Simplified and Balanced Approach to PM Software Selection

The selection of project management software should be a team effort. Normally, the team would consist of from three to six key players, relying on contributions from all stakeholders. The team needn't find consensus among all the stakeholders. But their inputs should be sought and valued, and they should be made to know that their inputs count. Trap It is a basic tenet of human behavior to wish to be included in decisions that affect you. It is usually very difficult to include all such...

Methods

The Methods phase must precede the tools selection phase. The tools are required to automate and facilitate the application of your project management methodology. Therefore, you have to define this methodology first. By methodology we mean, how do you manage projects This includes how you are organized to handle projects, as well as what practices are in place to manage projects. If you do not yet have such practices in place, this is the time to address these issues, rather than after you...

Getting Started

Perhaps the hardest part of the project planning process is getting started. Certainly, overcoming inertia will usually contribute to the problem. And then there's always the problem of getting some relief from your other duties. But, the major cause of difficulty and procrastination is the lack of a framework for engaging in the process and developing the plan itself. To start with, you will want to address the crucial identification of project objectives, constraints, and stakeholders. Then...

Does Your Company Need a CPO

(Author's Note This chapter is an editorial presenting a case for the Central Project Office and a Chief Project Officer. Containing many of the important points made in the previous chapter on organizing for project management, it may be used as a position paper to forward the concept of the Project Organization.) Project management is one of the fastest growing, most widely recognized trends of the past decade. Its recent popularity can be seen in many quarters. More than 50 percent annual...

Businessto Business Computing BB

At the crux of the e revolution is the ability to breach the confining walls of the office and factory and to reach into every corner of the world with ease. Business can be conducted anywhere, at any time. There are no boundaries or barriers, except those that are deliberately established to maintain security. The e revolution has brought significant gains to the world of project management. This is especially noticeable in two industries construction and information systems. In the architect...

Who Needs Cost Management

In every firm, cost management will exist in some form, usually under the control of the finance function. Our problem as project managers is that often that form is not consistent with the project management function, and that the cost data cannot be integrated with the other project data. As a result, many of the critical management questions concerning cost go unanswered. For instance, if the monthly accounting report notes that Omega Project has accumulated costs of 123,999, is this good or...

Software Support for Cost Management

Regardless of your methods for cost management, it will not be done on the back of an envelope. The question is whether you will use special cost management tools, basic CPM tools, or integrated systems. We discuss the options and make some generalized recommendations in Chapter 5.2. There are additional topics that impact on this subject of budgeting and cost control. Change control and managing costs associated with scope changes are discussed in Chapter 7.1. The area of performance...

Project Management Capability

When I think of project management, I see two major components The ART of project management, and the PROCESS of project management. The latter component, the process, involves considerable data, measurements, analysis, and communication. For this, most people will rely on one or more computer-based tools. Most of the processes involved in managing projects cannot be handled efficiently without the aid of project management software. So we must assume that the process of organizing for project...

Needs Enterprise Project Management

Early project management tools were designed for individual projects. Today, we rarely find projects that stand or get managed alone. Multiple projects are the norm in today's firms and the sharing of resources across multiple projects adds new requirements to our project management tool set. Furthermore, the vast amount of project information that is developed in the course of planning and executing the work need not be isolated from the other vital data of the enterprise. So for support of...

Role of the Project Manager

In short, the project manager has a very special role, which requires very special talents. The project manager acts as an integrator. The project manager channels conflict and aggressiveness. The project manager pays attention to the stakeholders. The project manager creates a structure for project planning and control. The project manager initiates practices to minimize possible failure. The project manager makes sure that risks have been evaluated and that risk mitigation plans have been...

The Role of Project Management Software

In my books, videos, and articles, I have frequently addressed the issue of project management software selection. In these, I urge the readers to take a deliberate and structured approach toward software selection, considering their project management methods, their corporate culture, and their specific planning and control requirements. Yet regardless of the diligence that is needed in this area, the selection of a project management software product is not the most significant element in the...

Organizing for Project Management

We can devote an entire book, let alone just a chapter, to discuss how to effectively organize for managing projects. For much of the past century, organizational design concepts were fairly stagnant. We essentially derived all organizations from the basic Functional Organization design. The key arguments revolved around whether a highly centralized Functional Organization or a decentralized Functional Organization was better. Then, starting in the 1950s, revolutionary organizational design...

Almonds and Molasses Cereal Project

The deliverables section gives us our first level of project definition, and a framework for further structuring. Each of these items can usually be traced back to a basic project objective. Each of these items can usually be assigned to a specific responsible individual, for accountability. The development of the WBS continues in increasing levels of detail. Returning to the bomber project, we can expand the first item of the WBS as follows Thus far, we have illustrated the WBS in an outline...

Practical Uses of Resource Scheduling

In Chapter 4.4, we look at practical uses of resource scheduling. Here is a preview of some things that you should find interesting. Long Term Short Term Practical resource scheduling is best achieved via a balance of long-term resource aggregation (analysis of predicted resource loads) and short-term resource leveling (possibly with user intervention). We outline a recommendation that should suit most applications. Use of Total and Free Float Have you been taught that we use CPM scheduling so...

The Three Time Estimate PERT Approach

You won't find the three time estimate approach to be in great demand. After all, if we have such a terrible time arriving at a reasonable single time estimate, won't the PERT approach just give us a very precise error This is certainly possible, and we have to evaluate the justification for either estimating mode on a case basis. Let's look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of each mode. First of all, project managers seem to agree that the most common weakness of project schedules...

Controlling Costs Using Management Reserve

Let's examine what we have gained from employing this simple, spreadsheet-based, change control system. We have an audit trail of all changes. We maintain control over the Management Reserve fund, as well as the makeup of the contract dollars. We have a negotiated and accepted change in the project completion date (chg. 2 & 3). We have a valid basis for calculating schedule and cost variances for EVA (if employed). In the example, above, three of the changes involved increased costs to the...

Examples of ProjectsERP Integration

I decided to take a closer look at some of the ERP-based solutions, starting with the one offered by Oracle. It appears to deliver the capabilities advertised in their statement. Looking specifically at the role of a suite of products (sold under the umbrella label of Oracle Projects), we do find a bridge between projects-oriented data and the corporate operations data. Oracle Projects is their doorway into Oracle Financials and other Oracle components, as shown in Figure 10.2a. By partnering...

Setting Up The Project Management Operation

Project management doesn't just happen. Successful project management is the result of a structured and determined effort to develop practices and skills within an organization that has been deliberately designed to support project work and the management of that work. There are almost unlimited options as to how to achieve this. One option that does not exist, however, is to engage in project work without setting up some kind of projects operation. There is no option to engage in project work...

The Shared Contingency Idea

Essentially, any of these solutions might be called shared contingency (my term). In the Goldratt approach, it is applied in several stages. First, he locates the critical path and reduces task durations to be consistent with a 50 percent probability rather than 90 percent. Half of the removed duration is added at the end of the path, as a project buffer. Next, the feeder paths are located and treated in a similar manner, and half of the removed duration is added at the end of each feeder path,...

Functions and Subsystems Associated with Cost Management

There are several functions and subsystems that are often associated with cost management. Some are erroneously believed to be the equivalent of cost management, but fall short of satisfying the full requirements. Rather, they are only elements of a full-fledged cost management system. Project accounting is not cost management. Most often, a project accounting system is no more than assigning an ID number to each authorized project so that costs can be allocated to projects. There is no...

Software for CCPM

Goldratt acknowledges that computer assistance is necessary to calculate the critical chain and to manipulate the various buffers. Here are two products that are available to support CCPM. The first is ProChain Project Scheduling, from ProChain Solutions, Inc., (703) 490-8821 or www.prochain.com. ProChain sits on top of Microsoft Project, and is run from within MSP. Task Bars and ProChain Views are added to the MSP screen. ProChain will first Load Level, considering dependency and resource...

Trends in Resource Management

Resource management may well be the real oldest profession. Certainly it is not a new function. I'll bet that even when the pyramids were built, there were fairly well-structured practices in place for managing the projects and the resources. Frederick Taylor, at the turn of the twentieth century, published new Figure 4.3a Options That Affect Resource Leveling Here is a list of resource scheduling attributes that may be found in traditional CPM products. The range of attributes is quite wide....

Making Project Management Work

Project Management is a SCIENCE. Project Management is a PROCESS. Yes, it is all of these. But, most of all, Project Management is a lot of COMMON SENSE. Without organizing for project management, and without establishing a set of project management practices and developing a project management culture, project management is likely to fail. Yet all of these are not enough to assure that any project management initiative will be successful. This is because project...

Exploring Goldratts Critical Chain Theory

Of all the emerging solutions for shared contingency, the one gaining the most attention is one presented in a very interesting book by Eliyahu Goldratt, called Critical Chain (North River Press, 1997). Eli Goldratt has been successful in using the fiction novel method to promote his hypothesis on the Theory of Constraints, via the subject book and two others The Goal (1992), and It's Not Luck (1994). There have been a plethora of papers, both in print and on websites, either extolling the...

Project Management as a Discipline

Perhaps the most important thing to note is that project management is, indeed, a discipline of its own. It has its own terminology, its own body of knowledge, its own set of skills and practices. One might not need a degree in project management to practice this discipline. But you cannot just have someone wave a magic wand in your direction and bestow these capabilities upon you. As obvious as this might appear, there are far too many instances where this is exactly what happens. A senior...

Cost Management The Weakest Link

A generic definition of project management would undoubtedly talk of planning, controlling, and balancing the scope, schedule, resource, and cost aspects of the project. Yet, when we read about project management, discussion of the latter item, cost, tends to get the least attention. This is often carried over to the design of software for project management. Many of the heavy-duty products, at least back before the PC era, addressed scope, schedule, and resource management and ignored cost...

Using Risk for Microsoft Project

When the PERT approach was first developed, in the late 1950s, it was customary to perform a statistical analysis (whoops, here come the sigmas) to calculate the confidence factor for each potential project completion date. Today, there are several add-on programs that work with popular PC-based CPM programs. We look at two of them here, starting with Risk+ for Project, from C S Solutions Inc. Most of what Risk+ does is virtually transparent to the user, and no expertise in statistics is needed...

Work Breakdown Structure

The first step is usually to define the work breakdown structure (WBS), as this is the framework for the project work scope. If you cannot define the work scope, then you cannot define the schedule, resources, or budget for the project. The WBS first helps with this (work scope) definition, and then becomes the framework for the identification of the details of the project. The WBS is an organization chart for the project work. If you were to draw a typical project WBS, it would look just like...

Use Accomplishment Value to Supplement Float Analysis

Accomplishment value, or earned value (a.k.a. Budgeted Cost of Work Performed) pertains to the measurement of accomplishment against the plan, once the work is underway. Normally, when we have a critical path schedule, we rely primarily on total float to see how we're doing. If we maintain the desired float, we assume that the schedule progress is satisfactory. This can be a false security. If you read the manuals on the use of the critical path method, you probably were told that CPM analysis...