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Reviews in Project Management are Required

I’ve noticed a growing trend in a counter-productive behavior — skipping a review and rushing into execution. The usual excuse is “it slows things down”. The price you pay, however, is you may build the wrong thing and really slow things down. Many years ago I worked for a computer manufacturer. They aggressively decided to build a new system in parallel with developing the operating system — this wasn’t the norm in those days. The lack of an appropriate review let a major showstopping issue through — while the programmers were numbering the bits in one direction, the hardware designers were going in the other. This wasn’t uncovered for months, and many more months were wasted reviewing the code and correcting it after the damage was done. In the end, another manufacturer cornered the market and the system never went into manufacturing.

The Siebel Systems Expert Services team used to have at least a dozen different types of reviews available for customers to protect their project timelines and the value of their software purchase. I can recommend three basic reviews to consider for any project:

  1. Status: Where are we with respect to schedule, cost, performance, and scope? Perform this review periodically (usually weekly) or at least at regular intervals.
  2. Design: Does it meet spec? User friendly? Can we actually build it? Perform this review at least after the functional requirements are written.
  3. Process: What are we doing well? What needs to be improved? Perform this review for longer projects or in between short projects.

In fact, each major step should have some form of review if for no other reason than to verify the scope and the quality of the deliverable.

So next time you have an important project, as you plan, plan on having some reviews at the right time to ensure your project is successful.

Article Source: http://www.pmhut.com/

Successful Project Management is Critical

Project Management is of fast growing importance to organisations whether large or small because it deals effectively with the management of change. As a small business owner you know that your business environment is changing all the time. As a business owner that successful project managment is all about setting and achieving reasonable and attainable goals. In business, project management is an art, a skill, and a demanding full-time job. The fact of the matter is that project management is a human issue of people needing to work together. And you as the business owner are the leader when it comes to project management.

Project management is about being able to create transparency and build trust. It’s about finding solutions that help each team member be better in what they are doing while building teamwork. Project management tracks actual progress against the goals and timelines set forth before the project even began. This permits a better understanding of whether you should adjust your strategy, staffing, or timelines in light of the way in which the project is developing.

Project management has come into its own in recent years. A project manager can do some very useful things. Balancing limited labor, materials, and other resources is a difficult task. And eventually you are going to need people that can do that on a consistent basis. For as your business grows so too will your projects. And as your own tasks become even more varied your going to need good project managers because you won’t always be able to look over their shoulders. You’ve got to be able to trust that they can deliver what you promised to someone. And for whoever you task with delivering a project “on time and under budget” they can expect a great deal of job satisfaction assuming that you also recognize their good work. The job offers the opportunity to lead, and new projects keep the work fresh and challenging.

Typically, projects are managed by focusing on the delivery of the tasks that make up the project, in the seemingly reasonable belief that if these tasks are done on time, the project will be done on time as well. No wonder project management is such a challenging endeavor. Protecting the value of a project involves dealing with the uncertainty that will be associated with its delivery. The role of project management is to assist in turning uncertain events and efforts into certain outcomes and promises. The project manager has a lot of responsibility thrust upon him or her. But hopefully with experience will come consistent success. For many businesses the types of projects encountered are similiar. If you build houses for a living then each house you build will be unique in its own ways but it will share many similarities with other houses you’ve already built. If you capitalize on that experience then you should have many more successes.

Project management is a skill valued in every major industry. Project management is rapidly becoming a key skill that underpins progress and prosperity. As your projects grow larger and more diverse hiring people who have that experience will be of great value to your business.

Article Source:
About the Author:
Cash Miller is an experienced entrepreneur and speaker who has spent over a decade as a small business owner. His years of experience in small business cover many topics. For more small business information you can go to http://www.SmallBusinessDelivered.com

Common Challenges Project Managers Face and Tips for Solving Them

By Rick Cusolito, PMP

Regardless of your experience as a project manager, projects will consistently challenge your ability to use a little art, a little science, and a little sleight of hand. This article lists some of the top project management challenges, along with suggested solutions.

1. Unrealistic deadlines – Many project managers lament the fact that they are assigned projects and given deadlines. Of course, there are absolute deadlines for projects such as regulatory compliance or marketing events, but many dates are tied to factors unrelated to a project’s scope (i.e., end of quarter, budget cycle, boss’s vacation).

For projects that do not have “absolute” time constraints, there are ways to manage the schedule. First, manage the stress of the project deadline and the project issues with creative planning, alternatives analysis, and communication of reality to the project stakeholders. Then, determine what deadlines are tied to higher-level objectives, and establish links to schedules of other projects in the organization.

2. Scope changes – One of the rules of project management is that change is inevitable. What does not have to be inevitable is uncontrolled change, also known as scope creep. Project managers should analyze each request and then communicate the impact of each change and the alternatives, if any exist. You can’t eliminate change, but you can make your stakeholders understand how the change affects the schedule, cost, scope, and quality of the project.

3. Failure to manage risk – Many project plans have a list of risks, but no further analysis or planning happens unless triggered by an adverse event during project execution. Once a project team has defined the risks, team members can attempt to determine the probability and impact of the occurrence for each risk. At that point, they can either act to avoid the risk through alternatives analysis, reduce the probability and/or impact with mitigation strategies, or plan a response to the risk event after it happens.

4. Insufficient team skills – To quote a colleague, “Availability is not a skill.” Unfortunately, the busiest people also tend to be the most highly skilled. Finding out that a team member is incompetent can be very difficult since most incompetent people do not know that they are incompetent.

First, do not blame the worker, who is probably trying to do what’s right. Chances are he or she was not given the proper training or direction to be effective in his or her position. Second, starting with the project manager role, document the core set of skills needed to accomplish the expected workload and honestly compare each person’s skills against your list. Using this assessment of the team, project managers can guide the team toward competency with training, cross-training, additional resources, external advisors, and other methods to close the skills gap.

5. Customers and end users are not engaged during the project – Project teams become so focused on internal deliverables, deadlines, and processes that external stakeholders are not given input during critical phases. Planning status meetings that will be attended by customers and end users keeps them informed. Using these meetings as forums for information gathering will help ensure that the final product will meet the expectations of all your important stakeholders.

6. Vision and goals are not well-defined – Goals of a project (and the business needs being fulfilled) are not always clearly defined. Communicating these vague goals to the project participants becomes an impossible task. Overcoming vagueness is particularly difficult when the project manager has also been given unclear instruction.

Here are some possibilities. Determine which parts of a project are not understood by the team and other project participants and ask them for feedback or note feedback and questions that come up. Check the project documentation as prepared and tighten up the stated objectives and goals. Each project is, ideally, tied into the direction, strategic goals, and vision for the whole organization, as part of the portfolio of projects for the organization.

There are an infinite number of reasons why projects are challenged, but the solutions always seem to come back to one thing: good communication, which brings us to . . .

7. Ineffective communication – Thanks to technology advancement, there is no shortage of information flow. The problem is that we do not provide the right information to the right people, partly because our organizations do not cultivate good communication and partly because we don’t know what and who are “right.” To solve this, determine the communication, “whom,” “what,” “when,” and “how,” for each project. Find (or create) some templates for agendas, minutes, reports, and plans, and reuse them on every project. The outcome of each project is unique, but good communication should become a habit.

Provided by: http://www.butrain.com

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