Managing Small Projects

PM Commentary by Stacy Goff, ProjectExperts CEO.
Happy 09/09/09!
This blog posting was prompted by an article provided to IPMA-USA by Curt Finch, What Mismanaging Small Projects Will Cost You. My “to do” list has had this topic on it for quite some time, so I am glad Curt brought it up. Curt is CEO of Journyx, and his article is great; see it here.

What Is a Small Project?
I have asked this question for over 24 years in kicking off one of my workshops, Small Project Management (also named Managing Small Projects). The first time I asked the question in a class was at an Aerospace/Defense company, and a grizzled old Engineer said, Sonny, a Small Project is anything less than a Billion Dollars”.

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Understanding Change: A Good First Step

PM Commentary by Stacy Goff, ProjectExperts CEO.
If we are to be successful as Change Agents, we need to understand Change. That understanding ranges from the dynamics of Change, to the disciplines involved, even to the terminology around Change. This posting deals with some of the terminology around Program or Project Change.

For example, many years ago, when I wrote my first IT PM methodology, I called the processes around requesting, evaluating, approving and implementing needed project changes Change Management. In that era (pre-1985), it was more popular to call those actions Change Control.

My rationale was that we cannot control Change; in fact, we are foolish to attempt to do so. But we could manage the process, and manage the impact of the change on the product. Thus, Change Management. There was one obvious concern: If PM was the discipline of Managing Change (as I espoused from the early 80s), then Change Management in Managing Change was a bit too recursive.

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Report: 3rd Annual UT Dallas PM Symposium

PM Commentary, by Stacy Goff, ProjectExperts CEO.
IPMA-USA and IPMA were well-represented at the 3rd Annual University of Texas at Dallas PM Symposium August 13-14. With the theme Managing in a Changing World, and sponsored by the UT Dallas, the Dallas Chapter of PMI®, and by PM World Journal, this was the most interesting US conference we have participated in this year. We presented twice, and IPMA Secretary General Veikko Välilä also presented twice. One of our presentations was in a PM Career Management track, and the other was with Veikko in a Panel discussion about The Future of PM.

In the PM Career Management track, our paper, Essential Insights in Meeting the Rising Demand for PM Performance, was embraced by the audience. They resonated with the theme of moving beyond PM knowledge, to actions needed to increase skills, improve behavioral attributes, increase PM competence and ultimately, PM Performance. A now-familiar theme to most of our IPMA-USA members and friends, this was new perspective for some in this audience, and as a credit to their experience, they were excited by the prospects.

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When Does A Project Begin?

PM Commentary, by Stacy Goff, ProjectExperts CEO.
One of the greatest challenges in managing a project is managing its duration. And yet, inconsistent standards about when a project actually begins makes everything from duration metrics to Customer expectations inconsistent.

Let’s look at a hypothetical example. The dates are arbitrary, just to show the progression of steps, and are related to the diagram you see below. Whenever we share this insight, it never fails to stir discussion.

January 2, Inspiration: Your best internal Customer, a Functional Manager, riding or driving to work (there is lots of time to daydream in the morning journey), gets an inspiration for a project that would significantly improve operations. Once in the office, events of the day cause the idea to be shoved aside.

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Understanding the Competence Difference

PM Commentary, by Stacy Goff, ProjectExperts CEO.
Some people don’t know what we mean when we say at IPMA-USA, “Discover the Competence Difference.” And yet, would you want incompetent performance in your organization, your government, or even in your yard service (for those who can still afford it)?

So while most people clearly understand incompetence, too many still fail to understand the competence difference when it comes to Project Management. From one of our presentations, and repeated in a June article, Closing the Gap, the Competence Difference is clear from the following scenarios:

  • Would you fly as a passenger in a plane piloted by two “Air Academy” graduates who passed their final exam, but have never taken off or landed a plane (not even in a simulator)?
  • Would you consider “going under the knife” for brain surgery by a Surgeon who has attended all the classes, read all the books, passed the exams, but has never wielded a scalpel?
  • Would you allow a Lawyer to represent you in a criminal case, who, while having passed the bar exam, has never practiced before a jury?

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The Elephant in the Room

PM Commentary, by Stacy Goff, ProjectExperts CEO.
In the World of Project Management, any discussion about PM Societies must consider what we call  The Other Organization (the elephant in the room). Many IPMA-USA members are also members of the other organization. In fact, a handful of our members can take credit for helping make it the success it is today.

If it is a great, successful organization, why does the USA need IPMA-USA? We are often asked that when we staff booths at major Conferences. There are several answers. First, any discipline that is dominated by just one strong provider is a discipline that is in decline. Part of the reason we started IPMA-USA was to increase the rate of advancements in Program and Project Management that slowed during the 1990’s.

Second, we saw the need for Advanced PM certifications, that actually assess and certify Project and Program Performance. This initiative has taken our volunteers three years to deliver. The good news, by the end of 2009, the entire suite of Advanced, Performance-Competence-based certifications of Project Manager, Senior Project Manager and Program Manager will be available. There are more reasons why the USA needed IPMA-USA. But they will be the subject for some later posting.

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Blog: We Build Change Agents

PM Commentary by Stacy Goff, ProjectExperts CEO.
stacyProject Managers are the Change Agents who build tomorrow. Why do we say this? Because we can, and we do! In addition to my consulting firm, I work with our industry’s professional organizations to create beneficial change–both for their members, and for society. Thus the wide-ranging set of topics in this blog.

Key to beneficial change are two professional organizations, IPMA-USA and IPMA. IPMA-USA is the USA’s member association of IPMA. International Project Management Association, the world’s first professional association for project managers, is a federation of national associations.

IPMA-USA members range from young Project Managers to the experienced thought leaders of PM practice, we cover the gamut in experience. Our thrust is to improve the Performance Competence, and therefore the results, of Program and Project Managers, our initiatives, our stakeholders, and our organizations.

The IPMA-USA Certification Program, based on IPMA’s 4-L-C, Four-Level Certification program, is the envy of those who desire PM Certifications that use advanced assessments to verify Competence as the centerpiece of your PM Practice.

Learn more about IPMA-USA at the organization’s website. And learn more about IPMA at its website. Meanwhile, if you have comments about our blog posts, I’d love to hear them! Please use our Contact Us page.