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Parametric Estimating

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

Parametric estimating is one of the most accurate techniques for determining a project’s  duration and cost. Luckily, parametric estimating is fairly easy to implement. First, you define the specifications of each unit of the deliverable. Next you research published information, if available, about how many hours of work are required for each unit and the cost. For example, the units could be linear feet of wall surface to paint or customer interviews about their satisfaction with your company’s service. You can use these rates for estimating the duration and cost for the individual tasks/deliverables and the entire project.  Project Estimating Main Page

Parametric Estimating – Use Published Rates

Parametric estimating requires published rates. Let’s say you need to estimate the cost of building a high-rise office building. You might consult an estimating publication and find that the cost of building a six-story, pre-stressed concrete building with a luxurious finish for the offices, plus  many other specifications, would be $175 per square foot. You would select the appropriate rate and multiply it by the number of square feet of your building. That would give you the estimated cost.

You could also use parametric estimating if published rates were available to estimate the hours of work required to paint one of the offices. You would look up the specifications for an office with 12-foot ceilings. You might paint it with a latex paint after first putting down a primer. You would look up the rate in a published estimating book and find that each linear foot of wall in this office would require .25 hours of labor. If you had 2,000 linear feet, you would estimate the work at 500 hours (2,000 x .25 = 500). Parametric estimating is successful for often-repeated tasks, like building a six-story office building or painting office walls. Because these tasks are common and frequent, there is a lot of data available.  It is worthwhile for industry sources to compile and publish parametric estimating data.

parametric estimatingWhen compared to other estimating techniques, parametric estimates are more credible to executives than estimating techniques based on people’s judgments. Because the parametric rates come from sources published by large reputable organizations, the rates are seen as very reliable. The other half of the equation, the number of units you will produce, is also credible. You base the units on a planned count that you can compare to the actual count as you execute the project. The combination of these two features make parametric estimating seem to be rock solid.

Here’s another example. Let’s say you have 400 customer surveys to conduct and you will ask 35 yes/no questions during the interview. You find a published source that says the rate for a 30-40 yes/no question survey is 15 minutes per survey. Using this rate, you calculate the total work: 15 minutes x 400 = 600 minutes or 10 hours of work.

While parametric rates are readily available in the commercial and residential construction industries, that is not true everywhere. Parametric estimating is less successful with tasks that don’t produce tangible outputs. You can count the number of square feet in a building or the number of customer interviews you’re going to conduct. They are tangible. It’s much less accurate when you try to develop parametric rates for judgmental tasks with intangible outputs. For example, there may be rates for writing and editing pages for a financial report but these rates are much less accurate. Parametric rates are not available for projects in manufacturing, information systems, healthcare, marketing, human resource management and general operations. That’s because these projects are too varied to establish reliable rates.

Parametric Estimating – Do It Yourself

There is an option for projects where published parametric rates are not available. That option is to develop your own parametric rates. This is particularly important for tasks that are part of many of your projects. You have the database you need if your organization is doing a good job of archiving your projects’ planned and actual hours of work and costs. You can identify tasks that appear frequently in your organization’s projects.  What you are looking for are deliverables where the amount of work for each unit is relatively consistent. Writing computer code is not consistent because each line of code may require vastly different amounts of thought and creativity. But it may be possible to develop your own parametric rates for deliverables with tangible outputs. Customer service reps answering the top ten questions your customers ask has a relatively consistent amount of work per question. The unit cost of generating employee W-2 forms in your payroll system is usually consistent in terms of the sources of information each W-2 accesses. Writing a software manual where the units you count are the number of screen displays is another example.

Obviously, these homegrown parametric estimating databases are not going to cover all of the tasks in your projects. But they will cover some which saves you time and gives the estimates greater credibility. Remember that the key to developing those estimates is having historical data from completed projects. You must archive the information about how many hours of work various activities took and how many units they produced in those hours. When you use these homegrown parametric rates, you can significantly improve the accuracy and credibility of your cost and duration estimates with a relatively small time investment.

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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My First Project and The Lessons I Learned

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

I’d like to forget my first project and my blunders. Like most people I got started managing projects by having one dumped in my lap like a dead flounder. My boss said, “Pat really screwed up the supply room project! I want you to take over and fix it. Do whatever you have to and get this thing done by the end of June!” Although I made many blunders, as you’ll see below, the worst one was saying, “Okay, boss you got it!”

My First Project and Lesson #1: I Assumed the Boss Gave Me Some Authority

The boss did say “Do whatever you have to and get the project done by June 30.”  So It went to the next cubicle where Jack, a buddy of mine, worked. I knew he was on the supply room project because he’d been complaining about it for months.

I greeted him with, “Hey, Jack . The boss just dumped the supply room project in my lap. How you are doing on it?”

Jack put his hands up covering his face like a boxer doing the rope-a-dope and said, “I have nothing to do with the supply room project. I don’t know what’s going on with it but if I were you, I’d run as far from it as I could. Now please get out of my cubicle before someone sees me talking to you. Don’t forget what happened to Ralph, your predecessor on that project. He’s been demoted to the loading dock where he’s checking in shipments now.”

“You’re only kidding, right?” I asked.

Jack replied, “That project is the black plague. I’d call in sick for the next month if I were you.”

“Come on, Jack,” I chuckled nervously. “The two of us can straighten out that mess. Then we’ll be real heroes.”

Jack looked at me like I was insane and scurried out of his cubicle like a rodent.

Stunned, I left Jack’s cubicle and noticed I was already a marked man. Everyone in the department was looking at me, then turning away and whispering to their neighbors in frightened tones.  My first project wasn’t winning me any allies.

I was wrong to assume I had any authority. How was I supposed to get things done? Who was I supposed to assign work to? I decided to go to the boss’s office and find out who was on my project team and how I was to get them to do some of the work. At the moment, no one would speak to me.

I entered the boss’s office and he waved me in and pointed to a chair while finishing his phone conversation. When he hung up, I said “I’m a little unclear about the supply room project you assigned me. Who is working on it? Who is on my project team and what are we supposed to do?

The boss leaned back in his chair and said, “You’re supposed to clean up the supply room by June 30. What’s so hard about that?”  “Take anybody you want for the project team. Tell them I said you’re the boss of the supply room project and can pick your team. If they don’t like it, send them to see me!”

I gave the boss the thumbs-up signal and left his office. I saw Gloria, a colleague I had coffee with three times a week. Walking into her cubicle I said, “I’m managing this supply room project…”

Gloria interrupted, “You poor sap, and you have a wife and kids. There’s no way I’m getting on that Titanic of a project. I’ve got six weeks of work to do in the next month. If the boss wants to give all of it to somebody else, I’d be happy to join you. What is the point of that project anyway?”

I answered, “It’s real simple – we’re to clean up the supply room.”

“Really? Do you know how this project got started?” Gloria asked.

“No idea.”

The boss got blasted at the last executives’ retreat about the supply room always running out of stuff and wasting people’s time. It’s also wasting too much money by ordering the wrong stuff. His butt is on the line. So don’t think for a minute that you can go in there with your little whisk broom and clean up the supply room. You’ve got to put an inventory and ordering system in place and find out what office supplies people need to have in there. You’re never going to satisfy everybody. You’ll be down there with Ralph on the loading dock checking in shipments. The only difference will be everybody will hate you, where everyone thinks Ralph is just a loser.”

I went back to my cubicle realizing that I’d made another blunder.

My First Project and Lesson #2: I Didn’t Know the Project’s Goal

What a dope I had been to walk out of the boss’s office after he told me to clean up the supply room by June 30. I didn’t ask a single question about  what he meant by that but I had agreed to do it.

My thoughts were interrupted by an angry middle-aged man in a beautifully cut pinstripe suit barging into my cubicle. I vaguely recognized him from the last company meeting. He had been sitting up front on the dais. I smiled pleasantly and asked, “How may I help you?”

“First of all,” he said, “wipe that silly grin off your face. This is a damn disaster. I have got 50 people on the 12th floor out of work because the supply room can give them the PCs, computer cables, printers and software they need. Those people are the cutting edge of my marketing department’s big product launch for this year and you are killing us.”

I had trouble swallowing and then said, “Sir, I was assigned as project manager of the supply room project 30 minutes ago. I am not the manager of the supply room.”

The executive slouched down into my office chair and put his face in his hands. He said, “We are both screwed. The supply room supervisor and his whole staff quit this morning. I may been a little harsh with them. ”

I knew I’d regret saying anything but the words just came out of my mouth, “Sir, I prefer to get fired for doing something rather than just sitting here.  So let’s fix the problem. First, who in your marketing division can I talk to about what equipment they need? Second, I will order that stuff and have it delivered today, even though we’ll have to pay more for that kind of service. Will you authorize the expense? Third, can you light a fire under Human Resources to hire replacements for the supply room manager and staff?”

The executive thought for just a nano-second and said, “Yes. Linda Wellington on the 11th floor can tell you what equipment they need. On the supply room manager position, I’ve got a really sharp assistant who deserves an opportunity. Let’s let her be the manager.”

I nodded and he said, “Why are you still sitting here?

The saga of my first project will continue with more blunders and catastrophes.

I wish I had gotten some help from experienced project managers, like the woman in the following video. She was wise enough to ask for help as she started her first project.

 

You can learn the right way to begin a project in our project management basics courses. You’ll work individually with your instructor at your schedule and pace. Take a look at the course in your specialty.

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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Work Breakdown Structure WBS – Video

Work Breakdown Structure WBS: Deliverables or a “To Do” List?

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

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 the organization measure progress.

In the project management world, there are two ways to build the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS). The first way is to develop the WBS as if it were a “To Do” list. Just like the kind of list you’d make up before going to the grocery store or running errands. Now, there is nothing wrong with “To Do” lists. I make them up for myself all the time. The problem with “To Do” lists comes when you give one to somebody else.

How To Build a WBS in MS Project Software

Here’s an example. My “To Do” list for the workday includes an entry like “Fix XYZ’s program schedule.” That’s a fine reminder for me because I’ve been thinking about what client XYZ wants to do. That includes the politics of changing the program scope and the executives who have different opinions about that scope. But if I were to give that as an assignment to another one of our consultants, they would have absolutely no idea what it meant. They might have to spend days acquainting themselves with that client company and the new strategic program they are starting. That “To Do” would be a terrible assignment to give someone. I’m not creating a performance expectation. I’m not telling them what a good job is or how I will evaluate their work. Clearly, project managers ought to limit their use of “To Do” lists to personal reminders. For something like a project, which may affect your professional career and the success of your organization, you need a better tool. What Is WBS?

Work Breakdown Structure WBS: Criteria

A professionally done Work Breakdown Structure WBS has to meet two criteria to be included in our work breakdown structure.

  • It has to tell the person doing the work what a good job is before they start, creating a clear performance expectation.
  • It has to be unambiguously measurable. You don’t want to require a meeting to decide whether the task is done. You and the executives need hard-edged measures of project progress that are not open to interpretation or word games.

Those two criteria sound simple but it is not easy to produce them. In fact, it’s one of the most difficult parts of the art of project management. You need to decide exactly what you want as the assignment’s end result and then convert that end result into a metric.

Work Breakdown Structure WBS: Example

Now let’s see how I would take that “Fix the XYZ program schedule” assignment and make it work. First, I would go through the process of identifying what I want our consultant to give me when he or she completed this assignment. wbsGoing back over my conversations with the client, I could identify a number of characteristics that they want to see in the schedule. They want the project to be finished in less than 250 days. They want to avoid using outside contractors. And they want to spend less than $325,000 on the project.

So I could use those metrics to tell our consultant exactly what I want. I would tell them I want a schedule that completes the program in 250 days or less, doesn’t use outside contractors and has a budget of less than $325,000. Those are the success criteria for the assignment and that’s the deliverable I would define for the team member. A really awful assignment would have been to tell the team member I want the schedule revised to be shorter, cheaper and not use any outside consultants. If I do that, what are my odds of getting what I want? They are very poor because the consultant has to guess what I mean by faster, cheaper and no outside consultants.

Now I don’t know whether this deliverable is actually achievable. I need to sit down with the staff member to whom I am giving the assignment and look at the current schedule. I need to give that staff member a chance to think about whether the result is achievable. Then they need to think about how long it will take them to achieve the result. We would discuss the approach and the budget for doing the work. Then I’d have a good entry for my work breakdown structure. Create WBS With Team Members

Work Breakdown Structure WBS: Too Much Work?

You may be saying to yourself, “It is going to take me a lot of time to decide exactly what I want and how I’m going to measure it for every task in the work breakdown structure.” And you are right. It does take more time than a “To Do” list. However, remember how important the work breakdown structure is to your project success. It is the centerpiece of every project. You use the tasks in the WBS as the foundation for estimating work, costs and duration. The WBS gives team members clear project assignments, allows everyone to track progress on their tasks and it allows you to identify problems. As the project team executes the plan, you compare their actual results to the estimates for each WBS task. That lets you quickly identify variances and design corrective action.

Unfortunately, too many project managers don’t recognize the importance of the WBS. They think they can just make a list of all the tasks in the project and then start work. That approach yields projects that take longer than they should. These project are late because the PM did not identify all deliverables during the initial planning. To develop a strong WBS, you begin planning by defining the scope and the major deliverables. Then you break them down into tasks that are team member assignments to create your WBS.  Work Breakdown Structure Size

Work Breakdown Structure WBS: How Big?

Project managers often ask, “How many tasks should this project have?” or, “How much detail should I have in the WBS?” The mistake PMs often make is to list hundreds of tasks. work breakdownThey start by listing the first thing they can think of to do and stop when they can’t think of anything more. They may list tasks that will take as little as an hour to complete. The driving force behind this minutia is the fear of forgetting something. How Many Tasks in a WBS?

It’s easy for a PM to think that a project’s WBS should detail everything; everyone should do on the project. PMs mistakenly think that will protect them from people forgetting or skipping an item because they are lazy, stupid or sloppy. The PM may also think it frees them from relying on the thinking or creativity of the team members. The team members can just put their heads down and follow the “To Do” list. The PM mistakenly thinks they have thought of everything for them.

Work Breakdown Structure WBS: “To Do” List

This “To Do” list approach may work for projects with one or two people but it falls apart when the project gets any bigger. The flaws come from a misunderstanding of:

  • How to exercise tight control on a project
  • How to spot and solve problems early
  • The pros and cons of micro-management.

Work Breakdown Structure WBS: What is Tight Control?

Is tight control having no problems? Hardly. That happens only in project fantasyland. Tight control requires that:

  • You can identify problems early and fix them quickly and inexpensively
  • Every project team member knows what he or she is accountable for delivering.

Acceptance criteria tell team members what they are accountable for delivering. This is quite different from what they have to do. As an example, a “To Do” list might tell a team member to “clean up the file room.” That task is open to many different interpretations. It doesn’t define your performance expectation for the team member. It’s a very ineffective checkpoint against which to measure their progress.

The deliverable of “98% of the files are on the shelves in alphabetical order” creates a crystal clear expectation for the team member. It also provides the acceptance criteria and an objectively measurable checkpoint for progress. When you assign that deliverable, you have better control because the team member knows what is “good enough” and doesn’t have to guess. Then you combine deliverable-based WBS with work estimates to create a superior tool for control and tracking. When you can’t exercise tight control, you must check everyone’s work frequently and make all the decisions. That’s micromanagement.

Work Breakdown Structure WBS: Micromanagement Pros & Cons

Micromanagement is right for brand new employees who need to learn their jobs. It’s also necessary for known slackers or nincompoops on the team. However, few project teams are composed entirely of people who need all the decisions made for them. Micromanagement discourages problem solving or ownership of results. It makes team members dependent on you when you don’t allow them independent decision-making. Worst of all, it creates team members who have no accountability for their results. All they have to do is follow the “To Do” list of activities.  Problems Created by Micromanagement

Most of your project team members won’t thrive under micromanagement. Micromanagement stifles people who want independence and are willing to be accountable for their work. They are the best performers and you need to encourage their best work.

Micromanagement doesn’t work on projects that need complex judgments and creative thinking. On these projects, much of the work is cerebral. comm30So it’s impossible for you to specify everything they must do. More importantly, it’s stupid to try. Let’s say you have an experienced engineer performing a task like “design the payment input screen (GUI) for the billing system.” That relatively small task will require:

  • Meeting with users to gather information about requirements
  • Listing all the required information for the GUI
  • Thinking about how to arrange the data elements on the screen for data entry efficiency
  • Writing a layout document for the screen
  • Meeting with users to get approval of the rough design.

You could list all those activities and more in the WBS. But what if the engineer comes up with a great idea? Do you want the engineer to ignore it and follow the WBS ‘To Do” list? Of course not. You want the engineer to figure out the best way to do the design. So instead of the activities in the ‘To Do” list, you might assign deliverables like:

  • User management signs off on the GUI design and acceptance criteria
  • User management signs off that the GUI meets the acceptance criteria.

You let the engineer estimate how long those two deliverables will take. You’ll get a status report each week so you know how their work is progressing. Best of all, you designed an assignment that motivates the engineer to do his best work. Clear Performance Expectations

Work Breakdown Structure WBS: Maintaining the “To Do” List

Remember how small the second WBS was for the engineer compared with the “To Do” list? That is typical. The “To Do” list approach yields large and detailed work breakdown structures that require lots of maintenance. Every time one of the micro-tasks changes you need to update the WBS. That can require entering dozens of changes each week. If each team member is reporting on 5 – 15 tasks per week, you’ll have a lot of data entry (even if you have clerical support to input all the status data).

The inevitable result is that tracking falls behind and so does updating the schedule. There are simply not enough hours to complete these maintenance tasks. Within a few weeks, you’ll stop updating the schedule because it takes too much time. This may sound like a stupid and improbable reaction but we see it frequently, even on large and important projects. The justification for stopping is, “No one is looking at all that detail anyway, so why should I spend the time to update it?”

Work Breakdown Structure WBS: Deliverables-based WBS

Professionals who manage projects for a living and use the best practices in project management agree the WBS should be composed of deliverables (end results), not “To Do’s.” Assigning accountability for deliverables to team members yields a smaller WBS, easier reporting of progress (actuals) and less work to keep the schedule current. You also get team members’ ownership of the results when they are accountable for producing deliverables. Pre-launch Review of a WBS

Work Breakdown Structure WBS: Summary

Your work breakdown structure -WBS is your design for making assignments, holding people accountable and monitoring process. When you do it properly, your schedule will be easy to keep current and your team members will be responsible for their deliverables.

You can learn to create a WBS the right way as part of our basic and advanced project management courses. You’ll learn how to break down the scope into deliverables for which you will hold people accountable.

At the beginning of your 4pm course, 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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Project Plan Blunder Too Much Detail

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

By far the most frequent Project Plan Blunder is Too Much Detail. Why does this happen?  Don’t the executives and stakeholders understand that the Project Plan is a strategic level plan? They should focus on the project goals, not on the details. They may understand that, but getting into the details is too powerful for many people to avoid.  Main Project Planning Page

There are other reasons why stakeholders dive into the details when planning a project. Some decision-makers are uncomfortable committing to exactly what they want the project to produce. It’s easier and safer to talk about the details of the wood paneling in the conference rooms or the data fields in a new accounts payable system.  If they specify precisely what they want the project to deliver, aligned with the strategic goals of the organization, they’re committed to that result. And those commitments are hard to back out of.

Project Plan Blunder – Too Much Detail by the Sponsor

The project manager has to prevent the sponsor from committing this Project Plan Blunder by falling into the details. That’s a difficult challenge because the sponsor usually outranks the project manager by multiple levels of rank and authority. Most of the stakeholders do as well. So the best way for the project manager to gain control is to work with the statement of work (SOW) that the sponsor generated.  That document defines the project scope and deliverables as well as the acceptance criteria the sponsor will use to measure the project’s success. It defines the project at a very high level. It encourages project planning that starts from the top-level and moves down through the supporting deliverables. We call this process top-down planning.

Project Plan Blunder – Too Much Detail: the Project Manager Role

The project manager needs to control the planning process. It must start with everyone understanding the scope of the project. The scope is the largest deliverable in the project plan.  Then the project manager must lead the group through breaking down the scope into the major deliverables that support it. They are the achievements that are necessary to get from where the organization/department/system etc. is now to where it must be to deliver what the sponsor wants.

When explaining how planning with high-level deliverables works, I like to use an analogy of crossing a river by jumping from rock to rock. The deliverable that the sponsor wants (the scope) is reaching the river’s far shore. The project manager starts from this end result and works backwards. He/she asks the planning group, “What is the last rock we must stand on before we can jump to the far shore?” “That is the last major deliverable we need to produce in the project.”

Then the project manager backs up and says, “What is the rock we must stand on before we can jump to the last one?” “What rock must we reach before the last one?” The process goes on, moving backwards and identifying each “rock” (high-level deliverable) that must be reached until they are at the starting point. That starting point is where they are now in the project. And each rock is a step  toward the goal.

This is how the project manager keeps the planning group’s thinking at a high level. Focusing on the major rocks (deliverables), prevents them from sinking into the river (details). Those details are more comfortable for many people to talk about. They also let the sponsor avoid defining what the project must deliver and committing to it.

Watch a video of this typical project planning blunder of too much detail.

Project Planning Blunders: Too Much Detail

To learn more about how to plan projects the right way, consider our online project management courses. You work privately with an expert project manager who is your coach and instructor. You may begin when you wish and work on the course at your pace and as your schedule allows. You and your instructor have as many phone calls and live video conferences as you wish. Take a look at the courses in your specialty.

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Improve Team Performance – Video

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

The need to Improve Team Performance is always a challenge for project managers. This  often includes dealing with an individual team member’s poor performance. Sometimes bringing about performance improvement is straightforward. First, the project manager identifies the behavior that is causing the performance problem. Next, the project manager communicates what he/she thinks is causing the problem. Then they suggest a solution. Finally, the employee changes their behavior and the project manager monitors the change. Oh, if only it was always that easy!

In this video, watch how a project manager deals with a team member whose behavior is causing a problem for the project.

Improve Team Performance: Video Synopsis

We see a project manager trying to cope with a very talented but difficult team member. First, the project manager does a correct assessment of the team member’s performance. Then she evaluates alternative ways of changing the team member’s behavior. She comes up with a clever solution that will let the project go ahead.

Here is the problem. The team member was redefining his project task based on his political preferences. He was not concerned about the project’s requirements and he disagreed with the project’s goal. He was giving speeches to company employees which actually undermined the project.

Here is the approach and solution. First, the project manager correctly assessed the team member’s performance. Then she evaluated alternative ways of changing his behavior. The project manager could not terminate the team member because the grounds for termination were not clear enough. The team member was popular with employees throughout the organization, so the project manager didn’t want to make a martyr of him. She had to change his behavior and get him to properly complete his task on the project. She faced a difficult challenge. She had to address the team member’s insubordination and come up with a good solution that would let the project move forward

The project manager cleverly redirected the team member’s efforts and got him to support the overall project goals. She made an insightful assessment of his personality type and traits. Then she focused on the correct way to communicate with him. Her communication technique let her persuade him to honor his original project commitment. The approach wasn’t an instant success and the two of them went back and forth in the discussion.  In the end, however, she succeeded by giving him different assignments and the project was successfully completed.

 

 

 

 

 

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Project Management Library

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Project Articles & Videos

Training PMs Since 1986

Click for the BBB Business Review of this Management Training in Denver CO[hr]

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health care basics

Individual Online Mentoring Thru the Course & A Year Afterward $1,995

Healthcare managers and beginning project managers learn the basics of project management. Practice managing a project step-by-step with your instructor.

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Healthcare Project Basics – Individual Online Instruction

Learn the basics by managing a healthcare project working with an expert project manager. Learn to use real world tools and techniques, not vague academic concepts. You master a straightforward, proven methodology for small and medium-size healthcare projects.

After the course you will be able to plan projects

  • Ask the right question of the boss, administrators or care-givers
  • Breakdown what they want into pieces you can manage
  • Present the plan to management for their approval

You will be able to schedule and assign tasks to your team

  • Quickly schedule in project software (several choices)
  • Accurately estimate work and time & finish as soon as possible
  • Make clear assignments that tell your team what you want

You will be able to track and report progress

  • Spot problems early when they are easier to fix
  • Plan your corrective action
  • Make a professional status report.

Industry Specialty Courses: ConstructionBusinessHealthcareIT/ISConsulting
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How It Works

Individual, Customized Project Management Training; Instructor-led Online

Learn a simple methodology with templates that you can use on all your IT/IS projects. You will know how to plan, schedule, track and report progress.

You work with your instructor as you manage every step in a project

  • Private, customized hands-on training from an expert project manager
    • Do assignments when you wish; take up to 1 year
    • Get feedback within 24 hours & discuss it in private video conferences
    • Practice running meetings & presentations live with your instructor

Training Project Managers Since 1986Click for the BBB Business Review of this Management Training in Denver CO

[/twocol_one_last]

Healthcare Project Basics Online Course Tuition $1,995

Talk to a Counselor 1-303-596-0000

[button link=”https://s3-us-west-1.amazonaws.com/4pmnew/4pm-newsite/131.pdf” style=”info” color=”blue” window=”yes”]Brochure[/button][button link=”http://162.144.114.198/~jwkdwgmy/program-manager-assessment/” size=”medium” style=”download” color=”blue” border=”#940940″ window=”yes”]Questions?[/button][button link=”http://162.144.114.198/~jwkdwgmy/about-4pm-com/student-course-evaluations/” size=”medium” style=”download” color=”blue” border=”#940940″ window=”yes”]Student Comments[/button][button link=”https://learn-by-video.com/product/https://learn-by-video.com/product/healthcare-projects-131/” size=”medium” style=”download” color=”red” border=”#940940″ window=”yes”]Enroll[/button]

Our Credentials

  • We have been training project managers for over 25 years
  • Our courses have been approved by PMI® for 30-60 education hours (PDUs)
  • Our courses have been offered for graduate school credit at major universities
  • We have had an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau for 17 years
  • Our staff is composed of experienced project managers who have worked more than a decade in various industries

Course Modules: What you will learn and how you will practice the new skills

Skills & Techniques in Reading & Lectures  Practice in Live Meetings & Presentations
1. Define Scope – Learn to ask the right questions of the healthcare administrator to unearth the project scope and the major deliverables. Learn how to use a strong scope statement to avoid scope creep. Learn to uncover the major constraints on the project cost and schedule. Lead a live project planning session with your instructor who plays the roles of the administrator and department heads. Ask them questions to define a clear scope for the healthcare project that will solve their problems. Then gain their approval of the scope.
2. Gather Requirements – Learn how to ask the right questions and to link requirements to project goals. Learn how to use this information to handle change requests. Uncover all the requirements so you can address them early in the project. Learn to document requirements and the project goals they support. Run a live requirements meeting with each department head (role-played by your instructor). Gather their requirements and define the achievements each department must produce using those requirements.
3. Build Project Plan – Learn to design a plan covering deliverables, resources, rough cost estimates and project risks. Make initial estimates of time and cost. Then identify risks and plan how to avoid them. Build a Power Point slide show of your healthcare project plan. Present your plan & slides to the administrator & department heads (role-played by your instructor). Answer their questions about your plan and gain their approval and support.
4. Create a Work Breakdown & Schedule – Learn how to sequence and estimate your tasks using project management software. Learn to build a healthcare project work breakdown structure (WBS) detailing all the deliverables your team will produce. Break down your high-level deliverables into individual assignments for your team members. Create clear performance expectations for each assignment. Review your schedule with your instructor when you complete the WBS, predecessors, estimates of work and time. Discuss the schedule’s strengths and weaknesses in live meetings with your instructor and make improvements after each review. 
5. Tradeoffs & Critical Path – Learn to develop alternative ways of doing the project by changing the scope, duration, costs and resources. Optimize your schedule to minimize cost and duration and develop trade-offs between them for the administrator & department heads to evaluate. In a live presentation to the administrator & department heads (role-played by your instructor), discuss trade-offs between scope, duration and cost to give them options for the project.
6. Conflict Management – Learn five strategies for resolving conflicts plus how and when to apply them. Learn techniques to minimize the impact of conflicts on your project schedule and budget. Watch a video of a conflict between two team members. Select the correct technique to manage the conflict and discuss it with your instructor.
7. Tracking & Status – Learn to give the administrator & department heads accurate forecasts of the completion date and final cost. Identify problems and model solutions using the project management software. Update your project schedule to reflect actual results to-date and forecast final dates and costs.  Using status data from your team, update your schedule, spot problems and develop solutions. Present the status to the administrator & department heads (role-played by your instructor) using Power Point slides. Answer their questions.

How Instructor-led Individual Training Works: Course Features

Healthcare Project Basics Online Course Tuition $1,995

Talk to a Counselor 1-303-596-0000

[button link=”https://s3-us-west-1.amazonaws.com/4pmnew/4pm-newsite/131.pdf” style=”info” color=”blue” window=”yes”]Brochure[/button][button link=”http://162.144.114.198/~jwkdwgmy/program-manager-assessment/” size=”medium” style=”download” color=”blue” border=”#940940″ window=”yes”]Questions?[/button][button link=”http://162.144.114.198/~jwkdwgmy/about-4pm-com/student-course-evaluations/” size=”medium” style=”download” color=”blue” border=”#940940″ window=”yes”]Student Comments[/button][button link=”https://learn-by-video.com/product/https://learn-by-video.com/product/healthcare-projects-131/” size=”medium” style=”download” color=”red” border=”#940940″ window=”yes”]Enroll[/button]

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Healthcare 131 Project Basics

Individual Online Mentoring Thru the Course & A Year Afterward $1,995

Healthcare managers and beginning project managers learn the basics of project management. Practice managing a project step-by-step with your instructor.

[twocol_one]

Healthcare Project Basics – Individual Online Instruction

Learn the basics by managing a healthcare project working with an expert project manager. Learn to use real world tools and techniques, not vague academic concepts. You master a straightforward, proven methodology for small and medium-size healthcare projects.

After the course you will be able to plan projects

  • Ask the right question of the boss, administrators or care-givers
  • Breakdown what they want into pieces you can manage
  • Present the plan to management for their approval

You will be able to schedule and assign tasks to your team

  • Quickly schedule in project software (several choices)
  • Accurately estimate work and time & finish as soon as possible
  • Make clear assignments that tell your team what you want

You will be able to track and report progress

  • Spot problems early when they are easier to fix
  • Plan your corrective action
  • Make a professional status report.

Industry Specialty Courses: Construction, BusinessHealthcare, IT/IS, Consulting
[/twocol_one] [twocol_one_last]

How It Works

Individual, Customized Project Management Training; Instructor-led Online

Learn a simple methodology with templates that you can use on all your IT/IS projects. You will know how to plan, schedule, track and report progress.

You work with your instructor as you manage every step in a project

  • Private, customized hands-on training from an expert project manager
    • Do assignments when you wish; take up to 1 year
    • Get feedback within 24 hours & discuss it in private video conferences
    • Practice running meetings & presentations live with your instructor

Training Project Managers Since 1986Click for the BBB Business Review of this Management Training in Denver CO

[/twocol_one_last]

Healthcare Project Basics Online Course Tuition $1,995

Talk to a Counselor 1-303-596-0000

[button link=”https://s3-us-west-1.amazonaws.com/4pmnew/4pm-newsite/131.pdf” style=”info” color=”blue” window=”yes”]Brochure[/button][button link=”http://162.144.114.198/~jwkdwgmy/program-manager-assessment/” size=”medium” style=”download” color=”blue” border=”#940940″ window=”yes”]Questions?[/button][button link=”http://162.144.114.198/~jwkdwgmy/about-4pm-com/student-course-evaluations/” size=”medium” style=”download” color=”blue” border=”#940940″ window=”yes”]Student Comments[/button][button link=”https://learn-by-video.com/product/https://learn-by-video.com/product/healthcare-projects-131/” size=”medium” style=”download” color=”red” border=”#940940″ window=”yes”]Enroll[/button]

Our Credentials

  • We have been training project managers for over 25 years
  • Our courses have been approved by PMI® for 30-60 education hours (PDUs)
  • Our courses have been offered for graduate school credit at major universities
  • We have had an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau for 17 years
  • Our staff is composed of experienced project managers who have worked more than a decade in various industries

Course Modules: What you will learn and how you will practice the new skills

Skills & Techniques in Reading & Lectures Practice in Live Meetings & Presentations
1. Define Scope – Learn to ask the right questions of the healthcare administrator to unearth the project scope and the major deliverables. Learn how to use a strong scope statement to avoid scope creep. Learn to uncover the major constraints on the project cost and schedule. Lead a live project planning session with your instructor who plays the roles of the administrator and department heads. Ask them questions to define a clear scope for the healthcare project that will solve their problems. Then gain their approval of the scope.
2. Gather Requirements – Learn how to ask the right questions and to link requirements to project goals. Learn how to use this information to handle change requests. Uncover all the requirements so you can address them early in the project. Learn to document requirements and the project goals they support. Run a live requirements meeting with each department head (role-played by your instructor). Gather their requirements and define the achievements each department must produce using those requirements.
3. Build Project Plan – Learn to design a plan covering deliverables, resources, rough cost estimates and project risks. Make initial estimates of time and cost. Then identify risks and plan how to avoid them. Build a Power Point slide show of your healthcare project plan. Present your plan & slides to the administrator & department heads (role-played by your instructor). Answer their questions about your plan and gain their approval and support.
4. Create a Work Breakdown & Schedule – Learn how to sequence and estimate your tasks using project management software. Learn to build a healthcare project work breakdown structure (WBS) detailing all the deliverables your team will produce. Break down your high-level deliverables into individual assignments for your team members. Create clear performance expectations for each assignment. Review your schedule with your instructor when you complete the WBS, predecessors, estimates of work and time. Discuss the schedule’s strengths and weaknesses in live meetings with your instructor and make improvements after each review.
5. Tradeoffs & Critical Path – Learn to develop alternative ways of doing the project by changing the scope, duration, costs and resources. Optimize your schedule to minimize cost and duration and develop trade-offs between them for the administrator & department heads to evaluate. In a live presentation to the administrator & department heads (role-played by your instructor), discuss trade-offs between scope, duration and cost to give them options for the project.
6. Conflict Management – Learn five strategies for resolving conflicts plus how and when to apply them. Learn techniques to minimize the impact of conflicts on your project schedule and budget. Watch a video of a conflict between two team members. Select the correct technique to manage the conflict and discuss it with your instructor.
7. Tracking & Status – Learn to give the administrator & department heads accurate forecasts of the completion date and final cost. Identify problems and model solutions using the project management software. Update your project schedule to reflect actual results to-date and forecast final dates and costs. Using status data from your team, update your schedule, spot problems and develop solutions. Present the status to the administrator & department heads (role-played by your instructor) using Power Point slides. Answer their questions.

How Instructor-led Individual Training Works: Course Features

Healthcare Project Basics Online Course Tuition $1,995

Talk to a Counselor 1-303-596-0000

[button link=”https://s3-us-west-1.amazonaws.com/4pmnew/4pm-newsite/131.pdf” style=”info” color=”blue” window=”yes”]Brochure[/button][button link=”http://162.144.114.198/~jwkdwgmy/program-manager-assessment/” size=”medium” style=”download” color=”blue” border=”#940940″ window=”yes”]Questions?[/button][button link=”http://162.144.114.198/~jwkdwgmy/about-4pm-com/student-course-evaluations/” size=”medium” style=”download” color=”blue” border=”#940940″ window=”yes”]Student Comments[/button][button link=”https://learn-by-video.com/product/https://learn-by-video.com/product/healthcare-projects-131/” size=”medium” style=”download” color=”red” border=”#940940″ window=”yes”]Enroll[/button]

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Business Strategy

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

Project managers, especially those who manage medium and large size projects, must understand how their project fits into the business strategy of the sponsoring executive and the organization. To do a good job of planning and managing a new project, the project manager can’t focus on just the technical issues of plans, schedules, budgets and change orders.

What is the Business Strategy?

Many organizations don’t publicize their business strategy. Don’t be confused between a business strategy and a mission statement. The mission statement is what an organization prints on every envelope and box that leaves their premises. It is public relations babble. Also don’t assume that every organization has a business strategy. They may not have anything better than target rates of profitability and sales growth for the coming year. Those are certainly good goals that state a valuable financial market position but they are not a business strategy.

An organization’s business strategy is a position that takes advantage of their unique strengths. Let’s say they provide home cleaning services and have a unique competitive advantage with a low-cost labor force. Then a business strategy of becoming the low-cost provider of home cleaning services might fit. The business strategy results from an analysis of the market in which the organization operates or wants to operate. It includes an analysis of the competition they face and any opportunities that exist. After careful data-gathering and study, the organization may decide that the best competitive position is for them to be the low-cost home cleaning service in their market. With that competitive position selected, they would align their internal goals and projects to achieve that strategic goal. In other words, they concentrate their resources and energies on achieving their desired market position. That alignment and resource allocation might mean they terminate their high-priced luxury home cleaning services. They are inconsistent with being the low-cost provider. business strategy

Business Strategy Components

A business strategy has several components. First is establishing a targeted competitive position.  Second is aligning the company’s resources and efforts to reach that position. Third is planning projects with specific goals for the coming year(s) that will help them reach the target competitive position. This strategy also includes deciding what projects or initiatives not to do.

Let’s go back to our example. Why did the organization pick being the low-cost producer? It may have been the fact that no one else was focused on that competitive position. All the other competitors were focusing on trying to offer high-end services. On the other hand, it may have been as simple as a preference by the senior executive. Whatever the reason and rationale, if the strategy is for the organization to be the low-cost home cleaning service in their market area, all of their project efforts and goals should be aligned with achieving it.

This information is often closely guarded because the executives may not want to alert the competition to their plan for future success. Some competitors might eventually find out but the information is not widely publicized in the initial stages of implementing a new strategy. The organization wants their competitors to discover their new position after they have successfully positioned themselves as the low-cost provider of home cleaning services.

Why Must a Project Manager Know the Organization’s Business Strategy?

The obvious answer to that question is that understanding the organization’s business strategy and the initiatives aimed at achieving that market position prevents us, as project managers, from making stupid mistakes. Actually, they are honest mistakes that result from not knowing the competitive market position goal.  To achieve success, we must ensure that our projects are aligned with the organization’s business strategy. In our example, projects to design high-end home cleaning services would obviously not be aligned with the business strategy. How do we avoid being out of alignment? We ask questions about how our project(s) support the corporate strategy. Hopefully an executive will give us some insight into what the business strategy actually is and what competitive position the organization wants to occupy in the future.

All of this assumes the organization has invested in the thought process required to identify an optimal market position and then aligned it’s projects and resources to reach that position. If this did not happen and there is no corporate business strategy for gaining a competitive market position, the project manager is stuck trying to convince stakeholders of the value of the project based on its own merits. This position is much less effective than aligning a new project with the organization’s business strategy.

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Project Feasibility – Video

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

Many organizations require project sponsors and their project managers to prepare a project feasibility assessment of new projects before they are authorized to proceed. Organizations can call them by different names but the project feasibility assessment is part of the project approval process. It’s basically a justification for the project. The review by management committees is the only way organizations can bring project initiation under control. The organization suffers if people can start a project and use company resources without upper management review and approval. The lack of control over initiation makes it exceedingly difficult for those organizations to deliver strategic level projects. We call them “pachyderm projects” because their benefits to the organization are huge. Very often an organization cannot deliver a pachyderm project because so many resources are tied up on less valuable categories of projects.

Project Feasibility: Project Categories

The “pachyderm projects” are the highest category because they are strategic for the organization.

The “puppy projects” are the lowest category. Organizations that can’t control project initiation have very large letters of puppy projects. They consume up to 40% of the available project resources. Some of the puppy projects have value; others have none. The only way to restrict the size of the annual litter of puppy projects is to make the sponsoring executive justify the project with a feasibility assessment and a cost-benefit analysis. When we help organizations install these processes, it’s amazing how two thirds of the puppy projects vanish because there is no positive cost benefit.

The second category is the “pig projects.” These are large efforts that drift from one poorly defined scope to another never addressing the business need for which they were started. The feasibility study gives executives the ability to control pig projects by identifying the original benefits they were supposed to produce and the cost of producing them.
Feasibility studies are a key tool in organizations that need to be successful with their projects. These feasibility studies may include a business case with very formal documentation of the quantified benefits and costs of the project. The business case may also include return on investment, return on assets and payback period calculations among others.

Watch this video about a new project manager needing to gather project feasibility study information and present it to executives to justify a project. Two experienced project managers guide this new project manager in all the steps to justify the project, including creating a business case and doing a feasibility study. The project manager encounters political roadblocks and difficulty in gathering data. But in the end, the project feasibility study is accepted and the project is approved by the management committee.

Assess Project Feasibility