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Why Projects Fail

Dick Billows, PMP
Dick Billows, PMP
CEO 4pm.com

In too many organizations, projects fail often and enterprise project management is a significant competitive weakness. These organizations are unable to deliver projects for their products or services on time or within budget.  The project managers, executives, sponsors and team members don’t know how to play their roles in the company project management process.  Additionally, their projects lack priorities, resources and clear definitions of what they must produce. Most organizations’ projects of all sizes deliver little business value, are often over budget and are often late. Poor company project management processes waste a lot of time and money. The organizations’ worst performance, however, is on their strategic initiatives. These projects have significant impact on the organization and its customers but they often have an 80%+ failure rate. Enterprise Project Management Main PageCompany Project Management

But that isn’t the end of the project failure symptoms in many organizations. There are so many projects underway that many first-line managers spend most of their work day on project assignments. The most productive and dedicated project team members work 60-70 hour weeks without an end in sight. These problems make organizations very vulnerable to competitive moves like competitors’ new products and services.

Company Project Management: The Portfolio of Projects

Let’s take a 10,000-foot view of the typical portfolio of projects in an organization. In the lower left-hand corner are the “puppy” projects. There are hundreds of these small projects and no one outside of the initiating department (and possibly IT or facilities) knows they exist. But when an organization installs effective project initiation processes, two-thirds of these puppy projects go away. They simply can’t meet the required business value justification.

In the upper left-hand corner are the “porpoise” projects. These are the smartest projects in the organization and they have a tight focus and lean staffing. The porpoise projects don’t cost very much and they yield solid payback. Unfortunately, most organizations don’t have any of these because the project managers and sponsors aren’t able to work together to meet the tight focus required for these projects.

In the upper right-hand corner are the “pachyderm” projects that are the organization’s strategic initiatives. These projects cost a lot of time and money and can yield significant business value. However, they often fail for a number of reasons. One reason is that they’re starved for resources. Another is that the project managers, sponsors, senior executives and team members don’t know how to play their project roles. These issues can lead to the slow descent of a strategic initiative into a failed project.

“Pig” projects in the lower right-hand corner don’t start out as efforts that waste a lot of resources and produce nothing. They can start as pachyderm projects but lose their focus and become pig projects. Pigs can also start as puppy projects that balloon out of control because of poor planning and a lack of scope control.

The company project management process requires regular fine-tuning of the portfolio of projects.

Company Project Management: People Don’t Know Their Roles 

Here is the common thread among organizations with problems in their company project management portfolio; people don’t know how to play their roles. Specific roles and responsibilities are necessary for projects to deliver business value on time and within budget.

Executives don’t know how to control the initiation of projects or how to set priorities for projects. Calling everything priority number one is not setting priorities. The executives have to agree on a company project management protocol for the organization. In 2 pages, it can spell out the rules for initiating, planning and tracking projects as well as the various roles people will play. They don’t have to do all the work in this protocol. They just oversee the process and use their authority to enforce the protocol.

The first step is that all new projects must be submitted with the project charter and data to justify the project. Projects that do not meet the criteria in the project protocol don’t get approved and work doesn’t start on them. Next, all approved projects are given a priority and that controls their claim to resources. High priority projects get the “first call” on resources and lower priority projects have to wait. This is much better than starting every project as soon as someone thinks of one and then waging a battle for resources. Allocating resources by priority allows everyone working on projects to have a calendar of what they have to get done, by when, for which project. That does wonders to cut the chaos and confusion in the lower ranks. It is a key element for a company project management system.

Project sponsors often don’t know how to define measurable acceptance criteria for the new projects they want to start. The company project management process requires clarity on how the company will measure the project’s success and what business value it will produce. Sponsors must learn how to define those criteria and create a statement of work  (SOW) to initiate a project. The statement of work is part of the project charter which the sponsor must submit for project approval. Next, project sponsors must learn how to review a project plan and make sure the plan meets the criteria laid out by the company project management protocol. And finally, sponsors play a lead role in approving any changes to the approved project plan.

Project managers often don’t know how to accurately estimate the work and duration of tasks. They also don’t know how to model different ways to deliver the scope. Sponsors need to be given those options so they can juggle trade-offs between the scope, cost and duration. Finally, project managers must be able to spot problems early. This requires accurate status data from the team. The project managers must be able to forecast completion dates and costs and propose solutions to problems.

Project team members often don’t know how to take part in the estimating process for their tasks. They must know how to report status accurately and provide “estimates to complete.” This data is the key to allowing the project manager to spot problems early so they can solve them when they are small. Team members also don’t know how to juggle multiple assignments because the project priorities are not clear.

When everyone knows how to play their role properly, according to the rules laid out in the company project management protocol, the organization has the foundation for fixing their project problems. Now let’s talk about the five steps to improving your organization’s project performance and developing your protocol.

Company Project Management: What Doesn’t Work 

Fixing the project performance mess is tricky and it can be painful. We have worked with over 300 small and medium-size organizations to address these company project management issues. And we have learned that senior management will make the required sacrifices to straighten out project failure only when they can’t tolerate the pain of those failures. However, there are no easy fixes.

You can’t fix the problem with expensive project software and servers, despite what the IT department recommends. Small and medium-size organizations can control up to 250 in-process projects on a PC with software that costs a couple hundred dollars. To do this, you need a high level of compliance with a new, leaner way of planning, scheduling and tracking projects.

You can’t fix this problem by sending a few project managers to training, despite what the trainers tell you. Everyone, including sponsors, project managers and team members, must be trained on how to play their company project management role.

You can’t fix this problem by tightly controlling only the big projects, despite what the consultants tell you. If you only make your company project management process changes for big projects, the puppy projects will run amok, leaving a mess on the corporate carpet.

Finally, you can’t fix this problem by having a few certified project managers or consultants create a paperwork jungle. Endless paperwork and needless meetings are the curse of project management.

The solution is installing a simple, straightforward company project management process that everyone follows. These processes save people time so they willingly follow them. Achieving a high level of compliance is the key to making these processes work better, not adding a lot of paperwork.

Company Project Management: A Five-Step Program That Fixes the Problem 

It is challenging to achieve consistent company project management success because you need to overcome a number of problems simultaneously. Successful programs to improve company project management performance in organizations include these five elements:

1. Executives exercise control over initiating new projects. That means all new projects, not just the big ones, must justify their business value. This will make sure that the resource investment is repaid by the benefits the project delivers.

2. The executives agree on and approve a company project management protocol that details the process and defines everyone’s role. Every organization needs its unique company project management protocol but this document should not exceed two pages. Once again, high compliance by executives and project managers is the key, not fancy processes and excessive paperwork.

3. Everyone gets trained on their role as it’s designed for your particular organization. In the training program, they also learn the data they’ll be getting from decision-making and the inputs they must give. The training must be focused on managing the kind of projects your organization does, not generic academic case studies. The curriculum and case studies must be tailored to the kind of projects you do and your organization’s unique culture. Otherwise, the program isn’t relevant.

4. We’re talking about making significant changes to people’s work habits, so ongoing support is a critical requirement. People need to have someone they can ask about what to do in unique situations. This is particularly true in the first few months of implementing the new protocol.

5. Finally, everyone needs to agree to the implementation plan. It will substantially reduce the number of puppy projects and require the re-planning of some ongoing projects as you clean out the pipeline of poorly conceived projects.

These steps work because they make everyone’s job on projects easier and because they free up a lot of resources from the poor payback projects that are cancelled. This allows people to work on the important projects.

Company Project Management Summary 

To improve your company project management success, people must learn how to play their project roles properly. The project managers, executives, project sponsors and team members often do not know what their role is. And they don’t have the tools and techniques to play it properly. The consequences are devastating. Executives don’t set priorities for projects or allocate resources based on those priorities. The priorities change every day, depending on who a team member talked to last. That causes chaos among the people working on projects.

Additionally, project sponsors don’t know how to define the scope of a project nor exercise the necessary control over changes to the scope. Many project managers don’t know how to use their project software tools to create options and alternatives for project sponsors to consider. They must be able to create those options during planning and every week when there is a problem and corrective action is needed. The project manager must produce a couple of options for sponsors to consider.

Finally, project team members very often don’t know how to estimate the work and duration in their tasks. They also don’t know how to report their progress and make estimates of the remaining work. Without that data on the estimate to complete, project managers and sponsors have difficulty identifying problems early, when they are small and easily solved.

The five step program we discussed addresses each of these issues and will improve your company project management.

At the beginning, when you and Dick talk to design your program and what you want to learn, you will select case studies that fit the kind of projects you want to manage. Chose you course and then select the which specialty case study from business, or marketing,  or construction, or healthcare, or consulting.  That way your case studies and project plans, schedules and presentations will fit your desired specialty.

  1. 101 Project Management Basics
  2. 103 Advanced Project Management Tools
  3. 201 Managing Programs, Portfolios & Multiple Projects
  4. 203 Presentation and Negotiation Skills
  5. 304 Strategy & Tactics in Project management
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PMO – Project Management Office Types and Strategies

Dick Billows, PMP
Dick Billows, PMP
CEO 4pm.com
Dick’s Books on Amazon

When organizations have consistent project failures, i.e. they are late, over budget and produce no business value, the executives often add a PMO – Project Management Office.  There are several types of PMO, each of which plays a different role and uses different staff and techniques. Whatever the type, the goal is always to get projects under control and improve their results.

In many organizations, project failures increase as the number of projects grows. People previously worked on one project in addition to their “real job” and they found it exciting and unique. Now they have 3 – 4 project assignments as well as their real job.  They are unclear which of the  projects has the higher priority because each of the project managers says their project comes first.  The team member’s real job suffers because of these competing assignments.

To make matters worse, the number of new projects grows because there is little review or control over the promised business value of each one. Project failures climb and the organization consistently fails to deliver on organizational initiatives.  When the failure rate rises above 50%, the organization is also paralyzed against their competition. Executives desperately search for solutions. They try project management training programs, new computer systems, more forms, new review meetings and last but not least, a PMO. They hope the PMO can return them to the old days when projects succeeded and people wanted to work on a project.  See Enterprise Project Management

PMO – Project Management Office Problems to Solve

Two main problems that PMOs attempt to solve are project prioritization and resource allocation. Often the organization has no system for prioritizing projects. There is merely a lot of yelling about which project should be priority #1. (And there are already 50 top priority projects in the pipeline.) No one evaluates each new project based on its costs and benefits and then sets their priority. Project work if often interrupted by the appearance of a new top priority project. People don’t know what project is most important or what to work on first. This lack of prioritization means the organization wastes valuable resources on projects it will never finish.
Project Management Office

The second problem is that no one is managing the portfolio of projects. The organization cannot successfully complete larger strategic projects because there are dozens of  small “puppy projects” that get launched every week. In many organizations, these litters of projects consume 40% of the total project resources without any evaluation of their value. They are “off the organization’s radar” and the people who sponsor all these puppies like it that way.

The resource pool is a nightmare because project managers are constantly vying for team members. To allocate resources effectively, someone needs to know who is working on what project, how long it will take them and when they will be finished.  With that information, the organization can allocate resources to projects based on their priority.

PMO- Project Management Office: The Solution?

These two problems must be solved for the organization’s projects to be successful. It requires limiting the autonomy of executives and project managers. It also requires the organization to manage cross functional projects by sharing people across department/functional lines. There are many objections to this.

The complaint we hear from executives is, “I am a VP and these people all work for me.  I can start a project any time I want.”

The complaint we hear from project managers is, “Do you want me to do the project or all this paperwork the PMO is demanding?”

The complaint we hear from managers who lend resources to projects is, “It’s a recognized management principal that no employee can have more than one boss.”

When the organization throws a PMO into this mix, it’s often staffed by people who think they’re the best project managers. These project managers decide that everyone has to do things “the right way.” So they begin issuing project rules, regulations and new forms that project managers must use. They feel all the rules and paperwork will give them control over the projects. But busy project managers usually ignore all these bureaucratic requirements; and they usually get away with it.

In some cases, the net result is that the PMO doesn’t solve the issues of initiation/prioritization and resource allocation. Some project management office efforts fail because they create so many procedures and so much paperwork that compliance is low and scorn is high. They waste a lot of project managers’ time trying to enforce cumbersome academic methodologies. Others fail because they don’t provide useful data to decision-makers.

However, some PMOs work well. Let’s look at some of these options.

PMO- Project Management Office: The Weather Station

Just like your friendly TV weather person, the Weather Station PMO reports on what is going on but doesn’t try to influence it. This PMO doesn’t bother any of the PMs who are leading projects with rules and forms. These Weather Station people accumulate data about projects and summarize it for executives. They don’t make any decisions or enforce any standards. They merely pass on the information to anyone who is interested and wants to use it. The Weather Station can be implemented painlessly and if the information is focused, it can serve decision–makers’ needs.

PMO- Project Management Office: The Control Tower

In the Control Tower PMO, the project office personnel give project managers direction on PM methodology. This includes project initiation, acquiring resources and correcting variances. While each PM manages his or her own projects, the Control Tower PMO will alert them to impending problems. It will also identify situations where the PM is not adhering to the methodology, particularly during scheduling and verification of deliverables.

PMO- Project Management Office: Command Central

The Command Central PMO  may be the home department for all or most of the organization’s project managers . They report to the Command Central management, not to the project sponsors in the operating units. The Command Central’s enforcement of a consistent methodology is strict. This PMO is actively involved in the evaluation of new projects and recommends their approval or rejection to executives. They usually play a configuration management role. This means they analyze changes to projects and changes to the specifications of project deliverables.

PMO- Project Management Office: Which Type is Best? 

What’s the best type of project management office? The answer depends on the state of project management in the organization.

The Weather Station PMO is a good solution for organizations at the chaos stage in managing their projects.  The Weather Station’s data distribution can help with resource allocation and priority issues. The Weather Station also sounds innocent and does not trigger a lot of turf battles like the other two types. But it does not have the clout to resolve issues about nitiating too many projects, lending resources across functional lines, or prioritizing projects.

Organizations emerging from project chaos require more centralized control and enforcement to instill a disciplined approach and a consistent methodology. They must be able to handle the turf wars that usually arise when the Control Tower PMO is implemented. Their role in controlling project initiation and enforcing standards for new projects steps on the toes (and the fragile egos) of sensitive functional managers.

The Command Central PMO pays off when larger organizations have a significant number of cross-functional projects. Then centralization of the project managers (at least for cross-functional projects) can improve training and utilization of the project managers. It also ensures use of a consistent methodology. This type of PMO is useful if management is:

  • Unable to control the initiation of new projects
  • Unable to exercise control over the organization’s portfolio of existing projects and
  • Unwilling to enforce an organization-wide protocol for planning, approving and tracking projects.

We only see effective PMOs in organizations that have solved the authority problems of cross-functional projects and developed a key group of skilled project managers. These PMs apply a consistent protocol for planning, budgeting and tracking projects. This Command Central PMO allows the line managers and PMs sufficient “elbow room” for creativity while still allocating resources properly and coordinating the organization’s initiation of projects.

At the beginning, when you and Dick talk to design your program and what you want to learn, you will select case studies that fit the kind of projects you want to manage. Chose you course and then select the which specialty case study from business, or marketing,  or construction, or healthcare, or consulting.  That way your case studies and project plans, schedules and presentations will fit your desired specialty.

  1. 101 Project Management Basics
  2. 103 Advanced Project Management Tools
  3. 201 Managing Programs, Portfolios & Multiple Projects
  4. 203 Presentation and Negotiation Skills
  5. 304 Strategy & Tactics in Project management

 

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Program Manager – Multiple Projects

program management
Dick Billows, PMP
CEO 4PM.com

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. Program management is focused on allocating resources to the various projects in the program to maximize the overall business value.  As well, the program manager must meet the often conflicting needs and requirements of the stakeholders of those projects. Program management  uses the tools and techniques of project and portfolio management but must also deal with complex interpersonal relationships.  The program manager deals with senior management as well as lower management levels. Controlling the expectations of these manages and securing their support for projects is the heart of the job. The large number of stakeholders affected by the projects in the program consume much of the program managers time.

Becoming a program manager is the next step up for experienced senior project managers. Program management includes the skill to managing multiple projects with related outcomes that the organization bundles into a program. The program manager usually has project managers as subordinates, each of them managing one of the component projects in a larger program. Many program managers manage several programs at a time. They may even manage all of the projects and programs in an organization. Project Management Careers Main Page

Program Manager: Interpersonal Skills

The program manager must have very strong interpersonal skills because they interact with the organization’s executives. They must persuade and influence the executives in order to maximize the yield on each of the organization’s projects and programs. There are always executive conflicts about project and program priorities and the program manager must be able to address those issues and build consensus for a solution. Therprogram managemente are also weekly conflicts about the prioritization of projects as new projects are added to the organization’s portfolio. The program manager needs to build consensus on those priorities so that resources can be allocated based on the organization’s priorities.

Program Manager: Technical Skills

Second, the program manager needs to possess the technical skills to allocate resources across all of the organization’s projects and track the status for each of them. The program manager needs to be able to assemble status data and analyze variances with techniques like earned value management to be able to present executives with accurate and timely status data so they can make decisions.

Program Manager: Subordinate Development Skills

Third, the program manager must be able to teach the subordinate project managers a consistent methodology for doing their projects. This means all projects are managed with the same techniques and tools.

Program Manager: Summary

The highest level of certification in the project management area is the program manager certification. There are some important skill sets that you need to add to your project management toolkit to manage multiple projects, either in a large program or a portfolio. Those skills include software techniques to consolidate all the projects, track resource utilization, and ensure people are working on the right assignments at all times. Even more challenging for program managers is the skilled to deal with a group of executives, manage their expectations and persuade them to follow the best practices in project management. The interpersonal, communication and presentation skills at the program manager level require training and practice.

We offer a Program Manager Certification that teaches all of these skills. It’s a two course online program for experienced project managers that is approximately 120 hours of work with individual coaching from an expert program manager. One course is devoted to program management and methodology skills. The other course focuses on interpersonal, professional communication and presentation skills. You give live online presentations to your instructor and practice persuading and influencing executives. You help them reach agreement on issues like program priorities and resource allocations. Courses in your specialty

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Failed Projects

Dick Billows, PMP
Dick Billows, PMP
CEO 4pm.com
Dick’s Books on Amazon

“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 idea how to sponsor a project. Sometimes failed projects are delivering so little value to the organization that the executives stop work on them. But that’s pretty rare because often there is too much political and financial capital invested to admit failure.  So the failed project continues even when it is so out of control that no one can find a way to salvage it.

Most organizations don’t learn from their project failures so they have one failed project after another. In those organizations, 70% of the projects fail to deliver the scope for anywhere near the planned cost. Every project failure should lead to a detailed investigation of what went wrong. Organization must circulate that information to executives and project managers. Unfortunately, very often the failures are hidden and there is no investigation into what went wrong. Enterprise Project Management Main Page

Here are the three causes we often find in our review of clients’ failed projects.

Failed Projects: A Vague Scope Statement

Lots of projects have weak scope definitions. But on failed projects, the scope is so vague that it establishes few limitations on what is included in the project. So scope creep is rampant. People at all levels in all functional areas add new features to the project every week. Here are some examples of additions: new software that the IT department wouldn’t give them; new equipment that didn’t meet the capital approval process; other “goodies” that are good ideas but don’t create value for the project. Project Failure Warning Signs

The scope has to define specific deliverables the project must produce. That scope of the project must be approved before any work starts. The scope statement itself must include quantified acceptance criteria. These are metrics that can be objectively measured. As an example, a customer service improvement project might have a scope of “Less than 3% of the customers have to call back about the same problem.” That metric gives the executives, the sponsor and the project manager a tool to judge whether user requirements and change requests are necessary to produce the deliverable.

Failed Projects: Lack of Data in Planning and Tracking

Another characteristic of failed projects is project plans without data. They don’t have estimates of the hours of work required for the tasks and deliverables. Instead, the sponsor plucks a completion date that sounds good out of the sky. Cost estimates are also missing except for general wild guesses. As a result, people who are completing tasks or purchasing items have no constraints on the time or money they spend. This is bad enough during planning but it is disastrous when it comes to tracking actual results. Team members’ status reports don’t give the number of hours and dollars they have spent on their task and an estimate of the hours and dollars required to complete their tasks. Instead they give a subjective estimate like “I’m in greenlight status.” This doesn’t give the sponsor or project manager any ability to decide where the project’s problems are or even if they exist. Project Rescue

Failed Projects: No Accountability for Results

Finally, failed projects have little or no personal accountability for results. Some team members are working on a specific task. Others are part of a more general effort involving the entire project team. But few team members are held accountable for producing a specific deliverable, by a certain date, for a specified number of hours or dollars. As a result, it is impossible to identify who should solve a problem on a task.

Failed Projects: Summary

Here are the characteristics that all failed projects have in common:

  • They take place in organizations that have no standard project processes
  • The scope of these projects are vague
  • There are no standard planning, tracking and reporting processes
  • All projects are ad hoc. Each project manager makes up the rules about how to manage their project
  • No one is held accountable for delivering results

Organizations won’t change their project management processes until the pain from failed projects is too great to ignore.

Learn how to use project management best practices and avoid failures in our online project management basics courses. You work privately with an expert project manager. You control the schedule and pace and have as many phone calls and live video conferences with your instructor as you wish.  Take a look at the course in your specialty.

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Lean Project Management

Dick Billows, PMP
Dick Billows, PMP
CEO 4pm.com
Dick’s Books on Amazon

One day you emerge from your Performance Improvement Project status meeting and realize your once “lean and mean” project is waddling toward the completion date. It’s destined to be late for lots of reasons.  How could this happen? You started out with Lean Project Management but then...

  • The engineers fell in love with a new nano technology that was critical to the first deliverable. But now they’ve added it to four more deliverables.  That added a few extra days of development and a few more of testing, then another few on installation.
  • You lost a couple of arguments about a “Do-it-Yourself” report generator that two stakeholders raved about.  You were willing to bet they would never use it but eventually they went to their boss about it. Then you got a phone call from the sponsor about the need to keep the stakeholders happy.
  • The sponsor insisted upon adding a training class to the project. He wouldn’t listen when you tried to explain that the class would delay the completion date.  The sponsor told you, “Find a way; use your leadership skills.”

Now your once lean project is a fat pig. Stakeholders want to talk about features, functionalities and fixtures, not the business value they will deliver.  Planning the project is difficult when executives talk about “getting started quickly” and finishing “as soon as possible.” They think you can plan the project as you go. Project Methodology Main Page

Lean Project Management: Techniques That Don’t Work

A never-ending stream of changes and additions make it difficult to stop projects from adding fat. So how do you cope? Well, there are a number of techniques that don’t work.  The first “sure to fail” tactic is to write long, rambling project scope statements that are so vague no one disagrees with anything in them.  This makes the stakeholders very happy with you…in the beginning.

The second “sure to fail” tactic is to focus on features, fixtures and activities. This delights the micro-managers in the stakeholder group as well as people who want to avoid conflict and making difficult decisions.  This last group is easily identified because they’re the ones who only talk about getting off to a fast start.

Lean Project Management Techniques That Do Work

We’ve talked about what doesn’t work. Now let’s talk about the lean project management techniques that do work because they let you “frame” the project.  You need to get all the project stakeholders to look at the business situation through the same frame. Then they must agree on the dimensions of the frame which are the project’s business value.

lean project managementA Short, Direct & Measured Broad-Brush Plan

Long windy narratives don’t give you the kind of framing you need because people don’t read them and the frame has no hard edges.  These “literary masterpieces” define the scope with such political correctness that everybody can see something in it they like.  What works best in lean project management is a short, 1 -1.5 page, broad-brush strategic plan that frames the measurable and verifiable business outcomes and the value of the project.  You can always write a more massive plan once the strategic framing is approved.

In lean project management, you must do the difficult thinking that’s required to frame the project in terms of measurable business results. You must resist talking to project executives about the  technical details of the approach that you’ll use. Few project sponsors are interested in the technical details of coding languages or design strategies.  Project managers who talk to sponsors at this level should not be surprised when they have difficulty getting the executives to meet with them.  Regardless of how fascinating you may find the technical details, most project sponsors are not interested in how you get to the end result.  They don’t care about the nitty gritty details.  They like the lean project management approach of what people will pay for the product and how many the Sales people can sell.

That’s why lean project management requires you to do the difficult task of probing the business situation and quantifying the project outcomes and the business value of the project. You must find out what business value the sponsor wants the project to produce. For example, it can be a new product or a solution to a problem.  You must express that business value in the sponsor’s language, not yours.

Spraying Gasoline on Smoldering Embers

Good strategic project framing doesn’t create conflict.  But if burning embers of conflict exist in the business situation or between the sponsors, good project framing sprays gasoline on those embers to ignite them.  Why inflame the conflict?  Because you’d much rather bring it out into the open before you start work than have the flames spring to life when the project is half done. We’re not talking about you having conflict with the sponsors.  That would be a stupid, career-limiting move. These people are your clients or organizational superiors.  No, we’re talking about inflaming the conflict between the sponsors and then facilitating its resolution before you start work on the project.

So how do you inflame this conflict? By being absolutely crystal-clear about what the project will produce and, as importantly, what it will not.  You do this with a short scope statement that is unambiguous and states measurable business outcomes.  That’s the gasoline and you spray it on the fires of conflict by distributing it to everyone in a very short, direct and readable form.  You want them to agree on how they will measure success when the project is done.

Decomposing From the Top Down

Once you have the sponsor’s agreement and sign-off on the measured business outcome the project will deliver, (the scope), you start the decomposition effort.  This process develops a network of supporting sub-achievements that will lead from the present business situation to the Measure of Success (MOS™). Once again, you’re spraying gasoline on any conflicts that exist by being very specific, quantifiable, and measurable in describing the supporting business achievements that will lead the project to the end result. This path to the MOS™ includes more than just your work.  It also frames the process changes and achievements that other people in the organization must deliver.

The difficulty in this process is avoiding the “activity trap.” Everyone (including project managers) finds it easier to talk about what they’re going to do than to define what they’re going to achieve. But when the backbone of your project is laid out in measured achievement terms, you frame the project for the stakeholders and create a foundation for crystal clear assignments to your team members.  You can communicate to the team exactly what end results you expect from them before they start work.

4-Corners™ Trade-Offs     lean project management

Now you’re ready to develop the “4-Corners” of your project plan and give yourself the best scope and change control tool available. That is the ability to quantify trade-offs between the four dimensions of the project.  Every project has “4-Corners” and changes in one corner always impact at least one other corner:

  • Business value (scope)
  • Budget (cost)
  • Completion date (duration)
  • Level of confidence (risk) in delivering the preceding three corners.

Unfortunately, in most projects only one (or two at the most) of these corners is explicitly measurable.  The completion date is always objectively measurable and usually rock solid.  But most internal projects have no other measurable dimension.  In some business situations, the budget for the project will also be measurable.  But even with these two measured dimensions, the business value of the project is usually unmeasurable mush.  As a result, you can’t quantify the impact of scope changes on the budget or duration except by whining loudly.

The risk corner is rarely measured. As a result, project sponsors assume there’s no risk and you are 100% confident of delivering the business value within the duration and/or budget.  Now 100% confidence seems ridiculous, particularly in light of the fact that most organizations experience a project failure rate near 50 percent.  Yet few project managers give their sponsors the opportunity to make decisions about the level of confidence they want and the level of “risk insurance” they’re willing to pay for.

The lean project management framing process we’ve been talking about gives you a scope.  You can use that quantified measure of the project’s business value when you build your project schedule and budget.  You can also present your sponsor with quantified trade-offs between the “4-Corners” of the project plan.  This data-based decision-making and “fine-tuning” is a far better approval platform than one based on arbitrary changes to one or more of the corners without any compensating changes in the others.

You will use these quantified trade-offs every time there is a variance to the plan.  Your lean project management status reports will include trade-off analyses between the “4-Corners.” That allows executives to evaluate alternatives for taking advantage of opportunities and recovering from problems.

 

Learn more about our Lean Project Management Methodology and the specific techniques for framing your projects and developing “4-Corners™” trade-offs in our online project management courses. You’ll work privately and individually with a expert project manager. You control the schedule and pace and have as many phone calls and live video conferences as you wish. Take a look at the course in your specialty. We can also customize a program for your organization and deliver it at your site or in online webinars.

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Project Templates

Project Templates vs. Re-inventing the Wheel

Project templates can be a big time saver as long as they fit your project and your organization. The best way to secure templates that you can use on all of your projects is for you and perhaps a couple of other project managers to develop them yourselves.  It really doesn’t take a great deal of time and often project managers can pool and compare the formats and templates they use for the project scope, charter, stakeholder identification and so on.  Designing a common template obviously requires a little bit of compromise but it will save time for the project managers and the sponsors and stakeholders who will use these documents.  However, you should avoid at all costs the Excel template called “Factories” that sells hundreds of templates that supposedly “fit all projects.” They do not.

Project Managers are creative people and that’s a good thing. Without creativity, we would not be able to structure a project or react quickly to project templatesunforeseen challenges. However, it is also human nature to try to customize and alter things until they totally look the way we want them to or at least bear our undeniable mark. Unfortunately, this practice is not efficient and it might actually hinder your project success.  That’s why you reaching consensus on project templates with your PM colleagues is the best course.

Project Templates Save Time

We all hate those forms that we have to fill out to get a project approved and we don’t like the client’s format for project status reports. After all, we are experienced project managers. So why can’t the client use our artfully created project templates for the scope, charter, WBS, and status presentation? Of course we develop a new form for each project. If you work in an organization that always develops everything from scratch, please take a minute to read through the list below of the benefits of standardization. On the other hand, if you work in an organization with lots of standardization, these points might help you appreciate all the forms you have available. Obviously, over-standardization is an issue. But for the most part, having a standardized way of organizing, managing, and documenting projects has at least the following benefits:

Shorter Start-Up Time

If everyone uses the same project templates, everyone knows what to expect. Let’s call it the McDonalds Principle: No matter where in the world you buy a cheeseburger from McDonalds, its always the same: Two buns, one hamburger patty, a slice of cheese, a slice of pickle, mustard and ketchup. Customers know exactly what they’ll get when they order a McDonalds cheeseburger.

The same holds true for standardized forms and processes. Everyone knows what is expected and things can be compared, matched, and so on. All the decision makers in the organization know where to find the information they are looking for so they can make a decision more easily. Moreover, if you need to train a new PM, it is easier to show him/her a set of similar-looking project charters and plans than it is to analyze a set of completely different-looking documents. Last but not least, using tools that already exist and that have been tested by previous PMs will make it easier for you to start the actual project work. You need not wast time designing something that already exists.

Easier Lessons Learned 

Each project or project phase should end with a lessons learned session. Standardized requirements documentation, status reports, and plans make it easier to point out flaws and actually learn from our mistakes.

Easier Estimation Next Time

If all the projects in an organization use the same standards, it will be easier for PMs to use historical analysis for their next project’s estimations because they can accurately compare the current project with a previous one. The point I’m making here is this: Standardization has its place. Obviously, there is an extreme to that, but I hope you get my point. When starting with a new client, why don’t you ask your client if they have a standard for PM documentation?

Until next time.

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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 more efficient. They positively and substantially contribute to the project success rate. Careful executive management of four elements of an organization’s project management process is the key to taking the efficient path versus to the bureaucratic one. Let’s discuss each of these elements.

Dick Billows, PMP
Dick Billows, PMP
CEO 4pm.com
Dick’s Books on Amazon

Project Management Maturity: The Project Management Office (PMO)

The concept of a project management office is initially sold in the organization as a way to gather data and make it available for faster and easier decision-making. Another benefit may be consistency in the way the organization’s project managers manage. A third benefit can be allocating resources to projects based on the executives’ prioritization of projects. What that means is that the most important projects get first call on scarce resources and lower priority projects have to wait.  Project Management Office Main Page
At the start, the project office can have a positive influence on the organization’s project success rates. However, in most of the 300 organizations we have worked on their project management processes, the project management office’s value quickly declines. The people in the PMO want to tightly control the organization’s projects. They often insist on monitoring the work of the project managers by adding additional forms, procedures and meetings. But the PMO staff frequently fails in their most important function with is to build the organization’s project archives. These archives should contain the data, plans and lessons learned from completed projects. Although the process doesn’t sound too exciting, the resulting benefit definitely is. In as little as six months, the project archives can save project managers significant amounts of time, avoid mistakes and improve quality. The PMs can use and/or modify the project plans and data from similar projects rather than starting from scratch. On larger projects, they may also use the risk analysis and the stakeholder management analysis to save a great deal of time. Project Lessons Learned Main Page

Project Management Maturity: Estimating Database

The single biggest benefit of the project archives is in improving the accuracy of the cost and duration estimates. The archives contain data on how much work/cost the project tasks required.  Every professional firm and consulting organization maintains an archive of data on previous projects. They know they can’t make money if their estimates are inaccurate. That’s why they invest substantial sums in organizing the project archives. Organizations that are consistently successful with projects always have an archive of completed projects because it makes their project managers more efficient and saves them from making the same mistakes again.

As that data accumulates, it becomes easier for project managers with a new assignment to find similar projects or parts of previous projects that are similar to parts of the new one. This allows project managers to use analogous estimating techniques based on real historic data to create more reliable and accurate estimates. Analogous Estimating Video 
Unfortunately, the people who tend to drift into the project management office function find archiving of data boring, so they pay little attention to it. The archive has little value if no one spends a modest amount of time organizing and referencing the data from previous projects.

Project Management Maturity: Consistency Without Bureaucracy

It is astounding how quickly project management offices turn into generators of new forms and new procedures. They want to control the project and they need data to do it. But quite often that’s not forthcoming from the project managers. We often hear project managers ask their project sponsors, “Do you want me to do the project or finish all this damn paperwork?”
While the archived plans and estimating database are a tremendous help to project managers, a steady stream of new forms and procedures is not. PMOs tend to generate lots of new forms because that’s how they get the information they think they need. However, some fine tuning and automation of the weekly status report process can provide all the information the PMO and project managers need without additional paperwork.project management maturity

Project Management Maturity: Periodic Assessments

Organizations need to examine how their project management processes are maturing. They should do the following:

  • Ensure that the individual project managers’ skills and techniques are keeping pace with current practice
  • Ensure that project sponsors understand their role and how to direct the project managers who work for them
  • Assess the value of the company’s project archives and ensure they’re saving time and improving accuracy.

You can assess where your organization is positioned in this project management maturity process. Look at two metrics in addition to the aspects of the project processes listed above. First, look at the density of projects in the organization. How many people are working on multiple projects? That tells you about the level of contention for resources by on-going projects. The second metric is the project failure rate and the trends in that failure rate. Are they increasing or decreasing?

Project Management Maturity: Implementing a Project Management Process

As organizations strive to improve their project performance and become consistently successful, one of the least expensive steps that produces significant benefits is implementing a project management process. This requires the project sponsors and project managers to agree on the steps and templates to be used as well as the data elements to be archived.  The use of archived data and template have the largest impact and start paying benefits in a few months. Other elements can be added to the project management process to achieve consistency in status reporting, scheduling, variance reporting and change control.

You can learn more about using an effective project management process in our online project management courses. You work privately and individually with a expert project manager. You control the schedule and pace and have as many phone calls and live video conferences as you wish.  Take a look at the course in your specialty.

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Project Stakeholder Management

Project stakeholder management includes identifying and dealing with the executives, managers,
Dick Billows, PMP
Dick Billows, PMP
CEO 4pm.com
Dick’s Books on Amazon
employees, customers, contractors and users who will be affected by the deliverables your project produces. The list of stakeholders also includes people who will be lending resources to your project team and helping you gather requirements. In the beginning of your project manager career when your projects are for your boss, the only stakeholders you need to be concerned about are the boss and your team members. The boss is playing the role of all the other stakeholders.  Stakeholders Main Page
But as your carer advances and your projects get larger, there are more stakeholders and some may not work in the same organization you do. In fact, you will spend a great deal of time trying to discover all your stakeholders. Then you’ll gather their requirements so you’re not surprised by new stakeholders with new requirements two weeks before your project was going to be finished.

Project Stakeholder Management: First Step

Many project managers start their first day of a job with a new organization uncertain about  the project stakeholder landscape. That landscape is filled with new players and expectations. Enthusiastic with their bag of skills and eage to add value to their new organization, many PM’s find themselves encountering potential land mines that could derail their efforts.  Instead of taking a step back and doing a proper assessment of both the internal and external environments and their role, they rush full speed ahead to affect change. It is at these times that PM’s need to do a proper assessment about the culture and politics of their new home organization.

project stakeholder managementProject Stakeholder Management: Identify the Key Players

The first step toward effective project stakeholder management is to assume the position of a sponge. Soak up as much information as you can to learn and understand how the organization runs and does business. Treat it like a project engagement with a thorough initiation stage. The objective is to understand the key players and their expectations and position those expectations within the organization’s unique culture. You should identify the key stakeholders who will be critical to enabling you to add value to the organization’s efforts.

Project Stakeholder Management: Create a Plan

Then you will develop a project stakeholder management plan to effectively consult and engage all the key project stakeholders. Their support will be critical to your efforts to enhance the organization’s project management processes. Too often new PMs try to affect change too quickly without looking at the bigger picture. You must plan out the steps you will take. It’s important to be acutely aware of the different power dynamics within the organization. You must assess the best way to influence those dynamics to achieve the best project outcomes for your organization.

Project Stakeholder Management: Execute the Plan

Execute the plan and determine how you will enhance your effectiveness by having a feedback loop to make corrections along the way. During this step, it will be important to be agile and adaptable. Things may change constantly, so it’s important to be able to adapt quickly to any changes and/or new information.

Monitor and influence your engagement with all project stakeholders but specifically the key players. They have the power to make or break your efforts. You need to understand their expectations and manage them effectively. This can only be achieved through proper monitoring. The objective is to influence their engagements in your project to achieved the desired outcomes.

To be effective as a project manager, you must understand that you are a critical change agent. That requires you to be aware of the political and cultural dimensions of your role. Ignoring these critical success factors can be costly to your projects and detriment to your career.

 

You can learn proven project stakeholder management tools and techniques in our online project management courses. You’ll work privately and individually with a expert project manager. You control the schedule and pace and have as many phone calls and live video conferences as you wish.  Take a look at the course in your specialty.

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Project Portfolio Management Software

More money and time gets wasted trying to automate project portfolio management (multiple projects) than on any other project management tool. The reason for the waste is that decision-makers lose sight of the purpose of portfolio management. Other agendas, purposes and goals take over and lead to all the waste and kill the effort. These killers include:

  • giving everyone access to all the project data
  • giving the accountants earlier control of expenditures
  • improving the communications between project team members and project managers
  • letting the sponsor spot problems before the project manager see them

The process of project portfolio management should have these objectives:

  • Managing the utilization and availability of people working on projects
  • Allocating resources to projects based on their priority as set by management
  • Reallocating resources based on new projects, change requests and variances
  • Tracking actual results versus the plan and distributing the results to managers and project managers

Project Portfolio Management: Software Selection

Searching for the best project portfolio management software can be a daunting task. Many choices exist and many people have their own requirements. But there’s one piece of advice I always use in these situations. It’s the answer answer of my university professor when asked whether there is a best programming development language out there.project portfolio management

“The best tool does not exist. The better tool is the one that serves you best in the situation at hand.”

There are a rapidly growing number of tools currently available to help organizations manage projects. Some are provided by big market names, others are cloud-based services or open source. Project Schedule & Software Main Page

I will not talk about comparing the tools; I do not have such knowledge. My point today is to tell you a story of how we have used simple tools to achieve our short term and mid-term goals. And we got rid of the added complexity of an off-the-shelf software.

In 2008 we had to work with many parallel projects in a matrix organization with resources shared among several projects. Demand, especially for specialized resources, had increased steadily over the preceding years. At the point when the demand outgrew the capacity, the lack of a proper portfolio and resource management methodology became obvious and painful. We had issues with over-promising, managing priorities, impact analysis of changes, and the snowball effect of delays in all the projects sharing the same resources.

We established the Project Portfolio Management role to streamline the process. The process we designed established a work pipeline matching the PMI project phases. All the new project requests were queued at the start following initiation, planning, work-in-progress, quality control/management and close out. On the other side, we created the catalog of resources and skills in order to calculate the “supply.” This would serve as our supply-demand chain. The available free capacity would be shared with the senior management to help the decision-making for new projects and approval of changes.

The first question from the portfolio team was, “What tool do we use to manage this complex process?” We started to use MS Project. As it came out, rolling out a brand new, still unstable process, directly into a complex tool was not such a good idea. I think the tool is a good one but instead of helping us move faster, it was getting in the middle. Instead of focusing on the process, we were spending our energy on discussing the technology. It became a source of excuses and justification for failure. We heard things like, “I could not do my work because the tool is not good.”

After 4 months, we made the decision to drop the system for the time being and focus hard on the process. To tackle the need for reports and KPI’s, a simple Microsoft access database was created. It contained all the milestones of the projects, their interdependence and the assigned resources. We kept information in the portfolio database only to the level of the WBS and milestones, not to the full details of a project plan. It meant more manual work, but it was a simple tool, flexible and adaptable to the fast changes of the process. And it left no room for excuses. The tool, together with the process and the maturity of the team, kept improving and growing.

Today we are using commercial software to manage single projects but our capacity for planning, portfolio management is still running on a custom developed system. It has evolved much from the first version but is still simpler and more flexible compared to the commercial systems we have evaluated. It incorporates our specific requirements for reporting, risk management, internal workflow, organization structure, approvals, status reports, escalation, etc.

As a final note, technology is very important, but in the end it has to serve you, not the opposite. And it’s a technology guy who says this.

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Project Change Control – Video

Dick Billows, PMP
Dick Billows, PMP
CEO 4pm.com
Dick’s Books on Amazon

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 project manager faces a never-ending stream of additions and changes.  These begin five minutes after the sponsor approves the project plan and continue until five minutes before they accept the last deliverable.  Watch this video of a typical change control process.

Project Budget - How To Handle Budget Cuts

A Project Change Control Story …

Walking out to the company parking lot, you ran into the executive who was the sponsor on your current project.  The sponsor said, “The project is really coming along well but I do need to add a couple of things.” They handed you a page from a yellow notepad with 35 items on it.  You knew it was time to exercise project change control. But the sponsor continued, “These items are really vital to what we’re trying to achieve on our project.” How to Manage Change Order Requests

You looked down at the paper and replied “We couldn’t possibly make any additions at this point.  The due date and budget are in danger now. If we keep adding things we’ll be way over.”

The sponsor said, “But these are critical! Without these additions, this whole project will certainly fail.”

You responded, “I think the project will contribute a great deal even without these items.”

The sponsor disagreed, “These were really part of the original requirements.  You must have missed them.”

You replied, “I’m sorry but these items were definitely not on the original list of requirements you signed.”

The sponsor grew re-faced and retorted, ”These were part of the business plan for customer service.  I don’t care what was on that long list of technical mumbo jumbo you designed.  It was just geek talk that none of us understood!” Scope Change Video

You looked back down at the list and tried to calm the sponsor by saying, “Anyway, these seem to have limited business value.”

The sponsor barked, “I’m the one running this operation and I know what’s necessary. And the items on the list are essential if we’re going to maintain competitive levels of customer satisfaction.”

You took a deep breath, “We will be late if we add anything.”

The sponsor took a breath, smiled and said, “These items really won’t take much work. So they should only hurt the schedule or the budget a little.  I know you can squeeze them in.”

Project change controlYou frowned, “That is not the case.  We will have overruns. They won’t be my fault because these items were never in the approved requirements.”

The sponsor snapped, “If you won’t add these items to the project schedule, I’m going to bump this problem up the line to the VP.”

Project Change Control with Several Endings…All Bad

At this point, the project change control story could have several endings. Why Is a Scope Change Process Needed?

1. In the first ending, you said, “OK your satisfaction is my goal.  We will figure out a way to squeeze these in and not finish too late. But these must be the last changes we make or we’ll have a disaster! “

The sponsor gave his solemn promise, “Absolutely! These are the last changes.” (If you’re naive enough to believe that, you can forget about project change control.)

The next week the yellow sheet of paper had 47 additions, the project finished 3 months late and you took the blame.

2. In the second ending you refused to add the additional requirements.  Five hours later your boss called and angrily said, “The senior VP just chewed me out about my project managers not being responsive to our management team. Why are you stirring up trouble with your sponsor? We need his support!”

You started to explain about the changes to scope and the boss interrupted saying, “Add the damn changes…just get these people off my back.” You started to agree just as the boss slammed the phone in your ear.

The next week the yellow sheet of paper had 47 additions, the project finished 3 months late and you were blamed.

3. In the third ending, the boss listened as you said, “I’m trying to be customer-oriented but those changes could set us back a couple of months and cost lots of money.”

The boss said, “Give me a memo on exactly how much later and how much more it will cost so I can show the vice president.”

You thought for a long moment and said, “Well, it’ll take quite a bit of time to put that together.”

The boss grunted in exasperation and said, “I need something to show the vice president today.  So you’d better just add the changes they want and have everybody work harder. Use your leadership skills.”

The next week the yellow sheet of paper had 47 additions, the project finished 3 months late and you were blamed for not exercising project change control.

Why Does Bad Project Change Control Happen Over and Over Again?

It happens because project managers lack the tools to exercise project change control. One key to project change control success is project planning that develops quantifiable acceptance criteria for the project scope and each major deliverable. These are not technical specs but measured business outcomes in the customer/user ’s organization.  Those acceptance criteria with metrics are the foundation of project change control. That kind of scope definition lets you win the argument about whether changes are necessary for project success.  That type of scope metric makes the argument about what was and what was not included go away.  Everybody knows what was originally included. Then you aren’t arguing the merits of a change or whether it’s a good or bad idea (you will always lose those). Instead, you are discussing whether or not you can achieve the scope without including the change.

The second key to successful scope and project change control is using a software tool that allows you to quickly quantify the impact of a change.  You can use the software to quickly estimate, and then model, exactly what effect a change will have on the project’s cost and duration.  With this modeling capability, the conversation with your customer/user is quite different.  Let’s see how it goes using both these tools for project change control.

Project Change Control the Right Way 

The customer stepped into the your cubicle and said, “The project is really coming along well but I need to add a couple of things.”  They handed you a page from a yellow notepad with 35 items on it and then continued, “These items are really vital to what we’re trying to achieve on our project.”

You looked down at the paper and said, “These are great ideas. OK, let’s quantify the added work and the added time.” The customer’s first item was additional training for customer service reps so they could discuss three new products with customers.  You said, “We would have to change the training achievement from “Customer reps can answer questions about 37 products accurately 90% of the time,” to ’40 products.’ I’ll ask the trainer to give me an estimate of the hours required for the change.” You called the trainer who gave you a rough estimate of 12 additional hours of prep time on the new products and 15 additional hours of class time.

While you were writing, the customer said, “It should only take a few more minutes. Anyway, I thought these new products were in the original specs.”

You pulled out the plan for the deliverables and said, “No, here is the trainer’s work package we used for the estimate. It has 37 products.”

The customer agreed the new product training was not covered in the original project scope and plan.

You commented, “If you want to eliminate three of the original products, it would be a wash.”

The customer responded, “No, we need all 40.”

You said, “The trainer says that will add 27 hours of their time and the class itself will be longer for the attendees. You opened the project schedule on your PC and entered the additional hours. Then you leaned back and said, “As you can see, these changes would add 7 days to the project duration and would increase our costs by more than $16,000.”

The customer was surprised at the cost and said, “But these are necessary. They are good and worthwhile additions.”

You smiled and said, “I’m sure they are very good ideas or you wouldn’t have brought them to me.  But our question has to be; can we hit our project’s measured achievement of, “Customer reps can answer questions about 37 products accurately 90% of the time” without them? They clearly expand the project scope and I will need to add extra time and money to accomplish what you want.  That’s how project change control works.”

The customer said, “Well, I want you to include these items in the project or I will escalate the problem to the senior VP.”

You smiled again and said, “That’s appropriate because in our project change control process, it is the senior VP’s role to approve changes of this size. We have the data now so let’s go speak to the VP. We’ll ask if she is willing to expand the scope and add the cost and duration of your change.  But I’ll be honest with you. I don’t think we need any of these changes to hit the original scope we committed to for this project.  It’s nothing personal. I’m just trying to exercise project change control.”

A Consistent Project Change Control Methodology

You need the right tools to do project change control correctly and that means a consistent methodology. The methodology begins with the initial planning of the project and gives the you tools and processes to identify the measured business achievements the customer/user wants the project to produce. This is not just the technical specifications.  The project change control methodology guides you step-by-step through the development of a dynamic schedule and budget.  Those tools allow you to quickly calculate the impact of a change order so you can exercise project change control.  This methodology is also used in status reporting. You do the same modeling to calculate the impact of the corrective actions that are needed to solve variances.

You can learn a methodology to effectively manage project change control in our Project Management Basics course. It is private online training where you have as many video conferences and phone calls with your instructor as you need.