The magic of is project management revealing the masters secrets
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The Magic of IS Project Management: Revealing the Masters’ Secrets. Kathy Schwalbe, Ph.D., PMP May 2, 2000 PDS 2000. [email protected] www.augsburg.edu/ppages/schwalbe. Expert Revelations on How to Succeed in Project Management. Tricks to Avoid. Examples from the Field.

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The magic of is project management revealing the masters secrets

The Magic of IS Project Management:Revealing the Masters’ Secrets

Kathy Schwalbe, Ph.D., PMP

May 2, 2000

PDS 2000

[email protected]/ppages/schwalbe


Expert revelations on how to succeed in project management

Expert Revelations on How to Succeed in Project Management


Tricks to avoid

Tricks to Avoid


Examples from the field

Examples from the Field


Personal secrets

Personal Secrets


Expert revelation 1 alignment

Expert Revelation #1: Alignment

  • Projects are much more likely to succeed if they align to organizational needs and goals

  • “Aligning information systems to corporate goals has emerged as the number one concern over the last five years in surveys of information systems executives”*

*Strassmann and Bienkowski, “Alignment of IT and Business:

Keys to Realizing Business Value,” ABT Corporation, 9/29/99


Why firms invest in it projects

Why Firms Invest in IT Projects*

*Bacon, James. “The Use of Decision Criteria in Selecting Information Systems/

Technology, Investments, MIS Quarterly, Vol. 16, No. 3, September 1992


Trick to avoid 1

Trick to Avoid #1:

“Because IT’s There!”


Expert revelation 2 leadership

Expert Revelation #2: Leadership

  • The majority of characteristics of effective project managers are managerial in nature

  • Project managers must be able to lead and manage and have necessary technical skills


The most significant characteristics of an effective project manager

The Most Significant Characteristics of an Effective Project Manager*

  • Leadership by example

  • Visionary

  • Technically competent

  • Decisive

  • Good communicator

  • Good motivator

  • Stands up to upper management when necessary

  • Supports team members

  • Encourages new ideas

*Zimmerman and Yasin, “A Leadership Profile of American Project Managers,” Project Management Journal, March 1998


Trick to avoid 2

Trick to Avoid #2

Making your best

technical person the

project manager


Expert revelation 3 user involvement

Expert Revelation #3:User Involvement

  • The number one reason why IT projects fail is a lack of user input (CHAOS, 1995)

  • There are several ways to increase user involvement

    • Have users lead or co-lead IT projects

    • Have a senior manager outside of IT sponsor and champion IT projects

    • Put star users on the project team and co-locate users and developers

    • Provide interim deliverables that users can understand on a regular basis


Checklist for user involvement

Checklist for User Involvement*

  • Do I have the right user(s)?

  • Did I involve the users(s) early and often?

  • Do I have a quality user(s) relationship?

  • Do I make involvement easy?

  • Did I find out what the user(s) need?

*Standish Group, “Unfinished Voyages,”1996


Trick to avoid 3

Trick to Avoid #3:

Thinking IT knows

what’s best


Expert revelation 4 senior management support

Expert Revelation #4: Senior Management Support

  • Experts agree that you need senior management support for projects to be successful

  • Senor management can (or cannot) provide:

    • Adequate resources

    • Quick approval for unique project needs

    • Cooperation from people in various parts of the organization

    • Mentoring on leadership issues


What helps projects succeed

Clear project mission

Top management support

Good project schedule/plan

Good client consultation

User involvement

Executive management support

Clear statement of requirements

Proper planning

What Helps Projects Succeed?

Pinto and Slevin*

Standish Group**

*Pinto and Slevin, “Critical Factors in Successful Project Implementation,”

IEEE, February 1987

**The Standish Group, “CHAOS,” 1995


Trick to avoid 4

Trick to Avoid #4:

Assuming it’s okay

if senior managers

and users don’t

protest too much


Expert revelation 5 clear project purpose

Expert Revelation #5:Clear Project Purpose

  • Having a clear mission or purpose and a clear statement of requirements are crucial to project success

  • It’s much easier to get project approval and lead a project if you understand the underlying reason for it, even if it the specs are not crystal clear


Defining and selling way cool projects

Defining and Selling “Way Cool Projects”*

  • Challenge 1: Futzing with the structure and specifics of a given task…until it becomes a “way cool project”

  • Challenge 2: Selling that “way cool project.” Great project management—in the real world!—turns out to be mostly a sales game. I.e., getting all sorts of folks to support you, help you, give you their very best!

*Peters, Tom. Reinventing Work: The Project 50, 1999, p. 12


Trick to avoid 5

Trick to Avoid #5

Faking coolness


Expert revelation 6 communications

Expert Revelation #6:Communications

  • Being a good communicator is an essential project management skill

  • Master project managers are great at listening, persuading, explaining, and discerning the best way to communicate with different stakeholders

  • Project managers must be “astute”


80 of problems

80% of Problems…

  • “Eighty percent of the ‘problems’ in workplace or personal relationships are really not problems—they are misunderstanding”*

  • “I’ll pay more for a man’s ability to express himself than for any other quality he might possess.” Charles Schwab

Wetherbe, James and Bond. So What’s Your Point? 1996, p. 3


Trick to avoid 6

Trick to Avoid #6

Over-relying on reports,

web sites, or other

formal communications


Expert revelation 7 plan and replan

Expert Revelation #7:Plan and Replan

  • Proper planning is key to project success; remember that the purpose of project plans is to guide execution

  • Project plans must be tailored to the needs of each particular project

  • Be flexible when changes occur and be ready to update plans accordingly


Planning is a quadrant ii activity

Planning is a “Quadrant II” Activity*

  • Using Stephen Covey’s time management matrix, quadrant II activities are important but not urgent

  • Quadrant II activities include planning, prevention, relationship building, and recognizing new opportunities

  • Highly effective people, including project managers, focus on Quadrant II activities

*Covey, Stephen, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, 1990


Trick to avoid 7

Trick to Avoid #7

Taking shortcuts

to planning


Expert revelation 8 execute execute execute

Expert Revelation #8:Execute, execute, execute

  • The most important job of a project manager is to get the job done

  • Project managers must balance scope, time, and cost goals

  • If you can’t deliver results, you can’t meet or exceed stakeholder needs and expectations


Why ceos and project managers fail

Why CEOs (and Project Managers) Fail

  • Bad execution is the main reason why CEO’s are “booted”*

  • Bad execution means not getting things done, being indecisive, and not delivering on commitments

  • A good plan, strong leadership, good communications skills, team building, etc. all help with execution

Charan and Colvin, “Why CEO’s Fail,” Fortune, June 21, 1999


Trick to avoid 8

Trick to Avoid #8

Not focusing on results


Expert revelation 9 team building

Expert Revelation #9:Team Building

  • Project managers must foster an environment for teams to thrive

  • Some experts suggest

    • Hand picking your project team

    • Focusing on goals and outcomes to promote teamwork

    • Establishing team-based rewards

    • Creating a fun work environment

    • Providing a quiet work space!


Trick to avoid 9

Trick to Avoid #9:

Assuming smart people

work well in any

team situation


Expert revelations 10 structure

Expert Revelations #10:Structure

  • Most people like and need structure to guide projects

  • Using a clear and consistent approach to project management helps projects succeed


Project management maturity model

Project Management Maturity Model*

  • Ad-Hoc: Disorganized, chaotic project management (PM) processes; low success rate

  • Abbreviated: Some processes in place, but project success is largely unpredictable

  • Organized: Standardized, documented process and systems; more predictable success rate

  • Managed: Management collects and uses measures of effectiveness of PM; more uniform success

  • Adaptive: Feedback from the PM process and from piloting innovative ideas and technologies enables continuous improvement; success is the norm

*Enterprise Planning Associates, 1998


Trick to avoid 10

Trick to Avoid #10

Winging it too often


Example from the field northwest airlines resnet

Example from the Field: Northwest Airlines’ ResNet*

*A full case study on ResNet is available in Schwalbe’s Information

Technology Project Management text, Course Technology, 2000


Resnet background

ResNet Background

  • ResNet is the main reservation system used today by Northwest Airlines

  • From 1993-1997, Northwest Airlines worked on three distinct projects to develop and install ResNet on over 3,000 workstations in nine different cities

  • ResNet was a huge success in terms of meeting scope, time, and cost goals and exceeding stakeholder expectations


The master s secrets on resnet

The Master’s Secrets on ResNet

  • Alignment: The main reason for funding ResNet was to stop losing money on the call centers

  • Leadership: Peeter Kivestu, then a marketing director, led all three ResNet projects

  • User Involvement: Sales agents did a lot of the coding for the ResNet interface

  • Senior Management Support: The VP of Reservations provided the vision for ResNet

  • Clear purpose: Focused on increasing direct sales and reducing call handle time to save money


The master s secrets on resnet1

The Master’s Secrets on ResNet

  • Communications: Peeter and his team used varied, innovative ways to communicate

  • Plan and Replan: The project team created and followed realistic plans

  • Execute: The entire ResNet team focused on meeting project goals

  • Team building: Peeter hand picked key team members and provided a fun work environment

  • Structure: Everyone knew that milestone dates had to be met


Peeter s expert advice

Peeter’s Expert Advice

  • Have clear project goals. It is human nature to want to achieve goals

  • Create a fun working environment to promotes buy-in, creativity, and teamwork. Use themes and special events to make projects fun and memorable

  • Set realistic milestone dates and stick to them. Missing dates causes too much chaos


Kathy s personal secrets

Kathy’s Personal Secrets

  • Have passion for your projects

  • Provide challenge, creativity, and fun on IT projects along with structure

  • Clearly define what the main stakeholders really mean; be astute

  • Create an open, learning environment and mentor future project managers


Final thought remember that we all influence our future leaders

Final Thought: Remember that we all influence our future leaders!

Scott Schwalbe –

Future Governor?


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