Project and Portfolio Management Experts

Jamal Moustafaev

Jamal is an author of three books dedicated to
project, portfolio and scope management:

project-portfolio-management-book.jpg

Before you go any further, let us conduct a quick survey. Below you will find ten symptoms of a company that is in dire need of project management and/or project portfolio management. Go ahead, read through the list and count how many of these characteristics can be attributed to your organization:

  1. Unexpected issues and problems arise in the middle of projects
  2. Communications seem to be ad-hoc; too often important stakeholders are not informed about key decisions
  3. Project's requirements are never clearly defined
  4. Project managers and functional managers (department directors and managers) constantly fight over resources.
  5. Priorities of the projects initiated by the executives constantly change, resulting in quick resource reassignments.
  6. There is a chronic shortage of resources at the organization. Employees are constantly complaining about being overworked, while the managers insist that they must roll up their sleeves and work harder
  7. Projects are frequently late and/or over budget and/or do not deliver the full scope promised and the quality of the project product is low
  8. Even if the strategic idea is implemented, the company sometimes fails to achieve the expected improvement or fails to receive any value from the said project at all
  9. The strategic plan – even if the company has one - is presented as a list of projects, but the cause-effect logic tying those initiatives to the company’s mission, goals and the strategy is absent
  10. The list of company projects is not prioritized. Therefore it is assumed that all of these initiatives must be started and implemented more or less simultaneously

Did you count more than five symptoms present at your company? We can help! We offer project management, project portfolio management consulting and training services to help get your business back on track.

Please contact me directly via email at jamal@thinktankconsulting.ca or by phone +1-778-995-4396.

I look forward to hearing from you.

 

Jamal Moustafaev, MBA, PMP

President & CEO

Thinktank Consulting, Inc.

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Article - Mystery Explained - Why Do We Resist Killing Bad Projects?

 

Introduction

Have you ever been involved in a project that was in a bad shape? By “bad shape” I mean the following two scenarios:

Have you ever asked yourself a question:

“Why the heck is the management continuing to support this ignominy?”

These projects have been called “runaway trains” and “black swans”. They destroy reputations and companies. So, why is it so difficult to kill them? And yes, I do understand such concepts as sense of attachment, pride and egotism. But if you are a rational, intelligent individual, don’t you have to realize what exactly is at stake (i.e. your company, your shareholders and their money)?

The Kahneman Phenomenon

Enter Daniel Kahneman, a psychologist who won the 2002 Nobel Prize in Economics. In his article titled “Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk” he and his co-author Amos Tversky described the following exercise, that I encourage you to do as well as I describe it.

Imagine that I offer you the following two gambles:

Gamble A: A 100% chance of losing $3,000 (i.e. you have $4,000 in your pocket, I threaten you with a gun and walk away with three thousand of your hard-earned money)

Gamble B: An 80% chance of losing $4,000, and a 20% chance of losing nothing (i.e. we throw some kind of dice and there is a 20% that I would leave you alone with your money).

Don’t try to use any statistical or other techniques to answer this question; just go with your gut feel. There is no “right” or “wrong” answer to this question. Which one of these choices would you pick?

Now, let us try a very similar exercise, but instead of robbing you, I am giving you money this time.

Gamble C: A 100% chance of receiving $3000 (i.e. I just give you three thousand dollars)

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Infographic - Project Portfolio Management in the Telecommunications Industry

 

I have got some exciting news recently! My third book “Project Portfolio Management in Theory and Practice: Thirty Case Studies from around the World” has just been released by Auerbach Publications.

So, to commemorate this event, I will be publishing a series of infographics dedicated to project portfolio management models in various sectors. Todays industry is Telecommunications.

Infographic-Telecom-PPM.png

About the Author

Jamal Moustafaev, MBA, PMP – president and founder of Thinktank Consulting is an internationally acclaimed expert and speaker in the areas of project/portfolio management, scope definition, process improvement and corporate training. Jamal Moustafaev has done work for private-sector companies and government organizations in Canada, US, Asia, Europe and Middle East.  Read Jamal’s Blog @ www.thinktankconsulting.ca

Jamal is an author of three very popular books: 

Please share, your support is appreciated.

Infographic - Project Portfolio Management in the Product Development Industry

 

I have got some exciting news today! My third book “Project Portfolio Management in Theory and Practice: Thirty Case Studies from around the World” has just been released by Auerbach Publications.

So, to commemorate this event, I will be publishing a series of infographics dedicated to project portfolio management models in various sectors. Todays industry is Product Development.

Infographic-Product-Development-PPM.png

About the Author

Jamal Moustafaev, MBA, PMP – president and founder of Thinktank Consulting is an internationally acclaimed expert and speaker in the areas of project/portfolio management, scope definition, process improvement and corporate training. Jamal Moustafaev has done work for private-sector companies and government organizations in Canada, US, Asia, Europe and Middle East.  Read Jamal’s Blog @ www.thinktankconsulting.ca

Jamal is an author of three very popular books: 

Please share, your support is appreciated.

Article - The Ultimate Matrix for Troubled Projects Recovery

 

Introduction

In recent years I have been spending a good portion of my consulting time on rescuing troubled projects around the world. Very often I would receive an e-mail stating something to the effect of:

Hi Jamal,

Our company is currently experiencing certain issues with our (typically flagship) Project X and we would like to hear your opinion on how to remedy the situation. Would you be able to fly here for a project audit?

As a result of this, after having been exposed to a multitude of various troubled initiatives, I decided to attempt to systemize different types of problematic projects and potential approaches to their rescue (see Table 1). Please also note that I am trying to combine both the project portfolio management (i.e. value) and project management (i.e. on-time, on-budget, etc.) aspects of project success.

Table 1

troubled-projects-table.PNG

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Article - An Energetic Stakeholder Who Has No Clue, But Wants to Appear Important

 

I am not sure whether this problem is representative to other project managers, but since I keep encountering it over and over in my project management career, I will dedicate today’s posting to it.

Have you ever been involved in the project with a fairly senior but absolutely clueless stakeholder? You know, the one who never bothers even to attempt to understand the topics or problems discussed, but is always ready to ramble for minutes (and sometimes hours) about absolutely useless solutions? Here is a couple of examples:

 

Example # 1

PM: And now, guys, I want to discuss the issue about the reporting for senor management. The executives want to see “Subcontractors Travel Time” as a separate line item to distinguish it from the “Subcontractor Labor Time” … The problem is that our system is not capturing this info (turning his head to the real subject matter expert, the Senior Systems Architect) Bob, any thoughts on this topic?

Bob: Well, we could …

Energetic Stakeholder: (rudely interrupting Bob) Oh, I know! You should talk to Melanie from the HR department! Schedule an all-hands-on-deck meeting with her right away!

PM: Melanie? But she is from Human Resources … She has neither financial, nor IT background to help us.

Energetic Stakeholder: Well, she did some reports for our executives six or seven years ago!

Bob: Listen, she did create a couple of HR reports in a different system (Excel to be precise) long time ago. But, trust me, when I tell you that they have NOTHING to do with out issue. We can’t address this problem until we ask our subcontractors to report their travel and labor time separately. We need to talk to the Subcontractors team …

Energetic Stakeholder: (defiantly) I must insist that we talk to her!

Example # 2

PM: Ok, people, today we are going to discuss the functionality of the “Add Item to the Shopping Basket” page … Some of the features on the menu are: state taxes, shipping options, “people who bought this item also bought these items”, customer reviews, number of product photos allowed, zoom options, etc. We have A LOT do discuss, so let us get started!

Business Analyst: Ok, let us start with the taxes issue. Here is what I was able to find …

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Article - The Dangers of Being a Good Project Manager 2

 

Quite some time ago I published an article titled “The Dangers of Being a Good Project Manager” where I discussed some of the shortcomings of being an efficient project manager, namely that some people tend to think of a well-managed project to be easy and a poorly run endeavor to be complicated.

A friend and a project management colleague of mine recently shared this hilarious and yet deeply disturbing story of his home renovation project with me.

Bob (let us call him that) and his wife buy a new house that is in need of significant upgrades. Here are the parameters of the project:

  • Scope:
    • Install New hardwood floors (includes the removal of old carpet)
    • New stairs Including removal of the old ones)
    • Repaint kitchen cabinets including installation of new door handles
    • Repaint 3 rooms
  • Budget
    • $10,000
  • Timeline
    • The most interesting constraint on this project – only 5 days. The problem was that the current owner could only move out on the 25th of the month, while Bob and his family had to vacate their rental on the 31st.

Considering the extremely tight deadline, Bob – as a true project manager - realizes that the key to success on this project is planning. So, three months before the date he starts to visit hardware store, talk to specialists and bring home numerous samples of paint, varnish, hardwood etc. The following conversation occurs on more than one occasion at Bob’s household:

Bob: Hey, Nicole, take a look at these eight samples of the hardwood flooring. Which one do you think will accentuate our furniture?

Nicole: Oh, for the love of God, Bob! The move is three months away! Three months! Why do we have to spend our Friday evening looking at those samples? We will figure it out a week or so before the move.

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Article - What to Do When You Know That Your Project is Doomed Even Before the Initiation Stage?

 

Imagine the following situation:

You are an experienced project manager and you have just been invited for an interview by a large company. Your skills are a perfect fit for the project the organization is about to initiate. You have been told that that the estimated duration of the project is approximately two years and the firm is willing to pay top dollar for the right talent (for the sake of the argument let us say “$150 per hour”).

You arrive for the meeting and after a long discussion you suddenly realize that the project in question is a proverbial wild-goose chase. For example, you understand that it would not deliver any value to the company (pet project of an executive), or the constraints imposed on the venture, be it time, budget or scope, will prevent the team from the successful delivery of the final product.

If these examples are too complicated or ambiguous, imagine the following conversation:

CEO: (summoning you to her office) Hey, John! We are planning on starting a brand-new product initiative here at XYZ Inc. and I want to hire you to lead this project.

PM: (interested) OK, I am listening …

CEO: (solemnly) We are planning to build a new state-of-the-art typewriter!

PM: (surprised) A typewriter???

CEO: Yes! Internal company stakeholders are very eager to co-operate with you and provide you with all the high-level features and detailed requirements of the future device. In addition, the team will be given a reasonable budget and deadline to deliver the final product. What do you say?

PM: (shocked) But it is 2016! Nobody uses typewriters nowadays!

CEO: (angered) Well, John I can’t say that I appreciate your attitude! If you don’t think that you are ready, I think I can easily find another project manager to deliver this project for our organization.

(NOTE: If you still think that the above dialogue is completely insane, just read the “The New Ashgabat Airport” case study I have written a couple of weeks ago)

typewriter.jpg

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Podcast - Project Portfolio Management in Theory and Practice

 

My interview with prominent PPM expert Gerald Leonard of Principles of Execution regarding the recent developments in the field of project portfolio management, the impact of strategy on the project selection and many other interesting topics.

 

 

About the Author

Jamal Moustafaev, MBA, PMP – president and founder of Thinktank Consulting is an internationally acclaimed expert and speaker in the areas of project/portfolio management, scope definition, process improvement and corporate training. Jamal Moustafaev has done work for private-sector companies and government organizations in Canada, US, Asia, Europe and Middle East.  Read Jamal’s Blog @ www.thinktankconsulting.ca

Jamal is an author of three very popular books: 

Please share, your support is appreciated.

Infographic - Pharmaceutical Industry - Project Portfolio Management Summary

 

I am continuing with with the special project portfolio management releases dedicated to the publishing of my third book  “Project Portfolio Management in Theory and Practice: Thirty Case Studies from around the World”. Todays PPM topic is the pharma industry.

Infographic-Pharma-PPM.png

About the Author

Jamal Moustafaev, MBA, PMP – president and founder of Thinktank Consulting is an internationally acclaimed expert and speaker in the areas of project/portfolio management, scope definition, process improvement and corporate training. Jamal Moustafaev has done work for private-sector companies and government organizations in Canada, US, Asia, Europe and Middle East.  Read Jamal’s Blog @ www.thinktankconsulting.ca

Jamal is an author of three very popular books: 

Please share, your support is appreciated.