June 9, 2010, Sponsored by RMC Project Management, Inc.
From the Editor
"If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. Then quit." W.C. Fields' sardonic advice cuts right to the heart of the matter, as does Carl's thought provoking question this week. Why are we doing this work? Is it really worth it, or is it time to throw in the towel on this feature, project, release, or contract? We can only know what we're going to get out of it if we know what we want out of it. Once we know that, maybe we can salvage things by powering through, or by re-defining success. If not, then quit. But don't be foolish about it.
"We really should do something about that
" There's plenty of work to do out there without making stuff up out of thin conversation. Ed Reynolds discusses the importance of Managing Up and seeking clarity, even when it's uncomfortable.
Is this project really worth it? In management terms, this often boils down to comparisons of Project Profitability and Cash Flow. Morley Selver provides a detailed explanation of these comparisons and the whys and wherefores that go along with them -- complete with charts illustrating the effects of different kinds of project issues. Have a look, and put some numbers behind your judgment.
It's Not Paranoia If They're Really Out to Get You by Carl Pritchard
I had a compelling experience over a recent quarter where I began to suspect a client was actually conducting behaviors that would lead to my failure. They had given me erroneous information about our upcoming event, sharing information with participants that was contrary to our discussions and asked for significant favors that were completely out of bounds for any of my other clients. I began to get the over-your-shoulders-someone-is-watching feeling that comes with paranoia. Each time I would come home with a new story, my wife would ask me, "Why are we doing this work?"
I would explain the benefits of the client, the future business they could bring to the table and how they could positively influence our future. Her reply?
"Why are we doing this work?"
My wife, Nancy, is sometimes a business genius. Really. Every now and then, she can cut to the nub of a problem, raise the simple question and drive home a powerful point. The last time she had been so incisive was when I broke out on my own and became an independent consultant over a decade ago. Both then and now, the fundamental question reigned. Do the benefits outweigh the costs? Is this a good deal for all concerned?
Read the rest »
So, Boss, Why Are We Doing This Work? – How to Interview a Project Sponsor – GUEST
Never, ever accept someone else's interpretation of what the sponsor is looking for. Get it straight from the horse's mouth. Doug DeCarlo, author of eXtreme Project Management, explains how in this classic column.
I Think I Left It in My Other Pants – Project Charter – PREMIUM
What's that you say? You don't have a project charter? Well, that's not all that unusual. Many projects seem to spring into life as a result of magic beans strewn about by eager execs and ambitious employees. Well, it's never too late to correct an oversight. If you find yourself holding the unattractive end of an even less attractive project, consider drafting a project charter like this one and running it past your sponsor. You may finally get the executive attention, resources, and support you need to get it over the finish line -- or to finally put it out of your misery.
Because I Said So, That's Why – Project Business Case – PREMIUM
Not exactly a compelling argument, is it? Try a numbers based approach to project justification by documenting the anticipated costs and ROI, in context of all the reasonable alternatives. Documenting a business case gives your sponsor information required to understand risks and get funding approval, and can give your team a barometer for success throughout the project. It provides the compelling justification you need for your project's existence. And if you can't come up with a compelling justification, well, that says something too, doesn't it?
Absolutely Priceless? – Cost Benefits Analysis – PREMIUM
A slightly different take on the idea of a project's business justification, the CBA documents the relationship between the anticipated costs and benefits a project will produce. Business analysts and steering committees may use it to evaluate a project's ROI, but it can also be useful to a team trying to evaluate the costs and benefits of various technical or sourcing solutions to get them across the finish line.
Where Did I Put That Panic Button? – Showing Your Team What Urgent Looks Like – MEMBER
When you're trying to inspire a sense of urgency in a critical project team, throwing your hands in the air and screaming frantically isn't going to do much. It may stir people up, but they're stirred up and working pretty hard already. Will it really help to work them into a froth? This VP didn't think so. Instead, he worked with the project manager to show the team how to turn little gains into big progress -- and all without yelling at anyone.
Remember That Fork in the Road
– Recording Key Project Decisions – SPECIAL
This Premium resource is free to registered Members until June 23, 2011
Keeping track of a complex project, especially under pressure, can seem like a Choose Your Own Adventure book gone horribly wrong, and with all the page numbers missing. Did we choose Option A, or Option B? And perhaps most importantly when you're trying to explain it later -- Why? It's best to record key decisions -- even the ones that are so important everyone is sure to remember them. (We'll remind you of that six months from now.) This template offers a simple, searchable way to accomplish that, so you're not left wondering who made that call weeks from now.
Premium How-To Course
NEW - If We Ignore It, Maybe It Will Go Away – PREMIUM
Assessing Project Risks
Presented by Carl Pritchard, Pritchard Management Associates
Maybe it will, at that. Just because you've identified a risk doesn't mean you need to do anything about it. Then again, you sure don't want to ignore the wrong ones. Creating a risk list is just the first step. Now it's time to fish it out of the drawer, review it with the team, and assess which risks you should do something about. This course by Carl Pritchard explains the process and sets your team on the right path to active risk management. If you're going to ignore a risk, make sure you're ignoring the right one. 1 PDU
Learn More »
Carl Pritchard is heading to sea again for PDUs@Sea 2011. "Risk Management Excellence: Taking YOUR Risk Experience to the Next Level" sails from Baltimore on August 20 for a 6-day cruise to Bermuda and back, racking up PDUs the whole way. Registrations are due by June 15. For more details, check out the cruise website at http://www.traveling4fun.com/events.htm.
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