The rapid increase in technological capability, particularly in the realm of communications, is changing our world and how its business is conducted. At the same time, these changes are adding complexities to projects, large and small, in ways that were not foreseen even three or four decades ago. Not terribly long ago, most projects were done locally (with some notable exceptions proving the rule) – teams were co-located, the project manager had regular and direct access to project team members and most of the other stakeholders, team members worked in one or two shifts, and communications were face-to-face. Today, project managers and directors, even those managing relatively small efforts, face a significantly different project environment. Communications are frequently done virtually; access to global resources allows project work to take place around the clock. The rapidity of technological change places additional burdens on the project manager and their project teams as they try to ensure that their project’s product can provide business value in a changing business environment. In large or mega-projects, complexities are logarithmically compounded.
The definition of a mega project will depend on one’s perspective and experience. According to Wikipedia, Megaprojects are typically defined as costing more than US $1 billion and attracting a lot of public attention because of substantial impacts on communities, the environment, and on organizational budgets. The term mega may actually have different definitions, depending on the financial capabilities of an organization. The word Mega, as we know it, comes from the Greek word megas, meaning large or great. Depending on your organization, mega could be applied to many types of projects. If you are moving a large group of people from one location to another and the move involves construction of a new facility, all of the utilities, and satisfying the needs of multiple functional groups, that could be considered a mega project. Let’s just say that mega projects, regardless of how you define them, require some “mega thinking.”
Article reprinted with permission from Project Management Institute, Inc., March 2011 PM Network magazine
With the global influx of government stimulus money, there has been no shortage of publicly funded megaprojects. The blitz of multi-year, ultra-expensive endeavors all came wrapped in promises to spur growth, create jobs and extend urban infrastructure.
If they succeed, that is.
And that’s looking like an awfully big “if,” judging by some recent spectacular government-funded flameouts.
The United States heralded the US$8.7 billion project to build a tunnel connecting New Jersey and New York City as the country’s largest public works project. It was awarded more than US$3 billion in federal funds at a time when President Barack Obama’s administration has made infrastructure spending a cornerstone of its economic stimulus efforts. Yet despite entreaties from his administration and offers of additional funds, the much-hyped megaproject was shut down by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie in response to predictions that the final price tag would run US$5 billion over budget.
Ask Harry! Training Choices - A Few Things to Consider By Harry Rever, PMP - Director of Six Sigma, IIL
I’m often asked by training participants what to look for or consider when looking for a PMP or Six Sigma certification training provider. For most of us in the project management and process improvement field, training is something of great importance to us individually and for our place of employment. Over the years, I’ve been to hundreds of days of training and attended more seminars than I can recall.
In PART 1 of this case study, we described the planning of a very personal project involving "downsizing". According to Wikipedia, amongst other interpretations: "Downsizing is being regarded by management as one of the preferred routes to turning around declining organizations, cutting costs, and improving organizational performance."] That sounds like a good description of this project as a case in point.
Ask Harry! The Fundamentals of Metrics Part 1: Considerations for "What" to Measure By Harry Rever, MBA, CSSBB, CQM, CQC, PMP - Director of Six Sigma, IIL
In terms of business operations, as well as project management, there are often many questions around the topic of measurements; specifically “what” to measure. Financial and budgetary metrics are fairly standard and easily understood from a business management perspective. Scheduling and cost metrics are also well established for the management of projects. There are other important types of metrics which every organization should track in order to monitor performance and help prioritize improvement efforts and projects. Strategic business measures, process measures, and quality measures are vital for understanding business performance and can assist leadership in determining the types of projects necessary to continuously improve results.
Ask Harry! What's the Difference between a Six Sigma Green Belt and a Six Sigma Black Belt? By Harry Rever, MBA, CSSBB, CQM, CQC, PMP - Director of Six Sigma, IIL
For those somewhat unfamiliar with Six Sigma, a common question is, “What is the difference between a Six Sigma Green Belt and a Six Sigma Black Belt?” Often I’m asked by PMPs, “For my next certification, should I pursue a Six Sigma Green Belt or Black Belt?” There are a few important distinctions between the two Six Sigma roles. It is important, however, to first understand the fundamental concept and purpose of Six Sigma. Simply put, Six Sigma is a methodology to help businesses improve results.
Ask Harry! Ground Rules: The Silver Bullet to Successful Project Facilitation By Harry Rever, PMP - Director of Six Sigma, IIL
A Project Manager or Six Sigma Black/Green Belt who correctly and effectively incorporates “ground rules” into their team management repertoire will tremendously improve their team facilitation skills.
The uninvolved sponsor, the know-it-all specialist, the no-show team member, or the argumentative department representative; these are only a few of the charming characters we have to work with in order to make our projects successful. In terms of managing a project, two words describe the impact of these stakeholder types on teams: inevitable conflict. Every project has them. Every project manager has to deal with them. Some project managers deal with these kinds of personalities better than others. Those types of situations, those inevitable roadblocks can destroy a team and ruin a project, that is, if you let them. The project managers who cannot effectively handle the numerous sticky situations which come up during a project are inevitably viewed as ineffective, incapable, and are most likely labeled as project managers to avoid. The good news is there is an extremely effective tool to help even the novice project manager with these challenging project obstacles. If used correctly, simple “ground rules” can be a project manager’s best friend and “silver bullet” when it comes to dealing with project and team issues.
Quality in Project Management - A Practical Look at Chapter 8 of the PMBOK® Guide By Harry Rever - Director of Six Sigma, International Institute for Learning
Project quality management is a vital aspect of any project, yet it is often misunderstood or improperly applied. Chapter 8 of the Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge, Third Edition (PMBOK® Guide), addresses the various aspects and importance of the topic, however, it doesn’t really tell project managers how to apply the tools and techniques effectively and with confidence. This paper attempts to make the topic of “quality” easily understandable and applicable to any project. Included within this article are practical advice, hints, and suggestions on the three aspects of project quality: Planning, Assurance, and Control. A project manager must have a firm grasp on how to effectively utilize data and measure results to effectively communicate with various stakeholder groups. If a project manager and a project team understand the various quality tools as well as how and when to use them, they will ultimately make better decisions, move the project along faster, and be much more successful with project recommendations and implementation.
For most people, crunching numbers, dealing with data, and making charts is simply not too much fun. Most likely the data you want or need is either hard to access or nonexistent. If you actually can access the data, getting it in the format you need can be another hassle, altogether. To make matters worse, analyzing data, especially large data sets, can be confusing and downright monotonous. Yet few would argue having good supporting data makes project life easier, especially when communicating with stakeholders and top management. The proper use and application of data and data analysis can help just about any project be more successful. Often times, unfortunately, project managers struggle with how to effectively use data, and various analysis techniques, to make better, more informed decisions. “Quality management” is one of those ambiguous topics that can be quite confusing and maybe just a little bit scary. Project managers who struggle with the quality aspect of project management need some straightforward and practical advice on how to apply those quality tools and techniques mentioned in Chapter 8 of A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge, Third Edition (PMBOK®.) The following article attempts to give readers several suggestions and guidelines on incorporating quality concepts, tools, and techniques into the successful management of any project.
The PMBOK® summarizes the tools and techniques associated with quality management in the table shown in Exhibit 1. Project quality management is broken down into three main processes: Quality Planning, Quality Assurance, and Quality Control. At first glance each process group has an imposing list of inputs, tools and techniques, and outputs. Keep in mind these tools are not new. They have been used in business settings for decades. Most of the analysis and charting techniques listed in the table can be done in a basic spreadsheet. The key for project managers is to simply incorporate the right tools from each process during the course of a project.
- Ask Harry! The SIPOC Diagram By Harry Rever, MBA, CSSBB, CQM, CQC, PMP- Director of Six Sigma
- Ask Harry! Effectively Communicating with Data Harry Rever, MBA, CSSBB, CQM, CQC, PMP
- Project Management & Six Sigma: Use Six Sigma Methods for Better Project Results By Harry Rever - ASQ Certified Six Sigma Black Belt and Quality Manager
- Ask Harry: The Benefits of Becoming a Six Sigma Black Belt By Harry Rever - Director of Six Sigma