About Praveen Malik

Praveen Malik is a start-up enthusiast and sales conversion guru. But his first love remain in Project Management. Praveen is a well-renowned speaker, trainer, author, and project management coach. He helps PMP aspirants through his eponymous project management blog.

Can You Do Time Estimation Without Making Assumptions?

time estimation

When planning to begin an exciting new project, project managers are often asked, “how long will you take to complete the project?”

Time is a finite resource since our life-span is short. Even if we try to, we cannot escape the limitations of time. This is why estimating time is among the essential aspects of managing projects.

Sometimes, project managers are not asked about the estimation but a deadline is forced down their throat. The client or their manager just directs them to complete activities by a specific prescribed date.

Generally, when a deadline is imposed, most project managers try to finish the job within the specified time frame.

They do everything in their power to meet the deadline but this too should not be done without estimating. The estimation should be still done even when somebody has set a deadline for you. You should back-calculate and try to fit in your tasks within the available time. This is a difficult job but not an impossible one.

Let us try to answer one basic question about estimation – can duration estimation be done without making assumptions? (more…)

By |2023-05-22T06:37:52+00:00September 29th, 2022|Project Management, Risk Management, Time Management|0 Comments

Top 5 Benefits of Using Project Management Software Tool

Many people believe that a Project Management software tool does not have much utility as spreadsheets work much better and provide a cheaper option.

Before we debate this, let me ask you a question. Which tool would you use if you have to put a nail in a wall – a hammer or a screwdriver?

Most probably your answer would be hammer. It does not mean that a screwdriver is a useless tool. It only means that a hammer is a more appropriate tool for putting a nail.

Similarly, when it comes to project management activities like planning and tracking, you should use a proper tool. A spreadsheet software is a general tool that is good for performing calculations and maintaining records but it should not be used for managing projects.

A proper tool helps in automating activities like estimating, scheduling, budgeting, organizing, tracking, and reporting. A spreadsheet software can never do all these things.

Let’s take a look at the top benefits of using a project management software.

Benefits of Using Project Management Software Tool

1. Scheduling

Scheduling involves the following steps:

  1. Identification of activities
  2. Estimating duration, cost, and resources
  3. Identifying dependencies and sequencing the activities
  4. Assigning resources and developing schedule
  5. Adjusting schedule to meet deadline

All these steps can be easily performed by using a specialized project management software. By using it, you can establish a proper workflow so that project staff members know what are they supposed to do and when.

Furthermore, by using a proper tool, you can easily adjust the schedule when there are any delays or changes as the project progresses. (more…)

By |2022-11-18T10:19:57+00:00January 28th, 2020|Project Management Software|0 Comments

Why Is Importance Of Project Risk Management Overrated?

importance of projct risk managementHave you ever given a serious thought about the importance of project risk management? Do you think that risk identification, analysis and assessment are important for project management?

I believe you will answer the above questions in affirmative. Before I share my opinion about significance of risk management, let me tell you a small story.

Proper Risk Identification, Analysis, And Assessment In Corporate Projects

Morpheus was the most experienced project manager of Zion Corporation. In past, he had successfully completed many technically challenging projects. Customers love him for his strong analytical skills.

In the recent years, Zion has sustained heavy losses due to poor risk management. They hired a new CFO named Lock to turn the corner. Lock was a micro-manager and looked at everything from financial standpoint. This had given him lot of success in the past.

To turn Zion around, Lock initiated a novel project of developing a complex new game system called Matrix. He assigned Morpheus as the lead project manager. He also assigned senior analysts Neo and Trinity to assist Morpheus.

Morpheus enjoyed a good working relationship with Neo and Trinity. They had worked together on many projects in the past. But Lock was a new commodity. Morpheus soon realized that it was very difficult to work with him. Lock had little understanding of the game development and always wanted to talk about finances.

As a diligent project manager, risk management was on top of Morpheus’ mind. He was ably supported by both Neo and Trinity in identifying, analyzing, and resolving risks. But Lock did not appreciate their efforts. On the contrary he was very critical.

Lock would say risk management is a complete waste of time. He thought that professionals should stick to their jobs and solve real problems. They should spend more time of execution and overcome the problems as they come.

By |2022-11-18T10:19:57+00:00January 9th, 2019|Risk Management|0 Comments

7 Reasons Why A Scheduling Tool Scores Over Excel Spreadsheet

Which tool would you use for project scheduling – a tool specifically designed for managing projects or Excel spreadsheet?

The answer is quite simple – a scheduling software is specifically designed for project management. It has many inherent advantages over spreadsheets like Excel or Google Sheets.

I guess you agree with me. But let me provide my reasons for my preference for a scheduling software like RationalPlan.

Appropriate Tool For Appropriate Jobs

excel scheduling tool pills-3111992_640

Which of the above picture suggests the right usage of fork & knife? The first picture. You would agree that fork and knife should be used for eating food and not medicine.

A hammer is no good for fixing screws and a screw-driver is not the right tool cutting wood. Similarly, PMs should use appropriate tools for managing projects.

You would say that this is simplistic example and it does not work in real world. So let me explain it further.

Microsoft Excel Vs. Scheduling Tool

How would a PM assign duties to team members and ensure task completion? How would a Customer keep an eye on work progression? How would a Sponsor track project expenses?

Excel would be a great bet if you want an isolated solution as an answer to the above questions. But project management is not done in isolation. It is a group effort.

There are many things that make a proper scheduling tool stand out from Excel. I can probably think of 100 things but I have made a group of 7 features that Excel just does not provide.

  1. Task creation, assignment, & tracking
  2. Resource planning & tracking
  3. Availability of Gantt charts for presentation & reporting
  4. Network diagrams for planning analysis
  5. Project performance dashboards
  6. Detailed project reports
  7. Team & stakeholder collaboration

You should also read more about advantages of PM software and why should you upgrade from spreadsheets to PM software. (more…)

By |2022-11-18T10:19:57+00:00April 29th, 2018|Project Management Software|2 Comments

15 Best Practices for Project Schedule Management

Success through Proper Project Schedule Management

project schedule management

A few years ago I used to work with a Project Manager. He was very particular about the weekly schedule tracking meetings. He would nag everyone and ask all sorts of questions. He would pester each of his team members for minutest of the details. He would closely monitor each and everything lest something goes amiss. Sometimes we just wanted to avoid these meetings.

I wanted to write a small eulogy for our man, but after reading the above para, you might think otherwise. But don’t get me wrong. It is an eulogy. Let me explain.

After all these years I have realized the importance of regular & periodic schedule tracking. I have very high regard for this person. I have learned a lot from him. I think his persistence to remain on top of the things made him a successful project manager. Somehow, he had a knack for delivering successful projects.

I am sure you would have met some people like him. We may not like them because of their excessive inquisitiveness. But we know that close and regular monitoring is required to deliver successful projects. At the same time, I must urge you to be polite and respectful while monitoring and tracking. We should use good interpersonal skills while interacting with project team members and other project stakeholders.

In my previous article, I talked about 9 benefits of tracking project schedule. I hope that post has inspired you to track the projects regularly. If not, you should read that article. You should also read the previous paras of this article again. My only sincere suggestion is that you should properly manage the project schedule.

What is proper project schedule management? Let us understand it in detail.

The Best Practices

There are 15 critical tasks that you must do while managing & tracking the schedule. By doing these tasks, you will greatly improve the chances of project success.

1. Track Project Regularly & Periodically

You must track the schedule regularly at a defined frequency. The tracking period could be a day or a week or a month, or anything in between but it should be well defined. The tracking period will hugely depend on the size & complexity of the project and stakeholder preferences. A formal evaluation report should be prepared after tracking the schedule and circulated to all relevant stakeholders.

2. Compare Against the Baseline

One of the common ways of tracking a project is to just document the actual dates and forget about the schedule. This does not serve any purpose. You must compare the actual data (dates, expenditure, effort, etc.) against the baseline. A detailed comparative analysis will lead to better project schedule management.

3. Involve Others

You might be the PM but there are other team members who can contribute while you are tracking the schedule. You must involve others. It will not only reduce your burden, but also make others feel responsible & committed. (more…)

By |2022-11-18T10:20:02+00:00February 5th, 2016|Project Tracking|4 Comments

9 Benefits of Tracking Project Schedule

Are you Tracking Project Schedule Regularly?

tracking project schedule

There can be only 2 answers to the above question. Yes and No.

I am appalled when I hear PMs say No to the above question. I hear all sorts of myriad funny reasons for not tracking Project Schedule. Here are some of them:

  • Why should I track Project Schedule? The project is going on just fine.
  • Oh! The customer demanded to prepare a Schedule and we prepared it. Now, there is no reason to waste more time on it.
  • There was a project audit some time ago. We prepared a Schedule to keep Auditors happy. Otherwise developing or tracking it is not at all required.
  • Tracking Project Schedule is just a waste of time. It does not provide any tangible benefit.
  • I never track Project Schedule and I have been managing projects for donkey years.
  • Tracking Project Schedule is not a priority at this time.

But many other PMs say Yes to the above question.

It is true that many PMs do track Project Schedule regularly. But some of them do not understand how to do it properly. They would just enter actual dates and/or duration and be done with it. They do not analyse the Actual Project data to see the variances, modify Project Network as necessary, do forecasting etc.

A good PM must use a Project Scheduling tool like RationalPlan to develop and track Project Schedule. The tracking can be done without a tool also but a tool helps in saving time and improving productivity.

In the next article I will throw some more light on what is meant by tracking and how one should track the Schedule. But for now let us understand why Project Schedule tracking is important. Let us take a look at some of its benefits. (more…)

By |2022-11-18T10:20:02+00:00January 19th, 2016|Project Tracking|0 Comments
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