The 5th edition of the PMBOK (Project Management Body of Knowledge) was released this month by the PMI and there are a few changes worth noting. The biggest change is that there is a new knowledge area called Stakeholder Management. This knowledge area replaces and expands on two processes from the 4th editions Communications Management knowledge area, Identify Stakeholders and Manage Stakeholder Expectations. It makes a lot of sense to me that Stakeholder Management would be its own knowledge area. Stakeholder management is an important and complex area in Project Management and it is frequently discussed in project management circles. I’m excited to see a focus on this area of knowledge and I look forward to diving into the material in the 5th edition PMBOK to learn the new standards.
Some other changes include the addition to the Planning process group of the Plan Scope, Schedule, and Cost Management processes to the Scope, Time and Cost knowledge areas. There are also a few name changes to existing processes that improves naming consistency.
Here is are the knowledge areas and processes groups in a table below with the additions highlighted in yellow and the name changes in blue:
There are other differences between the 4th and 5th editions but I will not go into them here. As I continue to explore the new guide I will post what I learn here. I’d love to hear from you. What differences have you noted between the two editions and what impact if any do you think they will have?
We all have extrinsic motivators in the work place. I know that if I want to get paid and keep my job I need to do the tasks that are assigned to me. There is a big difference though, between just getting something done and being intrinsically motivated to perform that task to the best of my ability or to work toward achieving mastery. According to Daisy Yuhas in the article, “Three Critical Elements Sustain Motivation” there are three factors that have been found to impact motivation:
The perception of autonomy leads to feelings of control. When we feel that we have a choice about the tasks we do we are more likely to be persistent and expend more energy in pursuit of our goal. In a project situation, the way in which team members are engaged in the process can have a big impact on feelings of control. For instance, during the SCRUM process if team members have chosen post-its off of the task board and put their names on them, they will feel much more autonomous than if a project schedule was handed to them with their name by a task. Even if they were the only one on the team who could have performed the task, it still feels like a choice if they call it out and claim it as their own.
When we value the task or goal related to the activity we are more likely to pursue it. I know that I feel more engaged in tasks that I feel really add benefit to a project or to tasks that help me to grow in mastery. From a value perspective this is because I believe in being a contributing member to the betterment of society and I also believe strongly in continually pursuing growth, expertise and mastery. If tasks assigned to employees can be framed in a way that touches on that employee’s values and they can see the benefit of it, they are more likely to be motivated to do it.
The more ability we have in doing a task the more we tend to enjoy it. This is especially true if we believe that hard work, rather than talent, leads to mastery and excellence. When I am first learning a new skill, such as learning a new instrument, I am eager to practice because I’m buoyed by the excitement of trying something new. After a few sessions however I find that making myself sit down to practice is difficult because the initial excitement has worn off and my competence level is low. Constantly making mistakes is frustrating. If I persist in practicing however my competence grows and I garner enjoyment from playing that instrument. This experience illustrates the idea that increased competence when performing an activity increases enjoyment, which in turn increases motivation. On a team, a manager may be able to increase a team members motivation by helping them to gain more competence though increased training and mentor-ship or by assigning them tasks where they have a high level of competency.
I hope you find these suggestions helpful. What factors do you find help you maintain motivation on your team? Please leave me a comment and let me know.
On any project there are risks. In many organizations project risk planning is completely overlooked. Project risk is defined by the PMI as “an uncertain event or condition that, if it occurs, has a positive or negative effect on a project’s objectives.” Note that risk is not just about negative event planning, but is also about planning for positive risks that may come up as opportunities.
A risk planning process should have three key stages:
- Identify the risks
- Analyze the risks
- Develop a response plan for the top risks
The process of identifying risk is really about getting everyone on the project together and getting their ideas on what could go right or wrong on the project. This can be done using common brainstorming methods or more advanced methods such as the Delphi technique. It is important during this process to try and be open to any suggestions that may be made, no matter how ridiculous they may seem at the moment. Once a list of risks has been created from this process it is important to try to analyze them to come up with risk score by deciding on a probability and rating the impact, and then multiplying them. Once each risk has a risk rating, you can focus on the top risks and come up with a response plan. For negative risks you can try and transfer the risk to another party, you can take actions to try and avoid the risk altogether, or you can come up with contingency plans to deal with the risk if it occurs. With positive risks you can put plans in place to try and make sure that it occurs. This is known as risk exploitation.
This information can be organized in the form of a risk register. The risk register usually have the following information:
- An identification number assigned to each risk event identified
- The risk rank that was determined from the risk score (probability #10 * impact #11)
- A short name to identify the risk
- A longer description of the risk
- A risk category such as technology or procurement
- The potential root cause of the risk
- The triggers, or indicators, for each risk (These are events that signal that a risk event is occurring or about to occur)
- The potential response to the risk
- The risk owner, or the person who will take responsibility monitoring and dealing with the risk
- The probability that the risk will occur
- The impact to the project if the risk occurs
- The status of the risk, i.e. did it happen or was it avoided?
Outside of the benefits avoiding risks altogether using this method, managers, customers and team members will have more confidence in the likelihood of a successful project outcome if they can see that a good risk management plan is in place.
This video by Andy Kaufman, PMP is a great, brief introduction to risk management on projects:
As project mangers we are first and foremost, managers. A simple definition of what managers do is to get things done through people. There are four activities that a manager performs in order to achieve this objective:
Various sources, such as the PMBOK guide, go into elaborate detail on how to plan, organize and control projects. Leadership is a different story. There is no clear guide to being a good leader.
The ability to lead is rooted in the sum of the persons character, integrity and soft skills. The ability to lead is what sets great project managers apart and it is not a technique. The ability to lead is a part of the art of project management.
Even though leadership is often only thought of from the point of view of the leader, a leader is nothing without followers. True follower-ship is a choice, and the choice to follow someone is not made willingly if that follower does not trust the person chosen to lead.
Trust is the willingness of a person to be vulnerable and take risks. In order to do this a follower must see the leader as trustworthy, which requires that the follower sees the leader as having integrity, ability and benevolence toward them.
According to Kouzes and Posner in their book “The Truth About Leadership” there are four behaviors a leader can exhibit to be perceived as trustworthy:
- Predictable and consistent behavior. When people know they can count on a leader, then the leader’s words and actions are more likely to influence others
- Clear communication. When a leader communicates about an intention, it will be viewed as a promise by others. Effective leaders are clear about their meaning and as a result, do not mislead.
- Promises are treated seriously. When leaders treat commitments seriously, others do also.
- Forthright and candid behavior. If leaders are forthright and honest, others will have less reason to be angry or try to deceive in retaliation.
So why is it important for a project manager to have the trust of their teams? I think this was well illustrated for me recently when a project manager mentioned that they have limited authority over team members because in the end they do not decide their employment, promotions, or raises. This means that they must lead their teams through influence.
This insight reinforces that project managers, maybe even more than other managers, cannot rely on authority but must truly be leaders so that their team members will choose to follow them.
The core knowledge areas in the PMBOK guide make up the triple, or quadruple, constraint in project management.
from PM Hut
Scope is all of the work involved in creating the products of the project and the processes used to create them.
Time refers to the project schedule and specifically when the project will need to be completed by.
Cost is all about the project budget. How much will this project cost the company to complete?
Quality has been defined many different ways, one of which is the degree to which a set of inherent characteristics fulfill requirements
When tracking a project the project manager and everyone on the team, should be continuously asking questions throughout the project. These questions should be focused around the four core knowledge areas: scope, time, cost and quality.
Core knowledge area related questions:
- Scope – Is this in scope?
- Time – Is this on schedule?
- Quality – Does this meet the specifications?
- Cost – Are we under budget?
If these questions are asked continuously then issues that will throw off any of these core project areas will be found and dealt with early. The key to good project management is to know that you are not done once you have created a project plan. There will always be change to deal with. This could be change from evolving customer requirements, changes in staffing, or changes in business due to changing priorities. Since change is a constant, asking these questions throughout a project can help a team to constantly monitor and adjust for these changes and this can mean the difference between project failure and success.
It can be challenging to manage time on projects for multiple reasons. There are many different people working simultaneously on a variety of activities at any given time during a project and there are any number of reasons why one or more of them might make demands on you. Under these conditions it is easy to lose control of your time during the day only to end up working evenings and weekends just to get work done.
Here are four tips for how to get control of your time back:
Tip #1 Purge clutter
If you have piles of papers on your desk, or folders on your desktop, of documents that are a combination of relevant and irrelevant, you may find yourself spending time looking at ones that you don’t really need to deal with. This could be due to the fact that they are from old tasks that are no longer a priority. To help manage your time more effectively it helps to take the time to purge your work space of those documents that you don’t need to deal with.
Tip #2 Set Boundaries
Setting boundaries with others is probably the most important thing you can do to manage your time. From that person who is always dropping by your office to just talk to you endlessly, to issues that are tossed in your lap at the last minute by someone who really should be working on it themselves. Taking the time to set boundaries with others will help set up good habits for how people treat your time.
Tip #3 Block out working time
Block out time on your calendar for getting your work done. This will make sure that you have the time you need to complete your work. It also helps prevent you from becoming overbooked either from your own efforts or those of others.
Tip #4 Block out non-working time
Jennifer Whitt in a webinar from www.projectmanager.com on the topic, “How to Track your Projects” suggests this one and the concept is really insightful. She said that she often blocks out some time in the morning for things like working out, meditating and planning. These activities make sure that she is taking care of herself and allows her to set her focus for the day.
If you’d like some more tips on time management I’d recommend watching the hour long webinar mentioned in tip #4.
How about you? What are some tips that you use for managing your time?
As a project manager do you have your blinders on? It is important when managing a project to remember that your project does not occur in a vacuum. With everything that needs to be done on a project it is crucial that the project manager and the project team understand where their project fits into the overall business. Throughout the project, and especially as the project gets more challenging or runs into problems, it will help to keep support for the project high if everyone understands and can communicate how the project will help the business achieve its business objectives.
It also helps to view the project in terms of how it will fit into the overall systems that make up the various business processes that keep the business running on a day to day business. Understanding how the project will change and fit into the systems of the business will also help with understanding who the project stakeholders are, what possible risks and in evaluating the overall project value to the business.
This concept of thinking of the business in terms of its systems is called systems thinking, and it is a holistic view of carrying out the projects within the context of the organization. Systems thinking is a topic that is near and dear to my heart as Business Systems Analyst. If you can take the time to define the scope of the system, evaluating its problems, opportunities, constraints and needs you can more easily understand the scope of your project within that system and how it will address them.
Good post about gathering requirements as a BA http://ow.ly/ejVqy via @@LLBrandenburg @BealProjects_BA #BAOT
In a project of any size the sheer number of things that need to be done can be overwhelming. One tool that a project manager can use to get their mind around their project is to create a work breakdown structure (WBS) and the corresponding WBS dictionary. A WBS is a deliverable-oriented grouping of the work involved in a project that defines the total scope of the project. The dictionary is a document that describes in detail the information needed for anyone to understand what each WBS item is.
There are many methods for going about the creation of a work breakdown structure including: the analogy approach, mind mapping, top down, bottom-up or just using the guidelines established by your company.
Regardless of the approach, the WBS should be created in conjunction with the team members who will be working with you to produce the project deliverables. This may be as simple as a meeting where everyone gets a stack of post-its and contributes their knowledge of how the work gets done by writing down their tasks and sticking them to the white board. This exercise also helps give the entire team an understanding the project purpose and scope while at the same time getting their commitment and buy-in for the work that needs to be done.
Check out this short video by Rita Mulcahy, PMP, as she addresses the concept of the WBS:
On a project, scope is one of the key components a project manager must control. It is the component of the triple constraint that most often invokes the ‘project management as art’ description, perhaps only rivaled with the art of stakeholder management. This is likely because scope expectations are really deliverable expectations, as scope defines the deliverables promised at the end of the project. What customer will not try to get more? I think it is in human nature to always push to get the most out of a project.
It is also the case that no matter what we plan we cannot see the future. This means that we cannot know all of the opportunities and problems that will arise when producing something new, no matter how many times we have done something similar. Projects are by their very definition unique.
In listening to project managers discuss scope I have come to realize that some are a little afraid of scope. The hushed tones and slight trauma they express reminds me of children scaring each other with ghost stories. Scope creep, or requirements change, is one of those areas that is always challenging in that it has the most potential to utterly destroy a carefully crafted a project plan. Some project managers respond by trying to shut down all scope changes during a project, but while this can protect the project plan it also can lead to a project that has poor quality deliverables because opportunities were missed during the project. It is important to come to terms with the fact that changes are inevitable on a project and that the important skill is not in preventing change, but in learning to deal with it effectively.
How to deal effectively with scope:
- Make sure EVERYBODY knows the project scope.
- Train the entire team to know how to respond to scope change requests.
- Communicate, communicate, communicate
Controlling scope is a team effort. Everyone should understand the project’s baseline scope, what the outcome of the project should be, and everyone on the team should understand how to respond appropriately to a customer request. The fact is that your team members want to make the customer happy and if they don’t know how to handle requests they may inadvertently commit the team to a change that has far reaching consequences for the project. It is also critical that any changes that are approved are communicated and documented for everyone to see.
There are many good videos that discuss how to manage scope. Here is one from Project Manager.com on You Tube: