Musings on Project Management

Plan v Objective

Musings on Project Management

"In war [projects] nothing goes according to plan, but always remember your objective" Israeli generalGood advice. And, of course, your objective always is -- or always should be: Apply your resources to maximize their value added while taking the least risk to do so.But our general's admonition begs the question: Is "nothing goes according to plan" the same as there's "no value in planning"? And Bayes estimate planning Project Management Project Value

Training budget for project robots?

Musings on Project Management

Are you busy building your project budget?Are Are you going to include a budget for training your project's working staff? New developer and testing tools; New frameworks; New process and workflow management?If If that's a Yes and Yes, have you thought about this? You may need to train your project robots also. Really?Really! Really! Robots, whether mechanical and real, or virtual, all depend on training data. AI cost management Project Management

Budget 163

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Schedule merge: the biggest hazard of all

Musings on Project Management

Do you understand the risk you are running when two events come to a merging point in your schedule?Here's Here's the situation:There's a series of tasks running along on one path, call it "A"There's another series of tasks, not dependent on "A", running along on path "B"But, all the events set to begin on path "C" can't begin until everything on paths "A" and "B" finish. In effect, the completion of. estimate Risk Management schedule Statistics

2020 163

Assessing risk

Musings on Project Management

Most of us -- that is, all but the few formally trained in risk assessment -- really suck at risk assessment, a necessary first step toward managing risk. Why so? Bias, for one thing. Confirmation bias being a biggie: we all want confirmation that our thinking, experiences, and instincts are right for the situation we find ourselves in. But, of course, we know objectively, even if not. Risk Management

Risk 163

Task Management For Project Managers

How can project planning that stretches over months or years remain relevant and account for new ad-hoc activities that arrive every day?

Some risks aren't manageable

Musings on Project Management

Ideas about extreme risk management have been around a long time. No news there, so let's press on. Here's a working definition: Extreme risks are those for which the consequences are nearly irreversible, and the impact is near-catastrophic.

Risk 238

What flavor is your scope creep?

Musings on Project Management

Can there be scope creep in Agile? Doesn't agile define creep away in a stroke: "Scope is whatever is prioritized in the backlog that fits within the budget (OPM, other people's money) and the time." "The The backlog changes all the time, but that's not creep, it's just backlog management."

2020 212

Risk management: what's to know?

Musings on Project Management

If you only know one thing about Risk Management, know this: Schedule slack is your most powerful tool Poorly developed instincts and skills in the use of this most powerful tool are leading causes of poor risk management If you are a Systems person a strategic thinker; an integrator; a "it all has to work" person -- you'll translate schedule slack into to "loose coupling" Loose. Risk Management system engineering

Risk 174

Looking for the unique

Musings on Project Management

"When I plan a project, the first thing I do is make a list of what's unique . what will my new and untried experiences be for myself and my team, and what's new for the customer: will they see the value?" Not actually me, but others whom I respect say this It strikes me that what is said above is just common sense; profound in its plainspoken words But, then what? Having identified the Project Value Risk Management

2020 163

Game theory in risk management

Musings on Project Management

In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing. Theodore Roosevelt Actually, that's Teddy's version of cousin FDR's famous "Try something!" But what if it's all about a threat -- something external -- for which you have no experience? Call in your PMO team and brainstorm? Perhaps game theory Risk Management

Risk 174

Managing The Project Budget - Developing Your Project Management Skills

This eBook describes the process of managing the project budget and its associated costs.

Risk management: hierarchy v. mesh

Musings on Project Management

Almost anyone who's been around projects for a few years has experienced hierarchy: it's like a pyramid, with one person at the apex and a number of layers spreading out below, interconnected, for the most part, top-down. On the other hand, another structure is like a mesh, wired for the most part peer-to-peer, and mostly flat -- few hierarchical titles and few top-down controls, and lots of. Risk Management

Risk 163

Don't ask for data if.

Musings on Project Management

The first rule of data: Don't ask for data if you don't know what you are going to do with it Or, said another way (same rule) Don't ask for data which you can not use or act upon And, your reaction might be: Of course! But, alas, in the PMO there are too many incidents of reports, data accumulation, measurements, etc for which there actually is no plan for what to do with it. Project Management

2020 163

Changing the culture

Musings on Project Management

To change culture. you have to have continuous training, systems of accountability, and consequences. Scott Thomson It's hard to argue with the formula; in fact, no argument taken However, perhaps Mr Thomson assumed the obvious: you have to have a vision of the future state of culture in order to orient and align training to that vision. And, there are always errors of alignment. human factors

2020 163

Virtual agile teams?

Musings on Project Management

Somebody asked: can a virtual team do Agile? 20 years ago, at the dawn of Agile, the answer might have been no. 15 years ago, more less at the peak of the AOL texting app Instant Messenger and the dawn of the smart phone and smart-phone personal networking and conferencing, the answer might have been yes, but with reservations. Now, the answer is "Of course", with some adjustments. agile Virtual teams

Agile 174

Top 5 Project Management Report Templates

These FREE most popular templates will help you perform your role more efficiently.

Stage gates and Agile?

Musings on Project Management

Stage gates and Agile? To some, that might sound horrifying! Not exactly! One of my Agile Project Management students asked me about stage gates and agile. My first response was this: Agile is not a gated methodology, primarily because scope is viewed as emergent, and thus the idea of pre-determined gate criteria is inconsistent with progressive elaboration and emergence. Agile does. agile

Agile 237

The oldest technique in risk management

Musings on Project Management

The oldest technique in the book, indeed before there were even books, is "acceptance" To drive a car is to accept the risk that the other driver isn't too drunk, too sleepy, too unskilled, too distracted, too whatever To take on debt is to accept the risk that you'll have the means to repay without bankrupting yourself To take on unsecured credit is to accept the risk (trust, really) that. Risk Management

Risk 163

Who said 'hybrid Agile'?

Musings on Project Management

What's the hybrid thing? It's agile coexisting in the same project with a traditional methodology, presumably for the swim lanes that are not software. Some call hybrid agile as: agile in the waterfall Are hybrids practical? After all, the traditional is top down planned, most requirements up front, much system testing at the end, etc. Agile is the not-traditional. Can you fashion a hybrid. agile

Agile 190

Value system as a business doctrine

Musings on Project Management

Consider, if you will, this value system arranged as a Belief and an Operating Principle, adapted from "Maximizing Project Value" Chapter 1 (one of my books): Quality is free: We value doing the right job (value adding) in the right way (training and skill development) the first time (correct systemic errors). There is no substitute for ethical, honest, and transparent transactions: As. Project Value

2020 163

Using Continuous Customer Testing for Pandemic-Proof Product Success

Speaker: Luke Freiler, CEO and co-founder of Centercode

After weathering recessions with a wide range of iconic customers, CEO and Product Manager Luke Freiler has seen first hand the impact the Voice of the Customer has had in making or breaking tech companies during hard times. He's going to walk you through an agile process for continuous customer testing that saves you time and gives you full confidence in your products — no matter how many you're sending out the door this year.

The collision of risk and politics

Musings on Project Management

There have been a lot of very high profile examples that demonstrate what seems like the evitable progression of the collision of risk and politics. The narrative seems to always fit this frame: Conventional risk management processes identify a risky situation and assess the unfavorable outcomes Mitigations are designed and briefed up the chain Such mitigations are immediately clamped from. Risk Management

Risk 174

State of the practice: Agile

Musings on Project Management

I was looking back at some prior essays on Agile and came across the April 2012 PMNetwork magazine. Specifically I was attracted (again) to page 58 for an interview with some agilists on the state of the practice. Here are a couple of quotes from Jim Highsmith worth tucking away: Agile project management embraces both “doing” agile and “being” agile—and the latter is the hardest. agile

2020 163

The biases come out

Musings on Project Management

Under stress, the biases come out Not only do the risks change, but risk attitudes change as well The stakes may be higher; the consequences greater. Now is the time to revisit the best book ever written on risk management -- in my opinion "Against the Gods, The remarkable story of Risk" by Peter L. Bernstein is an excellent read and ambitious premise well delivered. Perhaps the best. Risk Management

2020 177

There's a new tension in town.

Musings on Project Management

There's a new tension in town. Remote v Local 30M+ Americans have jobs and are working from home (the Remotes) 60M+ Americans can't work from home (the Locals), and 50% of them may not have jobs. If that's not enough to amp the tension between the haves and have-nots, then consider the risk management regime of each: The Remotes have a much lower risk environment from Covid-19, but also. human factors Project Management

2020 163

Social Collaborative Management: Harnessing the Power of the Many

Speaker: Peter Taylor, Speaker & Author of The Lazy Project Manager

Social Collaborative Management aims at delivering, at the enterprise level, a common goal for the business while harnessing the performance advantages of a collaborative community. This is a vital paradigm shift that many organisations are trying to understand right now - balancing traditional work and centralised leadership against the value of decentralised teams and trust. But the principles of harnessing collective power, collaboration, and community build an underlying ‘constant change’ capability that is critical in today’s new work environment.

Job done?

Musings on Project Management

Agile Principle 5: Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done. Trust them to get the job done. What job? Is it the job described in the business plan and in subsequent project plans, albeit lean plans consistent with the Agile Manifesto? Is it the job that has been estimated and scheduled? Is it the job. agile

2019 163

Natural stupidity

Musings on Project Management

"We study natural stupidity rather than artificial intelligence" Amos Tversky Tversky--now deceased--was a partner with Daniel Kahneman, who together wrote some of the most influential papers about biases in our observations and the biases that affect decision making under uncertainty. If you're a project manager or business manager, then you encounter these influences routinely. human factors Risk Management

2020 163

Can you beat a checklist?

Musings on Project Management

Can anyone image doing serious risk management without a checklist? The answer, of course, is No. or, it should be!) Actually, any procedural management can benefit from a checklist. There's been whole books written about checklists. In fact, one of the more prominent books -- "The Checklist Manefesto" by Dr. A. Gawande -- entitles Chapter 1: "The Problem of Extreme Complexity", Project Management

2019 243

Stressed leadership

Musings on Project Management

Well, here in the Spring of 2020, leaders are stressed; and circumstances are somewhat chaotic (meaning not only disorganized and counterproductive, but small effects are highly leveraged by exponential responses) And so one wonders: are our best leaders in crises and chaos likely to have been trained in the military where the 'fog of war' is all too real? Yes, but no. Our military schools. leadership

Collaborate Better with Your Customer-Facing Teams

Speaker: Hope Gurion, Product Leader Coach, Fearless Product LLC

Customer discovery is the lifeblood of product teams to identify the most important customer needs to solve next. Often it's the Product and UX members of the trio who take lead on facilitating this discovery. But what about other customer-facing teams in an organization? How do product teams best partner with these teams to understand customers’ unmet needs and decide which needs to address next?

Virtual conferencing. a lot in the market

Musings on Project Management

Yikes: the products and services for virtual conferencing and teamwork are jumping out of the woodwork: Here's a nice comparison of Zoom and Blue Jeans Microsoft TEAMS which is integrated with Office 365 now has a home version as well And, of course, there are the established WebEX, Skype, etc Google is not to be left out, nor is Slack Here's a collection of 10 articles on collaboration tools Project Management

2020 163

Risk un-management

Musings on Project Management

Risk un-management? Perhaps the largest task within risk management, and requiring the greatest judgment, is "risk un-management" On any project there are going to be dozens, perhaps hundreds, of unmanaged risks. These comprise the population to be un-managed. I doubt this is news to anyone, but these are, as a group, more numerous than those selected for the usual risk management paradigm. Risk Management

Risk 197

Two doors: risk and decision managers

Musings on Project Management

A narrative* Imagine two doors to the same room: One labeled risk manager; the other labeled decision maker. Though the risk manager's door, entry is for the inductive thinker: facts, experience, history looking for a generality or integrating narrative Through the decision maker's door, entry is for the deductive thinker: visionary with a need to articulate specifics for the vision Risk Management

Risk 207

So, you need a System Integrator -- SI

Musings on Project Management

You've got a big (big!) project with a lot of moving parts (different contractors doing different stuff). You've been told: Get yourself an SI! The questions at hand: what is a System Integrator (aka SI), and what do they do?

2020 195

Leading Under Uncertainty

Speaker: Greg Coticchia, CEO & Founder of ENTRA

Organizations of all types and sizes are facing common challenges of how to deal with the uncertainty in our current professional and personal lives. How can you plan when you are uncertain of what's next? On a product level, how can you be sure of delivering the ‘right’ messaging, products, solutions, and services to customers? How do you survive to fight the fight another day? In this session, we will discuss important tips for you as a Product Manager dealing with uncertainty. At the same time, we will discuss another important aspect of dealing with uncertainty, and that is building trust, especially while many of us are working remotely or in new or different settings.

Alice, the Cat, and Agile

Musings on Project Management

I've heard it many times that this little ditty is the essence of why Agile is problematic with its dearth of plans, estimates, etc: "Would you tell me, please which way I ought to go from here? That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,' said the Cat. 'I I don't much care,' said Alice. Then it doesn't matter which way you go,' said the Cat. 'So So long as I get SOMEWHERE,' Alice. agile

Agile 183

Mixing Agile with oil and gas

Musings on Project Management

There comes a point where more planning can not remove the remaining uncertainty, instead execution must be used to provide data and remove uncertainty. This quote comes from a nicely argued case -- from the agile blog 'leading answers' -- for mixing agile methods in rather traditional businesses, like the oil and gas exploration/production business If ever there was a business that. agile

Agile 183

When leadership is autocratic

Musings on Project Management

Autocrates and autocratic leadership -- on the one hand -- and the classic risk management on the other hand. is the latter pointless in the context of the former? And we ask this because: From essayist Eric Grill writing in the leadership blog of St Thomas University we learn that: Autocratic leaders typically make all major decisions on their own, with little or no input from others. leadership Risk Management

Small data is the project norm

Musings on Project Management

I've written before that the PMO is the world of 1-sigma; 6-sigma need not apply. Why so? One-time projects don't generate enough data for real statistical process controls to be valid. To wit: projects are the domain of small data. Usually) And so, small data drives most projects; after all, we're not in a production environment. Small data is why we approximate, but approximation is not. Bayes estimate Statistics

2020 163

Use Discovery and Delivery to Experiment Our Way to a New Normal

Speaker: Johanna Rothman, Management Consultant, Rothman Consulting Group

Many of us are accustomed to planning for either discovery or delivery. We know how to plan for where we want to be for a product (delivery). And, we know how to plan to discover a market (discovery). Right now in 2020, those plans might not be worth anything. The world is still in upheaval—and no one has a crystal ball to know when we should plan more in-depth. Instead of planning for either discovery or delivery, we can use experiments—for all our work. When we focus on experimentation, small bets, and short feedback loops, we can create the kinds of products our customers will love.