Thursday, November 17, 2005

Power of a PM


To Manage a project, project Manager should have power., The PM’a Power can be categorized as follows;

· Formal authority resulting from an official capacity which is empowered to issue orders.

· Reward and/or penalty power resulting from his/her capacity to dispense directly or indirectly valued organization rewards or penalties.

· Expert power when the project manager is perceived as possessing special knowledge or expertise for the job.

· Attractive power because the project manager has a personality or other characteristics to convince others.

· Referential power when Project Manager has support from a specific senior Manager., to use his powers to get work done from the others.

However its not recommended to use Referential Power (Ex: Because the CEO personally requested me to get this task done by today, you have to do it)and Penalty Power(Ex: if you do not complete this task before end of today, you cannot get your week end off) in Managing projects. Its always better to use the Expert Power., By using expert power you can convince others reasonably and easily, Attractive power is a must for a PM., as Pming includes lots of negotiations with all the stakeholders of the project.

Thursday, November 03, 2005



Its Awesome! I had to wait 6 weeks to get results as I did the Offline PMP Exam, waiting for results was just killing me.. But there is no more waiting.. Im a PMP at last !!!

My best advise for any candidate who wants to take up PMP Exam is to

Apply the PMBOK theories with your Practical Experience ., If you don’t do EVM and NPV calculations for your projects , start doing it., That’s the best way to study for PMP. I did that and I see the results now in 2 ways .

  1. I became a PMP
  2. I got myself adopted to the PMI methods of managing projects..

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

How Delphi Technique Works?


The process can be completed in a few short meetings by a panel of experts, by the corporate associates at large in a series of questionnaires, or by a hybrid of the two. The description below is vague when company policy or facilitator discretion may be used to invoke a variation.

  1. Pick a facilitation leader.

  2. Select a person that can facilitate, is an expert in research data collection, and is not a stakeholder. An outsider is often the common choice.

  3. Select a panel of experts.

  4. The panelists should have an intimate knowledge of the projects, or be familiar with experiential criteria that would allow them to prioritize the projects effectively. In this case, the department managers or project leaders, even though stakeholders, are appropriate.

  5. Identify a strawman criteria list from the panel.

  6. In a brainstorming session, build a list of criteria that all think appropriate to the projects at hand. Input from non-panelists are welcome. At this point, there is no "correct" criteria. However, technical merit and cost are two primary criteria; secondary criteria may be project-specific.

  7. The panel ranks the criteria.

  8. For each criterion, the panel ranks it as 1 (very important), 2 (somewhat important), or 3 (not important). Each panelist ranks the list individually, and anonymously if the environment is charged politically or emotionally.

  9. Calculate the mean and deviation.

  10. For each item in the list, find the mean value and remove all items with a mean greater than or equal to 2.0. Place the criteria in rank order and show the (anonymous) results to the panel. Discuss reasons for items with high standard deviations. The panel may insert removed items back into the list after discussion.

  11. Rerank the criteria.

  12. Repeat the ranking process among the panelists until the results stabilize. The ranking results do not have to have complete agreement, but a consensus such that the all can live with the outcome. Two passes are often enough, but four are frequently performed for maximum benefit. In one variation, general input is allowed after the second ranking in hopes that more information from outsiders will introduce new ideas or new criteria, or improve the list.

  13. Identify project constraints and preferences.

  14. Projects as a whole are often constrained by total corporate budget, or mandatory requirements like regulatory impositions. These "hard constraints" are used to set boundaries on the project ranking. More flexible, "soft constraints" are introduced as preferences. Typically, hard constraints apply to all projects; preferences usually apply to only some projects. Each panelist is given a supply of preference points, about 70% of the total number of projects. (For example, give each panelist 21 preference points if 30 projects have been defined.)

  15. Rank projects by constraint and preference.
    1. Each panelist ranks the projects first by the hard constraints. Which project is most important to that panelist? Some projects may be ignored. For example, if the total corporate budget is 100 million, the panelist allocates each project a budget, up to the maximum requested for that particular project, and such that the total of all budgets does not exceed the $100 million. Some projects may not be allocated any funding.
    2. Next each panelist spreads their preference points among the project list as desired. Some projects may get 10 points, others may get none, but the total may not exceed the predefined maximum (21 in our example above).

  16. Analyze the results and feedback to panel.

  17. Find the median ranking for each project and distribute the projects into quartiles of 25, 50, and 75-percentiles (50-percentile being the median). Produce a table of ranked projects, with preference points, and show to the panel. Projects between the 25th and 75th quartile may be considered to have consensus (depending on the degree of agreement desired); projects in the outer-quartiles should be discussed. Once the reason for the large difference in ranking is announced, repeat the ranking process.

  18. Rerank the projects until it stabilizes.

  19. After discussing why some people (minority opinion) ranked their projects as they did, repeat the rankings. Eventually the results will stabilize: projects will come to a consensus, or some will remain in the outlier range. Not everyone may be persuaded to rank the same way, but discussion is unnecessary when the opinions stay fixed. Present the ranking table to the decision makers, with the various preferences as options, for their final decision.

Monday, August 15, 2005

MS Project Schedule : Baseline Vs. Actuals


It’s a problem to the PMO or to the other stakeholders of the project that every project manager brings different project schedules every week since project schedules are frequently changing. When there is a new project schedule, its difficult to identify the time deviation from the original, unless you compare the current schedule with the very 1st project schedule of the project.

We all know that MS Project Server has fantastic features in schedule integration management . But Yes its a big application to install. And Installing and learning MS project server is a project itself.

As a solution, there is a pretty cool feature in MS Project 2003 pro where you can reflect the actual project schedule within your project baseline. (That’s the whole idea of using MS Project as a Tool/ Technique in Project Time management – schedule development)

What you got to do is.,

  1. Prepare your initial project plan using MS Project 2003.
  2. Save the Gantt chart as the Base Plan.
  3. Add the actual timing to your Activity list (It can be more or less than the scheduled time)
  4. Save the updates
  5. Once you view the report “Compare progress against baseline work”., you can see the deviation from the base schedule., The actual is marked in separate bars compared to the base activity duration.
  6. You can slect the Date of the status report., So you can get the schedule varience to any date you need to report the status of your project.

Note: Please do not misunderstand. “Project Plan” is not the Gantt Chart which you prepare using MS Project,. That’s only the activity schedule. (Defined, Sequenced, Duration allocated and Resources allocated)

Project Plan is a formal approved document used to execute the project. Basically the project plan includes the project Charter, Description of the Project Management strategy, Scope Statement, Performance Measurement baseline, WBS, project schedule, resources required and Skill levels required with supporting details and other management plans (such as risk, quality, cost, schedule management etc.) and open issues and pending discussions. Etc.

It’s a known mistake that we refer to the “Project schedule” as the “Project Plan”

Thursday, July 28, 2005

PMP Online application


It’s one of the most complicated application forms which I have filled so far.:)

As today is the applications closing date, I had to take ½ day leave to fill the application form. (When I went to the institute yesterday, I felt that people have taken this application process too seriously. Almost all the people were confused with the eligibility of their Project management Experience. ) My friend Pali (IT Manager Sampath Bank) came to my office in the morning so both of us went through the application form.

If you need to apply for PMP exam you need to prove that you have 4500 hours of PM experience within last 5 years. So I selected 2 projects, One, the duration was 2 years and the other, the duration was 3 years. Then I calculated the number of hours based on following processes

Initiating Process

Planning Process

Executing Process

Controlling Process

And Closing Process

How I did the calculation is as follows:

If I have a Project X which Started on 01/01/2001 and ended on 30/12/2004,

Number of month experience of Pming = 4 x 12 = 48

Number of days = 48 x20 (Average 20 working days per month ) = 960

So the PM experience gained from Project X is 960 x 8 (assume that we work 8 hours per working day) = 7680

So with Project X I have already covered the required number of PM hours for the PMP exam

I distributed my total hours of PM experience in 5 areas as follows:

Initiation 10%

Planning 30%

Executing 25%

Controlling 30%

Closing 5%

But this might vary based on nature of your project.

The exam fee is $405.00 Its bad that members cannot get the discounted rate at the first time itself. Why do we have to send email and inform them to give us the discounted rate, when the system already knows that you are a PMI member?? I don’t understand that.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Funny :) - Project Management Proverbs


Project Management Proverbs compiled and some written by Mike Harding Roberts

  • It takes one woman nine months to have a baby. It cannot be done in one month by impregnating nine women
  • The same work under the same conditions will be estimated differently by ten different estimators or by one estimator at ten different times.
  • Any project can be estimated accurately (once it's completed).
  • The most valuable and least used WORD in a project manager's vocabulary is "NO".
  • The most valuable and least used PHRASE in a project manager's vocabulary is "I don't know".
  • Nothing is impossible for the person who doesn't have to do it.
  • You can con a sucker into committing to an impossible deadline, but you cannot con him into meeting it.
  • At the heart of every large project is a small project trying to get out.
  • If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything.
  • The more desperate the situation the more optimistic the situatee.
  • If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it probably is a duck.
  • Too few people on a project can't solve the problems - too many create more problems than they solve.
  • A problem shared is a buck passed.
  • A change freeze is like the abominable snowman: it is a myth and would anyway melt when heat is applied.
  • A user will tell you anything you ask about, but nothing more.
  • A user is somebody who tells you what they want the day you give them what they asked for.
  • Of several possible interpretations of a communication, the least convenient is the correct one.
  • What you don't know hurts you.
  • The conditions attached to a promise are forgotten, only the promise is remembered.
  • There's never enough time to do it right first time but there's always enough time to go back and do it again.
  • I know that you believe that you understand what you think I said but I am not sure you realise that what you heard is not what I meant.
  • Estimators do it in groups - bottom up and top down.
  • Good estimators aren't modest: if it's huge they say so.
  • The sooner you begin coding the later you finish.
  • A verbal contract isn't worth the paper it's written on.
  • What is not on paper has not been said.
  • If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.
  • If you fail to plan you are planning to fail.
  • If you don't attack the risks, the risks will attack you.
  • A little risk management saves a lot of fan cleaning.
  • The sooner you get behind schedule, the more time you have to make it up.
  • A badly planned project will take three times longer than expected - a well planned project only twice as long as expected.
  • If you can keep your head while all about you are losing theirs, you haven't understood the plan.
  • When all's said and done a lot more is said than done.
  • If at first you don't succeed, remove all evidence you ever tried.
  • Never put off until tomorrow what you can put off until the day after.
  • Feather and down are padding - changes and contingencies will be real events.
  • There are no good project managers - only lucky ones.
  • The more you plan the luckier you get.

Friday, July 15, 2005

PM Skills???


Recently I noticed that most of the local IT companies (SMEs) do not understand the importance of the role of a Project Manager., Or they understand it but still they like to forget about it and save few dollars by appointing a programmer as a “Project Leader” who will be expected to do development work as well as coordination work of the project.

Some of the senior managers do not accept project management as a full time task. Its just that “Why don’t you share your time with some coding work.. or some testing too” As a result, the companies pay back with cost overruns and project failures. Still they do not understand or accept the cause, and they will continue by doing the same mistake over and over again.

Recently I worked with some IT guys in the industry for a government project. (They were appointed from some well-known Software Development Company) When I was introduced to them first, I asked, who is the project Manager for this project?.. Every body looked at each other and one guy said., ok I’m the project leader. In our company we do not have such positions called “Project Managers”. I really don’t understand what the heck is that “Project leader” role is. Are they project Managers?.., Program managers ?…(Managers who manage multiple projects in PMO concepts) , coordinators..? or just bad programmers who are not “Techies”??? Or are they real project managers but the companies wont like to label them as “Managers” due to various financial or structural reasons. ??

I do not believe the title “Project Leader” is given in terms of building true leadership” infact no use of having only leadership skills if they do not have management skills. (Effective project manager should have leadership skills as well as Management skills)

Not only the employers, most of the IT professionals seems have no idea about the role and the demand for project management skills. They hardly work hard to study methodologies or to improve their skills. When we run an advertisement to recruit project managers., its just a nightmare to short list them., we have to reject at least 95% of them at the 1st round of the interview. I thought this is a problem in Local IT industry only., But recently I had some discussions with Niels Malotaux, an EVO evangelist from Netherlands and I was telling him about the lack of project management skills in Sri Lankan IT industry. But what he said was”

"Not only in Sri Lanka. It's the same everywhere. So if you can do something significant about it, it can make you stand out. “

Most of the IT companies spend quite a lot of their training budgets for their programmers’ /designers’ skills improvements. But very few do something about their project management skill development.

Unless the companies and IT professionals really understand the importance of the role of the “Project Manager” and adapt to good project management methodologies, they cant whine about their project failures.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Project Communication channels


Communication is everything in a project.. If the communication fails there is no chance for the project to succeed.

If we have a team of 10 people (Including the project Manager) the number of communication channels can be calculated as

n= 10

[ n(n-1)/2 ]

Today I came across with this question:

The project manager of a large multi-location software project team has 24 members, out of which 5 are assigned to testing. Due to recent recommendations by an organizational quality audit team, the project manager is convinced to add a quality professional to lead the test team at additional cost, to the project.

The project manager is aware of the importance of communication, for the success of the project and takes this step of introducing additional communication channels, making it more complex, in order to assure quality levels of the project.

How many additional communication channels are introduced ????

The answer is :

Number of communication channels with “n” members = n*(n-1)/2

Originally the project has 25 members (including the project manager), which makes the total communication channels as 25*24/2 = 300.

With the addition of the quality professional as a member of the project team, the communication channels increase to 26*25/2 = 325.

Therefore, the additional channels as a result of the change, that is, 325-300 = 25.

When the numbers of communication channels are more, there is more chance for miscommunication.

Communication can be verbal or written and it can be formal or informal.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Project Lead and Lag time


There was a question about the difference between Lead time and Lag time in project Management. The best way I can explain it is ;

Lead time happens when a task should theoretically wait for its depend task to finish, but still you can start little early. So the 1st task and the task you start little early will overlap. So we call it lead time.
Ex: You have to test a program once you finished developing it., But if we start testing a small part of it when bout to finish ., that testing time is the lead time.
Lag time – Lag time is the minimum amount of time that should pass between the finish of one activity and the start of another.
Ex: If there are 2 tasks as
1. Painting a picture
2. Framing it
You cannot start the 2nd task before finishing the 1st one like we did in Lead time and we have a time to wait till we start the 2nd one . (Just think you have to wait 1 day till the painting gets dry. So you cant frame as you finish drawing ) So that waiting time is the Lag time.,

If we are working with PERT we can calculate lead and lag time with numbers. In Software projects, I always come across with lead time.. But lag time happens very rarely in scheduling.. Very simple reason….Because in IT, we cant afford to wait :-)

Project constraints


Project constraints are the limitations of a project which you cannot do anything about as a PM.. These constraints should be identified in the project initiation. Basically the project sponsor / customer or the senior management decide the constraints of a project. (Ex: You are getting a software project which you should make available for the 2005 Olympic Opening Ceremony.. Its very simple to identify that “Time” is the main constraint of this project, if you miss the target., no use of doing this project)

But what will happen if everything in a project is a constraint.????. Have you ever faced such situation??? For me its always the case.. :-)

Time is a constraint, Budget is a constraint, and people are constraints… Where will you stand??? Constraints are decided by somebody else., But from the time you are allocated to the project as a PM it's your face the people see.

In this case I always ask myself., Do I honestly think whether this project will be a success?? What will I do if my answer is “NO” I have to get off the train.. But will I catch another train?? And when.?????. So I m left without a choice.

Every customer wants the best product tomorrow, and it may cost less than a dollar. that’s the reason why they outsource projects. :-)

You are a lucky PM , if your top managers have a more realistic view of the matter. They know constraints must leave some room to operate. This doesn't mean they tell you. :-) (I saw this somewhere else)

There are times we cant do anything about the constraint.. Specially when the time is a constraint., But I personally believe you can always negotiate with the stakeholders if you think other constraints make your project impossible. Remember Pming is all about negotiating J But its very important to have a closer look of the defined constraints while project is moving.. We can use the formulas we learn under EVM to monitor these constraints technicaly and be in alert.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Earned Value Management

Earned Value Management (EVM) is one of the key areas in Project cost management..

In the middle of the project , if we want to find the current cost varience of the project, following is the fomula...

EV- AC = CV - Cost Varience (if CV gets + Result you are on budget., negative result will send you home :) )

EV/AC = CPI - Cost Performance Index

if we need the schedule varience at this given time , we can use this formula as follows:

EV- PV = SV - Schedule Varience

EV/PV = SPI - Schedule performance Index

Today I had to do soemthing different to the above, I got a project which is quite beind the budget than estimated and I wanted to find the estimation at completion... Uhhh.... I know I have to reschedule this one .. no way out .. Fast tracking might help to some degree...

Any way I applied little theory I learnt :)

I did the calculation as EAC (Estimate at completion) = AC + ETC becase I didnt see the past performance of the project and the original assumptions are no longer valid for this project ... OOHHHH I saw STARS !!


In the evening I was googling as usual and I found a very useful article about Earn Value Management in the Nasa Site. So I copied it here...

Earned Value Management (EVM) is a program management technique that integrates technical performance requirements, resource planning, with schedules, while taking risk into consideration. The major objectives of applying earned value to a contract are to encourage contractors to use effective internal technical, cost and schedule management control systems, and to permit the customer to rely on timely data produced by those systems for better management insight. This data is in turn used for determining product-oriented contract status, and projecting future performance based on trends to date. In addition, EVM allows better and more effective management decision making to minimize adverse impacts to the project.
Earned value provides an objective measurement of how much work has been accomplished on a project. Using the earned value process, the management team can readily compare how much work has actually been completed against the amount of work planned to be accomplished. All work is planned, budgeted, and scheduled in time-phased "planned value" increments constituting a Performance Measurement Baseline (PMB).
Let’s look at a simplified example:


The baseline plan shown in the above graph illustrates a task with a total budget amount of $240k, which is planned for accomplishment over 24-month time frame. The “time-now” line shows that $100k of the project resources was planned to be completed at this point in the project. Another way to look at this is that the project was planned to be 41.6% complete ($100k / $240k) at this point in time.
As work is performed, it is "earned" on the same basis as it was planned, in dollars or other quantifiable units such as labor hours. Comparing earned value with the planned value measures the dollar value of work accomplished versus the dollar value of work planned. Any difference is called a schedule variance.

Earned Value – Planned Costs = Schedule Variance (SV)


In our example the task was planned to have accomplished $100k worth of work in twelve months, but the real accomplishment was only $60k. The graph shows a “behind schedule” condition. The schedule variance in dollars would be a negative $40k, the difference between the earned value accomplished ($60k), and the value of the planned work ($100k) to date. According to our formula then:

$60k - $100k = ($40k)

The value earned for the work performed compared with the actual cost incurred for the work performed (taken directly from the contractor's accounting systems), provides an objective measure of cost efficiency. Any difference is called a cost variance.

Earned Value – Actual Costs = Cost Variance (CV)

A negative variance means more money was spent for the work accomplished than was planned. Conversely, a positive variance means less money was spent for the work accomplished than was planned to be spent.


From the performing organization’s own accounting system, we determine the actual costs for performing the $60K work was $110K.

When the actual costs are compared with the earned value of $60k, the difference is the cost variance. The earned value of $60k less the actual cost of $110k, is a negative cost variance of $50k. In this example, the task is in an overrun condition by $50k.

$60k - $110k = ($50k)

Analysis of these variances should reveal the factors causing the deviation from plan.

The Task Manager uses this information in conjunction with his knowledge of the task, to project an estimate to complete for this task. The Task Managers analyzes variances resulting from comparisons of these five basic data elements; planned work, work accomplished, actual costs, total budget at completion and the estimate at completion. The work breakdown structure provides a useful framework for summarizing this performance information for all levels of management.

Earned value improves on the "normally used" spend plan concept (budget versus actual incurred cost) by requiring the work in process to be quantified. The planned value, earned value, and actual cost data provides an objective, quantifiable measurement of performance, enabling trend analysis and evaluation of any cost estimate at completion within multiple levels of the project.

EVM is a valuable tool in the Project Manager’s “toolbox” for gaining valuable insight into project performance and is the tool that integrates technical, cost, schedule and risk management. In addition, EVM provides valuable quantifiable performance metrics for forecasting at-completion cost and schedule for their project.
quite usefull right ..??? I got to go back for rescheduling my project.. yyaackk!!!

Free PMP Test links

I think its a good I dea for me to add all the links in 1 post instead adding them everywhere in the blog. So here it goes... I dont know how many of this links will be inactive after soem time.. But Lets do this !!!!

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

My first test

I took first free online test . 75 questions., I got only 58.8 % . they say over 50% is good.. But I dont think so.. If I have studied PMBOK I could have got lot more. Some times I feel that its not good to do the test before studing.. But any way may be a self assesment...

I found another interesting site which has some short notes

Project Management .. Is that what you think?

Project management was first used to manage the US space program. It's practice has now been expanded rapidly through the corporate world.. Specially in IT.

PMI says Project Management is the application of knowledge, skills, tools and techniques to project activities in order to meet the project requirements.

Project Management process includes 5 stages :





and Closing....

Simple yeah ... :))

Sunday, June 05, 2005

PMI Registration.

I registered in PMI today( and it cost me around Rs.13,000.00 It will take one week time for them to process my application. I subscribed for the local chapter as well., but not for knowledge groups.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Welcome to my blog :)

Welcome to my blog.!!, Purpose of this blog is to create a resource base for PMP exam and Project management in day to day practice. This is the best way I find to collect and save all the sample questions and notes while I study. If I can convert my blog to a good knowledge base, other students and PM professionals can use this as well.

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