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Saturday, February 24, 2018

Project managers are a very special breed of people. They are in much demand and will be increasingly so as the need for effective technologists continues to soar. Good technology project managers are trained, not born. They develop skills through experience and education. They become better project managers each time they successfully deliver a project. They learn new techniques and apply them on their projects. They learn lessons—sometimes the hard way—to be better managers in the future.

What Does a Project Manager Do?

Briefly, technology project managers fulfill the following broad requirements:
  • Define and review the business case and requirements by regular reviews and controls to ensure that the client receives the system that he or she wants and needs. 
  • Initiate and plan the project by establishing its format, direction, and base lines that allow for any variance measurements and change control.
  • Partner with the end users, work with project sponsors and other management to establish progress and direction of the project by achieving goals, reaching targets, solving problems, mitigating risks.
  • Manage the technology, people, and change in order to achieve goals, reach targets, and deliver the project on time and within budget. 
  • Manage the project staff by creating an environment conducive to the delivery of the new application in the most cost-effective manner.
  • Be able to manage uncertainty, rapid change, ambiguity, surprises, and a less defined environment.
  • Manage the client relationship by using an adequate direct yet complete and formal reporting format that compliments a respected and productive relationship.
  • Drive the project by leading by example, and motivating allconcerned until the project accomplishes its goal.
Now let us examine the skills and qualities needed to meet these requirements.

Necessary Skills 

The skills that a good project manager possesses are many and varied, covering the entire spectrum of the human personality. We can divide these skills into a number of specific categories, namely:

1-Personal Skills

Project Managers must be able to motivate and sustain people. Project team members will look to the project manager to solve problems and help with removing obstacles. Project managers must be able to address and solve problems within the team, as well as those that occur outside the team. There are numerous ways, both subtle and direct, in which project managers can help team members.
Some examples include the following:
  • Manage by example (MBE). Team members will be closely watching all actions of the project manager. Therefore, project managers must be honest, direct, straightforward, and knowledgeable in all dealings with people and with the project. A good manager knows how to work hard and have fun, and this approach becomes contagious. 
  • A positive attitude. Project managers must always have a positive attitude, even when there are substantial difficulties, problems, or project obstacles. Negative attitudes erode confidence, and a downward spiral will follow. 
  • Define expectations. Managers who manage must clearly define what is expected of team members. It is important to do this in writing—get agreement from the individual team members. This leaves no room for problems later, when someone states “It’s not my job.” Performance expectations must be defined at the start of the project. 
  • Be considerate. Project management is a demanding job with a need for multiple skills at many levels. Above all, be considerate and respectful, and give people and team members the time and consideration they deserve. Make people aware that their efforts are appreciated and the work that they do is important, because it is. A letter, personal word, or e-mail of appreciation goes a long way. 
  • Be direct. Project managers are respected if they are direct, open, and deal with all types of problems. Never conceal problems or avoid addressing them. If a problem is bigger than the project manager or the team can deal with, escalate it to senior management. Never make commitments that cannot be delivered. 
  • Finally, a favorite and personal rule of the author: “Underpromise, then over-deliver.”

2-Technical Skills

There are two schools of thought about the level needed for technical skills. Some project managers prefer to have little technical knowledge about the projects they manage, preferring to leave the technical management to other junior managers, such as programming managers or network managers. Others have detailed technical skills of computer languages, software, and networks. 

There is no hard and fast rule. It really depends on the type and size of projects, their structure, resources available, and the project environment. 
Questions that project managers should ask include the following:
  1. What types of technical problems require management? 
  2. Who will solve them? 
  3. Is it done with quality and satisfaction?
  4. Who can I rely on in my project team?
  5. What outside resources, if any, can I draw on for assistance?
As with all employees, project managers should have the technical knowledge and skills needed to do their jobs. If managers lack these skills, training is one option; being mentored or coached by a more experienced individual is another. Senior management should ask the question, Do your project managers need more technical skills than they already possess? 

On larger complex projects, such as systems integration projects or multiple-year projects, there are frequently too many complex technologies for the project manager to master. Technical training that provides breadth may be useful. 

On smaller projects, the project manager may also be a key technical contributor. In this case, technical training may enhance the abilities of project managers to contribute technically, but it is unlikely to improve their management skills. One thing is abundantly clear—the project manager is ultimately responsible for the entire management of the project, technical or otherwise, and will require solutions to the technical issues that will occur.

3-Management Skills

Project managers need other key skills besides those that are purely technical to lead and deliver on their projects successfully. A good project manager needs to understand many facets of the business aspect of running a project, so critical skills touch on expertise in the areas of organization, communication, finance, and human resources. 
The following are examples of the management topics used in training effective project managers:
  • Project planning, initiation, and organization 
  • Recruiting people and keeping them
  • Effective project negotiation
  • Software tools for project management
  • Accurate estimating and cost control
  • Project execution and control
  • Developing powerful project presentations and reports
  • Personal and project leadership
  • Managing risk and making decisions
  • Effective problem management 
  • Performance management 
  • Managing the projects within the organization
  • Project management professional (PMP) exam review
  • Growing and sustaining a high-performance team
  • Managing change within an organization
This last skill cannot be over-emphasized. Although we worry about whether the technology selected is the correct one for the organization and will lead to success, projects do not generally fail because of lack of adequate technology. Statistically, most projects fail because the “soft science” portions of the project have not received enough attention— the human factor has not been adequately addressed. Change, whether for good or for bad, is stressful on an organization and its personnel. The ability to manage this change is one area in which any good project manager would do well to hone skills.

4-Coping Skills

A good project manager has to acquire a number of skills to cope with different situations, conflicts, uncertainty, and doubt. This means:
  • Being flexible
  • Being persistent and firm when necessary
  • Being creative, even when the project does not call for it
  • Absorbing large volumes of data from multiple sources
  • Being patient but able to differentiate between patience and action 
  • Being able to handle large amounts of continuous, often unrelenting stress
Additionally, good project managers have high tolerance for surprises, uncertainty, and ambiguity. Projects rarely progress the way that they are defined, and managers need to manage the uncertainty that comes with that.

Manage One Project—or Many?

There is no simple answer to this question: some managers are able to juggle multiple projects and disparate deadlines successfully, and others are not. In these days of multiple projects that have to be delivered quickly, it is very possible that management will require managing multiple projects. However, this brings a risk. Will project managers be stretched too thin? Again, there is no single, reliable answer. 
Project managers and senior management need to ask themselves 
some basic questions:
  • How much support will be provided?
  • How many people are on the project? Are they part-time or fulltime?
  • What are the management challenges? An adequately budgeted project may require less effort to manage than one that is extremely thin.
  • Are all the projects in the same physical location or will the project manager spend a lot of time traveling? 
  • Do all the projects involve the same technology? The same business cultures? The same set of stakeholders? 
  • How many of the projects have important deadlines that are close together?
The answers to these questions will aid in determining whether multiple projects can share a management resource. The more complex the projects from the standpoints of staffing, budgeting, and technology, the more likely it is that they will need a dedicated resource to manage them adequately.

Project Management Skills Development

One of the surest ways to align strategies and work force competencies with enterprise vision is to create a road map from vision to execution. A skills management process starts in the future and works its way back to the present. An IT skills management process, for example, links the enterprise vision to a technology forecast. The technology forecasts to required skills, the required skills to the IT skills inventory, the skills inventory to the IT staff’s competence levels, and the competence levels to gaps and to the time frame during which those gaps need to be filled. Leadership, team building, marketing, business savvy, project management, manufacturing know-how, functional expertise, and institutional knowledge all are part of the skills picture. 

Skills management serves as an order for managing the work force (see Figure 2–1). It lays out a road map for skills development, work role definition, career tracks, resource management, staffing allocation, workload balancing, and learning. With a road map, all members of the work force can fit their strengths, weaknesses, and alternatives into the enterprise’s plans. Skills management is becoming a lifeline in a turbulent IT labor market. Midsize and large enterprises, businesses in the private and public sectors, aggressive and conservative companies—all are looking at skills management with renewed interest. Many enterprises now recognize that the combined lack of enterprise planning, imagination, and

foresight are as much to blame for today’s labor crunch as is the shortage of relevant IT skills. In that climate, skills management can be a powerful tool for bringing discipline, rationale, and cross-pollination to an underused process. Even more enticing, many IT professionals, under the mantle of career “entrepreneurism,” will throw in their lot with enterprises that have clearly committed to and funded skills management programs. Having a road map with which to guide career development is more meaningful than wandering until serendipity strikes. 

Three years ago, when large organizations first began covering the area of skills management, it was a process reserved for the most progressive enterprises. By methodically and meticulously forecasting, classifying, analyzing, and taking inventory of skills, progressive enterprises could identify the urgency and volume of skills gaps, create focused training programs, and add some rational thinking to their sourcing strategies. Skills management continues to satisfy those needs, even fos-tering a niche market of consultants and software developers that are eager to bring order to IT Human Resource management.

Before moving on, it is beneficial to make sure that everybody is speaking the same language. In the Gartner Group’s definition of perspective, skills management is a robust and systematic approach to forecasting, identifying, cataloguing, evaluating, and analyzing the work force skills, competencies and gaps that enterprises face. Although many programs and initiatives adopt the label skills management, most of them focus on skills inventory and fall short in analysis and forecasting. A well-designed skills management process injects a stronger dose of discipline, coordination, and planning into work force planning, strategic planning, professional training and development programs, resource allocation maneuvering, and risk analysis and assessment.
Enterprises can reap several lessons from skills management. Skills management works if it:
  1. Defines skills for roles 
  2. Forces forward thinking 
  3. Forces some documentation of what makes an IT professional especially proficient 
  4. Strengthens the organization 
  5. Leads to focused training, risk assessment, sourcing strategy, and resource allocation via gap identification 
  6. Attracts high-level endorsement
Skills management does not work if it:
  1. Does not define work roles 
  2. Lacks plans or incentive for refreshment 
  3. Communicates its purpose poorly 
  4. Provides differing language and terminology 
  5. Force-fits skills and work roles to policies, rather than driving new frameworks

Skills Management Case Study:

A North American manufacturing company set a goal to boost revenue by $300 million within three years. Key to the growth was a new way of dealing with information and IT. First, hoarding of information by divisions had to give way to enterprise ownership of information. Second, ubiquitous access to information required a managed and enterprise-wide migration to standards, interoperability, common platforms, and client/server technology. Finally, the vision of ubiquitous access depended on substantially upgrading the IT organization’s skill base, supplementing and supplanting mainframe skills with skills associated with distributed processing and client/ server application development. 

The company embarked on an ambitious initiative designed to cultivate the technical skills and business understanding of the IT professionals. The initiative—notably, company-wide skill identification and continuous training—will help the company to raise its skills level and will give IT employees control of their professional development.
Elements of the IT professional development initiative included:
  1. Identifying eight areas of IT professional skills, technical skills being only one area (a detailed discussion on the eight areas identified follows this list) 
  2. Assigning company values to skills for the near term, short term, and long term 
  3. Evaluating employee competence levels within the eight areas of IT professional skills 
  4. Providing continuous training in critical skills, both technical and non-technical 
  5. Establishing an IT mentor program
  6. Supervisors providing performance planning and coaching 
  7. Establishing team and peer feedback 
  8. Flattening the IT organization from 18 to 5 titles
  9. Mapping skills and performance values to “salary zones” within the flatter organization
With the help of outside experts, IT executives identified more than 125 skills in eight areas of IT professional development. 
The eight areas of focus for IT professional development and a sampling of associated skills include:
  1. Customer focus—employee possesses knowledge of customers’ business needs and expectations; delivers constructive qualitative feedback to customers, meets deadlines, and works with customers to set requirements and schedules 
  2. Technical skills—employee possesses skills related to programming, computer- aided software engineering, desktop client services, enterprise infrastructure applications, technical software, and hardware support 
  3. Product or technology evaluation and expertise—employee analyzes and compares products, makes sound recommendations within the company architecture, understands and recognizes limitations of technologies, can communicate the fundamentals of technology to others, and uses technical team resources to resolve or avoid technology-based problems 
  4.  Business and application expertise—employee possesses knowledge of business-specific applications, knows company’s business and local operations, knows the broad application environments (e.g., order entry and accounting), and understands general concepts of business management 
  5.  Project management—employee handles projects of certain size and complexity, estimates project costs and schedules with a degree of accuracy, executes project to plan, manages multiple projects at once, builds teams and organizes team resources, and knows project management tools 
  6.  Interpersonal skills—employee performs as team member or team leader, contributes knowledge to the team and to the organization, and communicates effectively 
  7.  Administrative skills —employee has understanding of budgeting, interviewing, economics of the business, and salary and review process
  8. Soft skills—employee displays leadership, forward thinking, initiative, drive for education, and commitment to organizational structure and development.
Each skill receives a weighting factor based on its strategic significance to the company during the next 12 months, the next 12 to 24 months, and the next 24 to 60 months. A skill considered critical to the company earns a weight of 6; a skill with no value to the company earns a weight of 0. After the company skills are identified and their weights assigned, employee skills are crosschecked against the company skills and assigned a score based on the employee’s competence level. Employee competence levels range from 6 to 1, that is, from mastery to basic understanding. (A competence score of zero is reserved for skills that are either not applicable or not possessed by the employee.) Employees then compare their competence scores with those they receive from their peers, team leaders, and supervisors. 

To see the scoring mechanism in action, assume that the company assigns COBOL programming skills a weight of 4 for the next 12 months and a weight of 3 for the following 12 to 24 months. At the same time, an IT employee earns a score of 3 for average skills in COBOL programming. Given the framework, the value of those skills to the employee will be 12 during the next 12 months, but the value will decline to 9 during the next 12 to 24 months. 

Continuous training is considered essential to the program’s success. Here, the IT executives are seeking to develop an implicit promise between the company and the employees. The company promises to provide the resources and opportunities for training—time, funding, and identification and valuation of strategic skills— if the employees promise to use the training to bridge gaps in the company skills base and in their own skill levels. Armed with the company skills inventory and personal competence scores, employees who take the appropriate training will see their value to the company rise. Employees who choose to forgo appropriate training will see their value diminish. 

On the plus side, the skills and training program has forced the company to view the IT organization in terms of skills and long-term corporate objectives, not simply in terms of head count. Moreover, employees have responded positively to a program that puts professional development in their hands. On the negative side, skills identification and buy-in from IT managers take so long that the initiative risks losing momentum.

Keys to a Successful Skills Management Endeavor

Three areas must be worked out for a skills management initiative to be successful:

  1. Employees have to adopt the program as their own, rather than as a management dictate, including the employees assuming control of their own professional development
  2. Supervisors have to surrender some control over employee development 
  3. Executives must ensure that employees use metrics as a tool for professional development, not as a weapon in cutthroat competition
As enterprises turn to technology to reach the next level of corporate performance, IT organizations should identify the skills they need to meet the corporate objectives. Through a program of skills identification, IT organizations can see the holes in their coverage, set priorities for projects, define which training is required, and determine which skills may need third-party coverage. A commitment to funding for training is essential.

Rarely has a professional field evolved as rapidly as project management. It is totally different from what it was even 10 years ago. The struggle to stay abreast of new and rapidly evolving technologies, to deal with accumulated development and maintenance backlogs, and to cope with people issues has become a treadmill race as software groups work hard just to stay in place. A key goal of disciplined project managers is to avoid the surprises that can occur when these surprises almost always lead to bad news: canceled projects, late delivery, cost overruns, dissatisfied customers, outsourcing, termination, and unemployment. Indeed, we need to develop management by surprise (MBS) as a project management technique!

As we have discussed in this chapter, project managers are a special breed of people. The skills that they develop are a cross between a diplomat, ballet dancer, and a Marine Corps drill sergeant—all while having the patience of Job. These skills will serve them well for future higher-level positions as Vice Presidents, Chief Information Officers (CIOs), and Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of the corporations for which they work. 

The culture of an organization is a critical success factor in its efforts to survive, improve, and flourish. A culture based on a commitment to project management and delivering quality projects and effective management differentiates a team that practices excellent project management from a flock of individual programmers doing their best to ship code.
5 Ways to be the Best Project Managers
5 Ways to be the Best Project Managers

A project manager is a professional in the field of project management. Project managers have the responsibility of the planning, procurement and execution of a project, in any undertaking that has a defined scope, defined start and a defined finish; regardless of industry.

Here are the 5 things you need to do….
  • Provide plenty of skills & career development
  • "Hardwire” the learning
  • Develop a career path
  • Encourage PMs to earn certifications
  • Foster community support for PMs


 The Purpose of the Planning Process Group in Project Management
Copyright for pic:

The purpose of the planning process group is to elaborate the information from the project charter to create a comprehensive set of plans that will enable the project team to deliver the project objectives.

There are 24 processes in the planning process group:
  • Project Management Plan: describes how the team will execute, monitor, control, and close the project. While it has some unique information, it is primarily comprised of all the subsidiary management plans and the baselines.
  • Plan Scope Management: is part of the project management plan. It specifi es how the project scope will be defi ned, developed, monitored, controlled, and validated
  • Requirement Management Plan: is part of the project management plan. It specifi es how requirements activities will be conducted throughout the project.
  • Define Scope: is the description of the project scope, major deliverables, assumptions, and constraints. It documents the entire scope, and is considered one of the key documents of the project, since it provides a common understanding of the project scope of the project among project stakeholders.
  • Create WBS: The Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) is used to decompose all the work of the project. It begins at the project level and is successively broken down into fi ner levels of detail.
  • Plan Schedule Management: is part of the project management plan. It specifi es how the project schedule will be developed, monitored, and controlled.
  • Define Activities: all the activities necessary to complete the project work. It also describes the activities in suffi cient detail so that the person performing the work understands the requirements necessary to complete it correctly.
  • Sequence Activities:
  • Estimate Activity Resources: 
  • Estimate Activity Durations:
  • Develop Schedule: The Project Schedule combines the information from the Activity List, Network Diagram, Activity Resource Requirements, Activity Duration Estimates, and any other relevant information to determine the start and fi nish dates for project activities. A common way of showing a schedule is via Gantt chart showing the dependencies between activities.
  • Plan Cost Management: is a part of the project management plan. It specifi es how the project costs will be estimated, structured, monitored, and controlled.
  • Estimate Costs: Activity Cost Estimates provide information on the cost of resources necessary to complete project work, including labor, equipment, supplies, services, facilities, and material.
  • Determine Budget: 
  • Plan Quality Management: is a component of the project management plan. It describes how quality requirements for the project will be met.
  • Plan Human Resource Management: is part of the project management plan. It describes how all aspects of human resources should be addressed.
  • Plan Communications Management: is a component of the project management plan. It describes the communication needs of the project including audiences, messages, methods, and other relevant information.
  • Plan Risk Management: is a component of the project management plan. It describes the approach for managing uncertainty, both threats and opportunities, for the project.
  • Identify Risks: 
  • Perform Qualitative Analysis: 
  • Perform Quantitative Analysis:
  • Plan Risk Responses: Describe the planned response strategy to the risk or condition.
  • Plan Procurement Management is a component of the project management plan that describes how a project team will acquire goods and services from outside the performing organization.
  • Plan Stakeholder Management is a component of the project management plan. It describes the strategies that will be used to effectively manage stakeholder participation on the project.
We will Prepare & discuss every process alone in an article
The intent of the planning process group is to at least:
  • Elaborate and clarify the project scope
  • Develop a realistic schedule
  • Develop a realistic budget 
  • Identify project and product quality processes 
  • Plan the human resource aspects of the project 
  • Determine the communication needs 
  • Establish risk management practices 
  • Identify the procurement needs of the project 
  • Determine how to manage stakeholder engagement
  • Combine all the planning information into a project management plan and a set of project documents that are cohesive and integrated
Planning is not a one-time event. It occurs throughout the project. Initial plans will become more detailed as additional information about the project becomes available. Additionally, as changes are approved for the project or product, many of the planning processes will need to be revisited and the documents revised and updated. Many of the forms in this section provide information needed for other forms. The form description indicates from where information is received and to where it goes.

The forms used to document planning information include:
  • Project Management Plan
  • Scope Management Plan 
  • Requirements Management Plan
  • Requirements Documentation 
  • Requirements Traceability Matrix 
  • Project Scope Statement
  • Assumption and Constraint Log 
  • Work Breakdown Structure 
  • Work Breakdown Structure Dictionary 
  • Schedule Management Plan
  • Activity List
  • Activity Attributes 
  • Milestone List
  • Network Diagram
  • Activity Resource Requirements
  • Resource Breakdown Structure 
  • Activity Duration Estimates
  • Duration Estimating Worksheet
  • Project Schedule
  • Cost Management Plan 
  • Activity Cost Estimates
  • Cost Estimating Worksheet
  • Bottom-Up Cost Estimating Worksheet 
  • Cost Baseline • Quality Management Plan
  • Quality Metrics
  • Process Improvement Plan
  • Responsibility Assignment Matrix
  • Roles and Responsibilities 
  • Human Resource Management Plan 
  • Communications Management Plan
  • Risk Management Plan
  • Risk Register
  • Probability and Impact Assessment
  • Probability and Impact Matrix 
  • Risk Data Sheet
  • Procurement Management Plan
  • Source Selection Criteria
  • Change Management Plan
  • Stakeholder Management Plan

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Download Project Management Free Templates
Project Management Free Templates

The project workbook allows project managers, team members, sponsors, and stakeholders to easily track and monitor project activities. Any of these worksheets can easily be broken out into separate documents.

  • Project Quality Metrics
  • Stoplight Report
  • Budget
  • Cost/Benefit Analysis
  • Risk Management Matrix (Risk Register)
  • Issues Log
  • Action Items
  • Deliverable Milestones
  • Work Breakdown Structure
  • Roles and Responsibilities
  • Resource Assignment Matrix
  • Resource Commitment Matrix
  • Assumptions and Constraints
  • Decision Log
  • Communication Plan
  • Stakeholder Analysis
  • Change Control Log
  • Deliverable Acceptance Log
  • Expectations
  • PERT Analysis
  • Timesheet Totals
  • Initial Project Size Estimate
  • Resource Loading

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Engineering Management
Importance of Cost and Value Management in Projects

The key features that define project success are twofold: managing costs to achieve efficiencies, and creating and enhancing value. These two elements enable project stakeholders to understand the activities and resources required to meet project goals, as well as the expenditures necessary to complete the project to the satisfaction of the customer.

Unfortunately, in the field of project management today, significant cost and schedule overruns are the norm, rather than the exception. In fact, recent research that examined the success rates of information technology (IT) projects indicates that the majority of these projects neither met their cost objectives nor delivered the promised value. For example:
  • In a study of 300 large companies, consulting firm Peat Marwick found that 65 percent of hardware and/or software development projects were significantly behind schedule, were over budget, or failed to deliver value in terms of expected performance.
  • In a report on the current state of IT project implementation, the Standish Group predicted that out of a total of 300,000 projects that cost over $350 billion, approximately 43 percent will overshoot their initial cost estimates, while 63 percent will fall behind schedule and perform at only two-thirds of their expected capability.4 In other words, these projects will meet neither their cost nor their value objectives.
Why do these problems persist, despite the fact that tools for cost efficiency and value enhancement are widely used, and their benefits are well understood? One key answer is the lack of an integrated cost and value management framework.

Before we explore this integration of cost and value, a brief discussion of their concepts in relation to projects is worthwhile. Both require well-defined and structured management processes, commonly referred to as cost and value management. 
Project cost management focuses on issues such as cost estimation and budgeting, cash flow management, and cost control. 
On the other hand, the emphasis of value management is on optimizing project value—given cost, time, and resource constraints—while meeting performance requirements such as functionality and quality.

Cost and value management remains a critical but often underrepresented issue for a couple of reasons. 
First, in this article, we define value as the relationship between meeting or exceeding the expectations of project stakeholders, as well as the resources expended to meet or exceed those expectations. This definition clearly implies that project cost and value are inextricably linked, to the point where any attempt to enhance project value without a thorough understanding of its impact on cost and associated trade-offs is meaningless.

Second, project value is a multidimensional concept. Different project stakeholders with different vested interests have different perceptions about what constitutes value to them. For example, the expectations of top management often leave IT project teams scrambling to complete projects as quickly as possible. 
Internal customers, however, may request additional features that will delay completion. Each stakeholder sees value in the finished project; however, the measures they use to determine value can actually conflict. And yet, despite these differences, the one constant in any attempt to enhance project value is its cost ramifications.

The following case example illustrates this point.
Case Study: Boston’s Central Artery/Tunnel Project The Central Artery highway in Boston was first opened in 1959 with considerable fanfare. Hailed as a technical marvel and model of proactive urban planning, the elevated six-lane highway was designed through the middle of the city and was intended to handle a traffic volume of 75,000 vehicles a day. However, by the early 1980s, the highway was overburdened by a daily volume of over 200,000 vehicles. Consequently, the city of Boston experienced some of the worst traffic congestion in the country, with bumper-to-bumper traffic that lasted for over 10 hours every day. The traffic woes of the Central Artery highway were further exasperated by an accident rate that was over four times the national average. Clearly, the Central Artery had not only become inadequate to handle the city of Boston’s growing traffic volume, but had also become one of the most dangerous stretches of highway in the country. 

To alleviate the problem, the City of Boston, under the supervision of the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority and with the help of Federal and State funding, came up with the Central Artery/Tunnel (CA/T) project, more commonly referred to in the Boston area as the ‘‘Big Dig.’’ The two main features of the CA/T project are (1) an eight- to ten-lane underground expressway replacing the old elevated roadway, with a 14-lane, two-bridge crossing of the Charles River; and (2) extension of I-90 by building a tunnel that runs beneath South Boston and the harbor to Logan Airport. The CA/T project that began in the city in the early 1980s has been a work in progress for nearly 20 years. 

From the outset, the CA/T project faced enormous technical and logistic challenges. First, the project involved construction of eight miles of highway with a total of 161 lane miles, with almost half them to be constructed underground. The project at its peak required 5,000 workers, excavation of 16 million cubic yards of soil, and 3.8 million cubic yards of concrete. Second, all of these construction activities had to be performed without disrupting existing traffic patterns, the current highway system, and its traffic flows. 

The project began in 1983 with an original completion date of 1998 and a budget of $2.5 billion. However, neither the original budget nor the completion date has been met, and both have been revised upward frequently. For example, the original budget of $2.5 billion was adjusted to $6.44 billion in 1992, and $14.63 billion in 2003. 

Because of the soaring cost projections and schedule overruns, the CA/T project has been source of considerable controversy. The situation was so bad that in 2000 a Federal audit of the project declared the Big Dig officially bankrupt. One of the audit’s significant conclusions was that the out-of-control costs were due primarily to management’s failure to hold contractors accountable for bids or mistakes. In fact, the public dissatisfaction over the delays and rising costs was so intense that the project manager of CA/T project had to resign. After more than 14 years of construction, the CA/T project was officially declared completed in the spring of 2006, in spite of the fact that some finishing work still remained. All of the tunnels and bridges and their connections and ramps to surface roads were opened to the public.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Project management software has the capacity to help plan, organize, and manage resource tools and develop resource estimates. Depending on the sophistication of the software, it can manage estimation and planning, scheduling, cost control and budget management, resource allocation, collaboration software, communication, decision-making, quality management and documentation or administration systems. 

1-Microsoft Project:

Microsoft Project is a project management software product, developed and sold by Microsoft. It is designed to assist a project manager in developing a plan, assigning resources to tasks, tracking progress, managing the budget, and analyzing workloads.

Microsoft Project was the company's third Microsoft Windows-based application, and within a couple of years of its introduction, it became the dominant PC-based project management software.

It is part of the Microsoft Office family but has never been included in any of the Office suites. It is available currently in two editions, Standard and Professional. Microsoft Project's proprietary file format is .mpp. Microsoft Project and Microsoft Project Server are the cornerstones of the Microsoft Office enterprise project management (EPM) product.

Keep your projects, resources, and teams organized and on track

Schedule efficiently: Familiar automated scheduling tools help reduce inefficiencies and training time. Multiple timelines make it easier to visualize complex schedules.

Make smart decisions: Built-in reports help project stakeholders visualize data to gain insights across projects and make more informed decisions.

Boost collaboration: Seamless integration with collaboration tools like Skype for Business and Yammer encourages teamwork and ultimately produces better project results.

Manage resources with ease: Resource management tools help you build project teams, request needed resources, and create more efficient schedules.

1-Smart setup
  • Fast startupThe Getting Started screen walks you through basic capabilities, like linking tasks and creating a timeline, to help you get up to speed fast.
  • Best-in-class templates: Use one of the many pre-built templates from within Project client and on to get access to best-in-class project plans.
  • Intuitive search: Use the Tell Me search bar—standard across most Office products—to quickly find useful features in Project so you can work more efficiently.
2-Powerful scheduling
  • Familiar charts: Built for professional project managers, Project client offers familiar tools, like Gantt charts, to help you easily create schedules and reduce training time.
  • Smart automation: Reduce inefficiencies with automated features. Auto-populate start and end dates based on dependencies, and use the Task Inspector to identify more efficient task and resource arrangements. 
  • Multiple timelines: Built-in multiple timelines help you visually represent complex schedules and understand all aspects of a project. Easily share timelines using familiar Office tools like PowerPoint. 
  • Intuitive baselines: You can use baselines to help decision makers track and compare actual progress to the original project plan.
3-Optimized task management
  • Visualized relationships: Task path highlighting in Gantt charts helps you understand the relationship among tasks and identify which are most critical to the project’s success. 
  • What-if planning: Set tasks to “inactive” and run what-if scenarios to determine the best-fit assignments without re-creating your entire project plan. 
  • Synchronized task lists: With task list synchronization, team members can update their assignments in SharePoint, and the data will appear in Project client.
4-Resource management
  • Optimized resources: The Resource Engagement Tooltip with requirements for Resource Engagement feature lets project managers formally request specific resources. The Team Planner helps you identify and fix potential resourcing issues that could impact the schedule.

2-Oracle Primavera

Primavera is an enterprise project portfolio management software. It includes project management, product management, collaboration and control capabilities, and integrates with other enterprise software such as Oracle and SAP’s ERP systems. Primavera was launched in 1983 by Primavera Systems Inc., which was acquired by Oracle Corporation in 2008.

Primavera P6 Professional Project Management gives today's project managers and schedulers the one thing they value most: control. Primavera P6 Professional Project Management, the recognized standard for high-performance project management software, is designed to handle large-scale, highly sophisticated and multifaceted projects. It can be used to organize projects up to 100,000 activities, and it provides unlimited resources and an unlimited number of target plans. Massive data requires sophisticated, yet highly flexible organization tools to provide you a multitude of ways to organize, filter and sort activities, projects, and resources.

Oracle Corporation's Primavera Global Business Unit (PGBU) focuses as of 2016 on providing web-based enterprise project-portfolio management software that encompasses resource allocation, cost reduction, supply-chain efficiency, and decision-making ― using real-time data ― for the enterprise market.
  • Primavera P6 Enterprise Project Portfolio Management 
  • Primavera P6 Professional Project Management 
  • Primavera P6 Analytics 
  • Primavera Portfolio Management 
  • Primavera Contract Management 
  • Primavera Risk analysis 
  • Primavera Inspire for SAP 
  • Primavera Earned Value Management 
  • Primavera Contractor 
  • Primavera Unifier

A Risk Register also referred to as a Risk Log, is a master document which is created during the early stages of your project. It is a tool that plays an important part in your Risk Management Plan, helping you to track issues and address problems as they arise.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

The required level of accuracy coupled with the amount of information about the project that is available will dictate the type of estimate that can be prepared. The different estimating methods are discussed below.

1-Detailed Estimate:
The detailed estimate includes determination of the quantities and costs of everything that is required to complete the project. 
This includes 
  • Materials
  • Labor 
  • Equipment
  • Insurance
  • Bonds
  • Overhead 
As well as an estimate of the profit
To perform this type of estimate, the contractor must have a complete set of contract documents. Each item of the project should be broken down into its parts and estimated. Each piece of work that is to be performed by the contractor has a distinct labor requirement that must be estimated. The items that are to be installed by others need to be defined and priced. 

Caution needs to be exercised to ensure that there is an agreement between the contractor and the specialty contractor as to what they are to do and whether they are to install or supply and install the items. In addition, there needs to be an agreement about who is providing support items such as cranes and scaffolding.

The contractor is responsible for making sure that the scope of work is divided among the contractor and subcontractors so that there are no overlaps in the individual scope of works and that everything has been included in someone’s scope of work. 

The detailed estimate must establish the estimated quantities and costs of the materials, the time required for and costs of labor, the equipment required and its cost, the items required for overhead and the cost of each item, and the percentage of profit desired, considering the investment, the time to complete, and the complexity of the project.

2-Assembly Estimating:
In assembly estimating, rather than bidding each of the individual components of the project, the estimator bids the components in groups known as assemblies. The installation of the components of an assembly may be limited to a single trade or may be installed by many different trades.

 An example of a simple assembly would be a residential light switch, which includes a single-gang box, a single-pole switch, cover plate, two wire nuts, and an allowance of 20 feet of NM-B 12 gage wire. The entire assembly would be installed by an electrician. A residential electrical estimate could be prepared using assemblies for the switches, outlets, lights, power panels, and so forth rather than determining the individual components. 

An example of a complex assembly would be a metal-stud, gypsum-board partition wall, which would include bottom track, metal studs, top track, drywall, screws, tape, joint compound, insulation, primer, paint, and other miscellaneous items needed to construct the wall. This assembly would be installed by multiple trades.

Many high-end estimating computer programs, such as WinEst and Timberline, allow the user to prepare detailed estimates by taking off assemblies. For the switch assembly, the estimator would take off the number of switch assemblies needed for the project, and the software would add one single-gang box, one single-pole, one cover plate, two wire nuts, and 20 feet of NM-B 12-gage wire to the detailed estimate for each switch assembly. This simplifies the estimating process and increases the productivity of the estimator.

Assembly estimating is also useful for conceptual and preliminary estimates. By using broad assemblies, an estimate can be prepared quickly for an entire building. 

For example, an estimate for a warehouse can be prepared by using assembles for the spot footings, the continuous footings, the foundation wall, the floor slab (slab, reinforcement, granular base, vapor barrier, and fine grading), the exterior wall, personnel doors, overhead doors, joist and deck roof structure (including supports), roof insulation, roofing, wall cap, skylights, bathrooms, fire sprinklers, heating, lighting, and power distribution. 

This type of estimate can be prepared in hours instead of spending days preparing a detail estimate. The trade-off is that this type of estimate has many broad assumptions and is less accurate. This type of assembly estimating is good for estimates prepared with limited drawings, to compare design approaches, and as a check of a detailed estimate that seems way off. If the assembly price comes from previously completed projects, it is assumed that this project is identical to the completed projects. That assumption is clearly not valid in the construction of buildings. 

Weather conditions, building materials, and systems as well as design and construction team members change from project to project, all adding to the uniqueness of every project. Skill and judgment must be used while preparing this type of assembly estimate to ensure that proper adjustments are made by taking into account the varying conditions of each project. Companies such as R.S. Means publish annual guides (such as Square Foot Costs) that contain pricing for assemblies.

3-Square-Foot Estimates:
Square-foot estimates are prepared by multiplying the square footage of a building by a cost per square foot and then adjusting the price to compensate for differences in the building heights, length of the building perimeter, and other building components. In some cases, a unit other than square footage is used to measure the size of the building. 

For example, the size of a parking garage may be measured by the number of parking stalls in the garage. The information required to produce a square-foot estimate is much less than is needed to prepare a detailed estimate. For example, a preliminary set of design drawings (a single-line floor plan and key elevations) would have the dimensions that are necessary to prepare a square-foot estimate. Square-foot estimates are helpful to check whether the project, as designed, is within the owner’s budget. 

Like an assembly estimate that uses broad assemblies, care must be exercised while preparing a square-foot estimate to ensure that the projects used to determine the cost per square foot are similar to the proposed project. Companies such as R.S.Means publish annual guides (such as Square Foot Costs) that contain a range of unit costs for a wide variety of building types. These guides provide a number of adjustments to compensate for varying building components, including the city where the project is located.

4-Parametric Estimates:
Parametric estimates use equations that express the statistical relationship between building parameters and the cost of the building. 

The building parameters used in the equation may include the gross square footage, number of floors, length of perimeter, percentage of the building that is common space, and so forth. For an equation to be usable, the parameters used in the equation must be parameters that can be determined early in the design process; otherwise the equation is useless. 

Parametric estimates are similar to square-foot estimates; however, the equations used in parametric estimates are more complex and may use log functions, ratios of parameters, and multiplication of parameters. Parametric estimating is useful for preparing conceptual estimates based on assumptions of key building parameters or estimates based upon early designs. As with square-foot estimates and assembly estimates that use broad assemblies, care must be taken to ensure that the proposed project is similar to the projects from which the equation has been derived.

5-Model Estimating:
Model estimating uses computer models to prepare an estimate based on a number of questions answered by the estimator. Model estimating is similar to assembly estimating, but it requires less input from the estimator. For example, an estimate may be prepared for a warehouse by answering the following questions:
  • What is the length of the building? 
  • How many bays are along the length of the building? 
  • What is the width of the building? 
  • How many bays are along the width of the building? 
  • What is the wall height above the grade? 
  • What is the depth (from the grade) to the top of the footing? 
  • What is the floor thickness?
  • Do you want wire mesh in the slab?
  • How many roof hatches do you want?
  • How many personnel doors do you want? 
  • How many and what size of overhead doors do you want? 
  • How many and what size of skylights do you want? 
  • Do you want fire sprinklers? 
  • What bathroom facilities do you want?
On the basis of the answers to these questions, the model prepares a preliminary estimate for the project. Logic is built into the model, such that the model selects the necessary components for the estimate based upon the answers to the questions. 

For example, the size of the spot footings in the center of the building that support the roof and their costs are selected based on the area of the roof the footings support, which is equal to the width of a bay multiplied by the length of a bay. The length and width of the bays are calculated from the first four questions. A simple model estimate (Warehouse.xls) for a warehouse is provided on the companion disk.

 This model makes many assumptions as to the design of the warehouse, such as assuming the exterior wall is constructed of concrete masonry units (CMU). The model ignores the site and excavation cost, which needs to be added to the estimate from the model to get a complete estimate.

Estimating models may be complex and may prepare a detailed estimate for the entire project, or the models may be simple and prepare a preliminary estimate for part of a project. As with square-foot estimates, assembly estimates that use broad assemblies, and parametric estimates, care must be taken to make sure that the proposed project is similar to the projects from which the model was developed.

6-Project Comparison Estimates:
Project comparison estimates are prepared by comparing the cost of a proposed project to a completed project. When preparing an estimate using this method, the estimator starts with the costs of a comparable project and then makes adjustments for differences in the project. For example, an estimate for the buildings in an apartment project may be prepared from a project built using the same plans during the previous year in a nearby city. 

In this example, the prices from the completed project need to be adjusted for inflation, changes in the availability and cost of labor, changes in the plans made to meet city codes, and so forth. In most cases, the site should be estimated using another method because of the many differences in site conditions. As with other estimating methods that do not prepare a detailed list of materials, care must be taken to ensure that the proposed project is similar to the completed project.

  • Why care about project management?Traditional vs. Agile
  • What is Agile?
  • What is Scrum?
  • Agile case study: NCSU
  • Making choices
  • Resources
What is Agile?
Agile development is a method of building software by empowering and trusting people, acknowledging change as a norm, and promoting constant feedback.

The interview questions below can be used for positions: project manager, project assistant, project coordinator, project specialist, project supervisor, project controller, project consultant, project executive…

Other materials for project management interview:

  • behavioral interview
  • situational interview
  • types of interview questions
  • interview thank you letters

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Learn to use Microsoft Project and ensure your next project is successful. Get 4 courses, 37 hours, and over 200 videos.

What will you learn?

  • How to effectively use MS Project 2013 & 2016 to manage a complex project. 
  • Consolidating multiple projects. 
  • Learn to effectively split projects into sub-projects. 
  • How to track costs. Effective use of budgets. 
  • Manage cost rate changes. 
  • Import and exporting of project data. 
  • Includes exercise files. 
  • Learn valuable new skills for complex projects at work 
  • Discover how to work with costs, deadlines, and overcome scheduling issues 
  • Learn critical paths 
  • Setting up tasks and tracing their paths 
  • Discover how to use subtasks, dependencies, deadlines, and resources 
  • How to format a Gantt chart 
  • Resource allocation Interim plans and baselines 
  • Safeguards and restrictions 
  • Learn how to use Project 2016 on a touch device 
  • How to measure a project against a baseline project 
  • How to save your project as a template for future projects 
  • Utilize calendars and timelines in MS Project 2016 
  • Assign resources to a task 
  • Discover how to manage cost rate changes 
  • Use of outline codes and WBS codes 
  • How to use macros the speed up use and work more efficiently

This course is for MBA Candidates who are preparing for MBA Accounting and Finance for Managers (Paper MS 04 IGNOU) Paper – MBA Course - conducted by IGNOU.

What Will I Learn?

  • Understand Block 1 Accounting Framework 
  • Understand Block 2 
  • Understanding Financial Statements 
  • Understand Block 3 Cost Management 
  • Understand Block 4 Financial and Investment Analysis 
  • Understand Block 5 Financial Decisions

Teaching and Learning Style:

This course is structured in self-paced learning style. It is suggested to take screenshots of case studies for reference back during problem solving. Approaching the course with notebook and pen or MS Excel and solving problems parallelly along with instructor will make you feel like attending real class and improve your listening and learning experience.
In this article introduces the idea of the operations function in different types of organization. It identifies the common set of objectives to which operations managers aspire in order to serve their customers, and it explains how operations can have an important strategic role.

Key questions:

  • What is operations management?
  • Why is operations management important in all types of organization?
  • What is the input–transformation– output process? 
  • What is the process hierarchy? 
  • How do operations processes have different characteristics? 
  • What are the activities of operations management?

What is operations management?

Operations management is the activity of managing the resources which produce and deliver products and services.

The operations function is the part of the organization that is responsible for this activity. Every organization has an operations function because every organization produces some type of products and/or services. However, not all types of organization will necessarily call the operations function by this name. (Note that we also use the shorter terms ‘the operation’ and ‘operations’ interchangeably with the ‘operations function’).

Operations managers are the people who have particular responsibility for managing some, or all, of the resources which compose the operations function. Again, in some organizations the operations manager could be called by some other name. For example, he or she might be called the ‘fleet manager’ in a distribution company, the ‘administrative manager’ in a hospital, or the ‘store manager’ in a supermarket.

Operations in the organization: The operations function is central to the organization because it produces the goods and services which are its reason for existing, but it is not the only function. It is, however, one of the three core functions of any organization. These are:

  • the marketing (including sales) function – which is responsible for communicating the organization’s products and services to its markets in order to generate customer requests for service
  • the product/service development function – which is responsible for creating new and modified products and services in order to generate future customer requests for service
  • the operations function – which is responsible for fulfilling customer requests for service through the production and delivery of products and services.
In addition, there are the support functions which enable the core functions to operate effectively. These include, for example:
  • the accounting and finance function – which provides the information to help economic decision-making and manages the financial resources of the organization
  • the human resources function – which recruits and develops the organization’s staff as well as looking after their welfare.
Remember that different organizations will call their various functions by different names and will have a different set of support functions. Almost all organizations, however, will have the three core functions, because all organizations have a fundamental need to sell their services, satisfy their customers and create the means to satisfy customers in the future.

 **Table 1.1 shows the activities of the three core functions for a sample of organizations.

**Figure 1.1 The relationship between the operations function and other core and support functions of the organization.

The relationship between the operations function and other core and support functions of the organization

Next article will publish it tomorrow about 
Why is operations management important in all types of organization?
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