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Saturday, September 25, 2004

Good Website

In case you haven't heard the Ten Step website has some excellent free project management white papers and templates, and additionally they license (for a fee) a number of Project Management Methodologies (TenStep, PMOStep, SupportStep, etc). The prices are reasonable, and I personally have licenses for the TenStep and PMOStep methodologies and can highly recommend these for new or experienced project managers.

I have no affiliation with this site, but use the content and have found it to be an excellent source of project management information. If you visit the site let Tom Mochal (President of TenStep) know I sent you.

Tom has just recently written a book entitled Lessons in Project Management, and from what I understand it has received rave reviews. I will be purchasing a copy for myself within the next few weeks.

Until next time...

Thursday, September 16, 2004

What Makes a Successful Project?

The four measurements that must always be used are:

1.) The customer is satisfied

2.) The project is delivered within or under budget

3.) The project is completed on time

4.) The project's requirements have been met

Keep in mind the most important measure of project success is Customer Satisfaction. If you deliver a project on-time, within budget and it meets all requirements yet the customer is not satisfied, the project is a FAILURE!

Keep your customers (stakeholders/sponsor) informed throughout the project. Communicate to your customers using face-to-face conversations (yes, good project managers actually do this), status reports, e-mail, status meetings, voice mail, formal documentation, even sky writing if you have to. Your customers must be kept informed and remain engaged throughout the project. If you aren't hearing from them during your project, you aren't communicating with them. We all know that effective communications are two-way. If members of your project team choose not to communicate with you during your project look to have them removed from the team immediately.

In closing, maintaining a dialogue with your customers throughout your project helps you to address concerns and issues quickly. Combining effective communications and management of the project's triple constraints (Time, Cost Quality/Requirements) will help to ensure that your customers are satisfied with the end result of the project.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

What is Not in Writing Has Not Been Said - Part II

A subject of one of my previous posts contained the quote "what is not in writing has not been said". While you may not want to make that statement to your boss when asked about your last conversation, there are many times when this statement is applicable during your project's lifecycle.

A project manager’s main function is to complete his or her project on time and on budget. This takes teamwork and a strong commitment by all team members. To be a successful project manager you must use written communications to ensure the team is kept informed.

Having said that, just because you go to the trouble to document your thoughts does not mean that your communications are clear. The receiver of your message will act on the message they think they received, which is then filtered by the receiver through their emotions and assumptions.

Don't be as concerned with what your words mean, but more with the effect they will have on the people that read them.

An important fact when writing, "Know Your Audience". If the tone of the message reflects the audience's needs you are more likely to grab the reader’s attention and keep it longer.

Most of your readers are overworked, underpaid, unappreciated, and tired of reading all the e-mails, memos, and office correspondence they receive. While this may see extreme, keep it in mind when writing your message and you will tend to keep your messages focused to the point and brief.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Team Communications

How clear are your Project Communications with your project team? As we all know, project teams are made up of diverse individuals with different skills, priorities, and needs. Project teams need timely, clear communications in order to function as a cohesive and productive group. While managing your project, you should focus your team communications to address the following areas:

Accountability - What are the team members accountable for? Which tasks and/or deliverables is each team member responsible for delivering?

Approvals - What decisions are the team members authorized to make? What type of communication needs to be sent by the project manager to the team when project approvals have been made?

Synchronizing - Timely and accurate information needs to be provided to the team members regarding the project's tasks and milestones. Special attention must be paid to how the work is coordinated so all team members are working on the right things at the right times. Include the team when making decisions about synchronizing the work.

Progress Tracking - The project manager is responsible for tracking project status and the team must participate in the status reporting process and be kept informed. Ensure that the team is aware of the project's issues and allow them the authority to take remedial action to avert a crisis.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

What is not in writing has not been said

While the title of this message may seem extreme, there are many times when it is relevant in project management. One example is in the area of requirements. Project requirements are always in written form. In the field of project management there is no such thing as a verbal project requirement.

The following text was taken from Chapter Twenty in the “Field Guide to Project Management”. The authors Francis M Webster, Jr. and Stephen D. Owens state, "the written document provides instructions, restates previous instructions, conveys importance to the message, and helps the project manager to cover their tracks".

The authors also make the point that that "e-mail isn't always enough and can get you in trouble faster and with more people". As we all know from experience, e-mail usually isn't given enough thought before it is sent which can lead to messages being misinterpreted and having unintended consequences.

A project manager that is doing his or her job will formally document all items that are important and relevant to supporting a project's triple constraints (Time, Cost, Quality).