Articles

My Project is Harder than Your Project

Over the years that I’ve been attending project management events, I’ve heard project managers from various backgrounds comparing their projects in an effort to see whose project was harder to manage. Typically, these PMs are men – perhaps it is part of the genetic makeup of men that many feel the need to compete with each other to establish some type of social hierarchy.

What I’ve noticed, is that there are two typical results of these comparisons: either both projects are in similar industries and are therefore somewhat comparable, establishing one as clearly larger or more complex than the other; or the two projects are of a completely different nature, with little that can be directly compared. I most commonly see this latter occurrence when one is an engineering or construction project, while the other is an IT project.

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Multi-Cultural Project Management

A few days ago, I attended a seminar on managing cross-cultural projects – these are projects where there are people from diverse backgrounds on the project team, perhaps spread out in countries across the world. The course was excellent, focusing on the need for managers to understand better the cultural differences that exist between people and perhaps to leverage these differences to improve project performance. Many illustrative examples were given that showed clashes between cultural norms and how they could impact communications.

I attended another such seminar many years ago, but have not seen too many offered at conferences since then. This was once a rather specialized topic, of concern to those senior project managers lucky enough to manage large, international projects. Over the past few years, however, we’ve seen a shift in our team demographics that makes the need for cultural training all the more valuable to today’s project managers. Two main factors are contributing to this shift:

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Birds of a Feather: Project Managers and Business Analysts

I sit down to write this article knowing that my initial proposition is going to cause some debate – even anger – among readers. Yet, I believe that the point still needs to be discussed, so I am going to take a risk and put these thoughts into writing.

The proposition that I would like to make is that the roles of project manager and business analyst are not very different from each other. In fact, I’ll even go further than that: I believe that these roles eventually merge together the higher one rises in either profession.

Now, before you start writing a strongly-worded rebuttal, please take the time to consider these facts:

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Why do Most Project Managers Fail?

I spend a portion of my time recovering troubled projects or helping project managers avoid traveling down the road towards a troubled project. In doing this, I keep making the same observation over and over again: most project managers are failing.

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The Amazing World of E-mails

For Your Eyes Only

Have you ever typed an e-mail with information for the eyes of the recipient only, then find out that they have forwarded it on to someone else without editing the e-mail first! This could be embarrassing. If you are going to forward an e-mail with a thread, read the complete thread and edit if necessary. A lot of trouble can be caused if the wrong information or privileged information is sent to the wrong person.

People say things in e-mails that they regret later when the words fall into the wrong inbox, like their bosses. Be very careful what you say about people or clients, etc. You have to be very careful not to put something in an e-mail that could have negative consequences for you. You can not depend on the recipient not to forward your e-mail unedited.

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Is There any Value to PM Certification?

I have been asked to participate in a panel discussion at a conference on certification. The session is called “There is NO Value in Certification!” At first, I thought this statement was ridiculous, and couldn’t imagine too many people wanting to support this premise; however, as I have talked to people, I realize that this position is not too uncommon.

The main criticism that people have of PM certification programs is that the well-known ones (at least in North America) all seem to be knowledge-based assessments. Yes, many of them (like the PMP) have experiential components, but the core of the assessment is testing whether someone has memorized material from a standard syllabus.

What this means is that the assessing body has verified that these PMs have acquired knowledge of a common set of project management terms, processes, and techniques. What it doesn’t verify is whether a specific project manager is any good or not at the practice of project management.

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Staying Away From Project Lawsuits

You’ve started the project or project phase, had a kick off meeting with the client /contractor/vendor, everyone has shaken hands to seal the deal, you’re excited and happy, as this will be the best project ever. You have a working relationship with the other parties and the project starts smoothly. The project is underway when something happens, the other party has issues with you and a lawsuit is coming your way. It doesn’t take much for the project to turn sour and animosity set in. The majority of projects do not turn out this way, but you can not predict the future so you have to be prepared.

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The Change Control Myth

You can always spot the project managers who have just received their PMP – they are eager, idealistic, and prone to proclaim at length the necessity for “Change Control” as if it were the cure for all project management evils. Don’t get me wrong – I am glad that the level of training that new project managers receive is increasing, and I am glad that they are learning that change can derail a project; however, new PMs appear to have a naïve view of how projects work in the real world, and I would like to do my part to correct that. To start with, there is NO SUCH THING AS CHANGE CONTROL. Yes, you read that correctly. The idea that we can control change is a myth.

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5 New Certified Agile Project Managers in April

The Project Management Association of Canada is proud to announce five more project managers have passed the Cert.APM exam and have now received the Certified Agile Project Manager qualification. Their names have been added to the list of those holding the Cert.APM designation.

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IPMA Level-D Exam Soon Available Online!

Canada covers a broad geographic area, and serving our members from coast to coast to coast introduces significant challenges for an organization trying to keep costs (and membership fees) as low as possible. To better serve those of our members who have expressed reservations about traveling to take our IPMA Level-D examination, we are proud to announce that in May 2010, our IPMA Level-D certification exam will be made available online.

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Project Management Association of Canada

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Gatineau, Québec
Canada, J8T 6H5

Phone: (819) 410-0427

PMAC Certification Body

Project Management Association of Canada

Box 58043, Rosslynn RPO
Oshawa, Ontario
Canada L1J 8L6

Fax: (416) 986-5777

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