Project Management Consultant

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

15 Deadly PM Mistakes Government Agencies Make -Part I

“GSA Contractor Reveals The Shocking Truth On How To Create And Run Project Teams More Effectively And Efficiently! Read This Special, Free Report To Find Out What Project Sponsors, Project Managers or Even Agency Directors May Not Know About How To Make Projects More Productive Once And For All…With The Present Workforce!”

Keep reading this report to find out some of the best methods to get your project team trained and functioning in a high manner. Inside this FREE report you will discover:
  • Why lack of planning can make your project take longer than needed.
  • Why refusing to detail roles and responsibilities will confuse the team.
  • Why neglecting to create a solid communication plan will create needless gaps.
  • Why inappropriate authority and controls can cause mismanagement of the team.
  • Why rejecting to conduct post mortems increases your risk of failure in future projects.
  • Why neglecting to create the best practices for running projects in your culture will reproduce substandard skills.
Warning: Ineffective project teams are wasting hundreds of hours and millions of dollars in the government. This impacts the lives of thousands of workers each year. That is the bad news. THE GOOD NEWS is that project management techniques can be taught to each employee and reduce some of this frustration. Keep reading this report to find out the well-hidden truth you will not find anywhere else!

Your decision to read this tells a lot about your openness to try something new and to consider additional options for future changes. Project Management in a government setting is here to stay. It is one of those skills which help deliver the greatest value to the most individuals. During a time when all agencies are faced with tight budgets and limited staff, we must make sure we can complete projects in the shortest and most economic way.

This report focuses on some of the most common blunders made by agencies when working on projects. Many of these mistakes are not a one-time event, but are part of the culture of the organization and happens in 90% of the projects.

Even though in this report we focus on project management mistakes, this does not indicate that everything you are doing is wrong. Most agencies have a method or two that is very productive and gives them their greatest productivity. In many cases the agency has been able to deliver and finish projects on time and within budget, even though they have violated numerous project management fundamentals. However, when an agency creates a realistisic timeline and is able to better organize their staff, they are able to reduce stress and burnout while using their resources in a positive way. This report will help you by tweaking many of your present processes or operations to be more impactive in the future.

Also, this report is in no way critical of the great men and women who work for Federal agencies and give a great deal of time and effort to make projects run as smoothly as possible. As each mistake is discussed, it is always with the desire to make project management processes more effective and not to criticize employees or to take shots at their efforts. Most project teams are filled with many men and women who care deeply about their jobs and are strongly committed to the goals and the objectives of their agency.

How to use this report
This report is written as a secret weapon to help an agency like yours be more productive in reaching project objectives. Each point is designed to help give you numerous ideas, create new ways for running projects within your organization and ultimately make each project or process as efficient as possible. As you read this report, do not be afraid to mark it up and make notes for further examination and research. This report has been designed to assist you as an action plan to help you increase your project management skills with time tested ideas.

What you should do after reading this report
There are three groups of people who will be reading this report.

Group #1 is the type who makes excuses for missed dates and budget over extensions. They normally focus on reasons that are outside of their control. Excuses are different than reasons. Excuses are created to get the pressure off us and to point it in another direction. Reasons can be a calculated analysis of low results which explain why something is not productive. In addition, reasons can be educational with the end result being a new solution.

Group #2 thinks they already possess all the project management knowledge ever needed. Anytime we discuss project management skills, we always deal with individuals who want to fight us on the front end by showing us the great depths of truth they possess in the area of running projects. They can quote all the project management theories; however, sometimes they are using techniques which have become outdated. The most ridiculous thing is to continue wasting our project dollars and expecting results to be better. For this group of knowledgeable individuals, I would like to ask if your techniques are working so well, why are deadlines still being missed and projects are not reaching their objectives?

Group #3 is those who will take action and responsibility to make changes so they can be successful. This means learning new techniques; making changes to target specific skill sets which are missing. This group will do what is needed to be successful.

Which group are you? Hopefully you are willing to move into our third group by reading this report and taking action. This group understands there is no miracle worker who will come in and fix your project. If you desire for your projects to run in a more effective way while impacting the performance of each team member, there must be some special actions created. Reading this report and creating an action plan of high priority items to examine is just one of those special actions.

To assist you in gaining a better focus on areas to analyze, we are going to put our consulting hat on for the remainder of this report. We want to show you some areas which consistently surface as problems in government settings. This report in no way guarantees that these small mistakes are happening in your agency. In many agencies you will discover you are successful in these areas. However, we recommend you recheck and examine each area to make sure processes are running smoothly and every thing is in order. If any part of project management theory processes or core competencies is misdirected, it can have a dramatic effect on the end results. This is why you will see a close connection to training your project teams and creating best practices that fit your agency. To fail in one area can kill the budget and timeline of projects for the entire year.

In the following pages we have researched and found there are 15 project management mistakes which waste dollars and hours in time. Once again, we do not think every agency is committing all of these mistakes. However, why should we needlessly lose project time when the skills and knowledge are at our finger tips?

Project Management Mistake # 1
Planning Before A Customer Interview Is Completed
Due to enormous pressure, project teams are faced with beginning activity on a project prior to completing a detailed project plan. This causes a great deal of hardship and mistakes which cost time and money for the organization as well as frustration to the project team.

Reasons why planning takes place before the interview
There are three basic reasons why planning takes place prior to a detailed interview of the customer and/or the project sponsor.

The first reason planning takes place before a thorough interview has been conducted is based on the fact that, in the American culture, we have substituted activity for planning. This means we want activities to be happening at a record pace to demonstrate that we are running the project, even though there is no plan in place. Unless project managers and project sponsors come to the understanding that interviewing the customer and setting precise objectives must be completed up front, we will continue to have blurry plans and numerous amounts of rework on our project.

The second reason why planning takes place prior to an interview is that no one has taken the time to understand the real goal and objective of the project. This means the project team is faced with having to plan the project on the run with limited understanding of the real goal. Planning a project while on the run is not an effective way of using manpower and resources for the project. In most cases, it will cause the project to take longer, cost more, and experience numerous gaps.

The third reason why project plans are created without an interview is the project sponsors and project managers do not see the benefit of getting all the information upfront. Some project managers have been trained in a culture that disperses information in small, bite size pieces rather than in large chunks. This means that the average project is being planned with only knowledge of the few short goals rather than a full understanding of what the project should look like at completion.

Need for interview
Interviewing the customer is the best way to gain a thorough understanding of the project’s objectives and goals. Unless a project sponsor or project manager has this knowledge, the project will take longer and cost more than anticipated, and, in many cases, will require a great deal of rework. All of these reasons emphasize the need to take the time upfront to interview the customer and make sure you understand their goal, objectives, and timeframe.

Look for the remaining 14 Deadly Mistakes in Parts II and III coming soon.

Dr. Keith Mathis
Founder and CEO of The Mathis Group, specializes in Project Management, Management Leadership, and Marketing training for private businesses and government agencies of all kinds.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

5 Goals of Every Project

Project goals keep the focus on what is most important. However, on some teams these primary
goals are lost in their meeting’s activities. Make sure each meeting is structured so as to move the project forward. Even if the progress is only inches rather than by huge leaps, the team must be pushing the project forward as quickly, safely, and reasonably as possible.

Finish the project within the scheduled timetable.
Your goal should be to finish the project within the timeframe agreed upon. This means you must do everything possible to drive the project to the end and stay on time. Remember to avoid guessing and incompetence in the planning of the scope so as to have a reasonable time schedule with which to work.

Finish the project within the scheduled budget.
Budgets are set by some project teams while others inherit them. Whether you set the budget or inherit it, you need to make sure you are doing your best to track your expenditures and know where the money is going. When you finish the project within the scheduled budget, you demonstrate your ability in running the project responsibly.

Finish the project with the same level of quality.
Unfortunately, when projects lag behind, quality is often sacrificed in order to catch up. Project leaders sometimes feel that in order to pick up speed, pieces of the project will need to be downsized or cut completely. True, the project plan will have to be revised when problems arise, but the revision should never compromise quality. While it is important to keep deadlines, it is equally important to keep the project’s quality high throughout the project.

Finish the project within the specified guidelines.
Make sure you are meeting the customer’s needs. You must “wow” the customer! This can be done simply by finishing the project with the specifics the customer really wanted. The best way to solidify this is to verify your accomplishment by customer handoff and close down.

Do the best you can with what you have been given.
There is no such thing as a perfect project. Some projects run up against major odds and hurdles. For example, many recent projects in our country have endured major setbacks because of terror attacks, severe weather causing power outages, or a nation at war. Even against these catastrophes, projects were remarkably turned around and back on track because of great project team leaders and teams. Project goals were met because they did their best with what came their way.

Author: Dr. Keith Mathis
Founder of The Mathis Group
Speaker, Trainer and Seminar Leader
Expert in Project Management, Management Leadership, and Sales and Marketing