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Archive | 1. Project Management Basics

Learn the basic skills for managing projects from start to finish so they finish on time and within budget. These skills include: planning with the boss or customer, defining the scope, gathering requirements, defining deliverables, creating a schedule with project management software, breaking down the deliverables into tasks, assigning tasks to team members, solving problems, and tracking/reporting progress with project management software.

Project Team Assignments – Deliverables Not “To Do’s”

The best project team assignments tell each team member exactly what end result you expect and how you will measure their performance against it. Too many project managers do a poor job of making project team assignments because they don’t define clear performance expectations. As a result, the project management team members don’t work as effectively as they […]

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Work Breakdown Structure Size

Starting work on your project before deciding about work breakdown structure size is a mistake. It guarantees that you will waste resources, money and have a very small chance for project success. The WBS is central to everything a project manager does. It is also a prime determinant of the project success. We build this listing […]

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Project Status Reports

The biggest problem in Project Status Reports is getting good team status reports. It sounds easier than it is in practice. Project team members and vendors often report inaccurate data due to undo often about their ability to resolve problems like technical issues or lack of stakeholder cooperation. Another obstacle to getting good data comes […]

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Project Management Success

Project Management Success is not easy. 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 the right […]

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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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Project Variances Solve Just the Important Problems

Project variance is what gives executives nightmares about project failure. They are the calculated difference between the approved project plan’s costs and duration and the actual project results. We can have project variance vs.  schedule where we identified that a task should have been finished by July 1 and it was actually finished by July […]

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Project Plan Template

On every new project, you need to decide what Project Plan Template elements to include, what 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 risks and constraints as […]

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Earned Value Management

Earned Value Management  is an integrated set of tools for managing project progress and spotting variances from the plan.  These tools help you identify variances between actual performance in the project’s schedule and variances between actual costs and the project’s budget. Earned value management can also provide forecasts of the likely completion date and final cost […]

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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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Work Breakdown Structure WBS – Video

Work Breakdown Structure WBS: Deliverables or a “To Do” List? The work breakdown structure (WBS) provides the foundation on which a project manager works. The project manager uses the Work Breakdown Structure to control the project and the work of the team. The WBS also provides the checkpoints against which the project manager, the sponsor 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 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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Project Team Ground Rules

Project team ground rules are a necessity. Almost all project teams have frequent meetings and even more frequent communication in various forms. If the project manager doesn’t set ground rules for these meetings and communications, a significant amount of time is lost. Together, the project manager and team identify and formulate the ground rules that members of […]

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Project Plan Blunder #2 – Turf Wars

A project sponsor is meeting with the department managers who are her subordinates. She’s called them together to tell them their company is receiving terrible publicity. Their horrid customer service has made the front page of the local paper. She needs them to create a project plan to improve their customer service. The sponsor explains that they need an integrated effort. Each […]

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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 Management Foundations – First Project Video

Every project manager learns the Project Management Foundations on their first project.  These foundations give them the skills they will use on every project they manage. Our video is about a brand-new project manager starting her first project with an executive who doesn’t know how to correctly sponsor the project. In fact this executive, Mr. Cordalon, […]

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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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Status Meetings: Info-free, Macho or Micro-detail

Your Status Meetings quickly earn a reputation, and it’s usually bad. First we’ll discuss three types of bad status meetings. Then we’ll explore ways to make your status meetings short and effective. Status Meeting Types Some status meetings are info-free, meaning no one knows much about anything. The project manager doesn’t know where the project should […]

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Small Project Plan

Do I Really Need a Project Plan for a Small Project? So they assigned you a small project to straighten up the supply room. Only two of you are going to work on it. It shouldn’t take more than two weeks. Everybody’s talking about how you need to get this one out of the way so the company can […]

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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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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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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 Run Project Meetings

One of the biggest complaints we all hear is that there are too many project meetings. They prevent people from doing “real” work.  Project meetings come in all sizes: sponsor meetings, cabinet meetings, stakeholder meetings, status meetings, working meetings, brainstorming meetings, etc. The types of meetings depends on the organization and the complexity of the project.  In this […]

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WBS – Healthcare Projects

A key part of a good healthcare project plan is the work breakdown structure (WBS). The WBS for Healthcare Projects specifies the work assignment for every person working on the project.  It also specifies the deliverables the customer or sponsor will get. And it provides checkpoints for the organization’s management to track the project’s performance. WBS – Healthcare Projects: Step One Creating […]

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Become a Project Manager

There are many career paths you can use to Become a Project Manager and start a professional career. Project management offers career potential to men and women. The average salary for certified project managers topped $110,000 in the past year. Project management is also a skill demanded worldwide. The demand for project managers has remained strong despite economic […]

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WBS – Construction Projects – Video

A key part of a good construction project plan is the work breakdown structure (WBS). The WBS – Construction Projects specifies the work assignment for every crew member, subcontractor, architect, and outside consulting engineer working on the project.  It also specifies the deliverables the customer will get. That definition is in the form of an […]

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WBS – Information Technology Projects – Video

The work breakdown structure is the heart of a successful WBS – Information Technology project plan. The work breakdown structure (WBS) defines the deliverables in objectively measurable terms, like retrieve 6 months of customer history in 4 seconds. It fits the systems developmental methodology you will use in the project, like Agile, Waterfall, Iterative, etc.  It defines the users’ expectations […]

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Project Tracking Reports

The way you deliver your project tracking reports does a lot to determine your success as a project manager. Project management is often a stepping-stone to higher-level positions. Your delivery of the tracking report also determines your credibility with the sponsor and stakeholders. It impacts their level of comfort with the project itself and your ability to manage it. You […]

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