Tripple Constraints

Everything we do in life is carried out under certain constraints, likewise projects. All projects are carried out under certain constraints. Traditionally, these constraints are cost, scope and time. Projects must be delivered within scope, time and cost. All projects have finite budget. The project sponsor is willing to spend a finite amount of money for the delivery of the project (new services and products). Every project sponsor expects the project to be delivered within the estimated budget for the project.

Project time management looks at controlling the amount of time it takes to do the work. The knowledge area of time management typically refers to the skills, tools, and techniques used to manage time when accomplishing specific tasks, projects and goals.

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Some ways you can manage project time is to define activities, sequences the activities, estimate activity resources and develop and control the schedule. Defining the activity step requires you to define the tasks, milestones, and other activities needed to complete the project. Start with a basic definition of each task and fill in the details as the project gets fleshed out. A Gannt chart is a simple and quick way to outline the entire project.

Sequencing the activities can be started by putting the activities in order. Without worrying about dates, order the activities, order activities in a way that makes the most sense. Create subtasks as needed and organize the project in a logical manner. Once you have the activities in order, you can add dependencies to each task. Estimating activity resources is one of the more challenging steps because it requires you to assess the supply and demand of each resource and how it relates to your specific project. Assign specific people or job roles to each task and then revise the dependencies bases on the resource allocation. You should develop and control the schedule.

Project scope is the part of project planning that involves determine and documenting a list of specific project goals, deliverables, features, functions, tasks, deadlines, and ultimately costs. In other words, it is what needs to be achieved and the work that must be done to deliver a project. Cost management is concerned with the process of planning and controlling the budget of a project or business. It includes activities such as planning, estimating, budgeting, financing, funding, managing, and controlling costs so that the project can be completed within the approved budget.

Time is money.

Read more on project management:

Work Breakdown Structure

Communication

 

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Beyond the triple constraints

While there is much that has been written about triple constraints, little research has been conducted to determine trends associated with other constraints. Other constraints that affect project management include;

Project efficiency: As noted, the triple constraints are helpful, but it is important to recognize that they are not, individually nor collectively, the measures of a successful project. There are, however, tools for project managers to more efficiently manage

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project work. As noted in the PMBOK®Guide (PMI, 2008), they are three among many tools for this type work. The PMBOK® Guide notes the need to balance the following project constraints: scope, quality, schedule, budget, resources, and risk (p. 6). Moreover, it is noted that balancing constraints is not limited to these alone, but rather these should be integrated along with critical constraints and success measures of the organization and project stakeholders.

Program efficiency: Many projects that are initiated today are part of a larger program. The importance of the project efficiency is heightened when part of a program. Program success is measured with different metrics as compared to project success. To be sure, for programs to be successful, the projects of the program must be successful, but the measurement data, reporting, and decision-making is different. In a simplistic form, projects are much more tactical and aligned with a business function whereas the program success is determined at a more organizational strategy level and organizational level goals.

Portfolio efficiency: Because all organizations have capacity limitations when it comes to money, talent, time, and other resources, working on the right projects at the right time with the right resources is paramount. As such, there are portfolio concerns and measures that must be used to determine “success.”

Organizational business results: This finding is akin to what Cohen (2001) noted in his PMI Symposium “Beyond the triple constraints: Developing a business venture approach to project management.” According to him, the triple constraints must be augmented to include a project’s overall contribution to organizational value to determine success.

Teamwork: Project teams are often developed and disbanded based on the project. Part of “success” determination today is how well the team functions. Those that deliver their product and in doing so develop a stronger bond of working with one another, wanting to work with one another, and working toward high performance are successful. Anything to the contrary risks not only the project’s success, but importantly the future success of projects and the organization. Team building, and teamwork cannot be underestimated.

Individual development: As noted in teamwork, developing high performance is a requisite success factor among organizational and project personnel. Similarly, individual development is also a success factor today. Many project team members today find themselves working initiatives that are unique and in which current conditions have not been experienced to date. Such conditions cause the constant need for learning and development. As such, individual development is a success factor on projects today. This development creates the need to foster mentorships (often across projects) and to have personal development goals understood by the project team so as to support one another with individual tasks, team tasks, and organizational deliverables in a way that learning becomes acculturated by project and organizational personnel.

PMO development: Successful projects contribute intellectual capital to the organization’s PMO. This capital can be in the form of lessons learned, tools, templates, training, and other codified value that helps serve to expedite future projects and shorten learning curves for new employees and veteran employees working new initiatives. This success determinant is grounded in the need not only to learn (at an individual and team level), but importantly, to share that learning for the success of others.

Performance management system for increased readiness: The need for learning is rooted in the idea of readiness. Project teams and organizations at large must work toward flexibility and plasticity when it comes to addressing pressures to change. A critical component in doing so is being opening to measuring performance. Thus, each project should be testing and updating (or validating) a performance management system that aligns project work to programs to portfolios to business results and include individual, team, and PMO level development activities. Constantly measuring actual performance against a target goal and benchmark will help highlight areas of strengths and weaknesses from which better decisions can be made at an individual, team, and organizational level. Moreover, the use of such systems helps to spotlight and expedite periods of change.

Systems thinking: The prior success determinates allude to the need for systems thinking. Net benefits need to be understood—that is, net benefits of customers and other key stakeholders all the way back to the project manager responsible for the project.

Take charge.

Read more on project management:

Lessons Learned

Project Risk Management

Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)

A work breakdown structure (WBS) is a tool that organizes team’s work into manageable sections. It is a deliverable oriented hierarchical decomposition of the work to be executed by the project team. It breaks the project scope into manageable chunks that is understandable by the project team. Each level of work to be performed is broken down so everyone knows his/her role in the project. An easy way to visualize the WBS is to see it as an outline of the project.

The work breakdown structure is usually created by the project manager. The project manager identifies the functional deliverables and subdividing those deliverables into smaller systems and sub-deliverables. These sub-deliverables are further decomposed until a single person can be assigned. This chunk is referred to as the work packages. A work package refers to the list of tasks or to-do-lists to produce a specific unit of work.

The work breakdown structure has several benefits in addition to defining and organizing the project work. A project budget can be allocated to the top levels of the

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work breakdown structure, and department budgets can be quickly calculated based on each project’s work breakdown structure. By allocating time and cost estimates to specific sections of the work breakdown structure, a project schedule and budget can be quickly developed. As the project executes, specific sections of the work breakdown structure can be tracked to identify project cost performance and identify issues and problem areas in the project organization.

Project work breakdown structures can also be used to identify potential risks in a given project. If a work breakdown structure has a branch that is not well defined, then it represents a scope definition risk. These risks should be tracked in a project log and reviewed as the project executes. By integrating the work breakdown structure with an organizational breakdown structure, the project manager can also identify communication points and formulate a communication plan across the project organization.

The following guidelines should be considered when creating a work breakdown structure:

  • The top level represents the final deliverable or project
  • Sub-deliverables contain work packages that are assigned to a organization’s department or unit
  • All elements of the work breakdown structure don’t need to be defined to the same level
  • The work package defines the work, duration, and costs for the tasks required to produce the sub-deliverable
  • Work packages should not exceed 10 days of duration
  • Work packages should be independent of other work packages in the work breakdown structure
  • Work packages are unique and should not be duplicated across the work breakdown structure

Use the right tool for the right task!

Read more on project management:

Characteristics of a good project report

Program tools

Communication

Stakeholders are the people and organizations whose attitudes and actions have an impact on the success of your project or your company. Different stakeholders have different interests, attitudes and priorities. Communication is one key element which has to be applied effectively throughout a project’s life cycle from the beginning till the end. Effective communication ensures that they receive key information that is relevant to their needs and builds positive attitudes to your company or project.  Some benefits of effective stakeholder communication include:

Greater opportunities for stakeholders to contribute directly to systems development, and policy and program development. This enables the stakeholders to feel part of the ongoing project and not feel sidelined and not engaged.

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Leveraging of stakeholder expertise. Effective stakeholder engagement and communication ensures that contributions made by the stakeholders are taken into account when a decision is being taken. This can augur well for the project as sometimes stakeholders with expertise and experience in a certain area under discussion or review may offer help. This is unlikely to happen if there isn’t an effective communication between the project manager and stakeholders in place.

Improved access to decision-making processes, resulting in the delivery of more efficient and responsive services. Effective communication between a project manager and his/her stakeholders helps result in improved decision-making processes as stakeholders at any point in time during the project will be aware of the state of the project and the kind of inputs needed at that stage. This ensures that whenever a decision is being made; there is a complete understanding thus ensuring a smooth decision-making process.

For a project to be completely successful and be ready on time, it needs effective communication among all stakeholders involved in the project and this can be done by having effective communication structures in place.

Say it well.

Read more topics on project management:

Program Tools

Characteristics of a good project

 

 

Program Tools

Project management is one of the most responsible process in modern organizations. Project management practices are used to manage many types of projects ranging from simple manufacturing to complicated stuffs. In order to execute a successful project, good project management practices have to be applied. Also, the required staff and technical know-how is required to execute a successful project. The use of tools to manage projects eventually result in the success of the projects. These are some of the tools used in project management.

Score Cards                                                                                                                                  Score cards can basically be defined as a card or sheet in which scores are entered and used to measure achievement or progress towards a particular goal. The score card is another important tool the project manager can use to measure the performance of the project team and reporting performance to the upper management and HR. All these tools can help an organization and the project manager execute a successful project.

Project Management Software                                                                                       There are several software specifically developed to help project managers and

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organizations manage their projects effectively. MS Project is one of the most common tools used. Other software that can be used in managing projects include Dapulse, WorkFront-Project, Workzone, ProWorkFlow, just to mention a few.

 

Milestone Checklist                                                                                                         Milestones are tools used in project management to mark specific points along the project lifespan. Project managers use this tool to determine whether the project is on track or not. The milestone document should be updated often to make sure that it is achieving its purpose.

Project Plan                                                                                                                                  Any successful project should have a good plan. The plan should include the blueprint about how the project is to be executed. The project plan defines the project scope, the approach or methodology to be used in executing the project, the timeline associated with the project and the project budget. The project plan should also define the resources to be used in executing the project.

Score Cards                                                                                                                                    Scorecards can basically be defined as a card or sheet in which scores are entered and used to measure achievement or progress towards a particular goal. The scorecard is another important tool the project manager can use to measure the performance of the project team and reporting performance to the upper management and HR. All these tools can help an organization and the project manager execute a successful project.

Gannt Chart and the Work Breakdown Structure                         Gannt Charts illustrates the project schedule and shows the project manager the of each activity involve in the project. The work breakdown structure (WBS) is a key deliverable that organizes the team’s work into manageable sections. The PMBOK defines the work breakdown structure as “a deliverable oriented hierarchical decomposition of the work to be executed by the project team.” There are many ways you can create the Gannt Chart. Excel can be used in creating the Gannt Chart if it is a small project. However, MS Project can be used in creating the Gannt Chart for bigger projects. MS Project can also be used in creating the WBS.

Use the right tool!

Read more on project management:

Characteristics of a good project report

Understanding project team development

Characteristics of a Good Project Report

The main process involve in project reporting, is to transfer your experiences of doing a project, and the knowledge you have gained, from your brain onto paper in a coherent, logical and correct form. No matter how significant your achievements, if you do not write up your work, and write it up well, you may leave it for misinterpretation.
It is essential to understand that the project report will be read by a number of people with or without a technical background.

How to write the project report
1. Precision
You must strive first to be absolutely precise and very clear about the exact and definite purpose of writing the report. The report should be a valuable document that will give information and guidance to its readers and must cover all aspects of the project. What you write must not be capable of misinterpretation. A project report must cover six important questions: who, what, where, when, why and how.

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2. Spelling and grammar
You must make efforts to spell correctly and ensure that the report is free from errors. Poor spellings and faulty construction of sentences are distractions to the proficient reader and may make their meaning different to the reader. In most cases, there is virtually no excuse for spelling incorrectly; there are many excellent spell-checker programs which make a good job of finding the errors for you, and excellent (paper) dictionaries which will tell you what the correct spellings are. Error in grammar and punctuation can affect both the clarity and accuracy of the report.

3. Illustrations
Your report should generally contain illustrations (figures or diagrams), but they must be relevant. Ask yourself if the illustration helps the reader to understand the report. If the text is readily comprehensible without the illustrations, delete the illustration. If it is not, it is usually better to make the report clearer and incorporate illustrations. In most cases, illustrations provide a catchy and smart look and attract the attention of the reader.
If possible, include figures close to the text which refers to them, rather than putting all together in an appendix.

Structure
A typical project report is organized in the following way.
1. Introduction. (The scope of the project, setting the scene for the remainder of the report.)
2. Previous work. (One or more review chapters, describing the research you did at the beginning of the project period.)
3. Several chapters describing what you have done, focusing on the novel aspects of your own work.
4. Further work. (A chapter describing possible ways in which your work could be continued or developed. Be imaginative but realistic.)
5. Conclusions.
6. References and appendices.

In summary, a good project report should be:
• Factual
• Accurate and specific
• Clear
• Complete
• Precise and concise
• Well-organized
• Grammatically correct.

Make your report rock.

 

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Project Quality Management

Best Practices in Project Management

Understanding Project Team Development

Understanding how team functions and what makes teams more effectively can be meaningful in the classroom and in the work environment. Studies show that every team goes through five main stages of development. The first stage deals primarily with the background of the team development and the remaining four stages of team development was developed by Dr. Bruce Tucker in 1965. Dr. Tucker’s theory of team development is famously known as “Tuckman’s Stages”. According to him, these stages are inevitable in order for a team to grow to the point where they can function effectively together delivering high-quality results.

The five stages of team development are:

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1. Forming: This is when the team first meet each other. At this first meeting, the team members are officially introduced to each other by the project leader/manager and get the opportunity to share their backgrounds, interests, and experience and form first impressions of each other. Usually, most of the team members are positive and polite while some are anxious as they have not fully understood what work the team will do. Hence, this initial stage also gives them the opportunity to learn about the project and discuss the project’s goals and objectives and the role each team member is going to play. This stage may last for some time to enable members to get accustomed to each other. It is at the forming stage that the project leader/manager clearly define the project’s goals and the directive tailored to achieve them.

2. Storming: This is the stage where the team members start to compete with each other for status and acceptance of ideas. At this stage, people easily get frustrated as the members of the team may have different opinions and work differently. It is at this stage that the project leader/manager has to provide guidance and lead the team to tolerate each other and learn how to solve problem and function together as a team. The team manager has to have the required soft skills to guide his team through this stage. This stage successfully comes to an end when the team becomes cooperative and more accepting of each other.

3. Norming: This is the stage where team members are more collaborating and working effectively as a team. They learn to respect and value each other’s views and opinions and are able to ask each other for help and also, provide constructive meaningful feedbacks. At this stage, the project leader/manager is not involved in decision making and problem solving since the team is working together and taking more responsibilities. Team members develop stronger commitment towards the project goals and take prudence steps to achieve them. At this stage, the project manager/leader is seen as a coach occasionally ensuring that the team is cooperating and on track.

4. Performing: This is the stage where the team is functioning at a very high level as expected without any friction or whatsoever. This stage is usually supported by structures and processes outlined by the project leader/manager. When disagreements erupt, the teamwork through and resolve them without interrupting the project’s progress. Mostly, the project leader/manager serves as the main channel of communication when certain decisions need to be reached a higher level within the organization.

5. Adjourning: This is the stage when the project is coming to a close and team members are separating into the different direction. It is the stage where team members may be disbanded through organizational restructuring. The project leader/manager have to ensure that there is time for the team to celebrate their success and document all lessons-learned for future use.
It is important to note that every team, irrespective of what they are working on, will follow this stages of development. It is the duty of the project leader/manager to provide the necessary assistance and guidance through these stages to ensure that the project’s goals and objectives are met.

Let the team work.

Reference
• The Team Handbook, 3rd Edition (Scholtes, Joiner, Streibel), Publisher: Oriel

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Project Quality Management

Best Practices in Project Planning

Project Quality Management

Project Quality Management is the process for ensuring that all project activities, that is, design, plan and project implementation are effective and efficient with respect to the objective of the Project. Project Quality Management is not a separate, independent process that occurs at the end of the project, however, it is a continuous process that starts and ends with the project. It is part of every project management processes right from the initiating of the project to the closing phase. It “includes all activities of the overall management functions that determine that the quality policy, objectives and responsibilities, and implements them by means such as quality planning, quality control, quality assurance and quality improvement within the system”.

The three major quality management processes are:

Quality Planning: This is the process of identifying which quality standards are relevant to the project and how best to satisfy those standards. It also involves designing quality into the products and services of the project as well as the processes involved in managing the project. It basically means identifying which quality standards are relevant to the project and determining how to satisfy them. In planning the quality one has to bear in mind:

  • The requirement of the customer
  • Avoid mistakes rather than inspecting the results and repairing defects
  • Cost involved in ensuring quality must be approved by management
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Quality Assurance: It is the systematic process of checking to see whether a product or service being developed is meeting the specified requirements. It involves evaluating the overall project performance on regular basis to provide confidence that the project will satisfy the relevant quality standards. It assures the existence and effectiveness of the process and procedure tools and measures put in place to ensure that the expected level of qualities are reached. Some common Quality Assurance techniques are:

  • Benchmarking: This is the process of generating ideas for quality improvements by comparing specific project practices or product characteristics to those of the other projects or products within or outside of the performing organization
  • Quality Audit: This is a structured review of the specific quality management activities that helps identify lessons learnt, which could improve performance on current or future project.
  • Process Analysis: Is the systematic breakdown of phases of a process used to convey the inputs, outputs and operations that take place during each phase of the project.

Quality Control: This is the use of techniques and activities that compare actual quality performance with goals and define appropriate actions in response to a shortfall. Quality Control is done at the end of a process or activity to verify that quality standards have been met. It provides means to identify problems and suggest ways to improve them. Some examples of Quality Control tools are:

  • Flowchart
  • Pareto Charts
  • Control Charts

Quality Control Management helps in improving shareholders’ satisfaction through continuous and incremental improvement to processes, including removing unnecessary activities. This is achieved by continuous improvement of the quality of materials and services provided to the beneficiaries.

Lead by Example.

Read more on Project Management:

Stakeholder Management

Project Scope Management

Best Practices in Project Planning.

The world has evolved technologically and all aspects of our daily lives have been affected including the area of Project Management. Despite the odds, organizations expect projects to be completed faster, cheaper, and better. The only way that these objectives can be met is through the use of effective project management processes and techniques. I have listed below, three best practices for managing a successful project in the era of technology.

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Planning

Despite the availability of technological tools to ease and quicken a project implementation, planning still remains the important phase of a project. This is the phase where the general idea about the project is conceived. But most importantly, it is the phase if done properly can lead to the most cost saving. This is because planning does not only help us with conceiving the general idea about what the project is about; it also enables us to decide the kind of tools to employ, our methodology and the type of labor to employ. This enables the project manager to cover a lot of grounds before hitting the ground running. Take for example a skyscraper building project, the planning phase in such a project will enable the project manager know what kind of metal to use (steel or aluminum), the kind of technology to use (cranes or manual labor) etc. This when done gives the project manager a lot of room to forecast impending challenges and tackle them.  So to project managers out there always plan!

Look for warning signs

With most of the thinking done in the planning phase and implementation in motion, a project manager ought to anticipate and be curious to look for signals showing that the project may be in trouble. These could include the following:

  • A small variance in schedule or budget starts to get bigger, especially early in the project. There is a tendency to think you can make it up, but this is a warning. If the tendencies are not corrected quickly, the impact will be unrecoverable.
  • You discover that activities you think have already been completed are still being worked on. For example, users whom you think have been migrated to a new platform are still not.
  • You need to rely on unscheduled overtime to hit the deadlines, especially early in the project.
  • Team morale starts to decline.
  • Deliverable quality or service quality starts to deteriorate. For instance, users start to complain that their converted e-mail folders are not working correctly.
  • Quality-control steps, testing activities, and project management time starts to be cut back from the original schedule. A big project, such as an Exchange migration, can affect everyone in your organization. Don’t cut back on the activities that ensure the work is done correctly.

Resolve issues as quickly as possible

Issues are big problems. For instance, in an Exchange migration, the Exchange servers you ordered aren’t ready and configured on time. Or perhaps the Windows forest isn’t set up correctly and needs to be redesigned. The project manager should manage open issues diligently to ensure that they are being resolved. If there is no urgency to resolve the issue or if the issue has been active for some time, it may not really be an issue. It may be a potential problem (risk), or it may be an action item that needs to be resolved at some later point. Real issues, by their nature, must be resolved with a sense of urgency.

Practice the Best!

Read more on Project Management:

Project Risk Management

Lessons Learned

Stakeholder Management

Stakeholder management is the systematic identification, analysis, planning, and implementation of actions designed to engage with stakeholders. It focuses on the processes of identifying the people, groups or organizations that can either impact or be impacted by the project. In short, stakeholder management is identifying the needs of people with vested interest in a project and satisfying them accordingly as a project manager. Stakeholder management is a set of techniques that harness the positive influences and minimizes the effect of the negative influences. It comprises four main steps:

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Identify stakeholders:
Identifying stakeholders will be done using research, interviews, brainstorming, checklists, lessons learned and so on. A stakeholder map which is a table that shows the interests of the various stakeholders can be developed to aid the project manager in this effort.

Assess their interest and influence:
Each stakeholder will then be classified according to potential impact. This is usually shown in a matrix that estimates interest and influence on a simple scale such as low/medium/high. Those with an ability to directly affect the outputs or benefits are sometimes referred to as key stakeholders and a project manager should be in constant engagement with them.

Develop communication management plans:
This analysis is used to develop a communication management plan. Appropriate strategies and actions are then defined to engage with stakeholders in different parts of the matrix. Communications with stakeholders who have high levels of interest and influence will be managed differently from those with stakeholders of low interest and influence. Similarly, communications with stakeholders who are inherently positive about the work will be different from those with stakeholders who are negative.

Engage and influence stakeholders:
Project managers must identify who should engage with each stakeholder. In many cases, the P3 manager will take on the task, but it is also useful to call upon peers, senior managers or others who may be better placed. Stakeholder management becomes more complex when stakeholders’ views, roles or allegiances, etc. change throughout the life cycle. For that reason, the stakeholder management steps must be repeated throughout the life cycle of the project.

In brief, the steps outlined above help to:
• Analyze the stakeholders expectations and their impact on the project
• Focus on stakeholder satisfaction as a key project objective
• Implement continuous communication with stakeholders to understand needs and             expectations
• Foster stakeholder engagement in the project for decisions and activities

Work as a team, play as a team.

Read more on Stakeholder Management:

Why Stakeholder Management Capabilities Are Growing in Importance For Business Success

Planning Stakeholder Communication