Archive for September, 2009

How To Manage Bad News In Your Projects

Wednesday, September 9th, 2009

Project Management Bad NewsThree components precede bad news: target, trigger and tweak. By recognizing these components, you can easily manage most of the bad news in your projects.

If the monthly target is $10K and the expenses are trending toward $40K for the next three months, then the potential overrun is a trigger that should prompt you to tweak the situation. Inform the project stakeholders but be careful not to cry wolf.

If you’re able to steer the project towards a more favourable outcome, then you can report the good news. If not, then the bad news will not be a surprise to the parties involved.

Take a look at your current targets—budget, schedule or objective—and identity triggers that will give you adequate room to tweak the circumstances if needed. It is better to pre-empt than to be held in contempt.

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Major Mistakes When Managing Project Milestones

Friday, September 4th, 2009

Project Management MilestonesProject milestones allow us to signal the completion of deliverables or phases, or to mark major decision points.

Unfortunately, project managers make two common mistakes when it comes to milestones: too frequent and too infrequent.

Although it is typical to have weekly or biweekly project milestones, these milestones are too frequent at the program and portfolio levels. Conversely, monthly or quarterly program and portfolio milestones might be viewed as too infrequent at the project level. My project with 46 milestones looked very odd at the portfolio level because 4 to 5 milestones would have been sufficient!

To address these common mistakes, establish different milestones depending on the audience. When you present your milestones to your team, the weekly or biweekly milestones might suffice. For PMO updates, filter out the weekly or biweekly milestones and only present monthly or quarterly milestones.

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The Secret Of Getting Others To Help You

Thursday, September 3rd, 2009

Project TeamAs a manager, I rely on the effort of others to complete my projects. I encounter the same situation on the board of directors and as a youth group leader.

My success is dependent on the willingness of others, some of whom are volunteers, to contribute a small piece to the big puzzle.

Over the years, I have learned the secret of getting others to help me. The secret is that you need to know exactly what you need before you summon someone for help.

“Can you please review my executive presentation for spelling mistakes?” is better than “Can you help me with my presentation?” “Please introduce me to a senior manager at XYZ Company” is easier to achieve than “Help me get a job.” Others will be more inclined to say yes if your request is well-defined and time-constrained.

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Learn to Ask for Help Sooner

Tuesday, September 1st, 2009

Project Time ManagementOn my first consulting engagement, I spent one day trying to get my program to work. My manager noticed my frustrations so he offered to help. It turned out that I was just missing a period! During my performance review, he suggested that I should learn to ask for help sooner.

In scuba diving, if you get separated from your buddy, you are trained to look for no more than one minute. If unsuccessful, you need to ascend and reconnect at the surface.

At work, you should not be afraid to ask for help sooner. It is not a sign of weakness. If you are stuck on something, set a reasonable time limit. If you are still stuck, seek assistance upon reaching your time limit. By spending one minute to ask for help, you may save yourself an entire day.

Connect with Dr. John A. Estrella via Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.