Using Iterative Planning Models to Manage Change

Using Iterative Planning Models to Manage Change

PMDPro Guide, Project Management

Does this scenario sound familiar? A three-year project has entered year two of its implementation phase. In general, the project is going OK. The logic of the project intervention is still valid, and the deliverables are still viable. There is, however, a significant problem with the project plan. The field reality of year two implementation has little in common with what was predicted when the project plans were developed 20 months earlier. It is increasingly clear that certain budget estimates were significantly underestimated, while other line items are no longer needed because of changes to the roles of implementing partners.

While these challenges can be addressed through a combination of issues management and change requests, some projects have addressed it through a strategy of iterative project planning.

In an iterative planning model, an initial project plan is established when the project is approved. However, recognizing that the field reality of project implementation can/will vary over time, the details of the project plan are not set out until later. Instead of establishing a single detailed implementation plan, the projects subscribe to a planning model that includes periodic updates of implementation plans. In development projects, these periodic plans are usually made on a yearly basis and are called Annual Operating plans. In an emergency response project, this time frame for updated plans might be significantly shorter. ECHO, the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection group, for example, permits an adjustment to project proposals once every three months, based on an understanding about who needs to authorize changes for each of the levels of the logical framework. Continue reading “Using Iterative Planning Models to Manage Change”

Managing global project teams – the trials and tribulations

Development Sector, Project Management

This article was originally published on APM by Paul Naybour.

Although we all work hard to make the management of projects as simple and streamlined as possible by following tried and trusted processes and best practice, in reality many projects are complex and difficult to manage well.

Add to the inherent difficulties of a complex project a diverse team in terms of location and culture and any problems risk being magnified. Yet, for mostly commercial reasons, organisations continue to employ diverse teams with the hope of acquiring the best talent in the most cost-effective way; even though this can result in problems with efficiency, administration and reporting.

If, like me, you have worked with global teams you may not be entirely convinced that the cost savings actually stack up when compared with the added complications of running projects with global teams. But whatever my personal opinion it looks like global projects are here to stay so what is the best approach to make them work for your projects and how can you best adapt your reliable processes to accommodate team members in different locations and time zones?

 

THE PROBLEMS

 

Time zone constraints

A mini-crisis has occurred and you need someone to tackle it straight away but on the other side of the world your team have just packed up for the day. What do you do? Continue reading “Managing global project teams – the trials and tribulations”

Using Iterative Planning Models to Manage Change

Using Iterative Planning Models to Manage Change

PMDPro Guide, Project Management

Does this scenario sound familiar? A three-year project has entered year two of its implementation phase. In general, the project is going OK. The logic of the project intervention is still valid, and the deliverables are still viable. There is, however, a significant problem with the project plan. The field reality of year two implementation has little in common with what was predicted when the project plans were developed 20 months earlier. It is increasingly clear that certain budget estimates were significantly underestimated, while other line items are no longer needed because of changes to the roles of implementing partners.

While these challenges can be addressed through a combination of issues management and change requests, some projects have addressed it through a strategy of iterative project planning.

In an iterative planning model, an initial project plan is established when the project is approved. However, recognizing that the field reality of project implementation can/will vary over time, the details of the project plan are not set out until later. Instead of establishing a single detailed implementation plan, the projects subscribe to a planning model that includes periodic updates of implementation plans. In development projects, these periodic plans are usually made on a yearly basis and are called Annual Operating plans. In an emergency response project, this time frame for updated plans might be significantly shorter. ECHO, the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection group, for example, permits an adjustment to project proposals once every three months, based on an understanding about who needs to authorize changes for each of the levels of the logical framework. Continue reading “Using Iterative Planning Models to Manage Change”

Mission Impossible: Benefits-led risk management?

Mission Impossible: Benefits-led risk management?

Development Sector, Project Management

This article was originally published on APM International.

Safe brakes are worth a month of beans on toast

Katie told me she’d been worried about her car, so she took it to the garage. The problem turned out to be the brakes, but the mechanic also mentioned her tyres were going to need replacing soon. “The brakes needed doing immediately, but the tyres I could defer until the MOT in the autumn. I realised afterwards, I’d basically done a cost benefit analysis and decided not getting killed was worth the unexpected expense!”

As we chatted I realised she’d also, without realising it, thought about her benefit risks. Traditional risk management focuses on, for example, risk to schedule, costs or reputation. I see very few risk matrices which consider impact on benefits, but, whether it’s getting our car repaired or doing up a kitchen, we all subconsciously think this way.

 

Benefits are the point of investments

If I’m being blunt, I don’t care that a piece of kit is going to be rolled out three months late. I care that the change relying on that bit of kit can’t happen, so I’m losing three months of benefits. Cost overrun? That’s the ‘price’ of my benefits and lowers my return on investment (in addition to the other impacts: Katie will be eating beans on toast this month to pay for those brake pads).

 

Teams should consider the impact on benefits

Let’s look at this using a basic risk matrix you might find in any organisation. Impact is scored from, say, one to five, with one being minor and five being disaster. I often see, for example, a three month overrun as being a four, i.e. very serious. But what if that overrun isn’t on my critical path, or what if the benefits which rely on it are not worth much, compared to the rest of the initiative? Is it really that important? Continue reading “Mission Impossible: Benefits-led risk management?”

The Difference between a Project and a Program

The Difference between a Project and a Program

Program Management, Project Management

What are the fundamental differences between the two? Find out…

This article was originally published on APMG International.

Defining a Project:

Perhaps the key difference between a project and a program is specificity. A project refers to a specific, singular endeavour to deliver a tangible output. A project manager is therefore responsible for ensuring a project delivers on its intended output in line with a defined time frame and budget.

Defining a Program/Programme:

A program refers to multiple projects which are managed and delivered as a single package. A program manager is therefore tasked with overseeing all the projects comprising the program – to ensure it achieves its outcomes.

 

How Projects and Programs differ:

Continue reading “The Difference between a Project and a Program”

Project Management Culture: Necessity or Nuisance?

Project Management Culture: Necessity or Nuisance?

Project Management

This article was originally published on IPMA International. Written by Professor Jiwat Ram.

It is often suggested that organizations progress or perish courtesy their culture. In simple words, culture is a microcosm of unwritten norms, values, behavioural tendencies, and ways of doing things that are peculiarly characteristics of a system, such as an organization.

In a normal business organization with a more or less stable set of employees, culture will be quite well entrenched deep down in the foundation of organization and will be at the core of driving actions and behaviours of the organization; not varying great deal over extended periods of time unless something catastrophic happens. In fact, people not aligning themselves with the culture may even have to leave

the organization, hence the culture remaining intact most of the times, if not all. In hindsight, culture seems to be the only element in an organization that out-last most of the other elements, even the people and leaders who created the organization in the first place.

Project organizations are not different from non-project organizations as far as culture is concerned. Project organizations too have their own culture which can be termed as project management (PM) culture. Albeit to certain extent, PM culture varies with the changing eco-system of the project and the team composition.

In an organization that churns out a lot of projects with team members sharing work across several projects, the extent to which PM culture varies will be limited across the projects in that organization. Moreover, PM culture is often influenced by set of processes, hence if the processes are same, it is possible that the culture does not vary great deal. Continue reading “Project Management Culture: Necessity or Nuisance?”

New Perspective in Project Management

New Perspective in Project Management

Project Management

The PM4NGOs partner IPMA International collaborated to create the international workshop: “New perspective in Project Management”.

 

This article was originally published on IPMA International. Written by Sandra Mišić and Amin Saidoun.

On 9th of May 2018 Turkish Project Management Association in collaboration with IPMA and Gazi University organized an international workshop.

The topic with the title: “New perspective in Project Management” attracted over 150 attendees from private but mainly academic sector.

Both national and international speakers were invited to the event.

Dr Jesús Martínez Almela (Spain), IPMA President started the workshop with an opening speech, underlining that IPMA strongly supports the development of project management in the Turkey.

The workshop was organized in two sessions. The topic of the first session was New Standards in Project Management and the second one addressed Current Trends in Project Management. Continue reading “New Perspective in Project Management”

Risk Management – a risk itself

Risk Management – a risk itself

Development Sector, Project Management, Tools

This article was originally published by Trevor K Nelson.

We hear (and use) the terms Risk Identification and Risk Management to generally mean two distinct things. The identification of potential risks, and then after they’re identified, the management/mitigation to prevent those possibilities. But in reality they’re variations of the same process.

True. Risk Identification is the process of simply that – identifying potential risks to the project. And Risk Management is the process of mitigating against those potential risks.

But it doesn’t stop there. Risk Identification isn’t something that’s done a the beginning of the project, and then you shift to Risk Management. Risk identification is an ongoing process that should be done (at the very least) at the beginning of each new phase. Each new phase, each new work package, each new interaction with a vendor sets the stage for new potential risks. Continue reading “Risk Management – a risk itself”

Why adding budgeting skills to your project toolkit is important

Why adding budgeting skills to your project toolkit is important

Project Management, Tools

This article was originally published on Humentum by Terry Lewis.

Successful project outcomes require careful management of resources, including the significant sums of money donated to NGOs. That is why everyone involved in project planning and implementation should sharpen up their budgeting skills. In this blog I’ll share six important reasons why we should all have budgeting skills in our toolkits.

 

  1. KEEPING YOUR EYES ON THE PRIZE

As the saying goes: If you don’t know where you are going, you are sure to end up somewhere else. A budget is a monetary translation of an activity plan. It helps us to achieve project objectives. A budget is a critical part of the project planning and accountability process: it enables us to put a cost on every planned activity, and to keep track of progress to make sure we are achieving goals.

 

  1. WINNING MORE FUNDS FROM DONORS

Continue reading “Why adding budgeting skills to your project toolkit is important”