Scope Creep

Slalom Consultant Carl Manello

Carl Manello is a Solution Lead for Program & Project Management based in Chicago who enjoys exploring how to tightly couple the art and science of project delivery with business operations.

“Scope Creep is out to get you, and your little dog too…”

It’s true. Scope creep, change requests, gold plating…all are issues that challenge a project’s delivery. Some impact the project from the onset; others impact the project throughout its life.

Scope Management begins with a clear statement of what is and what is not included within the boundaries of an initiative. As one of the nine PMI Knowledge areas, scope management is clearly a key for driving proactive project management.

This area is composed of project initiation, scope planning, definition, verification, and change control. Initiation is where the project begins with the outline of what [one wants] to accomplish and the processes that are required to make any alterations to the scope. (PMP Exam Cram 2, Francis & Horine, 2004, p. 20)

To break free from reactive management, one needs to clearly establish the Read more of this post

Why Projects Succeed: Measuring Commitment Management

Why Projects Succeed is a blog series in which Slalom Business Architect Roger Kastner sheds light on key factors behind the art and science of successful project management and invites readers to discuss how they apply across different environments.

Slalom Consultant Roger Kastner

Roger Kastner is a Business Architect with Slalom Consulting who is passionate about raising the caliber of project leadership within organizations to maximize the value of projects

Recently I wrote about Commitment Management, a process for setting, managing, and delivering on expectations which I believe to be the most important of a Project Manager’s many responsibilities. In that same post I wrote that a lot of organizations measure Project Managers by “on-time and on-budget,” but by focusing on these two metrics the well-intentioned organization may drive the wrong behaviors.

As an alternative, I suggested measuring Project Managers on their mastery of the Commitment Management process in order to identify the individual contribution the Project Manager makes towards the success of the project and to drive the right behaviors instead of unintended ones.

In response, I received a couple of requests for clarification. One reader asked, “OK, besides height, how else would you measure a Project Manager?” while another asked “How do you measure Commitment Management?” Great questions!

Read more of this post

Why Projects Succeed: Commitment Management

Why Projects Succeed is a blog series in which Slalom Business Architect Roger Kastner sheds light on key factors behind the art and science of successful project management and invites readers to discuss how they apply across different environments.

Slalom Consultant Roger Kastner

Roger Kastner is a Business Architect with Slalom Consulting who is passionate about raising the caliber of project leadership within organizations to maximize the value of projects

“You get the behaviors you measure and reward.”
– Jack Welch

I often get asked by clients and colleagues, “What is the most effective way to measure PMs?” Too frequently I respond with a quote borrowed from Chevy Chase in Caddyshack: “By height.”

PMs are often measured by whether their projects are on-time and on-budget. Sure, the PM manages the analysis and extraction process for estimates, the sequencing of tasks, resource planning, etc. But the PM can’t guarantee the quality of the inputs to estimates. I personally never want to be measured by whether a project is “on-time and on-budget” because I don’t actually control either. So, as the PM, what do I control? I control the commitment management process of setting, managing, and delivering on expectations.

Throughout the life of the project, the successful PM will be engaging stakeholders in the commitment management process to proactively maintain alignment of scope, time, and costs commitments.

Read more of this post

Lessons in Stakeholder Management not learned from Bram Stoker’s Dracula

 

Slalom Consultant Carl Manello

“Oft expectation fails, and most oft there where most it promises” William Shakespeare, All ’s Well that Ends Well

For project and program managers a “stakeholder” is not a colorful reference to vampire killers, like Dracula’s arch-nemesis Abraham Van Helsing, wielding their weapon of choice. Project stakeholders are those within or outside an organization who sponsor a project, or who have an interest in a project, or who may have a positive or negative influence on a project.

Who are the Stakeholders?

In order to manage stakeholders effectively and ensure that their needs are being addressed, it is first necessary to identify all the stakeholders. Stakeholders may include executives, coworkers, customers and suppliers.  They are basically anyone who is impacted by or may be impacted by the project.  The key is to find as many stakeholders or stakeholder groups as early as possible in the project.  As large projects may have hundreds of stakeholders, it is often necessary to identify stakeholder groups and those individuals that are in position to speak on behalf of the group.  As individuals or groups are identified, stakeholder needs and requirements can be flushed out.

Slalom Consultant Amit Patel

Slalom Consultant Amit Patel is known for his excellence in creating spend management reports and oatmeal chocolate chip cookies (depending upon who you talk to).

It is important to flush out those requirements early. Finding stakeholders late in the project will add to project costs, create delays and/or missed functionality in the project.  The cost of “fixing” missing requirements after development begins can be 100 times as high as it would have been during the initial requirements gathering stage.  If stakeholders are missed, or identified late in the project, requirements will be missed.  Late requirements identification can lead to added costs, missed milestone dates, and/or missed functionality.  If a more complete set of requirements can be identified early, project planning is more accurate and it will therefore help you to reach a successful conclusion of your project. Read more of this post

Tips for Project Managers Managing Global Teams

 

Slalom Consultant Carl Manello

Carl Manello is a Solution Lead for Program & Project Management based in Chicago who enjoys exploring how to tightly couple the art and science of project delivery with business operations.

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion it has taken place” George Bernard Shaw

Advancements in technology, corporate globalization and an increased reliance on offshore resources can result in today’s project manager leading not only a virtual but a global work team.  While project managers can expect an increase in the amount of juggling required to plan a schedule across multiple time zones, managing a global team also means anticipating an unique set of communication and linguistic challenges as well.

Establishing effective communications is a critical component in managing a team’s success. Below are some common challenges and potential solutions to assist a PM in facilitating effective communications.

It’s Official

English is the official language of many countries and is used to conduct business worldwide.  However,  multi-national teams using English as their backbone may be lulled into a false sense of common understanding when it comes to project concepts and terminology.  This may ultimately lead to mis-communication among team members.

Slalom Consultant Beverly Lieblang

Slalom Consultant Beverly Lieblang has significant experience in managing global teams, project management, finanancial services, and health care.

Tips:

  • Validate what you heard by asking questions or repeating your understanding of the conversation.
  • Ask the team, often, if the verbal communication is clear; be aware that some people who may be at a loss may also be unwilling to admit it.
  • Speak slowly and clearly.  This does not imply demeaning your audience; just slow down.  When speaking in one’s native tongue, it is easy to forget that others may not be as fluent.
  • Avoid using slang, metaphors and colloquialisms.
  • Summarize the key discussion items and distribute to the team in writing.
  • Develop a project glossary to define common terms and acronyms.

The Mother Tongue

Non-native English speaking team members may revert to their native language when discussing complex ideas in a group setting, or when trying to have a conversation that they don’t want anyone else to follow.  This will create a separation among team members as it excludes all participants from the normal “give and take” of discussions. Tips:

  • Redirect team members to hold their discussions in English.
  • Schedule separate meetings with a limited number of participants to discuss complex issues that are country or region-specific.
  • Establish a team blog to allow all team members to have access to discussions regarding project questions and decisions.

“R-E-S-P-E-C-T”

In some cultures (e.g., the Middle East and in Asia) business protocol and the perception of respect reigns supreme.  For example, “Yes” may not mean agreement, but instead may be a polite acknowledgment of the person speaking.  In fact, the person responding with the traditional affirmation may be in total disagreement; however, respect demands that they not disagree.  As the PM, work to break down barriers and build mutual respect within the team. Tips:

  • Post team bios that include details regarding background, country, and languages spoken.  This also allows team members to get to know their peers without being intrusive.
  • Recognize and embrace the different cultures present in your team by asking people to share a bit of information about themselves as a form of an icebreaker early in the project
  • Be aware of and avoid prejudices and stereotypes.
  • Be considerate of religious beliefs. For example, when scheduling meetings, understand time commitments that may supersede project meetings (e.g., daily prayer for Muslim team members, ending work prior to sunset Friday for Orthodox Jews).  Also be sure to consider vegetarian meals when planning working lunches and dinners for multi-cultural teams.
  • Display common consideration towards team members at all times.

Location, Location, Location

Team members are not only dispersed among time zones, but across continents as well.  Therefore, a document due by end-of-day today Chicago time can mean tomorrow in Australia.  By using specific date and time references (global teams often use GMT), unclear messages – like close-of-business or end-of-day – can be avoided. Tips:

  • Meet face-to-face as early and as often as possible to develop trust and team relationships.  Think about a trip abroad.  Leverage video conferencing solutions whenever possible (e.g., Microsoft OCS)
  • Establish a project team site ( e.g., SharePoint) to store work products and templates for easy access for all team members.
  • Know time differences to identify  “normal” work hours among regions.
  • Schedule meetings when most participants can attend
  • Schedule meetings using  a 24 hour time clock and ensure there is clarity on which time zone is being used (be wary of Outlook, as cross-time-zone meetings are sometimes a challenge to schedule).
  • Identify local holidays early in the project planning process.

By anticipating and mitigating communication challenges across cultural and geographical divides, one can capitalize on the rewarding benefits of managing  a global team.

All the world is certainly a stage (yes, yes, that was Shakespeare and not Shaw).  As project managers, our role as global “directors” grows increasingly important.   Ensure that you know the rules, the customs, the norms and are open, honest and clear with all your team members.  Don’t be fooled by the illusion of communication; ensure the messages are understood and you will raise your odds for success.

Authors: Beverly Lieblang and Carl Manello

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