Project management office (PMO) directors. They can be helpful or they can be a necessary evil. Someone has to steer the ship. But does it have to be THAT person? Have you heard yourself and/or your colleagues talk that way about your PMO director? If so, then this article may be for you. I’ve been involved in creating, participating, and leading several PMOs over the years and I have some definite opinions about what works as well as what doesn’t. I’m may not be 100 percent correct, but this is a starting point…let’s hear your opinions on this topic after you read the article a couple of times...
I’ve always been of the mindset that my project is the most important project, and I want the best resources I can get for each skill set. The best of the best to offer my project client…that should keep them satisfied. That should work, right? Wrong! And let me tell you why…at least why I think so and you can give me your opinions.
Always the best for me!
When you’re running a project and you know that it’s a high profile project and you know that you’re on a tight schedule and that everyone’s eyes are on the project and on you – you want your best resources available for the project, right? You want the most skilled and experienced resources that money can buy. You want the best resources your organization can offer.
In Part 1 of this two part series on selecting the right project manager for the project, we discussed how it isn’t just about putting the best available project manager in the role. There are many aspects that need to be examined – and how the individual matches up with the specific project customer may be the biggest determiner of all – depending on how picky or needy your project client actually is. In Part 2, we’ll consider some of the organizational infrastructure differences that can affect the project team and project manager making getting the right person in the role possibly even more of a challenge…depending on what they can handle.
Depending on the type of organization your project managers and team members are coming from, there are some advantages and disadvantages that need to be acknowledged. Generally, were faced with either a Task structure or a Matrix structure. Let’s look at the pros and cons of each…
You are charged with figuring out a new (or first time) project management software solution for your organization. Five or ten years ago your research and selection process would have been much easier because the PM landscape was rather sparse. A few good desktop options, a few good web-based options and that was about it. Now take a look around. There are literally hundreds of potential PM and task management solutions out there for you to choose from. Most of these are web-based, most are pretty full-featured, some come with separate modules to cover other aspects of management, some border on full-fledged ERP solutions and some are going to be real clunkers…at least in terms of what you need from them.
I’m going to go out on a limb right now by saying I think your best bet is going to be a web-based project management solution – especially if you’re looking for something new or something to use for the first time. However, you need to understand why and what concerns are out there before absolutely deciding on one…so let’s consider…
How many times have we heard that phrase? Or uttered it ourselves? Price, functionality, collaboration, web vs. desktop, customer management, and other functionality. What’s most important to you? With so many project management and task management related software solutions available it’s very difficult to make a choice – even if you have narrowed your list down with key functionality that you think your organization is seeking. It’s no longer a one-horse town – and few of us have the time (or interest) to check out every offering available…which now totals in the hundreds.
However, if you’re looking for a full-featured solution for just about every project management need you can think of you for your organization – and at a price you can live with – look no further than ProjectManager.com. With ProjectManager.com, you get everything you need to manage – and report on – the full extent of your project portfolio and project resources without the financial burden that a product like Microsoft Project will place on your organization and the clients that you work with on your many engagements.
Key features of this all-in-one PM solution include:
Project dashboard. Every Project Manager wants to know if their projects are on track. Using this intelligent Project Dashboard, you can view the health of your projects online. With detailed charts and tables, this Project Dashboard will help you keep projects on track at all times.
Risks, issues and changes. To succeed in managing projects, you need to manage risks, issues and changes carefully. This software allows you to track them day-by-day, so that you can quickly resolve them before they impact on your deadlines.
Time tracking. Use this Time Tracking Software to complete your Timesheets online. Simply login and fill-in your timesheet. Your project dashboards, plans and reports will automatically be updated with your Timesheet information, so you're always kept up-to-date.
Expense tracking. Monitor your project expenses with this Expense Tracking Software. You can track any type of expense such as people, materials, equipment and office expenses. As you enter each expense, the Project Dashboard tells you whether you're still under budget.
Project planner. Creating Project Plans is extremely easy. This stylish Project Planner offers you all of the Microsoft Project features for managing tasks, and much more. You can build a new task list, schedule your tasks, allocate resources and monitor progress. It’s that easy!
Project reporting. It is very easy to create your weekly Project Status Report. Just select the report you want to run, choose your Project Reporting period and click "View" to run the report across your projects. You can also print and export these professionally designed reports, to send to your project team.
Online storage. Upload all of your files, documents, forms, templates and reports into ProjectManager.com so that it becomes your central document store. You can save as many documents as you wish and access them from anywhere, anytime.
Web-based project management. If you're looking for Online Project Management software then ProjectManager.com is perfect for you. Simply import your existing projects from Excel, Microsoft Project or any other task software and the dashboard immediately tells you whether your projects are on track. And, because it's Web Based Software, your entire team can track their projects online. Everyone can login to enter their Timesheets, Expense forms and update their Project Plans, from anywhere in the world.
Microsoft Project familiarity. It provides all of the commonly used features that Microsoft Project has to offer. So import your MS Project plans and use it to collaborate on your projects. That way, everyone in your team can access the same project plan at the same time.
Project collaboration. Collaborate with your colleagues online. Create discussions and add comments in a blog-like fashion. Use instant messaging, just like Twitter. Upload and share your files online. Then see on your personal home page, a summary of all of the collaboration activity for the day. ProjectManager.com makes it extremely easy to collaborate online with your entire project team.
Security. It's important that your online project management software is safe and secure. Using ProjectManager.com you can choose who has access to which projects, define security roles and turn features on and off in the system as you wish.
ProjectManager.com started out in 2008 with the goal of helping project managers around the world find out whether their projects are on track. Within just 12 months of going live, NASA and the United Nations were using their service and now more than 12,000 managers and teams in 101 countries are actively using it to manage their projects daily and to stay on track of their entire project portfolios.
Interested in learning more? Go to ProjectManager.com’s site directly for more info. You can contact them through their contact form with questions or for more information, signup for a 30-day free trial and get detailed information about their pricing, or go here for even more detailed information on the many features and capabilities of this comprehensive project management enterprise solution.
You've been assigned a new project by your PMO Director…now what? Well, we all know you never get a second chance to make a good first impression. And from personal experience I can look back at my earliest projects when I was far less experienced and confident with project clients as I am now, and see how I did not exude an aura of confidence, competence and control. It took me considerable time in the project timeline to make some real headway on gaining back some if the customer confidence and comfort I had lost during that critical project kick-off phase. First impressions aren't everything. Actual performance is. But first impressions are way up there.
As you gain that necessary project experience and are kicking off more and more projects, you want to be as thorough, as streamlined, as accurate and efficient, and as confident as you can possibly be. At least that focus is what helped me gain the confidence I needed to start "doing it right", so to speak. To that end, I've learned to focus on these 11 things that I do for most every engagement to prepare for a successful project experience - in no particular order:
Viewpath is a powerful project management tool which goes beyond traditional project management tools and focuses on the pain on which almost everyone, even the most experienced project managers, experiences – resource management and resource allocation. I speak from experience when I say many organizations – big and small – struggle with resource management. PMs book and overbook their valuable project resources, and often have no clue they might be committing to work no one will be available to perform. I once made over $40,000 very part-time (just a few hours a week) over 4 months just helping an organization get a handle on their resource usage and helping them understand how and why and by how much they were over allocating their current resources. It’s truly an issue for everyone and it’s a chore to get it shored up and under control.
An interactive solution that works
This is where a tool like Viewpath can be a lifesaver for an organization. Viewpath professes to be the only project management solution providing interactive Gantt charts, Resource Allocation graphs, and Agile tools – in one complete solution.
Viewpath's version 3.0 - provides many forward-thinking features to greatly simplify the day-to-day-management of project activities. The 3.0 version uses the latest in enterprise-class architecture to provide the highest level of service performance. And, in terms of resource allocation needs, Viewpath's interactive resource allocation chart is available to upgraded users who need to track resource utilization closely to ensure their projects and resources stay on target. Within the tool, users simply click the chart icon to easily view the workload of all resources on a given project based on availability. Selecting the checkbox for an individual allows you to view the assigned work for a given resource.
Viewpath also lets users set the availability for each person if they are working on more than one project. The system automatically calculates the amount of work hours available each day for assignments on the project. Color-coded, detailed graphical information indicates whether or not available work hours are being fully utilized, under-allocated, or over-allocated. And, as tasks are moved on the Gantt chart, the interactive chart instantly changes the daily level of assigned work. No other online application on the market today provides this fully integrated and truly interactive approach.
See for yourself
But why not see for yourself? If you’re interested in learning more, check out their informative product overview – a six-minute presentation on the capabilities of Viewpath. If you’re like me and you like to dive right in, then signup for their free starter edition – no credit card required, no download and nothing to install. Just signup and go.
Can you really start a project without requirements? I know I certainly don’t feel comfortable – even for a short project – starting a project and trying to manage scope without detailed requirements in place for the project. Requirements are key – they are the lifeblood of the project. If you try to build an end solution with only high-level requirements, it won’t work. If you try to deliver something to the end user with knowing what they really need the system to perform – what they require of this solution you are providing them with – you may be delivering something they can’t even use. If you haven’t worked with the customer’s subject matter experts (SMEs) and end users to know what the problem is and what they need, then you have no scope to start from…everything is really just a best guess. And that’s a bad situation – for everyone – but mostly for the project manager and team who will be on the hook to deliver a workable end solution. And it just won’t happen.
What do good requirements mean?
What are good requirements? What are the characteristics of a good requirement? In project management, there are some general criteria that requirements are usually held against to see if they are adequate and appropriate and in the proper detail. If your requirements meet these, then congratulations…you have detailed requirements and you have a basis that you should be able to start from to deliver what they customer wants and needs. Good requirements, generally…
So far in this five part series on potential project killers, we've covered two topics:
In this third installment, we’ll discuss the problem of the indecisive project customer. A customer who comes into the project without a clear focus of the requirements of needs of the project will be presenting the project manager and team with an ever-moving target. Let’s examine this in further detail…
As I sit here on a Sunday afternoon in Las Vegas with the temperature soaring to an all-time record tying 117˚ waiting on the air conditioning repair guy to show up to fix one of our units that apparently died at an inopportune time last night in the middle of this apocalyptic heat wave, I’m pondering this notion. Licensed. Bonded. Insured. I want the first warm body that can fix our A/C right now. My wife is concerned about letting just any stranger in to work in the attic of our house without giving him a lie detector test first. She wants me to make sure that he’s licensed, bonded and insured. I get that…because….well, wasn’t there a CSI: Crime Scene Investigation episode about a contractor who would put little cameras up in his clients’ attics and then later came back to commit heinous crimes at the homes?
Anyway, it does make you think…do you want just anyone that can step in to apparently ‘get the job done’? Or do you want to make sure that they are licensed, bonded and insured? Figuratively speaking, of course. And for project management, do you need a certified project manager to handle the job or will just any relatively experienced individual do? The answer probably is somewhere in the middle…or more likely….’it depends’.
Author: Brad Egeland