Author Archive | Dick Billows, PMP

What is WBS?

What is the WBS? The WBS or work breakdown structure  is a list of every task the team needs to complete in the project. After the project manager lists all the tasks, he or she links them with predecessor tasks that control the sequence of the tasks. Then the project manager assigns resources to each task in the […]

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Project Estimation Techniques

Project estimation techniques are critical survival tools for predicting when a project will finish and how much it will cost. Estimating duration and cost accurately can make the difference between consistent success and frequent failure.  Project managers need to use different techniques during the project phases to provide good information to the decision-makers. Let’s look at some estimating situations and […]

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Scheduling Software

Using the right Scheduling Software is key to consistently finishing your projects on time and within budget. Project Scheduling Software lets you do the critical steps more efficiently than using ineffective options like scheduling in Excel or on a yellow notepad. Those waste too much of your time and don’t help you complete these critical steps: Spotting […]

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Status Report Template

In this article about the Status Report Template, we’ll discuss the sponsor’s expectations and the raw materials you’ll need to make and deliver a professional status report each week that will build your credibility with the project stakeholders and sponsors. Project sponsors expect project managers to know what’s going on in the projects they’re managing. While some sponsors […]

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Project Reports – Project Presentations, Reports, Meetings that Build Credibility

Project managers spend at least 80% of their time communicating with their team members and stakeholders. You communicate when giving project reports, running meetings, giving presentations and updating the project status. No one will appreciate your knowledge and skills on the technical aspects of managing a project if you can’t clearly and concisely communicate your ideas in project reports. […]

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PMP Exam – Are You Ready for Certification?

The PMP®, Project Management Professional, certification is a valuable credential for people who are job hunting or who want to gain credibility (and increased salary) with their current employer. The PMP® is an internationally recognized credential from PMI®, the Project Management Institute. On the job hunting front, the PMP® is often used as a résumé screening tool. Human Resources people often discard […]

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Project Launch – Sell the Project & Build Political Support

The project launch meeting is an opportunity for you, the project manager, and the sponsor to build enthusiasm for the project among the project team and the project stakeholders. The team members are the people who will be doing the project work. The stakeholders are the people affected by the project. Other attendees are managers affected by the […]

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Micromanage? Not Me!

Do You Micromanage Your Team? None of us like to think we micromanage. But it’s often a challenge not to micromanage your project team. Here are some common assumptions of PM’s who micromanage: You’re the project manager and that means you’re the expert on everything about the project…so you need to make all the decisions Your […]

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Failed Projects

“This project has to succeed; it’s critical to our organization. We can’t have a failed project!” You have probably heard this a hundred times during your career. Yet many organizations have lots of failed projects. Sometimes they’re as high as 70%.  The failure rate for projects sponsored by certain executives are even higher because they have no […]

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Leading Teams: Six Techniques For Success

Highly motivated, problem-solving teams are a key reason for project success. These teams are committed to the goal and to completing their assignments on time and within estimates. Teams like that are rare, however. That’s because the correct steps for successfully leading teams are challenging and often missed. The proven techniques you’ll learn here include selecting the […]

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Project Due Dates – How to Screw Up a Project Plan

Watch this video of a common way to screw up a project plan. Is it familiar? Pretend Project Due Dates The sponsor plucks a project due date out of the sky. Then the tells the stakeholders they’re accountable for meeting that date. No one believes this pretend due date is realistic. They back into the due dates for their […]

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Project Scope

The Project Scope for larger, complex projects must include the “reach” of the project. “Reach” states how far the project reaches out in defining its overall deliverable. Let’s look at an example of what I mean by Project Scope “Reach.”  Let’s say your boss calls you into their office and talks about a project to fix the […]

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Project Duration

Managing project duration to make sure the sponsor and stakeholders are happy is the number one challenge for most project managers. Many executives think the most important metrics are the project duration and the finish date. Sometimes they are the only measures the sponsor and stakeholders ask about. Project Duration: Why Do Stakeholders Manage Only Dates? In […]

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Lessons Learned Project Management

Lessons Learned Project Management is a process that is often bypassed. That’s because project managers and team members are sick of talking about the project they have worked on for months. Skipping the lessons learned process says to your team, “This project is too small to do any of that fancy lessons learned stuff. Let’s save […]

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Cost-Benefit Analysis in Project Initiation

Cost-benefit analysis is a simple technique for comparing the business value a project will produce with the cost of producing it. Project managers use cost-benefit analysis in the project initiation phase to show the value of doing a project. During project initiation, the sponsor and project manager must justify the project to get the organization’s approval to spend the […]

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Program Manager

Program managers are responsible for the performance of several projects, their project managers and the human and financial resources the program consumes. They are also accountable for the benefits, the business value, the projects produce. The program manager is focused on allocating resources to the various projects in the program to maximize business value.  As well, the […]

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Project Methodology Stages

It’s important for project managers to understand the project methodology stages in organizations. Here are the five stages organizations go through as their project methodology evolves and reaches project management maturity: 1. Ad-hoc projects 2. Increasing density 3. Resource overload 4. Initiation control 5. Consistent success  Project Methodology Main Page Knowing how the project methodology stages evolve in an organization can […]

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Project Management Methodology – 3 Tiers to Fit Project Size & Scope

A project management methodology is the glue that binds all the organization’s project management processes and techniques into a coherent tool where everyone understands their role and obligations. Without a methodology you can’t exercise control over the portfolio of projects to ensure all of them produce business value and doesn’t waste financial and human resources. The project management […]

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Failed Projects – How to Screw One Up – Video

It takes a lot of work to make a failed project as bad as this one. Our 4PM.com cast members show you how in a Failed Projects comedy video about how to screw up a project. The PMs and team members are preparing their failed project for a big project status meeting. You’ll see micro-managing […]

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CAPM Exam – Pass The First Time

Passing the Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM®) exam the first time and earning the CAPM® credential, requires you to pass a rigorous 3-hour exam from the Project Management Institute (PMI)®. You have to answer questions about the project management processes, definitions of the inputs, outputs, tools and techniques and the basic mathematical formulas used in project […]

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Project Management Plan – Video

Knowing how to create a Project Management Plan is tricky. The size of the project is not important. People mistakenly think that longer project plans are better than shorter ones. They think the plan’s word count reflects the amount of thinking that’s gone into the document. The opposite is usually true. In our 25+ years […]

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Project Plan Template – Video

On every new project, you need to decide what Project Plan Template elements to include, which to exclude and how to develop them on each particular project. You can use this project plan template to define the project scope and identify major deliverables. You can also use it to manage the project risks, constraints and […]

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Project Management Maturity in Organizations

The project management maturity in an organization is an important guidepost for its project managers. In some organizations this process leads to bureaucratic procedures, endless documentation and paperwork. These waste a great deal of time and have no beneficial impact on their project success rates. In other organizations, the project management processes mature by becoming leaner and […]

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Scope Creep

First we’ll talk about what Scope Creep is and then we’ll talk about how to avoid it. Scope creep is the addition of new features and functions after the original project plan has been approved.  These additions to the project scope are approved without any compensating adjustment to the project budget or schedule. It is the number one cause […]

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Constructive Feedback

Constructive Feedback That Changes Behavior Project managers and team leaders will always have some poor performing team members. Poor performance can encompass assignments that are not what you expect regarding quality, timeliness or completeness. Constructive feedback is an effective tool for changing the behavior of poor performers. It is also useful to give constructive feedback to team members whose assignments meet all the requirements and your […]

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What is Scope Creep?

What is scope creep? It is a parasite which, if the project manager and sponsor let it flourish, busts budgets and overruns schedules. It doesn’t attack the project once, it attacks dozens or hundreds of times. In each of these attacks, a good idea is added to the project that increases the amount of work to […]

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Project Sponsor Types: Political Operator – Video

There are many project sponsor types. Some are focused only on delivering business value to their organization and have excellent strategic vision. They know how to support the project manager and the team so they can be highly effective. Unfortunately, not all project sponsor types operate like this. There are a number of project sponsor types […]

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Accurate Project Estimating – Video

Making accurate estimates of project duration, cost and completion date are critical to your project manager credibility and career. No matter how good your technical skills and judgment are, if decision-makers can’t count on your estimates of cost and duration, your credibility will inevitably suffer. Accurate estimating is not primarily a matter of knowledge or […]

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Cut Project Duration – Video

Project managers often receive demands to cut the project duration. Sometimes these demands come weekly or even daily. There’s a right way and a wrong way to handle requests to cut the project duration. If you handle it incorrectly, the stakeholder will go over your head to the sponsor or a senior manager. Those superiors will arbitrarily […]

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Project Bidders Conference

Project bidders conferences are part of the process of selecting vendors/sellers who provide goods or services to the project. That process begins during planning when the project manager and team formulate the request for proposal  (RFP). At the same time, they create the vendor/seller selection and evaluation criteria they’ll use to rank the proposals. During procurement planning, the project manager […]

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Project Change Control – Video

When project managers handle project change control badly, it irritates stakeholders and cause overruns on budget and duration. Fighting all changes doesn’t work and neither does accepting all of them. We’ll discuss the mistakes project managers make on change orders. Then we’ll review a methodology for doing it the right way. On many projects, the […]

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Team Micromanagement – Video

Project teams have different cultures and attitudes toward the project and its manager. The project team members bring expectations based on their prior project experience as well as their attitudes about being on project teams. But the primary factor that determines the project team culture is the project manager’s behavior. This behavior includes: assigning work […]

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Project Management Skills

Project Management Skills For a Successful Project Manager  What project management skills do consistently successful project managers have in common?  There are personality traits, interpersonal skills, the ability to communicate, and knowledge of the right techniques to use in various project situations. Let’s start by examining the project management skills commonly used to define the consistently successful project manager. […]

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How To Be a Successful Project Manager

Here’s how to be a successful project manager. There are several project manager skill sets or techniques that make a project manager successful. Successful project managers have both “hard” and “soft” skills in their project tool belt. They are able to select the appropriate tools and techniques to use on every project they manage. The ability to select […]

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