1 Delivering Positive Results by Following Best Practices in Project Management

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Kathy Schwalbe, Ph.D., PMP. April 29, 2009. schwalbe@augsburg.edu www.kathyschwalbe.com. 2. Presentation Background. Most of the information in this presentation is based on reviewing the literature for examples for my latest books. ID: 653204 Download Presentation

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1 Delivering Positive Results by Following Best Practices in Project Management

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Delivering Positive Results by Following Best Practices in Project Management

Kathy Schwalbe, Ph.D., PMPApril 29, 2009

schwalbe@augsburg.edu www.kathyschwalbe.com



Presentation Background

Most of the information in this presentation is based on reviewing the literature for examples for my latest booksIT Project Management, Sixth Edition (out in April 2009)

Introduction to Project Management, Second Edition (Jan 2008)



What is project management (PM)?What’s so hard about PM and using best practices?Measuring the value of PMBest practices for industries, organizations, and individualsQuestions/Comments



What Is Project Management?

Project management is “the application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to project activities to meet the project requirements” (PMI, PMBOK

® Guide, 2008, p. 6)In addition to meeting project requirements, it’s also important to satisfy key stakeholders and make sure the results of the project benefit the organization



Project Management Framework*


*From Schwalbe’s texts


Project management tools and techniques assist project managers and their teams in various aspects of project management

Some specific ones includeProject charter, scope statement, and WBS (scope)Gantt charts, network diagrams, critical path analysis, critical chain scheduling (time)Cost estimates and earned value management (cost)

See next two slides for more

Project Management Tools and Techniques6


Common PM Tools and Techniques by Knowledge Area*


*Schwalbe texts


Common PM Tools and Techniques by Knowledge Area (Cont’d)*


*Schwalbe texts




Tools already extensively used that

have been found to improve project performance include:

Progress reportsKick-off meetingsGantt chartsChange requests“

Super tools” are those tools that have high use and high potential for improving project success, such as:Software for task scheduling (such as project management software)

Scope statements

Requirements analyses

Lessons-learned reports

Super Tools*


*Claude Besner and Brian Hobbs, “The Perceived Value and Potential Contribution of Project

Management Practices to Project Success,” PMI Research Conference Proceedings (July 2006).


What’s So Hard About PM and Using Best Practices?

Because every project is unique, project managers and their teams must have a good understanding of what tools and techniques are available before they can make the more difficult decisions...

...of which ones to use on their projects and how to implement them


Building Bridges-Good Procurement Management

On August 1, 2007, tragedy struck Minneapolis, Minnesota, when a bridge on I-35W collapsed, killing 13 motorists, injuring 150 people, and leaving a mass of concrete and steel in the river and on its banks*


Dick Rohland, “I-35W Bridge Completion Brings Closure to Minneapolis,” ConstructionEquipmentGuide.com (October 4, 2008).



Peter Sanderson, PM for the joint venture of Flatiron-Manson, led his team in completing the projectThe contractors earned $25 million in incentive fees on top of their $234 million contract for completing the bridge

three months ahead of scheduleMnDOT justified the incentive payment by saying that each day the bridge was closed it cost road users more than $400,000



Winning Elections-Good Cost

and Communications Management*The Obama campaign used 16 different social platforms

, including Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace , YouTube, Fickr, Digg, Twitter, etc. to interact with people from various backgroundsSources say 80 percent of all contributions originated from these social networks, and some say 90 percent of all contributions (which totaled over $600 million) were less than $100


*David Krejci, “Message received,” StarTribune, Minneapolis, MN (November 5, 2008).


Measuring the Value of Project Management

Several studies have been done on this topic (some results follow)Bottom line: Most people agree PM has value, but it is difficult to measure quantitatively, and what works in one organizations may not work in another!

It does help to review best practices and get ideas from others14


Recent PMI Research Publications



Ways to Measure the Value of PM

Agreement on general benefitsImproved project performance/resultsROI of project management

PM maturity levels

“Price is what you pay. Value is what you get.” Warren Buffet


General Benefits of Project Management

Better control of financial, physical, and human resources

Improved customer relationsShorter development timesLower costsHigher quality and increased reliability

Improved productivityBetter internal coordinationHigher worker morale (

less stress



2008 Research Study on the Value of PM*

Over 400-page document, free to PMI membersMost organizations (65 total in study) did see value in PM, but did not quantify it: measuring ROI “proved extremely elusive”

(p. 246)Value focused on measuring PM andsatisfactionalignmentprocess outcomes

business outcomes18

*Janice Thomas and Mark Mullaly, “Researching the Value of Project Management,”

PMI, (2008).


Conclusions of Study

“We are extremely comfortable stating unequivocally that project management delivers value to organizations” (p. 349)PM value “appears to increase in proportion to the maturity of the PM implementation that is encountered... greater levels of intangible value were reported in organizations that have a higher level of maturity” (p. 352)



Improved Project Performance

Project success is often based on meeting project scope, time, and cost goalsThe Standish Group’s CHAOS studies are well known for documenting IT project success rates and cost of failures*


Standish Group International,

“CHAOS Activity News,” 2(1), (2007).


Why the Improvements?

"The reasons for the increase in successful projects vary. First, the average cost of a project has been more than cut in half. Better tools have been created to monitor and control progress and

better skilled project managers with better management processes are being used. The fact that there are processes is significant in itself.”*

*The Standish Group, "CHAOS 2001: A Recipe for Success" (2001)


“What the Winners Do”*

Recent research findings show that

companies that excel in project delivery capability:Build an integrated project management toolbox (use standard/advanced PM tools, lots of templates)Grow competent project

leaders, emphasizing business and soft skillsDevelop streamlined, consistent project delivery processesInstall a sound but comprehensive set of project performance metrics

*Dragan Milosevic, Portland

State University, “Delivering Projects:

What the Winners Do,” PMI Conference

Proceedings (




Findings From 5-Year Study on Quantifying the Value of PM*

Companies with more mature project management practices have better project performance (on time and budget vs. 40% over time and 20% over cost targets)

Project management maturity is strongly correlated with more predictable project schedule and cost performance (i.e. .08 schedule performance index variation vs. .16)Good project management companies have

lower direct costs than poor project management companies (6-7% vs. 11-20%)

*William Ibbs and

Justin Reginato, Quantifying the Value of Project

Management (2002)


Project Management ROI*

Over 94% of senior project management professionals say that implementing PM added value to their organizationsFormula to predict increased company ROI based on increased PMM level

Determine cost to improve PMM level, improvement in cost performance index (CPI), then calculate PM ROI using profit margins and projected annual revenues

*William Ibbs, “The $$$ Value of Project Management: Continuing the Search for PM’s ROI,” PDS ’02 Conference Proceedings,

PMI-ISSIG (2002).


PM ROI Example*

Company initially has PMM of 2.3, CPI of .71, profit margin of 5% , $10 M projected annual revenuesCompany improves PMM to 3.1, CPI to .94, profit margin to 6.6% at a cost of $400,000

PM ROI = (6.6%-5.0%)X$10,000,000 = 40%


*William Ibbs,

“Managing Chaotic Projects: Improving your

PM/ROI,” (Feb. 2001).



PMI’s Definition of Best Practice

A best practice is “an optimal way recognized by industry to achieve a stated goal or objective” (PMI, 2003, p. 13)

Question: Does that mean there is only one “optimum way” and that it works all the time in that industry?


Webster’s Definition of Best Practice

“A practice which is most appropriate under the circumstances, esp. as considered acceptable or regulated in business; a technique or methodology that, through experience and research, has reliably led to a desired or optimum result” (Webster's New Millennium™ Dictionary of English, 2007)



Wikipedia Definition

A best practice is “the most efficient (least amount of effort) and effective (best results) way of accomplishing a task, based on repeatable procedures that have proven themselves over time for large numbers of people...The idea is that with proper processes, checks, and testing, a desired outcome can be delivered with fewer problems and unforeseen complications” (Wikipedia, 2008)



Project Management Maturity Models

Similar to maturity models for improving software like the Capability Maturity Model (CMM)Several PM firms have their own maturity models, most using levels 1-5

The International Institute for Learning, Inc. calls the five levels common language, common processes, singular methodology, benchmarking, and continuous improvementESI’s five levels are called ad hoc, consistent, integrated, comprehensive, and optimizing

PMI’s Organizational Project Management Maturity Model (OPM3) released their model in 2004


PriceWaterhouseCoopers Study

Surveyed 200 companies from 30 different countries about their project management maturity and found thatOver half of all projects fail

Only 2.5% of corporations consistently meet their targets for scope, time, and cost goals  for all types of projectsThe survey’s main objective, however, was to investigate whether a higher maturity level would provide higher project performance

PriceWaterhouseCoopers, “Boosting Business Performance through Programme and Project Management,” (June 2004).



More PWC Study Results

A higher maturity level for an organization enhances overall project performance, not in just one project, but in the overall portfolio of projectsMost organizations are not satisfied with their current maturity level. The total average for survey participants was

2.5 on a 5.0 scaleProject failures are often a consequence of organizational aspects over which project managers have little influenceOrganizational structure has a big impact on overall project performance. The higher the alignment between structure and business requirements, the higher the overall project performance



More PWC Study Results - Best Practices

Staff development and professional certification enhance overall project performance. However, more than 60% of the companies surveyed do not regularly offer a development program to their project managers

A systematic approach to change management is fundamental for superior project performanceStaffing projects with a majority of internal resources as opposed to external resources is a better guarantee of success. The highest performance was achieved by using

25% external resources and 75% internalThe extent to which project management software is used is correlated to maturity levels. The lower the maturity level, the more difficulties the organization will have in implementing software



Another Best Practice Example

Comparison of companies that performed best and worst in new product development*

*Robert G. Cooper, “Winning at New Products: Pathways to Profitable Intervention,” PMI Research Conference Proceedings (July 2006).


Best Practice

Best Worst

Align projects with business strategy

65.5% 46%

Align resource breakdown with strategy

65.5% 8%

Get customer input in defining new products

69% 15%

Have an identifiable project manager

80% 50%


Best Practices of Individual Project Managers

Andy Crowe, founder and CEO of Velociteach, wrote a book in 2006 called “Alpha Project Managers: What the Top 2% Know That Everyone Else Does Not” As the title suggests, an alpha project manager

is defined as one who falls in the top two percent of project managers in terms of performance, as rated by their customers, senior managers, and team members



Alpha Project Managers Study Background

Crowe surveyed 860 project managers who had all been clients/students at Velociteach. Although this was not a scientific study, the aggregate results provide interesting information that can help define best practices for project managers

The general format of the survey questions was as follows: Mark the degree with which you agree with the following statement: Strongly disagree (0%), Somewhat disagree (20%), Neutral (50%), Somewhat agree (75%), Strongly agree (100%)



How the 18 Alpha PMs Differed Most

They enjoy their work moreThey believe they have more authorityThey believe they can have a personal impact on project successThey think it is important for the project manager to be a hands-on manager and a domain expert



Alpha PMs Spend Almost Twice as Much Time Planning

In fact, they spend more time in every process group than their counterparts except for execution, as follows:Initiating: 2% vs. 1%

Planning: 21% vs. 11%Executing: 69% vs. 82%

Controlling: 5% vs. 4%Closing: 3% vs. 2%



Alpha PMs are More Efficient and Effective Communicators

When asked to rank responsiveness, the alphas’ stakeholders’ average response was 88% while the non-alpha average was only 49%Alpha project managers send

fewer e-mails per day and spend less time in meetings than the non-alphas

They know how to prioritize work and focus on what is most important38



Don’t Forget This Best Practice: Take Time to Enjoy Life!






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