Monthly Archives: November 2015

Project Management Process

Five Project Management Mistakes, Pt 3

Mistake #3: Not Keeping Schedule Up-to-Date

Many project managers create an initial schedule but then don’t do a good job of updating the schedule during the project. There are trouble signs that the schedule is not being updated.

  • The project manager cannot tell exactly what work is remaining to complete the project.
  • The project manager is unsure whether they will complete the project on-time.
  • The project manager does not know what the critical path of activities is.
  • Team members are not sure what they need to work on next (or even what they should be working on now).

It is a problem when the project manager does not really understand the progress made to date and how much work is remaining. When this happens, the project team is not utilized efficiently on the most critical activities.

There are a couple other common scheduling problems.

  • Infrequent updates. Sometimes the project manager updates the schedule at lengthy intervals. For instance, updating the schedule every two months on a six-month project. This is not often enough to keep control of the schedule. The schedule should be updated every week or two.
  • Managing by percent complete. All activities should have a due date. As you monitor the work, keep focused on whether the work will be completed by the due date. It is not very valuable to know that an activity is 70% completed. It is more valuable to know if the due date will be hit.
  • Assigning activities that are too long. If you assign a team member an activity that is due by the end of the week, you know if the work is on-track when the week is over. However, if you assign someone an activity that does not need to be completed for eight weeks, you have a long time to go before you know if the work is really on schedule. Keep the due dates within a reasonable timeframe. 

It is not easy to catch up a schedule once the project is started. Typically, by the time you realize you need to update the schedule, your project is already in trouble. Updating the schedule at that point only shows how much trouble you are in. The much better approach is to keep the project up-to-date, and ensure that it contains all of work necessary to complete the project. 

Project Management Methodology

Five Project Management Mistakes Pt2

Mistake #2: Poor scope management practices

Managing scope is one of the most critical aspects of managing a project. However, if you have not done a good job of defining scope, managing scope will be almost impossible. The purpose of defining scope is to clearly describe and gain agreement on the logical boundaries and deliverables of your project. The business requirements are gathered to provide more detail on the characteristics of the deliverables.

Defining scope means that you have defined the project boundaries and deliverables, and the product requirements. These should all be approved by your sponsor.

The project manager and project team must realize that there is nothing wrong with changing scope – as long as the change is managed. If you cannot accommodate change, the final solution may be less valuable than it should be, or it may, in fact, be unusable.

Every project should have a process in place to manage change effectively. The process should include identifying the change, determining the business value of the change, determining the impact on the project and then taking the resulting information to the project sponsor for their evaluation. The sponsor can determine if the change should be included. If it is included, then the sponsor should also understand the impact on the project, and allocate the additional budget and time needed to include the change.

The most common problems with scope change management are:

  • Not having the baseline scope approved, which makes it difficult to apply scope change management.
  • Not managing small scope changes leaving yourself open to “scope creep”.
  • Not documenting all changes – even small ones.
  • Having the project manager make scope change decisions instead of the sponsor (or designee).

If you find that your project is starting to trend over its budget and schedule, try to find the cause. In many cases you will find that you are simply taking on more work than you originally agreed to. If you do not have a good scope change process in place, it is never too late to start.