Project Management Best Practices - By Jerry Helms, PMP


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An overview of project management best practices with specific tools and tips.By Jerry Helms, PMP, Non Stop Portals.

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Project Management Best Practices - By Jerry Helms, PMP

  1. 1. Project Management Best Practices Jerry Helms, MS, PMP January, 2009
  2. 2. What is a project? <ul><li>A temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product or service. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Definite beginning and definite end </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Each product or service is different </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Focused on specific deliverables. </li></ul><ul><li>Needs to be aligned with organizational objectives. </li></ul>
  3. 3. Tip: What is a “project” for your organization? <ul><li>Quantify metrics for an “official project” versus just something that needs to get done </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Not all work activities need all of the project management best practices </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Example: “A project is any new endeavor which requires more than $10,000 of out of pocket expenses or more than 100 hours of internal effort </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Efforts meeting this threshold have a minimum standard set of deliverables that each project manager must provide (as defined by your organization). </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Efforts falling below this threshold can pick and use the best practices that will help the effort to be successful </li></ul></ul>
  4. 4. What is a Program? <ul><li>A group of related projects managed in a coordinated way </li></ul><ul><li>Usually include an element of ongoing work. </li></ul>
  5. 5. Question <ul><li>If we are successful in improving how we manage projects, what are some of the expected benefits? </li></ul>
  6. 6. Possible Benefits <ul><li>Improved profitability </li></ul><ul><li>Faster time to market on new products </li></ul><ul><li>Saving money (expenses) </li></ul><ul><li>More efficient use of existing resources </li></ul><ul><li>Reduced stress level </li></ul><ul><li>Better time management </li></ul><ul><li>Eliminate mistakes </li></ul><ul><li>Reduced risk </li></ul><ul><li>Enhanced work environment </li></ul><ul><li>Improved teamwork </li></ul><ul><li>Better estimating </li></ul><ul><li>Accountability </li></ul><ul><li>Shortened schedules </li></ul><ul><li>Late projects create cascading delays </li></ul><ul><li>Better focus on goals </li></ul><ul><li>Faster reaction to market changes </li></ul><ul><li>Closer working relationship with customers </li></ul><ul><li>Allows more research to find new products (proactive) </li></ul><ul><li>No sacrifice of scope or quality </li></ul>
  7. 7. Question <ul><li>What are the challenges that you (we) face in managing projects? </li></ul>
  8. 8. Challenges <ul><li>Projects are often late and over budget </li></ul><ul><li>Projects do not deliver what is really needed </li></ul><ul><li>Unexpected events occur that may or may not be involved with the project </li></ul><ul><li>Project prioritization </li></ul><ul><li>Working on multiple projects at the same time </li></ul><ul><li>Lose time when test failures occur </li></ul><ul><li>Unrealistic timelines – no slack in schedule </li></ul><ul><li>Project manage is often the primary “doer” – creates project slippage </li></ul><ul><li>Learning how to use Microsoft Project </li></ul><ul><li>Time reporting methods </li></ul><ul><li>Hard to control outside resources </li></ul>
  9. 9. Driving Forces for Project Management <ul><li>Improving profitability </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Increasing sales </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Reducing expenses </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Meeting customer expectations </li></ul><ul><li>Executive understanding </li></ul><ul><li>Faster new product development </li></ul><ul><li>Efficiency and effectiveness </li></ul><ul><li>Creating high performance teams </li></ul>
  10. 10. Session Objectives <ul><li>Provide an overview of project management best practices which will lead to enhanced organizational performance </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Basic principles of project management </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Sample of specific tools and techniques </li></ul></ul>
  11. 11. Project Management <ul><li>The application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to project activities to meet project requirements. </li></ul><ul><li>Accomplished through the use of the processes such as: initiate, plan, execute, control, and close. </li></ul>
  12. 12. Tool: Project Portfolio <ul><li>You will always have more potential projects than resources to do all of them at the same time </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Prioritize projects against your business needs </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Do not allow too many simultaneous projects </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Use the list for brainstorming potential new projects and put them into a separate section so that they will not be forgotten </li></ul></ul>
  13. 13. Tool: Project Portfolio
  14. 14. Project Phases <ul><li>Each project is unique and involves a degree of uncertainty. </li></ul><ul><li>Projects are divided into phases to improve management control. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Planned periods of evaluation and decision making. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Implement project course corrections. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Determine future scope and cost. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Collectively, the project phases are known as the project life cycle. </li></ul><ul><li>Each phase is a collection of logically related project activities, usually culminating in the completion of a major deliverable. </li></ul><ul><li>Generally a sequential logic. </li></ul>
  15. 15. Project Phases <ul><li>Conclusion of a phase is marked by a review of key deliverables and project performance, to </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Determine if project should continue into its next phase </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Detect and correct errors as soon as possible, minimizing expensive rework costs </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Different project types will have a different set of phases </li></ul><ul><li>Large projects can be divided into multiple phases and sub-phases. </li></ul>
  16. 16. Project Phases/Relationships Initiate Plan Control Execute Close
  17. 17. Project Management Life-Cycle Processes <ul><li>Deliverable validation </li></ul><ul><li>Project turnover </li></ul><ul><li>After-action review </li></ul><ul><li>Archival of workbook </li></ul><ul><li>Project controls: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Scope </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Quality </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Risk </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Cost </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Schedule </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Team development </li></ul><ul><li>Product development </li></ul><ul><li>Quality assurance </li></ul><ul><li>Status reporting </li></ul><ul><li>Deliverable approval </li></ul><ul><li>Statement of work </li></ul><ul><li>WBS </li></ul><ul><li>Schedule </li></ul><ul><li>Budget </li></ul><ul><li>Baseline plan </li></ul><ul><li>Risk plan </li></ul><ul><li>Resource needs </li></ul><ul><li>Change plan </li></ul><ul><li>Customer Approval </li></ul><ul><li>Scope </li></ul><ul><li>Objectives </li></ul><ul><li>Constraint Matrix </li></ul><ul><li>Project Charter </li></ul><ul><li>Customer Approval </li></ul>Closing Controlling Executing Planning Initiating
  18. 18. Initiate Phase Deliverables <ul><li>Objectives of the project are agreed to </li></ul><ul><li>Scope and approach are established </li></ul><ul><li>Initial constraints and assumptions defined </li></ul><ul><li>Project organization with roles and responsibilities </li></ul><ul><li>High-level risk assessment </li></ul><ul><li>General business requirements </li></ul><ul><li>Project completion criteria </li></ul><ul><li>Initial work plan </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Work Breakdown Structure </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Definition of phases with proposed decision checkpoints </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Projected milestones </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>High-level cost assessment </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Assessment of resource requirements </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Project Charter </li></ul><ul><li>Project Control Book </li></ul><ul><li>Customer Approval </li></ul>
  19. 19. Initiate Phase Characteristics <ul><li>More planning needed </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Detailed requirements are unknown </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Resource assignments are not firm </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Dates and costs are inaccurate </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Estimates are fuzzy </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Stakeholders are initially unknown </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Owners of the business process must be involved </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Stakeholders are defined and agreed to during this phase </li></ul></ul>
  20. 20. Tool: Project Charter <ul><li>A document that formally authorizes a project </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Documents the business need the project is addressing </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>High level costs and benefits </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Project deliverables – what is in the scope of the project and what is excluded from the project scope </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Functional requirements </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Project sponsor – person ultimately responsible for the success of the project </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Project manager – person tasked with day to day management of the project </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Constraints, Assumptions, Risks </li></ul></ul>
  21. 21. Plan Phase Deliverables <ul><li>Detailed requirements </li></ul><ul><li>Business process definition </li></ul><ul><li>Detailed system architecture </li></ul><ul><li>High-level test cases </li></ul><ul><li>Data analysis </li></ul><ul><li>Prototyping </li></ul><ul><li>Enhanced Work Breakdown Structure </li></ul><ul><li>Schedule and budget validated </li></ul><ul><li>Risk Plan </li></ul><ul><li>Communications Plan </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Issues tracking </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Training Plan </li></ul><ul><li>Quality Plan </li></ul><ul><li>Change Management Plan </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Change request form </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Change log </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Confirmed Resource Assignments </li></ul><ul><li>Customer Approval </li></ul>
  22. 22. Plan Phase Characteristics <ul><li>Repeat many of the same planning processes completed in the Initiate Phase, but to a greater level of detail. </li></ul><ul><li>Validate the proposed solution. Prototype whenever possible. </li></ul><ul><li>Proposed decision checkpoints will vary depending on the project profile (e.g. make versus buy). </li></ul><ul><li>When planning phase is done, all work activities have been defined for the proposed solution and the team is confident in the ability to implement the proposed solution. </li></ul>
  23. 23. Tool: Work Breakdown Structure <ul><li>A deliverable-oriented grouping of project elements that organizes and defines the total work scope of the project. Each descending level represents an increasingly detailed definition of the project work. </li></ul>
  24. 24. Deliverables and Activities <ul><li>Deliverable – what must be produced (a noun). </li></ul><ul><li>Activity – what work needs to be done to create the deliverable (a verb). </li></ul>
  25. 25. Work Breakdown Structure
  26. 26. WBS Objectives <ul><li>Break the project into manageable pieces </li></ul><ul><li>Build team commitment </li></ul><ul><li>Basis for cost accounting system </li></ul><ul><li>Improve estimating, scheduling, and risk management </li></ul><ul><li>Facilitate clear responsibility assignments </li></ul><ul><li>Define a baseline for performance management and control </li></ul><ul><li>Create reusable templates for future projects </li></ul>
  27. 27. WBS Defines Project Scope <ul><li>If it’s not in the WBS, it’s not part of the project. </li></ul><ul><li>Be sure to add project management time to the WBS </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Startup activities </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>General PM management </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Risk and contingency </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Closing activities </li></ul></ul>
  28. 28. Tool: Project Scheduling <ul><li>Use the Work Breakdown Structure to identify every project deliverable and activity </li></ul><ul><li>Create a precedence network of dependencies </li></ul><ul><li>Estimate tasks </li></ul><ul><li>Add project buffer and feeding buffers </li></ul><ul><li>Analyze critical path </li></ul>
  29. 29. Critical Path Scheduling <ul><li>Use the WBS to estimate the amount of effort required to complete each deliverable. </li></ul><ul><li>Connect each task in the sequence in which they must be accomplished (precedence network). </li></ul><ul><li>Assign people resources to each task. </li></ul><ul><li>The critical path are the sequence of events that will dictate how long it will take to finish the project. </li></ul>
  30. 30. Critical Chain Project Management <ul><li>Introduced in 1997 by Dr. Eli Goldratt, based on the Theory of Constraints </li></ul><ul><li>Problems with traditional project management and scheduling </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Bad multi-tasking – especially in a multi-project environment </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Student syndrome – waiting until the last minute </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Parkinson’s law – work expands to fill time available </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Pessimistic estimating for every task in the project plan </li></ul></ul>
  31. 31. Critical Chain Project Management <ul><li>The weak link or constraint in the project chain is the resource that is at capacity taking multiple projects into consideration. </li></ul><ul><li>High level solutions </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Restrict the number of simultaneous projects underway to get more work done </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Estimate each task “optimistically” as opposed to putting buffer into every task </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Create an overall project buffer </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Identify the resource constraints and develop strategies to reduce workloads </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Develop feeding buffers between tasks and projects </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Focus on project progress as opposed to task progress </li></ul></ul>
  32. 32. Tool: Risk Management <ul><li>Every project has risk factors jeopardize the success of the project </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Problems with vendor deliverables </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Changes in Customer expectations </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Changes in the marketplace </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Government regulations </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Risk management assesses the probability of occurrence and impact on the project </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Develop mitigation strategies for the risks that you believe are highly probable </li></ul></ul>
  33. 33. Tool: Change Management <ul><li>Scope changes to projects are inevitable </li></ul><ul><li>Document every change and assess whether or not it should be implemented </li></ul><ul><li>Re-assess impact of project time line </li></ul><ul><li>Formal signature approval process </li></ul>
  34. 34. Tool: Communication Plan <ul><li>How is your team going to communicate with each other and others in organization? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Regular meetings </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Written notes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Change log </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Risk management log </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Requirements documentation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Status reporting </li></ul></ul>
  35. 35. Execute/Control Phase Deliverables <ul><li>Execute the plan </li></ul><ul><li>Technology Projects </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Code </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Unit test </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>System test </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Final acceptance test </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Data migration </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Hardware deployment </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Training </li></ul><ul><li>Documentation </li></ul><ul><li>Project Management </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Measure performance </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Change management </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Risk management </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Issue management </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Quality management </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Communications management </li></ul></ul>
  36. 36. Execute/Control Phase Characteristics <ul><li>Additional details are discovered which were not found during the plan phase. </li></ul><ul><li>Potential for scope creep. </li></ul><ul><li>Projects with no change control mechanisms slip out of control. </li></ul><ul><li>Defects become more expensive to fix as the project progresses. </li></ul><ul><li>Sometimes hard to define intermediate deliverables to ensure project is on schedule </li></ul>
  37. 37. Close Phase Deliverables <ul><li>Final user acceptance test approval </li></ul><ul><li>Contract Closeout </li></ul><ul><li>Administrative Closure </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Archived Documentation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Lessons Learned </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Project Turnover to Support </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Customer Signoff </li></ul></ul>
  38. 38. Close Phase Characteristics <ul><li>Staff are rapidly assigned to other projects. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>In a hurry to get everything finished </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Tendency to overlook documentation </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Vendor wants to turnover system. </li></ul><ul><li>Last minute scope changes are not properly approved or documented. </li></ul><ul><li>The project change management process may have identified some features or functionality that have been deferred to the future. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Ongoing support, if they are relatively easy to implement </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>New project may be initiated for more expensive items </li></ul></ul>
  39. 39. Management Expectations <ul><li>Project sponsor is ultimately responsible for accomplishing the project deliverables, target dates, and budget </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Resolve road blocks </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Get needed help </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Communicate quickly when issues arise </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Every project needs to have a project schedule and budget </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Next phase deliverable date should be pretty accurate </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Each project should save the planned baseline dates to compare actual versus baseline performance </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Dates need to be realistic, but aggressive </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Project charters </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Need to know target dates for project </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Need to know a target budget of anticipated expenses </li></ul></ul>
  40. 40. Management Expectations <ul><li>Monthly Reports </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Monthly written project status report </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Immediately identifies project issues and problems – fewer last minute surprises </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A report with “no change” in project status translates to “I could have stayed at home - nothing was done this month” </li></ul></ul>
  41. 41. Tool: Lessons Learned <ul><li>Regular assessment of project track record throughout the life of the project </li></ul><ul><li>What did we do well? </li></ul><ul><li>What could we have done better? </li></ul>
  42. 42. Resources <ul><li>Project Management Institute </li></ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“Project Management Body of Knowledge” </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Local universities </li></ul><ul><li>Other web resources </li></ul>