New PM Articles for the Week of March 31 – April 6

Cartoon NewsboyNew project management articles published on the web during the week of March 31 – April 6. We read all of this stuff so you don’t have to! And Elizabeth Harrin was kind enough to give me a guest spot on her blog, PM4Girls – thanks, Mum! Also recommended:

PM Best Practices

  • Glen Alleman explores the clever phrase, “Do it right or do it twice.”
  • Gary Nelson notes that there is an appropriate window of opportunity for change. After that, everything gets expensive or impossible.
  • Bruce Benson sings the praises of arguments, disputes, and debates.
  • Barry Hodge argues that Nozbe is the best “to do” list app for project managers, and gives five excellent reasons. I’m still not ditching Trello, though …
  • Dick Billows notes the advantages of using a software-based project scheduling tool, and shoots down the arguments against it.
  • Marian Haus recaps the three “traditional” techniques for overcoming project schedule constraints.
  • John Goodpasture shares a challenge question he puts to his risk management students, on how to assess the impact of a new technology, process, or vendor.
  • Tony Adams traces the link between the project charter and the engagement of the project sponsor.
  • Henny Portman links us to some great how-to videos for Excel – the project manager’s Swiss Army Knife.
  • Sue Geuens notes that incorrect data records can lead to some pretty serious consequences.

Agile Methods

  • Jeff Pierce addresses requirements gathering for those development projects with a lot of constraints.
  • Johanna Rothman continues her series on designing your own Agile project, with a look at dealing with the unknowns.
  • Cheri Baker looks into the post-success bounce, and why success is so often temporary.
  • Soma Bhattacharya talks about what to do once you’ve succeeded, and your Scrum team is successful, productive, and stable.
  • Dave Prior reflects on how he’s using (and benefiting from) his personal Kanban, as a follow-up to his interviews with Jim Benson.
  • Paulo Dias looks at the down side of starting a Sprint on a Monday.

Strategy and Governance

  • Martin Webster asks an interesting question: “Does strategy emerge or is it planned?”
  • Elizabeth Harrin reviews Georg Vielmetter and Yvonne Sell’s new book, “Leadership 2030: The Six Megatrends You Need to Understand to Lead Your Company into the Future .”
  • Michael Wood notes that the maxim “simpler is better” also applies to project portfolio management.

Your Career

  • Dennis McCafferty shares a slide deck that shows compensation and career prospects for experience project managers are looking very good, indeed.
  • Linky van der Merwe links us to a few resources for project managers looking to make a career move.
  • Michel Dion provides some tips for those preparing for a job interview.

Enjoy!

Planning Project Human Resource Management

Hanford project workersThe PMBOK describes “Plan Human Resource Management” as the process of identifying and documenting project roles and responsibilities, determining the skills required to perform in those roles, defining the reporting relations of the people on the project, and creating a staffing management plan. As you might expect, two of the primary inputs to this process are the project management plan and the activity resource requirements. This makes sense, in that you need a good idea of what work needs to be done before you can do that other stuff. But most projects operate under constraints, which the PMBOK refers to simply as “enterprise environmental factors.” These constraints can add complexity to your human resource management plan, and may affect cost and schedule.

Availability of Resources

Some of the people with the required skills, knowledge, and authority to work on the tasks described in the project plan have other responsibilities, aside from the project. It is not uncommon for projects to be delayed, because a project resource with production duties is unable to complete a task on time. For example, those who work on year-end financial reporting or tax processing may be largely unavailable for project work in December and January. When you identify a resource, determine if their work schedule may conflict with the project schedule. It might make sense to back-fill the production work with a temporary worker, or make some other arrangement.

Availability of Skills

Some skills required to perform in certain project roles may not be immediately available. You have several alternatives: train a current employee, hire a new employee with the requisite skills, engage a contingent worker for the duration of the relevant tasks, or outsource the work to an external firm. Each of these alternatives has cost implications, and most organizations have policies governing them. Engage the right people in the Human Resources or Purchasing departments, as required, to assist in estimating cost and time required for each alternative.

Remote Locations

Many organizations are global in nature these days, and virtual project teams are not uncommon. While this adds complexity to communication and collaboration, coordination with distant managers also adds complexity to project governance, and possibly introduces certain risks. I know of one project that was delayed because a key team member in another country was downsized, and no one notified anyone on the project team. In another case, a team member was injured in a traffic accident. Ensure that you record contact information for the managers or administrators of your team members in remote locations. Establish communication with the responsible person, and ask them to notify you in the event of an unexpected absence or change in status.

Projects that involve team members from multiple organizations, across multiple locations and time zones, are challenging to plan and execute. In creating your staffing management plan, be sure you understand the constraints that imposed on your access to human resources, consider your alternatives, and anticipate the issues and risks, so you can manage for success.

New PM Articles for the Week of March 24 – 30

Cartoon News ReadersNew project management articles published on the web during the week of March 24 – 30. We read all of this stuff so you don’t have to! Recommended:

PM Best Practices

  • Glen Alleman takes aim once again at poor estimating practices.
  • Anna Erdmanska asked her network for ideas on how to create positive energy on a project. She distills it all down to twelve points.
  • Michael Shaye warns of the “secret stakeholder,” perhaps the boss of the person you thought would be the approver.
  • Michel Dion notes that getting support for your project requires leadership.
  • Neil Pragnell tells why he carries a message from a fortune cookie in his wallet. “You are far more influential than you think.”
  • Daniel Burrus explains what it means to lead by anticipating.
  • John Goodpasture notes the impact of “prospect theory” on self-esteem and drives different performance in different groups.
  • Gina Abudi advocates the importance of effective communications in keeping control of our projects. Part two looks at reporting status.
  • Bart Gerardi shoots down the value of the “stoplight” status with the Watermelon Project: green on the outside, oh-so-red on the inside.
  • Allen Ruddock looks at cost overruns in small to medium-sized projects, and finds a few simple preventive steps we can take.
  • Shim Marom concludes his series on the business case with a summary of a research paper, “Building Better Business Cases for IT Investments.”

Managing Within Our Neuroses

  • Kerry Wills extols the virtues of the neurotic project manager.
  • Ian Whittingham explores the virtues of channeling our anxieties, when sorting out a complex project.
  • Martin Webster has a checklist of activities for avoiding stress at work.
  • Michael Lopp offers some practical advice for business travelers with OCD. Ah, it’s good to be a migrant computer worker …
  • Elizabeth Harrin pauses from her project manager and mother-of-two duties to note that we have to prioritize, accept our limitations, and adjust our expectations in order to prevail.
  • Kevin Korterud recounts the warning signs that the risk level has exceed our tolerance level.

Agile Methods

  • Steven Crago has some thoughts on integrating work products from a mix of Scrum and Waterfall teams.
  • Pawel Brodzinski: “Let me make a bold observation: neither Agile nor Lean seem to be making a difference… adopting practices and tools is simply a cargo cult.” Wow!
  • Dave Prior interviews Peter Saddington, who tells what he learned while pursuing the SAFe framework credential. Just 19 minutes, safe for work (if not SAFe).
  • Mukesh Rao recalls his experience spinning up a new Scrum team, estimating work using the “Ideal Days” method described by Mike Cohn in “Agile Estimating and Planning.”
  • Mike Cohn notes that three roles must be participating in planning poker, even if two of them aren’t asked to share their estimates.
  • Adrian Fittolani shares his list of favorite “non-Agile” books for those who want to practice Agility. If you haven’t read at least one of these, shame on you!

Enjoy!