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Saturday, June 23, 2012

Project Management

Project management, tools, process, plans and project planning tips


 Project management is the science (and art) of organizing the components of a project, whether the project is development of a new product, the launch of a new service, a marketing campaign, or a wedding. A project isn't something that's part of normal business operations. It's typically created once, it's temporary, and it's specific. As one expert notes, "It has a beginning and an end." A project consumes resources (whether people, cash, materials, or time), and it has funding limits.

Project Management Basics
No matter what the type of project, project management typically follows the same pattern:
  1. Definition
  2. Planning
  3. Execution
  4. Control
  5. Closure
Defining the Project
In this stage the project manager defines what the project is and what the users hope to achieve by undertaking the project. This phase also includes a list of project deliverables, the outcome of a specific set of activities. The project manager works with the business sponsor or manager who wants to have the project implemented and other stakeholders -- those who have a vested interest in the outcome of the project.
Planning the Project
Define all project activities. In this stage, the project manager lists all activities or tasks, how the tasks are related, how long each task will take, and how each tasks is tied to a specific deadline. This phase also allows the project manager to define relationships between tasks, so that, for example, if one task is x number of days late, the project tasks related to it will also reflect a comparable delay. Likewise, the project manager can set milestones, dates by which important aspects of the project need to be met.
Define requirements for completing the project. In this stage, the project manager identifies how many people (often referred to as "resources") and how much expense ("cost") is involved in the project, as well as any other requirements that are necessary for completing the project. The project manager will also need to manage assumptions and risks related to the project. The project manager will also want to identify project constraints. Constraints typically relate to schedule, resources, budget, and scope. A change in one constraint will typically affect the other constraints. For example, a budget constraint may affect the number of people who can work on the project, thereby imposing a resource constraint. Likewise, if additional features are added as part of project scope, that could affect scheduling, resources, and budget.
Executing the Project
Build the project team. In this phase, the project manager knows how many resources and how much budget he or she has to work with for the project. The project manager then assigns those resources and allocates budget to various tasks in the project. Now the work of the project begins.
Controlling the Project
The project manager is in charge of updating the project plans to reflect actual time elapsed for each task. By keeping up with the details of progress, the project manager is able to understand how well the project is progressing overall. A product such as Microsoft Project facilitates the administrative aspects of project management.
Closure of the Project
In this stage, the project manager and business owner pull together the project team and those who have an interest in the outcome of the project (stakeholders) to analyze the final outcome of the project.
Time, Money, Scope
Frequently, people refer to project management as having three components: time, money, and scope. Reducing or increasing any one of the three will probably have an impact on the other two. If a company reduces the amount of time it can spend on a project, that will affect the scope (what can be included in the project) as well as the cost (since additional people or resources may be required to meet the abbreviated schedule).
Project Portfolio Management
Recent trends in project management include project portfolio management (PPM). PPM is a move by organizations to get control over numerous projects by evaluating how well each project aligns with strategic goals and quantifying its value. An organization will typically be working on multiple projects, each resulting in potentially differing amounts of return or value. The company or agency may decide to eliminate those projects with a lower return in order to dedicate greater resources to the remaining projects or in order to preserve the projects with the highest return or value.
Here are rules, processes and tools for project planning and project management.
While project management skills are obviously important for project managers, interestingly the methods and tools that project managers use can be helpful for everyone.
A 'task' does not necessarily have to be called a 'project' in order for project management methods to be very useful in its planning and implementation. Even the smallest task can benefit from the use of a well-chosen project management technique or tool, especially in the planning stage.
Any task that requires some preparation to achieve a successful outcome, will probably be done better by using a few project management methods somewhere in the process. Project management methods can help in the planning and managing of all sorts of tasks, especially complex activities.
Project management is chiefly associated with planning and managing change in an organization, but a project can also be something unrelated to business - even a domestic situation, such as moving house, or planning a wedding.
Project management methods and tools can therefore be useful far more widely than people assume.
Project management techniques and project planning tools are useful for any tasks in which different outcomes are possible - where risks of problems and failures exist - and so require planning and assessing options, and organizing activities and resources to deliver a successful result.
Projects can be various shapes and sizes, from the small and straightforward to extremely large and highly complex.
In organizations and businesses, project management can be concerned with anything, particularly introducing or changing things, in any area or function, for example:
  • people, staffing and management
  • products and services
  • materials, manufacturing and production
  • IT and communications
  • plant, vehicles, equipment
  • storage, distribution, logistics
  • buildings and premises
  • finance, administration, acquisition and divestment
  • purchasing
  • sales, selling, marketing
  • human resources development and training
  • customer service and relations
  • quality, health and safety,
  • legal and professional
  • technical, scientific, research and development
  • new business development
  • and anything else which needs planning and managing within organizations.
Successful project management, for projects large or small, tends to follow the process outlined below.
The same principles, used selectively and appropriately, also apply to smaller tasks.
Project management techniques are not just for project managers - they are available for anyone to use.

project management process

  1. Agree precise specification for the project - 'Terms of Reference'
  2. Plan the project - time, team, activities, resources, financials - using suitable project management tools.
  3. Communicate the project plan to your project team - and to any other interested people and groups.
  4. Agree and delegate project actions.
  5. Manage and motivate - inform, encourage, enable the project team.
  6. Check, measure, monitor, review project progress - adjust project plans, and inform the project team and others.
  7. Complete project - review and report on project performance; give praise and thanks to the project team.
  8. Project follow-up - train, support, measure and report results and benefits.

1 - Agree precise specification (terms of reference) for the project

Often called the project 'terms of reference', the project specification should be an accurate description of what the project aims to achieve, and the criteria and flexibilities involved, its parameters, scope, range, outputs, sources, participants, budgets and timescales (beware - see note below about planning timescales).
Usually the project manager must consult with others and then agree the project specification with superiors, or with relevant authorities. The specification may involve several drafts before it is agreed. A project specification is essential in that it creates a measurable accountability for anyone wishing at any time to assess how the project is going, or its success on completion. Project terms of reference also provide an essential discipline and framework to keep the project on track, and concerned with the original agreed aims and parameters. A properly formulated and agreed project specification also protects the project manager from being held to account for issues that are outside the original scope of the project or beyond the project manager's control.
This is the stage to agree special conditions or exceptions with those in authority. Once you've published the terms of reference you have created a very firm set of expectations by which you will be judged. So if you have any concerns, or want to renegotiate, now's the time to do it.
The largest projects can require several weeks to produce and agree project terms of reference. Most normal business projects however require a few days thinking and consulting to produce a suitable project specification. Establishing and agreeing a project specification is an important process even if your task is simple one.
A template for a project specification:
  1. Describe purpose, aims and deliverables.
  2. State parameters (timescales, budgets, range, scope, territory, authority).
  3. State people involved and the way the team will work (frequency of meetings, decision-making process).
  4. Establish 'break-points' at which to review and check progress, and how progress and results will be measured.
Separately the acronym BOSCARDET provides a useful example structure for Terms of Reference headings/sections: Background, Objectives, Scope, Constraints, Assumptions, Reporting, Dependencies, Estimates, Timescales. This structure contains no specific heading for costs/budgets - these considerations can be included within 'Constraints' or 'Estimates'.
Since projects (and other activities requiring Terms of Reference) vary considerably there is no standard universal structure for a Terms of Reference document. The responsibility lies with the project manager or leader to ensure all relevant and necessary issues are included, and this local interpretation tends to imply TOR headings and document structure. Brainstorming can be a helpful process by which all relevant Terms of Reference criteria can be indentified and structured.
Organizations may have standard TOR structures, such as the BOSCARDET example, which it is sensible to use where applicable, mindful of risks of omission or over-complication that can arise when following standard practice. 

2 - plan the project

Plan the various stages and activities of the project. Where possible (and certainly where necessary) involve your team in the planning. A useful tip is to work backwards from the end aim, identifying all the things that need to be put in place and done, in reverse order. Additionally, from the bare beginnings of the project, use brainstorming (noting ideas and points at random - typically with a project team), to help gather points and issues and to explore innovations and ideas. Fishbone diagrams are also useful for brainstorming and identifying causal factors which might otherwise be forgotten. For complex projects, or when you lack experience of the issues, involve others in the brainstorming process. Thereafter it's a question of putting the issues in the right order, and establishing relationships and links between each issue. Complex projects will have a number of activities running in parallel. Some parts of the project will need other parts of the project to be completed before they can begin or progress. Such 'interdependent' parts of a project need particularly careful consideration and planning. Some projects will require a feasibility stage before the completion of a detailed plan. Gantt Charts and Critical Path Analysis Flow Diagrams are two commonly used tools for detailed project management planning, enabling scheduling, costing and budgeting and other financials, and project management and reporting.

project timescales and costs

Most projects come in late - that's just the way it is - so don't plan a timescale that is over-ambitious. Ideally plan for some slippage. If you have been given an fixed deadline, plan to meet it earlier, and work back from that earlier date. Build some slippage or leeway into each phase of the project. Err on the side of caution where you can. Projects which slip back and are delivered late, or which run over budget or fail to meet other financial requirements often cause significant problems. Many planners are put under pressure to deliver projects sooner and more cost-effectively than is realistic. Ambition and aiming high are good attitudes, but planning without proper prudence and responsibility is daft. Investors and executives tend rarely to question an over-ambitious plan, but they will quickly make very ruthless decisions when any overly ambitious project starts to fail. Exercising a little realism at the outset of a project regarding financials and timescales can save an enormous amount of trouble later.

The project team

Another important part of the planning stage is picking your team. Take great care, especially if you have team-members imposed on you by the project brief. Selecting and gaining commitment from the best team members - whether directly employed, freelance, contractors, suppliers, consultants or other partners - is crucial to the quality of the project, and the ease with which you are able to manage it. Generally try to establish your team as soon as possible. Identifying or appointing one or two people even during the terms of reference stage is possible sometimes. Appointing the team early maximises their ownership and buy-in to the project, and maximises what they can contribute. But be very wary of appointing people before you are sure how good they are, and not until they have committed themselves to the project upon terms that are clearly understood and acceptable. Don't imagine that teams need to be full of paid and official project team members. Some of the most valuable team members are informal advisors, mentors, helpers, who want nothing other than to be involved and a few words of thanks. Project management on a tight budget can be a lonely business - get some help from good people you can trust, whatever the budget.
To plan and manage large complex projects with various parallel and dependent activities you will need to put together a 'Critical Path Analysis' and a spreadsheet on MS Excel or equivalent. Critical Path Analysis will show you the order in which tasks must be performed, and the relative importance of tasks. Some tasks can appear small and insignificant when they might actually be hugely influential in enabling much bigger activities to proceed or give best results. A Gantt chart is a useful way of showing blocks of activities over time and at a given cost and for managing the project and its costs along the way.
Various project management software is available, much of which is useful, but before trying it you should understand and concentrate on developing the pure project management skills, which are described in this process. The best software in the world will not help you if you can't do the basic things.

Project management tools

Here are examples and explanations of four commonly used tools in project planning and project management, namely: Brainstorming, Fishbone Diagrams, Critical Path Analysis Flow Diagrams, and Gantt Charts. Additionally and separately see business process modelling and quality management, which contain related tools and methods aside from the main project management models shown below.
The tools here each have their strengths and particular purposes, summarised as a basic guide in the matrix below.
Matrix key:
B = Brainstorming
F = Fishbone/Ishikawa Diagrams
C = Critical Path Analysis Flow Diagrams
G = Gantt Charts

*** - main tool
** - optional/secondary tool
* - sometimes useful
Project brainstorming and initial concepts, ideas, structures, aims, etc*****
Gathering and identifying all elements, especially causal and hidden factors******
Scheduling and timescales*****
Identifying and sequencing parallel and interdependent activities and stages*****
Financials - costings, budgets, revenues, profits, variances, etc*******
Monitoring, forecasting, reporting******
Troubleshooting, problem identification, diagnosis and solutions********
'Snapshot' or 'map' overview - non-sequential, non-scheduled*****
Format for communications, presentations, updates, progress reports, etc*****


Brainstorming is usually the first crucial creative stage of the project management and project planning process. See the brainstorming method in detail and explained separately, because it many other useful applications outside of project management.
Unlike most project management skills and methods, the first stages of the brainstorming process is ideally a free-thinking and random technique. Consequently it can be overlooked or under-utilized because it not a natural approach for many people whose mains strengths are in systems and processes. Consequently this stage of the project planning process can benefit from being facilitated by a team member able to manage such a session, specifically to help very organised people to think randomly and creatively.

Fishbone diagrams

Fishbone diagrams are chiefly used in quality management fault-detection, and in business process improvement, especially in manufacturing and production, but the model is also very useful in project management planning and task management generally.
Within project management fishbone diagrams are useful for early planning, notably when gathering and organising factors, for example during brainstorming.
Fishbone diagrams are very good for identifying hidden factors which can be significant in enabling larger activities, resources areas, or parts of a process.
Fishbone diagrams are not good for scheduling or showing interdependent time-critical factors.
Fishbone diagrams are also called 'cause and effect diagrams' and Ishikawa diagrams, after Kaoru Ishikawa (1915-89), a Japanese professor specialising in industrial quality management and engineering who devised the technique in the 1960s.
Ishikawa's diagram became known as a fishbone diagram, obviously, because it looks like a fishbone:
ishikawa fishbone diagram
A fishbone diagram has a central spine running left to right, around which is built a map of factors which contribute to the final result (or problem).
For each project the main categories of factors are identified and shown as the main 'bones' leading to the spine.
Into each category can be drawn 'primary' elements or factors (shown as P in the diagram), and into these can be drawn secondary elements or factors (shown as S). This is done for every category, and can be extended to third or fourth level factors if necessary.
The diagram above is a very simple one. Typically fishbone diagrams have six or more main bones feeding into the spine. Other main category factors can include Environment, Management, Systems, Training, Legal, etc.
The categories used in a fishbone diagram should be whatever makes sense for the project. Various standard category sets exist for different industrial applications, however it is important that your chosen structure is right for your own situation, rather than taking a standard set of category headings and hoping that it fits.
At a simple level the fishbone diagram is a very effective planning model and tool - especially for 'mapping' an entire operation.
Where a fishbone diagram is used for project planning of course the 'Effect' is shown as an aim or outcome or result, not a problem.
The 'Problem' term is used in fault diagnosis and in quality management problem-solving. Some fishbone diagrams can become very complex indeed, which is common in specialised quality management areas, especially where systems are computerised.
This model, and the critical path analysis diagram are similar to the even more complex diagrams used on business process modelling within areas of business planning and and business process improvement.

Project critical path analysis (flow diagram or chart)

'Critical Path Analysis' sounds very complicated, but it's a very logical and effective method for planning and managing complex projects. A critical path analysis is normally shown as a flow diagram, whose format is linear (organised in a line), and specifically a time-line.
Critical Path Analysis is also called Critical Path Method - it's the same thing - and the terms are commonly abbreviated, to CPA and CPM.
A commonly used tool within Critical Path Analysis is PERT (Program/Programme/Project Evaluation and Review Technique) which is a specialised method for identifying related and interdependent activities and events, especially where a big project may contain hundreds or thousands of connected elements. PERT is not normally relevant in simple projects, but any project of considerable size and complexity, particularly when timings and interdependency issues are crucial, can benefit from the detailed analysis enabled by PERT methods. PERT analysis commonly feeds into Critical Path Analysis and to other broader project management systems, such as those mentioned here.
Critical Path Analysis flow diagrams are very good for showing interdependent factors whose timings overlap or coincide. They also enable a plan to be scheduled according to a timescale. Critical Path Analysis flow diagrams also enable costings and budgeting, although not quite as easily as Gantt charts (below), and they also help planners to identify causal elements, although not quite so easily as fishbone diagrams (below).
This is how to create a Critical Path Analysis. As an example, the project is a simple one - making a fried breakfast.
First note down all the issues (resources and activities in a rough order), again for example:
Assemble crockery and utensils, assemble ingredients, prepare equipment, make toast, fry sausages and eggs, grill bacon and tomatoes, lay table, warm plates, serve.
Note that some of these activities must happen in parallel - and crucially they are interdependent. That is to say, if you tried to make a fried breakfast by doing one task at a time, and one after the other, things would go wrong. Certain tasks must be started before others, and certain tasks must be completed in order for others to begin. The plates need to be warming while other activities are going on. The toast needs to be toasting while the sausages are frying, and at the same time the bacon and sausages are under the grill. The eggs need to be fried last. A Critical Path Analysis is a diagrammatical representation of what needs done and when. Timescales and costs can be applied to each activity and resource. Here's the Critical Path Analysis for making a fried breakfast:
This Critical Path Analysis example below shows just a few activities over a few minutes. Normal business projects would see the analysis extending several times wider than this example, and the time line would be based on weeks or months. It is possible to use MS Excel or a similar spreadsheet to create a Critical Path Analysis, which allows financial totals and time totals to be planned and tracked. Various specialised project management software enable the same thing. Beware however of spending weeks on the intricacies of computer modelling, when in the early stages especially, a carefully hand drawn diagram - which requires no computer training at all - can put 90% of the thinking and structure in place. (See the details about the most incredible planning and communications tool ever invented, and available for just a tiny fraction of the price of all the alternatives.)

Project critical path analysis flow diagram example

project management - critical path analysis

Gantt charts

Gantt Charts (commonly wrongly called gant charts) are extremely useful project management tools. The Gantt Chart is named after US engineer and consultant Henry Gantt (1861-1919) who devised the technique in the 1910s.
Gantt charts are excellent models for scheduling and for budgeting, and for reporting and presenting and communicating project plans and progress easily and quickly, but as a rule Gantt Charts are not as good as a Critical Path Analysis Flow Diagram for identifying and showing interdependent factors, or for 'mapping' a plan from and/or into all of its detailed causal or contributing elements.
You can construct a Gantt Chart using MSExcel or a similar spreadsheet. Every activity has a separate line. Create a time-line for the duration of the project (the breakfast example shows minutes, but normally you would use weeks, or for very big long-term projects, months). You can colour code the time blocks to denote type of activity (for example, intense, watching brief, directly managed, delegated and left-to-run, etc.) You can schedule review and insert break points. At the end of each line you can show as many cost columns for the activities as you need. The breakfast example shows just the capital cost of the consumable items and a revenue cost for labour and fuel. A Gantt chart like this can be used to keep track of progress for each activity and how the costs are running. You can move the time blocks around to report on actuals versus planned, and to re-schedule, and to create new plan updates. Costs columns can show plan and actuals and variances, and calculate whatever totals, averages, ratios, etc., that you need. Gantt Charts are probably the most flexible and useful of all project management tools, but remember they do not very easily or obviously show the importance and inter-dependence of related parallel activities, and they won't obviously show the necessity to complete one task before another can begin, as a Critical Path Analysis will do, so you may need both tools, especially at the planning stage, and almost certainly for large complex projects.

Gantt chart example

A wide range of computerised systems/software now exists for project management and planning, and new methods continue to be developed. It is an area of high innovation, with lots of scope for improvement and development. I welcome suggestions of particularly good systems, especially if inexpensive or free. Many organizations develop or specify particular computerised tools, so it's a good idea to seek local relevant advice and examples of best practice before deciding the best computerised project management system(s) for your own situation.
Project planning tools naturally become used also for subsequent project reporting, presentations, etc., and you will make life easier for everyone if you use formats that people recognize and find familiar.

Project financial planning and reporting

For projects involving more than petty cash you'll probably need a spreadsheet to plan and report planned and actual expenditure. Use MSExcel or similar. Financial accounting for small projects can sometimes be managed using the project's Gantt Chart. Large projects are likely to require some sort of require dedicated accounting system, although conceivably Gantt Charts and financial management accounts can easily be administered within a spreadsheet system given sufficient expertise. If you don't know how to put together a basic financial plan, get some help from someone who does, and make sure you bring a good friendly, flexible financial person into your team - it's a key function of project management, and if you can't manage the financial processes your self you need to be able to rely completely on whoever does it for you. The spreadsheet must enable you to plan, administer and report the detailed finances of your project. Create a cost line for main expenditure activity, and break this down into individual elements. Create a system for allocating incoming invoices to the correct activities (your bought-ledger people won't know unless you tell them), and showing when the costs hit the project account. Establish clear payment terms with all suppliers and stick to them. Projects develop problems when team members get dissatisfied; rest assured, non- or late-payment is a primary cause of dissatisfaction.
Remember to set some budget aside for 'contingencies' - you will almost certainly need it.

Project contingency planning

Planning for and anticipating the unforeseen, or the possibility that things may not go as expected, is called 'contingency planning'. Contingency planning is vital in any task when results and outcomes cannot be absolutely guaranteed. Often a contingency budget needs to be planned as there are usually costs associated. Contingency planning is about preparing fall-back actions, and making sure that leeway for time, activity and resource exists to rectify or replace first-choice plans. A simple contingency plan for the fried breakfast would be to plan for the possibility of breaking the yolk of an egg, in which case spare resource (eggs) should be budgeted for and available if needed. Another might be to prepare some hash-browns and mushrooms in the event that any of the diners are vegetarian. It may be difficult to anticipate precisely what contingency to plan for in complex long-term projects, in which case simply a contingency budget is provided, to be allocated later when and if required.

3 - communicate the project plan to your team

This serves two purposes: it informs people what's happening, and it obtains essential support, agreement and commitment. If your project is complex and involves a team, then you should involve the team in the planning process to maximise buy-in, ownership, and thereby accountability. Your project will also benefit from input and consultation from relevant people at an early stage.
Also consider how best to communicate the aims and approach of your project to others in your organization and wider network.
Your project 'team' can extend more widely than you might first imagine. Consider all the possible 'stakeholders' - those who have an interest in your project and the areas it touches and needs to attract support or tolerance.
Involvement and communication are vital for cooperation and support. Failing to communicate to people (who might have no great input, but whose cooperation is crucial) is a common reason for arousing suspicion and objections, defensiveness or resistance.

4 - agree and delegate project actions

Your plan will have identified those responsible for each activity. Activities need to be very clearly described, including all relevant parameters, timescales, costs, and deliverables. Use the SMART acronym to help you delegate tasks properly. See the delegation tips and processes. Using proper delegation methods is vital for successful project management involving teams. When delegated tasks fail this is typically because they have not been explained clearly, agreed with the other person, or supported and checked while in progress. So publish the full plan to all in the team, and consider carefully how to delegate medium-to-long-term tasks in light of team members' forward-planning capabilities. Long-term complex projects need to be planned in more detail, and great care must be taken in delegating and supporting them. Only delegate tasks which pass the SMART test. Other useful materials to help understand team delegation are the Tannenbaum and Schmidt Continuum, and Tuckman's group forming/performing model. The Johari Window model is also an excellent review framework for quickly checking or reminding about mutual awareness among team members in large complex projects, where there is often a risk of project fragmentation and people 'doing their own thing' in blissful isolation - which seriously undermines even the best planned projects.

5 - manage, motivate, inform, encourage, enable the project team

Manage the team and activities in meetings, communicating, supporting, and helping with decisions (but not making them for people who can make them for themselves). 'Praise loudly; blame softly.' (a wonderful maxim attributed to Catherine the Great). One of the big challenges for a project manager is deciding how much freedom to give for each delegated activity. Tight parameters and lots of checking are necessary for inexperienced people who like clear instructions, but this approach is the kiss of death to experienced, entrepreneurial and creative people. They need a wider brief, more freedom, and less checking. Manage these people by the results they get - not how they get them. Look out for differences in personality and working styles in your team. Misunderstanding personal styles can get in the way of team cooperation. Your role here is to enable and translate. Face to face meetings, when you can bring team members together, are generally the best way to avoid issues and relationships becoming personalised and emotional. Communicate progress and successes regularly to everyone. Give the people in your team the plaudits, particularly when someone high up expresses satisfaction - never, never accept plaudits yourself. Conversely - you must take the blame for anything that goes wrong - never 'dump' (your problems or stresses) on anyone in your team. As project manager any problem is always ultimately down to you anyway. Use empathy and conflict handling techniques, and look out for signs of stress and manage it accordingly. A happy positive team with a basic plan will outperform a miserable team with a brilliant plan, every time.

6 - check, measure, and review project performance; adjust project plans; inform project team and others

Check the progress of activities against the plan. Review performance regularly and at the stipulated review points, and confirm the validity and relevance of the remainder of the plan. Adjust the plan if necessary in light of performance, changing circumstances, and new information, but remain on track and within the original terms of reference. Be sure to use transparent, pre-agreed measurements when judging performance. (Which shows how essential it is to have these measures in place and clearly agreed before the task begins.) Identify, agree and delegate new actions as appropriate. Inform team members and those in authority about developments, clearly, concisely and in writing. Plan team review meetings. Stick to the monitoring systems you established. Probe the apparent situations to get at the real facts and figures. Analyse causes and learn from mistakes. Identify reliable advisors and experts in the team and use them. Keep talking to people, and make yourself available to all.

7 - complete project; review and report on project; give praise and thanks to the project team

At the end of your successful project hold a review with the team. Ensure you understand what happened and why. Reflect on any failures and mistakes positively, objectively, and without allocating personal blame. Reflect on successes gratefully and realistically. Write a review report, and make observations and recommendations about follow up issues and priorities - there will be plenty.

8 - follow up - train, support, measure and report project results and benefits

Traditionally this stage would be considered part of the project completion, but increasingly an emphasised additional stage of project follow-up is appropriate.
This is particularly so in very political environments, and/or where projects benefits have relatively low visibility and meaning to stakeholders (staff, customers, investors, etc), especially if the project also has very high costs, as ICT projects tend to do.
ICT (information and communications technology) projects often are like this - low visibility of benefits but very high costs, and also very high stress and risk levels too.
Project management almost always involves change management too, within which it's very important to consider the effects of the project on people who have to adapt to the change. There is often a training or education need. There will almost certainly be an explanation need, in which for example methods like team briefing have prove very useful.
Whatever, when you are focused on project management it is easy to forget or ignore that many people are affected in some way by the results of the project. Change is difficult, even when it is good and for right reasons. Remembering this during and at the end of your project will help you achieve a project that is well received, as well as successful purely in project management terms.

Someone once said "Don't you love it when a plan comes together?"
It's true.
As project manager, to be at the end of a project and to report that the project plan has been fully met, on time and on budget, is a significant achievement, whatever the project size and complexity. The mix of skills required are such that good project managers can manage anything.

Amusing project management analogies

To the optimist, the glass is half full. To the pessimist, the glass is half empty. To the project manager, the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.
A clergyman, a doctor and a project manager were playing golf together one day and were waiting for a particularly slow group ahead. The project manager exclaimed, "What's with these people? We've been waiting over half and hour! It's a complete disgrace." The doctor agreed, "They're hopeless, I've never seen such a rabble on a golf course." The clergyman spotted the approaching greenkeeper and asked him what was going on, "What's happening with that group ahead of us? They're surely too slow and useless to be playing, aren't they?" The greenkeeper replied, "Oh, yes, that's a group of blind fire-fighters. They lost their sight saving our clubhouse from a fire last year, so we always let them play for free anytime." The three golfers fell silent for a moment. The clergyman said, "Oh dear, that's so sad. I shall say some special prayers for them tonight." The doctor added, rather meekly, "That's a good thought. I'll get in touch with an ophthalmic surgeon friend of mine to see if there's anything that can be done for them." After pondering the situation for a few seconds, the project manager turned to the greenkeeper and asked, "Why can't they play at night?"
And this (thanks G Bee)... A project manager was out walking in the countryside one day when a frog called out to him. He bent down, picked up the frog and put it in his pocket. The frog called out again, saying, "If you kiss me I shall turn me back into a beautiful princess, and I'll stay with you for a week as your mistress." The project manager took the frog out of his pocket, smiled at it, and put it back into his pocket. The frog called out once more, "If you kiss me and turn me back into a princess, I'll stay with you for as long as you wish and do absolutely anything that you want. Again the Project manager took the frog out of his pocket, smiled at it and put it back. Finally, the frog demanded, "What's the matter? You can turn me back into a beautiful princess, and I'll stay with you for ever and do anything you want. Why won't you kiss me?" to which the project manager replied, "Understand, I'm a project manager. I simply don't have time for a girlfriend, but a talking frog .... that's cool."


Components of Sound Project Documents
Well-structured project documents should include:
  • a clear statement of the broader development problem to be addressed;
  • a clearly focused specification of a more limited development objective or goal;
  • properly articulated objectives and activities, which follow logically from the development objective, along with expected results;
  • an implementation strategy, accompanied by a detailed work plan, to be updated annually;
  • staffing plan, associated with the work plan;
  • a management plan, with clearly stated roles and responsibilities for all project partners and principals;
a straightforward description of the governance structure for the project.
Monitoring and Evaluation as Components in Design
Project documents should also include a systematic strategy for monitoring and evaluation, with separate budget lines for monitoring and for evaluation.
Project Planning Strategies
Each of the following strategies may provide an appropriate basis for sound project planning:
  • Build projects on the basis of lessons learned from previous UNDP projects in closely related fields.
  • Focus consultations with experts and/or stakeholders to facilitate project conceptualization, focusing, planning and targeting.
  • For innovative and ground-breaking programmes, begin small with pilot activities, drawing lessons and building on the basis of experience over time.
  • Use a preparatory phase to facilitate the focusing of the project and to allow for broad-based consultations with stakeholders on design and on an implementation strategy for major projects to follow.
  • Proactively identify a capacity gap, then hold carefully prepared and inclusive consultations to build involvement and partnership and to focus and clarify project design.
Consultations at the Planning Stage
Projects that originate with ideas developed by UNDP staff or others but that are not reviewed thoroughly through detailed consultations with stakeholders or informed by efforts to take into account conditions at the country level will not prove effective.
Careful Preparation and Quality of Performance
In the vast majority of cases, the overall quality of project performance, effectiveness and relevance is associated with careful and detailed preparations, thorough stakeholder and beneficiary identification and an inclusive approach to consultation at the planning stage.


Participatory Approaches and Effectiveness
Effective projects feature use of a participatory and consultative approach to working with partners and stakeholders.
Multi-level Participation Strategy
Successful projects combine an inclusive strategy for intercountry consultations with a parallel strategy at the national (and sometimes local) level.
Stakeholders and Decision-making
Very few projects were found to involve stakeholders and partners in decision-making from preparation through design to implementation and monitoring.
Stakeholder Identification
One of the principal difficulties for project planners is the proper identification of stakeholders. It is unrealistic to expect to "get consultations right" and to build a participatory approach, at whatever level, without taking this important first step. Projects that do not address this issue are likely to be poorly integrated.
Specification of Beneficiaries
Projects have paid insufficient attention to the specification of beneficiaries and to indicating in concrete terms how their situation will improve, directly or indirectly, as a result of the project. Lack of specificity in beneficiary identification is likely to result in poorly focused projects and incomplete implementation strategies.
Consultations and Links from the Programme to the Project Level (Regional Projects)
Consultations at the level of the regional programme as a whole, no matter how wide-ranging or intensive, do not solve the problem of building ownership on the part of specific stakeholders in the case of a particular project. Linkages from the level of the regional programme to that of individual regional projects remain weak and undeveloped.
Country Offices and Stakeholder/Beneficiary Identification
A major factor to be addressed in dealing with problems of stakeholder and beneficiary identification is the need to ensure full involvement of country offices and resident representatives at an early stage.


Clarifying Roles and Responsibilities
An essential element in effective project implementation is a clear statement of roles and responsibilities concerning project management and decision-making.
Execution and Implementation
As part of the effort to clarify roles and responsibilities, more careful attention should be given to distinguishing between executing and implementing agencies and to explaining who does what, when, where and how.
Managerial Supervision by UNDP
The degree of managerial involvement and supervision by UNDP in New York (regional bureaux and BPPS) regarding intercountry programmes is insufficient.
Allocating Resources for Supervisory and Monitoring Activities
There is a failure to build in sufficient resources - both managerial and technical/professional - in project design and budgeting to undertake essential supervisory and monitoring activities.
Recognizing the Role of Resident Representative
The role of resident representatives and country offices is unclear in the case of intercountry programmes. They have a central role to play:
  • in ensuring that projects stay on track in each of the countries where they are implemented;
  • in providing support and advice to national and local partners involved in intercountry programmes; and
  • in providing feedback to headquarters.
Supporting National Officers
National officers are sometimes required to take on monitoring and/or managerial responsibilities for intercountry programmes. Generally, they receive no briefing or substantive training nor is the role they are to play clearly specified. Efficient integration of country-based elements of intercountry programmes depends on better preparation of and support to national officers involved in this way.
Absence of Baseline Data and Measures of Performance/Progress
For the most part, intercountry programmes are designed without inclusion of baseline information, milestones and performance indicators. As a consequence, it is extremely difficulty to monitor project performance properly.
Limitations of Professional and Technical Support Capacities
The limitations of the technical and professional support services available from UNDP and the principal executing agencies are apparent in the weak performance of the backstopping function in intercountry programmes.
Exceptions to this tendency are a small number of projects that draw on appropriately structured networks (global, regional and national) of experts and practitioners to support implementation. Some specialized divisions at UNDP, namely, MDGD and Capacity 21, seem better prepared and better organized than others in the provision of the kinds of professional/technical support required.
Towards Satisfactory Monitoring
Satisfactory arrangements for monitoring and technical support derive from a well-structured organizational model for the project and strong stakeholder involvement in all components of project management and decision-making.
Under-budgeting of Projects
By and large, intercountry projects are seriously underfunded. This state of affairs still holds true where there is cost-sharing with other donors. Consequently, projects are often unrealistic in setting objectives and try to do too much. It follows that projects built on these lines will not achieve the expected results.
UNDP Cost-sharing with Other Multilateral Donors on Larger Projects
UNDP faces a difficulty in achieving visibility and appropriate recognition for its financial support to many collaborative programmes. At the same time, through such partnerships, UNDP has been able to access technical and professional expertise not available in-house. Without such support, these projects could not have proceeded.
If UNDP wishes to address this problem directly, it must be prepared to be a more proactive partner and to confront the limitations of its own professional/technical capabilities. The experience of the Mediterranean Environmental Technical Assistance Programme, Phase III (METAP 3), in which UNDP has moved most successfully into an active mode in shaping the new phase of the project and in restructuring its partnership with the World Bank, demonstrates what may be achieved through active engagement on a sustained basis.


Building Linkages into Design
At the design and preparatory stage, projects must consider carefully how to establish appropriate two-way linkages among the levels of involvement featured in project decision-making and implementation (global/regional/ national/local). Insufficient attention to this component of design is associated with subsequent difficulties in establishing and maintaining partnerships of all kinds, building ownership and achieving integration of project activities.
Weak Internal UNDP Linkages
For regional programmes, communication and cooperation between the regional bureaux and the specialist divisions of BPPS hve been very limited. As a result, UNDP fails to optimize its use of in-house expertise and also duplicates effort.
Linkages across Projects
There are virtually no linkages across projects, even in the same field or sector and where projects operate in the same territory. There is a need for UNDP to address horizontal communication problems within and across regional bureaux, with other divisions responsible for intercountry programmes and with professional support units. As matters stand, no part of the organization takes responsibility for ensuring that information-sharing and exchange take place.
Support to Learning: One of the Principal Justifications for Intercountry Programmes
There is an urgent need for UNDP to devote far greater attention to analysing experience, to learning lessons, and to using these lessons in improving programming. One of the most important features of intercountry programmes and one of the principal justifications for their existence is their potential ability to draw on experience at the national level, compare and assess that experience and draw lessons from it. These lessons may then be disseminated back to the country level and taken into account in developing the next generation of programmes as well as in adjusting current activities.


Realizing the SHD Potential of Intercountry Programmes
Intercountry programmes constitute an important channel through which UNDP can demonstrate its ability to put new ideas and approaches regarding SHD and poverty eradication into practice. If the organization is to realize the potential of intercountry programmes in this regard, it must do far more to bridge the gaps between conceptual thinking on SHD and practical programming.
Anchoring at the Country Level
For the most part, successful intercountry programmes are those that are anchored strongly at the country level. This is also a means of ensuring that SHD concerns of participating countries are taken into account in the overall programming strategy.
Value of a Multi-disciplinary Approach
Projects that take a multi-disciplinary approach to problem identification and the development of project plans and strategies are more likely to advance UNDP's work in SHD.
Problems with Capacity-development Strategies
Many intercountry projects lack adequate capacity-development strategies and are thus unlikely to produce lasting results in this area.
Capacity Development and Weak Project Focus
The problems with capacity development are linked to weakly stated objectives and poorly defined, inadequately focused activities. Generally, project designs do not adequately take into account the particular requirements for an effective capacity-development project.
Capacity Development: Training and Support
There is an urgent need for better support and training for staff at headquarters and in the field in understanding capacity-development strategies and approaches.
Preparation for Capacity Development
Projects that are more effective in the area of capacity development begin with careful preparatory work, including the identification of capacity gaps and at least a modest capacity assessment of partner institutions.
Sustainability of Project Investments
Intercountry programmes in general have not dealt with the issue of the sustainability of project investments. An assessment of best practices suggests the need to address the issue carefully at the design stage in conjunction with the preparation of a capacity-development strategy.
Inattention to Gender Strategy
With a few exceptions, intercountry programmes do not address gender issues in implementation. There are few incentives for staff to deal with the complex issue of the mainstreaming of gender in project design.
Strengthening Civil Society and Working with the Private Sector
Country programmes are only beginning to address the need to focus on civil society and the private sector as central actors in the effort to support SHD. The experience of several projects examined provides an indication that intercountry programmes can address sensitive issues of governance and policy where States may be reluctant to enter into dialogue with civil society and/or the private sector. Intercountry programmes may be perceived as less intrusive than country programmes and, as such, may have a significant part to play in facilitating a more central role in policy and policy dialogue for these key stakeholders in development.


Difficulties in Assessing Results and Measuring Impact
Given the absence of baseline information, milestones assessing progress over time and substantive performance indicators in project documents, it is impossible to measure results directly and concretely or assess impact. There is a demonstrable need for attention to this major deficiency in UNDP programming work.


Responsibility for Organizational Learning
No one in UNDP appears to take responsibility for learning lessons from programming and sharing the knowledge gained thereby. There seem to be no incentives or support systems to facilitate a commitment to learning.
Absence of Quality Control
Project approval committees do not perform the function of ensuring quality and conformity to common standards in project preparation and design.
Scattering of Projects
There are too many projects and most have inadequate funds to achieve their purposes. This is a major factor in reducing programme quality and effectiveness.
Need For a Strategic Framework
If intercountry programmes are to reflect core organizational objectives and contribute to their achievement, they must be planned with reference to a strategic framework. Such a framework would provide for a streamlined set of programmes addressing a more limited set of themes and priorities within a given programming period.

Lessons Learned
Capturing lessons learned is an integral part of every project and serves several purposes. While the finalization of a formal lessons learned document is completed during the project closeout process, capturing lessons learned should occur throughout the project lifecycle to ensure all information is documented in a timely and accurate manner. The lessons learned document serves as a valuable tool for use by other project managers within an organization who are assigned similar projects. This document should not only describe what went wrong during a project and suggestions to avoid similar occurrences in the future, but it should also describe what went well and how similar projects may benefit from this information. This document should be communicated to the project sponsor and Project Management Office (PMO) for inclusion in the organizational assets and archives as part of the lessons learned database. If the organization does not have a PMO then other, formal means of communicating the lessons learned should be utilized to ensure all project managers are included.
The purpose of the lessons learned document for the New Building Construction (NBC) Project is to capture the project’s lessons learned in a formal document for use by other project managers on similar future projects. This document may be used as part of new project planning for similar projects in order to determine what problems occurred and how those problems were handled and may be avoided in the future. Additionally, this document details what went well with the project and why, so that other project managers may capitalize on these actions. Project managers may also use this document to determine who the project team members were in order to solicit feedback for planning their projects in the future. This document will be formally communicated with the organization and will become a part of the organizational assets and archives.
Lessons Learned Approach
The lessons learned approach describes how the document will be created, what it will consist of, and how lessons will be categorized. It is important that the lessons learned approach is covered in the initial stages of project planning. The reason for this is that a methodology along with an appropriate set of tools should be established to capture these lessons throughout the project’s lifecycle. A project journal is one example of a tool to capture these lessons. If no thought is given to lessons learned until project closeout then it is likely that many lessons and details will be omitted from the document. The contents of the lessons learned document should also be determined ahead of time. They should be detailed enough to provide value for future use and the contents should be consistent with other lessons learned documents or organizational standards. The categorization of lessons learned is another consideration. Many organizations categorize lessons by project lifecycle phase or by the knowledge area that the lesson applies to.
The lessons learned from the NBC Project are compiled from project journal entries throughout the project lifecycle. Lessons learned were also be gathered from both realized and unrealized risks in the project risk register as well as through interviews with project team members and other stakeholder as necessary. The lessons learned from this project are to be used as references for future projects and contain an adequate level of detail so that other project managers may have enough information on which to help base their project plans. The lessons learned in this document are categorized by project knowledge area. These knowledge areas consist of: procurement management, risk management, integration management, quality management, time management, cost management, scope management, human resource management, and communications management. NOTE: some knowledge areas may not contain lessons learned if none were documented throughout the project lifecycle.
Lessons Learned From This Project
The lessons learned must be communicated in a consistent manner. In addition to the categorization and description of the lesson, it is important to state what the impact was and provide a recommendation for project managers to consider on future projects.
The following chart lists the lessons learned for the NBC project. These lessons are categorized by project knowledge area and descriptions, impacts, and recommendations are provided for consideration on similar future new construction projects. It is important to note that not only failures or shortcomings are included but successes as well.
CategoryIssue NameProblem/SuccessImpactRecommendation
Procurement ManagementContract RequirementsThe PM was not fully engaged in the contract process.All requirements were not included in the initial contract award. A contract modification was required which added a week to the project.PM must be fully engaged in all contract processes. This must be communicated to both PM and contract personnel.
Human Resources ManagementAward PlanThere was no plan for providing awards and recognition to team members.Toward the end of the project morale was low among the project team. There was increased conflict and team members were asking to leave the project.The PM should institute and communicate an awards/recognition program for every project.
Scope ManagementScope CreepStakeholders continuously tried adding to the project scope throughout the project lifecycle.The PM did not have a plan for addressing scope creep and allowed some requirements to be added until the sponsor stopped it. Overall project delay of 3 weeks was the result.The PM must have an approval process for any proposed scope changes and communicate this process to all stakeholders.
Quality ManagementBuilding MaterialA process for determining acceptable building material quality was planned into the project.This allowed the project team to work with the contractors to smoothly ensure all materials were of acceptable quality and avoided any re-work and delays associated with substandard material.Always plan quality standards and allowances into the project plan. This helps avoid delays and cost overruns.
Risk ManagementZoning ApprovalA risk was identified that there may be delays in receiving approval from the county zoning board. This was a success because it was identified early and planned for.Impact was minimal because the PM included potential zoning delays into the project schedule.Always consider external impacts on the project cost and schedule. This must be continuous throughout the project lifecycle.
Lessons Learned Knowledge Base/Database
The Lesson Learned Knowledge Base contains historical information from previous projects. It is part of the organizational project assets and provides a valuable source of information to be used by similar projects in the future. All project lessons learned and other historical information need to be transferred to this knowledge/database in order to provide one centralized repository for ease of use. This should also include information on issues and risks as well as techniques that worked well which can be applied to future projects. Most lessons learned knowledge/databases contain large amounts of information, so it is important that there is a system for cataloging this information.
The lessons learned for the NBC Project will be contained in the organizational lessons learned knowledge base maintained by the project management office (PMO). This information will be cataloged under the project’s year (2011) and the type of project (New Construction) for future reference. This information will be valuable for any project manager assigned to a new construction project in the future.
Lessons Learned From Previous Projects
The lessons learned document might also state which historical lessons learned were used on this project. This information not only shows the value of the documentation of such lessons, but it also shows which lessons are consistently applied by other similar projects. It is important to reference not only what the lesson was but from which project it was associated with.
The NBC Project utilized several lessons learned from past projects:
1. The addition of a risk associated with planning cost and schedule based on external dependencies (i.e. zoning approvals) was determined during the planning process by consulting the lessons learned from the Building #3 expansion project from 2009.
2. The planning of acceptable quality standards was based on lessons learned from the Startup Site Construction Project of 2007. By planning for quality standards the project team was able to avoid schedule and cost overruns by clearly communicating acceptable quality standards to all contractors involved with the project.
Process Improvement Recommendations
It is important that once lessons learned are collected and documented that the organization approves and implement any process improvements identified. It is important for organizations to strive for continuous improvement and this portion of the lessons learned process is an integral step.
As indicated in the lessons learned chart above, the NBC Project did not have a process for reviewing and approving requested changes in requirements or project scope. Not only is this a lesson learned for similar future projects; but the organization must ensure that all project managers are aware of the need for this process to be included in the planning of all future projects. Therefore, it is recommended that prior to work beginning on any new project, the project manager must brief the project sponsor on the process for requesting and approving changes to project scope.

Project Management

What are the major recognized standards for project, program and portfolio management?


Project Management Body of Knowledge

What is the PMBOK?

The Project Management Institute®’s (PMI's) A Guide to Project Management Body of Knowledge® (PMBOK® Guide) is a widely accepted statement and de facto standard of the sum of knowledge within the project management profession. The PMBOK includes knowledge of tested principles by practitioners of project management. There are five process groups (Initiating, Planning, Executing, Monitoring/Controlling and Closing) and nine Knowledge Areas (communications, cost, human resources, integration, procurement quality, risk, scope and time) all of which include inputs, outputs, tools and techniques.

Project Management Certification 

Can the PMP® Certification help me become more successful?

The PMP® Certification represents a time investment in yourself and career. The PMP® credential is recognized worldwide and highly regarded by project management practitioners. PMP® Certification is a widely accepted standard that demonstrates a level of competence amongst project management professionals. Many employers seek candidates who have obtained PMP® Certification. According to research on, people with PMP® Certification command higher salaries, and the PMP® credential is one of the top IT certifications that people seek according to Attaining your PMP® Credential represents an academic achievement and will increase confidence. All things considered, becoming a PMP can help one become more successful.

There are other forms of certification, such as the Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) offered by PMI. These offer similar benefits as described above. 

PRINCE2® is also a globally recognized methodology and de-facto standard for project management in the UK. PRINCE2® (PRojects IN Controlled Environments) two is a structured methodology for project management, which focuses on the business case. It addresses the rationale and business justification for a project. PRINCE2® outlines project management in a controlled, well-managed, set of activities to achieve project results. 

Beyond Project Management Training 

What related training is good to consider after completing project management training through PMI or PRINCE2?

Six Sigma is a methodology for eliminating defects in any process. The net effect of a Six Sigma project is to reduce defects, improve cycle time, and increase throughput. Six Sigma supports process improvement. The level of expertise attained by a Six Sigma-trained professionals relate to four belt levels: Yellow, Green, Black and Master Black. Six Sigma utilizes DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control) and DMADV (Define, Measure, Analyze, Design and Verify) as a framework to address efficiencies and effectiveness.

The International Institute of Business Analysis® (IIBA®'s) CBAP® stands offers a Certified Business Analysis Professional® certification, which focuses on identifying the business needs of an organization to determine the optimal solutions. The CBAP® credential demonstrates competence in the principles and practices of business analysis.

APICS provides the Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP) certification for those who need a comprehensive understanding in logistics, transportation, procurement, inventory, warehouse and related manufacturing. Demonstrated competency in value stream mapping, logic model and process mapping become essential to companies producing products and services to end customers. Through APICS certification, individuals are able to make the connection of transitioning projects, programs and portfolios to ongoing operations. 
Human Subjects Research Project Management

Who is the HSIRB and is training necessary?The Human Subjects Institutional Research Board or Health Sciences Institutional Research Board a local review board, in accord with federal regulations, to interprets and applies federal regulations, state law, and research sponsor requirements for the use of human subjects in research. It is preferred that project team members engaging in interviewing, focus groups, survey, etc. have formal training in this area. This will not only ensure compliance, but promote professionalism, respect for people and ethics.
Project Measurement

How do measurement practices used in projects differ from common measurement techniques?

Standards are situation specific depending upon the requirements for the project. For example, top-down vs. bottom up estimating may be used solely or in conjunction with each other. 

Project Plan 

What is the difference between a project plan and an evaluation plan (AKA evaluation project plan)?

A project plan is the over-arching document that is created before the project starts. It outlines the project phases from start to completion. It is used to estimate the project effort and duration. It maps out the detailed work and ensures that resources (people, systems, facilities, equipment, materials and supplies) are assigned as outlined. Moreover, it discusses issues such as communications, costs, risk, scope and time. 

An evaluation project plan specifically addresses how a project will be evaluated. It may be a subset of a project plan, or be drafted as a project plan. The Key Evaluation Checklist (KEC) developed by Michael Scriven represents an evaluation plan outline. One very important component of the evaluation project plan is lessons learned. Lessons learned serve as an input and output of an evaluation plan. 

Project Mana
gement Office 

What are the Benefits of Incorporating Project Evaluation in a PMO? 

A Project Management Office (PMO) is established to ensure successful management of projects, programs and portfolios. Responsibilities of a PMO include: project monitoring, reporting, and training. Other benefits of establishing a PMO include the creation and maintenance of templates to support project administration.
Project Research

How is conducting project research different than other forms of research?

Project research frequently involves benchmarking and best practices in order to compare and contrast. Traditional research may be used to prove or disprove a hypothesis. Visualization and Presentation

What is the connection between visualization and presentation? 
Visualization is the conceptual idea and presentation is transfer into a form that can be seen by the audience.The presentation will vary depending upon appropriateness and impact. Media may take the form of slides and in other cases multimedia.
Dashboards can be very effective in showing real-time status.

What is technical definition for project evaluation?

The determination of merit (quality), worth (value) or significance (importance) for endeavors that are temporary, unique or done for a specific purpose to deliver a product (i.e., computer), service (i.e., technical support) or result (i.e., research findings).Thomas, W. (2011). 
What is the difference between monitoring/controlling (a PMI process group element) and project evaluation?

The monitoring/controlling process group and evaluation are mutually supported. While monitoring/controlling is an iterative process to ensure the project is progressing as intended; project evaluation involves the determination of merit (quality), worth (value) or importance (significance) of the product of the project. 

How soon should evaluation principles be taught?

Principles of evaluation are valuable and universal. They should be taught everywhere to better equip youth for their chosen careers. It is important to begin teaching in high school where field experience can be explored.
Evaluation is intradiscplinary, interdisplinary and transdisciplinary and has been overlooked when compared to other subjects, i.e., reading, writing, history, art and math. Evaluation could be positioned in the area of philosophy. Courses could include topics such as environmental evaluation to capture the interest of children.Project Lessons Learned 

What is the realized benefit for conducting lessons learned in projects?

Calculating return on investment (ROI), cost/benefit analysis, payback period, opportunity costs (and sunk costs for that matter) are determined on a case-by-case basis using industry guidelines and mixed methods (quantitative and qualitative).

How long does it take to become comfortable with conducting lessons learned?

This depends upon a number of things:
1. The Talents, Abilities, Skills and Knowledge (TASK) of Project Team Members (PTMs).
2. The complexity of the projects being evaluated
3. The commitment to evaluating projects
4. The organizational culture
5. The organizational structure
6. The maturity of the organization with respects to Project Evaluation (PE)
7. Support from sponsors and stakeholders
8. The number of Lessons Learned (LL) that are being conducted
9. The Project Management (PM) methodology being deployed
10. The summative and/or formative use of lessons

Where can I find recent research on the use of lessons learned?

The Project Management Institute (PMI) published a book entitled "Post Project Reviews to Gain Effective Lessons Learned" by author Terry Williams, PhD.
This text provides responses to 500 organizations that were surveyed regarding their use of lessons learned. The list of questions is comprehensive. 

How old is the practice of lessons learned?

Lessons learned is a form of evaluation, which has been in existence since the dawn of man.
The term lessons learned was coined by Middleton in the mid 1960s. Practitioners in the disciplines of project management and evaluation (among many other areas, i.e., research and measurement) started to actively use that term in the context of projects since that time.
Lessons learned has become a household term. A good reference to learn about evaluation terms and history is the Evaluation Thesaurus by Michael Scriven, PhD.
Is it better to use internal or external resources to conduct lessons learned?

It depends upon the circumstances, but there are some notable advantages of enabling a partnered arrangement for lessons learned consulting, consisting of both internal and external resources.
Here are some considerations. It:
1. encourages objectivity
2. provides for external expertise
3. highlights a mission of best practices
4. promotes bench marking
5. neutralizes evaluator bias du
e to internal politics
6. increases visibility of evaluation
7. balances resource requirements
8. allows for critical external review
9. fills the gaps with experienced project evaluators
10. makes the lessons learned process more engaging

Are group forums an effective method to review lessons learned?

Large group settings can be a very effective way to review lessons learned provided participants are able to ask questions and comment.
Setting which have many participants in the audience might benefit from improved media, handouts, etc. to improve communication.

What about the use of paper files for lessons learned?

Paper files for lessons learned are sometimes required for regulatory or compliance requirements. However, there are some obvious drawbacks to documents in file cabinets.
1. Accessibility
2. Security
3. Organization
4. Amount of files that can be stored
5. Creation of a log for file maintenance
6. Version control

Does it make sense to conduct a lessons learned after a catastrophe?

While the goal of lessons learned is to prevent or prepare for catastrophe, there can be significant benefit in conducting lessons learned after a disaster.
Being prepared involves the following types of plans:
1. Business continuity
2. Disaster recovery
3. Contingency
4. Succession
5. Tactical plans
6. Strategic plans
How necessary is training on lessons learned for project team members?

Training is a big part of the continuous improvement initiative. As an organization matures in project management and evaluation, they also want to advance their lessons learned process.
Equipping members of your staff with the necessary tools and techniques is critical.
What is a cost effective way to get moving with lessons learned on a tight budget?

Consider using spreadsheets if your organization does not utilize databases. If you can make a small investment, MS SharePoint can serve as a repository. It is fully featured and supports team collaboration that works well for lessons learned.

Why is the topic of lessons learned so thought provoking?

Learning is a natural part of living. There are many ways to proceed with project learning and evaluation is one of them. Lessons learned becomes one of many sound approaches. Criteria need to be established up to ensure a clear direction on what is to be accomplished.
If this not done, there may be positive outcomes from the evaluation, but not necessarily the ones that were intended. 

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