issues that are difficult to estimate and are usually ignored in the planning phase. Do not forget to add time for these critical integration activities. Also, while padding of estimates is a no-no, don't forget to account for risk in your project estimates. PMI advocates for contingency and management reserves to account for risk events, but I have not worked in an environment where these exist so I have to plan for risk in my estimates.

Be smart when estimating and realize that in the IT world estimates are always wrong and tasks are always underestimated.

Monday, March 12, 2012

What is Project Management Value?

Project value can’t be dictated; it must be planned, agreed upon, and easily recognizable.  We can't be told something has value.  We must be shown its value and left to form our own opinions.  In all cases the value of a project must be measurable.


Projects that produce little to no value aren't unique to any one industry or business segment.  They are often a result of a project manager or project team with the mentality that says we know best, and we believe we are smarter than everybody else.

We can sum up this type of behavior in one word...Arrogance.

As taken from the website the Inner Frontier:

ARROGANCE - "Those to whom much has been given sometimes suffer from arrogance; or rather the people around them suffer. Arrogance is doubly a pity, because the talents of the arrogant serve primarily themselves. The arrogant assumes his views and opinions are The Truth. In arrogance, natural confidence goes sadly awry. Rather than the self-assurance born of knowing his own strengths and limitations, arrogance admits no limits. The arrogant brooks no weakness in himself and may even secretly rejoice to find flaws in others."

Don't be arrogant and don't manage a project that doesn't have value.

Monday, March 05, 2012

Organizational Strategy and Project Plans

We have a strategic plan where I work, however we don't have a portfolio planning office to manage the output of the strategic plan (the projects). A strategic plan is basically an outline for a list of strategic projects. Strategic projects are focused on mid and long term goals and are authorized by senior management. Without a strategic planning office there is not an effective strategic plan, and a strategic plan that isn't effective isn't worth the paper it is printed on.

According to some research, 50-80% of strategic plans never come to fruition. I would bet that most of these failed strategic plans were due to organizations not having a strategic planning office. As I mentioned, my organization has a strategic plan, and while well thought out, it doesn't appear to be very effective at consistently delivering measurable results. I say this because I don't see a project portfolio or list of strategic projects, and there is no organization to oversee these projects at the enterprise level. Also, the projects that do come out of our strategic plan aren't usually very S.M.A.R.T. - Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Resource Constrained/Relevant, Time-bound.

If your projects aren't S.M.A.R.T they aren't worth planning and executing.
Organizations, especially local governments, can tweak and refine their strategy over time. This can be due to the ever changing political winds, environmental factors, customer demands, changing priorities, resource constraints, a lack of political will, or executive apathy, but more often it is because of a lack of an enterprise project management focus. Whatever the case, a strategic planning office can help an organizations focus on what is important in regards to the management of strategic projects.

When thinking about strategic projects think about the following:
  • How the projects will be selected?
  • How the projects will be funded?
  • How the projects will be monitored and reported against?
  • How will project audits be conducted?
  • Who sponsors the projects?
One final thing, review PMI's OPM3 (Organizational Project Management Maturity Model) to help you transform your organization's strategy into action, and remember the Strategic Planning Circle - Strategy ---> Ideas ---> Projects ---> Change