July 2, 2013, Sponsored by RMC Project Management, Inc.
From the Editor
If you've ever spent your evenings alone in the office, laboring under a single flickering desk lamp, muttering "There ought to be a law
" Well, we couldn't agree more, and we've got your back. This Independence Day, we're siding with law, order, and the project management way, with our own Project Manager Bill of Rights.
Yes, You CAN Negotiate Project Constraints
"This is what we need. You can use these resources. And you must deliver it by that date."
By Alan Koch
Does this sound familiar? If so, you are not alone. Many project managers find themselves in just such a situation. There are lots of dictates, no flexibility, and more often than not little realism in the demands.
What value is there in estimation when your sponsor seems to have no interest in finding out what it will really take to do the project? The constraints have been chiseled in stone and we can't change them. End of story. Our job boils down to trying to keep the project from being too much of a disaster.
Although it may not seem to be true, we can negotiate unrealistic project expectations. And the key is to do a good job of estimating what it really will take to do the project.
Read the rest »
Meeting Management and Running Effective Meetings
Does the word "meeting" send your team running for cover? Are agenda requests met with blank stares or nearly blank paper? Do you spend more time rounding up attendees than getting something done?
The sheer volume of meeting mocking that percolates through the business world may convince you that this is just the way things are for everyone. But there are some teams that meet only when needed, teams that get things done quickly and adjourn on time, teams that see meetings as part of their work, not a distraction from it. You just need the right tools, the right management, and the right amount of effort.
The Meeting Management Bundle is a fast path to fundamental techniques and real world tools that will make sure your meetings are effective, attended (!), and even heralded far and wide as the most effective team collaboration time in town.
Learn More »
$29.95 for non-subscribers, free for Premium subscribers.
Premium How-To Course
Kicking Off a Virtual Project, Part 2
Presented by Cinda Voegtli
This mini-course with ProjectConnections founder Cinda Voegtli discusses how you can get scattered team members to agree on the best way to plan and manage the project, communicate, produce documentation ... whatever the project requires. Even better, she explains how you can get buy in from team members that the adjustments and compromises as truly good ideas. Second in a two-part series –see Part 1 here. 1 PDU
Learn more »
The Project Manager Bill of Rights
The Right to a Clear Goal – Project Vision Example – SPECIAL
This Premium resource is free to registered Members until July 18, 2013
You probably already have a project vision, whether or not you've recorded it. But you and your team have the right -- even the responsibility -- to share a common vision that can drive scope, development, and completion criteria. ("I just want it all to be over" doesn't really count.) This example comes from a product development company that was working on creating a life cycle process -- a good example of how a small document can inspire big results.
The Right to Productive Assembly – Team Meetings Descriptions Sample – MEMBER
You've got to have at least some meetings to keep the team communicating. But which ones, why, and who else should be there? This brief example from an actual project team shows the simple but effective list one PM used to shift the attitude in his team from avoidance to acceptance.
The Right to Cut a Few Corners – Adapting Processes for Different Projects – PREMIUM
There's no sense in requiring teams to slavishly adhere to a methodology that doesn't fit. While the methodology exists for a reason, so does the project; and there are bound to be occasional mismatches that warrant side-stepping certain aspects of the process. This guideline will help you keep your processes intact, but in a sensible way that actually fits your team, your project, and your tracking requirements.
The Right to a Clear Mandate – PM Appointment Letter – MEMBER
Project managers deserve to have the authority that goes along with their responsibilities. Here we provide a simple template for a letter from management announcing a PM's appointment to a new project and expressing the critical sponsor support that will make your job possible, if not simple. You will undoubtedly have to tweak the wording for your environment, and some managers may balk at actually signing something. But if you can manage to hold your ground you can substantially reduce the blank stares and uncooperative attitudes you encounter when you start negotiating for resources.
The Right to Credit for Work and Results – Project Manager and Team Member Performance Appraisals – MEMBER
Yearly performance reviews often focus on functional skills. That's easy and understandable, but it neglects the important contributions people make in working on or managing cross-functional projects. This file includes process suggestions and forms to promote recognition of project performance as part of a normal performance appraisal. You and your team members deserve credit for all your contributions, including the ones that don't necessarily show up in the departmental metrics.
The Right to Acquire and Improve Skills - Company Program for Ongoing PM Learning – PREMIUM
It's a project manager's responsibility to keep learning and growing, but that doesn't mean the company can't support them in the process. This example framework illustrates a holistic approach to ongoing learning and training. Adapt it to your organizational culture and provide the practical, ongoing, applied learning program your project managers (and PMs-to-be) deserve.
Freedom from Cruel and Unusual Requirements – Project Flexibility Matrix – MEMBER
There is a critical difference between bending over backwards for a customer and turning yourself into a pretzel. Extensive tradeoff tables that help your teams analyze the options can be incredibly useful (which is why we include one in our Premium resource set). But sometimes you need a great big simple unmistakable chart to make your point. This matrix is designed to make tradeoffs involving scope, resources, and schedule easier to visualize and discuss with the team and with the customer.
The Right to Petition for Redress of Uncooperative !@#$@%s - Project Escalation Process Guidelines – MEMBER
No matter who is a part of your project organization, sooner or later something will drive someone up the wall -- or up the ladder. Scope disagreements, staffing issues, serious functionality issues . . . any of these may merit involvement from people outside the project team, including upper management. Defining some expectations and processes ahead of time can ensure that issues are escalated appropriately when necessary, and in time for management to do something about it.
The Right to Be Valued – Getting Relevant to Get Results – MEMBER
This is one right that we have to earn. We PMs spend a lot of time concerned with things like communication, documentation, and process. So it's easy to forget that the uninitiated may see this all as needless paperwork. This paper by ProjectConnections founder Cinda Voegtli looks at the issue from both sides and shows how to build recognition of project management as a partnership with the team, not a bureaucratic bludgeoning. Using examples from actual projects, she discusses the differences in perception that sometimes spring up between project managers and team members, and how you can learn to speak their language while teaching them yours.
Alfonso Bucero discusses the ins and outs of empowering people in a detailed, very systemic post. These seven reminders are an excellent summary of what it takes to get someone in a productive, self-motivated position of ownership over new tasks.
Morley Selver has a few more items for your project risk list. In this entry on Why Projects Fail, he addresses common management and leadership issues, like mergers and acquisitions, or leadership changes. When you're considering your project's potential risks, think about the players, not just the game.
Kent McDonald is chairing the Agile 2013 conference this year in Nashville, August 5-9. Of special interest to ProjectConnections readers is the Project, Program, and Portfolio Management track, which includes 24 sessions. Find out more about the conference and session schedule here.
There's still time to get on board with Carl Pritchard Seminars at Sea cruise in August, which will cover the PMBOK¨ Guide 5th Edition and ISO 21500. Get more information at Carl's website.
Morley Selver is running his 3-day "Fundamentals of Project Management" workshop this fall in the following locations: Calgary AB August 27-29; Denver CO September 25-27; Houston TX October 23-25; Calgary AB November 20-22. For information & enrollment please visit www.peice.com
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