Project Management, Resource Leveling And Pregnancy

By | January 31st, 2013|PM Jokes, Resource Management, Time Management|Comments Off on Project Management, Resource Leveling And Pregnancy

The other days I read a funny project management joke: It takes one woman nine months to have a baby. It cannot be done in one month by nine women.

Managing projects is not an easy job. It takes some experience and knowledge if you want to do it well. There are many things to be taken into consideration during the entire process of managing a project but the important thing is to get the job done well, on time and within budget.

A critical factor is the time constraint. Sometimes you are forced to do a work faster and here enter into the stage the so called resource leveling mechanisms. Anyone understands that more people do a work faster than fewer… The same principle is used to finish a task sooner. Hire more personnel and problem solved!

But wait…what if that task just can not be done faster? Well… you can not build the roof for a house until the walls are not finished. And you can not raise the walls until foundation is not ready. But foundation must dry first to be solid and this can not be done faster no matter how many resources you are planning to use.

What all these mean? Simple: make sure you are doing a good, realistic project plan before signing a contract and starting the work. Some tasks just can not be done faster…

How To Increase Productivity – Choosing The Right Project Management Software

By | January 16th, 2013|Project Management, Project Management Software|Comments Off on How To Increase Productivity – Choosing The Right Project Management Software

Every person at some point in his life starts to feel the need to get more organized for a better productivity. Some have this revelation sooner, others later and a few of them will never have such needs… Depending on each individual a better organized work style may be reflected in the use of different productivity tools: pencil and paper, To Do lists, task management software and even project management software.

In what follows we shall exclude the classic tools like agendas, pencil, paper, white boards etc. and focus only on the software products. When it comes to organizing their lives things are simpler since the needs are not that big. There are many good solutions on the market to manage your personal list of daily activities and many are even free. All it needs is to be able to create simple items with a start date, completion status, a duration and maybe a priority.

Things get more complicated when someone needs to handle more details for his activities… And now we are talking about issue tracking systems or task management tools, tools that go beyond personal life and intersecting with the daily work from the job.

And at the top there are complex solutions that range from project management software to enterprise resource planning systems. This category of products only apply to business management and are used mainly by companies.

General recommendations when choosing productivity software

No matter what type of productivity tools one needs there is a set of general recommendations that should be taken into consideration. For start it is best to find a user friendly software. The easier it is to learn how to use it the faster you get more productive. Plus there is no need for trainings hence no additional costs. And if still the case, when in need for help a rich user community with active forums or social networks might do the trick for you. (more…)

Project Management Terms – Project

By | August 28th, 2012|Project Management Glossary|Comments Off on Project Management Terms – Project

A Project is a temporary set of actions which aim to create a unique, final deliverable.

This concise project definition reveals the major differences between characteristics of projects and operations:

  • Is temporary which means that is subject to change at a certain moment. In fact since it might change at any moment in time makes it rather transient than temporary.
  • Its outcome is unique. Although the product or service may be included in a large category (e.g. a building, a software product), the details can give the uniqueness of a project result.

A similar definition can be found into A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide): “A temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product or service”.

Project management is a difficult but thankless job

By | July 20th, 2012|Project Management|2 Comments

Project Management - a difficult and thankless jobFor a thankless job the success is not that noticeable while the failure is very obvious and with strong impact. Applying this in project management it results that in the case of success there is little evidence that the manager had any merits while in case of failure the manager gets all the blame.

This is the conclusion that Ike Maboe also reached in a LinkedIn post on the Project Management Expert group. According to him “Project management is a thankless job, everybody wants the glory when the project succeeds and the project manager gets the blame when it fails!” And it is nothing more true than that.

But beside the fact that project management is a thankless job it is also a difficult job. Many problems need to be solved when managing projects and these are not easy ones. It all starts with a good project plan. The planning phase of the project is the most important one and if well done it will make life a lot easier for that lucky manager. At this stage arise questions like: are tasks correctly stated, are there enough resources for every task? Optimized planning is necessary for best results: for example how can we use limited resources most effectively? And this is not an easy job to do although using project management software with resource leveling capabilities helps a lot.

Things go further and can become even more complicated once the project is started. Managers need to control how the progress affects the plan and conclusions must be taken to avoid already encountered problems for the future.

Bottom line is that project management is a difficult job and as a project manager the “thank you” words for your efforts and hard work are kind of missing… But are there just not spoken or they do not exist at all? More than probably everyone from team members, clients, stakeholders etc. appreciate your work just that they do not say it, they forget to mention it. A simple “Thank you for keeping things on track!” would be just great. The strange thing is that they do not forget to blame you when the project fails or goes wrong.

That’s the life for a project manager!

Project Management Solutions To Better Control Your Business

By | October 4th, 2011|Business Management, Project Management Software|Comments Off on Project Management Solutions To Better Control Your Business

Any business needs some management solutions to get organized and stay on the floating line. Unfortunately, many organizations are forced to rely on paper trails and email-chains. These outdated methods were replaced by newer project management solutions.

There are different types of such solutions for a wide range of working domains and for many kinds of needs. The access to accurate, real-time data regarding projects and resources is crucial to making strategic business decisions. Companies must keep up with the changes that impact the day-to-day running of their business. Managers are expected to deliver more than ever – but with fewer resources, within a shorter period of time and to produce maximum returns for the business.

Many times all this work gets externalized to other specialized entities. This covers either the use of project management tools or even more the delegation of entire work to management and consulting companies. In all cases appropriate methodologies and processes are necessary to be applied.

Project management solutions

In order to make the best decisions to support your organization’s long-term goals you have to decide and choose the right management solution:

  • Resource management – if you have a resource oriented activity this is the solution on which you should insist on. In most cases it is strongly connected with work management software
  • Project portfolio – this type of solution is the most used in any domain. Any company has multiple projects that needs to be managed. It also covers almost entirely resource management software
  • Issue tracking – best suited for software development companies
  • Task management – many small and medium organizations resort to this kind of solution; task management software is used mainly because of the ease of use, simplicity and light collaboration features

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PMP Certification is not enough, project managers also need good tools and processes

It is widely recognized that good project management is a combination of three key area:

  1. Project management skills and competence
  2. Project management processes, procedures and methods
  3. Project management tools and information systems

In this post we will explain why all three are important for an effective project management. Without effective ways of developing each of them the organization will fail to deliver the best solutions.

Project Management Competence

Project management competence is a combination of knowledge, skills and experience. The first two can be developed by project management training, however the latter, experience, is the most important, but hardest to acquire. Any training and development scheme must provide plenty of opportunity to gather experience delivering projects of increasing complexity. Ideal for this is PMP certification which includes both training and experience requirements.

Project Management Procedures

A number of widely recognised standard methods for project management. The most highly developed is PRINCE2 which comes from the office of government commerce in the UK. This method describes the roles and responsibilities of key members of the project team such as the project executive, project manager, senior user and senior supplier, but it also provides templates and standard processes for the main functions of a project. Prince2 has become widely accepted as the de-facto standard for many projects. Unlike the APM and PMI bodies of knowledge PRINCE2 is quite prescriptive about how the project should be run. For this reason many see the PMBOK and PRINC2 as complementary.

The Need for Effective Planning and Control System

Event the most competent and capable project managers are unable to deliver successful projects if the tools provided are not up to the job. This is especially true if multiple projects are delivered as part of a programme or portfolio. In these cases single stand alone project plans are meaningless because they do not show the overall resource demand across multiple projects.

Today more and more people are turning to server or cloud based solutions to deliver these project management tools. The advantages of the server based solutions are clear in terms of flexibility and availability of data across a number of platforms and in various regions of the world. Often for virtual project teams web-based solutions can provide instant start up and the ability to add members from a number of organizations. RationalPlan Project Server is one of these web-based tools which is growing in popularity.

Project Management Tools For Project Managers

By | April 19th, 2011|Project Management Software|Comments Off on Project Management Tools For Project Managers

A well done project management is one of the keys to a projects success. Pretty sure every one of us manages projects using some kind of tools. But the right project management tool does not replace the knowledge and experience of a project manager. It only helps him in the process of managing a project.

The value of project management

So why do certain projects succeed while other projects fail? Clearly, it is not about luck although that might also help, it is not about the tools that are being used to manage the projects and certainly it is not only a matter of budget and dedication. The most important factor is the project manager, its experience, training and skills but research shows that projects which are designed and planned with care have a much higher success rate. So through effective project planning software there are better chances to reach projects success.

Over time project management tools have evolved from the classic pencil and paper method to software spreadsheets and now to dedicated project management solutions. There are several types of project management software. It may be a desktop application, a web-based software or it can also be a hosted software solution that allows access from remote locations through Internet or Intranet.

Tools & Techniques

It is a good practice to follow certain techniques to obtain the best results when managing projects. Among them it is worth mentioning: critical path methodology, task analysis, gantt charts, actions planning and closing the loop. For each of these techniques there have been developed dedicated tools. Any chosen type of project management software should offer a set of these basic tools. (more…)

Work Breakdown Structure Made Easy

By | January 17th, 2011|Project Management Software|4 Comments

“Would you please help me print out this ‘WBS’? It won’t fit in one page. I have a status meeting with the Sponsor in 30 minutes!” a colleague of mine approached me and asked. “This is not a WBS! It is a Schedule in a form of hierarchal structure.” I said sarcastically when I saw her WBS. She listed all project deliverables, and listed all activities below each one. This is not what a WBS is intended to be used for. Does your sponsor or client need to know how you’re going to complete each deliverable? Do you really need to present a 100+ boxes on your WBS to get your sponsor agree on what’s included and what’s excluded in your project scope? Absolutely not.

The primary benefits of having a WBS in any successful project dictate the need to keep it simple. Firstly, a WBS depicts the boundaries of project scope. A client or a sponsor can easily sign off a well-structured WBS as it includes all project scope and excludes whatever out of scope. Secondly, it ensures that effort is not wasted on unnecessary or out-of-scope deliverables. That is, if the WBS lists a redundant Work Package, this would require extra resources, time, and cost. Finally, a good WBS can be used on a project dashboard to communicate scope (changes) without confusing stakeholders with scores of activities needed to complete deliverables. The latter point is actually the key to build a good WBS. A WBS does not include activities; it only lists deliverables down to the Work Package level. Leave listing activities to the Project Schedule. WBS is composed of tangible deliverables without activities whereas a Schedule describes all activities required to complete those deliverables outlined in the WBS.

From another perspective, a WBS represents the project lifecycle that is different from the PM Process Groups. WBS is not used to chart Initiating, Planning, Executing, Monitoring & Controlling, and Closing of a project. These are process groups that describe how you manage a project from start to end but not what the project includes and what it excludes (scope). On the other hand, a project lifecycle describes the phases into which a project evolves to complete each of the agreed upon deliverables. Hence, one of the most commonly-used WBS’s is breaking down the project into phases, deliverables, sub-deliverables, and Work Packages that collectively constitutes the overall scope of the project.

If WBS represents the lifecycle, how should PM processes be represented as part of the project effort? Project Management is actually a phase in the WBS that has its own deliverables, sub-deliverables, and Work Packages. Taking a software development project as an example, the WBS shown in figure (1) is what is expected to represent the lifecycle and scope of the project (WBS in its initial structure for illustration purposes).

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Upgrade From Spreadsheets To Project Management Software

By | January 11th, 2011|Project Management Software|1 Comment

Spreadsheets are an excellent way to manage information on workplace tasks but if you would like to see the impact of one assignment over another then perhaps you should start using  a project management software.

This kind of software has been created to assist users in the organization of projects by analyzing the added information regarding the time and resources allocated to the tasks. A number of people all across the world rely on project management solutions to help assure the completion of certain projects. The best way to describe project management software is to say that it is a computer program which serves to smoothly run the process of a project from the beginning to the end. Over the course of this time, this kind of software can help to eliminate many of the mundane steps that are usually required.

Spreadsheets are a useful way to see how some aspects of the project impact on others, but for an all-round, more detailed understanding of the evolution of task users may like to use a project management tool instead. The applications are designed for effective project management and can reveal relationships between the added data, such as the impact of delays on the costs of the project, which is its main advantage ever spreadsheets like MS Excel or Open Office.

For example, it is likely that your budget is being used to fund a series of tasks throughout your project. This means that there are several areas where your finances may be affected, for instance if you are building a new product for a client and your source materials recently increased in value, this would affect the outcome of your assignment. A project management solution can calculate the impact of these changes on your overall funding and relate it to other information, things that can not be achieved using a spreadsheet. Basically, project management can be considered as a certain type of method to achieve goals and targets while staying completely organized.
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RationalPlan – a feature-packed and ergonomic project management suite

By | December 15th, 2010|Project Management Software, RationalPlan, Reviews|Comments Off on RationalPlan – a feature-packed and ergonomic project management suite

The editors from 3d2f.com published a review for our RationalPlan suite that we shall publish in this post:

If you are a project manager, you know well that the success of any project heavily depends on your ability to interpret the client’s requirements, efficiently communicate them to the team, assess risks and factor them into the cost and duration estimates, closely monitor tasks on the critical path/chain, as well as to create detailed project plans that are easy to follow and hand over to another project manager, if need be. All of the above requires a great deal of skill and knowledge, as well as reliable and easy to use PM tools. So if you’ve got everything a good PM has, but are still on the look for the right software, check out RationalPlan!

RationalPlan is a convenient project management suite covering every aspect of the typical PM process. With RationalPlan, you can keep the company’s resources and the project budget under control using built-in cost estimation and cash-flow monitoring tools, tackle such issues as delays and buffer overflows, keep track of the overall project progress using key indices and even simulate various project evolution scenarios! The program offers a wide assortment of PM tools, from Gantt charts to WBS trees, and minimizes the familiarization time with the help of a clean and intuitive user interface.

If you are seeking a project management tool that will help you get your work done more efficiently than ever, don’t miss RationalPlan!