New PM Articles for the Week of April 7 – 13

NewsboyNew project management articles published on the web during the week of April 7 – 13. We read all of this stuff so you don’t have to! Recommended:

If It Heartbleeds, It Leads

  • Rusty Foster explains the HeartBleed clearly enough for just about anyone to understand.
  • Brian Leach adds his thoughts to the stream of news on Heartbleed.
  • Mashable has compiled the Heartbleed Hit List: those major sites affected and not impacted. My recommendation: change your passwords, anyway. Just wait until those sites who admit to a problem have announced a solution, before you change that password. Meantime, don’t log in!

PM Best Practices

  • Chad Baker recounts a recent lessons learned session where the team explored what went well, and found a useful recommendation for future projects.
  • Bart Gerardi continues his series on “watermelon projects” with an ounce of prevention.
  • Elizabeth Harrin reviews “Trust in Virtual Teams,” by Thomas P. Wise.
  • Scott Berkun enumerates the ways in which remote work improves diversity.
  • Lynda Bourne reveals the potential impact of differing cultural perceptions of the relative importance of past, present, and future.
  • Roberto Toledo explains how to reduce the time required to plan a project, with a Project Planning Acceleration Project.
  • Ireti Oke-Pollard reminds us to give the operations folks “a seat at the table” during our project, so we don’t deliver something that they can economically support.
  • Zach Watson gives the elevator pitch for five Open Source project management alternatives.
  • Mike Clayton sings the praises of spreadsheets, and recommends a great resource for creative solutions using Excel.
  • Bruce McGraw gets back to the basics with project communication.
  • Joe Crumpler has found a gap in his skill set – call it business storytelling.

Agile Methods

  • Johanna Rothman continues her series on designing your Agile project, with a look at how the team will interact with management.
  • Pawel Brodzinski makes the case for unscaling Agile. That’s right: think smaller!
  • Nick Pisano refutes Neil Killick’s assertion that “traditional software development contracts” are the problem.

Strategy and Governance

  • Cornelius Fichtner interviews John Donahoe, SPMO Director at the Star Alliance, on the nature and value provided by the Strategic PMO. Just 24 minutes, safe for work.
  • Kevin Kern on PMO success: “The ultimate [PMO] is a model of defined and aligned processes, with results tracking and transparency to match.”
  • Allen Ruddock observes that a PMO has to be close to the action in order to be effective. Not off-shored, or shared services, but an actual participant!
  • Glen Alleman applies an IT governance and decision rights mindset to the #NoEstimates movement, referencing a book by Peter Weill and Jeanne Ross.
  • John Goodpasture notes the difference between a cost and an investment, and between maturity and decline.
  • Rich Maltzman and Dave Shirley trot out statistics that demonstrate strategic alignment has a significant impact on the probability of a successful project.

Podcasts and Videos

  • Cesar Abeid interviews Patrick Snow on growing a passion into business, while keeping your day job. Just 36 minutes, safe for work.
  • Michel Dion adds his comments to that new slice-of-death video, “The Expert.” Less than seven minutes, safe for work, and more depressing than a week’s worth of Dilbert.


Measuring Project Success

RulersI recently saw a question on Reddit, asking for insights on how organizations measured project success.

I work for a large company who has it’s own internal PM consulting team. I have a question for all the external PM consultants. How does your company measure success? Is it customer satisfaction? Specifically what metrics do you use? We are having difficulty creating a baseline for the programs/projects we consult on and looking for feedback. Most of our projects that need consulting are referred to us from higher management so sometimes they can be difficult to work with if that makes sense.

It’s a good question. This was my reply:

The users of the delivered product will define success in terms of whether it meets their needs. Their usage level is generally a pretty good gauge of project success, but it’s only available after the project is completed.

The PMO and project sponsor will generally define success in terms of “on time delivery, on budget, with everything in scope delivered as planned.” This is a project-centric definition of success, independent of the user definition of success, and tends to get the most attention during the project.

The people who have to support and maintain the resulting product care about quality, reliability, maintainability, and life cycle cost. Again, this definition of success is independent of the other two, but it first becomes visible during the latter stages of project.

The senior executives care about whether the project and product delivered the ROI they had in mind when they approved funding. This isn’t something you can usually measure until long after the project is complete and the product delivered, but it’s really the most important metric.

I’ve seen projects completed on time, on budget, with everything in scope delivered with the right quality level, that were total failures because the users didn’t use the new product, or because the market had moved on, or because ownership costs exceeded value delivered. There are no simple answers, definitions, or metrics – we labor in a fog of uncertainty. But if you work with the project sponsor, intended users, and maintenance organization to understand the business goals of the project, and how it fits into the larger strategic plan for the organization, or program, or project portfolio, then you can devise appropriate measurements that will let you manage the project for success.

New PM Articles for the Week of February 17 – 23

Cherry PickingNew project management articles published on the web during the week of February 17 – 23. We read all of this stuff so you don’t have to! Recommended:


  • Dr. Harold Kerzner describes PM 2.0 as a replacement for the traditional approach to project management. Meaning, the stuff he’s been writing about for 35 years.
  • Mike Griffiths examines the prospect that virtual teams may be the next revolution in work, by reviewing past revolutions and evolutions.
  • Andrea Brockmeir, Vicki James, Elizabeth Larson, and Richard Larson report on the trends that will affect project managers and business analysts in 2014.
  • Elizabeth Harrin notes four ways in which project management (and work!) has changed significantly in the last ten years.
  • Saritha Rai reports on India’s $75 million Mars orbiter mission. The U.S.A. can’t make a movie about going into space that cheaply!

PM Best Practices

  • Jennifer Lonoff Schiff shares her tips for setting and managing expectations on IT projects.
  • Martin Webster explains how to get your team to the high-performing level. It starts with loyalty.
  • Patti Gilchrist addresses team building when your team is geographically distributed.
  • Steven Levy begins a series on calculating risk. Here’s part two.
  • Geoff Crane demonstrates how to put together a work breakdown structure, using “Saving Private Ryan: The Musical” as an example.
  • John Goodpasture warns that the excitability arising from our calculations should reflect the relative precision of our estimates.
  • John Reiling offers several key factors to consider during the buy-or-build analysis, when outsourcing is under consideration.
  • Marian Haus identifies several potential constraints on the project schedule, and how to address them.

Project Governance

  • Glen Alleman links systems thinking to assessing costs and determining what a project is worth.
  • Michel Dion looks at the governance differences between project-oriented organizations and those where projects run in parallel with routine operations.
  • Mario Trentim continues his series on implementing a PMO.
  • Ashley Smith reports on a survey that found corporate counsel and compliance experts expect the growth of data protection laws to impact their global businesses.

Agile Methods

  • Gil Broza lists his recommendations for preparing your organization to actually be Agile, rather than simply do Agile.
  • Shim Marom reviews a paper by Terry McKenna and Jon Whitty, on why Agile methods are not new, and why Agile is not going to be the last word.
  • Johanna Rothman concludes her series on the cost of delay, parts five and six.
  • Mike Cohn offers some examples of user stories for back-end systems, meaning those without human users.
  • Ritesh Gupta and Sharon Sharma tell how a Scrum team can address discovered value, meaning the requirements “discovered” as development progresses.

Podcasts and Videos

  • Cesar Abeid interviews Stephen Weber from Less Meeting, who tells how to reduce the amount of time we spend on unproductive meetings. Just 44 minutes, safe for work.
  • Dave Prior interviews Agile coach and author Kamal Mangani on transforming large organizations that struggle to use Agile methods. Just 15 minutes, safe for work.