This article provides program and project managers with a primer on business strategy—its purposes, components, and high-level tools and techniques. For those of you currently operating at the pair-of-hands level, this article is a wake-up call. For those of you who currently operate at the partner level, this article is a refresher or quick self-knowledge check. In either case, a basic knowledge of strategic planning is the place to start.
Accommodating change in the software development process is the nemesis of all development projects. The generally accepted practice in linear methodologies to accommodate change is to freeze the accumulated requirements at a specific point in time. Change is not prevented nor are new requirements prohibited. The freeze simply slows down the change process because all changes have to be justified to management before acceptance.
Have you ever been in a project that had time and cost constraints that were never going to be met? If you have, you know the pain that everyone suffers when they try to do the impossible.
Effective project managers cultivate the courage and competency to push back against arbitrary budgets and deadlines to negotiate realistic win-win cost and schedule estimates for their projects. This article explores how to negotiate realistic estimates to set realistic expectations.
Perhaps the most arduous task that afflicts project managers involves keeping today’s aggressive project schedules on track. Because resources are continually restricted more and more and the highly skilled, high-priced resources are often required for multiple projects, resource constraints become one of the highest risks to the project schedule. To help ensure that project schedules are met, project managers have learned to concentrate on a project’s critical path. They have also learned that the resources used along the critical path—the critical chain of resources—especially those resources shared among projects, must be proactively managed.
If it was easy to improve business results, results would always improve. Obviously, this is not the case. Business leaders understand the power and usefulness of managing the improvement of key business results through projects and process improvement teams. That is why business leaders use project managers to address the toughest process improvement issues they face.
That dreaded moment: you have to explain to management why the project is going to be late or you have to go to management and request additional funds for the project. Regardless of the rationale for missing the target, there is always the implication that you made a mistake someplace as a manager, most likely in the initial estimation. Yet you are sure you did it right. You got your team together, constructed a Work Breakdown Structure, laid out a precedence network, estimated the time and cost of the work packages, determined the critical path, laid it out on the calendar with a Gantt chart, and put the results in the project plan.
All too often, companies embark upon a journey to implement project management only to discover that the path they thought was clear and straightforward is actually filled with obstacles and fallacies. Without sufficient understanding of the looming roadblocks and how to overcome them, an organisation may never reach a high level of project management maturity. Their competitors, on the other hand, may require only a few years to implement an organisation-wide strategy that predictably and consistently delivers successful projects.
Project risks are a fact of life that every project manager must deal with. “Project risk is an uncertain event or condition that, if it occurs, has a positive or negative effect on at least one project objective, such as time, cost, scope or quality," as defined by the Project Management Institute’s A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge – Third Edition. Managing project risk involves analysing and prioritising risks so that the project manager and the team can focus their mitigation effort on the top risks.
In American football, the game does not start until the ball is kicked. The kickoff marks the end of the planning and preparation, and signals the start of the real business of winning the game.
A project kickoff meeting is similar. The business case and project charter have been prepared, initial project decisions have been made, project sponsors and funding have been identified, team members have been assigned, and the project goal and business objectives have been determined.