10/24/2013 by Brad Egeland Tags: project customer, project ladder, project management, project manager
You know the saying…”Ignorance is bliss.” Really? How’s that working for you? You can claim you didn’t know and if you’re right – really telling the truth – and if you’re not in a position of importance or authority then you can possibly get away with it. But usually, if you’re at the top of any ladder…even the project ladder…then that ignorance defense isn’t going to work for you.
Likewise, the “let it rest” stance is an interesting concept. It involves just leaving issues alone and seeing if they will resolve. It was the brain child of my mother-in-law and, although it has worked on a couple of computer issues and one phone dropped in a toilet, I was not able to make it work on an argument that my wife and I were having the other day.
So what are we left with? If we know about it, we must attack it. We’re project managers, for crying out loud. We take the heat, accept the blame, charge ahead and throw caution to the wind. Is that enough clichés in once sentence for you?
Continue reading “Ignorance Does Not Equal Bliss”
10/17/2013 by Jackie Dembinsky Tags: Archive, AutoArchive, AutoSave, Backup, FastTrack Schedule 10, File Versions, Tips and Tricks
When managing our files it can be very important to save multiple versions of the file as we are working. We do this for several reasons. One of which is to make sure that we always have a functioning copy of the file in case something happens to our system. The other is to create the ability to compare the versions of the project as you are working. When you have several copies of a file saved at different intervals you can make comparisons between how fast progress was occurring at one point in the project to how it is occurring at the current time.
In FastTrack Schedule 10 you can utilize two tools in order to manage the versions of a file. The first tool is AutoSave, which will allow you to automatically save an existing or new copy of your file in time increments ranging from every minute to every 2 hours. The second tool is AutoArchive, which allows you to save a Read-Only backup copy of a file. AutoSave and AutoArchive can be enabled at any time in order to create versioning within a file.
First, we can enable AutoSave and set the options for how it will function within our files. To access the AutoSave options on Windows go to File > Application Options; on Mac go to FastTrack Schedule 10 > Preferences. While in the Application Options dialogue select the tab labeled Save. This will open the AutoSave options.
Continue reading “Using AutoSave and AutoArchive to Create File Versions”
10/16/2013 by Brad Egeland Tags: please your project customer, project customer, project customer relationship management, project customer satisfaction
Remember, the project customer is not necessarily our friend. But we do want them to be satisfied with our delivery of the project team them. In Part 1 of this two part series, I began discussing the first five of my ten ways to please your project customer – and basically none of these cost the project or you or the customer any real extra money. They’re just ways you can lead the project and incorporate information and processes so that they feel better about how the project is going. Let’s look at items six through ten in this Part 2.
Communicate everything. More communication with the customer is far better than less. When in doubt, communicate. Put it in the status report, make note of it in the project meeting notes that you distribute – do whatever you have to do to make sure the customer has all necessary information in their hands. You never want the customer to come back and say, “I didn’t know that.” If it’s on something that becomes a major issue on the project – that’s a career killer.
Keep PM charges to a minimum. Be involved without being involved. What I mean here is, don’t go overboard with the project management hours charged to the project if you don’t have to. Many project clients feel like the PM is high-priced and somewhat unnecessary overhead anyway. And they sometimes resent paying for it. We know it’s needed, but sometimes they don’t really understand that or see it that way. Whatever we can do to over deliver and under charge will make them love the project and love the project manager.
Continue reading “10 Ways to Truly Please Your Project Customer – Part 2”
10/10/2013 by Brad Egeland Tags: please your project customer, project customer, project customer relationship management, project customer satisfaction
Want to make your project customer happy? Want to guarantee they’ll be very satisfied clients throughout the engagement? Ok, you may need to ask someone else because I certainly don’t have the answer for that. If I did I’d be a millionaire several times over by now. But I can tell you that doing the ten things that are contained in this two part series will help your customer love you more as a project manager and likely be more pleased about the project than they otherwise would be.
Think of these as nice, value-added things that you and the delivery team can bring to the project without really costing the project customer and the project any extra money.
Lead a great project kickoff meeting. I realize this may be easier said than done. But how you kickoff the project will say a lot about who you are and how you’re going to manage the engagement and maintain control of the project and team. And it’s the start of customer confidence in your ability to deliver. Start off poorly and you’ll be fighting to gain that customer confidence and respect throughout the engagement. Come prepared, set expectations, show them how you will run the project and be (and sound) confident. And if you can be confident, you still need to sound confident.
Deliver bad news early. We hate to deliver the bad news, but there’s always some bad news. Whether it’s telling the customer that the project is going over budget, that a deadline will be missed, or simply that a potentially expensive change order is necessary … there’s always some bad news to deliver. Don’t delay it. Don’t wait. Give it to the customer promptly and preferably come with a lot of information and some potential solutions. It’s always better to deliver bad news when you have some potentially good news to add to it.
Continue reading “10 Ways to Truly Please Your Project Customer – Part 1”
10/03/2013 by PM Hut Tags: common mistakes of project managers, mistakes made by project managers, mistakes of project managers
By Michelle Symonds
Some mistakes can be avoided if you plan properly and in advance. Inexperienced project managers can sometimes make mistakes, simply because they do not recognize them as mistakes due to a lack of experience. Here we will look at five mistakes that you really do not want to be guilty of.
1. Omission of milestones
These are important because they provide you with short term goals and targets and a quantifiable measure of progress that you can you show to your investors and managers in the form of progress reports. They also provide your project with structure, and prevent creation of a long list of tasks that seemingly lacks cohesion.
2. Disregarding your risk log
Your risk log is an important document, and it should be worked at from the outset. The trouble is, many project managers make the mistake of putting a risk log in place at the start and then file it away in a drawer until the completion of the project. New risks, ones that are not included in the log, are sure to come along during the course of the project. Other risks come to nothing, and yet some become an altogether different problem. Risk logs need to be updated as the project progresses, as a written record of risks that are being actively managed.
Continue reading “Five Mistakes You Do Not Want to Make As a Project Manager”
10/01/2013 by Brad Egeland Tags: advice for new project managers, project management tips, tips for new project managers
In Part 1 we started considering tips that new project managers might need or find useful as they migrate their way through the new responsibilities that have been thrust upon them. What I’d like to focus on when giving such tips are those things that may not be in a book or aren’t usually part of some pre-defined methodology. They are concepts…and they may seem logical to most – or even illogical at times – but they are useful on most project engagements and I have found them to be very helpful processes as I’ve managed most of my projects.
Let’s consider more…
Limit customer representation in the kickoff meeting. I found out about this one the hard way. I was leading a project kickoff session on an IT project for a large industrial supply company in Chicago. My company had four or five people there. The customer had probably twenty…and it felt like 100. What ensued was a question filled day (actually two days) rather than the organized kickoff session that should have taken about three hours. The kickoff session should be a nice controlled meeting with you providing the customer with the information you have on the project and verifying key dates, expectations and assumptions and explaining how you’re going to manage the engagement. If the customer has too many subject matter experts (SMEs) on hand for this session, it will soon get out of control and turn into a business process and requirements definition discussion that should not be part of the kickoff meeting. Be sure to set attendance expectations prior to the kickoff meeting…I certainly do now.
Continue reading “Tips for new Project Managers – Part 2”
09/26/2013 by Jackie Dembinsky Tags: Datelines, Deadlines, FastTrack Schedule 10, Milestones, Project Deadlines, Tips and Tricks
Every project has specific deadlines that need to be met. Milestones can be used to mark these deadlines, however a milestone can only appear within a single row and can sometimes be hard to relate to upcoming tasks. In FastTrack Schedule 10 we can utilize another option, Datelines, to show a vertical marker for a deadline within the Timeline Graph.
There are by default 3 Datelines that appear in every project. There is a light Green Dateline that represents the Project Start Date (as set within Project Information), a Red Dateline that represents the Project Finish Date (as set by the finish date of the latest task), and a Gray Dateline that represents that Status date (as set by the computers date and time). You can add up to 10 additional Datelines, in any location, to a project at any point in time.
Continue reading “Using Datelines to Display Project Deadlines”
09/24/2013 by Brad Egeland Tags: advice for new project managers, project management tips, tips for new project managers
Some people choose project management as a profession. Often moving to it from something else…another management position, a lifetime of application development work before realizing they have tired of that, or possibly they were a music major in college (don’t ask, let’s just say there are several individuals out there still wondering – along with me – how one of my previous managers ended up in his position of responsibility?!?).
Still others find it thrust upon them – sometimes unwillingly and sometimes for just a onetime project and nothing more. The concept basically is this…it’s rarely a chosen career for the new college graduate…it usually comes later for a variety of reasons…but it happens – whether you were looking for it or not. And there is always that moment where you are new – or relatively new – to the project management world.
This information – I hope – will give you some tips to get through some unexpected struggles and possibly to avoid others. We all step into this PM darkness thinking that it’s going to be more straightforward and simple than it ends up being. And few of us realize – upon jumping into the game – the immense pressure we may get on certain key projects to succeed. When I was running a $30 million government project for one of my previous employers I had to sit down monthly with the CFO and justify a 2% variance (either way) in profit because it was such a huge part of the businesses bottom line. Yes, even the financials are yours to manage – and I had to sweat through every question and a detailed review of every deliverable in what was usually a 2-3 hour monthly meeting. Everything is yours to manage…vendor relationships, resources, risks, change orders, schedule, and budget. All of that and then some.
So, on to a few tips that might make your life easier or awake you to things you may not have thought of. Some of these may be obvious to you – but maybe not to everyone…so I’ll cover them here.
Continue reading “Tips for new Project Managers – Part 1”
09/20/2013 by Brad Egeland Tags: project hand off, project time out, taking a time out, taking time off from a project
Taking a timeout. Taking a break on a busy project on your plate of work that you are performing. Sounds like a vacation, right? Well, I’m not exactly talking about a vacation. What I’m really talking about is taking some time off – temporarily – from a project that is suddenly sucking all of your time and leaving you with no time to properly oversee the other three projects you are currently managing. And that means that it’s taking all your time away from the three separate teams on those other three projects and it’s taking all of your time away from those other three very important project customers. Or perhaps you need to take a break from one or more of your ‘slow projects’ for a couple of weeks to work through issues on your problematic project.
I realize that one project isn’t likely taking all of your time away from your other projects, but I do know how one project can become so laden with issues or so burdensome from tasks or the customer can demand so much attention suddenly that you have little time to spend your other projects. And those projects still have needs – budgets to manage, resources to oversee and direct, customers to manage and engage.
How do you make it all work? How do you spend enough time on the burdensome project to meet its needs and work through it while still at least maintaining the other projects you are managing in proper status so as not to lose ground on them and cause the customers on those projects any needs for concern about your ability to deliver a successful project? How do you do it?
Continue reading “Taking a Timeout”
09/12/2013 by Jackie Dembinsky Tags: Calendars, FastTrack Schedule 10, Tips and Tricks, Work Calendars, Work Weeks
Most projects only require work to occur between Monday and Friday, however, there are some projects that will require a full seven-day working week. The standard calendar in FastTrack Schedule 10 is pre-defined to allow a 5 day Monday-Friday working week, but in scenarios where you need to work 7 days you can quickly and easily change this setting.
To change your calendar so that it allows a 7 day work week we will first go to Project > Work Calendars.
Continue reading “Defining a 7 Day Work Week”