Project and Portfolio Management Experts

Jamal Moustafaev

Jamal is the author of three books and one online course dedicated to project, portfolio and scope management:

Subscribe to my quarterly Newsletter, for a limited time receive a 75% discount on my new online course: Project Management Fundamentals for Professionals​

project-portfolio-management-book.jpg Project Management Fundamentals for Professionals.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.

Please share, your support is appreciated.

Article - Top 10 Ways Human Psychology Screws Up Our Projects

 

Way #1 - We Force Ourselves to Make Estimation Ranges Narrower

Ask anyone to estimate something. Anything, really. For example, ask them what is the distance between New York and Paris (5,839 km or 3,628 miles), and request that they provide you with a range that they are 90% confident in. Rather than saying, “Well, If you need a 90% confidence, then I would go with something like 5,000 km and 15,000 km”, they will provide you instead with very narrow ranges (say, 6,000 – 6,500 km) that are very close to the actual number but yet miss the target.  As a result, “90% confident” usually translates to “20-40% confident”.

Way #2 - We Suffer from the Optimism Bias

Humans constantly underestimate the complexity of the tasks assigned to them and chronically overestimate their ability to accomplish the said tasks (read more about this topic here and here).

Way #3 - We Fail to See the Connection Between Estimates and Probabilities

We have a very hard time understanding that as soon as someone asked us to estimate the duration of the project, we – whether we like it or not – have entered the realm of probabilities. Some of the questions that will affect the answer to the request above are:

  • Will the customer want Feature X?
  • Will the customer want the “Honda Civic” or “Ferrari” version of Feature X?
  • If you implement the “Honda Civic” version of Feature X, will the customer later change his mind and demand the “Ferrari” version after all?
  • How will Feature X be designed?
  • How long will it take to debug and correct mistakes made in implementing Feature X?

Way #4 - We Tend to Think of Projects as One-Dimensional Entities

We tend to focus on just one dimension of the project. Usually it is either the time or money, e.g. “can you finish by next Friday?” or “my budget is capped at $10,000”.

What we neglect to see that every project has (at least) five dimensions:

Please share, your support is appreciated.

Announcing my New Online Course: Project Management Fundamentals for Professionals

 

Hi all,

I do have a very exciting announcement to make. After a lot of research, setting up my office as a recording studio and many recording sessions we have finally published my first project management course “Project Management Fundamentals for Professionals” on Udemy.

Just to test run this workshop and obtain viewer feedback I am offering a 75% discount on this course to ALL of my contacts (or their friends). In other words, the full price of the course is $60 and you have a chance to take it at $15.

If you are interested, please leave your email address here I will forward you the link to the discounted version. My only request is that you leave a positive review on Udemy if you find the course to be to your liking!

You May Need This Course If:

  • Projects experience budget, scope and time overruns
  • Unexpected issues and problems arise in the middle of projects
  • There always seems to be way more work than resources available
  • Your employees are working long hours and on weekends
  • Quality of the project product is low
  • Communications seem to be ad-hoc; too often important stakeholders are not informed about key decisions
  • Project's requirements are never clearly defined
  • Scope increases, but the schedule slips because no additional resources are provided
  • Specifications are satisfied, but the customers are not
  • You seem to be spending more time fixing issues from previous releases rather than working on "new" products...

Who Is the Target Audience?

  • Young professionals who are just entering the workforce.
  • “Technical resources” whose work is crucial to the project success.
  • Professionals who are not certified project managers but manage projects anyways.
  • Project and program managers who run projects and supply executives with key information.
  • Sales and Marketing people who interact with customers and gather their feedback and requirements.

Course Outline

Please share, your support is appreciated.

Podcast - Episode 387 - Project Portfolio Management with Jamal Moustafaev

 

Project Portfolio Management

I was recently interviewed by Cornelius Fichtner from The Project Management Podcast about Project Portfolio Management. Here is the interview:

Click here to listen to this interview right now:

Here is what Cornelius writes about the interview:

Project Portfolio Management and the realization that strategic alignment of all projects within an organization is crucial are both gaining ground. And this realization also emphasizes the need for having solid project selection methods.

But how exactly do you do all of this? The number of books that focus on practical advice for implementing a strategic project portfolio management process is quite small. Lucky for us that a new one with exactly that focus has just been published.

The new book is titled Project Portfolio Management in Theory and Practice: Thirty Case Studies from around the World (Best Practices and Advances in Program Management) written by Jamal Moustafaev (https://ca.linkedin.com/in/jmoustafaev. In our discussion, we answer these questions:

  • What is project portfolio management?
  • What are the three pillars of strategic PPM?
  • What are some project selection models that support a company's strategy?
  • How do we achieve strategic alignment?

About The PM Podcast: Launched in 2005, The Project Management Podcast is hosted by Cornelius Fichtner, PMP, CSM who helps you with your PMP Training in his “real” job. The podcast wants to bring project management to beginners and experts and has done so by publishing hundreds of interviews with project managers from around the world. They are free on http://www.project-management-podcast.com/free.

Please share, your support is appreciated.

Article - Project Negotiations Conundrum - What Would You Do?

 

One of the most important lessons I learned after spending close to 20 years in the project management profession is that the underlying interests, constraints and risk tolerances of the project team and other stakeholders – especially customers - are never identical. As a result of this proposition we can derive the following project management axiom:

Good project manager can increase the size of the pie by looking for things that are of low cost to him and his team and high value to the customers (and vice versa).

One of the best examples of this technique is demonstrated in the so-called “Orange Fable”:

Two kids (a boy and a girl) are quarrelling over an orange. Their father enters the room and, operating under the “fixed pie” assumption, cuts the orange in two equal halves. And then he notices that the brother ate the orange and threw away the peel, while his daughter used the peel from her half as an ingredient in pastry while disposing of the fruit. At that point of time the father realizes that had he asked the question “What do you need this orange for?”, he would have doubled the size of the pie for both parties involved!

Here is another example of this technique used on a real project. A relatively small construction company lands a very lucrative deal to build a shopping mall for a large and established real estate management company. All the contracts have been discussed and signed when a project manager from the construction company receives a call from a representative of the real estate management organization…

Customer: “I would like to add another clause to our contract. If the work is on the new mall not finished by the deadline in the contract, I want your company to pay a penalty of $5,000,000”

PM: “Hmm, we have already signed the contract without the late penalty clause; I am not sure how our management would react to that …”

Customer: “I am sorry, but I have been instructed by my boss not to proceed ahead without this modification to the contract”

PM: “And may I ask you why do you, guys, feel the need to add this clause?”

Please share, your support is appreciated.

Infographic - Aggregate Project Portfolio Management Statistics Across Multiple Industries

 

This is the final installment of my Project Portfolio Management infographics describing PPM models in various industries. This particular post presents aggregate statistics from a variety of industries: energy, logistics, financial, government, pharma, product development, professional services and telecom.

For more information please see my book  “Project Portfolio Management in Theory and Practice: Thirty Case Studies from around the World” that has just been released by Auerbach Publications.

Infographic - Aggregate 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 Professional Services 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 Professional Services.

Infographic-Professional-Services-PPM_0.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.

Joke of the Day – When Requirements Elicitation Fails

 

This is the best example of a failed requirements elicitation I have seen so far!

 

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: 

  1. Delivering Exceptional Project Results: A Practical Guide to Project Selection, Scoping, Estimation and Management 
  2. Project Scope Management: A Practical Guide to Requirements for Engineering, Product, Construction, IT and Enterprise Projects
  3. Project Portfolio Management in Theory and Practice: Thirty Case Studies from around the World
Please share, your support is appreciated.

Article - The Project Management Perspective: Why Do Technology Startups Really Fail?

Introduction

If one googles this question, he will find the following reasons at the top of the list:

  1. Market Problems
  2. Business Model Failure
  3. Poor Management Team
  4. Running out of Cash
  5. Product Problems

I have to agree that these root causes could be attributed to the early-stage startups, but in this article I want to talk about the scenarios where venture capital companies have already examined the company and its product(s), checked for points (1), (2), (3) and (4) and still chose to finance these enterprises. Since VCs are the most experienced organizations out there in the startup assessment business, we have to assume the best vetting process possible.

My Experiences

I have worked with a lot of tech startups around the world over the course of last twenty years. All of these companies have been in the “post VC financing” stages and here are the somber facts:

  • The vast majority of them failed (roughly 9 out of 10 which aligns with scientific data)
  • In almost all of the cases the product, business model and cash situations were in a reasonably good shape

So, what happened?

Company grew getting more and more customers. Customers were getting bigger in size. Contracts they signed were getting larger and larger. Companies were becoming more and more profitable. And at one point of time (usually when the said organizations reached approximately US$10 million in revenues threshold) the company just couldn’t handle one of the two (and frequently both) things:

  • Product development that was sophisticated enough to handle the demands of the markets
  • Professional services: ability to deploy their software/hardware at the client’s site

Reason? Complete disregard to all aspects of project management and requirements engineering

And no matter how many times you would tell the C-level people  

“Guys, roll up your sleeves and work harder approach does not work any more! You need to invest in project managers, business analysts and proper project management methodologies”

no one was willing to listen.

Please share, your support is appreciated.

Article - Top 10 Signs You Are a Horrible Project Stakeholder

 

Sign#1: You Never Plan and Discourage Others To Do So

Planning never helped anyone. Milestones and deadlines are unnecessary responsibilities and may cause severe headaches at times. Oh, and Gantt charts are for pussies!

Sign#2: Whenever Asked “When Do You Need This By?”, You Always Answer “Yesterday!”

First of all, this answer is hilariously funny! All team members and project managers especially simply love it! In addition it will raise your profile at the company as a no-nonsense, roll-up-your-hands-and-work-harder type of guy.

Sign#3: You Simply Love Having A Lot OF “All-Hands-On-Deck” Meetings

When inviting people always follow “the more, the merrier” approach. Are you planning to discuss high-level scope of the project? Get all of the technical team members in that damn conference room as well! Discussing detailed database design? Invite sales and marketing people; they will be thrilled to learn a lot of technical terms. Oh, and never, NEVER prepare an agenda for the meeting. Things will just sort themselves out.

Sign#4: You Never Trust Anyone

This especially goes to the estimates supplied by your technical team members. Whenever you hear something along the lines of “Well, I think this task should take me 5 or 6 days”, roll your eyes incredulously and decrease the estimate by 50 or even 70%. Believe me, your team members will come to love and respect you for your tough love.

Sign#5: Remember, There Are Always Evenings and Weekends

Always delay sending that all-important email containing a complicated change request until 4:55 pm, or, even better, 4:45 pm on Friday.

Sign#6: You Provide Specific Technical Advice At Any Opportunity

Tell your designed which colour combination is the most appropriate for the dining room. Find coding errors in your programmer’s script. Explain the basics of scheduling to your project manager. Educate your engineers about how to build ships. After all, division of labour is the thing of the past!

Sign#7: You Ignore Risks

Bad surprises do not happen on good projects! Scope creep is a myth created by those evil business analysts. Users always know exactly what they want and they never say, “Oh, and I just thought about this very important feature” in the middle of product acceptance procedure.

Please share, your support is appreciated.