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3 Point Project Estimating: Padding, Accuracy, Commitment

Dick Billows, PMPEstimating is tricky for project managers who have to balance conflicting pressures from the sponsor, stakeholders and their team:

  • The customer or user wants the project done quickly and cheaply.
  • You, as PM, want to finish on time and within budget.
  • For commitment, the team needs to participate in a process their perceive as fair and not feel like they are sure to fail because their estimate is impossible.
  • The estimating technique should yield accurate numbers and some assessment of the accuracy.
  • Decision makers need information of the certainty of the project finishing on time

That list of requirements is a tough one for any project estimating process. The only process that meets all those requirements is 3-point estimating, which formerly called PERT (Program Evaluation and Review Technique).

Briefly, 3-point estimating has three-steps.  In each, the PM works closely with the people who will be doing the work. The first step is to discuss the deliverable the team member will be accountable for producing. This discussion includes the “good” risks that could cause this task to take less work and the “bad” risks that could cause it to take more work. Second, the PM notes these risks on the work package form that also contains the approach the team member will use. Third, the team member makes three estimates: an optimistic estimate, a pessimistic estimate and a best guess estimate. The PM applies the 3-point formulas (at the end of the article) to those three estimates to come up with the actual data that you will use in the project schedule.

Common Estimating & Risk Issues

Two mindsets often plague the estimating process:

  • Executives often believe that projects have no risks that affect duration or budget.
  • Team members think that padding their estimates will protect them from blame.

Both of these mindsets are false but they certainly get in the way of accurate estimating.

The 3-point estimating technique deals with both these mindsets. It gives PMs a data to communicate the risk of a work estimate. It also lets everyone stop pretending that task #135 is going to finish in precisely 15 days or that the project will absolutely finish by August 30.  Three-point estimating is a straightforward process for developing estimates using just a little bit of statistics. It gives you a tool to address the issue that most projects are launched with less than a 35 % chance of finishing by their promised due date.  Because no one talks about that issue, executives think the completion date is 100% guaranteed. It’s only missed when someone goofs off.

The best project managers have risk data for their sponsors.  They can document why a project has a 65% chance of finishing by August 30, as an example. These PMs also explain what they can do to increase those odds to 75% or 90% and what it will cost. Those same PMs manage the assignments of their project team members with an understanding that there is risk on each assignment. They use 3-point estimating techniques to get data on the risks.

Three Point Estimating in Detail

The 3-point estimating process starts with a discussion with the team member about the risks inherent in their assignment. You discuss the bad risks that will make their assignment take more work and duration (time). You also discuss the good risks that will cause it to take less work and duration (time). Why should you do this step? Because you need an estimating process that addresses the team member’s legitimate concern that bad things will happen on their assignment and they’ll be blamed for not meeting the completion date.  With agreement on the risks in the assignment and work package notes what you will do about them, you go on to the estimates work and duration.

As the name implies, 3-point estimating requires three estimates for each task. That sounds like it will take a lot of work but it takes a matter of minutes.  You and the team member develop an optimistic estimate, a pessimistic estimate and a best guess estimate for each task. By developing those three estimates, we get estimates that are more accurate from team members and assess the assignment’s degree of risk and the range of durations.

Padding Estimates

Before we go on, we need to talk a little bit about risk. When you ask me how long it will take to read this article, I might estimate five minutes. Am I guaranteeing you that no matter what happens I’ll be able to read the whole thing in five minutes? No, what I mean is that 5 minutes is my best guess. That means there is a 50% chance it will take me less than five minutes and a 50% chance it will take me more than five minutes.

However, if you were my project manager asking me for a task estimate, I would be a little hesitant about giving you an estimate in which there was a 50% chance of an overrun. What I would rather give you is an estimate where I’m 90% confident that I can finish in that amount of time or less. As the project manager, you would probably regard that estimate as padded. As the team member, I feel more comfortable with a 90% estimate. Unfortunately, there is no consistency in the amount of padding your team members will use.

Reducing Padding

You want your team members to leave the estimating process knowing that you considered the fact that things can go wrong on a task assignment. That’s why you identified risks at the beginning of the discussion and documented what you could do about the risks. With that recognition of the risks, we move on to gathering data on the impact those risks could have on the assignment. Using the three estimates enables you to do that. It’s better than having a team member give you a single estimate and play the padding game about how certain that estimate is. The three estimates tell you the variability in the task.

Best Guess, Optimistic and Pessimistic Estimates

Now let’s start the estimating process.  Your team member estimates that a task has a best guess estimate of 80 hours of work.  That means that 50% of the time it will take more work and 50% of the time it will take less.

Next, the optimistic work estimate is less work than the best guess.  The optimistic estimate is low enough that the team member thinks they can get the task done for less than the optimistic estimate only 20% of the time.  The task will require more work than the optimistic estimate 80% of the time.

The pessimistic estimate is more work than the best guess. It is not a “disaster” estimate but we want an estimate that’s based on the bad risks that we identified happening.  The pessimistic estimate is high enough that the team member thinks they can get the task done for less than the pessimistic estimate 80% of the time.  The task will require more work than the pessimistic estimate 20% of the time.

Now let’s dip our toe into the statistics and look at two tasks, Alpha and Beta, and the calculated work estimates we would use at three different level of confidence (* see formulas below).

What we did was take the three estimates and use some simple formulas to calculate the task’s work estimates and calculate the mean and standard deviation.  Using standard statistical tables (z-scores from a table of standardized normal deviates); we can take those means and standard deviations and use them to calculate levels of confidence of finishing within the estimate.  In other words, for task Alpha we could say that we have a 50% chance of completing the task with less than 54 hours of work.  For an 80% confidence level, we would calculate that 69 hours of work would be required.  This is the data to use with a client or project sponsor to quantify the cost of higher levels of certainty about a completion date. In the previous example with Alpha, we have to buy an additional 15 hours of work to move from 50% confidence to 80% confidence of getting the task done within the work estimate.  The beta is much less risky task than alpha. The mean work estimates are very close but the standard deviations are very different. To move from the 50% level of confidence that is 50 hours on task beta we would need to increase the work estimate to 51 hours. So for task beta higher levels of certainty a relatively inexpensive. Extending these calculations to the entire project is very easy with a spreadsheet such as the one we use in our classes. It gives project managers the ability to discuss the cost of higher levels of certainty. Sponsors always say they want to be 90% confident of finishing on time. When you present them with the cost of that level of certainty, it often is the case that lower levels of confidence would be acceptable.

Using 3-Point Estimates

All of the better project management software packages, such as Microsoft Project®, enable you to use 3-point (PERT) estimates and create a variety of reports that communicate the project’s risks. You can take estimates like those above and calculate the odds of finishing the entire project within various durations.  That information is a solid basis for a discussion with the sponsor about the tradeoffs between cost, scope, duration, risk and staffing levels.

To learn these 3-point estimating techniques and the entire estimating process, consider our private, online courses where you work individually with your instructor. They are available by phone, video conference or e-mail whenever you have a question or need help on an assignment. We can also deliver a customized training program at your site for up to 25 people. Call us at 303-596-0000 and speak to an instructor.

*Three point estimating Formulas

Mean= (4*bg)+OE+PE/6

SD= (PE-OE)/6

Probability level = work= Mean + (z-score for probability)*SD

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What is Project Leadership? – Video

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

What is project leadership? It consists of proven techniques that project managers use to:

  • set standards of behavior and performance
  • motivate the team members to high performance and
  • rally the team members when the project has problems to overcome.

These tasks are particularly challenging because most project managers are technically- oriented people with little experience or skill in motivating others. Another factor that makes project leadership difficult is that the project manager often has very little or no formal authority over the project team. The lack of formal organizational authority is the number one challenge to project leadership.

Project managers must tailor the interpersonal techniques they use to fit the personality of each team member and stakeholder with whom they work. That’s the only way project managers can make up for their lack of formal authority.  Once they have “typed” the person’s personality and selected the right techniques for dealing with them, they have won half the battle. Here is a video on Team Member Personality Types

Another technique of effective leadership is to apply the best practices in terms of how the project manager trains and treats their project team members. Watch this video of a PM dealing with a situation where a team member has been pulled off the project and assigned elsewhere. In the first video, you see the PM use a technique that does not fit the personality of the team member. The result is complete failure. Then watch an analysis and see the PM do it the right way, using the right technique for the team member. Leading Teams

Communicating with the team member who has a problem

You can learn all of these skills in our online project management basics course. We individually tailor this course for business, IT, construction, healthcare and consulting specialties.

[button link=”https://4pm.com/product/project-management-basics-101/” style=”info” color=”red” window=”yes”] Project Basics[/button]

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Project Tracking Software – Video

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

This video shows you the entire process for using project tracking software (Microsoft Project®) from start to finish. Reporting project progress is an important part of every project manager’s weekly routine and using software makes your job much easier and efficient. You’ll see how to enter the status reports from your team members, spot variances and plan corrective action.  How to Write a Weekly Status Report

Project Tracking Software Video 

You’ll see how the software uses the data about the actual work completed and the team’s estimates of the remaining work (work-to-complete). If there are overruns on any tasks, the software adjusts the schedule to show the  start and finish dates of the remaining tasks in the plan. It also updates the project budget and the earned value data. You’ll also see click-by-click instructions for analyzing the variances and modeling corrective action to bring the schedule back into line with the approved project plan.

Tracking & Status Reports in MS Project

After the project schedule  had been updated with the team members’ status reports, the project manager will analyze the variances and identify those that require corrective action and those variances that do not. Then the project manager will model corrective action for each of the variances and test the impact of that corrective action on the schedule and budget. Finally the project manager will prepare the reports he will distribute to the project sponsor and stakeholders. These reports show what has happened, the consequences if nothing is done about the variances, and the corrective action the project manager proposes. The corrective actions will help bring the project schedule and budget back in line with the baseline of the original project management plan. As you can see, project tracking software is a powerful tool. Project Tracking Reports Main Page

You can learn how to use project tracking software in our online project management basics courses. You work privately with an expert project manager who is your instructor and coach. You begin whenever you wish and control the schedule and pace. You have as many phone calls and live video conferences with them as you wish.

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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Project Sponsor Video – Getting a Bad Sponsor to Do His Job

In project management, the project sponsor’s role is critical. The most of the project sponsor’s work happens at the beginning of the project. Many failed projects are blamed on project managers and teams when in reality the failure was caused by the project sponsor’s shabby work at the beginning of the project.

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

Sponsor Video: Synopsis

This video is about a new project manager who is working for a project sponsor, Mr. Calderone, who is known for not doing the sponsor job correctly. Watch the new project manager go through all the steps of initiating the new project and battling with Mr. Calderone to get him to do his job correctly.

Project Foundations

Obviously Mr. Calderone outranks the new project manager so she must tread carefully. She seeks guidance from two experienced project managers regarding subtle ways to “guide” Mr. Calderone to do his job correctly. They start with the statement of work or SOW. Mr. Calderone tries to get away with a vague, mushy definition of the project scope. The project manager slowly convinces him that he has to make a commitment to exactly what he wants from the project. So the scope must be defined by measurable acceptance criteria. That lets the project manager tell every team member what’s expected from them and the project as a whole.

Next the project manager works with Mr. Calderone to define the major deliverables of the project. They sub-divide those into a second level of deliverables. With the guidance of the two experienced PMs, she creates a network of deliverables that is crystal-clear and measurable. After that, she gets Mr. Calderone to define and approve the charter for the project. Then she moves on to the project planning phase.

Sponsor Duties: Summary

The sponsor duties include setting the goal for the project, providing the funds to “pay” for it, and appointing the project manager. In addition, the sponsor approves the project management plan (how the PM will manage the project) and the project plan itself (the schedule, budget, risk management plan, quality plan, procurement plan, stakeholder management plan, etc.). So it is the sponsor’s job to approve every detail of how the project will be executed to reach the goal they set at the beginning of the project. The project manager is certainly involved in the development of every step, but the sponsor reviews and approves it before launch. During the project execution phase, the sponsor approves any changes to the original plans the sponsor approved during initiation. He or she also accepts every deliverable the project produces. At the end of the project, the sponsor accepts the final deliverable and the project is complete. Project Methodology Main Page

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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Dysfunctional Teams – Video

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

During the course of their career, every project manager has to deal with dysfunctional teams. The people on the team may be in that state as a result of bad experiences on previous projects. You may have inherited them when you took over a failing project. The dysfunctional team is unlikely to produce satisfactory project results. Leading Teams Main Page

Time is often wasted in turf battles between team members from different functional units. People also spend inordinate amounts of time trying to avoid blame for the project failure that they see coming down the road. Finger-pointing will also be rampant. All these behaviors destroy morale. Dysfunctional project teams can cause major overruns on a project’s duration and budget.

But there are techniques that project managers can use to salvage a dysfunctional project team and turn it into a high performing team.

Watch this video on how to deal with a dysfunctional project team.

How To Manage a Dysfunctional Team - Video

You’ll learn all of those skills in our project management basics courses. Take a look at the basics 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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Project Reports – Project Presentations, Reports, Meetings that Build Credibility

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

Project managers spend at least 80% of their time communicating with their team members and stakeholders. You communicate when giving project reports, running meetings, giving presentations and updating the project status. No one will appreciate your knowledge and skills on the technical aspects of managing a project if you can’t clearly and concisely communicate your ideas in project reports.  Even worse, poor communication skills can cause confusion among your team members and incorrect project expectations among user managers.

Project Reports Must Fit the Audience

Effective project communicators tailor the message and communication style to fit the audience. You can’t speak the same way to a group of  high-level managers unfamiliar with technology as you do to the techies from your department.  These skills require practice and coaching in a safe environment where you can make mistakes, learn from them and try it again.

Communication and presentation training is the path to effective skills that give you self-confidence in front of an audience and the ability to influence them.  These skills are a key to gaining acceptance of your plan and building user and customer support for your project. Giving a presentation that is technically correct is not good enough. You need to determine the personality types in the audience and tailor your presentation’s design, content and delivery style to suit those personality types. With all these ingredients properly combined, you have a chance of persuading them to your point of view and supporting your project. Project Management Skills Main Page

Project Reports Video

Effective and Persuasive Presentations


In this presentation training lecture, Dick Billows, PMP, discusses the presentations skills you need throughout the project. During the initiation phase, you may present the business case and make presentations about the project to the stakeholders. During the planning phase, you’re making presentations about requirements and presenting the project management plan to the sponsor and stakeholders. As your project moves into the executing phase, you are presenting weekly or monthly status reports to management. You are also holding meetings and presenting information to the project team on a regular basis. In the project closing phase, you gather infoproject reportsrmation for the lessons learned archive and present it to the team and stakeholders. When conducting the lessons learned meeting, your presentation skills are vital to overcoming the conflicts that affected the project.

Project Reports Training

You don’t need to be a fascinating, spell-binding speaker to succeed. Even if you are uncomfortable with public speaking, a little live practice online with one of our instructors will help you master proven techniques. You will be able to overcome nervousness and use effective body language. Most importantly, you will learn to “read” the personality types of the audience and deliver your ideas in a style to which they will positively respond.

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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PMP Exam – Are You Ready for Certification?

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

The PMP®, Project Management Professional, certification is a valuable credential for people who are job hunting or who want to gain credibility (and increased salary) with their current employer. The PMP® is an internationally recognized credential from PMI®, the Project Management Institute. On the job hunting front, the PMP® is often used as a résumé screening tool. Human Resources people often discard the résumés of applicants who don’t have the PMP® credential. So the decision-makers for the project manager positions never see these résumés.

The PMP® is a credibility-builder for people who want to advance their career within their current organization. That is particularly true for people manage projects outside their “home” department/organization or for customers/clients.

PMP® Exam Eligibility

The PMP® has two eligibility requirements.  The first is 4,500 hours (3 years) of experience managing projects. (7,500 hours if you don’t have a college degree). The application form requires people to document their experience, including the names of their project sponsors. The second requirement is 35 hours of project management education.   Applicants must then pass a difficult 4-hour, 200 multiple choice question exam.

If you can’t meet the PMP® eligibility requirements, we offer other project manager certifications.

Passing the PMP® Exam – Rote Memorization Doesn’t Work

Passing the PMP® exam is no easy matter. The days when you could memorize definitions and the answers to a handful of questions and pass the test are long gone. The exam has now has situational questions where you must analyze the situation and pick the right course of action. You need to learn the best practices in project management and understand what tools and techniques a project manager can use in a variety of situations. The most difficult part of the exam is the situational questions where you’re given a project management situation and asked to select the right thing to do. You must analyze the situation and decide the best thing to do. You need a course that teaches you how to handle these varied situations. Our PMP® Exam Prep course does this and fulfills the education requirement.

Passing the PMP Exam® – Personal Coaching is the Key

Some PMP® exam prep courses have 50 to 100 people in a class. If all you were doing was memorizing lists and definitions, this might not be a handicap. But to pass the exam these days, you must understand what to do in different project situations and which techniques work best in those situations. So the learning process is much more complex. The way each person understands the material is different because their learning styles are different.
Our online PMP® exam prep course begins with a custom design where we fit the training to your learning style. One learning style and one teaching style do not fit everyone. Some people like lists and dot points. Others want to see flowcharts of the step-by-step processes. Some people are visual learners and want to watch videos of project managers handling various situations. Still others learn best from stories of project managers doing things the right way. The stories and videos come back to people during the exam and help them select the right answer to the situational questions. Our course offers the tools and techniques that cover each of these learning styles. Here’s a video that shows how you work with your instructor in the course and until you pass the PMP® exam.

 PMP exam – The Best PMP Training – Individual Mentoring

PMP exam - The Best PMP Training - Individual Mentoring

You get lots of personal, one-to-one coaching and interaction with your instructor.  That’s how we make sure we answer your questions in ways that you understand. And we guarantee you will pass the exam.  Over ninety percent of our students pass on their first try. But if you don’t, your instructor will work with you until you pass (for no additional tuition). Please take a look at the details of our PMP® Exam Prep course. We look forward to helping you get your PMP® certification and advancing your project manager career. After, you earn the PMP consider other certifications and courses we offer.

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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Dysfunctional Project Team – Video

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

When you inherit a project from another project manager (whether your successor was fired or somehow managed to escape to another project), you have to watch for the danger signs of a dysfunctional team. There are consistent early warning signs of a problem team.

Dysfunctional Project Team: Warning Signs

Early in your tenure as the new project manager, a stream of people from your project team  may warn you about other team members. The offenses include a laundry list of “sins,” such as: treachery, bad behavior, low productivity, poor quality work and disruptive behavior. These people may say they’re coming to warn you. But what they’re trying to do is stab  fellow team members in the back.
Another kind of behavior can come from the more experienced and senior members of the project team. They may suggest that other team members have already badmouthed you to the company’s senior management.
You need to be careful not to overreact to any of these situations. Most of the information is untrue. And it certainly is not intended to help you.

Dysfunctional Project Team: The PM’s Focus

What you have to focus on is the progress being made on the project’s plan. That includes determining how well each of your team members is doing with their assignment. While you’re reviewing that, you also need to confirm the project scope with senior management. You must “take the temperature” of your key stakeholders to avoid surprises from them. Now you’re ready to tackle your dysfunctional project team.

Watch a project manager in action video about a project manager who inherits a dysfunctional team. See the steps he takes to make them productive and to finish the project on time and within budget. He meets with each team member individually and then with the entire group. He uses a variety of motivational techniques to turn the dysfunctional  group into a productive team. Leading Teams Main Page

How To Manage a Dysfunctional Team - Video

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Project Due Dates – How to Screw Up a Project Plan

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

Watch this video of a common way to screw up a project plan. Is it familiar?

Pretend Project Due Dates

The sponsor plucks a project due date out of the sky. Then the tells the stakeholders they’re accountable for meeting that date. No one believes this pretend due date is realistic. They back into the due dates for their deliverables but they aren’t committed to them.  Watch the managers faces in this video and see how much commitment they have to the dates.  These people know they are going to fail before they even start work.  They’re all trying to figure out  how they will throw something together by the due date. They know they’ll then spend months fixing it.

Project Planning Blunders: Due Dates

Realistic Project Due Dates

The way a project manager and sponsor should set the project due date is by calculating the amount of work that each task requires. An effective technique is to let the team members take part in estimating the number of hours worth of work their task will take. Then you convert the number of work hours into the task’s duration. The duration is also based on each team member’s availability to work on their project task. Main Project Planning Page

When you use that technique to develop your task duration estimates, you gain a significant number benefits. First, the team members have a reasonable amount of commitment to the due date because they participated in setting it. Second, you and sponsor can accurately track progress. You can measure the number of hours worked versus the estimated hours. That gives you an exact idea of the percentage of work completed and the percentage of work remaining. With that information, you can calculate when the work will be done. The third benefit is that the team members are not held accountable for finishing their task by a certain date. They are accountable for finishing within a certain number of hours worth of work.

You can learn the best practices for planning projects with realistic due dates in our project management basics courses. Take a look at the basics course in your specialty.

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Project Disasters – Comedy Video

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

Project DisastersIt takes a lot of work to make a project disaster as bad as this one. Our 4PM.com cast members show you how in a Project disasters comedy video about how to screw up a project.

The PMs and team members are preparing their failed project for a big project status meeting. You’ll see micro-managing PMs frantically hiding problems and berating team members for finishing early. Other team members point fingers at each other while sleazy executives maneuver for their political advantage.  Whacked-out IT staff members use a million phony excuses about why the system is late.  While the Human Resources people back-stab the Sales people to avoid blame for a  pointless employee survey. You’ll see all the things NOT to do on a project.

You’ll also see how the PM deals with the inept executive sponsor of the project, Mr. Lonegan. He starts more projects than the organization can possibly finish. His projects never have a clearly defined scope so the project managers and team members have to guess about what they think Mr. Morgan wants the project to deliver.  Because the project managers are not sure what Mr. Lonegan wants, they make very vague assignments to their team members. That way they can’t be blamed but the team member can.

The final icing on Mr. Lonegans’s disastrous cake is the red hot anger he directs toward any project manager or team member who admits to being late. Mr. Lonigan probably convinces himself that he is a dynamic leader with very high standards. In truth, Mr. Lonegan is a complete failure as a project sponsor. And he drags down and rest of the organization with him.

These characters may remind you of some of the people on your projects and the interpersonal challenges they give you. If you remember characters or situations from your experience, share them with others in the blog.

If you have outrageous examples of how to screw up a project, send them to us in a comment and we’ll try to work them into the next episode of 537 Ways to Screw Up a Project.

How to Screw Up Project: Status Reports