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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.
Project Delivery Systems
By Morley Selver, P.Eng IPMA B
Design Build (DB) In this article I will talk about the Design Build (DB) project delivery system. You see DB projects in various locations, some examples being highway projects and pre-engineered buildings. DB is typically used for non-complex projects, i.e. projects that are not multi-discipline. With this type of project delivery system, the Owner sets up a contract with a single entity (designer and contractor in one) to provide the design and construction of the project. Governments use DB extensively, with industry not so much as most projects are multi-discipline. Within an EPC contract we may hire a DB contractor... Read More»

Beginning Steps in Becoming a Complete Project Manager
By Randy Englund
While working in a field service office, I observed how a variety of firefighting activities seemed to repeat themselves: sales made commitments to customers and did not inform service, installations began before the site was ready or all equipment was on site, “rough-in” drawings were incorrect for the equipment ordered, etc. Being a process-oriented person, I made a vow to keep these “fires” from occurring again. I also knew that I had reached a plateau in my development at the job and was ready for a change. So I took the initiative to propose a revised process and structure to... Read More»

Conversation Starters for PMs and Sponsors - Part 2: Planning
By Sinikka Waugh
What do you say to your Sponsor during Planning? No single communication relationship in a project is more critical than that between the PM and the Sponsor, but not every PM and Sponsor know how to connect. Every project is, by very definition, unique. But there are predictable moments, and critical conversations that need to take place throughout the project. Assembled in this 4-part series are some conversation starters - prompts, if you will - to help PMs and Sponsors have more effective exchanges at core moments in the project. Read them, make them your own. If you are a PM - use them to engage your Sponsor. If you are a Sponsor - use them to engage with your PM. Read More»

Do you believe in your future as a project manager?
By Alfonso Bucero
Are you happy as a project manager? As a frequent traveller I asked that question to different project managers worldwide. I am blessed because as I am participating in one project and some PM consulting engagements, I have the opportunity to talk and be in relationship with many project managers from different locations and cultures. Curiously although global unemployment figures are rising by 5 million to 202 million in 2013, project managers are still required from many countries. Then you need to feel blessed as a project manager because you have and you will have many opportunities of managing projects,... Read More»

Conversation Starters for PMs and Sponsors - Part 1: Initiation
By Sinikka Waugh
No single communication relationship in a project is more critical than that between the PM and the Sponsor, but not every PM and Sponsor know how to connect. Every project is, by very definition, unique. But there are predictable moments, and critical conversations that need to take place throughout the project. Assembled below are some conversation starters - prompts, if you will - to help PMs and Sponsors have more effective exchanges at core moments in the project. Read them, make them your own. If you are a PM - use them to engage your Sponsor. If you are a Sponsor - use them to engage with your PM. Read More»

Deconstructing the PMO to Save the Brand
By Alan Zucker
What do the following have in common? Best Practices, Business Process Reengineering, Matrix Management, Six Sigma, and Management by Objective According to Inc.com1, these are five of the 10 worst management fads. Based on current trends, I fear that the PMO will join this list, as well. Several research firms have found that PMOs fail at alarming rates, with 50% of PMOs closing their doors within three-years2. One driver of this high failure rate is the expectation gap between PMOs and their customers. I believe that poor organizational branding has created confusion about the role and function of the PMO... Read More»

Project Delivery Systems
By Morley Selver, P.Eng IPMA B
Last month I started talking about Project Delivery Systems. When you are managing a project you always need how the contractors, engineering contractors and construction contractors, working for you are organized. The different project delivery systems available to the Owner are: Owner Provided Delivery (OPD) which you may have been involved with. Design-Bid-Build - is the most common for projects and you are probably most familiar with this method. Construction Management - is a variation on the Design-Bid-Build. Design-Build EPC - which is a variation of Design-Build. Two Types Last month I talked about Owner Provided Delivery and Design-Bid-Build. This... Read More»

Are You Elegantly Solving the Wrong Problems?
By Brian Irwin
I recently read an interesting article by Mark Shead outlining how good we are at problem solving and how notoriously bad we are at identifying the correct problem to solve. That notion resonated with me in both personal and professional contexts. Being emotionally invested in outcomes can occasionally obfuscate the true underlying issues; or, if we are aware of the underlying issues, we might dare not address them directly for fear of the unknown (insert personal reason here). Alas, we attempt to address what we perceive to be the real issue which often turns out to be only a symptom... Read More»

Who Put the #$!&@ in Teams?
By Michael Aucoin
To adapt a line from the movie Animal House, "Teams–can't live with them, can't live without them!" That may be the conclusion of a 2013 survey commissioned by the University of Phoenix that revealed some troubling findings about the nature of teams in the workplace. 95 percent of those surveyed recognize that teams serve an important function, but only 24 percent prefer to work in teams. 68 percent who have ever worked in teams have had at least one experience with a dysfunctional team. 40 percent of those who have worked on teams have witnessed a verbal confrontation between team... Read More»

Organizational Structures, Modes of Power, and The Prisoners’ Dilemma
By Alan Zucker
Say you are assigned to a new project. What process do you follow to determine your approach to engaging the team? Do you analyze the project’s organizational structure? How do you decide which role and power type to use? The project’s organizational structure influences the formal power and role of the project manager. The way the PM chooses to exert power affects the type and quality of the team relationships. The Prisoners’ Dilemma provides insight into the impact of collaborative versus competitive behavior. Organizational structures, modes of power, and The Prisoners’ Dilemma can provide the PM with insight into leading... Read More»




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