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viernes, 30 de diciembre de 2011

Communicating for effect

I´m reading in the PM Network magazine an article that has caught my attention in the first paragraph:

"There is no point in communicating with someone if you don´t want to cause an effect"

Interesting sentence... Never had thought about the communication from this perspective.

The article describes three key elements needed for the communication to be effective:

1) Form an unambiguous statement of precisely what it is you want the receiver to do or change
2) Demonstrate the reason why the communication is important
3) The communication should define what benefit the receiver can expect

Following these tips... I just want to say: HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

viernes, 23 de diciembre de 2011

Why PMs should use EVM (Earned Value Management)

This week I have attended the monthly meeting of the Madrid PMI chapter. There were very interesting presentations this month. In this post I will refer to the one related to EVM. Two colleagues from the chapter attended recently the EVM world congress that took place in Valencia (Spain) and they exposed to us the presentations they made in the congress, and they told us as well about what topics and trends were discussed in the forum.

The presentation of one of them was focused on why PMs should use EVM in their projects. He based the presentation on his own experience about how he was able to control better his projects once he started applying EVM on them. Therefore, the first thing he says to all PMs that don´t use it is:

1- EVM is nice to have cause you will know more about the financial status of your project.
But, people say.... i don´t need to learn something as complex as EVM....

After this attitude from most of the PMs then he makes another attempt:

2- You are already using something similar in order to know the cost and progress of your projects.
But people say... EVM requires too much excel management

Therefore, finally he uses to apply as third attempt:

3- Use EVM is you need to control cost
And people say... well.... yes....

Because management wants you to control the cost of your projects... this is key... Controlling cost is KEY for our project sponsors!!!

And... you don´t need to use Excel for EVM... you can use many other tools, like.. MS project!!

sábado, 10 de diciembre de 2011

Project handover between PMs

Many times during our career we have had to take projects that were already ongoing managed by other PMs and the handover was just a short chat and an email with information. Familiar with this? Everything looks under control after this handover meeting but as soon as you take the project you start finding many issues that the previous PM did not make you aware of.

In order to avoid this, a formal handover meeting should be taken, using a check list covering the main project management areas. The one I use has this structure:

- Project details (Project name, Customer, Sponsor, etc...)
- Meeting details (Time and place where handover takes place)
- Scope (Project Spec clear?, WBS defined?, Change Requests reviewed?, ...)
- Time (Time plan updated?, end delivery planned date realistic?,...)
- Cost (Budget valid?, Addon sales opened?, Take actual costs as baseline for the handover!)
- Quality (Review project KPIs,...)
- Human Resources (Project organization, Feedback on project members,...)
- Communication (Review the communication plan, review latest progress report,...)
- Risks (Review risk analysis,....)
- Procurement (All purchase orders issued?, partner interfaces,...)
- Customer (Inform the customer you are the new PM!!! Better in a face to face meeting with the previous PM as well)

Following a checklist like this will make project handovers more smooth and succesful.

jueves, 1 de diciembre de 2011

10 ways to get a slipping project back in track

I´ve read an article today about ways to get back in track our projects. Some are quite obvious, but i think is worth to post the whole list:

1- Work overtime
2- Reallocate resources
3- Double-check all dependencies
4- Check time-constrained activities
5- Swap resources
6- Crash the schedule
7- Fast track it
8- Prevent all scope change
9- Improve processes
10- Scale back the scope of work

And the most obvious but not easy to communicate to the stakeholders....

11- Deliver the work at a later date!!

sábado, 26 de noviembre de 2011

Relationship between Project Risk Management & IT Project Success

Today I have filled out a survey conducted by Christopher D´Souza from the University of Phoenix titled "Examining the Relationship between Project Risk Management and IT Project Success"

Background of the study:

Every year, organizations worldwide make significant investments in IT.  Given that organizations engage in multiple corporate initiatives, diverse partnerships and alliances, complex business transactions, advancing technology environments; managing and delivering successful IT projects can be challenging.  Many IT projects continue to fail and do not meet schedule or budget requirements. Risks have been mainly associated with IT projects; therefore, managing risk in an attempt to neutralize or decrease the effect of risk has become essential to IT project success. The high rate of challenged IT projects warrants the need to explore the relationship between project risk management and IT project success.

While filling it out, it has made think about how do we manage risk in the company I work for, and the involvement of the senior management on it. In my company we believe we have an strong project management orientation, but after filling out the survey I have seen that we are not as strong as we think we are.

In all these years I have never received an specific risk management training, the sponsors of the projects hate the word "risk" as they know that the risk exposure will mean that extra budget is required for the projects, and the senior management is focused only on the final margin of the projects. Moreover, even if the risk analysis should be done by all the team members, at the end, the only one that feels accountable for it and the only one that is worried about identifying risks, is the project mamager.

I am very interested in getting the results of this survey in order to know if the risk management area is weak in most of the companies in the world, or only in the ones I have worked for...

jueves, 24 de noviembre de 2011

Collaboration sites for projects

This week I have read that it has been launched a new site for collaboration:

Collaboration sites are key in projects where the resources are distributed in different locations. Moreover, it gives a unique access point to all the project documentation, status, news and so on. But in my experience, when i check the statistics of the one we use in my company (Ericoll) is frustrating to see that nobody checks it!!!

Still we have the old culture of sending all reports and information by email and this is collapsing the mail servers and our mail inbox. In my case, it has overloaded even my hard drive. Since last week I have no space available in my hard drive and I have to be continously moving folders to an external one. But while i am doing it, i keep getting heavy ppt of the projects, i have to still keep sending all reports to everybody by email, and i get hundreds of emails requesting information that is available in the collaboration site!!

It is a bit frustrating that the effort of publishing all the information in the site is worthles but I keep doing it cause I hope that one day our mentality of using email for everything will change, and we will start using only the collaboration sites for exchanging the information of the projects.

martes, 15 de noviembre de 2011

Links between Six Sigma and PMBOK

In my previous post I gave some basic concepts about what is Six Sigma. In this one I will try to show the link between Six Sigma and PMBOK.

Six Sigma is a process improvement and design methodology and PMBOK is a process management methodology. This makes Six Sigma to be an integral part of PMBOK. In fact, if we check the PMBOK guide, we will find references to Six Sigma in the Project Quality Management Knowledge Area chapter. And the same happens the other way around. If we check the Six Sigma Black Belt Curriculum and Body of Knowledge in the DMAIC methodology (Design, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control), as part of the Design we have the following elements: "Project Management, Project Definition, Project Charter, Chartering a team, Defining Roles and Responsabilities,.."

As conclusion, both complement each other, and due to this, for the PMs it is good to have some knowledge about Six Sigma.

sábado, 12 de noviembre de 2011

Basic Six Sigma concepts

Nowadays, due to the worlwide economic crisis, many of the ongoing projects are related to processes optimization with the goal of reducing costs in the organizations as consequence of the increase in their internal efficiency. Due to this, for a PM, it is highly recommended to have knowledge on ETOM, ITIL, Six Sigma, BPM, just for mentioning some methodologies and frameworks.

In this post I will give some basic concepts about Six Sigma.

First, what is Six Sigma? Six Sigma is a methodology based on statistics which goal is to reduce process output variation. The variation can come due to two reasons:

 - Common cause
 - Special cause

A way to determine if a cause is common or special is using control charts. Once decided which causes are common and which ones are special, then we have to focus on the common ones and make fundamental process changes in order to avoid output variations.

Six Sigma as a measurement standard comes from the times of Gauss, but it started to be known as Six Sigma and spread its popularity once it was implemented by Motorola in the mid-80s, when they decided that the traditional quality levels (measuring defects in thousands of opportunities) didn´t provide enough granularity and instead they wanted to measure the defects per million opportunities.

Since then, many hundreds of companies have adopted Six Sigma as a way of doing business. In fact, Six Sigma is not just a quality system, it is a vision, a philosophy, a metric, a goal, a methodolody....

For getting some more basic insigts about Six Sigma, please check the webinar: "Lean Six Sigma concepts  every manager should be using" that is in the IIL International project management event that I mentioned in one of my first posts.

miércoles, 9 de noviembre de 2011

Going from Good to Great as project managers

Yesterday it took place a webinar in the Leadership in Project Management Community of Practice titled: "Going from Good to Great as project managers" presented by Connie Plowman.

The webinar was based on the content of the book "Good to Great" written by Jim Collins:

The message is that Good is Enemy of Great in the sense that outstanding organizations need the best people, not just those who are good enough.

These are the three pillars from moving to Great:

 - Disciplined people
 - Disciplined thought
 - Disciplined action

domingo, 6 de noviembre de 2011

In ONE word, describe a project manager

Checking the discussions in the PMI Career Central linkedin group, I have found one that  has catched my attention: "In ONE word, describe a project manager".

At this moment there are 148 answers. This is a number that can provide good statistics about what are the adjectives most used to describe a project manager by a project manager (I think most of the people answering the survey are PMs).

The words more used are....:

- Communicator
- Facilitator
- Leader

In my opinion all the words mentioned in the survey are correct, cause a project manager needs to have many skills in order to perform his job successfully. The ones most voted are for me as well the most important ones for a PM but as they are not the only ones needed, the word i have written in linkedin is:


jueves, 3 de noviembre de 2011

ITIL and the business: What the 2011 brings to the table

As mentioned in one of my previous posts, from today and for 3 months, under the scope of the international project management day, we will have in IIL all the presentations exposed today.

Today i have attended the one called: "ITIL and the business: What the 2011 brings to the table"

It starts with a brief explanation of what is ITIL and its evolution for putting the focus after it to the improvements included in the 2011 edition in relation to the allignment between IT and the Business based on the Business Relationship Management Process.

Today is the international project management day

Today is International Project Management Day!  Founded by Frank Saladis, the goal of  IPM Day is “Worldwide recognition of the many project managers and project teams in every industry including non profit organizations and health care who contribute their time, energy, creativity, innovation, and countless hours to deliver products, services, facilities, and provide emergency and disaster recovery services in every city and community around the world.”.

More information on IPM day can be found here:

miércoles, 2 de noviembre de 2011

PMI family of credentials

Today I have attended a PMI webinar called "PMI Family of credentials". The goal of the webinar was to provide a high overview of the different credentials provided by PMI that are:

 - CAPM - Certified Associate in Project Management
 - PMI-SP - PMI Scheduling Professional
 - PMI-RMP - PMI Risk Management Professional
 - PMP - Project Management Professional
 - PgMP - Program Management Professional

A summary of the requirements for each of them can be found in the following picture.

lunes, 31 de octubre de 2011

The 5 team leadership principles for project sucess

In order to deliver successful projects, project managers need to be skilled in the nine knowledge areas defined by PMBOK, but there is one particular skill that I consider the most important one, and is your ability as project manager for LEADING your project team. 

Recently I attended a webinar presented by Thomas Juli, where he showed five basic team leadership principles that we should take into account when managing our projects. 

These are some notes i took while attending it:

1) Build a common project Vision --> 

- Analyze playing field
- Motivation statement
- Vision statement
- Project objective statement

2) Nurture Collaboration (players win games, teams win champioships)

- Team = Project´s heart & soul
- Team norming workshop
- Team evolution
- Teamwork

3) Promote Team Performance (Life has no rehersals, only performance)

- Be a role model
- Create right environment
- Empower your team
- Foster solution and results orientation
- Invite productive competition
- Let it happen
- Celebrate performance

4) Cultivate team learning (Learning is not compulsory... neithwer is survival)

- Team Synch
- Project reviews
- Training
- Extended team learning
- Learning & innovation

5) Ensure results (However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results)

As an introduction to the leadership arena, this webminar is a very good starting point.

The slides of the webinar can be found in the following link:

sábado, 29 de octubre de 2011

What is PMI?

In following posts I will make multiple references to PMI and words like PDU, Chapter, Community of Practice and so on. Therefore, first I should explain what is PMI (Project Management Institute) and for that I will refer to what they say in their website:
In a competitive global economy, project managers can’t go it alone. So turn to PMI membership to give you the tools and support you need to make your mark on the profession. Discover more about what our membership is and what benefits it offers, and choose the type of membership that’s best for you. 
In a word, dedication. PMI membership signifies that you’re serious about your project management career and your professional development. It highlights this dedication to employers, colleagues and stakeholders, giving you an edge in the job market. It also provides you with access to valuable knowledge, networks and resources that help you improve and advance. 
As a PMI member, you gain exclusive access to PMI publications and our global standards, networking options with our chapters and online communities of practice, and leadership and volunteer opportunities. You’ll also receive discounts on certification exams and renewals, as well as our professional development offerings. 
Whether you’re new to project management or a seasoned veteran, PMI has a membership plan that’s right for you. Check out the membership options we have for practitioners, students and retirees. Group rates are also available.

I have been a PMI member for a while already and I confirm all the value they claim to have above. Being an active member of the PMI Madrid local chapter and the PMI Information Systems Community of Practice is becoming a really great experience. I will share more details about my involvement in this chapter and this community in future posts.

jueves, 27 de octubre de 2011

International Project Management Day

Next thursday, the 3rd of November, it will take place the International Project Management Day 2011. It is a free virtual event created by IIL (International Institute for Learning) where you will be able to watch 20 video presentations on a wide variery of topics. 

The list of speakers and presentations can be found in this link:

The video presentations will be available for 90 days after the event, and if you watch them, you will be able to report up to 12 PDUs for your PMP credential.

I will try to watch as many as possible and provide in this blog a summary and my opinion for all of them.

If you want to attend the event, this is link where you can register:

miércoles, 26 de octubre de 2011

My first post in a blog ever!

I have been many times in the past thinking about sharing my experiences in the project management arena just in case they could be helpful to other people. Recently I have found in the PMI Information Systems Community of Practice a mentoring program sponsored by them that gives the opportunity for joining as a mentor and provide guidance, advice and suggestions to the members that join the program as mentees.

Today I have had the introductory session with the person matched to me and after it I have thought... well, why not make use of the Web2.0 technology and share my experiences as well with the whole world??!! And..., that´s why I am starting this blog where my goal is not only to show my experiences in the project management world, if not as well to share useful information that I receive everyday in my inbox regarding PM related webinars, articles, discussions in forums, conferences, congresses, volunteering activities, and so on.

Let´s see how this "project" goes!!