New PM Articles for the Week of August 18 – 24

Balloon BeyondNew project management articles published on the web during the week of August 18 – 24. We give you a high-level view so you can read what interests you. And yes, I took all of these hot air balloon photos right in my own neighborhood. Privacy? Well, they seemed friendly enough. Recommended:

PM Best Practices

  • Glen Alleman imagines a conversation between a project manager, a team of software developers, and an iceberg.
  • Brad Egeland starts a new series with a look at customer satisfaction, and why it’s the most important success metric.
  • Jim Anderson speculates on the root causes of Avon’s recent SAP implementation failure. The users left the company, rather than switch? Wow …
  • Emanuele Passera applies the tenets of “locus of control” theory to project management.
  • Bruce Benson tells of the New Manager who wanted to help.
  • Ian Whittingham continues his look at project management applications for Leavitt and Dubner’s new book “Think Like a Freak.”
  • Christopher Merryman demonstrates ways that we can add visual presentation to our project reporting communications.
  • Dan Patterson makes the case for consensus-based planning.
  • Ron Rosenhead tells of the great new Projects web site at the University of Edinburgh, and asks us how much project information do we share?
  • Nick Pisano is perplexed by the academic community’s apparent lack of interest in Big Data.
  • Jen Skrabak maps Tim Ogilvie’s “design thinking” to project portfolio management.

Agile Methods

  • Mike Cohn explains his approach to massaging the backlog for a three-month vision of where the product is going.
  • John Carroll explains the Taoist basis for Agile methods. Or at least, anti-rigidity.
  • Craig Brown and Tony Ponton interview a few attendees / thought leaders at Agile Australia in Melbourne. Just 25 minutes, safe for work.

Professional Development

  • Elizabeth Harrin Interviews Terry Okoro, Chair of the APM’s Women in Project Management SIP on their 21st anniversary conference in London.
  • Dave Prior advocates for experiential learning, also known as “getting a bunch of adults to play a game together.”
  • Robert Wysocki and Joseph Matthews continue their series on methods for the Occasional PM. This episode: team structure.

Enjoy!

Risk Management is Part of the Operating Rhythm

Risky Baby Business

Risky Baby Business

I just watched Dave Prior’s interview of Ken Rubin at the Agile 2014 conference. It’s a good interview, and Ken makes some excellent points. But at one point, he makes the observation, “In more traditional risk management, the assumption is early on that you’re going to generate this risk assessment. You’re doing this now on the first day, when you have the worst possible knowledge you’re ever going to have about the project.” Dave then interjects, “And then nobody updates it.” While I agree that this is not uncommon, it is poor practice.

Risk management should not be something you do once, at the beginning of a project. It should be part of the regular operating rhythm of any project. Whether you take a very structured approach to assessment, with quantitative analysis and a separately managed risk budget, or a qualitative approach with risk management costs baked in to the project budget, risk management is only beneficial if it is part of execution, as well as planning. Our risk assessment, like our requirements gathering, should be an ongoing process that improves the resilience (anti-fragility, if you prefer) of the endeavor over the course of the project.

Risk: “An unknown that matters”

I would argue that a large part of any risk management project, like the requirements gathering process, is reducing or eliminating the unknowns. This can’t be accomplished just by making plans – you have to take action and increase your understanding. Let’s consider the most common risk responses:

  • Transfer: If you transfer the responsibility to deliver some portion of the project, especially to an external organization, you still have to ensure that they’ll be deliver on time and to the required quality in order to make your risk response successful. This requires continuous monitoring and corrections, as well as coordination with the other performers on your team. If things start to go sideways, you’ll have to deal with the residual unknowns and the possible impacts.
  • Mitigate: Any mitigation action should have a trigger, which requires monitoring. Once triggered, you need to determine if the mitigation is having the desired effect. If your mitigation is intended to reduce the impact of the risk event, you need to update your estimate of the impact in order to know whether to make incremental changes. If the intent was to reduce the probability of the risk event, you need to be able to monitor the residual probability.
  • Avoid: If you avoid a risk by removing something from scope or changing the design, you’ll need to communicate that decision to the stakeholders. This shouldn’t be something done only at the time of the decision; it needs to be part of your communication plan.
  • Accept: If you decide to accept a risk, you still need to monitor for it. It is not uncommon for a project to decide that a risk, previously determined to be acceptable, grows to require some mitigation or even avoidance.

The Team Should Know the Risks

The risks to the project may impact the project team, so they need to understand them. They also need to understand the planned responses for each significant risk, at least as it impacts their work. The team is part of the “sensor network” that will detect the transition from risk to issue, requiring action. They need to understand their role, and how to escalate an observed risk response trigger.

Ultimately, risk management is an integral part of the execution of the project. Whatever methods you use to manage and respond to project risks, be sure to keep discussion of the risks under management on the agenda for your team’s regular meetings. Few risks are entirely static; we have to manage them dynamically!

New PM Articles for the Week of July 28 – August 3

Hot Air BalloonNew project management articles published on the web during the week of July 28 – August 3. We give you a high-level view so you can read what interests you. Recommended:

Contract Management

  • Todd Williams shares some insights gleaned from litigation over failed projects. Unless you only manage internal projects with in-house staff, you need to read this!
  • Glen Alleman articulates the key distinctions between fit for purpose and fit for use, and applies them to project management.
  • Pat Weaver outlines method for preventing, minimizing, or at least making visible, delays due to client inaction.
  • Andy Jordan presents an interesting case study of an outsourced portfolio management office. Or more accurately, outsourced PMO services.

PM Best Practices

  • Pollyanna Pixton notes that it’s easy to get metrics wrong, and explains how to design them to be effective.
  • Craig Brown vents at project management textbooks that get the work breakdown structure wrong.
  • Bryan Barrow points out that there are some things that Kanban software can’t do as well as Gant charting software.
  • Bruce Harpham offers a few stress management best practices.
  • Elizabeth Harrin provides an executive summary of PMI’s “Navigating Complexity” practice guide. PMI members can download the guide at no charge.
  • Kailash Awati mines a paper from the British Medical Journal for an understanding of how organizations deal with human error: scapegoats and systems.
  • Kiron Bondale lists the stakeholder questions you want to answer in your project kickoff meeting.
  • Gina Abudi details a set of roles and responsibilities for team decision making.
  • Nick Pisano considers the early stages of project execution, as the team establishes its operating rhythm.
  • Dan Stober shares the Q&A from his recent webinar on the project manager as business analyst.

Agile Methods

  • Mike Burrows recounts his experience with implementing Kanban with a new team, and how they evolved from a generic process to just what they needed.
  • John Goodpasture expounds on the need for Agile methods to take compliance with external requirements (say, auditors and regulatory agencies) into account.
  • Shim Marom considers (and questions) the incremental value of “deeper” retrospectives.

Professional Development

  • Cheri Baker recounts her recent experience with a French client who wasn’t enchanted with her “American cheerfulness.” Time to recalibrate!
  • Scott Berkun provides a master course in refining and delivering your pitch, so that your ideas get the traction they deserve.
  • Lynda Bourne details the steps in building your personal brand, and leveraging your knowledge of your business contact’s brand.
  • Karina Keith shares some factoids about the profession of project management, to help you get a little perspective.

Podcasts and Videos

  • Cesar Abeid interviews Ky Nichol on the challenges of managing event projects like the World Cup and the Olympics. Just 39 minutes, safe for work.
  • Dave Prior interviews Troy Magennis on how to apply the lessons from Money Ball to portfolio management. Just 9 minutes, safe for work.
  • Mike Wheatley speaks with SAP America VP of Global Operations Tina Rosario on the growing importance of data governance. Just 12 minutes, safe for work.
  • Rich Maltzman and Dave Shirley share a video of a presentation on innovation by former Obama administration CTO Aneesh Chopra. Over an hour, safe for work.

Enjoy!