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The PMBOK® Guide 6th Edition Moves PM in a Business Value, Strategy Alignment, and Adaptive Direction

Posted by on Apr 21, 2017 in Project Management | 0 comments

The PMBOK® Guide 6th Edition Moves PM in a Business Value, Strategy Alignment, and Adaptive Direction

In April 2016, we highlighted several of the changes to the Standard for Project Management from the PMBOK Guide 6th edition. In February of this year, the Project Management Institute (PMI) provided a pre-release Draft of A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) – Sixth Edition to registered education providers (REPs) so that training materials can be updated to align with the new PMBOK® Guide, expected to be officially released in the 3rd quarter of this year. Also, on December 14, 2016 the new Program...

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Federal Program Management Gets a Boost

Posted by on Feb 16, 2017 in Project Management | 0 comments

Federal Program Management Gets a Boost

In February of last year, we highlighted a new legislative effort to improve Federal management of programs called the Program Management Improvement and Accountability Act (PMIAA) of 2015. This Act would amp up the Federal effort by formalizing the role that Program Managers play in Federal operations through a series of directed actions. Among the various actions President Obama took in the final days of his administration was to sign the new Program Management Improvement Accountability Act into law on December 14, 2016. As with the PMIAA...

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Comparisons of Agile vs. Traditional Approaches

Posted by on Aug 17, 2016 in Project Management | 0 comments

Comparisons of Agile vs. Traditional Approaches

Can this discussion be condensed down to a set of graphs that illustrate the areas of “applicability” for both Agile and current best practices for project management, or “traditional” project management? Fortunately, the answer is yes, and the following graphs are offered in support of this response. The first graph illustrates the comparison of Agile, traditional, and other project management philosophies and methods when plotting two independent variables: The size of the project team as a proxy for size and complexity of the project The...

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Strengths and Weaknesses of Agile

Posted by on Jul 11, 2016 in Project Management | 0 comments

Strengths and Weaknesses of Agile

Agile style methodologies seem to have had some success in environments with common conditions: Software deliverables Small team sizes (5-9 is usual sizes surveys contend) Co-located deliverable’s owner or owner’s representative Senior developers populating the team Beyond these four most commonly discussed Agile/Scrum project characteristics, the success rates from the last Agile community survey from Scott Ambler indicated that for 2009 the respondents said their Agile-inspired projects enjoyed a 10 point (58 vs. 48%) improved success rate...

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Agile: Bits vs. Atoms?

Posted by on Jun 2, 2016 in Project Management | 0 comments

Agile: Bits vs. Atoms?

Building on the frustrations now evident at the basis for the Agile Manifesto’s creation, where did the current project management best practices seem to go “off-rails,” when this previously venerated philosophy had worked so well in the heavy construction, civil engineering, and physical product development environments? The answer to this question lies in understanding one of the causes for such an alarmingly high rate of failure when IT projects are attempted using this previously universal form of project management...

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Can Agile and Traditional (Predictive) Software Development Co-Exist?

Posted by on May 13, 2016 in Project Management | 0 comments

Can Agile and Traditional (Predictive) Software Development Co-Exist?

Beginning with this post, we will be posing a series of discussions on this question: Is Agile (Agile/Scrum) able to either peacefully co-exist with traditional (predictive) software development, or is the former on track to totally replace the latter? These blog posts are based on a whitepaper that I published in 2010 on this topic of the ability of Agile to co-exist with traditional software development. For those not completely aware of the birth of the Agile software development philosophy, a bit of non-Agilist history is in order. I use...

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What Changes are Ahead with the new PMBOK® Guide 6th Edition?

Posted by on Apr 13, 2016 in Project Management | 11 comments

What Changes are Ahead with the new PMBOK® Guide 6th Edition?

It’s that time again for PMI® to update the PMBOK® Guide and release the next edition. You may or may not be aware, but since the PMBOK® Guide is recognized as a standard by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) as an American National Standard, with the current 5th edition being BSR/PMI 99-001-2013. As a result, the PMBOK® Guide must be updated about every four years to reflect the latest in industry best practices. In March, PMI® released the exposure draft of the PMBOK® Guide 6th edition for review and comment. The 6th edition...

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A New Prescription to Cure What Ails Federal Program Management?

Posted by on Feb 16, 2016 in Project Management | 0 comments

A New Prescription to Cure What Ails Federal Program Management?

In December of 2008 the now defunct Council for Excellence in Government, presented a report entitled “Delivering Program Results: Improving Government Performance and Delivery”. (Note: Not to be confused with the recent report of a similar name from NAPA and PMI. My colleague wrote on that late last year.) This report capped an eight month study of Program Managers in the Federal government. The report was commissioned by the Office of Management and Budget’s then Deputy Director for Management, Mr. Clay Johnson III. The steering committee...

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The Learning Organization: Insights from NASA

Posted by on Dec 2, 2015 in Project Management | 0 comments

The Learning Organization: Insights from NASA

In my last blog I discussed the findings from a study the National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA), in conjunction with the Project Management Institute (PMI)® recently published in a white paper, “Improving Program Management in the Federal Government.”   They found acquiring knowledge to develop new skills or improve current skills is important, but it is just one factor in managing the challenges associated with delivering projects successfully. The organization and the context of project management in the organization can directly...

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Improving Project Management – Insights from NAPA

Posted by on Oct 20, 2015 in Project Management | 2 comments

Improving Project Management – Insights from NAPA

In past blogs I have been sharing project management success factors and discussing the challenges associated with delivering projects successfully. These have primarily been focused at actions the project manager and team can take. However, the organization, and the context of project management in the organization, can directly influence the success of projects. The National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA), in conjunction with the Project Management Institute (PMI)® recently released a whitepaper, “Improving Program Management...

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Managing Requirements: Verification vs. Validation

Posted by on Oct 2, 2015 in Project Management | 0 comments

Managing Requirements: Verification vs. Validation

A common source of project failure over the past two decades has continued to be the management or mismanagement of project requirements. We are not going to discuss project failure, but only to show that a clear understanding of some of the management concepts for project requirements is crucial to the dismantling of this frightful statistic of poor performance. One such understanding is the difference between requirement verification and validation: a concept in its current state of confusion that in our experience continues to provide a...

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Success is Difficult: Part Three

Posted by on Sep 11, 2015 in Project Management | 0 comments

Success is Difficult: Part Three

I started this series of blogs on project management challenges with a discussion of project management success factors (“Three Pillars of Project Management”). Then I asked the questions – if we have known how to be successful for more than 20 years, why is it so difficult? What are the challenges? In my most recent blogs, I talked about Challenge #1 – Uncertainty and Challenge #2 – Requirements. Today I will share some thoughts on about managing Challenge #3. Project Management Challenge #3 – Constraints Keeping with the theme of...

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Establishing a Successful IT PM Mentoring Program

Posted by on Sep 8, 2015 in Coaching & Mentoring, Project Management | 0 comments

Establishing a Successful IT PM Mentoring Program

Welcome back and if you did not read my previous blog post for August, you might want to quickly do that as it is background material for this follow-on post on how to establish a successful IT Project Management Mentoring Program at your organization. As we previously discussed, having a mentor when you are beginning or seeking to enhance your skills and abilities as an IT project manager, a mentor can provide help you achieve this objective. However, most companies or organizations do not have such a program to assist their PM staff. To...

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Integrating Internal Controls with Best Practices

Posted by on Aug 28, 2015 in Financial Management, Project Management | 2 comments

Integrating Internal Controls with Best Practices

In my previous blogs I talked about the different components that comprise the organizational environment where best practices can survive and thrive and the necessary role that leaders play in ensuring best practices are understood and followed through proper governance. In this blog I’ll address how the organization’s internal control program can ensure best practices become a vital part of the culture and management fabric in an organization. Internal control has a rocky history in the Federal government. I can remember when it was...

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IT Project Management Theory vs. Practice

Posted by on Aug 13, 2015 in Project Management | 2 comments

IT Project Management Theory vs. Practice

A question that is asked in many of my seminars is: “This is fine in theory, but what about practice: how do you manage IT projects in real life?” This is the fine line between what is being provided by the current “bodies of knowledge” that exist in the project management discipline and what actually works when a project manager has to put together a team and execute a real project. What from the theory of project management actually helps an experienced project manager in managing his/her IT project? First, it should be understood that the...

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Why Success is Difficult: Part Two

Posted by on Aug 4, 2015 in Project Management | 0 comments

Why Success is Difficult: Part Two

I started this series of blogs on project management challenges with a discussion of project management success factors (“Three Pillars of Project Management”). Then I asked the questions – if we have known how to be successful for over 20 years, why is it so difficult? What are the challenges? In my most recent blog, I talked about Challenge #1 – Uncertainty. Today I will share some thoughts on about managing Challenge #2. Project Management Challenge #2 – Requirements There are a myriad of examples in the literature (and the web) on how...

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Leadership – The Critical Element in Best Practices

Posted by on Jul 27, 2015 in Project Management | 0 comments

Leadership – The Critical Element in Best Practices

In my last blog, “What makes a ‘Practice’ Best?” I used a client example to cite various components that create an organizational environment where best practices can survive and thrive. In this environment, executives, managers, and supervisors coach, mentor, and support those at the operational level who are supposed to follow the policies and procedures set out by their leaders. Unfortunately, our team found multiple GAO, Inspector General, and audit reports on failed programs and projects where effective policies and procedures were in...

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FITARA: Improvement or Impasse?

Posted by on Jul 6, 2015 in Acquisition, Project Management | 0 comments

FITARA: Improvement or Impasse?

Anyone associated with government IT acquisitions, project management, or systems operation is likely to be familiar with the recently passed (Dec. 19, 2014) Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA). This overhaul of the IT acquisition and oversight for most Federal agencies and departments is the largest action signed into law since the 1996 Clinger-Cohen Act. There are many opinions and summaries of the FITARA’s requirements and stipulations, we are only going to discuss its potential benefits and possible...

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The PMP® Exam Is Changing – Update

Posted by on Jul 1, 2015 in Project Management | 0 comments

The PMP® Exam Is Changing – Update

In May, we told you about how the PMP Exam is changing effective November 2, 2015 to align with the annual PMP® Role Delineation Study (RDS) conducted in March 2015, which updated the description of the project management professional role. As a result of the study, exam content and qualification criteria is being updated to reflect the current status of the profession. Previously I focused primarily on describing the changes to the performance domains and the domain tasks which have now been finalized in the PMI® PMP® Examination Content...

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Moving IT PM to Agile

Posted by on Jun 18, 2015 in Project Management | 0 comments

Moving IT PM to Agile

One of the trickiest and formidable challenges facing many organizations is that of moving from the Waterfall to Agile lifecycle approaches to their IT project management activities. For instance, government organizations have a long and practiced history in the application of the traditional or sequential approach to managing all types of projects. These involved major weapon systems and construction projects such as the US Naval Nuclear Fleet build-up and the US Interstate Freeway System. These types of ‘atoms-based’ projects delivered...

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What Makes a “Practice” Best?

Posted by on Jun 16, 2015 in Acquisition, Project Management | 1 comment

What Makes a “Practice” Best?

During the Civil War (as the story goes) a Union Soldier’s widow approached President Lincoln to complain about her husband’s death. Her complaint was that her husband died, not from a grievous battle wound, but an infection in his feet. It began with sores worn into his feet by the shoes he was issued. Letters to his wife always mentioned how these shoes fell apart when they got wet, never seemed to last long, and had to be constantly repaired with whatever materials he could find. In those days war profiteers (many of whom were Union...

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If We Know How To Be Successful, Why Is It So Difficult?

Posted by on Jun 12, 2015 in Project Management | 0 comments

If We Know How To Be Successful, Why Is It So Difficult?

Last time I talked about my “three pillars of project management.” They were built from an analysis of project management success factors. During that analysis it struck me that I was reading about the same success factors that were being discussed when I started managing projects 20 years ago (e.g., Pinto and Kharbandra. 1995). So it struck me – if we have known how to be successful for so long, why is it so difficult? I came up with a list of “challenges” that could help answer my question. I will provide these, with some ways to...

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The PMP® Exam Is Changing

Posted by on May 21, 2015 in Project Management | 2 comments

The PMP® Exam Is Changing

If you are considering sitting for the PMP® exam, you might want to hurry! PMI® recently announced that the PMP® exam is changing. The new exam becomes effective on November 2, 2015. Until then, the current PMP® exam is still in effect. Why the Change? The changes are the result of the annual PMP® Role Delineation Study (RDS) conducted in March 2015 which updated the description of the project management professional role. The RDS gathered information from project management practitioners and examined the specific tasks of a project...

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Three Pillars of Project Management

Posted by on May 14, 2015 in Project Management | 0 comments

Three Pillars of Project Management

The Three Pillars of Project Management I continually research project management “success factors” – those things successful projects do better than other projects. If success was just about getting a project management certification, I would think there would be a correlation between the increase in project management certifications and an increase in successful projects.   I contend we are getting better at delivering successful projects, however, I feel there are still major obstacles in being successful. In compiling this list of...

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Project Management for Non-Project Managers

Posted by on May 1, 2015 in Project Management | 0 comments

Project Management for Non-Project Managers

Almost everyday someone has a “project” for you to do. It may be a formal project that is accomplished by an Integrated Project Team (IPT) with some form of formal planning and control, or an assignment that is a quick-response informal task such as the preparation of a briefing or a report. The first example might be given to a recognized or certified project manager, but not necessarily. The second example is often given to whomever the manager feels can do the work or who is available. Projects are not defined the same way in all...

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Project Management Plans

Posted by on Apr 21, 2015 in Project Management | 0 comments

Project Management Plans

When I am asked for a template for a Project Management Plan, I have to give my usual consulting answer – “It depends.” Because I have found that there is no one template that works for every project. The plan must be tailored for the type of project, the rigor of the processes required to manage the effort, and the organizational requirements for documentation. The rigor is determined by the complexity of the project (e.g., number of interactions, type of work), risks (e.g., new technologies, new policies), size (e.g., number of people on...

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The Struggle to Improve IT Acquisition

Posted by on Mar 13, 2015 in Acquisition, Project Management | 0 comments

The Struggle to Improve IT Acquisition

The Federal government wastes about half of the $80 billion per year it spends on IT. Agencies spend, on average, seven times more on IT per employee than their counterparts in the private sector. These alarming figures come out of a recent report from the International Association of Information Technology Asset Managers (IAITAM), which criticizes the Federal government’s unreasonably high spending on IT. The report says that, on average, private sector companies spend under $5,000 per employee on IT; while on the Federal side, the report...

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New FAC-P/PM Curriculum Kicks Off

Posted by on Feb 24, 2015 in Acquisition, Project Management | 1 comment

New FAC-P/PM Curriculum Kicks Off

The Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP) 2013 memo outlined the major revisions to the Federal Acquisition Certification for Program and Project Managers (FAC-P/PM) Program, which became effective on March 31, 2014. OFPP’s move to update the program – particularly to incorporate issues surrounding the frequently troubled Federal IT project – shows the government’s dedication to strive for innovation and improvement. Training the Federal workforce should always be a priority, and the moves to update Federal Acquisition Certifications,...

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How Leaders Can Bridge the Gap Between Where They Are Now and Where They Want to Be – It’s All in the Mind

Posted by on Feb 11, 2015 in Leadership, Project Management, Workforce Management | 0 comments

How Leaders Can Bridge the Gap Between Where They Are Now and Where They Want to Be – It’s All in the Mind

In a previous post I presented a basic approach to goal setting that could be used to help leaders acquire new skills as they set goals to make the required behavior changes necessary to close the gap between where they currently are and where they want to be in their careers. The steps to closing the gap include several elements that should be considered when setting behavior-change goals. Goal setting for closing any skill gap is a process. The same process can be applied to any goal, whether professional, organizational, or personal. The...

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How Leaders Can Bridge the Gap Between Where They Are Now and Where They Want to Be

Posted by on Jan 27, 2015 in Leadership, Project Management | 2 comments

How Leaders Can Bridge the Gap Between Where They Are Now and Where They Want to Be

All leaders and managers are motivated to improve their skillset for many reasons; however, they are generally motivated by the opportunity to accomplish challenging goals and objects (Achievement), influence and control others (Power), and being able to work with others (Affiliation).  Successful leaders and managers are never satisfied with the status quo, especially when it comes to their own skills and abilities. As a result, they take personal responsibility and strive to continually improve their technical, leadership, and business...

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Career Resolutions for You and Your Staff

Posted by on Jan 22, 2015 in Acquisition, Coaching & Mentoring, Financial Management, Grants & Assistance, Human Resources, Leadership, Project Management, Workforce Management | 0 comments

Career Resolutions for You and Your Staff

Each January, we all make resolutions with varying degrees of sincerity and dedication. As we get further and further from New Year celebrations, life has a way of creeping in. Achieving lifestyle changes is not solely about exercise or dieting; it should also be about improving your professional competence and positioning yourself and/or your staff for future success. This year, why not try a different resolution? Are you an individual trying to manage your career? Resolve to focus on your career. Ask for the stretch assignment. Explore...

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Common Risk Ailment: Risk Management Depression

Posted by on Jan 14, 2015 in Project Management | 0 comments

For many organizations, much of their risk-taking is embodied in the projects they perform. The medical metaphor can be helpful to explain recurrent issues, using a recognized medical condition to shed light on a difficulty that causes people to be ineffective in the way they manage risk. By drawing parallels between the medical condition and the risk management problem, I explore why it matters and how it can be addressed. Risk DepressionRisk management should address both good and bad risks, preferably in an integrated process. Despite this...

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Common Risk Ailment: Risk Blindness

Posted by on Dec 23, 2014 in Project Management | 0 comments

For many businesses, much of their risk-taking is embodied in the projects they perform. The medical metaphor can be helpful to explain recurrent issues, using a recognized medical condition to shed light on a difficulty that causes people to be ineffective in the way they manage risk. By drawing parallels between the medical condition and the risk management problem, I explore why it matters and how it can be addressed. Risk Blindness“Risk blindness” is the condition of being unaware of the existence of risk. “Seeing is believing,” so when...

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Communication Skills Lead to More Effective Project Teams

Posted by on Dec 9, 2014 in Project Management | 0 comments

Managing the technical aspects of an IT project can be very challenging on its own. When you consider the need to communicate effectively with stakeholders and project team members, successful IT project management becomes even more complex. Without effective and foundational communication skills, project management teams can experience significant challenges moving projects toward their desired state. The Project Management Institute in its report on effective communication says “whether it’s in person or via email, with a sponsor or a...

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Clear Communication and Federal IT Project Success

Posted by on Nov 25, 2014 in Project Management | 0 comments

One of the most common shortcomings in Federal projects is a failure to communicate effectively. Clearly communicating requirements, progress, and expectations is essential to avoiding rework, missed deadlines, and budget overruns. It’s usually skills like listening, interpersonal relationships, and emotional intelligence that make or break Federal IT projects.  To improve project outcomes, staff managing these projects should take professional skills training in addition to having on-the-job expertise. In my soon-to-be-released resource, The...

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Does Anyone Look at Those End-of-Course Evaluations Anyway?

Posted by on Nov 12, 2014 in Acquisition, Financial Management, Human Resources, Leadership, Project Management | 2 comments

Does Anyone Look at Those End-of-Course Evaluations Anyway?

When you complete an evaluation, do you ever wonder if anyone actually looks at your responses? Do companies take your feedback seriously and make changes based on what you have to say? If they are asking for your feedback, they should review it and take action when warranted. Anyone who has taken one of Management Concepts training courses knows there will be an end-of-course evaluation to complete. Why? It’s good practice to collect students’ feedback on courses they’ve just taken. We collect feedback about the learning experience including...

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Using Positive Politics to Move Business Analysis Forward

Posted by on Nov 10, 2014 in Project Management | 0 comments

Effective business analysts must be adept in a number of competencies and skills to accomplish their goals. In my new book, Breakthrough Business Analysis: Implementing and Sustaining a Value-Based Practice, I examine one soft skill in particular that can make or break a successful business process implementation: using positive politics and influencing skills.  Here’s an excerpt: Building a new business process such as business analysis is a challenging endeavor. First, you must gain executive sponsorship and organizational alignment. Do you...

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GSA’s 18F Consulting to Aid in Government Adoption of Agile Project Management

Posted by on Nov 5, 2014 in Project Management | 0 comments

In the current Federal environment, there is a growing need to replace existing systems with newer, more robust systems. Anyone familiar with Federal agency processes can certainly appreciate that this is no easy feat; there are implicit challenges when creating new systems. But, the application of Agile project management methodologies can make the process smoother and more manageable. As the need for better systems and processes has increased, Federal agencies need help implementing these projects using Agile project management. 18F, the...

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Leadership Skills Critical to Federal IT Project and Acquisition Success

Posted by on Oct 22, 2014 in Project Management | 0 comments

We all see Federal agencies focusing more on the importance of cultivating strong leadership skills, including team building, problem solving, and effective communication, particularly for Feds in IT. Take the 27th annual GCN Awards Gala; it showcased Fed IT ingenuity, teamwork, honored 20 standout projects for their achievements and impact across government. Among the awards was the ground-breaking effort by the Chief Information Officer (CIO) of the CIA, Doug Wolfe. Wolfe’s outstanding leadership enabled the CIA to set up cloud services for...

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The Value of Project Management Skills and Roles in Federal IT Projects

Posted by on Oct 7, 2014 in Human Resources, Leadership, Project Management | 0 comments

Despite the technical improvements made in many Federal IT programs, the Federal IT workforce often still lacks the foundational project management skills necessary for project and program success. Time and again, we see large-scale projects fail. However, with the right project management training, skills, and tools, IT projects can yield effective results. Leadership, communication, understanding of contracts, and the balance of schedule and cost are necessary for project participants to move beyond their assigned tasks and work to solve...

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The Human Side of Project Management

Posted by on Oct 1, 2014 in Project Management | 0 comments

My new book, Maximizing Project Success Through Human Performance, focuses on what has been missing from most major project management methodologies – how to lead actual humans in successful projects.  Most experienced project managers know by now that project success or failure hinges on more than just schedules, budgets, and quality control; it’s almost always about people. One of the most challenging people situations every project manager faces is dealing with a difficult person you just don’t like — and would even rather avoid. Here’s an...

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Nextgov Prime 2014 Recap: What Will Federal Project Management Look Like in 2020?

Posted by on Sep 23, 2014 in Project Management | 0 comments

Panel: Advancing Procurement at the Pace of Technological ChangeHost:Steve Benjamin, Management ConceptsPanelists: Jaymie Durnan, DoD; David McClure, GSA; Joanne Woytek, NASA Along with several of my Management Concepts colleagues, I recently participated in Nextgov Prime 2014, a two-day event designed, implemented, and attended by Federal leaders and Nextgov’s Fed tech-focused staff. This year’s theme was Gov_2020: Embracing the Art of the Possible. Through breakout sessions, keynote addresses, and panels, participants sought to discuss and...

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How to Make Training “Stick”

Posted by on Sep 10, 2014 in Acquisition, Financial Management, Grants & Assistance, Human Resources, Leadership, Project Management | 0 comments

How to Make Training “Stick”

As summer is ending and kids are going back to school, I was thinking about ways to get the most out of learning. While there are many reasons for attending a training class, most of us take training to meet a certification requirement, or because we need to improve/expand our skills. Just like we tell our kids to do in school, we know that during training, it’s important to take good notes, interact positively with our instructor and classmates, and pay attention to the lessons that are covered. Doing these things will get you through the...

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IT Project Management: Critical to the Success of Your Projects

Posted by on Aug 27, 2014 in Project Management | 0 comments

In October 2013, Computerworld published an article that stated the “success rate for large, multi-million dollar commercial and government IT projects is very low.” The article quoted data from the Standish Group showing that only 6.4 percent of large IT projects from 2003–2012 were successful. Why is that the case? Managing IT projects has many challenges. A significant, contributing factor is that information is an invisible commodity. For example, when you contrast IT with construction of a new high-rise building, every component in...

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Project Managers, Do You Have the Symptoms of Risk Myopia?

Posted by on Aug 26, 2014 in Project Management | 0 comments

“Risk myopia” occurs when individuals or groups are short-sighted about risk, unable to take in the full risk picture, which leads them to focus exclusively on short-term risks or those within a limited perspective. DIAGNOSIS/SYMPTOMS The risk landscape is broad, covering a wide range of uncertainties that could affect our ability to achieve our objectives. It stretches into the far distant future, over the horizon and beyond our sight. We need to understand and manage any and every uncertainty that matters, including those that originate far...

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Workforce Planning Is Key to a High-Performing Future Agency

Posted by on Aug 22, 2014 in Human Resources, Leadership, Project Management | 0 comments

The Federal Government’s most valued resource is its people. At a time when the Government faces what the GAO describes as a “period of profound transition,” management of human resources within the Government has become a key driver of not only achieving mission today but also of positioning agencies to be ready to achieve missions in the future. Despite advances in human capital management in the Federal Government, strategic human capital management has been designated by the GAO as government-wide high-risk area since 2001. Last year the...

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Feedback: Pay it Forward

Posted by on Aug 15, 2014 in Human Resources, Leadership, Project Management | 0 comments

You’ve heard of the expression “pay it forward,” where instead of repaying a favor when a person helps you out, you pay the favor forward by helping someone else when they need it. Well, I couldn’t help but think of this idea as I was recently looking over survey data gathered by a team of my Management Concepts colleagues. Each year we work with many individuals who are either working towards or have recently moved into supervisory roles in their organization, and we were curious to see how prepared they felt to take on their new...

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Does It Make Any Difference?

Posted by on Aug 14, 2014 in Acquisition, Financial Management, Human Resources, Leadership, Project Management | 0 comments

Does It Make Any Difference?

From time to time it is important to take stock of why we invest our energy in the things that occupy us.   Birthdays, job changes, and retirements are points where we as individuals commonly reflect and ask “does what I do make any difference?” In early August my colleague, Cleve Pillifant, retired from Management Concepts.  He joins the cadre of senior “‘tweens” who work on occasion a few days or weeks here and there, ‘tween work habits compacted over a career and a complete leisure retirement.   Cleve proudly and irreverently (as is his...

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Is Trustworthiness a Professional Competency?

Posted by on Aug 8, 2014 in Human Resources, Leadership, Project Management | 2 comments

Trust as Essential for Engagement According to the 2010 Deloitte Ethics & Workplace Survey, 48% of employees cite loss of trust in the organization as a driving factor in the decision to look for a new job. In a recent Federal News Radio survey, 90% of respondents answered “yes” to the question, “Does the government need to rebuild trust with its employees?” and almost 68% of survey respondents believe lack of trust is causing employees to leave government service. “Trust is a symptom of whether or not employee...

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Levels, levels everywhere and not an ounce of clarity anywhere!

Posted by on Aug 4, 2014 in Financial Management, Human Resources, Leadership, Project Management | 0 comments

About once or twice a year, I find myself sitting in a meeting with clients and colleagues, and I suddenly realize that confusion has ensued without people realizing it. I specifically remember one meeting where, despite that fact that we were all training and learning experts in our own right — we began to talk past each other. The discussion was on “levels.”  A few of us had confused looks on our faces. The discussion continued as each person tried to explain and re-explain the points they were trying to make. After several painful...

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Windshield or Bug? — How to Thrive During Change

Posted by on Aug 1, 2014 in Human Resources, Leadership, Project Management | 0 comments

As both Mary Chapin Carpenter and Dire Straits have pointed out, “Sometimes you’re the windshield, sometimes you’re the bug.” This isn’t exactly the case with change in organizations because there are inevitably fewer people leading the change than there are people impacted by a change they don’t control. Change management practitioners would emphasize that every individual has influence over whether change is accepted in their organization. From change champions to passive accepters to active resistors, everyone can affect change. In many...

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Start With Goals: Optimizing Talent in the Federal Workforce

Posted by on Jul 31, 2014 in Human Resources, Leadership, Project Management | 0 comments

With constantly changing technology to keep up with, demands for efficiency and a shortage of millenials entering their ranks, Federal leaders are under more pressure than ever to recruit and retain new talent, and get more from existing employees. The need to optimize talent in the workforce is evident. How do you begin to assess the critical skills gaps in your workforce, and align professional development and training to agency missions and goals? And once you have a vision of what your future workforce should look like, how can you make...

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Having an “HMU” Instead of an Attack

Posted by on Jul 25, 2014 in Financial Management, Human Resources, Leadership, Project Management | 0 comments

A senior leader at a Federal agency I recently worked with was revered throughout the organization, known for his wisdom, excellent communication skills and approachability. When something went bad or wrong with anyone, he would sit down with the person and have an “HMU” conversation. Before explaining what an HMU is, it is important to remember how most conversations go in many organizations when something goes wrong. The conversation often goes badly, evokes negative emotions, defensiveness, hurt feelings, future avoidance and other damage....

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Instructional Games in Government and Industry

Posted by on Jul 23, 2014 in Financial Management, Human Resources, Leadership, Project Management | 0 comments

A growing trend in today’s business learning environments has been moving toward simultaneously teaching and experiencing important ideas through verbal, tactile, and surrogate methods.   In other words, we don’t just describe, display, and observe — we simulate.   Game-based business simulations provide a means for students to perform tasks, demonstrate skills, and also exhibit attitudes in order to create or experience effective approaches in dealing with real or potential situations. The concept and practice of simulations are not...

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Affordable Care Act’s Butterfly Effect

Posted by on Jul 18, 2014 in Human Resources, Leadership, Project Management | 0 comments

In conversation, a friend often mentions the “Law of Unintended Consequences,” which refers to chain-event related outcomes that may not have been foreseen when an initiating action occurred. It is an extension of Chaos theory’s “Butterfly Effect” that suggests unforeseen linkages such as, “When a butterfly in California flaps its wings, weeks later, a typhoon hits Asia.” From a management perspective, this is “Systems Thinking,” the art and science of making reliable inferences about behavior by developing an increasingly deep understanding...

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Be Prepared for IT Leaders Retiring: Start Training Your High Potential Staff Now

Posted by on Jul 17, 2014 in Human Resources, Leadership, Project Management | 0 comments

The aging demographics of the Federal workforce has been apparent for years, and the latest set of data (March 2014) released by OPM show no improvement in the outlook.  In the short term, the government has the benefit of the long years of service and experience of a seasoned workforce. Almost half of the IT workforce is now age 50 and above. Most of these workers are retirement eligible at age 55 or 56, so within a few years, as older workers retire and leave Federal service, so leaves that experience. Funding in the Federal budget for...

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I’ll take Cognitive Analytics for $1000, Alex

Posted by on Jul 16, 2014 in Analytics, Human Resources, Leadership, Project Management | 0 comments

I’ll take Cognitive Analytics for $1000, Alex

One of my fondest memories from my childhood is my family’s nightly ritual of gathering around the TV to watch Jeopardy! with Alex Trebek. I’m still a big fan of the show and when, in 2011, IBM”s Watson took on two Jeopardy champions I was captivated. Having worked on some early efforts to use Natural Language Parsing (NLP) and Latent Semantic Analysis (LSA), it was great to see how the technologies had advanced to allow querying of large sets of unstructured data using plain language queries. Watson is just one, impressive, example of the...

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ICYMI: We’ve Got Training for the IT Professional!

Posted by on Jul 9, 2014 in Project Management | 0 comments

Have you heard that we’ve launched a curriculum for Federal IT Professionals? If you work on an IT project, you’re responsible for the ultimate and overall success of the project, not just your specific responsibilities. In fact, everyone involved must know the ins and outs of IT project management to ensure overall project success. While your technical training is essential, basic IT project management is just as crucial – it makes you a well-rounded expert.  Further, a basic understanding of leadership, communications, contracting, and...

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Don’t Forget the Sammies This 4th of July!

Posted by on Jul 3, 2014 in Acquisition, Financial Management, Human Resources, Leadership, Project Management | 0 comments

Don’t Forget the Sammies This 4th of July!

I’m not referring to the “sammies” you may be planning for a July 4th picnic celebration, but you can get back to perusing tasty recipes for your holiday menu in just a minute. I’ll be brief. I’m talking about what are referred to as the “Oscars” of government service awards: The Service to America Medals awarded each year by the DC-based Partnership for Public Service. The Sammies recognize “outstanding Federal employees who are making high-impact contributions to the health, safety and welfare of countless Americans and others around the...

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Rock Your Next Federal Job Interview

Posted by on Jun 27, 2014 in Acquisition, Financial Management, Human Resources, Leadership, Project Management | 0 comments

You’ve completed the self-assessment, submitted your resume via USAjobs.gov, and have been selected for an interview. Now what?  Interviewing can be quite nerve-wracking in general, but can be even more so for a Federal job, which is quite different from interviewing with a private firm. Successful planning and preparing in advance will be the key to success… and hopefully an offer for employment. Below are some tips on preparing for a Federal job interview. Before the interview… Prepare Using the Job Announcement: You applied and tailored...

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4 Generation Workforce: Instructional Challenges for Human Resources & Management Leaders

Posted by on Jun 25, 2014 in Acquisition, Financial Management, Human Resources, Leadership, Project Management | 0 comments

“They’ve been called Generation Y. They’ve been called Echo Boomers. They may go by different names, but there’s no debate about their effect on business. They are the fastest growing segment of your employee population. They’ve been trained to use their heads more than their hands to solve problems.  It will take a new set of leadership skills to understand their perspective and motivate them to succeed.”  –  Donald D. Shandler, Ph.D., Assistant Vice President, Graduate and Adult Education, Marymount University, and author of...

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Pop Quiz: How Do You Evaluate Training?

Posted by on Jun 24, 2014 in Acquisition, Financial Management, Human Resources, Leadership, Project Management | 0 comments

Recently, I’ve encountered several instances where agencies want to make sure they get what they pay for when training their employees. One method that I’ve observed is giving students a test at the beginning and end of a class. At first glance, this makes sense: Let’s make sure the employees are learning something when we spend our scarce training dollars. To understand the limitations of the before and after test, let’s look at Laura, a GS-9 analyst with ambitions to move up to deputy program manager and eventually to program manager. Laura...

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Now What? When Federal IT Leaders Leave

Posted by on Jun 17, 2014 in Project Management | 0 comments

Any workforce – including the government – is dynamic and will continue to change.  But what do we do when strong IT leaders step down? Late last month both DoD CIO Teri Takai and head of GSA’s Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies Dave McClure announced their resignations – both are innovative and strong IT supporters.  Takai and McClure have noted interest to move to the private sector, so the question remains, what are Feds left to do with their massive IT projects when the leaders leave for (often) greener pastures? It...

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Stop Feeling Overwhelmed! Three Questions You Should Ask When Weighing Leadership Development Options

Posted by on Jun 4, 2014 in Human Resources, Leadership, Project Management | 0 comments

The most successful leaders know that you can never stop learning and should continually invest in your professional development. That’s easier said than done these days because there are more options than ever for leadership development and professional services like leadership coaching. While the leadership development landscape was once dominated by commercial providers (ahem, Management Concepts), both public and private universities are furiously entering the leadership development market. The good news is you have a lot of high-quality...

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Assuring Successful Adoption of Business Innovations

Posted by on May 27, 2014 in Acquisition, Financial Management, Human Resources, Leadership, Project Management | 2 comments

It’s common practice for the government and commercial entities to periodically modify their organization’s reporting structure, business processes, and day-to-day procedures to adapt to the changing needs of the agency or company.  And … it’s human nature to be resistant or hesitant to the accepting the changes, or confused by the new ideas that result from those actions.   Senior leadership tends to introduce the “new ways of doing things” through policies, memos, all-hands meetings, and the all too frequent “word of mouth.”  Although these...

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Employee Performance: Do You See the Big Picture?

Posted by on May 27, 2014 in Acquisition, Financial Management, Human Resources, Leadership, Project Management | 0 comments

Linda, a supervisor of an eight-person analysis team, went home every night for a week frustrated that her team wasn’t getting the job done. She shared her frustrations with her husband over dinners, “Maybe this team just doesn’t have what it takes. Charles and Kelly don’t seem to understand some of the analyses we do. And, Jose and Pat just seem apathetic most of the time.” Linda’s husband asks, “Wait, didn’t you invest a lot in training those four last year? Remember how many dinners I ate alone because you were doing their work while they...

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7 Tips to Avoid Project Misalignment

Posted by on May 20, 2014 in Project Management | 0 comments

One of the most difficult project management issues to diagnose is project misalignment, which occurs when the goals of one working group do not match those of another or when an organization pursues an endeavor that is inconsistent with its core competencies. For that reason, sometimes a misaligned IT project is like having a billion-dollar back sprain. Too often, complex IT projects are compromised due to a lack of proper integration of the project team members and organization leadership. During a session at the 2014 Federal Office Systems...

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NASA Ups Its Project Planning and Requirements Game

Posted by on May 9, 2014 in Project Management | 0 comments

With a playground as big as the universe, there is no question that NASA has some of the most complex projects in the Federal workspace. And with complex projects comes increased risk, which is why NASA has been making greater strides each year in improving its project planning. In a new report, published April 15, 2014, the GAO details its annual assessment of NASA’s major projects. GAO has been conducting these assessments for the last five years in response to an explanatory statement of the House Committee on Appropriations accompanying...

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Use the Active Voice for More Impactful Writing

Posted by on May 8, 2014 in Acquisition, Financial Management, Grants & Assistance, Human Resources, Leadership, Project Management | 0 comments

We often lessen the impact of our writing by using the passive voice. In The Government Manager’s Guide to Plain Language, I offer some very practical guidance and examples that illustrate how government managers can add directness and impact to their communications, both with their staff and with the public. Give it a try with something you’ve written recently. See the difference? PREFER THE ACTIVE VOICE In an active sentence, the person or agency performing an action is the subject of the sentence. In a passive sentence, the person or item...

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Not Just Phoning It In: HR’s Role in Supporting Agency Telework

Posted by on May 7, 2014 in Human Resources, Leadership, Project Management | 3 comments

I attended the Federal Workplace Training and Expo recently. There were many great presentations, but my favorite by far was by Mika Cross from OPM on the topic of telework. I was not surprised to hear that 32% of teleworkers participate in telework three or more days a week. I was surprised, however, to learn that 12% of Federal workers have not been notified of their telework eligibility and 24% of Federal Agencies still do not have a telework policy in place to meet the Telework Enhancement Act of 2010. (You can learn more about the act...

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Assess Before You Diagnose

Posted by on Apr 22, 2014 in Acquisition, Financial Management, Grants & Assistance, Human Resources, Leadership, Project Management | 0 comments

I opened my copy of Performance Improvement recently and was excited to read “An Ounce of Good Assessment is Worth A Pound of Analysis and A Ton of Cure” by Roger Kaufman. It is only natural for managers and executives to diagnose their organizations. They want quick answers. The sooner they can figure out what is causing a problem, the sooner they can focus on getting “real work” done. When I go to the doctor, I am the same way. I’ve already Googled my symptoms and think I know what’s wrong. I don’t want to spend time talking about the...

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Oregon Expands Monitoring of IT Projects to Increase Quality

Posted by on Apr 15, 2014 in Project Management | 0 comments

Sometimes the best thing project teams can do is to learn from past mistakes. And if the biggest mistake was not checking on project quality throughout the process, then the lesson learned should be to use a better project management oversight process! The state of Oregon is doing just that as they recover from the challenges of their Cover Oregon website, a project that is intended to serve as the state’s implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Oregon is now looking ahead at its current and planned IT projects with...

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Bar Rescue – Turnaround Management

Posted by on Apr 9, 2014 in Leadership, Project Management | 0 comments

I have recently discovered a TV reality show called Bar Rescue, which is now in its third season on Spike. The premise of the show is that the fantasy of being in the bar business attracts owners with little experience into this highly competitive world, where businesses fail early, and often. Because of the mismatch between fantasy and reality, many bars fail due to mismanagement and poor market strategy. Often, the owners’ intentions are good, but they simply make uninformed decisions or abdicate responsibility when the situation gets...

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Is ILT Dying?

Posted by on Apr 8, 2014 in Acquisition, Financial Management, Grants & Assistance, Human Resources, Leadership, Project Management | 0 comments

Yes, ILT (instructor-led training) is dying, but we need not mourn its loss. Instead, we should realize we are standing on the brink of something exhilarating: the reincarnation of instructor-led training as virtual instructor-led training (VILT). The traditional brick-and-mortar ILT classroom has been smoldering for a while now. As federal travel budgets shrink and training dollars dry up (although the future of training is looking up), organizations are seeking alternatives to fill their training needs. Organizations are continually looking...

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GSA Uses the Cloud to Smash Barriers

Posted by on Apr 4, 2014 in Human Resources, Leadership, Project Management | 0 comments

The term road block is synonymous with barrier for a reason. Perhaps that’s what inspired the General Services Administration (GSA) to look to the cloud to overcome communication barriers as they move toward a hoteling model for their office workspaces. As discussed in The 77 Deadly Sins of Project Management, if your project hits a barrier—anything that restrains or obstructs progress or access—that means there is something coming in between you and the success of your project. As project managers, it is our duty to remove barriers to keep...

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Tips for Government Managers to Overcome Writer’s Block

Posted by on Apr 3, 2014 in Acquisition, Financial Management, Grants & Assistance, Human Resources, Leadership, Project Management | 0 comments

Whether writing a business plan, memo, or report, one of the hardest tasks government managers face in writing is getting started. In my recent book, The Government Manager’s Guide to Plain Language, I offer some  tips to help you break through the writer’s block we all experience—and also to help you make an initial assessment of what you have written before passing it along for editing and review.   TIPS FOR WRITING DRAFTS To make the draft stage easier and more productive, consider the following steps: • Once you have a complete...

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Contract Negotiation: The Ambiguous Authority Tactic

Posted by on Feb 20, 2014 in Acquisition, Financial Management, Grants & Assistance, Human Resources, Leadership, Project Management, Uncategorized | 0 comments

In The Government Manager’s Guide to Contract Negotiation, author LeGette McIntyre offers federal negotiators a host of tactics they can use to get a solid, fair deal for their agency. One of these tactics is the “ambiguous authority” tactic—which we’ve all been subjected to when we’ve bought a car! How do you employ the tactic to get the best deal for the government? Share some experiences with your colleagues and we’ll all be better prepared for the next negotiation!   THE AMBIGUOUS AUTHORITY TACTIC You can use the ambiguous authority...

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What Can You Learn About Mentoring From the Game of Tennis?

Posted by on Feb 12, 2014 in Human Resources, Leadership, Project Management | 0 comments

Here’s a mentoring tip, borrowed from the world of tennis. In tennis, the mantra is that if you want to get better, you should play against people a little better than you. (Not a lot better, because you get smoked 6-0 and that’s just demotivating.) The reason playing against people a little better than you is so important is that in doing so you start to notice moves you would not have made. The other person is playing a different, better game. It has been said that all the best moves are stolen.At work, I recommend identifying people who...

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Go Ahead, Make My Year

Posted by on Jan 10, 2014 in Financial Management, Leadership, Project Management | 1 comment

There is a small, weekly column in the Washington Post titled Animal Watch that chronicles the various adventures of animals of all kinds – dogs, cats, raccoons, eagles and more. The Animal Control Department is often called. This column is very cleverly written and headlined. It always brings a chuckle in my household. And with the New Year underway, I decided to do something about it. What does this have to do with leadership and why should you care about this? In working with leaders, managers and supervisors, we always emphasize the...

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Make Peace with Change and Focus on Building Resilience

Posted by on Jan 3, 2014 in Financial Management, Human Resources, Leadership, Project Management | 0 comments

Management Concepts recently identified 5 Essential NEW Leadership Habits for Federal Leaders. The second item on that list is “Make peace with change and focus on building resilience.” It was not so very long ago that many people in organizations sought to minimize risk, preserve the status quo and even get by until retirement. That strategy worked, in a sense, so long as the going was good. Today, it is a very different story. Beset with change, disruption, technological and social transformation, and rising demands for results, practically...

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Healthcare.gov and the Impact on P/PM in 2014

Posted by on Jan 2, 2014 in Acquisition, Project Management | 0 comments

I know I’ve mentioned this throughout this blog, but we all know that Healthcare.gov has been the hot Federal IT topic in 2013.  This legendary flawed rollout will have ramifications on federal acquisition reform for 2014 and years to come. Trey Hodgkins, senior vice president of public sector at the Information Technology Industry Council said yesterday: “HealthCare.gov is critical because it has ignited a discussion on IT acquisition in Washington not seen since the 1980s. There is an alignment of political will on the issue and a healthy...

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Play Dumb to Get What You Want: The Question Tactic in Negotiation

Posted by on Dec 27, 2013 in Acquisition, Financial Management, Grants & Assistance, Human Resources, Leadership, Project Management | 0 comments

Play Dumb to Get What You Want: The Question Tactic in Negotiation

Negotiation skills aren’t just for entrepreneurs on Shark Tank. Federal managers can also benefit from mastering these valuable skills. In The Government Manager’s Guide to Contract Negotiation, LeGette McIntyre offers some very specific tactics that could help any fed facing a tough negotiation. Here’s a great example from the book that McIntyre calls “The Question Tactic.” Try this in your next meeting and let us know your results. THE QUESTION TACTIC In any negotiation, knowledge is power. You increase your power relative to the other side...

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Don’t Forget Your Kids…or Necessary Training! OFPP Updates FAC-P/PM

Posted by on Dec 19, 2013 in Acquisition, Leadership, Project Management | 0 comments

You know what else will help avoid Healthcare.gov repeats in the future?  Better equipped Federal project and program managers. The Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP) has just released updated guidance (new since 2007) on the Federal Acquisition Certification for Program and Project Managers (FAC-P/PM) requirements. As Jason Miller, at FederalNewsRadio.com reported, “Under new requirements from the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, agency Chief Acquisition Officers (CAOs) no longer have the option to waive all or part of the...

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How Communication Will Save Your Job, the Holidays…and Avoid Squirrels, the FBI, and Cousin Eddie

Posted by on Dec 12, 2013 in Leadership, Project Management | 0 comments

On Monday I blogged about the pitfalls to written communications – especially within the Federal-Contractor relationship.  Now we’re looking at a similar topic – the top pitfalls in face-to-face communications.  Whether it’s your upcoming family-filled holidays, or a meeting at work, you’d be surprised how the rise of the smartphone has decreased our basic ability to communicate with one another. I was at dinner last night and the family next to me – all five of them – were lost in their devices.  No one was talking, just five heads down,...

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Federal Contract Source Selection…Let’s Work Together

Posted by on Dec 11, 2013 in Acquisition, Project Management | 0 comments

When involved in Federal acquisition source selection, Charles Solloway, Jr., author of The Government Manager’s Guide to Source Selection, highlights the need for stakeholder consensus as imperative to contractual success. Solloway believes the need for stakeholders to collaborate is not just a business cliché, but rather a vital step in the procurement process.  Any stakeholder can be a showstopper in the effort to reach a timely consensus on how to proceed with an acquisition. Reaching a consensus is no easy matter. Here are his methods...

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The Workplace Wisdom of Christopher Robin

Posted by on Dec 9, 2013 in Financial Management, Human Resources, Leadership, Project Management | 0 comments

A few weeks ago, my wife and I were finally getting around to cleaning out the coat closet when we stumbled on our kids’ baby books. As we leafed through the pages of memories, I ran across a snapshot of my son carrying a Winnie the Pooh stuffed animal.  I was reminded of how central Winnie, Piglet, Eeyore, Tigger and the rest of the inhabitants of the Hundred Acre Wood were for several years of our lives.  Thinking back on that time, I was reminded of one of my favorite quotes when Christopher Robin said to Pooh, “Promise me you’ll...

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You’ve Got the “Write” Stuff – Top 10 Pitfalls of Effective Fed-Contractor Communication

Posted by on Dec 9, 2013 in Acquisition, Leadership, Project Management | 0 comments

OK, So the New Kids on the Block song may be a bit out of date.  (I wouldn’t necessarily still call them “new”).  But having the right stuff in collaborative work environments is still vitally important – specifically with the Fed-Contractor relationship, as it relates to these large-scale (and high profile) projects and programs. But what do I mean by the “write” stuff?  Well, in an era of practically only written communication, if you think about it, (email, text, etc.) everyone – regardless of career – should be effective written...

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99 Problems But a Communications Plan Ain’t One

Posted by on Dec 5, 2013 in Acquisition, Leadership, Project Management | 0 comments

As we near the end of 2013 and (hopefully) the end of “Obamacare-gate,” Feds and contractors alike need to get a jump on improving the management and collaborative work of these large-scale IT projects we’re expecting more of in 2014 and the years to come.  A good place to start? Let’s communicate better. In a previous blog, I noted the New York Times wrote about communication issues between the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and its prime contractor, which failed at effectively communicating all requirements of the...

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Stop, Collaborate, and Listen – Fixing Federal Project Management

Posted by on Dec 2, 2013 in Acquisition, Leadership, Project Management | 1 comment

We’ve seen a lot in the news about the issues (and failures) of large-scale projects coming to successful completion – and specifically, IT projects are at the forefront of high-profile Federal programs.  Obama’s focus on open government to citizens will only require more major IT initiatives throughout agencies.  So, we need to be looking at how to avoid Healthcare.gov repeats.  Our recommendation?  Invest more in the beginning of the project lifecycle. In the Project Management Answer Book, we include the Top Ten Pitfalls to Avoid When...

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Speak Up! Better Requirements Management at the Heart of Federal IT Project Success

Posted by on Nov 25, 2013 in Acquisition, Financial Management, Leadership, Project Management | 0 comments

In a recent article, Roger Waldron, president of the Coalition for Government Procurement, highlights the ongoing issue of government clearly defining what it needs in IT projects, and ensuring the contractor understands exactly what is needed.  Otherwise known as?  A better discussion on requirements – to avoid the Healthcare.gov or SBInets of the future. Particularly difficult are coming to agreements on the large-scale IT project requirements.  Due to the government acquisition process, more often than not the technology itself moves...

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An Agile Approach Will Help the Fed Acquisition Workforce Successfully Chart Their Course

Posted by on Nov 21, 2013 in Acquisition, Leadership, Project Management | 0 comments

In a recent news article, both Feds and industry weighed in on the importance of a strong Federal acquisition workforce to better equip for large-scale IT project success – but that their historical hesitancy to avoid change and risk pits them in a waterfall environment, rather than an agile approach, that has better secured project success.  Moving to agile will enable fewer Federal projects that are running aground. Is your agency ready for an agile approach?  Well the government thinks so.  GAO ran a report in July, 2012 recommending that...

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Build Successful Projects by Avoiding Initial Project Pitfalls – Don’t Get Caught in a PM Nightmare

Posted by on Nov 18, 2013 in Project Management | 0 comments

Build Successful Projects by Avoiding Initial Project Pitfalls – Don’t Get Caught in a PM Nightmare

Starting a new project?  Plan early – and plan often – to avoid a troublesome, delayed, or failed project.  Here are just a few tips to get it right from the beginning: Use Previous Projects and Update Your Plan:  Feds need to take the time to learn from failed projects.  Recently, the New York Times discussed the crucial need for increased agile software development to address IT risks head-on and early.  Take this as a key lesson learned. Increased visibility and its necessary training in agile project management will be fundamental for...

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Not a Criticism of Healthcare.gov – a Solution

Posted by on Nov 12, 2013 in Project Management | 0 comments

Successful Federal IT procurement and project & program management execution are all over the news with Obamacare’s latest step.  Coming out of this, President Obama called for an overhaul on this entire issue; who else has seen news focused around – not only the term, but the actual title – Why Do Government Projects Fail? Yes, projects like Healthcare.gov (and Census.gov in 2012) had implementation issues. But what are we learning from these examples?  What are the Feds taking away for the next round of enormous IT projects?  As many...

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Learn How to Successfully Complete Your PMP® Exam Application

Posted by on May 2, 2013 in Project Management | 0 comments

Are you ready to earn your PMP® certification? The first step is to complete the PMP® Exam Application. This process can be cumbersome and overwhelming, but we have a solution for you to make it easy. All you need to do is download our FREE video podcast Completing Your PMP® Application: Learning from an Expert, presented by Dr. Jim West, PMP. Jim has helped thousands get their PMP® certification and will now show you how to complete your PMP® Application. Download our podcast...

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Find Out if Your Organization is Prepared for Agile

Posted by on Apr 29, 2013 in Acquisition, Project Management | 0 comments

More and more agencies are transitioning to Agile project management. Management Concepts would like to help you assess whether your organization is ready to adopt an Agile framework. We have a brief assessment that will take no more than 5 minutes to complete. After you complete the assessment we will provide your results, which will tell you how prepared your organization is for Agile. Take the assessment...

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PMBOK® Guide 5th Edition: What is different? What does it mean for you?

Posted by on Mar 28, 2013 in Project Management | 0 comments

In order to be successful, project managers must continually be working to meet project and stakeholder requirements and manage their projects in an often complex and uncertain environment. The recent changes to the PMBOK® Guide for the role of project managers, along with there impact to how project mangers plan and manage their projects are addressed in a FREE whitepaper than can be downloaded by clicking here! The more recent changes to the PMBOK® Guide reinforce that project managers need to give special attention to: Stakeholder...

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Top 10 Pitfalls to Avoid in the PMP® Certification Process and on the Exam

Posted by on Mar 25, 2013 in Project Management | 0 comments

Now is a great time to take the PMP® exam before it changes, and Management Concepts wants to make your exam preparation a success. Download our quick-guide to avoiding common missteps in the PMP® journey: Top Ten Pitfalls to Avoid in the PMP® Certification Process and on the Exam and get tips for applying for, preparing for, and passing the PMP® Certification Exam. The “Top Ten Pitfalls” includes Tips & Tricks such as: #3: Putting off the test too long and forgetting what you’ve learned – or worse, until a new version of the PMBOK® Guide...

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Risk Tolerance

Posted by on Mar 13, 2013 in Financial Management, Project Management | 0 comments

What can I say about risk that hasn’t already been said? Let’s look at one tiny aspect, risk tolerance. Risk tolerance is an organization’s or individual’s willingness to operate in an uncertain environment. Individual Risk Tolerance Each of us has risk tolerance we display every day. Some personal individual risk tolerance examples are: Do you leave the house early for an appointment just in case there is unexpected traffic? Do you watch the weather channel to determine when to rise, or what route to take? Do you drive the speed limit? Do...

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PMBOK® Guide 5th Edition: What is different? What does it mean for you?

Posted by on Feb 28, 2013 in Project Management | 0 comments

In order to be successful, project managers must continually be working to meet project and stakeholder requirements and manage their projects in an often complex and uncertain environment. The recent changes to the PMBOK® Guide for the role of project managers, along with there impact to how project mangers plan and manage their projects are addressed in a FREE whitepaper than can be downloaded by clicking here! The more recent changes to the PMBOK® Guide reinforce that project managers need to give special attention to: Stakeholder...

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Cost Estimating – Part 2

Posted by on Feb 8, 2013 in Project Management | 0 comments

This post is Part 2 on Cost Estimating. In case you missed it, here is Cost Estimating – Part 1. The seventh principle of Project Management is “Minimize total cost, not the price of resources”. We need to discuss the total cost if we are to adhere to this principle. Although there is wonderful guidance in the PMBOK® Guide, the best practices for the Federal environment comes from the GAO Cost Estimating and Assessment Guide. In this blog I will refer to this as “the Cost Estimating Guide”. When it comes to estimating, we want to answer...

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Cost Estimating – Part 1

Posted by on Jan 23, 2013 in Project Management | 0 comments

The seventh principle of Project Management is “Minimize total cost, not the price of resources”. We need to discuss the total cost if we are to adhere to this principle. Although there is wonderful guidance in the PMBOK® Guide, the best practices for a Federal environment come from the GAO Cost Estimating and Assessment Guide. In this blog I will refer to this as “the Cost Estimating Guide”. When it comes to estimating, we want to answer the question, “Where did you get those numbers?” with defensible accuracy. The Cost Estimating Guide...

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PMBOK® Guide 5th Edition: What is Different? What Does It Mean for You?

Posted by on Jan 8, 2013 in Project Management | 0 comments

PMI has released the PMBOK® Guide 5th Edition. You may be wondering what this means for you, whether you are preparing to take the exam, or if you are already a PMP using PMI processes as the basis for your project management methodology. Management Concepts has done a thorough assessment of the changes and is offering a complimentary webinar to discuss the new changes to the PMBOK® Guide 5th Edition on January 16th at 1pm EST. Register...

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Using Innovation as a Business Decision Tool

Posted by on Dec 13, 2012 in Project Management | 0 comments

In this rapidly changing environment, organizations continuously stress the need for innovation. Therefore, innovation needs to be viewed from a long-term perspective and must be a component in every organization’s strategic plan regardless of the organization’s size, level of maturity, industry, or business philosophy. From a business perspective it is helpful to consider several questions: How important is innovation within the organization? Is innovation a focused, strategic, and funded priority? How does the organization effectively...

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Scheduling: Planning to Get Work Done – Part II

Posted by on Dec 3, 2012 in Project Management | 0 comments

WORK In part two of this scheduling blog, I want to concentrate on the “Develop Schedule” process and how the intersection of work and resources applies to schedule compression. As I stated previously, scheduling is linear and predictable, but the instance we add humans we may get non-linear behavior. Types of Work Work type is a predictor of how the duration is affected by people assignments. I believe there are three work types: Moving Bricks, Meeting, and Truck Driving. Moving Bricks type work is illustrated by my having a pile of bricks...

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Scheduling: Planning to Get The Work Done – Part I

Posted by on Nov 28, 2012 in Project Management | 0 comments

RESOURCES The sixth Principle of Project Management is, “You can do a lot, if you work out your schedule.” Scheduling is defined in the PMBOK® Guide under Project Time Management and entails 6 processes: Define Activities, Sequence Activities, Estimate Activity Resources, Estimate Activity Duration, Develop Schedule, and Control Schedule. Scheduling is a wonderful science with many helpful tools available for project managers to get it right. The science and math which make up those effective tools give us very linear and predictable results....

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Project Vision: The Ability to “See”

Posted by on Nov 14, 2012 in Project Management | 0 comments

The fifth Project Management Principle is “Where there is no vision, projects struggle.” As good project managers, we need for stakeholders to “see” the project. One of the most effective tools for seeing is the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS). The PMBOK® Guide defines the WBS as: “A deliverable-oriented hierarchical decomposition of the work to be executed by the project team to accomplish the project objectives and create the required deliverables. It organizes and defines the total scope of the project.” An often overlooked aspect of the...

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What Really Motivates Project Stakeholders?

Posted by on Oct 18, 2012 in Project Management | 1 comment

Many people are familiar with the classic motivational theories such as Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, Frederick Herzberg’s Hygiene Factors and Motivators, and Douglas McGregor’s Theory X and Theory Y. The basic principle behind all motivational theories is that we are all driven by motives. These motives generate a set of thoughts that influence our behavior, which drives us to accomplish specific goals. This motive – thought – behavior process is fundamental to why and how we set goals and work to accomplish those goals. All...

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Communications: The Subject We Know Everything About

Posted by on Oct 9, 2012 in Project Management | 0 comments

In preparation for this blog, I did a little research. I found thousands of websites to support my search and I picked one that looked interesting. There were 75 fresh articles on 18 categories of Communications. I find it fascinating that there is so much new and exciting information concerning the oldest of processes – human to human contact. I’m sure you’ve all seen the Mehrabian (Albert Mehrabian, 1939-) study which describes communications in the verbal/nonverbal dimension using the following formula: Total Liking = 7% Verbal Liking +...

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“Resistance is Futile, You Will be Assimilated” – Carefully Contemplate the Collective

Posted by on Oct 2, 2012 in Project Management | 0 comments

“Resistance is Futile, You Will be Assimilated” – Carefully Contemplate the Collective

When do we Project Managers start thinking about the collective? Maybe it is at the very beginning of a project when the idea is still fermenting in the mind of the sponsor. I discussed that in my previous post, Before Charter (B.C.) Project Management. The most obvious place to think integration is at the beginning of the planning phase. Here we have a cloudy, limited understanding of what success should look like and it’s time to create clarity. Planning answers several questions: Who needs to be informed? How will change be handled? What...

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Seven Key Success Factors to Consider for Strategic Growth (and Ultimately Project Success)

Posted by on Sep 24, 2012 in Project Management | 0 comments

There are seven critical elements that contribute to an organization’s project selection, management, and decision-making process. Every organization, both large and small, must assess itself against these elements. The closer these elements are to the organization’s set of core competencies and the organization’s strategic and operational objectives the greater the likelihood for success. Let’s take a closer look at each of these in more detail. 1. Customers Does the new opportunity target the existing customer base, an existing customer in...

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Is Your Organization Positioned for Success?

Posted by on Sep 17, 2012 in Project Management | 0 comments

What is the primary objective of any enterprise? It is to succeed and generate a benefit for its stakeholders. Organizational success is driven by its strategy. Strategy is executed through projects. Project success and failure is affected by several related factors directly tied to the organization’s strategic objectives, and how the organization positions itself with respect to its environment, both internally and externally. These factors impact an organization’s ability to successfully structure, launch, and execute projects that deliver...

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Stepping on PM TOE’s

Posted by on Aug 20, 2012 in Project Management | 0 comments

Management Concepts teaches that the second Project Management principle is “All projects must be defined”. There are three aspects to the principle: with whom will you be working (stakeholders), what will you be doing (charter), and how will you work together (team operating agreement). The stakeholder and charter aspects get plenty of press in Project Management, but what about the Team Operating Expectations (TOE’s)? A Team Operating Agreement is an effective tool to keep you from stepping on PM TOE’s. In the PMBOK® Guide, Chapter 9 –...

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Before Charter (B.C.) Project Management

Posted by on Aug 3, 2012 in Project Management | 0 comments

In classic project Initiation, we start with the Charter. But is there Before Charter (B.C.)? Project Managers know it happens, yet we may not be directly involved. I call this the Ideation Phase where I am charged with getting the idea out of the sponsors head and begin to turn it into some concrete documentation. How do we turn ideas into reality and should every idea actually live? The answer to the second question (should every idea actually live?) is a resounding NO, but how we answer the first question (how do we turn ideas into...

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Portfolio Management as a Strategic Tool in Achieving a Digital Government

Posted by on Jul 17, 2012 in Project Management | 0 comments

In December 2010, CIO.gov published an document titled, 25 Point Implementation Plan to Reform Federal Information Technology Management. The article stated that, agency CIOs and the Federal CIO Council spend a majority of their efforts on policymak­ing and maintaining the IT infrastructure. It also stated that as the government moves forward with the IT reforms, the CIO focus must shift toward portfolio management, the implementation of  Investment Review Boards, and a move away from low-value activities.  In addition, CIOs will be...

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Can You be Agile in Your Acquisitions?

Posted by on Jul 12, 2012 in Project Management | 1 comment

This is one of the most common issues facing organization choosing to switch to Agile. Can you acquire goods and services in an Agile fashion? Can you contract with vendors to deliver in an Agile fashion? A decade ago, if you asked that question of a Scrum Master, the answer was no. One of the most notable Scrum books from that time stated that acquisitions could not be performed in an agile fashion, especially in the federal government. Well, for those of you that have done this, you realize it is possible. In 2009, the DoD presented an...

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Project Portfolio Management – It’s Not Rocket Science

Posted by on Jul 10, 2012 in Project Management | 0 comments

David Cleland, an internationally recognized expert in project management wrote,  ”An enterprise that is successful, has a stream of projects flowing through it at all times… Senior managers must create a culture that encourages people to bring forth innovative products and process ideas and an environment that ensures rigorous assessment to determine their likely strategic fit in the enterprise’s future.” Today’s competitive business environment creates on-going challenges for companies and their management teams as they face internal and...

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PM Rigor – How Much is Enough?

Posted by on Jun 29, 2012 in Project Management | 0 comments

The first principle of the Project Management Principles course is “Project Management is Scalable” which should lead us to answer the question, “How much Project Management is enough?” The level of project management rigor and the number of project deliverables increases with project size, level of risk, complexity of the solution, and often the cost of the project. A thorough review of the prevailing documentation on the subject will reveal charts, graphs, and opinions on how to scale these project variables. Generally, BIG equals more...

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Are you ready for Agile?

Posted by on Jun 22, 2012 in Project Management | 0 comments

Has your Agency or organization started moving to Agile? Do you hear the word Scrum, and wonder where the Rugby game is at? Well, you may be part of the growing trend in IT organizations throughout the Federal Government. A number of federal agencies have already adopted Agile or are about to move to Agile project management: The U.S. Air Force Academy’s Institute for Information Technology Applications uses an Agile process to develop the Warfighter’s Edge (WEdge) The Automate GI Bill Benefit Initiative is one of 16 VA Transformational...

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So…What’s the Difference Between User Stories and Traditional Requirements?

Posted by on Jun 7, 2012 in Project Management | 0 comments

This question came from a webinar I recently co-hosted for Management Concepts. This is a simple question for Agilista’s but an an appropriate question for those of you who are new to Agile. At Management Concepts, I teach a course on Agile Project Management for the Federal Environment. For the purpose of the federal audience, I want to step back and define what a traditional set of requirements are. Typically, traditional requirements are text-based requirements such as a business requirement document or functional specifications. They...

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Is There a Role for a Project Manager on Agile Projects?

Posted by on May 15, 2012 in Project Management | 0 comments

Are you a Project Manager in an Agency or Organization moving to Agile?  Is there a role for you? The typical Agile answer to most yes or no questions is “it depends.” (but my answer is a resounding, YES!) Whether you work for the Federal Government or for private industry, you are probably wondering or even struggling with what your role will be as your organization moves to an Agile or Scrum environment. The Scrum purists are ardently against the idea of a project manager. They are in favor of a Scrum Master without any “command and...

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