Gantt chart

Lori Benson, who is an specialist contract manager, in her article for the PM Times for Project Managers, “4 Key Project monitoring steps to help you succeed”, talks about a critical aspect of a project Control and monitoring of a project. She starts her article with a short but important statement “Trust, but verify”

In the first couple of paragraphs she explains “why” she wrote the article, affirming that Project Monitoring is necessary in all Project Management Plans, verification should take place frequently trough the lifecycle of the project, and results of that control should not only be shared to supervisors, managers and top executives, but also they should be shared with the project participants. Helping you to get a successful flow of information, results, feedback and advice throughout the project. The 4 steps are explained below.

  1. Begin with a plan for project monitoring

Just like the milestones exercise that we applied in class, planning how to monitor could give the project a backbone and short term objectives. Project managers have to plan for how, when and what project they want to monitor, based on realistic targets and metrics. And it have to be regularly monitored Bi-weekly or worst case scenario monthly. Monitoring is often not linear, it will have ups and downs and inevitable change throughout the project, and therefore it will have to have requested monitoring, results reviews and feedback.

Pros: You will have an efficient control of the project and you will have the opportunity to adapt and change throughout the project to mitigate risk, take advantage of positive risk and have an inside view of the project provided by feedback

Cons: I think that it could be dangerous and you could enter into micromanage your employees and that can have negative impact. Also you have to analyze the quality of feedback obtained in order to apply it efficiently into the project. Parallel you could over stress your employees like the bell example in our noodle/marshmallow exercise.

  1. Reports to management

The reports written or not have to have a regular schedule, weekly, monthly or bimonthly showing the progress during that period. That enables project managers to identify actual or potential problems earlier so you can make adjustments, adapt and move forward. Top managers have to be alerted if problems arouse, or if the project is having problems meeting a milestone or objective. “When reporting to organizational leadership, project leaders should focus on results that indicate whether a strategy is relevant and efficient or not”

Pros: It can help you seize opportunities of the positive side of risk, and it will help you maintain flexibility towards future events

Cons: Depending on the type of company you may have to develop a “language” to communicate effectively with Top managers. In case of public companies you may alert investors that a strategy will bring a hit in the 1st quarterly earnings but it will have a positive impact in the long term.

  1. Recommend actions to improve on the project

As a Project management you have to avoid recommendations without previous foundation of planning and feedback from management, communicate based on budgeting and goal-setting without sustention. Recommendations and feedback should include corrective actions, preventative actions or changes in the plan or the project execution. Guidance should be as specific as possible. “Keep in mind the team’s own health and feedback: offer constructive criticism and praise when it makes sense to strengthen the goals of the project and the team individuals’ work too.”

Pros: Feedback, guidance and adaptability can be critical to the success of a project. Applying concepts recollected from feedback can motivate employees to, like Walt Disney said “Plus it”
Cons: You have to be aware that different “qualities” of feedback and as a project manager you will have to filter information in order to have better results.

  1. Confirm that actions are being followed

After getting feedback and correcting the strategy, Project managers have to confirm that the changes actually are being made. Verifying also that the project as a whole is staying on track.
The author also recommends to use automated tools and technologies to track member’s performance and response, like shared documents, feedback, forecast, Gantt Charts, etc. “At the most basic level, the project leader must track the differences between what was planned, and what is actually happening to ensure that project objectives are being met”

Pros: It can help you reassure that the measures are being taken and the project is still on track. It can help you understand the stage of the project in the current time.

Cons: It could be tide back to cons of number 1 you have to be very careful with micromanaging your employees.

References: http://www.projecttimes.com/articles/4-key-project-monitoring-steps-to-help-you-succeed.html

Project Risk Identification for New Project Manager

Rajman Md Rawi on his article “Project Risk Identification for New Project Manager” for PM Times gives us a few tips to identify risks as a project manager.

It starts the article with a very clear definition of Project Risk Management, taken from the book Project Management Institute. A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge “Project Risk Management includes the processes of conducting risk management planning, identification, analysis, response planning, and controlling risk on a project. The objectives of project risk management are to increase the likelihood and impact of positive events, and decrease the likelihood and impact of negative events in the project.”

Then Rawi gives us a few tools/techniques to identify risks like: Documentation Reviews, Information Gathering Techniques – Brainstorming, Delphi Technique, Interviewing, Root cause analysis, Checklist analysis – previous similar project, lowest level RBS, Assumption analysis, Diagramming Techniques – cause and effect diagram, system and process flow chart, influence diagrams, SWOT Analysis and Expert Judgment.

He also gives us 5 categories of potential risk that a project could be exposed: Human Resources & Contractors Risk, Customer Risk, Product/Technology Risk, Requirement Risk, Schedule Risk.

Schedule Risk, he advise us to be aware when our schedule is not realistic,  we have a missing task in the schedule, we don’t take on account a potential delay in one task that could delay other tasks in the future, and unfamiliar areas of the product that could take more time that initially though due design and implementation.

Requirement Risk, he recommend to be alert to continuing changes in requirements, requirements poorly defined, some areas of the product could be more time-consuming than others, we are only aware of some requirements when the project start, and total features could be more than what the development team can deliver at the time.

Project Management Risk, he mention that the project manager could have little authority in the organization and low power to influence decision-making and resources, priorities change during the project, we have to clearly defined evaluation criteria for every project phase, we have to be aware that multiple projects within the same company could need the same resources at the same time. And that sometimes the date is driven by marketing demo, tradeshows or other events and not been taking under consideration project teams estimates

Product/Technology Risk, we have to be vigilant that development of the wrong user interface, application or program could result in redesign and implementation errors. Development of extra software functions that are not required could extend the schedule. You could depend in technology that is still under development. And the technology selected could be a problem to the customer

Customer Risk, customer could insist on new requirements or other technical decision, Customer review/decision cycles for plans, prototypes, and specifications could be slower than expected. Even if you product meets all specifications, the customer could not accept the product. And Customer has expectations for development speed that developers cannot meet.

Human Resources & Contractors Risk, Critical development work is being performed by one developer, some developers or contract personnel may leave the project before it is finished, hiring process takes longer than expected, Personnel need extra time to learn unfamiliar software tools, hardware and programming language, there could be conflicts among team members result in poor communication, poor designs, interface errors and extra rework. When looking for new personnel, there is a risk that you cannot find someone with critical skills needed. And contractor could not deliver components when promised.

I agree with his conclusion, I also think that in order to manage and successfully complete a project we have to be able to identify risks and have to be proactive to mitigate the negative impacts that those risks could have, and make a routine out of identifying risk because as he explains, risk can be change throughout the project and vary their importance.  The only statement that I disagree is “we should not spend too much time in identifying risks”. Even though it could be time consuming I think that, you should spend time identifying risks to mitigate future negative outcomes.


PMBOK; 2013 ; Project Management Institute. A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide) – Fifth Edition
Donna Ritter; 2013; Identifying Risks in Your Project. Retrieved 15 December 2013, available fromhttp://certifedpmp.wordpress.com/2008/10/13/identifying-risks-in-your-project/

Article: http://www.projecttimes.com/articles/project-risk-identification-for-new-project-manager.htm