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Thursday, August 25, 2005

DISCLAIMER *** Yesterday’s Project Management Best Practices Checklist posting

DISCLAIMER *** Yesterday’s Project Management Best Practices Checklist posting

Just so I don’t get in trouble, I didn’t author the checklist that appeared on the blog yesterday.  I found it buried in the reams of documentation, templates, and various Project Management documents that I have in my possession.  While virtually all of the postings on this blog were written by me, I will always credit sources when available.  I am unsure of the source of yesterday’s posting.


Stephen F. Seay, PMP

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Project Management Best Practices Checklist

Identify the participants and their roles.
Identify potential project team members as well as the major players in the user community that will test and except the final product or service.

Assign an experienced project manager early
This Project Manager will make or break a project. Be sure the individual has the expertise to manage the project and works well with others. Don't hesitate to look at outside sources if there is no one on staff that qualifies.

Assess the qualifications and experience of the planned project team members
Along with the project manager, assess carefully the qualifications and experience of each team member as they pertain to the specifics of this project. Keep in mind the importance of team players, and the ability to get along with others.

Complete a detailed workplan
A preliminary workplan with major milestones should have been completed while developing the PIJ. Now is the time to work with the project manager in identifying the tasks involved for each milestone. The workplan should list the tasks for each milestone with the estimated hours, start and stop dates, costs and responsible parties. Sample workplans and templates are available through GITA upon request.

Establish an issues control tracking system
Establish a method by which, all issues pertaining to the project are recorded and can be reviewed regularly and tracked by the project team. All issues should eventually have a documented resolution. Software to perform these functions may be available through GITA upon request.

Establish a regular project team review meeting schedule
Regularly scheduled project review meetings should be incorporated into the workplan. These meetings are to review the current progress of the project including the percentage of completeness of workplan tasks.

Establish a participant update meeting schedule
Periodic participant update meetings should be incorporated into the workplan. These meetings are to present the current progress of the project to upper management and major participants in the user community.

Conduct a project kickoff meeting
Officially start the project with a meeting of all parties involved. The project team should be introduced, the milestones reviewed with estimated completion dates, and expectations as to the level of participation, should be outlined.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Keep IT Simple

There was a popular survey some time ago that asked leaders in several mid-sized companies about their success. One of the main reasons that many were successful is they focused on simplicity in everything they did. The study concluded that simple, focused companies were more profitable.

The Pareto or 80/20 Principle can help us realize the power of keeping things simple.

Some popular statistics that relate to the Pareto Principle are below:

80% of beer is consumed by 20% of the beer drinkers

80% of classroom participation comes from 20% of the students

80% of traffic jams occur on 20% of roads

20% of your clothes will be worn 80% of the time

80% of sales are generated by 20% of the sales staff

80% of problems are generated by 20% of the employees

80% of problems come from 20% of the customer base

Now that we know this, how do we make things simpler? The answer is "simple". We need to analyze the data. We cannot guess where the problems are. We cannot just use emotion. As I have stated in previous posts, it is important to look at your business processes to eliminate waste and complexity.

Questions to ask yourself and your organization when seeking to simplify your business processes:

What are our processes?

Who are our customers?

What systems do we use? Do we have the right systems in place to support our business?

What services do we offer internally and externally? Are they still valuable today?

Look for the 20% that adds value and eliminate or redesign the rest. Keep in mind that we are looking to automate, minimize, isolate, reduce, redesign, or reallocate those things that are not helping us to achieve simplicity.

Keep it Simple!!!

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Project Management Behavior

When CIOs were interviewed by ComputerWorld in 2001 regarding what skills a Project Manager should have, the consensus was the following competencies are the most important: Technology, Business, Behavior - not necessarily in that order.

I know that I have lived a sheltered project management life, but I think many project managers haven't sufficiently mastered the "Behavior" competency. My experience is limited, but I have worked with many project managers, and I believe that we all could improve our skills as they relate to the "Behavior" competency. We should all be able to agree that in order to motivate people a project manager needs an understanding of human behavior and how to motivate teams. How many project managers do you know have mastered these skills? How well do you do in this area? I can admit that I have room for improvement.

As I said, "Behavior" was listed in the top three of the most important competencies. I find that to be interesting because other surveys of CIOs find that the number one complaint about project managers is that they are whiners and excuse makers. How can we change that? Collectively we must decide as project managers we will exhibit the highest ethical and behavioral standards. We will empathize with others, we will be known as good listeners, and we can be trusted to not gossip and participate in destructive office politics.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Project Managers and Meeting Facilitation

I really do not like meetings. For the most part, I find my time would be better spent doing other things. As project managers, we will be involved in meetings. When we call a meeting we need to ensure that the meeting has an agenda and that meeting minutes are taken.

I find that one of the things that is usually missing from larger meetings is a good facilitator. As a project manager that has called a meeting it is usually best if you have a person (other than yourself) designated as a meeting facilitator.

A Facilitator is: one who brings organization and process to the meeting so attendees are able to interact effectively and make sound business decisions. They enable good meeting habits and support the group to achieve exceptional outcomes.

A Facilitator provides leadership without taking control. They get others to assume responsibility and help them to participate and lead effectively.

Facilitators should:

Assist the group to identify goals and objectives around the meeting topic
Help identify attendee needs
Guide discussions to keep them focused on the agenda
Ensure assumptions are brought out and discussed
Guide the group to consensus on issues by ensuring all attendees are heard
Use tools and processes to ensure the meeting is run efficiently and good decisions are made
Lead brainstorming sessions
Help attendees to assess their skills and assist them in building new skills to support the meeting's objectives

A good facilitator can bring clarity and focus to a meeting. There are many resources on the internet, and there are many good books on the subject. Effective meetings help to build effective outcomes. Ineffective meetings can be seen as time-wasters and can alienate some of the people you need the most.

Make sure your meetings are efficient and effective. One way to do this is to survey meeting attendees to gather feedback.

Until next time…