Reliable Estimates

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Historical estimated versus actual costs and durations are your best tools for producing new estimates of cost and time. The availability and maintenance of this historical information is a sign of the maturity of the project management process.

Reliable estimates can only come from honest and frank assessments. It is important to create realistic written specifications, prioritize needs, and work toward smaller milestones at frequent intervals. Managing change is another requirement in setting realistic expectations. A misalignment between expectations and deliverables often occurs if change is not managed.

1.1.2.10 Skilled Staff

There are two factors to consider here. The first is the skills inventory present in the staff and the extent to which it matches the demand for skills in the organization. The second is the extent to which the skills of the project team match the skill requirements of the project to which they have been assigned.

Skilled staff is your most valuable asset. The five key elements to ensure competency are:

1. Identifying required competencies;

2. Providing a quality, relevant, and continuous training program;

3. Recruiting both internally and externally;

4. "Incentivizing" the staff;

5. Ensuring they are project-focused.

Building and maintaining a team involves collective participation from the entire team. Communication within a team is vital to a project's success.

This book will focus on these 10 reasons that relate to the effectiveness and maturity of the project management process. More background needs to be provided before we can meaningfully discuss these reasons. Specifically, we need to describe the processes that comprise a typical project management methodology and then relate those processes to these 10 reasons. That will be the topic of Chapter 2.

1.1.3 Balancing People, Project Management Processes, and Technology

Each of the 10 critical success factors tells us a great deal about the characteristics of effective project management processes, but they do not tell the whole story. In addition to the processes, an effective project management environment is also made up of people and the technology to support the processes and the people. The 10 critical success factors tell us that. Four are related to people, seven are related to process, and three are related to technology.

The triad formed by people, project management processes, and technology forms a system that must be in balance if projects are to have any reasonable chance of succeeding [3]. Figure 1.1 displays that triad.

The figure shows several examples of how the three components can be related to one another. These are illustrated by data points A, B, C, and D. The closer the data point is to a vertex, the more developed or stronger that component is to the mix. Data point A is located at the center of gravity of the triangle and represents a system in balance. The People dimension shows a staff whose skill profile and experience level is in balance with the needs of the organization. The Project management processes dimension shows that the organization has sufficiently developed and understood project management processes to meet the needs of the organization. The Technology dimension shows that the organization has deployed the appropriate level of technology to support the project management processes that are in place and the people who use those processes.

Data point B shows an organization that is tilted toward the Project management processes and Technology dimensions. This organization will have sophisticated project management processes in place and the necessary supporting technology. They will not be effective, however, because they have not adequately prepared their people with the training and skills to effectively utilize

People 100

People 100

Project management process

Projectmanagement technology

Figure 1.1 The triad of people, project management processes, and technology.

the infrastructure. Furthermore, while the project management processes themselves may be entirely appropriate, the people may not be using them. This illustrates that a gap exists between one or more project management processes and the practice of those processes. This situation will be a major topic of discussion in Chapters 3, 6, and 7.

Data point C shows an organization that is tilted toward the People and Project management processes dimensions. This clearly shows a failure on the part of the IT function to support the project management function and on the part of the project managers to proactively go after technologies to support their project work.

Data point D shows an organization that is tilted toward the People and Technology dimensions. This is a fairly common occurrence. These organizations are technology rich and have hired smart people, but without the processes to support their business activities turnover will be high and business will suffer as a result.

1.1.4 Process Improvement Versus Practice Improvement

The effectiveness of project management in an organization is measured by two separate but related maturity variables.

The first is the current maturity level of the process itself. The assessment of this maturity is based on an evaluation of the standardized and documented methodology for managing projects in place in the organization. The assessed maturity level will be a point estimate. For any one of the many processes that make up a project management methodology, their scope and impact on the organization will increase over time. This will happen as shortcomings in the initial version are discovered and fixed. Increases in scope will occur as the project management processes become more integrated into related business processes.

The second variable is the maturity level of the practice of the process as evidenced by ongoing projects. This assessment will be done on projects recently completed and will be repeated at set intervals (such as quarterly). The assessed maturity level will be a distribution of values—one for each assessed project.

There are two questions that can be answered from this data. The first is whether the current process maturity has reached the level established by the organization as the target level. If not, part of the effectiveness improvement will, of course, be to put initiatives in place to reach that target level.

The second question is whether the current practice maturity is consistent with the process maturity. There are three situations that will be important to us as we examine current effectiveness. They are introduced in the sections below and will be further discussed in Chapters 3 and 4.

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Project Management Made Easy

Project Management Made Easy

What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.

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