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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A Collection of Project Management

I posted these a few years ago and thought they deserved a repost.

Good estimators aren't modest: if it's huge they say so.

The sooner you begin coding the later you finish.

A verbal contract isn't worth the paper it's written on.

What is not on paper has not been said.

If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.

If you fail to plan you are planning to fail.

If you don't attack the risks, the risks will attack you.

A little risk management saves a lot of fan cleaning.

The sooner you get behind schedule, the more time you have to make it up.

A badly planned project will take three times longer than expected - a well-planned project only twice as long as expected.

If you can keep your head while all about you are losing theirs, you haven't understood the plan.

When all's said and done a lot more is said than done.

If at first you don't succeed, remove all evidence you ever tried.

Feather and down are padding - changes and contingencies will be real events.

There are no good project managers - only lucky ones.

The more you plan the luckier you get.

A project is one small step for the project sponsor, one giant leap for the project manager.

Good project management is not so much knowing what to do and when, as knowing what excuses to give and when.

If everything is going exactly to plan, something somewhere is going massively wrong.

Everyone asks for a strong project manager - when they get him they don't want him.

Overtime is a figment of the naïve project manager's imagination.

Quantitative project management is for predicting cost and schedule overruns well in advance.

Good project managers know when not to manage a project.

Metrics are learned men's excuses.

For a project manager overruns are as certain as death and taxes.

If there were no problem people there'd be no need for people who solve problems.

Some projects finish on time in spite of project management best practices.

Good project managers admit mistakes: that's why you so rarely meet a good project manager.

Fast - cheap - good: you can have any two.

There is such a thing as an unrealistic timescale.

The more ridiculous the deadline the more money will be wasted trying to meet it.

The first 90% of a project takes 90% of the time the last 10% takes the other 90%.

The project would not have been started if the truth had been told about the cost and timescale.

To estimate a project, work out how long it would take one person to do it then multiply that by the number of people on the project.

Never underestimate the ability of senior management to buy a bad idea and fail to buy a good idea.

The most successful project managers have perfected the skill of being comfortable being uncomfortable.

When the weight of the project paperwork equals the weight of the project itself, the project can be considered complete.

If it wasn't for the 'last minute', nothing would get done.

Nothing gets done till nothing gets done.

Warning: dates in the calendar are closer than you think.

There is no such thing as scope creep, only scope gallop.

Anything that can be changed will be changed until there is no time left to change anything.

If project content is allowed to change freely the rate of change will exceed the rate of progress.

If you can interpret project status data in several different ways, only the most painful interpretation will be correct.

A project gets a year late one day at a time.

A project isn’t over until the fat check is cashed.

Powerful project managers don't solve problems, they get rid of them.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Great Project Team Leaders

If you watch professional sports you often see the positive results of a great coach and a great team (Go Tampa Bay Rays!).

Great team results come from good coaching, and the right team talent all coming together at the same time to obtain a mutual goal...Winning!

A project manager is often thrust into the role of team coach.  A coach is a critical component of the team, and their job involves ensuring the team is ready and able to deliver the "desired results".  No matter what your style of communication, or your level of team building skills, it is important to lead the team in a way that ensures they use their talents to their fullest potential.

My Three Random Team Rules

1.)  You must know each team member's skills, talents, and abilities and manage them accordingly.

2.)  As team leader you must be respected, you must be a tireless champion for the cause (desired results, winning, meeting milestones, etc), and you must form a bond built on trust with each member of the team.

3.)  The weakest relationships you have on the team can often be your project's biggest risk.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Steps to Political and Project Success

Assess the Environment
Who are the relevant stakeholders?
Who are the most important stakeholders?
Where does the power lie?
Whose actions will impact the project most (Negative or Positive)?

Identify the Goals/Needs of the Stakeholders and Sponsor
What are the stakeholder's motivations?
What are the sponsor’s motivations?
What are the organizational motivations?
What are their psychological motivations?
What is their overt motivation?
What is their hidden (covert) agenda?

Know Thyself
What are your strengths and weaknesses as you perceive them?
How are you perceived by others?
What are your personal values related to your workplace?
How can you compensate for your weaknesses (actual and perceived)?

Define the Problems
What are all the relevant facts?
What are the underlying assumptions (both True and False)?
What is Reality?

Develop Solutions that Work
Avoid premature solutions that don't account for the four steps above
Obtain user buy-in to the solution
Obtain Sponsor buy-in to the solution

Test and Refine the Solutions
Initial solutions are tough and usually difficult to sell
Continually refine and test your solution
Get sign-off from all relevant stakeholders and your sponsor

A solution that does not take the realities of the political environment into account will fail. Don't be naive when it comes to internal politics.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Mistakes and Consequences

Project managers make mistakes and must deal with the consequences of these mistakes continually. Dr. Stephen Covey talks about mistakes and consequences and we should consider his words carefully.

As Dr. Covey states, "While we are free to choose our actions, we are not free to choose the consequence of those actions. Consequences are governed by natural law. They are out in the Circle of Concern” (See Dr Covey’s book ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ to learn more about the Circle of Concern and the Circle of Influence). He continues, “We can decide to step in front of a fast-moving train, be we cannot decide what will happen when the train hits us”. To take this further, Dr. Covey says, "We can decide to be dishonest in our business dealings. While the social consequences of these decisions may vary depending on whether or not we are found out, the natural consequences to our basic character are a fixed result."

Dr. Covey continues, "Our behavior is governed by principles. Living in harmony with them brings positive consequences; violating them brings negative consequences. We are free to choose our response in any situation, but in doing so we choose the attendant consequence. When we pick up one end of the stick, we pick up the other".

What does this mean? As project managers we have the capability to motivate and empower members of our team by demonstrating honest and ethical behavior. At the other end of the spectrum we can send our projects (and reputations) quickly off-track if we are dishonest or unethical. We must be willing to quickly admit our mistakes and at times suffer the consequences.

To quote Dr. Covey again, "Our response to mistakes affects the quality of our next moment. It is important to immediately admit and correct our mistakes so that they have no power over that next moment, and we are empowered again. It is not what others do or even our mistakes that hurt us the most; it is our response to those things".

We all make mistakes. We must atone for and make amends to others for those mistakes quickly. In my opinion, our unwillingness to admit our mistakes is the biggest obstacle to personal growth and strong relationships. As Dr. Convey says, "By making and keeping promises to ourselves and others, little by little, our honor becomes greater than our moods”.

Have high integrity and make and keep your promises. Your projects (and your life) will be the better for it.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

What is a Competent Project Manager?

What are the capabilities of a good project manager? What is the definition of capability? Also, what defines capabilities and where does “competence” fit in to the mix. Perhaps if we look at some definitions we can start to answer the original question.

Capable - quality, ability, feature, etc., Something to be used or developed; potential

Competence - is a measure of the ability to perform a task

So, we can say that a competent project manager would possess a set of skills and behaviors, which would help guide them to successful project results.

I believe that some of these competencies are comprised of the following:

(K)nowledge - acquaintance with facts, truths, or principles, as from study or investigation; general erudition

(S)kills - the ability, coming from one's knowledge, practice, aptitude, etc., to do something well

(A)ttitude - manner, disposition, feeling, position, etc., with regard to a person or thing; tendency or orientation, esp. of the mind

(E)xperience - the process or fact of personally observing, encountering, or undergoing something

Based on the above definitions, we could say that K+S+A+E = Competence

Also, I have posted several times in the past that I believe: (K) + (E) = (W)isdom. Taking the previous equation to the next logical level can we not also say that: W + S + A = Competence.

In conclusion, let’s not forget that the competent project manager still needs a good suite of tools.  Whether you are managing IT, construction, or some other type of project, a good suite of project management tools with a robust project accounting component will help you track project costs and calculate your projects Earned Value (EV).  If you don’t know the Earned Value of your project there is a good chance your project is going to fail.  Don’t forget, what isn’t measured can’t be managed.