10 Ways to Absolutely Ruin your Projects

Instead of providing a list on how to successfully run a project management office, I chose a different route and set out to assemble a list of valuable information that guarantees project failure under any given circumstance. If you are a project manager or run a PMO, the recommendations you will read below are full of promise and will definitely get you into trouble.  With that in mind, here are…

10 Ways to Absolutely Ruin your Projects

  1. Start a project without a defined goal or objective:  Like a ship without a destination or a race without a finish line, starting a project without a goal is an exercise in running in circles.  No matter how much time, effort or money you through behind it, you’ll never accomplish what you set out to do because it was never clearly defined.  Then again, it’s also a great way to stay out of trouble because you’ll never know when your project is ‘moving sideways’.
  2. Run a project that is not aligned with the company’s objectives:  I know ‘mobile tech’ is really cool.  So is ‘social media’.  So let’s kick off a project to do that.  Wait a minute.  Did we ever check with our customers – both internal and external – if this is what they are asking for?   Do we know if this project help move the company’s goals forward?  I don’t know, but let’s call it “Rogue Project” because it sounds so cool.
  3. Manage a project that does not have a sponsor’s support:  Like a football quarterback without his offensive line, running a project without a sponsor to provide direction, remove obstacles, and ensure support to move the project forward is a great idea.  Please let us know how that works out for you, OK?
  4. Make a project more complex just for complexity’s sake:  If two levels down into the work breakdown structure is good, six levels is great.  It’ll show people how much more smart and experienced you are than them.  If you can do this effectively, it leads to…
  5. Micromanage your team, especially the senior level people:  Which studies show is a great way to lose supporters. Really fast.
  6. Don’t consider the benefits or ROI before you kick off the project:  Project benefits are so hard to define.  And who knows if we’re ever going to achieve them anyway.  So let’s not worry about it.  Just give me that bag of money so I can start my project already.  It’s not about value after all – it’s about working with cool technology.
  7. Recreate the wheel when starting a project:  I know my organization has done something like this before, but I’m really, really smart and don’t need the help.  I’m happy to start all the deliverables from scratch.  Or maybe this time I’ll just make up a new methodology.  Why recycle and reuse when I can just recreate?
  8. Allow your project’s scope to change on a whim:  if we don’t have a good change control process it makes the project easier.  If we learn new things, let’s quickly move in that direction.  We can call it ‘iterative execution’.  Just like a new puppy deciding if he wants to chase a ball, bark at the other dogs or have a snack.
  9. Don’t check in with the stakeholders or customer through the lifecycle of the project:  we already understand what they want, so bringing in them back in as we move through the project will only give them a chance to get more engaged and supportive.  Nah…let’s just surprise them at the end.
  10. Spend, spend, spend:  Don’t worry about budgets – they’re just rough estimates, anyway.  If we need to get more developers and fly the team out to Las Vegas for a workshop, so be it.  By the time the financial team finds out it will be too late anyway.

Hopefully the list above is taken as a cautionary tale – maybe even a checklist of what not to do.  How do you stack up against it?

Project Management Process and Tools Can’t Be Too “Big” for Small Projects

While browsing through the latest edition of PM Insider*, a newsletter from ProjectManagement.com, the following question and correspondence caught my eye.

Question:

I have a short project coming up that seems too simple to need to go through all the usual processes. Is there a quick way to ensure that the project plans are baselined and tracked in my automated software? My boss will still want(s) effort, schedule and cost captured and reported and the usual PMI processes honored?

 Provided Answer:

A. Collect cost receipts in a manila folder and ask team members to write down the time they spend on each task. You can figure out a report at the end.
B. Go through all of the steps, including your automated software files, just as you usually do. Short projects should be planned, documented and archived exactly as longer ones.
C. Use a quick plan with lighter documentation, but involve your team in close communication on a daily basis.
D. Pull a similar electronic project file from your archives and change its name to the name of this project. Submit this disguised project at the end.

This is a great question and evidence of an endemic issue for many project management professionals, which is really – my project management process and “automated software,” be it PPM or something lighter, is clunky or actually “not automated enough” so it’s a hassle and feels like a waste of time to go through and use for “minor projects.”

I concur with the sentiment of the answer provided that if the project – major or minor – is worth doing, then it’s worth tracking, which means the investments you’ve made in project management processes and tools should be leveraged to do so. And if those tools and/or processes make it overly cumbersome or time-consuming to do this for minor projects, then the process and/or tool(s) should be adapted to accommodate managing smaller projects easier.

A 200 hour departmental project should be easier to manage than a 20,000 hour enterprise project. That’s intuitive enough, but not always the case when processes and tools have been designed and implemented to manage, track and measure high investment projects. If employing the same processes and tools to manage and track smaller projects makes it unnecessarily complex and time consuming, is it really worth it?

Hello rogue projects.

Hello bad habits.

Hello failed investments in project management process and tools.

Processes and tools should be flexible to accommodate this delineation without sacrificing management capabilities or tracking requirements. If it’s too much work, it probably won’t be done if the perceived value/return of using the process/tools doesn’t correlate with the scope of work or time required to manage a seemingly minor project.

 

*ProjectManagement.com Newsletter 12/4/2013

BioBridge Global Gets Competitive Edge with Daptiv’s PPM Solutions

We are excited to announce that with the help of Daptiv’s innovative PPM solutions, BioBridge Global (BBG) was successful in aligning its multiple business lines, streamlining complex processes and standardizing projects across the organization. BBG is a non-profit company that oversees and supports the South Texas Blood & Tissue Center, QualTex Laboratories, GenCure, and The Blood and Tissue Center Foundation.

For an organization catering to a highly regulated industry, the road to smooth planning and execution needed a lot more than just a PMO. Operating in the heavily regulated Healthcare industry with changing government strategy, policies, and meeting multiple audit requirements, BioBridge Global was in need for a dynamic project portfolio management (PPM) tool that would help them keep up with changing requirements at the project level without adding excessive time and cost.

In collaboration with Daptiv, BioBridge Global created several custom applications using Daptiv’s Dynamic Applications, including a report-building scorecard and applications that provided visibility and cost/benefit analysis. Daptiv’s report building mechanism enabled BBG’s governance committee to take critical business decisions as it grew its business operations across the state. Additionally, Daptiv’s insight has helped BBG determine a project’s fit in supporting the overall business by identifying costs, potential risks, resource issues and more before a decision is made to green light a project.

To know more about the announcement, click here.

Daptiv UK Hosts Customer Day in London to Discuss Best Project Management Practices

This month, we hosted an exclusive daylong roundtable for our customers in London. This meeting was designed to bring together project managers and senior executives to discuss their changing roles, challenges and how they were using Daptiv solutions to enable them to achieve optimized efficiency within their organisations to compete, grow and facilitate change inside their businesses.

The roundtable focused on the topic, ” Evolution & Innovation”. Issues raised at the meeting included implementing corporate strategy with limited resources, optimizing strategy delivery, using Portfolio Management to achieve the correct balance of projects, and why Project Portfolio Management matters. Attendees discussed a range of topics including change, transformation, strategy, prioritization and share some useful hints & tips to use Daptiv solutions more efficiently. Additionally, our guest speaker Richard Trett, IT Portfolio Manager and Process subject expert shed light into utilising process and process methodologies through an interactive presentation with our gathered audience.

Various studies conducted by firms such as Forrester Research, Gartner and Software Engineering Institute (SEI) state that 60 to 80% of project failures can be attributed to poorly defined requirements. Organizations have long acknowledged that requirements management best practices are critical to project success. However, many have been slow to change due to misconceptions or ingrained beliefs about the role of requirements in the project management life cycle. This roundtable introduced the requirements for management process and provided a practical implementation approach to ensure successful project delivery. In the current economic environment, there is tremendous pressure to drive down operating costs, increase profits and to become more effective in driving the strategy needs of organizations, while managing constant global change and increases in regulatory and compliance requirements. Having used Daptiv solutions, all our attendee were of the opinion that without PPM processes and a common approach to the management of projects, there will be multiple views on the right methodology, only leading to money, time and resource leakages.

Because portfolio management is a holistic system that requires involvement by project managers, project teams, executives, managers, supervisors and front-line employees, this session highlighted the importance of tools in implementing PPM and attendees demonstrated how to best utilize PPM processes to meet executive demand.  It was interesting to witness the different ways in which our customers are implementing Daptiv.

Some of the key takeaways from the roundtable were:

  • Speed to innovation is accelerating
  • Executive sponsorship of PPM programs heightens success
  • Process methodology narrows the gap between ideation and innovation
  • Daptiv allows our customers to make good decisions
  • Allowing our customer to do the right projects right

The Role of the Resource Manager

When we think about resource management, we tend to think about how it impacts projects and the project portfolio.  After all, if we don’t have the resources to execute work, our projects don’t get done.  What we sometimes forget is that resource management and the role of the resource manager goes far beyond assigning people to projects.

So what is a resource manager and what do they do?  Anyone who manages people is a resource manager.  It is the resource manager who  is responsible for ensuring that their organization has the right people with the right skills available at the right time to accomplish the work that needs to be done.  In addition to managing people, a resource manager frequently has functional responsibilities in the enterprise; he or she is responsible for running a group that may provide resources to projects, but may have day-to-day operational responsibilities as well.

The successful resource manager is someone with the ability to do a number of things well.  Obviously, they need to have top-notch people skills and be able to effectively set and articulate performance goals and standards.  They need to be able to evaluate individual performance against those goals and provide meaningful and constructive feedback to the people that they manage.  They also need to be mindful of team dynamics (the strengths and weaknesses of the individuals in the team and how they interact with one another), resolving issues or conflicts and supporting team morale.

The effective resource manager is also adept at managing a limited supply of resources against constantly changing demand.  This requires a good view of what is coming up and creating short-, mid- and long-term resource plans:

Long-Term Planning is taking a longer view of resource demand that is anticipated for six, eight, ten months out, or beyond.  In the long-term plan, the resource manager is not planning an individual’s time against specific tasks, but rather looking at general roles, skills and/or the locations of resources needed against general categories of demand (ongoing operational work vs. strategic projects, etc) using forecasts based on historical data or trends.   The long-term plan gives the resource manager the ability to anticipate resource needs and proactively plan for staff acquisition, training or other activities that typically have longer lead times or may represent their own drain on resource capacity.

Mid-term planning focuses on the next one month to six months and identifies commitments for a specific type of resource or even an individual.  But typically the mid-term plan represents these commitments as a level of effort as opposed to a specific date or time.  For example we may identify that we need an engineer for about 30 hours over 2 months for a specific project – not that the engineer will work for 10 hours on a specific task in a specific week.  The benefit of the mid-term plan is that it can be more accurate and provide more detail than the long-term plan, but is not subject to constant adjustment.

In the Short-term plan, the resource manager can look out a limited amount of time at specific task assignments – either for projects or ongoing work.  The short term plan then provides the information needed to make last minute adjustments due to emerging priorities, schedule changes, scope changes, or changes in the available resource pool due to illness, resignations or reassignments.  Because the short-term plan focuses on a limited timeframe it can be more precise than the long- or mid-term plans since we have a higher level of confidence in what is going to happen.

As a part of planning, the resource manager needs to be aware of the changing needs and priorities of the enterprise to ensure that the resources available to do the work have the requisite time and skills to do the work.  This means that the resource manager needs to understand the skills and interests of the team, and make sure that those skills are being developed to meet both current and future needs of the organization.  Changing business strategies, technologies, regulations and a plethora of other factors can all require significant changes in job responsibilities and the skills needed.  The best resource managers will follow developments across the enterprise, their discipline and in their industries to anticipate and prepare for these changes.

Last, but not least, getting the right things done is more important than working on everything and getting nothing done.  The best resource managers understand both the strategic and tactical priorities for their organization and communicate these clearly and consistently to their teams.  Likewise, they set realistic expectations for people outside of their team regarding delivery dates and standards – and they are able to say ‘no’ when appropriate.

While the scope of responsibilities for a resource manager may vary from enterprise to enterprise there is no question that the resource manager controls a most valuable asset – people.  Applying the skills and talents of that asset to provide the most value to the organization requires understanding and setting priorities, looking to the future to develop capabilities and capacity, and proactively working with the individuals and the team to develop skills and cohesion.