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Project Management Blog
The PMP Exam is changing on August 31st 2011. If you are taking the exam on or after this date, then your 200 questions will be based on the new PMP Exam Content Outline. To learn more about the detailed changes to the exam, please read my article “The PMP Exam Changes on 31 August 2011. What This Means For You”.

In addition to what you can find in that article, PMI recently announced the following: If you are taking the PMP Exam on or after 31 August 2011, then - for a limited time only - PMI will not immediately tell you if you have passed or failed your exam.
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Whether you are a current practitioner in program or project management or you are considering a career in this profession, you may have thought about the value of obtaining one or more project management credentials.

If you are already certified and/or have one or more credentials, you may be contemplating ‘broadening your armory’ by seeking additional credentials or certificates in program or project management. For many reasons, the three of us are believers in holding credentials. To prove our point, a quick review of our bios at the end of this article shows that we all have several program and project management credentials. So what is the benefit of obtaining one or multiple credentials? Is there a typical value against the investment in time and money?

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There are many aspects involved in successful project and program management: hard work, experience, good teamwork, solid processes and work practices, having good tools with which to work, adopting and displaying the right behaviours - the list could go on. This article focuses on two aspects of project/program management - the processes and the tools we use as program and project managers - and asks: what comes first - the process or the tool?

We do not seek to discuss the merits of different project management tools and techniques, nor will we examine the differences between program and project management; rather, we put forward what we hope are thought-provoking points for you to consider.

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Monday, 07 March 2011 05:00

Is the PgMP® Credential Right For Me?

PMI_ProgramGareth, Gary, Jeff, and Brian are PgMP (Program Management Professional) credentialed through the Project Management Institute (PMI)®. (In fact, that's how we met, became good friends and collaborators on articles.) We know from personal experience what it takes to obtain. Additionally, in early 2010, Jeff and Brian did a study and presentation on the overall results and benefits of having the PgMP credential, based on a survey of 225 PgMPs, over half of the PgMPs credentialed at the time. Their benefits study was one of the focus topics at the 2010 PMI North America Congress in Washington, DC.

As we weigh the value of the credential, let"s first consider the PgMP credential itself. Per PMI, the PgMP credential is intended to "recognize advanced experience, skill and performance in the oversight of multiple related projects and their resources, aligned with an organizational objective." We won't be going into the formal details and process steps to obtain the credential; that information is readily available through the PMI. However, the PgMP credential process can be broken down to three main areas or steps:

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Saturday, 04 December 2010 17:58

Rescuing Trouble Projects

rescueYou are not impervious to having troubled projects in your portfolio. Any project can fail. Even the most seasoned and skilled project manager may, at one time or another, find themselves at the helm of a troubled project. Having a project in trouble does not necessarily signal the Project Manager is doing a poor job. Projects can go off course for a variety of reasons; some reasons are outside the span of control of the Project Manager. What are some of the common causes for projects to fall into troubled waters and what are some prudent steps to get the project back on course?

If you poll a group of seasoned project professionals with the question, “What are the chief causes of Troubled Projects?” you are likely to receive a variety of responses, though quite possibly there will be some commonly attributed causes. At the macro level, we put forth that projects generally fall into trouble for one or more of three reasons; 1) Poor Planning 2) Misaligned Expectations 3) Ineffective Risk Management. Let’s elaborate on each of these points.

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Monday, 29 November 2010 04:22

What should a PMs Theme Tune be?

What should a PMs Theme Tune be? Through many LinkedIn discussions I raised the hugely important question - what should the theme tune be for all project managers? PMs  responded with 187 suggestions for this and, through assessing the most common suggestions together with ones that I just liked or made me laugh we now have a short list with 55 tunes. You can see the full list at www.thelazyprojectmanager.com if you wish.

So now it is time for the vote off - you can select the 5 tunes that you think should be the PMs theme tune at http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/pmsthemetune

Please help to spread the word to all of your PM contacts and let’s get them voting in their hundreds. Survey closes 23rd December.

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Monday, 15 November 2010 04:00

Managing a Virtual Project Team

VirtualTeam

Let’s face it; virtual teams (where we work with colleagues in remote locations, be they close by or in different countries) are now a reality in the workplace. If this trend in the workplace environment continues, virtual working will increasingly influence the way we operate, and the ‘effective virtual team worker’ will be a valued asset. A key benefit to forming virtual teams is the ability to cost-effectively tap into a wide pool of talent from various locations. There are several definitions of the virtual team worker, but within the context of this article, we are talking about people who work on project teams and who display the following attributes:

  • They work primarily from a particular office (maybe a home office, or maybe a fixed work location), and they are not expected to travel each week as a part of their job (i.e. road warrior) or be physically in the office on a daily basis.
  • They likely work from home one or more days per week.

Most project managers with a few years experience or more are likely to have managed a project where some or even all of the project members were remotely located. How different is managing a virtual project team from a co-located team? Are there additional considerations or risks involved in managing a virtual team? Before we answer these questions, one must first understand the dynamics of the virtual team worker.

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Saturday, 10 July 2010 05:00

Anatomy of an Effective Project Manager

projmgtIt’s first thing in the morning, and you are preparing to interview prospective project managers for an open position on your team. Whether it is your first candidate interview or you have conducted many before in your career, you are likely to be contemplating the line of questioning you will ask of the prospective candidates. Perhaps you are thinking of questions from a “Strengths and Weaknesses: Project Manager Profile” that you typically use, however, any line of questioning can only provide a limited insight about the candidate and their potential to be an effective project manager for your organization.  Understand that a skilled candidate may well have sat through similar interviews recently, researched your organization, and prepared competent answers to what they believe are the most typical interview questions. Or maybe they haven’t, because this is the first interview they are going to – although they are a first-rate project manager that is well thought of in their existing organization. In order to assess whether a person has the potential to be an effective project manager in your organization, we contend that you need to conduct specific assessments beyond interviews and references of previous work assignments.
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firemanThe very worst fire plan is no plan.  The next worse is two plans.  ~Author Unknown

Let no man's ghost return to say his training let him down.  ~Firefighters Saying

Soon after being accepted as a member of a fire department, cadets are typically enrolled into training classes. Their training regime may consist of basic classes, hazardous material teaching, awareness classes, and several others that are relevant to the challenging role of being a firefighter.

New firefighters also are trained early in their career on communications protocols, the chain of command, and standard operating procedures. The need for a common communication language in the fire service is arguably more critical than many other professions, as the cost of a miscommunication can have serious consequences in an urgent situation. In most situations, there are procedures that every firefighter should know, and there are guidelines and processes that establish the chain of command. A system of protocols, chain of command, and standard operating procedures is needed so that, when called into duty, regardless of the department(s) or personnel responding, everyone knows what to do and who is accountable so that the teams can go straight into the “performing” stage of their activity. Being able to perform under the tightest of pressures does not occur by accident nor by luck. Many fire services, especially volunteer services, employ an almost continuous training model where as much as 50% or more of their scheduled meetings are dedicated to training. Career firefighters also spend an abundance of time training especially when first hired. Recent publications suggest on average 600 hours in formal training are required of new hires. These men and women are not just walking through motions in training exercises. To most, their motto is “train as you work” where every event is run as if it were a real live situation. When planning a response to a fire, the approach is to “Plan your work, and work your plan”.

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Saturday, 10 July 2010 05:00

What Makes a Good Project KPI Framework?

kpi

Key Performance Indicators, or KPIs as generally referred to by all of us, are a powerful tool at the project manager’s disposition that can, if structured appropriately:

  1. Play an important role in driving the behaviours and actions undertaken on a project
  2. Have a significant effect on the reporting and monitoring of a project’s progress.

Our article does not seek to focus on enterprise-wide or portfolio-level KPI metrics, nor does it seek to be all-encompassing in the uses of specific types of KPIs that can be deployed or how KPIs and metrics can help to run a business. We simply put forward some “pointers” to think about for project-level KPI control and how KPIs can be a tool to help you as an effective project manager ‘manage’ your project.

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