project management

Project and Portfolio Management Experts

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@ThinktankConsul on Twitter Thinktank Consulting on Facebook Thinktank Consulting on Google+ Thinktank Consulting on Linkedin Thinktank Consulting RSS Feed Thinktank Consulting on YouTube sudemylogo.jpg

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

Phone: +1 778 995 4396

E-Mail: jamal@thinktankconsulting.ca

Below you will find ten symptoms of a company that is in dire need of project management and/or project portfolio management. 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 three symptoms present at your company? We can help! We offer project management, project portfolio management consulting and both live or online 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 - How to Deal with Fake Job Posts?

 

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Today rather than dispense some valuable project management wisdom, I want to share a major personal frustration of mine … fake job posts. Let me explain what I mean by that. There is a whole bunch of organizations in my city that - due to (I guess) provincial laws - are required to post an external ad every time they have an opening. Even in the scenarios when they have either (a) an internal candidate, (b) former colleague they want to hire or (c) a current friend who they think would be a great fit for this job. As a result, the employer usually follows one of the two scenarios:

Scenario 1:

Create a job description that is so unique that no other person on this planet fits the description.

Example 1.1

“We need an expert-level senior business analyst who is also an internationally acclaimed project portfolio management authority” (Note: it is just like saying “I need a plumber who is also skilled at neurosurgery”)

Example 1.2

“We need a project manager who had at least two ERP implementation projects at Company A in the last three years” (Note: Just how many ERP implementations did Company A have in the past three years? Seven? Eight?)

Example 1.3

‘We need a project manager who also possesses a clinician experience” (Note: Google Dictionary defines “clinician” as “a doctor having direct contact with and responsibility for patients, rather than one involved with theoretical or laboratory studies”. I will let you come up with a joke of your own on this one)

NOTE: None of the above job descriptions are a figment of my imagination! They are very real!

Scenario 2:

Write a normal job description and invite three to seven unsuspecting candidates and then subject them to an excruciatingly boring panel interview. Avoid talking about the project itself, ask a whole bunch of really dumb questions. Thank them at the end. Still hire your former colleague or friend.

Article - Top 10 Attributes of a Great Status Report

 

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  1. PowerPoint – create your status reports in the PowerPoint format. For one they are very easy to project on the wall when conducting stakeholder meeting both at the project and the PMO level. Second, they look attractive; after all PP has been designed as presentation tool!
  2. Length – keep your reports limited to one slide. This approach will help you with selecting the most important information bits about a project. Also, keep in mind the limited attention span of the senior managers. The last thing they want to do is to listen to essays being read out to them at the status meetings (And, yes, I have seen that happen!)
  3. Name and Date – Include the name of the project manager and the date of the report (see Figure 1)

Figure 1

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Article – How to Translate “Customer Speak” into Technical Requirements

 

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I frequently employ an exercise when teaching my courses; I ask the audience members to think for one moment of their idea of a "dream home". I ask them whether they thought about this before and the majority of them agree that yes, indeed over the course of their lives they have given this topic a lot of thought and can envision this building pretty well.

Then I tell them that they now have to sit down with me - and I am willing to invest as much time as needed - and describe the house to me in detail, down to the type of flooring in the kitchen and living room, colour of the walls in the master bedroom including the exact shade, specific type and model of faucets in the bathrooms, molding in the dining room area, etc., etc., etc. The goal of this exercise is that at the end of it I should have a detailed blueprint of the building and the bill of materials including product SKUs I can go to, say, Home Depot with and purchase all the necessary supplies.

After a couple of minutes someone in the room exclaims,

“But that is impossible! How can you expect us to know all the little details about the house?”

Why am I telling this story? The reason is that thinking that one can easily come up with a complete list of detailed requirements at the beginning of the project is a self-deception. Requirements elicitation is a long and at times painful process of probing, asking questions analyzing the preliminary results, coming up with more questions and investigating again.

Furthermore, once the technical experts sit down to have any kind of requirements elicitation interaction with customers or users, they (the users) do not necessarily provide the analysts with a structured model of requirements that follows a predefined taxonomy. In other words, the customers rarely start these conversations by saying, “I will cover all of the high-level business requirements first, followed by product features. And at the very end I will provide you with all the functions and attributes of the product".

Article – Dear Recruiter, Please Learn the Basics!

 

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I warn you, the article you are about to read is a cry from my heart that has been “wounded” in the recent couple of incidents…

Episode 1 – Conversation with a recruiter

R: (enthusiastically) Hi, Jamal! You have recently applied for a Senior Business Analyst position

Me: (also enthusiastically) Yes, I did!

R: (somewhat less eagerly) But your resume says “Project Manager/Requirements Analyst…

Me: Yes!

R: But the client is looking for a Business Analyst, not a Requirements Analyst

Me: But you see, titles like Business Analyst, Systems Analyst, Business Systems Analyst and Requirements Analyst are all synonyms and are used interchangeably depending on the industry and even the company…

R: (sternly) Oh no, unfortunately we can’t send your resume to them. They were very specific in their desire to hire a Business Analyst!

Me: (quietly banging my ahead on the table) Oh God, please take me now!

Episode 2 – Conversation with a different recruiter

R: (thoughtfully) So, Jamal, you are a Senior Project Manager, right?

Me: Yep!

R: (inquisitively) But do you have any experience with end-to-end implementations?

Me: Well, by definition, EVERY project is an end-to-end implementation… You have your Initiation, Planning, Execution, Monitoring and Control and Close-out phases. So, every project that has been completed by default went through end-to-end implementation!

R: (confused) How come your resume doesn’t mention “end-to-end implementations"?

Me: (sighing heavily) Because it uses traditional project management lingo! We use words like “Planning” and “Execution”

R: (sternly) Oh no, unfortunately we can’t send your resume to them. They were very specific in their desire to hire a Project Manager with “end-to-end implementation” experience!

Me: (quietly banging my ahead on the table) Oh God, please take me now!

Do you, guys, have the same experiences or is it just me?

Infographic - The World’s Largest Megaprojects

 

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Found this on www.visualcapitalist.com.  Fascinating read :)

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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: 

Infographic - Project Management Sector Outlook for 2027

 

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Some interesting statistics form the recent “PMI Job Growth and Talent Gap” report:

  • By 2027, employers will need 87.7 million individuals working in project management oriented roles.
  • The talent gap could result in a potential loss of some US$207.9 billion in GDP through 2027 for the 11 countries analyzed.
  • Anderson Economic Group (AEG) and PMI analyzed project-oriented employment opportunity in 11 countries on five continents that represent developed and/or growing economic powers. Project-related job growth is expected to be 33 percent collectively (see Figure 1).

Figure 1

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  • GDP contributions from project-oriented industries forecast for 2027: US$20.2 trillion.
  • GDP at risk due to the project management talent shortage: US$208 billion.
  • PMI’s original projections in 2008: 52.4 million PM jobs worldwide by 2020.
  • PMI’s actual estimate of worldwide PM jobs in 2017: 65.9 million jobs.
  • On an annualized basis, employers will need to fill nearly 2.2 million new project-oriented roles each year through 2027.
  • In the U.S. in 2017, wages of project management-oriented workers in projectized industries were far higher on average than wages of non-project-oriented professionals—a premium of 82 percent.

So, if you ever wondered whether to consider project management as your next profession, the time to make the decision is now! Oh, and check out my new online learning platform that can help you to become a project manager, business analyst or a portfolio management expert.

Article - Radical Job Advice to My Friend

 

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I recently had a very interesting conversation with my much younger colleague. He is also in the project management field but has only five or seven years of experience in our domain. Bob (let us call him that) had his first interview for a PM position at one of the local government organizations. He has been subsequently shortlisted for the second round of interviews and called me up to get some advice.

Bob: (enthusiastically) Jamal, this company is great! I really hope I land a job there!

Me: (apprehensively) And what is so great about it?

Bob: (even more enthusiastically) Listen, they told me a story how they had a problem project that had all kinds of missed deadlines …

Me: (skeptically) And?

Bob: You wouldn’t believe hat happened! One of their vice presidents drove to the construction site and helped unload the trucks. He stayed there for five days straight to assist the workers!

Me: (to myself) Oh, dear God, please take me now! (aloud) Did you ask them WHAT they did wrong to end up in a situation like this?

Bob: (somewhat confused) Oh, yes … it had something to do with improperly calculated lead times … But, as they have indicated, that was not the point of the story! It is the “just roll up your sleeves and work hard” attitude!

Me: (sarcastically) You want my advice, Lord Commander?

Bob: (smiling) Yes!

Me: (using Darth Vader’s voice) Run! Run for your life!!!

So here is my question:

Do you think I gave this young man the right advice?

Please leave your comments below.

Article - Your Ultimate Guide to Earned Value Management

 

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In my previous article “How to Explain Earned Value to Dummies” I touched upon the subject of Earned Value and how to explain it in a simple way. The post since went viral on LinkedIn generating several thousand hits. One of my followers expressed her desire to see someone (i.e. yours truly) describe the entire domain of EVM in a similar fashion. So, here you go!

Inputs:

  • You have to dig a trench by extracting 1,000 cubic meters of sand.
  • The duration of the project is 10 days (assume no initiation, planning or close-out stages, only execution)
  • Your budget is $5,000
  • You therefore believe that you should be digging 100m3/day and spending $500/day in order to finish this project on-time and on-budget.

As a result of these assumptions, you do the following (see Table 1):

  • Populate the “Scheduled Work” row with ten “100 m3/day figures
  • Populate the “Cumulative Work” row with incrementally increasing corresponding numbers (i.e. 100 m3/day, 200 m3/day, 300 m3/day, etc.)
  • Populate the “Budget” row with $500/day figures
  • Populate the “Cumulative Budget” row with incrementally increasing corresponding numbers (i.e. $500/day, $1,000/day, $1,500/day, etc.)
  • Finally, the “Planned Progress” numbers are equal to the “Cumulative Work” for that particular day divided by total work planned (i.e. 1,000 m3).

Table 1

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Now imagine that we are at the end of Day 5. Let us pretend that you extracted 10, 50, 70, 120 and 150 m3 on days 1-5 respectively, instead of a planned pace of 100m3/day (see “Actual Work Done” and “Cumulative Work Done” rows)

Imagine also that you also spent $500, $750, $520, $800 and $900 days 1-5 respectively, instead of a planned pace of 500$/day (see “Actual Spent” and “Cumulative Spent” rows).

Article - How to Explain Earned Value to Dummies

 

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In the course of my career I have encountered on numerous occasions a situation where executives, top managers and even project managers had issues with understanding the concept of Earned Value. So, I have developed a series of very simple examples to address that issue.

Imagine the following:

You have ten days to produce ten glasses at a total cost of $10. You project does not have Initiation, Planning or Close-out stages; only Execution and Monitoring. Having said that, it is reasonable to assume that you should be producing 1 glass a day and spending $1 per glass.

1 glass per day @ $1/glass

The key EV formulas are:

PV = Planned Quantity X Planned Cost

AC = Actual Quantity X Actual Cost

EV = Actual Quantity X Planned Cost

Schedule Variance = SV = EV – PV

Where:

  • SV = $0 means we are on plan in terms of spending (neutral)
  • SV > $0 means we are ahead of plan in terms of spending (good)
  • SV < $0 means we are behind plan in terms of spending (bad)

Cost Variance = CV = EV – AC

Where:

  • CV = $0 means we spent the same amount as the value of the work we received (neutral)
  • CV > $0 means we spent a lesser amount than the value of the work we received (good)
  • CV < $0 means we spent a greater amount than the value of the work we received (bad)

NOTE: Don’t worry if the formulas don’t make sense at this point of time, they will become clear very soon!

Let us examine several potential situations:

Day 7

7 glasses @ $2/glass

It is day 7 and you have produced 7 glasses at a cost of $14. Where do you think (without going into formulas) you are in terms of budget and time? It is day 7 and you have manufactured 7 glasses, so you are on time. However, you have exceeded your budget of $1/glass.

Let us examine the following situation using our formulas: