Get My Free e-Book: MS Project Hacks

ToolsI’ve released my new e-Book, MS Project Hacks in PDF format, along with sample files for MS Project 2007 / 2010 and MS Project 2013, available for download under the My Books top level menu. It’s a compilation of polished versions of seven articles previously published here, including various improvements suggested by readers just like you. So if you’ve ever wondered whether it was worth your time to leave me a comment or send me an EMail, the answer is yes! Be sure to post your review or suggestions with a comment on the My Books: Microsoft Project Hacks page.

Here are the chapters:

  1. Add Holidays to the MS Project Calendar – Start by accounting for all of your non-working days. It’s embarrassing when someone points out that a key task is scheduled to complete on a national holiday.
  2. Crafting Formulas for Calculated Fields – You use Excel because you can calculate values from what is in other cells. Project is useful in the same way.
  3. Add a Current Tasks Flag – I originally created this to be able to extract a list of tasks in progress or about to begin, for review at team meetings. It has since proven to be incredibly useful.
  4. Add a Status Indicator to Detail Tasks – Show a calculated Red / Yellow / Green indicator on tasks in progress. This is by any measure the most popular article I’ve ever written.
  5. Add a Negative Total Slack Flag – If you have a task with a fixed end date, you probably need this in order to debug your critical path.
  6. Track Qualitative Risk – Most risks are retired during the course of a project. This approach incorporates elements of your risk register into your schedule.
  7. Add a Cutover Weekend Calendar – Is your team performing one or two tasks over a weekend? Here’s how to represent it in Project without distorting the schedule for tasks that follow.
  8. Additional Resources

After you read the first two chapters, you’ll have the background needed to skip to whatever other chapters interest you.

New PM Articles for the Week of November 10 – 16

Balloon Over the WallNew project management articles published on the web during the week of November 10 – 16. We give you a high-level view so you can read what interests you. Recommended:

PM Best Practices

  • Kevin Kern traces the trajectory of re-planning from reactive to proactive to predictive.
  • Elizabeth Harrin summarizes a presentation by Mark Englehardt at PMI Hungary’s Art of Projects Conference, “Project Risk Management Doesn’t Have to be Difficult.”
  • Steven Levy outlines the elements of the project charter.
  • Roxi Bahar Hewertson considers how four types of mastery contribute to leadership success.
  • Rich Maltzman demonstrates the impact of context in our communications, with a graphic that lets us deceive ourselves.
  • Bruce Harpham presents the PMBOK view of managing conflict, as a follow-up to last week’s post on sources of project management conflict.
  • Bruce Benson explores conscious uncoupling, as members of a struggling organization fight to preserve the size of their piece of the pie.
  • Michael Girdler links morale problems and lowered and productivity as result of organizational change to the project communications plan.
  • Lynda Bourne contrasts the functions of management with the functions of governance.
  • Allen Ruddock looks at the “overs and unders” that contribute to failed projects.
  • Kerry Wills argues for picking team members who may not be perfect in any one role, but can play multiple roles.

Agile Methods

  • Mike Cohn illustrates the incremental and iterative nature of Agile development, with a sculpture metaphor.
  • Mike Griffiths says that the key to scaling Agile is not adding process, but facilitating the work of teams.
  • Terry Bunio points out the plain truth that “minimum viable product” is not always an appropriate approach.
  • Michiko Diby takes issue with the term “Scrum Master.”
  • Neil Killick: “We teams can make a huge difference to removing the typical dysfunctions around software estimates, simply by asking the right questions.”
  • Madhavi Ledalla champions automation and virtualization, as drivers of improved quality, reduced build time, and more predictability.
  • Milton Dillard explains what Agile acquisition support is, in the context of how the U.S. federal government lets contracts.

Podcasts and Videos

  • Cornelius Fichtner interviews Dave Cornelius on the project manager role in Lean and Agile approaches. Just 12 minutes, safe for work.
  • Mark Phillipy shares a presentation on improving task estimation using three-point estimates and critical chain. Just 35 minutes, safe for work.
  • Paul Ritchie posts his very first Crossderry Blog podcast, explaining why the Apple Watch won’t compete with the Swiss watch industry. Just 17 minutes, safe for work.

Pot Pouri

  • Suzanne Lucas offers her list of ten simple things to do (and stop doing) in order to boost your career.
  • Coert Visser explains why you should interrupt.
  • Ron Friedman says you’re probably not getting enough sleep; explains how it’s impacting the quality of your work; and then tells you what to do about it.
  • Nick Pisano weighs in on Net Neutrality, the economics of controlling access to information, and the demands of the powerful interests who want that control.

Enjoy!

New PM Articles for the Week of November 3 – 9

Balloon Over the MoonNew project management articles published on the web during the week of November 3 – 9. We give you a high-level view so you can read what interests you. Recommended:

PM Best Practices

  • Gary Nelson presents an interesting case study in cost-benefit analysis.
  • John Goodpasture offers low-cost definitions for a couple of ten-dollar words used by risk management thinkers – epistemic and aleatoric.
  • Matthew Squair offers an intriguing (if slightly nerdy, even for me) example of trading one risk for another.
  • Mike Clayton notes that power is fragmented across most organizations; thus, the need to influence.
  • Bruce Harpham exposes ten sources of project conflict, and a few statistics that put workplace conflict in perspective.
  • Andy Jordan reports from the PMI Global Congress in Phoenix. It sounds like we should plan to go to the one in Orlando, next October.

Agile Methods

  • Mike Cohn concludes his series on velocity-driven versus commitment-driven sprint planning, by explaining his preference.
  • Pawel Brodzinski explains the Kanban approach to portfolio management. “WIP limits … underscore available capabilities as a scarce resource.”
  • Chuck Snead makes the case for creating a project charter as part of Sprint Zero and walks us through the process.
  • Shawn Dickerson advocates for the marriage of Agile methods with a Waterfall approach.
  • Satyajit Sarangi shares some ideas for applying Lean concepts to your practice of Scrum.
  • Cornelius Fichtner interviews Dave Cornelius on his new program, teaching high school students Agile methods as life skills. Just 12 minutes, safe for work.

 Book Reviews

  • Elizabeth Harrin reviews Thomas P. Wise’s new book, “Trust in Virtual Teams,” a guide to explaining and building trust … well, you get the idea.
  • Henny Portman reviews Rod Snowden’s book, “MSP Survival Guide for Business Change Managers,” where MSP = “Managing Successful Programmes.”
  • Michel Dion summarizes Susanne Madsen’s upcoming book, “The Power of Project Leadership.”
  • Toby Elwin reviews Warren Berger’s new book, “A more Beautiful Question: The Power of Inquiry to Spark Breakthough Ideas.”
  • Glen Alleman shares a list of books on estimating software projects.

Trends

  • Peter Saddington casts a dubious eye on “Recruiting 3.0” as described by Ron Thomas. The quality of user-generated content does not predict job performance.
  • Teena Hammond shares the results of a survey of IT decision makers, in an attempt to predict which of the emerging trends will actually matter.
  • Joe Panettieri reports on the relatively disappointing ROI of Big Data projects. Well, it took heavier-than-air flight a while to become commercially viable …
  • Jelani Harper explains the concept of “Data Lakes,” and why it might be a good fit for organizations with a disciplined approach to data governance.

Professional Development

  • Coert Visser reinforces the idea that coaching is not about the coach, and you don’t have to understand the subject matter in order to be an effective facilitator.
  • Suzanne Lucas summarizes results of a survey by recruiting software house iCIMS that confirms recruiters and hiring managers are not communicating very well.
  • Cheri Baker observes that, as small companies succeed and grow, many of the long-term employees grieve for their old culture.
  • Alina Vrabie suggests some strategies for the introverted leader.

Enjoy!