stakeholder management

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: 

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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 - 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 - How to Explain Why “Estimation” Equals “Uncertainty”?

 

When dealing with stakeholders who do not have much experience in project management we inevitably encounter a situation where we have to provide “quick” estimates early in the project life cycle. The science of project management encourages us to use plus-minus estimates, ranges and coarse estimates (see more on the topic: Five Proper Ways to Present Project Estimates).

However, usually the stakeholders are very keen to hear very precise numbers like “the project duration is going to be 9 months and 3 days” or “the total budget is going to be $245,433”.

So, how do you explain to your customers that as soon as you started generating project estimates (especially the early ones), you have entered the domain of uncertainty?

I usually like to demonstrate the principle of uncertainty by picking a simple example completely unrelated to the project at hand and dissect it piece by piece right in front of their eyes.

Will the customer want Feature X?

In other words, will the customer decide to add Feature X to the dozens (hundreds, thousands) of other features already added to the project scope?

Example: Will the customer decide to add the “Landscaping” feature to the “Build a New Home” project?

Will the customer want the “Honda Civic” or “Ferrari” version of Feature X?

Will the customer prefer to go with a cheaper and simpler version of the chosen feature, or opt for a luxury kind?

Example: Will the customer choose to plant ten Eastern White Pines ($50/tree) or fifty Little Gem Magnolias ($500/tree)?

If you implement the “Honda Civic” version of Feature X, will the customer later change his mind and demand the “Ferrari” version after all?

Example: I am sure it never happened on your projects, but is there a chance that the customer who initially decided to go with ten Eastern White Pines, will change her mind and opt for fifty Little Gem Magnolias?

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Article - Why Do Clients Prefer to Live in Denial? A Drama in 4 Acts

Foreword

Throughout my career I have always tried to build a relationship based on trust with my clients. I always made sure that the time and budget estimates were based on cold reality rather than some enigmatic expectations of the customer. I did this not only because of PMI Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct  but also because in my humble opinion, it is much easier to weather the storm at the very beginning of the venture, than to agree to everything your customer wants at inception and turn your life into a living hell for the rest of the project.

As a result whenever a client came to me asking for something like this (see if you can recognize some of your clients!):

"I want a customized Ferrari delivered to me tomorrow for $500"

I always replied:

"Sorry, but with that kind of timeline and budget, the best I can do is a bicycle and here is why ..."

Usually if what followed after "why" was fairly reasonable and convincing, about 90% of the stakeholders agreed with me and we proceeded to work on the project at hand in a friendly and collaborative manner.

Having said that, today I want to share with you story that falls into the other 10% ...

Introduction

Imagine the following situation:

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