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Project Management Blog
Monday, 07 March 2011 11:03

Best Practices for Small Projects

small_projectSmall projects, though often overlooked, can make up the bulk of the portfolio and are crucial to a company\'s success.  They might not involve large sums of money, but the fact is that if managed improperly, these small projects can add up to some major costs in the long run.  The good news is that project managers need only apply standard best practices to these smaller projects in order to manage them more effectively.  Here are the top 3 best practices that can and should be applied to all projects, regardless of size.

Visibility into Resource Allocation

Let’s say you want to assign 40 hours worth of project work to Jack, and you need him to complete it this month.  Before making that assignment, do you know for a fact that he has the time to get it done?  Are you sure he isn’t going on vacation, working on someone else’s project, or spending the month in meetings?  Project managers must know who is available to do the work before they assign tasks to people (or, better yet, before they decide to take on a project at all).  Simply assigning tasks to team members without regard for their current and future allocation, including upcoming vacation time, is unwise.  The goal might be to complete the project on time, but it will never happen unless the resources are, in fact, available when you need them to be.

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Project Accounting is a critical concept for today's business world, yet most businesspeople do not know their project accounting data.

For the last 29,950 years, our hunter/gatherer and farmer ancestors have always understood their costs of production. Why is it okay that in the last 50 years, nobody does anymore? It's not.

Project accounting for the hunter/gatherer is easy. The ROI is easy to calculate and it's intuitive. And if the ROI isn't good enough, a harsh environment will make sure you don't make that mistake very long because you'll be dead. Farmers invented accounting - eventually double-entry bookkeeping - which many people argue is the basis for civilization because it enabled the measurement of and accumulation of capital - without which no progress is possible. Today, knowledge workers work with knowledge and information instead of with stuff. Accounting for knowledge work is different.

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pmo-of-oneMany of the clients we work with are a “PMO of one.”  Usually this person has been brought in to establish common processes and procedures around planning, managing and executing projects.  Most often, there is a broad spectrum of project work being performed by varied project teams within the organization, including a range of maturity levels spanning from no established, repeatable processes to very formalized and documented processes.

According to the Project Management Institute, “Companies with greater maturity should expect to see tangible benefits that include better-performing project portfolios, efficiencies that come with better resource allocation, and increased process stability and repeatability.”[i] On the other hand, companies that are less mature tend to be reactionary, trying to dodge problems as they come rather than strategically planning and executing projects.  Often, these companies have various groups working in their own siloes, so there is no centralized view of resource availability or up-to-date project status.  Project managers are consequently unable to prioritize projects or schedule them with accuracy.  This can lead to lost opportunities and failed projects time and again.  A new study on organizational maturity has confirmed the need for defined repeatable processes, finding that companies which use them have a much higher project success rate than those who do not.[ii]

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Tuesday, 07 December 2010 10:17

From Planning to Execution: A Crucial Step

road_aheadWhy do your best laid plans often go unfulfilled? You have put the right people in the right jobs, empowered them to achieve, drafted an excellent plan and got the necessary buy-in and funding. Yet somehow things went into the ditch and now the project is late and over budget, delivering a poor return on investment.

The fact is, knowing the path and walking the path are not the same thing. For example, many of us know how to lose weight (exercise, eat better, etc.) Yet knowing how to lose weight and actually losing it are two totally different things. Likewise, knowing what needs to happen to execute a project successfully and actually executing it are different things. The latter is much harder. If you've had trouble in this regard, you are not alone.

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Every nonprofit organization, regardless of size or sector, has a mission.  It might be to raise funds and awareness for a disease, assist underprivileged or abused beings – both human and animal, or help conserve and protect the natural resources found on planet Earth. Regardless, each organization faces the danger of losing sight of its mission by becoming preoccupied with necessary but often burdensome overhead and administrative work.  When employee, management or volunteer time is wasted on tasks that could easily be automated, the entire organization suffers, along with the mission.  An expertly-developed and finely-tuned time management system that tracks project management, billing, and professional payroll can become a window into the real-time costs of any organization. This is especially true if it provides a thorough understanding of costs at every level of the organization and complete visibility into these costs for everyone who impacts them.

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technologyProject management technology has been around for years now, so the problem of project execution must be basically solved, right?  Wrong.  The Standish Group has found that 68% of technology projects failed in 2009[1].  Does this mean that project management solutions are just a waste of time?

The truth is that project management technology is only as good as the processes that support it.  The only way to improve project execution rates is to look at the root causes of project failure and implement the necessary changes that will allow the technology to work.  Here are a few of the top ways to accomplish this in your organization.

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more-less-finchFinal installment of a 3 part series... Read part 1 here and part 2 here

How to spot profitability leaks and cost overruns in IT projects before your peers – and then fix them

In the second article in this series, I talked about how you can improve estimates by using time tracking data with a very simple, but non-obvious, technique. In addition to improving estimation capability, time tracking data can make your company more nimble – and more profitable. How does it do this?

If you have real-time, accurate, per-project cost data available to your entire management team at all times, it provides a built-in alert system that tells you if your project is broken. What do I mean by broken?

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Saturday, 15 December 2007 20:09

Chief Consultant

PMPal is a software tool for software project management and software metricsw tool. I has modules for software estimation (size, effort, cost & schedule), WBS, Defect Manager, Change Manager and software metrics that are adequate for a CMMI level 5 company
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