Project Management

Uses of Earned Value Management to Save the Project

 As a Project Manager, I use the Earned Value Management (EVM) technique. It answers questions such “am I on schedule”, “have I met my budget goals” and “what will my project cost as predicted when the planning phase was done”. It uses many equations to figure this out. I make a habit of not only having engineers register the tie time they spent each day but also how much time they anticipate spending to complete the task.

 

It is the nature of software estimating that you know more about the task as you go along doing the task. Let’s say your original estimate was 40 hours. If 20 hours goes by you are not necessarily 50% done with the task. If you have the hours spent each day as well as the remaining work to be done, you may be over or under the original estimate. It is the Project Manager’s job to keep tight track on the work being done. If you find out a task is slipping early on in the project, you have plenty of time to recover. If you don’t find out until a week before the project is due, you have little control over saving the project.

 

In summary, EVM strategically augments good project management to facilitate the planning and control of cost and schedule performance. The key practices of EVM include:

 

·          Establish a performance measurement baseline (PMB)

·          Decompose work scope to a manageable level (work items) in WBS.     

·          Assign unambiguous management responsibility

·          Develop a time-phased budget for each work task

·          Select EV measurement techniques for all tasks

·          Maintain integrity of PMB throughout the project

·          Measure and analyze performance against the baseline

·          Record resourced during the project to be used in future planning

·          Objectively measure the physical work progress

·          Credit EV according to EV techniques

·          Analyze and forecast cost/schedule performance

·          Report performance problems and/or take action.

I have a requirement of never surprising my manager and ask my reports to never surprise me. This leads to a well managed project and a happy team!

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September 21, 2008 Posted by | earned value | , , , | Leave a comment

Team Building

Team Spirit is vital to the making of a team that works. It is the ability to work on ones’ own, feel free to ask for help and share the glory of your combined work. That is the reason why team communication and team building is so important.

When I first start a team, I have everyone take an assessment and share the results with each other. Everyone communicates differently and if you know the style of your team member it will go a long way in making that relationship successful. I also take the assessment and share it with the team. Pretty soon it gets to be fun when person A witnesses Person B reacting to Person C in a way that is uncomfortable for person C. If it is caught in the moment, people can laugh about it and not let it get in their way. Some teams I’ve worked on even go so far as wearing a badge that signifies their personality traits.

If a team is built with these suggestions in mind, they will work towards the goal of overall team success and not individual success. You may find a person or two who won’t follow this team building activity. If you run into this case, either remove the person from the team, or if this is not possible, give them a chance to see others make it work. People in general, want to do a good job and want their team to succeed.

On-going training for the team is essential and will keep the ideas fresh in their heads. It is also beneficial to have some bonding time like playing softball or some activity outside of work.

Another technique that is beneficial is to have a scoreboard that states how the team is doing towards making their goals. This should not be used to single out anyone, but to find areas where mentoring or training can help the overall team. Whenever the team beats its goals, the success should be celebrated. You’d be amazed how quickly the team will strive for high results.

There are two major types of teams: the ongoing team and the project team. We are going to concentrate on project teams since work that is of an ongoing nature is defined as an operation, not a project. The exception to this is in a matrix organization where the functional managers are in charge of the teams and loan them to the project manager for the duration of the project. IT team, the marketing-research team, and the accounts payable team.

Project teams are formed for a particular purpose; to complete the project. They usually disband when their mission is accomplished. The mission that binds them is the project’s mission and it falls upon the project manager to instill the leadership required to build followers of the project’s mission.

There are many benefits to be working on a project team.  The social aspects as well as the opportunities for less experienced members to learn from the more experienced members along with the abilities for the more experienced members to mentor and learn from that experience. The synergy that the team provides allows them to make better decisions than if they were working in isolation. Everyone has a different skill set to bring to the table. As we all have learned “the whole is larger than the sum of its parts”.

I’d like to say a little bit about team leaders. Some schools of thought are that the subject matter experts should be the team leaders. As I said before, everyone has a different skill set to bring to the table and most people who concentrate on becoming the expert in a particular technology are usually introverts and aren’t the one you want to resolve conflict between team members, keep the team on track and keep them energized. These folks usually are better at people skills, negotiations and are typically extroverts. That’s why having a mixture of talent makes up the best team. I once heard a Vice President talk to me about his staff. He said he always looked for people that were not like him, giving him a well rounded staff that came out with better solutions than a bunch of “Yes” men would have.

Another possibility is to train people to take over in leadership positions. The fact is you are born with natural abilities and you can be trained, but in a crisis situation will usually revert back to what you were born with. It is also a very unique individual who is good at everything required to run the business.

 

September 18, 2008 Posted by | Communications Management | | Leave a comment

Effective Teams

I have often found that the key to any endeavor, including Project Management or Coaching, lies around building a good relationship. Think back to the most effective teams or relationships you have ever had. It should have characteristics such as:

 

·         Mutual trust should be a top priority

·         Honesty and integrity should also be up there

·         Confidentiality is important to a good team

·         You should make sure the team (and yourself) values differences

·         Teams should have a little fun

·         People like being respected (I once worked on a team where everyone was given a ping pong gun. If they caught anyone disrespecting another, they were allowed to shoot them)

·         The Goals must be clearly defined “SMART: goals. (S = specific, M= measureable, A = attainable, R = realistic and T = time based)

·         Responsibility that is expected in all the members of the team’s work – there is no such thing as “It’s not my job”

·         Shared responsibility, accountability and rewards tied to performance

·         frequent celebrations when called for

·         Ability to make decisions (the only way to learn is to take risks)

·         Mutual support and mentoring

·         AND the most important thing is a Leader who leads, sets a vision and allows sharing of ideas from all team members

September 18, 2008 Posted by | Communications Management | , | Leave a comment