Project Resource Overallocation: Why a Blank Resource Pool is Bliss

Microsoft Project Share ResourcesIf you manage multiple projects using Microsoft Project and you use common resources on some or all of them, you know how difficult it is to resolve resource overallocation. Here is one simple trick—use a blank resource pool.

Assume that you have Project A and Project B.

  1. Create a blank Microsoft Project file and call it “Resource Pool”
  2. Open Projects A and B
  3. Select Window / Arrange All to see all open files
  4. Select Project A and click on Tools / Resource Sharing / Share Resources
  5. Select “Use resources” from “Resource Pool” and “Pool takes precedence”, and then click on OK
  6. Repeat for Project B
  7. Switch to the Resource Pool and click on View / Resource Usage
  8. Insert the Project column to see which project is causing the over allocation

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Outsourcing of PMO Functions for Improved Organizational Performance

Outsourcing PMOThis book presents the research results of outsourcing PMO functions. The research used case studies from multiple countries and surveys from 104 project professionals across multiple industries and PM roles.

It became evident that outsourcing PMO functions can positively impact organizational performance—and how proper management governance and standards practices contribute to favourable results.

I found the PMO Functions Outsourcing Criteria very useful because it highlighted what organizations should consider if they are planning to outsource their PMO functions. All of the organizations who participated in the case study outsourced their project methodology and tools. Half of them outsourced project manager development; a different half outsourced project delivery altogether.

If your organization is planning to outsource its PMO functions, this book is a must. You’ll know that you have your facts straight instead of relying on anecdotal information from others.

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Finding Faults vs. Seeking Solutions

Project Management ProblemsWe live in an imperfect world. Most projects are fraught with problems. Why is it then that some people prefer to find faults instead of seeking solutions to problems? That’s because it is easier to whine. It’s easier to complain. It’s easier to do nothing.

If you find issues or problems in the office or in your projects, start seeking for solutions instead of focusing your efforts on finding faults on others or the “system”. It is better to be a part of the solution instead of the problem.

Doctoral advisors ask PhD candidates not to plant a tree of knowledge but to simply add a leaf to that tree. You don’t need to solve world hunger. You simply need to contribute a small piece to the solution. If you cannot lead or follow, then get out of the way!

A Fast Way To Book Project Meetings

Project Schedule ManagementYou know how challenging it is to schedule meetings with other individuals.

It is not that bad if the meeting attendees work for the same organization because you can usually view their availability. However, trying to book a meeting with individuals outside of the organization is a totally different ballgame. You can exchange a dozen e-mails with the project team and still not achieve a consensus.

Thanks to Doodle, you can now easily send meeting invitations to different individuals and have them vote on their preferred time(s) based on their availability. With just two e-mails, one to send the poll and the other one to book the meeting, you can schedule meetings in no time at all.

Doodle charges a small annual fee but you can easily get it back through increased efficiency and reduced aggravations!

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Risks and Rewards of Virtual Project Teams

Virtual Project ManagerAlthough it is challenging to manage a virtual team within a company, it is even more challenging to manage an international team of independent contractors (e.g., elance, oDesk, etc.).

In the past ten days, I quickly assembled a project team of 11 independent contractors (assistants, researchers, writers and testers) from the USA, India, Philippines and Romania to help my business grow. The speed at which I hired (and fired) them was unbelievable!

One contractor went AWOL. The other decided to end the contract. And, the third one had an emergency. So far, I’m fairly happy with the remaining eight in my team and they completed tasks that would have taken me hours to do by myself. I am still exploring this unchartered territory but if there is something I learned so far, I need to “hire slowly and fire quickly”.

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Easy Enhancement to Project Dashboard Reports

Project Dashboard IndicatorA typical project dashboard includes a RAG status (Red, Amber [Yellow] or Green) either at the overall project level or for each key deliverable.

Green means the project is progressing as planned; Yellow serves as a warning for potential problems; and Red indicates actual problems. However, the RAG status does not show if the project will get better or worse by the next reporting period.

To address this issue, add a RAG indicator (steady, up or down). A Green “steady” indicates that the project is on track and you expect it to be on track in the foreseeable future. A Green with a “down” RAG indicator indicates that the project is trending towards problems. In contrast, a Yellow status with an “up” RAG indicator indicates that things are getting better and the project status may soon turn to Green.

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Small Successes Perpetuate Progress in Projects

Project SuccessThe biggest challenge that managers face in a large project is how to get started.

How am I supposed to overcome what appears to be an insurmountable challenge? It is easier to give up, procrastinate and make excuses.

Although a work breakdown structure (WBS) provides a formal approach to subdividing a project into manageable tasks, it is far easier to ask the question: What is the next step? Don’t worry about the monster project holistically. Simply ask yourself, what is the next step?

If you can achieve a small success on that next step, you can ask the same question again, and again, and again. Before you know it, your project will be well on its way because success, no matter how small, breeds success. Go ahead and perpetuate progress in your projects. Turn small successes into a big success!

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What I learned about job hunting

Project Management Job HuntingA few weeks ago, I was invited as a panel member on “how to find opportunities in a challenging economic environment.” As part of my preparation, I listed all of my 22 previous jobs since high school, where I found those opportunities and whether I searched for those jobs or if the jobs found me.

Overall, 27% came from ads, 64% from referrals and 9% from co-op placement. It was interesting that 50% of the time, I was actively searching for jobs, and for the other half, the opportunities found me. Take note that for the last seven years, 100% of projects that I worked on came through referrals.

Lessons learned: devote 1/3 of your job search on networking and referrals, tell your friends about your expertise and availability, and recognize that most of the jobs are not posted anywhere!

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Three E’s For Dealing With Difficult People

Rules for RenegadesChristine Comaford-Lynch’s book Rules for Renegades (p. 174) talked about how to deal with difficult people. I found her advice useful so I decided to share it here.

Equalize: Place yourself on par with the person in your mind. You both were drooling babies; you both will grow old and die; you both are made of the same stuff.

Exchange: Perhaps the person is suffering in some aspect of life. Maybe this is why the individual is so difficult to deal with. Remeber a time when you were struggling and ‘exchange’ your suffering for his or hers.

Embrace: Accept people exactly as they are. When you are annoyed by people’s behaviours, know that you cannot possibly change them. So, embrace or accept them just as they are. Later on, you can decide to interact with them or not.

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US $12 Trillion Reasons Why The World Needs You to Teach Project Management

Project Management TrainingThis week, I was interviewed for an article for During the interview, the need for more organizations and professionals to offer project management courses became so obvious.

Consider the following facts: roughly US $12 trillion will be spent on projects each year (1/5 of the world’s gross domestic product) with average projected new jobs of 1.2 million yearly for the next decade. At 30% attrition rate, try to imagine the need to train and retrain these project management professionals.

If you are planning to start or strengthen your project management training business, there are plenty of resources out there that can help you. You can start with PMI’s standards and

Interestingly enough, good project managers may not necessarily translate into excellent teachers. For want-to-be teachers, until we can bridge that gap, there will always be a shortfall.

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