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A Coordinated Project Manager

A Coordinated Project Manager

“If I become a project manager, then I am responsible for the success of the project, but I am only one person and there is a lot of things to do.”

When I was younger I never said, I want to be a project manager. I doubt very many teachers hear a child mention “project management.” There are the unique few that make the declaration and seek out a career in project management, but that is only after some research or encountering a PM professional.

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A Fast Business Case

A Fast Business Case

“If we create yet another way to complete this process, then we’ll improve performance, but people will ask why they have to change.”

Change is a hard thing, certainly not the most desired thing, when caused by someone else. If your performance improvement initiative is going to get any traction, you will need to state the business reason for the change. Normally, you don’t have time for a complete business case. Even so, don’t ignore the need. Here are some tips you might be able to use in these situations.

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Define Acceptance Criteria

Define Acceptance Criteria

“If projects have defined acceptance criteria, then project managers will be able to better manage stakeholder expectations, but how project outcomes will meet the needs should be discussed and documented early in the planning.”

Boy oh boy! Isn’t it “fun" trying to define acceptance criteria? You have to know your requirements cold. And usually, you have to do this early on in the project scope when you know least about the project.

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Defining the Project Management Life Cycle Stages

Defining the Project Management Life Cycle Stages

"If I use standard project life cycle stages, then the organization will have a common language and reporting, but the typical PMI stages don’t align well with our projects."

IT project management is different from managing any other project you may have worked on in the past, yet it has many things in common. The point is that the project management life cycle is very different from project type to project type.

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Enable Value Realization

Enable Value Realization

“If a project enables value realization, then the business will experience a higher return on its investment, but the worth of the project outcome and the cost to produce it needs to be calculated and measured before and after the project is finished.”

What exactly do we mean by “value realization”? And if we should help it come to be, what is “value” then?

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Establish Project Scope

Establish Project Scope

“If you establish proper project scope, then your project planning and execution is much more effective, but you must spend time with your customers ahead of planning to define and agree on what’s in and what’s out.”

If your day job is building houses, you can call me “Captain Obvious” after hearing what I am about to say. What goes into a house and what doesn’t is an ongoing source of negotiation, compromise, and often controversy. So, builders are well aware of the importance of knowing what their housing projects include and don’t include; it’s the “air” that they breathe.

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Estimates and Resource Availability

Estimates and Resource Availability

"If we accurately estimate the task duration, then we can tell how many and when we’ll need resources, but estimation methods should be consistent, and we will need to gain more control over the project environment."

Despite numerous estimation methods and approaches, if resources get pulled off projects unexpectedly or aren't available for any reason, the estimate will end up being inaccurate. A project manager can certainly enter an initial "best-guess" task duration, but then, upon assigning resources, the duration must be revisited based on the estimated effort and the availability of the resources. This takes collaboration between project and resource managers, and can become an iterative process back and forth. Then if it turns out that resource availability is indeed an issue, there are other factors to consider that often go overlooked. The inaccurate estimate is just the beginning.

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Finding a Completion Date

Finding a Completion Date

"If we begin our Integrated PM journey, then we will gain increases in project performance, but we will need to define the scope of the Integrated PM System, and determine a completion date."

There's a cartoon, like the one above, that's probably posted in every auto mechanic's garage on the planet. In the cartoon, there's a bunch of people rolling around laughing uncontrollably. Above all this mayhem is the caption, "You want it when?" Of course, as an Integrated PM System project manager, you can't take that same approach, but a reasonable deadline must be enforced.

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Project Management Methodology and Frameworks

Project Management Methodology and Frameworks

“If I standardize our project team’s templates, then I can gain efficiencies that lead to cost reductions and increases in perceived value, but to call it a quagmire of standards, frameworks, and methodologies is an understatement.”

Most companies seem to recognize the need for one or more project management methodologies but either create the wrong methodologies, or misuse the methodologies that have been created. To avoid this I recommend to my clients a Performance Measure framework. But before I get into that, I’d like to provide a few lists that might help with methodology discussions.

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Project Management: Anticipate the Problems

Project Management: Anticipate the Problems

“If I am a project manager, then I am a superhero, I have aligned the project and team towards a singular goal, but it takes lots of practicing, planning, and monitoring to get really good at project management.”

What is a project manager? How can I explain it to a child and why in the world would I need to? These are the questions that should be explained before diving into any grandiose statement about what should or should not be done in project management. These are valid questions, because for all but the fortunate few, most do not even encounter a project manager until faced with a major corporate project or problem.

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Project Planning Fast-Service™ Package

Project Planning 
Fast-Service™ Package

“If we select the pmNERDS' Fast-Service™ package, then we get rapid performance improvement, but we’ll need to answer questions and provide feedback.”

We all occasionally get major hankerings, it’s usually something that we can’t wait for and need within a very short period of time. For us it is usually food related, the Fast Food Industry utilizes the notion of standardization to produce food at minimal cost and preparation time while maximizing value within their business constraints. The question is can they make a compelling product while being profitable?

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Project Planning: Coordinate Workflow

Project Planning: Coordinate Workflow

“If I establish a coordinated workflow, then my project team is operating effectively, but I am not sure how to prevent a tactical error in the execution phase.”

I am not much of a football fan and that’s a possible understatement, but I do remember the total devastation of the people in 2006, when Tony Romo fumbled the ball as he tried to catch the snap and set the ball down, in the game against Seattle. Romo was so close, it was 21-20 in favor of Seattle, and a field goal could have won the game for the Cowboys, but it wasn’t to be. He messed up the handoff and any amount of scrambling couldn’t have saved the game.

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Project Planning: Know What it Will Take

Project Planning: Know What it Will Take

“If I do project planning successfully, then I’ll have a focused project objectives and a clear project plan with correct approximations of the necessary features, time, and resources, but I am not sure how to anticipate the project needs.”

You’re probably still a little confused on what I mean by “project planning.” I’ll tell you that is normal, it is not building or helping to build anything, that’s project management, which comes after you’ve sufficiently planned. In project planning, you determine the benefits, time, function, money, and resources needed to complete the job. Have you ever seen a half-built house that never got finished? There is a good chance that they did not accurately estimate cost, time, and effort necessary to build the whole home.

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Project Planning: Setting a Solution Vision

Project Planning: Setting a Solution Vision

“If I determine the solution vision, then I can develop a collaborative project environment that adapts and changes, but I am not sure what it means to have an effective or efficient project team.”

When you see the term “solution vision,” you might think I am talking about nothing more than an idea to solve a problem, but it is more than offering a solution or highlighting the value of something. A solution vision describes the target audience of the solution, what will be satisfied by the solution, what the key benefits will be, as well as differentiating it from alternatives at the same time. In a project, this is embodied in the project plan, but to reach it, you’ll need a coordinated team that efficiently collaborates. How, pray tell, do you do that? Well let’s find out.

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Projects for a Change

Projects for a Change

“If we look for change requests in our activities, then we’re more likely to accomplish the change, but not all requests need to be projects!”

The origin of every project begins with a desire for change. This is even true in a research project that is all about information gathering. The initial state of this type of project is ignorance about some concept, the desired state is the acquired new information.

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Requirement Tracing

Requirement Tracing


“If we conduct requirements tracing, then we can conduct change impact analysis, but we will need to maintain a Traceability Matrix.”

Where did that requirement come from, is that requirement satisfied, and how is that requirement being satisfied are three different questions that the PM needs to have an answer for. In the past, many methods have been used, but all approaches have similarities as well.

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Specialist Estimates, Earned Value, & Earned Schedule

Specialist Estimates, Earned Value, & Earned Schedule

"If we let the resources assigned to tasks contribute to time estimates, then they might be more accurate, but resource non-availability can still mess up the plan.”

Within the Integrated PM System, Specialist (the resources assigned to tasks) estimates are a crucial, but often overlooked, aspect of project estimates. Resources executing tasks on their time sheets can and should provide the "current remaining estimate" of tasks they're responsible for each week. Most enterprise software allows for this. This keeps the project schedule accurate in terms of remaining time, and it reflects the ongoing viewpoint of the people executing the tasks. And project managers should stay in communication with resources and resource managers to ensure availability for upcoming work. Much like a GPS uses satellite information on traffic patterns to calculate the remaining time on your trip, Specialist estimates help keep your project schedule reflective of reality.

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The Project Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)

The Project Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)


"If I develop a WBS, then I will have a framework for capturing project information, but how do I create a WBS?"

From the initial Project Plan, we expand our project planning efforts. However, many times before we spend time on this additional planning effort, we go through some kind of review or approval process. Then, once approved, we will continue the planning activities to create a Work Breakdown Structure or WBS.

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The Project’s Goal

The Project’s Goal

"If we look at all our client requests as potential projects, then we can have one reporting feedback mechanism for all request processing, but we will have to recognize this change and address it as part of the Integrated PM System.”

Goals are the starting point of effective time management. They act as a compass, pointing the way to the things on which you should be concentrating your time. If you identify your goals, you can figure out what is most important for you to accomplish on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. Goals guide time management by helping you assign priorities to the many activities that beg to be done.

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What is a Project in Integrated PM?

What is a Project in Integrated PM?

“If I have a solid definition of what a project is, then the triaging of new project requests can better be governed and dependable, but people always want to game the process, work it too their advantage, and in all fairness, sometimes the boundaries are a little fuzzy between a portfolio, program, project, task, and deliverable.”

This is another example of why PMs prefer Systems Thinking when exposed to it- New Project Triaging can be made systematic and less political. In Integrated PM a Project Portfolio is a system with a dominate growth feedback loop. In other words, the principle function of a portfolio is continuous growth.

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