Method 123 Blog

Define the Objectives of Your Project

Objectives are concrete statements that describe the things the project is trying to achieve. They are included in your Project Charter. An objective should be written in a way that it can be evaluated at the conclusion of a project to see whether it was achieved. A well-worded objective will be Specific, Measurable, Attainable / Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound (SMART). (SMART is a technique for wording the objective. An objective does not absolutely have to be SMART to be valid.) An example of an objective statement might be to "upgrade the customer service telepho...

Four Steps to Show the Value of Training

Many businesses struggle with whether they are getting their money’s worth in sending employees to training classes. This question can be applied to project management training as well as any other type of business training. You know the cost side of training too well. But how do you tell what the business value is? The most common way to determine value today is to ask the trainee whether he or she thinks the class was valuable. This is very touchy-feely and doesn’t give you much information to go on, but it is probably the most that most companies ask in terms of f...

Five Steps Before Estimating Work

Estimating is hard enough. It is even harder if you are not prepared. Estimating a 20 hour chunk of work is not so hard. Estimating for full projects or large chunks of work can be challenging. Templates can help, but consider the following steps before you begin the estimating process. Get a clear picture of the work that is being estimated Many problems with estimation come because the estimator is not really sure what the work entails. You should avoid estimating work that you do not understand. This should not imply that you can know every detail. The estimating c...

Understand the Risk Tolerance Level in Your Organization

All projects have risks and all risks have the potential for negatively impacting the project. You use risk management to determine the risks that are important enough to manage. During the risk identification process, you may encounter many risks that have some likelihood to occur and have a marginal impact to the project. The question to ask is whether the risk has enough impact on the project to worry about (this same question occurs for both qualitative and quantitative approaches). The answer says something about your risk tolerance.   For example, let’s s...

The Power of the Aligned Organization

When was the last time you rode in a car with wheels that were not properly aligned? Chances are it was a pretty rough ride. The car either pulled in one direction, making it hard work to keep it in your lane, or, it worked against itself as one tire pointed one way and another tire another way. The same thing can happen in our companies. The ride can be pretty bumpy, not to mention noisy, unless everyone is pointed in the same direction. That’s why it’s important to understand the five benefits of an aligned organization Benefit #1 – Ensures Everyone Works on...

The Customer May Not Know Enough to Completely Define the Project

Sometimes the project manager places too high an expectation on the amount of foresight and vision that customers and sponsors have. In many cases, the project manager will go to the customer looking for answers to help define the project and the customer will not have all of the information needed. This happens all the time and it does not mean that the customer does not know what they are doing. In many cases, especially for large projects, the customer has a vision of what the end results will be, but cannot yet articulate this vision into concrete objectives, deliverabl...

Four Responsibilities of Executives on Projects

A Primer on Processes and Templates Recipes for cooking are a beautiful thing. A recipe tells you the ingredients and how much of each you should include in whatever you are making. It then describes what you need to do to these ingredients in order to make a dish that is not only edible, but tasty as well. It’s great that someone else has already spent the time in putting together a recipe to follow that nearly guarantees success each time. To a certain extent we use recipes in our profession as project managers. The recipes we follow are the processes and templates ...

Manage Political Problems as Issues

The larger your project gets, the more you will find that the issues you encounter are political in nature. "Politics" is all about interacting with people and influencing them to get things done. This can be a good thing, a bad thing, or a neutral thing, depending on the tactics people use. Let’s consider some examples of how utilizing political skills might be good, but can also be bad. You are able to move your ideas forward in the organization and get people to act on them (good), by currying favor, suppressing other opposing ideas and taking credit for the ide...

Create Schedule Management Plan

The Schedule Management Plan describes the process used to develop and manage the project schedule. Not all projects need a Schedule Management Plan, but if your project has a complex schedule that requires special handling, you may find this plan helpful. The components of the Schedule Management Plan can include: Roles and responsibilities. You can describe different roles and their ability to access the project schedule. Schedule owner. This is probably the project manager. Who can update? Normally the project manager, but on larger projects it could be more...

Five Options for Project Start Dates

One of the characteristics of a project is that it is a temporary endeavor. In other words there is a start and end-date. This seems simple enough until you start to try to define exactly what these dates mean. Is it after the Project Charter is signed? Is it when the schedule is finalized? There are no universally recommended definition for either date. It depends on each organization and whether there are any implications for choosing one alternative over another. Here are some of the options for identifying the project start-date. The need/idea is generated. The d...
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