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Effective Project Management. Barbara Stone & Jodie Mathies November 8, 2007. Agenda. Feedback on presentations and project docs Scott Berkun Controlling Change management Prioritization & ranking Quality Assurance - metrics Communication Adaptive Project Framework (APF).

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effective project management

Effective Project Management

Barbara Stone & Jodie Mathies

November 8, 2007

  • Feedback on presentations and project docs
  • Scott Berkun
    • Controlling
    • Change management
    • Prioritization & ranking
    • Quality Assurance - metrics
    • Communication
  • Adaptive Project Framework (APF)
comments from status project plan documents 1
Comments from Status / Project Plan documents (1)

Traffic Lights:

  • Need one for overall project status, not just individual milestones.
  • Overall project status color is not an average. When in doubt, choose the worst color.
  • If a task has not yet begun, it does not have a color, unless it was scheduled and is late. Marking things red or yellow when they are scheduled to take place at a later date puts management attention on the wrong things.
comments from status project plan documents 2
Comments from Status / Project Plan documents (2)

Budget review:

  • The time people spend is part of your budget; often the greatest part.
  • When giving status, make sure to include the whole budget; your audience is very interested in whether the effort is taking more staff time than planned
comments from status project plan documents 3
Comments from Status / Project Plan documents (3)

Gantt / WBS for Project communication:

  • A Gantt chart without the task names is essentially useless as a communication tool
  • and that goes for charts that extend over multiple pages; adjust the timescale to make it fit
  • Generally it is better to show a Gantt at a summarized task level than to have multiple pages or tiny unreadable font.
  • Choose carefully what to print; columns like id & predecessor generally don’t add anything to the presentation. If you have a column printed after the task on the Gantt, don’t include it as a column (ex: resource name).
comments from status project plan documents 4
Comments from Status / Project Plan documents (4)

Communication Plan

  • OK to extend generic communication formation to include documents external to project group (though Jodie would not include documents that are product of the project)
  • If you do, need to include dates for delivery
comments from status project plan documents 5
Comments from Status / Project Plan documents (5)

Formatting / Editing:

  • What story do you want to tell? You tell that story two ways:
    • Content: Simple, clear, and consistent information about the project
    • Format: Think about how the look of your presentation helps you tell that story.
  • Here are just a few of the world of articles on ‘bad PowerPoint’ out there:
    • http://www.plasticsurgerydr.com/rpp.html
    • http://www.communicateusingtechnology.com/articles/pptsurvey_article.htm
    • http://www.ispi.org/pdf/BadPwrpt.pdf
what phase is your project in
What phase is your project in?

Probably still Execution.

You, as a Project Manager, are probably still Monitoring and Controlling:

  • Tracking task and milestone status
  • Meeting with your team and stakeholders
  • Working issues
  • Working risks
scott berkun making things happen
Scott Berkun – Making things happen
  • Priorities make things happen – making lists, priority 1 & the rest
  • Say no
  • Keep it real
  • Know the critical path
  • Be relentless
  • Be savvy
prioritization ranking issues
Prioritization & Ranking - issues
  • What problem are we trying to solve?
  • If there are multiple problems, which are most important? Think Pareto.
  • How does the problem relate to or impact our goals?
  • What is the simplest way to fix this that will allow us to meet our goals?
ways to say no
Ways to say no
  • No, that doesn’t fit our priorities
  • No, only if we have time
  • No, only if you make happen
  • No, next release
  • No. Never. Ever. Really.
savvy flexible you adjust
‘Savvy’ = Flexible: you adjust.
  • What communication style fits the situation?
  • What is the humor culture of the team?
  • How do arguments get won? (data? Force of personality? Etc)
  • Who is effective at what I need to have happen?
  • What values are most important to this person or group?
  • What is the overall organizational culture?
guerilla tactics
Know who has authority

Go to the source

Switch communication modes

Get people alone

Hunt people down


Get advice

Call in favors, beg & bribe

Play people off each other

Stack the deck

Buy people coffee & tasty things

Guerilla tactics
every team member should know
Every team member should know:

Most important:

  • Goal
  • Objective
  • Work item
  • Metric

Stay focused on what’s most important

Know the critical path

team works on project deliverable
Team works on project deliverable
  • Strong sense of what they are doing
  • Why it’s the most important thing to do next
  • How it relates to what others are doing
  • How quickly it must be done
team tries not to work on project process deliverables
Team tries not to work on project ‘process’ deliverables

Bureaucracy - An administrative system in which the need or inclination to follow rigid or complex procedures impedes effective action

One of the jobs of the PM is to shelter the team from administrative process that does not further the work of building the product.

why people get annoyed
Why people get annoyed
  • Assume I’m an idiot
  • Don’t trust me
  • Waste my time
  • Manage me without respect
  • Make me listen to or read stupid things


  • Improves the odds of the project being completed
  • Has benefits that outweigh its costs


  • Any idiot with authority gets to create them
  • Observations of the past emphasized over needs of the present
checklist for good processes
Accelerate progress

Prevent problems

Make important actions visible and measurable

Include a process for changing or eliminating the process

People impacted by them are in favor of them

Checklist for good processes
the power of email
The power of email
  • Communication
  • Weapon
  • Self-destruction
meeting standards
Meeting standards
  • Are the right people in the room?
  • Sit or stand?
  • Laptops & gadgets – “I have a strong bias against the use of gadgets and laptops during meetings. If the people in the room don’t think what’s going on is important enough to warrant their full attention, then they shouldn’t be in the room.”
  • Being on time
  • End with clear steps & owners
adaptive project framework
Adaptive Project Framework

‘Core values’

  • Client-focused
  • Client-driven
  • Incremental results early and often
  • Change is progress to a better solution
  • Don’t speculate on the future
some key takeaways
Some key takeaways:


  • High-level requirements early on; revisited and re-prioritized with each cycle
  • Detailed requirements only for the functionality to be produced in current cycle


  • Fixed; job is to create the most value for cost/time.
prioritization ranking scope
Prioritization & Ranking - scope
  • More requirements are not always better
  • Which are the most important – which provide highest business value?
  • Think Pareto – 80/20
  • How do you know ahead of time how many cycles you can do in this project?
  • What are some projects that require TPM (‘waterfall’) as opposed to an iterative approach?
  • Can you ever not revisit scope?
  • What approach have you used for your project for this class? Why?
assignments for next class
Assignments for next class
  • Read Saying no, a short course for managers
  • Research the Pareto theory and write a few paragraphs on the implications for your project to hand in
  • Read Effective Project Management , chapter 11