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The term professional
is distinguished from the work amateur in the dictionary as follows:
relating to a job that requires special education, training, or skill
person who does something (such as a sport or hobby) for pleasure and not as a
took the Project Management Professional (PMP) preparation course at UNF
Division of Continuing Education. At the end of the four days of intensive
training, I finally understood why it
is a professional certification. It is
training to educate on a specific skill set that I firmly believe is crucial
for any individual who wishes to advance his or her career in any industry.
As an IT management consultant,
I have been managing projects for years and have had good results. But this training
takes it to another level of proficiency and confidence. This is part because to
pass the PMP exam, you have to plan your study like a project!
As a geek, I love this material
and how the PMBOK (Project Management Body of Knowledge) is built. I realized,
though, I have been treating it like a hobby. After 30 days of trying, to study
and prepare for the exam I realized that I did not have a plan to achieve my
goal. The road to – uh, failure – is paved with good intentions. But, the road
to success starts with a plan!
On my next blog post I will
report the progress on my PMP Exam study plan, what is working and what is not.
- Tony Timbol
by Elizabeth Copley As our first year as PM Central comes to a close, the team and I wish you a joyous and heartfelt holiday season! We are so grateful to those of who visited us during our information sessions, attended our classes, stayed in touch with us and invited us to visit and train in your companies. The relationships we’ve developed with both aspiring and experienced project managers alike have touched our lives in so many ways. We may be the instructors and UNF CE leaders of PM Central, but we also learn so much from you making us better people. It is a privilege to serve our project management community and help you move forward in reaching your career goals. Our first year was a banner year and 2014 is shaping up to be very exciting! We’re in the process of scheduling our course lineup for the entire year. We’ll offer our PMP certification exam prep class the end of March, June, September and December. At this time we’ll maintain the four-day, two Friday-Saturday all day sessions – this format has been a huge hit! We’ll have our PM Basics, Agile Methodology, MS Project courses available as well as the interpersonal skill / management toolkit for project managers courses available. We’re also planning to develop a Project Financial Management course to be added to the Summer/Fall sessions. I’ve had several requests for this from PMP prep students in 2013. With the advent of budget-trimming over the last several years, companies are managing their finances closer than ever. Tony Timbol will be spearheading this development and delivery. I know will be the first to sign up! MORE GREAT NEWS in 2014: We’re welcoming our newest instructor, Alice Wilkin. Alice will be teaching courses in business analysis, risk management and Project Management for process improvement projects. Tim Giles, Director of UNF Division of Continuing Education, is adding this lineup to the 2014 calendar. Look for Alice’s bio to be added to our instructor page soon! On behalf of Barb, Tony and myself, a big thank you to the UNF CE team - Tim Giles, Lori Frederick, Jessica Scott, Leshell Hartney and the amazing support staff for your guidance, service and commitment during our inaugural year. We look forward to our continued relationship with you and growing PM Central in 2014 and beyond. Thank you again for making PM Central your one-stop shop for project management training. And for all you PMPs in need of PDUs – yours truly included as its time for me to renew my certification – remember we have a great curriculum for you. Have a wonderful holiday season! See you in 2014!
by Elizabeth Copley
As our first year as PM Central comes to a close, the team
and I wish you a joyous and heartfelt holiday season!
We are so grateful to those of who visited us during our
information sessions, attended our classes, stayed in touch with us and invited
us to visit and train in your companies.
The relationships we’ve developed with both aspiring and experienced
project managers alike have touched our lives in so many ways. We may be the instructors and UNF CE leaders
of PM Central, but we also learn so much from you making us better
people. It is a privilege to serve our
project management community and help you move forward in reaching your career
Our first year was a banner year and 2014 is shaping up to
be very exciting! We’re in the process
of scheduling our course lineup for the entire year. We’ll offer our PMP certification exam prep
class the end of March, June, September and December. At this time we’ll maintain the four-day,
two Friday-Saturday all day sessions – this format has been a huge hit! We’ll have our PM Basics, Agile Methodology,
MS Project courses available as well as the interpersonal skill / management toolkit
for project managers courses available.
We’re also planning to develop a Project Financial
Management course to be added to the Summer/Fall sessions. I’ve had several requests for this from PMP
prep students in 2013. With the advent
of budget-trimming over the last several years, companies are managing their finances
closer than ever. Tony Timbol will be
spearheading this development and delivery. I know will be the first to sign
MORE GREAT NEWS in 2014: We’re welcoming our newest instructor,
Alice Wilkin. Alice will be teaching
courses in business analysis, risk management and Project Management for process
improvement projects. Tim Giles,
Director of UNF Division of Continuing Education, is adding this lineup to the 2014
calendar. Look for Alice’s bio to be added
to our instructor page soon!
On behalf of Barb, Tony and myself, a big thank you to the
UNF CE team - Tim Giles, Lori Frederick, Jessica Scott, Leshell Hartney and
the amazing support staff for your guidance, service and commitment during our
inaugural year. We look forward to our
continued relationship with you and growing PM Central in 2014 and beyond.
Thank you again for making PM Central your one-stop shop for
project management training. And for all
you PMPs in need of PDUs – yours truly included as its time for me to renew my certification
– remember we have a great curriculum for you.
Have a wonderful holiday season! See you in 2014!
By Elizabeth Copley
A while ago, someone looking to make a career change asked me, "What makes project management sexy? Why would I choose this as a second career?" I had to stop and think. I never really considered project management as being "sexy." I just knew I had enjoyed it because of the versatility and constant change that comes with the territory.
Then, I began teaching PMP exam prep classes and it hit me. Project management is sexy because we project managers get to "do it all." By that, I mean we get to manage to both the art and the science of project management. This is not something new to me - I have been applying both since learning this from friends who also teach project management. But I had never thought of it as sexy.
In the science of Project Management, we create our deliverables: the charter, statement of work, communications management plan, scope management plan, the schedule, the budget, the risk plan, etc. We use enabling software like Microsoft Project, or Primavera coupled with Excel, Word - sometimes even Microsoft Access - to collect, manage, massage and report project data. We analyze it and determine what is triggering cost or schedule variances, or defects. We generate status reports to reflect what the metrics tell us insofar as project progress, hold status meetings, gather issues, risks, action items, follow up and escalate on what is still unresolved.
We ask questions: Who needs what? What are our resource contingencies if a key team member has to be out indefinitely? Why has the critical path changed? What is the root cause of the slippage? Where can we crash or fast track the schedule? We get answers and report to our sponsors and steering committees. We monitor everything and proactively seek ways to minimize disruption and maximize success. The list goes on and on - these are the proverbial tip of the iceberg.
Through the art of project management, we understand the strategic importance of the project's result to the organization's business objectives. We track and discuss these strategic objectives with our sponsors, determine how changes impact our project and whether or not we need to course correct. We exercise effective decision-making with limited information. We understand how to navigate company politics, successfully negotiate for resources, additional time or money.
We manage projects in a global environment today. Technology has enabled us to successfully facilitate meetings, communicate immediately via email, instant message and video conference across time zones and continents. We are sensitive and aware of those time zone differences. (Read: It is not a good idea to call your client in Japan at 2 p.m. EST, because it is 4 a.m. in Tokyo!) We understand differences in cultures and how easy it is to have more-than-usual misunderstandings. We adjust our communication plans accordingly.
We deal with human beings on our projects. Our communication skills are put to the test every day. Between 70 and 90-percent of Project Management is communication management. Regardless of how good we are tactically, we must have the soft skills essential for successful project delivery.
Now that IS sexy.
Remember playing with LEGOS, the little colorful blocks you could snap together to create cars, buildings, bridges, robots, etc.? Children’s creative talents are quickly expressed as they explore and manipulate their make-believe worlds.
For many project managers using the Agile methodology is like playing in an imaginary world they do not understand or comprehend. This is understandable. Agile methods turn the command-and-control-centric world of traditional project management on its head. The methods and techniques stress collaboration and real-time adaptability.
Using LEGOS, as we did in our recent Agile for Project Managers class helped these Jacksonville area professionals make the shift. That’s right: we had playtime on a university campus, in a project management class!
In an exercise called SCRUM CITY, a team of four professionals executed three 12-minute Sprints (mini-development cycles following Agile methods). As the instructor, I had a timer and threw them curves, such as an employee calling in a sick day. They took a disparate list of “build me a city” requirements such as buildings, bridges, residences, businesses, roads, and, over time constructed, SCRUM City.
During the retrospective after the session, the Agile term for reviewing both outcome and process, they shared lessons learned. This method of “play” reinforced specific principles and techniques of Agile with hands-on interactivity. As you can see in the photo below, it was a lot of fun, too!
One lesson I learned: Next time I’ll have Jefferson Airplane’s “We Built This City” playing in background.
Until next time,
by Barbara Pratt
In projects, every communication needs to move the project forward. But with the overwhelmingly high volume of voice and e-mails we get each day, it's all too easy to miss giving the key information that can speed things along. When key information is missed, the recipient needs to call or e-mail back to get that information. This can add several hours, or days, of wait time before any real progress is made.
Here are some suggestions to help save time and keep things moving:
When you leave voice or e-mail messages that require a response from another person, always take an extra step and outline a next step for the recipient.
I want Bob to meet with me regarding lending his employee, Mary, to my team. I leave a brief five-part message for Bob, outlining the next action steps required to begin moving this item along.
1. Identify the topic: I am calling (writing) because my project needs someone from your area skilled at [list skills here]."
2. State the next step I've identified: "I need to meet with you for no more than 20 minutes to discuss this."
3. Give a specific due date: "It is important to do this by Wednesday."
4. Give options to make Bob's response easy: "I'm available Monday and Tuesday afternoons, anytime between 1:00 and 5:00 p.m. EST."
5. Close with the specific next step action item: "Please contact me by noon tomorrow to let me know what time Monday or Tuesday afternoon will work best for you, or, give me a couple of alternative times."
Avoid the following two common voicemail or e-mail mistakes. They almost always create extra communication steps, which create delays, which you can't afford:
• "Call me - we need to talk." Since this message provides no due date, it conveys no sense of relative urgency. Also, it does not provide a first step. If you leave a message like this one, you've passed the buck without adding value to help prod things into motion. (e.g. "I'm available Thursday anytime from 9 to 11:30 a.m. and again after 3:00 p.m. PST".)
• "I'd like to talk with you. When is a good time for me to call you?" This provides no context, passes the buck without adding value, nor does it imbed urgency.
If you take the time to address the five steps listed above in your project communications, you will demonstrate leadership and instill a sense of commitment and urgency. Your example will increase momentum within your project and that momentum will result in timely completion of work.
by Elizabeth Copley
In the fifth edition of the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK), released in January of this year, PMI added a tenth body of knowledge, Project Stakeholder Management.
The governing institution felt projects having so much riding on their stakeholders and managing their expectations warrant their own set of processes. In previous editions of the PMBOK, stakeholders are discussed in varying degrees of relevance and project importance, especially in terms of their influence. Now, there are processes and guidelines to incorporate in the other project management processes during the project life cycle.
Managing stakeholder, particularly customer stakeholder, expectations are often neglected and as I have experienced - ever so painfully - comes back to bite you. I discovered through teaching the PMP prep and fundamentals classes that many project managers do not even know who all the stakeholders are on their projects. A simple stakeholder analysis can facilitate inclusion of key influencers for a project, maximizing success, while minimizing risk of embarrassment or other such painful experiences.
Having clear, documented understanding of what both you and your stakeholders expect not only gives you credibility from the start, it gives you a means of holding them accountable for what they have agreed to. Having the processes called out in the PMBOK gives you perspective and guidelines on ensuring you build these expectations into your communications plan, performance reports and day-to-day management of the project.
by Tony Timbol
Agile, as the next way of doing software development, is becoming more and more mainstream for a variety of reasons. However, some myths have arisen regarding discipline and management around Agile methods. One of those myths is that you don't need a project manager anymore.
Agile techniques and methods of organizing and planning work require a level of discipline from all team members. A self-organizing team is not the same as a self-managing team. Self-managing teams don't really exist; they are a fantasy by software anarchists who think you don't need someone in charge to make decisions. The functions of project management (or a project manager) are still needed but are instead shared in the Agile model as follows:
Rather than centralizing the responsibilities into one individual Agile allows the entire team to share in the management of the work. So, the team becomes the project manager.
I've been posting a lot on LinkedIn about the upcoming changes to the PMP test and wanted to take this month's blog opportunity to elaborate and clarify on the current test, the prep classes, studying for and taking the exam.
The current exam is on the fourth edition of the PMBOK (PMI's Project Management Body of Knowledge) that supports five process groups along with the nine bodies of knowledge: Integration, Scope, Time, Cost, Human Resources, Quality, Communications, Risk and Procurement. A tenth body of knowledge has been added to the fifth edition released in January of this year for Project Stakeholder Management. I've been delaying even purchasing the fifth edition since the current exam is based on the fourth edition - not worth risking my prep class participants with information they do not need to know yet. This new body of knowledge coupled with a lot of new information on project management will add another level of complexity to the already difficult exam. I will make that purchase soon, however; I have a prep class scheduled for early August.
The point to all of this is if you are interested in obtaining your PMP certification, consider taking the exam as soon as possible. At 11:59 p.m. on July 30, all fourth edition exams will be destroyed. That is, if you wait until the last minute to take the exam and end up having to retake it, you will be tested on the fifth edition starting July 31 and you will have to prepare for the new information. I called PMI last week on behalf of my latest prep class to see if they could be "grandfathered" in and the response was no; if the exam is a retake after July 30, it is on the fifth edition.
Another thing to consider is taking an exam preparation class as soon as possible. We are offering two more exam prep classes - a two-Friday/Saturday format (May 31, June1, June 7, June 8) and a four-day bootcamp format June 10-13. This will give you ample time to study, take the exam (I always encourage my participants to take the exam within 30 days) and time for a retake just in case you did not pass the first time prior to July 30. Since one of the requirements to sit for the exam is 35 hours of project management training, our prep class fills this requirement for you.
One more "PMP" tidbit of advice and I promise to step down from my lectern - join PMI to reap the benefit of membership discounts. Non-PMI members pay over $500 to take the exam; PMI member cost is $405. If you do not pass the test the first time, you have two more tries within a year (and in the case of this year's changes effective July 31, that "year" window is closing for the fourth edition exam). For PMI members, the fee for the retake is $275; for non-members, $375. There are also many other benefits for becoming a member as well. Go to www.pmi.org to join and become a member of an outstanding organization.
See you in class!
When a technology or process matures, it becomes more reliable and more productive. Think about new car engines that every year increase miles-per-gallon ratings and feature extended lifecycles. Each step forward brings progress for the end user. Unfortunately for the Project Management community, estimation maturity seems an elusive goal that continues to slip away. Despite VOLUMES of knowledge about project management methods and practices, projects being on-time and on-budget continue to be a challenge.
Estimation effectiveness is linked to how mature an organization is in understanding its estimation process, methods and outcomes. Estimation is actually more about culture than technique. The graphic below has evolved, at a high level, to organize how I talk with project managers and PMO’s about maturing a critical capability within their domain, estimation.
Think about a large enterprise that whose project throughput is around 200 to 1000 projects a year. Think of the dollars and resources allocated to each of those projects. The risk of those dollars and resources being wasted is high. Reducing that risk makes sense. Getting better at estimation helps you conserve resources and assign them to higher priority, high business value projects.
Look at the graphic below and the characterization of maturity at each level. Ask yourself the hard questions about how you rate at each level. Are your project estimate outcomes unpredictable or are you moving toward establishing statistical processes for estimation? Are you converging disparate estimation methods or is it just a success to get a consensus?
I’ll talk more about each of the levels in subsequent posts, so stay tuned!
Have questions? Need more information? Let me know at our
One of the toughest jobs of the project manager is making sure you actually receive the resources you have been given for your project. People resources are the trickiest of all because each person assigned to you can choose to come to your meetings or not, answer their phone or not, respond to your e-mails or not, review materials you send them or not, do their work on time or not and so on.
If your team members are also your employees, then you have tremendous influence over these decisions. But in many project situations - virtually all large project situations - your team members are not your employees, instead they are ‘borrowed’ from other managers in the company.
This means their number-one priority is NOT you or your project; their top priority is pleasing and meeting the needs of their line manager.
If you get people resources on a ‘dedicated’ basis – meaning you get 100% of their time for the duration of your project – then their manager has pretty much handed them over to you. You effectively become their line manager for that time period, usually up to and including giving input to their performance, salary and bonus reviews.
However, in any situation where an employee has to split his or her time between working for their line manager and working for your project - even if you negotiate prorated input to their performance reviews - you need to understand that the other manager has far greater influence over their time and decisions than you have. You will have to deal with that fact for the duration of your project.
It is a good practice to be wary of time commitments for any resource assigned to you on a split-time basis, particularly if anyone is allocated to you less than 50-percent. Here is:
Why a less-than-50-percent allocation so often fails
The worse case I ever saw of this was when I was working as a consultant to one Fortune 500 company during a time period in which they started and concluded buy-out negotiations with another Fortune 500 company. People who had been assigned to my project on a split-time basis suddenly began skipping project meetings because they were getting pulled by their line managers into meetings related to the buy-out. The impact to my project was that after 90 days the program had only received 60% of the resources we needed.
Get tips for handling matrixed resources and other project management answers at PM Central's PDU Wednesdays!
by Elizabeth Copley, PMP
Greetings and welcome to Project Management Central at UNF Division of Continuing Education, or “PM Central” as we affectionately call it! I’m delighted to have the privilege of introducing you to UNF Continuing Education’s new project management program designed to provide the one-stop-shop for professional project management training and education in the north Florida region.
Along with my fellow instructors, Barbara Pratt and Tony Timbol, we have created this program for anyone interested in learning about project management or those who wish to further their current career in project management. Whether you are an experienced project manager in need of professional certification, a business manager who would like to better understand how to run projects in his or her organization, or a PMP in need of PDUs, look no further than PM Central.
We kicked off our open enrollment classes this year with a PMP Certification Preparation course in late January. The four-day class, taught on two consecutive Fridays and Saturdays, provide students with a workshop-style intensity to prepare quickly for the PMP exam. The Project Management Institute (PMI) requires 35 hours of certification preparation and these four, nine-and-a-half hour days fulfill this requirement, bettering participants’ chances to pass the exam on their first try.
We will offer additional PMP certification preparation classes in this format throughout the spring and into June. Effective July 2013, the exam will change and include a new tenth knowledge area that PMI has instituted, as well as other changes that are in the newly released fifth edition of the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK). Until the end of June, the exam and its preparation will continue using the fourth edition of the PMBOK. Consider taking this course and the exam before it changes and is more difficult.
In March, we will begin teaching a newly designed project management “basics” course. This two-day class is designed to introduce you to project management. If you are looking to change careers, have a desire to learn about it, your company has determined you need the skill set, this workshop-style class will give you the initial tool set you need to launch your project management knowledge.
Other new classes include Adopting Agile Methodology, Building a Predictive Work Plan in MS Project 2010 and a special addition: PDU Wednesdays. On the second Wednesday of each month beginning March 13, PM Central will host a three-hour course from 6 to 9 p.m. for only $129. Topics range from managing resistance to change, project negotiation, corrective action planning – subjects that everyone, not just PMPs, can learn a lot from.
As a PMP, I am always scrambling for PDUs at the end of the third year. PM Central will make that easy for you.
Join us on Feb. 19 at UNF’s Herbert University Center, 6 to 7:30 p.m. for PM Central’s information briefing. We will discuss the program’s objectives, trends in project management, courses offered and provide you with an opportunity to network with and meet people from many companies who are seasoned project management professionals, new to the profession, or interested in learning more about it.
On behalf of Barbara, Tony and myself: Welcome to PM Central! See you at Feb. 19. If you are unable to join us, download the presentation.
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