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!

New PM Articles for the Week of March 3 – 9

NewsboyNew project management articles published on the web during the week of March 3 – 9. We read all of this stuff so you don’t have to! Recommended:

Evolution

  • Cheri Baker explains why most of her consulting customers are social enterprises (and why that’s really cool).
  • Linky van der Merwe examines PMI’s recent survey on the global growth of project management to understand what it means to us practitioners.
  • Peter Taylor expands on a statement by J. LeRoy Ward regarding the ever-evolving practice of project management.
  • Susanne Madsen exhorts us to become project champions.

Risk Management

  • Steven Levy follows up on his series on risk management, with recommendations on how to apply the principles he described to a legal practice.
  • Andy Jordan continues his series on managing risks across the organization, through collaboration and common processes.

PM Best Practices

  • Glen Alleman takes the point of view of the people who pay for a software development project to explain why estimates are needed.
  • Henny Portman summarizes the Management of Value approach.
  • Elizabeth Harrin reviews Ann Pilkington’s new book, “Communicating Projects.”
  • Dave Wakeman tells why integrity, adaptability, and judgment are absolutely required by all project managers.
  • Martin Webster tells us how to create a shared vision across the project team.
  • Allen Ruddock explores a tough scenario on managing up.
  • Michael Nir exposes the basics of stakeholder management, as told in a children’s book.
  • Brett Beaubouef shares a technique for conducting an organizations fit/gap.
  • Jennifer Lonoff Schiff collects twelve suggestions from data management and disaster recovery experts on how to design for data survival.

Complexity

  • Shim Marom describes the Cynefin model for problem domains, and finds a domain where #NoEstimates actually seems appropriate.
  • John Goodpasture considers alternatives to complexity.
  • Kailash Awati tells the fable of an architect and the conscience he argues with, to tell why you can’t just gather your requirements at headquarters.
  • Matthew Squair explores the evolution of initial designs, from obvious to plainly unworkable.

Agile Methods

  • Kelsey van Haaster unpacks her thoughts about whether making an exception to the team’s Scrum timeline is Agile.
  • Soma Bhattacharya asks whether managers are a benefit or a hindrance to Agile, and explains why a Scrum Master should not be a decision maker.
  • Francesco Attanasio describes what he calls “Scrum Master 2.0.”
  • Adam Zuzanski explores different ways to present information as a burn-down chart.

Podcasts and Videos

  • Mark Phillipy hosts a Google Hangout to follow up on the second PM FlashBlog, Project Management Around the World. Just 54 minutes, safe for work.
  • Peter Saddington shares a recent TED talk by Rosalinde Torres on the three questions that great leaders contemplate in the 21st century. Just nine minutes, safe for work.

Enjoy!

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.