project management

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​

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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 - What are the Key Documents on a Project?

Almost every time I start a project at a new company I have to answer the following question:

So, Jamal, what are your deliverables as a Project Manager? What should we expect from you and when?

And every damn time I go to the nearest white board and draw the following diagram (see Figure 1).

Figure 1

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Here are the definitions and useful links:

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Case Study – What Happens When Corruption Meets Incompetence - Krestovsky Stadium

 

Some time in 2005 as part of preparations for a (highly controversial but nevertheless successful) bid for the 2018 FIFA World Cup the government of Russia decided to build a brand-new soccer stadium in Saint Petersburg. The building phase started in 2007 with the government allocating US$268 million for the construction of the stadium.

Interestingly enough the construction that was initially supposed to end in March of 2009 continues until now, with “some cosmetic changes to be finished soon”. As of right now the stadium is astonishing 518% late and 548% over budget (see Tables 1 and 2).

Table 1 - Timeline

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Table 2 – Budget

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Unfortunately there are no official reliable sources of information regarding the root causes of these failures. However, based on the reports of various newspapers there were two major causes of delays, cost overruns and quality issues: poor planning and rampant corruption.

Some of the issues encountered during the construction of the Krestovsky Stadium.

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Article - How to Explain Quality to Your Project Stakeholders?

 

There comes a time in a life of a project manager when he (or she) has to sit down with his stakeholders – who are not necessarily well-versed in the art of project management – and discuss the touchy subject of the future product’s quality.

 

Correct me if I am wrong, but usually they happen in the following fashion:

PM: (sighing heavily) OK, we have discussed the budget and the duration of the project. Let us now talk about your expectations about the quality …

S: Oh, only the best of the best would work for us!

PM: (sighing even more heavily) But you see, we have a fairly moderate budget and an aggressive timeline. Some flexibility with quality would most definitely be welcome …

S: You don’t understand! At this company we don’t just settle for mediocre products or services. Look! It is in our mission statement!

In my humble opinion the root cause of this problem is that in the untrained minds of the stakeholders there are only two options for quality: good and bad (e.g. fixed or broken, working or not working, etc.). In reality, however quality can be described as:

  • Basic - Something simple and cheap that will do the job required
  • Premium - Something a bit more sophisticated that will do the job, but will also provide additional attributes.
  • Luxury - Something very sophisticated that will not only do the job required, but will also provide a multitude of additional options.

If this description seems vague or ambiguous, let us use another example:

  • Honda Civic – Basic, but very reliable car that is guaranteed to get you from point A to point B. Cheaper and requires only basic maintenance.
  • Lexus – Also a very reliable car. Also will get you from point A to point B. Has some cool gadgets and widgets that will make any owner happy.
  • Ferrari – Very expensive vehicle. Looks amazing and costs a lot of money. Has a plethora of cool features. Maintenance will cost you an arm and a leg.

What is the conclusion of this story? When talking to customers, don’t ask them whether Feature A should be of “low” or “high” quality. Instead ask them:

If this feature was a car, what model would you pick: a Honda Civic, a Lexus or a Ferrari?

 

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Infographic - Top 10 Amazing Facts about Megaprojects

 

Fact #8 just blew me away!

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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 - 30 Impacts of a Change Request

 

Use this when assessing your next change request!

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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 - Somewhere in a Parallel Universe...

 

This is too funny. I am sure most project managers can relate :)

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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.

Found on the Web - 15 Project Management Terms you Should Know Infographic

 

Found this on eLearningInfographics.com. Very useful info to share with your project stakeholders!

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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 - 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:

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