Scheduling and forecasting process - Best practices

As a senior VP explained it to me, a project consists in a very stable geometrical shape : a triangle (assuming a constant quality - something we don't want to compromise). It's stable until someone decide to move one corner. In this very case, other corners will move in response to this change.

In order to spread the word about the famous triangle, following my recent experience in this field, and common mistakes made by junior project managers, I've decided to share lesson learnt on scheduling and forecasting.

Staffing your team - 5 Indicators to follow-up

staffing
I'm totally convinced that any project is mainly about people involved. A low performing team will ruin your efforts to achieve your project objectives. It's therefore crucial to pay a special attention to team staffing.

But, selecting the right candidate is not always an easy task, time-consuming, and often delegated to HR department or to a dedicated resources manager, who source both internal and external profile against the proivded job description. And the most important thing is, as a project manager, you'll be accountable for team performance no matter who you entrusted the staffing.

QOTD: Certainties

 

There are three certainties in life – death, taxes and changes to your project scope.

~ A wise man

And in your project the only thing you can rely on with absolute certainty is that in your project you can’t rely on anything with absolute certainty...

Welcome onboard, dear PM !

QOTD: Risk Analysis

Risk analysis uncovers weaknesses in a project plan and triggers changes, new activities, and resource shifts that improve the project. Risk analysis at the project level may also reveal needed shifts in overall project structure or basic assumptions. ~ Tom Kendrick

Talents big band

As a musician, I'm very sensitive about music, with a special award to jazz big bands. There's a lot of similarities between conducting this kind of orchestra and manager's job... Let's have a look to 4 of these similarities.

Earned value & progress measurement

I'm currently training for taking the PMP certification exam, and managing a large software project in parallel.

When it comes to EVM, PMBoK guide seems quite clear about how EVM technique can help PM assessing project performance. However, when I try to apply this method to my project I face an issue that I think many practionner face : How do you know where you stand ?

EVM fully makes sense if you have an accurate EV calculation method, which is not so trivial.

QOTD: The rule of Pi


The actual duration (costs) of an activity will be about pi (3.1415...) bigger than the original estimate, even if the estimator was aware of this rule.

~Lev Virine

I like this one because... Hmmmm well, it's often true !

This rule highlights one of the numerous cognitive and motivational biases which inherently pertain to estimating and decision processes within projects lives.

If you want to know more, take some time to have a look to Lev Virine's book "Project Decisions, the art and science".

The magic of burndown chart

What is the ultimate goal of a project manager ?

It's a very hard one : somehow, it consists in predicting the future and ensure that projects are completed on time and within budget without sacrificing quality. Various feedback from different industries all show the same trend : overcosts and costly delays are more than common and the more complex the project the worst the situation.

I'd like to share my experiment with a tool borrowed to agile project management techniques on a fixed price contract : the burndown chart. It helped me to get more insights on how things went on and to fix the issue. In order to maximize the value, I'll illustrate the experiment with 2 case studies, and provide the data within an Excel spreadsheet.

Regaining focus

Have you ever felt overwhelmed by the amount of tasks to be performed ? Have you ever felt having lost the meaning / the big picture from which all that work stem ? I can feel that the answer is undoubtedly "Yes".