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.
High-Altitude Leadership - A highly-recommended book
By Cinda Voegtli
(I'm moving this previous post from a private blog to here to make it easily available to everyone. And I still love the book!) The angle this book takes on leadership -- lessons from high-altitude, highly dangerous mountain climbs, results in a fun, interesting read. And I found those lessons to be very concrete and thought-provoking -- and with good coverage of organizational AND project issues, which I have not often seen in leadership books. The full title is High Altitude Leadership: What the World's Most Forbidding Peaks Teach Us About Success. One of the authors is an experienced mountain... Read More»

Call It What It Is
By Ann Drinkwater
Anyone in the project management field has heard of gold plating. For those less familiar with the term it basically means adding features outside the original scope and requirements. Working with teams less familiar with all of the downstream impacts and risks, may think this scenario isn’t that dangerous and will help please the customer. I’m a huge proponent of serving the customer, but often times adding what seems like a small, innocent change to a waterfall led project can delay the project and what had hoped to exceed the customer expectations may end up causing more customer service issues... Read More»

5 Steps to Cultivating an Agile Culture
By Brian Irwin
We’ve all heard the maxim change is difficult. The reasons that change is hard are far too numerous to discuss in a single blog posting. My intent here is to specifically focus on organizational agile transformations and the difficulty of changing culture. Additionally, I want to leave you with some hope. While it is difficult, it is not impossible. There are steps that you can take as an individual that can help the organization as a whole move in the right direction. The 2013 VersionOne State of Agile Survey indicates the top three reasons cited by practitioners for adopting agile... Read More»

What’s the biggest risk an IT project manager faces?
By J LeRoy Ward
We’ve all read the grim statistics regarding IT projects. For years, such highly respected organizations as Standish, Gartner, Forrester, the Government Accountability Office, and others, have reported high failure and abysmally low success, rates. Failed projects usually have three common characteristics: they are completed far in excess of their original budget, are delivered way behind schedule, and often fail to satisfy even the basic functional requirements demanded by their intended recipients. The list of root causes for IT project failure often reads like a rap sheet of a serial offender. The causes are almost always the same, but change in... Read More»

Why no one wants to identify risks
By Cinda Voegtli
Interesting factoid from a recent Risk Management class I taught inside a large, established company: When we discussed why this company is so large, with establisehd processes in other areas, yet not doing project risk management (and in a complex, risky, regulated industry to boot), here is what emerged: Risk identification is not being done consistently or thoroughly on our projects, because our executives see discussion of risk as "Focusing on failure", "denigrating our own capabilities, because it implies we can't do things without making mistakes, or we are not good enough to naturally overcome difficulties" and "if you bring... Read More»

Don't understand them? Don't even like them? Too bad!
By Cinda Voegtli
What makes working on projects hard is, all too often, working with the dratted people! :-) As we start work this week ---- who are we dreading working with? Who are we mentally already bracing to interact with? Who have we not communicated with for a while, just because our styles are so different that it's easier to stay away? Put like this, such issues might even sound a little childish if admitted out loud. Yet it's just human nature. But it's also dangerous. If we really believe that communication and collaboration are key to project success and to the... Read More»

For grumpy, overworked times...
By Cinda Voegtli
Something i like to remind myself of when extreme grumpiness hits - which it does sometimes, because there IS usually an insane amount of stuff to get done, sprinkled with pesky issues, conflicts, changes ... :-) Happiness is an attitude. We either make ourselves miserable, or happy and strong. The amount of work is the same... Francesca Reigler. Cinda Read More»

Are you recognizing your team member's contribution?
By Alfonso Bucero
Probably you will be familiar with the sentence “Thank you”. Are you aware of it is consuming only very few milligrams of saliva? But not all project managers are saying “thank you” to their team members and other project stakeholders. In fact I asked several project managers about that and their answer were not positive in all cases. Perhaps it is depending on the culture, or may be depending on the leadership maturity from the professional project manager. Recently I had the opportunity to speak in front of a big project management audience in Istanbul (Turkey) at a PMI Summit.... Read More»

Closing a Project: Ask the Right Questions
By Alan Zucker
“Asking the right questions takes as much skill as giving the right answers.” Robert Half It is generally accepted that a conducting lessons learned meeting or a project post-implementation review at the end of a project or phase is a best the close of a project or phase. However most reviews are ineffective because they do not collect actionable information. A well-executed project or phase closeout will yield: A constructive post-implementation review that produces actionable lessons learned. Lessons learned that could be communicated as ‘universal truths' that are readily applied to future projects. For example, a project team may... Read More»

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»

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