Project Practitioners

A practical view of common issues, and how to deal with them as well as tips and techniques from the field in the world of project, program, and portfolio management.
6 Ways to Keep Projects On-Tracktr
By Alan Zucker
One of a project manager’s greatest challenges is keeping the project "on-track.” Many forces conspire against meeting this goal. To overcome these challenges, the project manager should plan for success early—even before the project completes initiation. Here are six recommendations for keeping a project on-track: 1) Protect Against Scope Creep Scope creep is probably the most common cause of project delay. Scope creep enters projects through visible and invisible channels. Visible scope creep occurs on projects where there is a change management process but it’s not effective a corralling scope; invisible channels are informal agreements to change scope without approval.... Read More»

Was Drucker an Agilest?
By Alan Zucker
Recently, I decided to reread Peter Drucker, the father of modern management. I first read Drucker many years ago and expected to find ideas that were woefully out of date. Instead, Drucker offered timeless wisdom about the role of the organization within society and the practice of management. The Essential Drucker published in 2001, is a wonderful abridged compendium of his life’s work. In the chapter, “The Proper Use of Reports and Procedures” (excerpted from The Practice of Management), Drucker cautions about the misuse of reports and procedures as elements of oversight and control. Drucker wrote: Reports and procedures are... Read More»

Project Gone Bad--What to Do
By Alan Zucker
When a project goes bad, it’s like getting sick. At first, you think it’s just allergies or you are a little under the weather. The symptoms mount and finally you accept the fact that you are really sick. The longer you wait, the sicker you get. When a project starts going bad, we often ignore the symptoms. We are only a little behind schedule, but we will catch up. The code quality isn’t that great, but it will get better. Or, we are behind on our staffing plan, but we can hire more people in the next few weeks. Here... Read More»

Projects and Probabilities - A Dangerous Combination
By Alan Zucker
"Lies, damned lies, and statistics"…Mark Twain Project managers need to be very careful how they use probabilities and statistics when discussing their projects. Individual projects do not conform to the laws of statistics, and statistical references in the context of an individual project are often misused or misconstrued. In July 2014, National Public Radio (NPR) produced a five-part series on “Risk and Reason” where the use of statistics and probability in daily life was examined. In one episode, they asked listeners what it means when the weather forecast was a “20% chance of rain tomorrow.” Only 51% of the poll... Read More»

The Iron Triangle is alive and well!
By J LeRoy Ward
Anyone involved in project management knows what the Iron Triangle is. It represents the traditional triple constraints evident in every project: namely, scope, time and cost. For years project management publications and standards, such as the Project Management Institute’s (PMI) A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge, included a discussion of the triple constraints providing detailed information on how changes in one of the constraints affected the other two. Any PM course worth attending would address the triple constraints in detail to make sure the participants had a fundamental understanding of its dynamic and competing forces. Then something... Read More»

8 Ways to Recover from a Mistake
By Sinikka Waugh
So it turns out, most of the project managers I know are, um, human. So mistakes are going to happen from time to time, right? No one really expects perfection, do they? But how we handle the mistakes, "oopses", can make or break our influence. Project Managers, leaders, vendors, friends…the list goes on. Here are a handful of tips for recovering from mistakes. Hint #1 – (Over) Communicate If you’re going to err, err on the side of over-communicating, not under-communicating. If you’ve got assumptions (“I assume you know that…”, or “I assume we’re both on the same page about…”... Read More»

Strategic Execution: The New Language of the C Suite
By J LeRoy Ward
If you work for a project-based business whose executives understand what project management is and the value it has for an organization, and who use the words and terms “project,” “project management,” and “program management” in their everyday conversations, you don’t need to read this post. But if you work for a company whose business (meaning revenue) is based on operations, manufacturing, or other process-related functions, but who also does projects (that’s every business by the way), and you think they could do a better job at it but resist changing, then read on as I may have an idea... Read More»

5 Things to Consider when Initiating a Mega-Project
By Alan Zucker
Mega-projects (aka, massive strategic initiatives) are not just big projects. The scale and complexity of these undertakings can overwhelm the typical enterprise. To successfully execute mega-projects, enterprises should adjust and adopt their ‘regular’ approach to project management. Cooking is the best analogy to describe the difference between a regular project and a mega-project. On a daily basis I make dinner for four. I can easily scale to eight; but after that, my pots aren’t big enough and I don’t have enough seats at the table. On occasion, I have hosted large parties of 100. But, I could not scale to... Read More»

As A Project Manager Do You Want To Sleep Well At Night?
By Morley Selver, P.Eng IPMA B
In my past, I worked in Central Engineering for a large worldwide company. One day myself and another project manager got a call to attend a meeting with a Senior VP at one of our facilities. The project had purchased a used paper machine in the UK and were to install it in their plant. The facility engineering manager was running the project and they were $10 million over budget. As we found out later, they had done some planning and scoping but not nearly enough. Ohhhh Ohhhh Senior management were fed up and wanted Central Engineering to take over... Read More»

Are You a Complete Project Manager?
By Randy Englund
While many professionals develop their craft through advanced education and on the job experiences, there comes a time when an enhanced skill set and a new perspective about working with people is necessary in order to advance to the next level of performance. How do you move beyond this plateau? Are you ready to be more complete as a project manager? Co-author Alfonso Bucero and I, through many years of highs and lows, came to believe that enhanced people skills and systemic thinking are keys to success…in any endeavor. Our work as consultants these days is to help people commit... Read More»

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