November 23, 2011, Sponsored by RMC Project Management, Inc.
From the Editor
You could spend hours, days, even weeks designing the perfect menu, the perfect gift list, the perfect specification. But if no one ever gets to enjoy the end product of all those brilliant recipes, is it worth it? This week, Geof Lory reminds us that there is more to meal planning than planning the meal. It pays to be flexible, adaptable, and just clear enough. We couldn't agree more. Whether you spend this Thursday stuffing turkeys, watching football, volunteering, or as just another day in the office, take time to express thanks for the folks who are always pushing us to stop worrying about building the perfect requirements, and get some actual results instead.
Shopping for Requirements by Geof Lory
I help a lot of teams adopt best practices in project execution, and by far the most challenging area is the translation of the business needs into sufficient detail that the team (usually developers writing code) can create the expected result, or maybe something even better. Commonly referred to as requirements definition, business analysis, or functional specifications, this activity usually emulates the processes used in the construction and engineering worlds. Most organizations employ methodologies that continually elaborate the requirements into greater and greater detail, from a Business Requirements Document to a Functional Requirements Specification to a System Requirements Specification to a Technical Design Document (with signatures at each hand-off). This usually results in more documentation than even the most diligent developer will ever read, let alone deliver on. More time is spent reviewing and approving the documentation than actually writing code or delivering business value.
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Premium How-To Course
Agile Project Management: An Overview of Scrum – PREMIUM
Presented by Kent McDonald of Knowledge Bridge Partners
For a methodology that seems so unstructured, Scrum can demand a lot from team members. This Agile approach -- the most common of many -- emphasizes small, cross-functional teams working against a prioritized list of features. You might think that a methodology that emphasizes self-management and iterative design would be loose, unstructured, inefficient, unorganized, and ineffective. You would be mistaken. This mini-course by Kent McDonald provides a high-level overview of Scrum, including the guiding values, the main principles and techniques, and the chief roles it requires, and addresses some common misconceptions as well. 1 PDU, 1 ACP Contact Hour.
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How can I be more positive as a project manager?, by Alfonso Bucero
Not all the project managers have a positive behavior all the time. I learned over the years that every project manager needs to spend some time trying to be more positive when dealing with team members, customers and other stakeholders. Some people confuse mood with attitude. A project manager can be in a good mood or in a bad mood every day but his attitude needs to be positive.
My attitude is always positive but some days my mood is not very good. Then I need to do an attitude check. I wanted to share with you some of my best practices to be more positive managing people in projects and organizations.
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Not sure what constitutes documentation that is "good enough"? Check out these templates for a few ideas on figuring out the right amount of work for your project -- tons, none, or something in the middle.
Make Your Pages 3 x 5 - Agile Technique Brief: Requirements Cards – PREMIUM
Can your project requirements fit on an index card? Maybe you should try it. This guideline by Kent McDonald gets to the heart of the issue with a few very simple questions: Who, What, and Why.
Clarify Who and What to Include - Deliverables Definition Form for Project Documents – PREMIUM
What about the requirements for the documentation itself? Does your team know what it means to have a test plan, for instance, or who should review and approve it? This guideline clarifies the importance of well defined deliverables with an outline, a worksheet, a case study, and more.
Is Too! Is Not! - Project Scope Definition: Deliverables – PREMIUM
For simpler projects (or for the first steps in longer, more complex projects), a simple chart may serve better than a thousand-word document. It doesn't get much simpler or clearer than this worksheet -- an"is/is not"outline of the project's major deliverables.
Details Aren't Always a Bad Thing - Software Requirements Specification – MEMBER
Sometimes, you really do need to define everything down to the nth degree. That doesn't mean you have to start from scratch, though. Get a head start with this outline for a Software Requirements Specification (SRS) document for a particular module or subsystem of software.
Define Done - Software Quality Release Criteria – SPECIAL
This Premium resource is free to registered Members until December 8, 2011
So you know what the deliverables are. Do you know when they're done? This short document captures the criteria that will be used to judge the quality of software (or any other product) at various stages of the project.
Focus on the Meal, Not the Menu - WBS Example: Planning a Holiday Dinner – MEMBER
Never mind the requirements -- sometimes we project managers even go overboard on the scheduling aspects. (Say it ain't so, Joe!) This tongue-in-cheek example of small-team, small-overhead project management shows how you can still apply disciplined scheduling to a simple project, without going overboard. (Gravy: It's a great introduction to project scheduling for new project managers or reluctant team members who need help grasping the finer points of the value added.)
Carl Pritchard is teaching his last-of-the-year PMP Prep workshop in Maryland on November 29 & 30. Work off the extra turkey with a two-day, full-day fire hose of information on the PMP. (It's good for 14 PDUs, for those of you who already passed.) Download a PDF with registration information at http://www.carlpritchard.com/regform-Nov11-MC.pdf.
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