10/28/2014 by Brad Egeland Tags: remote project management, remote project management strategies, virtual project management, virtual project team management
First off, let me state that I really, really believe that remote project management is a great solution for most projects. It has worked extremely well for me for the past 10 years or so. But I know it’s not for everyone. Remote project management, while often a sensible and cost-effective approach to managing many standard projects, is definitely not without its challenges. In fact, just in terms of communication, leadership, and relationships it can become very challenging. Add in the rogue developer who is looking to become a one-man team, the business analyst who significant expertise in other technologies but is ‘learning’ a new one while helping lead your implementation, or the documentation specialist who is spread too thin across eight different projects but resides 1,500 miles away from you and you can see how certain logistical issues can really impact your projects if you don’t learn to deal with each one of them methodically and carefully.
There are many things to consider when managing a very geographically dispersed team – and customer. For the purpose of this article, I’d like to look at five that I consider to be key ones. I’m very open to our readers sharing their thoughts and hopefully their own strategies for managing skilled resources from afar. Here are my personal key five strategies…
Continue reading “Best Strategies for Virtual Project Team Management – Part 1”
10/21/2014 by Brad Egeland Tags: pass project baton, project handoff, project handoff checklist, project handover
Handing off a project that is your baby is not often a very desirable thing to do. You kicked it off, you developed a good relationship with the team and the customer and you are making the decisions and making things happen. But sometimes, there comes that time when you have to hand it off because you’re needed elsewhere – on a project that is a higher priority or that needs your specific experience or expertise. How you go about executing this hand off process can sometimes mean success or failure to the project you’re handing off, and that success or failure can be traced right back to you and how you orchestrated the transition.
Aside from the normal activities you will need to perform to get up to speed on your new project, you will definitely need to focus on these four key events in order to make sure the transition of your existing project goes as smooth as possible:
Continue reading “Passing the Project Baton”
10/08/2014 by Brad Egeland Tags: Gantt chart, project plan, project schedule, project timeline
Here’s a mistake I make often….referring to the Gantt chart or project schedule as the project plan. And it may be that for a project plan that is all you have or need – especially if you’re running a fairly small project. And we aren’t the only ones making that mistake…it’s a common one. Especially in the world of information technology. In reality, the Gantt chart, or project schedule – is only one component of a real, true project plan.
According to Wikipedia, at a minimum, a project plan should answer the following four basic questions about the project:
What is the problem or value proposition addressed by the project? Why is it being sponsored? Why is there a need? Why is a particular technology being addressed?
What is the work that will be performed on the project? What are the major products/deliverables? What is the end goal? What is the desired outcome? What will we do when there are major issues or decisions on the project?
Continue reading “What is the Real Project Plan?”
10/02/2014 by Jackie Dembinsky Tags: Action Columns, FastTrack Schedule 10, Information Form, Summary Rows, Tips and Tricks
FastTrack Schedule 10 offers many different ways for interacting with the data throughout our schedules. Some of the simplest tools can often provide the greatest functionality for being able to quickly switch back and forth between how data is accessed within schedules. Today, we’ll take a closer look at the 3 Action Columns that FastTrack Schedule 10 offers, and see exactly how they can be utilized within our own projects.
The first Action Column that we see is the Page Break column. This allows users to place page breaks, for printing purposes beside a specific activity. To place a Page Break, simply select in the action column corresponding to the row number.
Continue reading “Working with Action Columns”
10/01/2014 by Brad Egeland Tags: project managers, project success, project success criteria, project success factors
I’d love to guarantee success to every customer I manage projects for or every client I’ve consulted with. I’d wish I could tell them everything is under control, not to worry, I’ve covered all the bases. Wouldn’t we all? But it’s not possible. Too many things can happen – most are out of our control. By definition, projects are temporary, unique, have goals to meet, multiple tasks to coordinate…sometimes across functional departments and across very diverse organizations, and hopefully have critical impact on a business, organization, industry or customer…depending on the project, of course.
Globally, companies invest billions of dollars annually on IT solutions. In addition, many organizations offer visionary solutions that all call for knowledgeable project managers to plan, execute, control, and end projects ahead of any competition. Sadly, many of these projects come in behind schedule and over budget, and fail. Much of our project management lives are spent dealing with this unsettling projects and working to get them back on schedule, both within budget and within specification. Many projects are canceled before they are ever completed and many exceed their original estimates. The financial costs of these failures and overruns are just the tip of the iceberg. The path of destruction left behind from these projects is devastated budgets, unhappy customers, and sometimes ruined project management careers.
Continue reading “Project Success is Not a Guarantee”
09/23/2014 by Brad Egeland Tags: how to prevent resource burnout on projects, resource burnout, resource burnout on projects
Anything to get the job done, right? On time delivery at any cost (well, any cost except for monetary cost). Well, not exactly. On too many projects, especially ones where meeting the completion date is critical, overtime is the norm rather than the rule. If your projects are anything like mine, you’ve probably found that periodic overtime is fine, but if taken to the extreme, it can have long-term effects on your team members and influence overall performance on the project. Nearly every project has a crunch time. Some project schedule time needs to be caught up, extra effort is needed to push through some issue resolution prior to testing, or the very common ‘all hands on deck’ project deployment scenario comes into play.
From a behavioral perspective, extensive overtime can often result in resource burnout, which can be an all too common occurrence in certain industries – including IT. Burnout can lead to omissions and errors, project rework and scrapped work, team member frustration, customer dissatisfaction, and an overall solution that isn’t what the customer wants. All of these can lead to lower productivity and project failure.
Continue reading “Watch Out for Resource Burnout on Busy Projects”
09/18/2014 by Jackie Dembinsky Tags: FastTrack Schedule 10, Formatting, Headers and Footers, Print Preview, Tips and Tricks
Sometimes the most important part of creating schedules is preparing them to present to coworkers, clients, or potential clients. Not only do we have to organize the data in a logical way that our audience can understand, but we also need any documents to appear as professional as possible. One often overlooked aspect of creating this professional feel is adding the correct Headers and Footers to our schedules. In FastTrack Schedule 10 we can easily add Headers and Footers for a number of dynamic or static text values. We’ll even have the ability to drag images, such as company logos, into our Header and Footer sections.
The best place to add or modify Headers and Footers will be in Print Preview. Here we’ll have direct access to the Headers and Footers menu and we’ll also be able to immediately see how they look on our document. To begin creating Headers and Footers simply select the Header & Footer option from the toolbar, or go to View > Header & Footer. This will open the Header & Footer dialogue.
Continue reading “Printing Options – Formatting Headers and Footers”
09/16/2014 by Brad Egeland Tags: project sponsor, project sponsor responsibilities, project sponsor role, project success factors
In Part 1 of this two part series we started to examine the project sponsor and their role on the project and how they share responsibilities with the project manager. In this second part, we will examine key areas of effort that for the project manager that help ensure project sponsor satisfaction on the project and overall project success as a result.
How do you do it?
The next question that begs to be asked then is, how do you, as the project manager, help ensure project success by catering to the needs of the project sponsor (and his organization) and keeping that project sponsor satisfied and engaged on the project? You can’t always bring a project in on time or on budget. In fact, those are somewhat rare occurrences in many organizations. So how do you do it when success in those other determining factors isn’t obvious or frequent? In fact, can you completely fail in those other two and still satisfy the customer? Yes. Absolutely a yes. How?
Continue reading “The Project Sponsor and Project Success – Part 2”
09/09/2014 by Brad Egeland Tags: project sponsor, project sponsor responsibilities, project sponsor role, project success factors
Just who exactly is the project sponsor on our projects? The definition of the project sponsor is a senior executive in a corporation (often at or just below board level) who is responsible to the business for the success of the project. So while the project sponsor is senior and may be a figurehead on some projects… on others, they will play a key interactive role and participate daily in the activities of the project.
Key responsibilities of the project sponsor:
- Provides leadership on culture and values
- Owns the business case
- Keeps project aligned with organization’s strategy and portfolio direction
- Governs project risk
- Works with other sponsors
- Focuses on realization of benefits
- Recommends opportunities to optimize cost/benefits
- Ensures continuity of sponsorship
- Provides assurance
- Provides feedback and lessons learned
Continue reading “The Project Sponsor and Project Success – Part 1”
09/04/2014 by Jackie Dembinsky Tags: FastTrack Schedule 10, Resource Management, Resource View, Resource View Summary Graphs, Summary Graphs, Tips and Tricks
Resource management is often one of the most integral aspects of planning and tracking projects. An efficient project manager needs to be able to easily identify when resources are assigned, when they are free, and if there are any “trouble” areas, such as over-allocations, throughout the project. In FastTrack Schedule 10 we can easily identify all of these items by utilizing the Resource View. While in the Resource View there are 3 unique Resource View Summary Graphs that we can utilize to view this key information.
The 3 Resource View Summary Graphs are Percent Work Usage, Hourly Work Usage, and Assignments. Each of these graphs will display unique information about individual tasks and all of a resource’s combined work throughout a project.
The first Summary Graph that we will look at is the Percent Work Usage graph. This graph is designed to show the total percentage or amount of effort that a resource is applying across all of its assigned tasks during a specific time period. For example if our Timeline Graph is displaying units in days, then we will see the percentage of effort per day applied by each resource. There is red line drawn to indicate the maximum effort a resource can apply which is 100%. The graph will then be drawn and colored according to the resource’s actual work. In this case a blue graph means they are working at or below their maximum effort per day, and a red graph indicates they have exceeded their maximum effort per day.
Continue reading “Resource View Summary Graphs”