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.
Six Steps for Developing a Governance Model for Strategic Portfolio Management (Part 1)
By J LeRoy Ward
I started thinking about what it takes to build a governance model for strategic portfolio management more than 15 years ago, and I still haven’t stopped thinking about it because a governance model is never done. Let me tell you how it all started. I was sitting in my office, minding my own business, when a colleague of mine walked in and said “LeRoy, we have a problem.” And by her tone, I knew she was serious. She said that our Vice President for Product Development, I’ll call her Finula, was struggling with the number of projects she was working... Read More»

A Confident and Prepared Experience
By Ann Drinkwater
A year ago I had a less than desirable personal service performed. What I was told was a very small, routine dental procedure, that according to the computer would take 18 minutes turned into a situation where I lost all confidence and trust in my dental provider. The issues presented and takeaways really apply to all types of projects and businesses. The first dental issue arose when my procedure started and I realized the dentist hadn’t provided adequate time for numbing or adequate medication before starting the procedure. The second issue came while I was in the dental chair with... Read More»

Stretch Your Team to Achieve More
By Jeff Richardson
A recently trending Harvard Business Review article talked about the challenges involved with setting 'stretch goals'. They claims that in environemnts with poor leadership, teams can often be demotivated fostering unethical behavior and increased risk taking On the upside, the study pointed out that challenging goals can also have the potential to stimulate innovative thinking, process improvements and added incentives that assist a team achieve what was "seemingly impossible". I see both of these patterns consistently emerge during experiential activities that I include in my leadership and team effectiveness workshops. Given a timed activity, teams routinely set very safe goals... Read More»

Project Delivery Systems Continued
By Morley Selver, P.Eng IPMA B
The last project delivery system we want to talk about is the EPC project delivery system. This is sometimes called a “Turnkey” contract. With this project delivery system, the Owner hires a contractor to engineer, procure, construct (EPC) a facility and once complete and operating, turns it over to the Owner. The facility has to operate to specified levels as outlined in the contract. Minimal Effort With an EPC project delivery system the owner puts in a minimal effort and so has less stress. The Owner works his way through the project life cycle and once he gets through the... Read More»

Owning the Issue—A Profile in Courage
By Alan Zucker
At the weekly executive operational review meeting, the atmosphere was tense. We were having issues with the order processing systems and the sales reps were unable to install and fulfill the orders for the new product line. A raspy voice from the row of people sitting behind the conference table said, “It’s all fouled up. We are working on the issue. I will have a an update later in the day.” I was stunned. Who said that? It was the technology VP, Mike Callahan. Mike was honest, direct, and was not afraid to be accountable. At the weekly executive review,... Read More»

Book: The Next Evolution - Enhancing and Unifying Project and Change Management
By Cinda Voegtli
I still hear way too many stories of "change management bolted onto the end" of projects whose outputs will impact lots of people. So I'm always interested in what approaches people use to INSTEAD make change management a natural part of each project. [I'm not talking here about managing/controlling changes to delivereables etc. during a project. This is the Change Management that is about anticipating how a project and what it's delivering will impact various people and groups, including how it will CHANGE THINGS THAT MATTER to them :-)... how they work; how they're reviewed; whatever.] I was therefore browsing... Read More»

Why are we even trying? - a Stat on EXPECTING projects to fail
By Cinda Voegtli
"75% of business and IT executives anticipate that their software projects will fail." Wowsa. Whoever responded to this survey might just have a lot of trouble getting out of bed in the morning. This statistic is from a survey done by Geneca, a software development firm, of 600 business and IT executives. Sources for the survey participants includeda CIO networking group, a project management professional association, Hoovers/D&B, and attendees to a 2010 CIO trade conference. A couple of other findings: Lack of confidence in project success: 75% of respondents admit that their projects are either always or usually “doomed right... Read More»

Sanity check: Who are you ASSUMING is committed?
By Cinda Voegtli
A sanity check to consider, on a Monday morning as you start the new week, or any time you are stepping back to take stock (which should be often enough to catch bad assumptions, or any bad mojo, before damage is done)... Think about your team. Stakeholders. Sponsor. Managers of the resources on your critical project. People who obviously SHOULD be committed... to the goals, to managing risks in their area, to making sure this thing will succeed. BUT: Just because they signed the Charter... Just because they participated in planning and got to have their say on deadlines... Just... Read More»

Cognitive Dissonance - Investment in Hard Skills vs. Soft Skills
By Cinda Voegtli
Managers and executives lament the poor leadership and interpersonal skills among their project managers, yet recent studies have revealed that organizations spend almost twice as much on the hard skills of project management vs. the soft skills, and that spending on soft skills has actually decreased in the past few years. What’s wrong with this picture? This flummoxes me. I don't talk to anyone who thinks the hard skills trump the people skills. None of us get anywhere with schedules, charters, other PM tools and techniques, without the soft skills to adapt to our audience, influence, overcome objections, etc. I'm... Read More»

What teammates say: to lead, be calm (and why that matters)
By Cinda Voegtli
Here's a quick post with an article full of notes on what it means to be seen as a leader by teammates. I am a huge San Francisco Giants' baseball fan, and about to watch game 3 of the World Series tonight. Our local papers are doing a fabulous job posting daily background articles about the team and individual players. In an interview with Wednesday's starting pitcher Jake Peavy, Jale brought up the team's catcher, Buster Posey, "in the midst of a long explanation of why he has been better with the Giants than he was with the Red Sox."... Read More»

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