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Showing posts with label project management. Show all posts
Showing posts with label project management. Show all posts

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Project Management Needed In Health Care

Health Information - Author Unknown

This is scary stuff, and I'm sure it has gotten worse since this was written.

The worlds most influential Medical Journal, 'The New England Journal of Medicine' has admitted that 50% of drug therapy reviews were written by researchers for undisclosed financial support from the drug pharmaceutical companies. This only represents those who admitted this breach of ethics. This is for the period 1997 to 1999. In 2002 some admitted to falsifying research results so as to be more favorable to drug company claims. This raises the question of medical integrity of lesser publications and the Medical Industry as a whole. Most lesser Medical Journals do not consider allowing the fox in the chicken coop as being an ethical problem. Some believe this is only the tip of the iceberg on how far pharmaceutical companies have gone in the control of academic research and publishing. (Feb 2000)

Eighty-seven percent of doctors who set guidelines on disease treatment have financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry. The 2002 study suggest the percentage is likely in the 90% range. It is the pharmaceutical companies who finance most of the nation's drug research.

MAJOR MEDICAL MYTH: Physicians have an ethical obligation to tell patients about significant medical errors when such disclosure would benefit the health of the patient, would show respect for the patient’s autonomy, or would be called for by principles of justice.

INFORMATION: Major faulty medical advice that has been widely communicated when proven in error only receives very minor public coverage. Statistics on systemic medical delivery problems are not recorded and communicated to the general public for correction. Hospital errors in the United States for example are estimated to be as high as 3,000,000 per year at a cost of 200 billion dollars.

Medical errors are the leading causes of death and injury in America according to the medical authorities in both Canada and the U.S.A. Health-care professionals cause 225,000 deaths per year in the United States. 12,000 from unnecessary surgery, 7,000 from medication errors, 20,000 from hospital error, 80,000 from infections acquired in hospital, 106,000 from non-error, adverse effects of drugs. Another 199,000 deaths are attributed to adverse effects in outpatient care. 2000 Journal of American Medical Association.

Only 50% of medical mistakes are even disclosed to the attending physician.

Only 25% of medical mistakes are ever disclosed to the customer, we the patient.

In 1998 in the United States 160,000 patients died because of adverse medical events.

Canada is estimated at 20,000 deaths per year because of medical errors. The Canadian Medical community admit that there are likely 4,000 to 10,000 die due to medical errors, more than are killed in automobile accidents.

Studies conducted record 100,000,000 people believe they were adversely affected by medical mistakes.

  • 42% were directly affected themselves, a family member or a friend

  • 40% site misdiagnosis and wrong treatment

  • 28% for medication errors

  • 22% for mistakes during a medical procedure

The largest 50% sited carelessness, improper training and poor communication.

My dad was the victim of several medical mistakes when he was in the hospital last year. He died at the hospice within hours of leaving the hospital.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Don't Be a Victim of Politics

Politics and projects go hand in hand. Team conflict, competing agendas, stakeholder dysfunction, resource constraints, and a myriad of other challenges exist and will send your project careening out of control if not managed properly.

What is a project manager to do? Here is a list of things to keep in mind when managing projects in a highly politicized environment:

Learn to negotiate from a position of strength

Do everything you can to educate those around you about Project Management. Stress the benefits and overcome the objections by pointing to your successes.

Master the art of influence.

Understand that masterful politicians are sometimes helpful to you and your project, but can also be detriment to your project's success.

An effective executive sponsor can help minimize political time wasting events that slow project progress and increase project budgets.

Recognize that conflict on your project is inevitable and necessary. How you respond to conflict will determine how successful you are.

Mastering the art of negotiation is a critical skill for project managers.

Negotiate up front how much power you will have as project manager, how and where it can be used, and when it applies to securing needed resources for your project.

Realize that for the most part internal politics wastes time and is usually not something that people enjoy.

Team commitment and loyalty will help to minimize project politics.

Don't fight a political system you don't understand and can't influence. Leave that to the experts. (Hint: get these experts to support your project if possible).

A good communications plan will help to lessen the politics on your project.

Every project usually has at least one "politician" in the organization that is out to either sabotage it, or will try to ensure that it isn't fully implemented.

Recognize that change (which is what projects are all about) scares some people and your project's deliverables can lead to a loss of power or influence for certain individuals or departments. Anticipate this and have a plan to deal with the behaviors that will surface.

Successful project managers need to learn to "swim with the sharks" and not get bitten. They need to be determined, focused, and act professionally and ethically. Project managers must know how to relate to people and manage relationships by being effective leaders and by applying the right balance of negotiating skills, motivational techniques, team building, and optimized communications.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Would You Like Cheese with that Whine?

Project teams are dynamic and interpersonal relationships amongst team members are always in a state of flux. Some teams are high performing and function at a high level over a long period of time. Other teams can't seem to come together and function at all.

An effective, experienced project team leader is an important part of any successful team, however, all team members must be personally accountable for their actions and be supportive of other team members if the team and project are to be successful.

Individual team member behaviors can contribute to team success in many ways. Emotional maturity and willingness to compromise are two important team member traits that help make a good team dynamic and lead to a successful project outcome.

Here are some negative team member behaviors I have personally observed. These behaviors detract from team synergy and place an unfair burden on other team members.

Projects fail or take longer than they should when team members:

Leave problems for others to solve rather than solving the problems themselves

Routinely blame others (stakeholders and/or other team members) or circumstances for not getting their tasks complete on time

Aren't personally accountable for their project task outcomes and timelines

Are unwilling to hold stakeholders accountable for their responsibilities

Aren't properly documenting their findings and defining a scope of work or adhering to an agreed-upon project scope

Aren't documenting Scope Change Requests

Aren't bringing issues and concerns to the team for discussion

Are constantly complaining, whining, and finger-pointing

Are unwilling to reach consensus with their team members

Are unwilling to let go of past negative circumstances and relationships

Are unwilling to admit past and current mistakes and learn from them

Play the victim and exhibit passive-aggressive behavior

Have a recurring theme in their dealings with others that everybody else is wrong and they are right

Continually demanding that things be done their way when it is contrary to the stated direction of the team

Team members who exhibit some or all of the above behaviors above should be placed on a performance improvement plan as their behavior is disruptive to the team and the project.

Project teams can't afford to have team members that aren't willing to compromise, are emotionally immature, and are a constant distraction to the team. In addition to being placed on a performance improvement plan, these team members should be released from the team as soon as possible as they are detriment to team cohesiveness and productivity.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Tom Peters and the Dozen Truths

I have posted before about Tom Peters before, and he is someone I really admire. In reviewing some of his materials I came across the "Dozen Business Truths" below. Mr. Peters isn't about doing things the way that have always been done. I like his approach to business and it fits right in with cutting edge project management practices.

Successful Businesses' Dozen Truths: Tom Peter's 30-Year Perspective

1. Insanely Great & Quirky Talent

2. Disrespect for Tradition

3. Totally Passionate (to the Point of Irrationality) Belief in What We Are Here to Do

4. Utter Disbelief at the BS that Marks "Normal Industry Behavior"

5. A Maniacal Bias for Execution and Utter Contempt for Those Who Don't "Get It"

6. Speed Demons

7. Up or Out. (Meritocracy Is Thy Name. Sycophancy Is Thy Scourge)

8. Passionate Hatred of Bureaucracy

9. Willingness to Lead the Customer... and Take the Heat Associated Therewith. (Mantra: Satan Invented Focus Groups to Derail True Believers)

10. "Reward Excellent Failures. Punish Mediocre Successes"

11. Courage to Stand Alone on One's Record of Accomplishment Against All the Forces of Conventional Wisdom

12. A Crystal Clear Understanding of Story (Brand) Power

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.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Wimps are Killing Your Large Project!

Do your organization's senior managers and executives understand the benefits of project management? How do you know?

Do your organization's senior managers and executives have formal training in project management?

Are large projects sponsored by and continually reviewed by senior management and /or executives? What is reviewed, and how often?

Do your senior managers and executives have their business processes mapped for their areas of responsibility?

It is a fact that good, proven, measurable business processes are critical to running an efficient organization, and also assist the project manager to deliver beneficial project results. It is also a sad fact that most senior managers and executives don't want to deal with things like business processes, yet it is the business processes that make or break organizations and projects, and bad business processes can cause an organization to waste time and money.

EMOTIONAL OUTBURST - If senior management isn't involved in reviewing their business processes to ensure they are delivering efficient results then they are either lazy or incompetent.

We can all agree that if senior managers and executives aren't regularly reviewing the performance of their organization (including the effectiveness of their business processes) they are not acting as responsible leaders. We have all heard them say that they just want somebody to figure out the problems and fix them, but many times that is where their participation ends. There is often no follow-up and no personal accountability for results. While problems need to be found and fixed, the "find them and fix them" mentality doesn't work for large projects. In fact, it can prove disastrous.

Project management is about delivering change. Executives and senior management have to drive the change, monitor the change, and ensure the change takes place. Change that isn't driven and monitored by senior management won't be accepted by the organization.

Don't get me wrong, we all need to have a "get it done" mindset, however on its own a get it done attitude isn't effective when dealing with today's enterprise problems and projects. Large projects create large change. Many times change creates, fear, panic, and chaos. Project managers can't implement change or change organizations alone. In fact, I would argue that for the most part they can't change organizations at all.

If you want organizational change and you want large project results at the same time then your organization's executives and senior management must be involved from the start, they must be continuously engaged, and the must be out front and visibly leading the change. Additionally, they need to be able to clearly and effectively communicate the value of the enterprise project's deliverables to their organizations. If they are unwilling to do these things, then your large project may need to be altered, deferred, or killed.

PERSONAL RANT: It is unacceptable for an organization to spend large sums of money on a project if senior management isn't prepared to roll up their sleeves and understand what is being delivered, understand the benefits of the deliverables, willing to hold others accountable for results, have an enthusiastic attitude, and have personal accountability tied to the project's success.

Project managers and team members can't afford to work on projects where ignorance and indifference is prevalent. Also, project teams can't afford to have "Teflon" managers" managing resources on the external resource teams, or in the positions of power or influence over their projects. Teflon" managers are never personally accountable for any project results because they choose ignorance over engagement. Shame on them, and guess what, the project manager and the project team pays the price of failure.

What happens when senior management isn't involved with projects from the beginning to the end? Things like those below, which if left unchecked will ensure you project is a failure or delivers less than desirable results.

There is no organizational commitment to the project's objectives (you have project objectives that were created by senior management, right?)

Project teams are left with the job of trying to change the organization's bad habits and culture (not possible without senior management buy-in and support)

Divisions and departments fight the change the project is creating

Mid-level managers, supervisors, and line workers refuse to get involved and often work to sabotage the project

To summarize, large projects require senior management commitment, involvement, and follow through. Without senior management involvement your large project is almost certain to fail. Project managers and project teams can't be successful, nor will project management deliver results in organizations where fear is pervasive. Senior management can do more to create fear and remove fear than any project manager ever could.

Finally, I will say what most of us know, many senior managers and executives are wimps, however, this doesn't need to be the case when it comes to large projects. They can speak out up front while the project is being initiated and demand to see a business case. They can and must be involved in setting the project's measurable objectives. Once they have bought-in to the project they can and must insist that their direct reports support the project and keep them appraised of project progress. Finally, they can and must hold their staff accountable for project results.

When it comes to large projects senior managers and executives can be engaged, involved, and act as leaders, or they can be wimps.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

What is your Project Management Process?

Over the next few weeks I will discuss several Project Management product offerings available to help the Project Manager get their projects or programs organized. Most of these products are referred to as project management frameworks. A project management framework is a set of processes, tools and templates designed to be used together to manage a project through its lifecycle. It is important to know that a process isn't a framework, however a framework does include one or more processes.

The first set of products I will cover are from

There are several highly polished Project Management process offerings available from this vendor. The ones I either own and use or have reviewed are TenStep, PortfolioStep, PMOStep, SupportStep, and LifeCycleStep. has been around for several years and I was an early adopter of the TenStep process. Over the years the TenStep process has grown into a sophisticated framework that contains dozens and dozens of templates, support documents and clear steps on how to manage a project effectively. From the original TenStep process the vendor has added many new process/frameworks to assist the project manager to manage and support programs, portfolios, project management offices, etc. To summarize, the processes are clearly written using plain English (not jargon), include plenty of useful templates, and each process include many helpful hints to help you use each of the process steps effectively. What more could you ask for?

The TenStep web site has free templates and examples of each process for you to review prior to making a purchase decision, and additionally each of TenSteps processes are updated on a regular basis throughout the year. Take a look and form your own opinion by visiting their website.

As taken from the website, the TenStep Project Management Process is a methodology for managing work as a project. It is designed to be as flexible as you need to manage your project."

"For instance, it may not make sense to spend a lot of time on risk management for a project that requires 500 hours of effort and is similar to many projects that were done before. That does not imply that you ignore potential risks - just that you do not spend as much time as you might on another project (for instance, one where you were implementing new technology). This flexible and scalable approach is visible throughout the TenStep process and is one area that differentiates this methodology from others."

I personally own and use TenStep, PMOStep, and SupportStep. I highly recommend them all. Tom Mochal the owner of TenStep and his staff do a great job of regularly updating each Framework and the accompanying templates. I have been using TenStep processes for almost four years and their products have always exceeded my expectations.

Bottom line: an outstanding suite of products used by over 5000 companies and individuals. Highly recommended.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Emotional Bank Accounts and Projects

Dr Stephen Covey talks about "The Emotional Bank Account" in his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. The emotional bank account is simply a metaphor for defining the amount of trust that has been built up in a relationship. Project managers need to be trusted in order to be effective.

An emotional bank account works just like a regular bank account. There are deposits and withdrawals. Deposits are made through acts of kindness, keeping your word, meeting commitments, being truthful, trustworthy, etc. When the emotional bank account has a positive balance, communication is much easier because trust is high. If on the other hand you show negative behaviors like disrespect, threatening words, being judgmental, harsh, or distant and detached the trust level (account balance) becomes overdrawn. This overdrawn account severely limits your options to communicate effectively.

If a positive balance isn't maintained in your emotional bank accounts your relationships will deteriorate. Remember, you have many different emotional bank accounts. One for everyone you deal with. Do you know which accounts are overdrawn?

Some quick concepts from Dr. Covey's book when talking about major deposits to the emotional bank account are:

Understand the Individual

Really seek to understand. What is important to them? Make that thing important to you.

Attend to the Little Things

Perform small acts of courtesy and kindness.

Keeping Commitments

Keeping them is a major deposit. Breaking them is a major withdrawal. People put hope in promises.

Clarifying Expectations

Ensure understanding takes place when dealing with expectations. This takes time and good listening skills to accomplish.

Show Personal Integrity

This generates trust. Trust is the basis of good relations. Having integrity doesn't just mean telling the truth, it means keeping our promises and meeting expectations. It also means "respect for the absent". Defend the absent and gain the respect of those present.

Apologize Sincerely When You Make a Withdrawal

Apologize from the heart. Be sincere and let the other person know how bad you feel.

Monday, January 22, 2007

What are you saying?

As project managers, it is important that we communicate in a way that inspires and motivates others. What you say, and more importantly how you say it through your body language can help or hurt you in ways you may not fully understand.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: Project managers will fail if they can not communicate effectively.

Some questions to consider are:

How are our words and especially our body language interpreted by others?

How will we know if our message is accepted?

What are the things we need to be aware of in regards to our body language when communicating with others?

It is said that there are eight subconscious impressions that people make about you within the first ten seconds of meeting you. They are:

How smart you are

Your education level

Your trustworthiness

Your personality style

Your self-confidence

Your work ethic

How dependability

Your level of income

How can somebody do that? Isn't this unfair? You do it, but may not realize it. Just think about someone you have met recently and see if you have formulated opinions around the eight statements listed above.

To help you avoid some negative sterotypes when meeting others, here are some tips:

Stand up straight and hold your head up high – You will look and feel confident

Walk confidently and with a purpose

Keep your hands where people can see them (not in your pockets)

Shake hands confidently, but with sincerity

Have enthusiasm

Smile strategically – Try smiling slowly as you shake their hand

Most importantly, maintain eye contact for 3-5 seconds

When meeting people show a genuine interest in them, and remember over half your communication is sent via your body language. Also, project managers need to instill confidence and inspire others in order to be effective.

What does your body language say about you?

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Project Management and the Circle of Concern

Project managers make mistakes. If you are a project manager and don't make mistakes then you are either lying to yourself or you are totally ineffective. Dr. Covey talks about two things we need to consider regarding what he calls our "Circle of Concern". As project managers it is critical that we embrace and understand these concepts which are, consequences and mistakes.

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. We can decide to step in front of a fast-moving train (project selection), 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 that decision may vary depending on whether or not we are found out, the natural consequences to our basic character are a fixed result."

"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 in 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 being honest and ethical. We also can send our projects quickly off-track if we are dishonest in our dealings.

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 for those mistakes quickly. In my opinion, our unwillingness to admit our mistakes is the biggest obstacle to personal growth and strong relationships. The Circle of Influence is all about our capability to make and keep our promises. Keeping our promises and commitments is a core value of integrity.

As Dr. Convey says, "By making and keeping promises to ourselves and others, little by little, our honor becomes greater then our moods.

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

Friday, January 05, 2007

The Circle of Influence and the Project Manager

(Exerpts from Habit 1: Be Proactive, in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, by Stephen R. Covey)

I'm a big fan of Dr. Stephen Covey. His book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is a must read for anyone seeking to be highly effective. One of the concepts Dr. Covey talks about in his books is the "Circle of Concern" and the "Circle of Influence". The basic concept is that we need to focus our time and energy on the important things that we can control. Inside the Circle of Concern there is a smaller circle in the middle called the Circle of Influence. We should spend most of our time and efforts focused on the things in this Circle of Influence.

As Dr. Covey states "proactive people focus their efforts in the Circle of Influence. They work on the things they can do something about. The nature of their energy is positive, enlarging and magnifying, causing their Circle of Influence to increase." "Reactive people on the other hand, focus their efforts in the "Circle of Concern. They focus on the weakness of other people, the problems in the environment, and circumstances over which they have no control. Their focus results in blaming and accusing attitudes, reactive language, and increased feelings of victimization. The negative energy generated by that focus, combined with neglect in areas they could do something about, causes their Circle of Influence to shrink."

Key point – Focus on important things that you can control. Work to enlarge your Circle of Influence and you will automatically reduce the Circle of Concerns area.

Dr. Covey goes on to say:
One way to notice where our energy and focus is located is to distinguish between the have's and the be's. The Circle of Concern is filled with the have's:
· 'I'll be happy when I have my house paid off.'
· 'If only I had a more patient spouse...'
· 'If only I had better employees/co-workers...'
· 'If only I had a boss who wasn't so demanding...'

The Circle of Influence is filled with the be's:
· 'I can be more patient...'
· 'I can be a better employee...'
· 'I can be more wise...'

It's a character focus. Any time we think the problem is 'out there,' that thought is the problem. We empower what's out there to control us. The change paradigm is 'outside-in'--what's out there has to change before we can change.
The proactive approach is to change from the inside-out; to be different, and by being different to effect positive change in what's out there--I can be more resourceful, I can be more diligent, I can be a better listener, I can be a better leader.

Buy Dr. Stephen Covey's book or check it out from your local library. It is one of the best books you will ever read.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Project Roles and Responsibilities

Happy New Year!

Hopefully, you can use this list to educate your team members about the various roles on a project team.

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
On projects, the person responsible for ensuring agreed-upon project tasks are completed using pre-defined resources under the 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, December 14, 2006

Projectsteps End of Year Tips, Hints, and Free Advice

Projectsteps End of Year Tips, Hints, and Free Advice

Buy at least one share of Apple Computer stock (AAPL)

Tell somebody you care, and how much they really mean to you. Let them know how they have changed your life.

If you have children, encourage them with love, and let them know they are a blessing to you.

If you live to make more money, get a (new) life!

If you aren't having fun doing your job, move on to something new.

Reward excellent failures. Punish mediocre successes - Tom Peters! (Are you listening BH?).

Embrace change and do all you can to expose unethical behavior.

Don't allow deadbeat managers and/or lazy executives to ruin your career or influence your project.

Gossiping is for children and old women. Don't be a part of the office gossip loop.

Great leaders with ethics and a solid morale center are rare. I have never met one; however I'm sure they exist. Seek them out with everything you have.

Executives have forgotten how to be leaders. Because of this, we have a 200 billion dollar trade deficit, stock option scandals, CEOs going to prison, massive layoffs, outsourcing to India, disloyal workers, and a plethora of corrupt politicians. Make sure before you go to work for an organization you know who is running the show.

Love the unlovable.

Be nutty at work. Somebody will appreciate the break in the monotony.

Find a manager in your company that is doing a bad job and ask them about the middle management shake up that is eminent. Walk away quickly before they can respond.

Look at yourself in the mirror closely for 60 seconds. Feel really bad that you look so old, then remember that life is precious and be thankful to God that tomorrow is a new day.

Challenge authority when it makes sense. Project managers can't be wimps.

Don't respect unrespectable people. Avoid them, workaround them, go through them. They are career killers.

If you like to solve problems and make a difference, work for a non-profit or charity.

Be a blessing to somebody.

Thanks for listening.

Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Stephen F. Seay, PMP

Monday, December 04, 2006

Strategic Projects and Plans

We have a strategic plan where I work, however we don't have a strategic or 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 (laziness), 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.

Also, remember the Strategic Planning Circle - Strategy ---> Ideas ---> Projects ---> Change

Friday, November 17, 2006

A Communication Failure?

When project teams are surveyed at the end of failed projects, poor communications is always cited as being one of the major causes. Why does this keep happening? Why is project communications so poorly executed so often. My short answer is that many project managers are arrogant, inattentive, and oblivious to the feelings and needs of the project team.

Project managers get busy. Many times they don't make time to manage project communications properly. Also, the project manager may think they are doing a good job communicating, but that may not be the case.

Project managers must remember that the project team is made up of individuals. Each person on the team has a preference for the types of communication they like to receive, and each person processes communications differently.

Some things to monitor that may point to poor project communications are:

Trust - Does the team trust you (the project manager)? How do you know? Everybody will not trust you all the time. Team members that don't trust the project manager will not be open in their communications. They will tend to either shut down or challenge the project manager at every turn.

De-motivated - Where are we going? Are we going where we said we were going when we started? Did we clearly state where we were going before we started?

Whining - Despair and anxiety take over the team or key team members. Infighting is prevalent and people are starting to talk openly about the project being a failure.

Incompetence - Team isn't sharing information and learning. Perhaps the team has had little to no training, or the training received was of poor quality.

All the above can be overcome, however it requires that the project manager is listening and changing strategy when necessary to get the team back on track. Just because you are a project manager doesn't make you a good communicator, however ignoring problems like the ones mentioned above will make you a bad project manager.

My two cents are, be a leader. Lead through your communication and your ability to motivate your team to get the job done. Be on the lookout for the above warning signs. When you see signs of the warning signs act quickly, follow-up, then continue to monitor.

Poor project team synergy is the fault of the project manager. There are a lot of incompetent project managers that are hurting our profession because they either refuse to alter their communication styles or are too arrogant to change. My advice to them is to change their ways or leave the project management profession.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Project Management Maturity and You

The subject of Project Management Maturity has been given a lot of press lately. At this year's PMI Global Conference there were lots of vendors selling all kinds of products to help organizations and project managers increase their project management maturity level. As project managers, we need training and tools to help us perform to at our best. Over the years I have evaluated several products to help me manage my projects more effectively. I like two products in particular because they are reasonably priced, and have free templates and processes available on their websites that you can put to use right away.

The products I'm speaking of are:
TenStep's Project Management Process and
PMOStep - Project Management Office process also available from TenStep

I also use a great collection of templates and forms called the Project Management Kit from Method123.

As I said, I own, use, and highly recommend products from both of these vendors. They are the only sites I advertise on this blog because I use them both and can say that they are a great deal for the money.

Now, lets talk about Project Management Maturity.

It is widely agreed that there are five levels of Project Management Maturity.

They are (my definition):

LEVEL 1 - INITIAL- No consistency in the organization's approach to project management

LEVEL 2 - REPEATABLE - There are some project management processes being utilized. There are some procedures developed for managing projects. There are some measures in place to help measure project management performance.

LEVEL 3 - DEFINED - Formal integrated processes are in place and they are agreed upon. There are project management coaches in the organization, and project management training is emphasized and provided to all project managers. Project management procedures are integrated around project scope, quality, time, cost, etc.

LEVEL 4 - MANAGED - Project reviews and benchmarking are formal. Project results are and procedures are benchmarked and used as a basis for improvement.

LEVEL 5 - OPTIMIZED - Continuous improvement is the driver behind project management excellence. Data is used to make decisions. Errors and anomalies are analyzed and patched to support continuous improvement. Project management success is visible to all. Project management skills and a project centric culture is embedded in the organization. Performance and innovation drive the organization towards excellence.

We exist as project managers to help our organization improve project performance. In order to help ourselves and our organization's projects succeed, we need to:

Continuously improve our project management processes and procedures

Conduct post project reviews

Benchmark our project results internally and externally

Be continuous learners

Use tools that are relevant to our jobs

Monday, October 30, 2006

Project Change Management

I have returned from Seattle, and PMI put on another great global congress. I'm reenergized about my profession and the opportunities available for Project Managers. If you haven't attended a PMI Global Conference I would strongly suggest you try to attend the next one in 2007 in Atlanta, GA.

One of the things I'm trying to focus on this year is doing a better job of managing project change. Remember, project management is really about controlling change. As project managers we need to control change in order to control our project's scope. If we don't do a good job of controlling change our project will get off track quickly.

Develop a good change management process during project initiation, and utilize it throughout your project.

Some other change management tips:

Capture all requests for change in writing

Have a common process for approving or rejecting change requests

Understand what the change(s) will impact

Understand how the change will impact your costs, schedule, scope, and quality

Make sure you have the right people review the change

If changes are approved, ensure you update any baselines that are impacted by the change

Changes in your project are inevitable, but controlling change is the responsibility of the project manager. Are you in control of your project's change?

Friday, October 20, 2006

PMI Global Congress - Seattle

I'm headed to Seattle for the annual PMI Global Congress. I always enjoy this conference because I'm able to see the latest products the vendors have, and always learn a lot from the various presentations.

I have really been busy this week. I'm in the final stages of implementing an Asset/Work Management system for our IT group and the challenges have been a bit overwhelming at times. I long for the days when I had a strong sponsor and some level of commitment from all stakeholders. I work in a very challenging environment where Earned Value and IT Project Management aren't always highly valued.

I have learned in my current environment that results aren't always as important as managing perceptions.

I have always believed as Project Managers we should be judged equally on what I call the PCA Triangle. At the top of the triangle is a "P" for Process. On the bottom right is "C" for Communication, and at the bottom left is "R" for Results. Remember I said we "should" be measured equally in regards to our overall performance.

Some organizations focus mainly on results when evaluating projects and project managers. This is a big mistake. If I manage a project and make everyone mad, don't communicate up, down, and across the organization, but deliver the project on time and on budget did I succeed? What if the scope wasn't properly captured due to poor communications and lack of process? Will people really embrace the project's deliverables? Will they project even be accepted?

Results are important, but the process you use to get the results and the way you communicate along the way are just as important.

Hope to see some of you in Seattle. E-mail me using the following address if you are in Seattle next week and we can meet for coffee - sseay(at)

Until next week!

Stephen F. Seay, PMP

Monday, October 09, 2006

Projects, Leaders, and Discipline

One of the things that hurt project teams most is the lack of an enterprise (executive) focus and oversight regarding the management of projects. It takes discipline to manage projects, and enterprise project discipline is lacking when executives are disinterested or disengaged. Great organizations (not project managers) manage projects well, and in doing so they have employees with higher morale, they get better project results, and implement projects faster with higher quality.

So why don't more organizations keep closer tabs on their projects at the enterprise level? Some would say the executives are too busy strategizing, and the projects are running just fine without their oversight. I think people that say this are fooling themselves and have little to no project management discipline. The data is clear that projects are delivered faster, cheaper, and with higher quality when projects results are reviewed by the enterprise (executives).

Before we go further, we need to ensure we have a clear understanding of the word discipline. Discipline is the act of encouraging a desired pattern of behavior. George Washington said: "Discipline is the soul of an army. It makes small numbers formidable, procures success to the weak, and esteem to all". In other words, discipline is the glue that holds organizations together.

We can't have agile and effective project methodologies or organizational processes without discipline. In short, effective discipline requires effective organizational oversight. Finally, discipline begins at the top and works its way down. Organizations with poor discipline have weak, ineffective leaders at the top. Weak, unengaged, ineffective leaders kill organizations. Can you say Enron?

The lack of project discipline is the fault of all project team members, but the cause of a lack of discipline lies at the top of the organization.

Disconnected, disinterested, and unengaged leadership is unacceptable in any organization. Undisciplined organizations have high turnover, low employee morale, and poor project results. These organizations cheat their investors and customers by not providing the highest level of service possible. Highly disciplined organizations make and keep commitments, manage to clearly stated and measurable goals, and have executives that are engaged and visibly participate in the oversight of projects and day-to-day operations. If you aren't visible, your aren't relevant. If you aren't relevant, you aren't needed.

In closing, dysfunctional organizations believe that the workers are solely responsible for managing projects and other day-to-day work. These organizations believe that the executives should spend the majority of their time strategizing and making policy. This is a failed approach (see General Motors, Ford, K-Mart, etc), and ensures the work, including projects, will take longer than planned and cost more than what was budgeted.

Executive leadership and oversight of projects has been proven to motivate project teams to be accountable, results driven, and focused on achieving a common goal. Good executive leadership provides the glue that keeps teams working together, provides inspiration, exhibits integrity, sets an example for others to follow, and is accountable.

Leadership is action, not position - Donald H. McGannon.