April 27 – Webinar (PMI) – Dynamic Progress versus Critical Path Methods

The Dynamic Progress Method: A New Alternative to the Critical Path Method

Come learn about the newest innovation in project estimating and planning since the Critical Path Method (CPM) was introduced back in the 1950’s.  CPM was a major improvement at that time, but now the simplistic approach of CPM is woefully insufficient.

chemin critiqueToday’s projects are larger and more complex, and they demand a more rigorous approach.  Using CPM, resources are disconnected from task durations, which makes it difficult or impossible to create realistic project plans.  With CPM, « duration » is an input.  However, in the real world, « duration » is an output.  We don’t truly know how long a task or project will take until resources are applied and work is accomplished.  Using the current duration-based approach of CPM, today’s project planning tools often provide estimates that are about 50% under the actual schedule for the project and about 25% under the actual cost of the project.  Of course, an unrealistic plan like this can cause a lot of problems down the road.  Eventually, all project work is done through the allocation of resources. 

Partenaire de DantotsuPM
Partenaire de DantotsuPM

The Dynamic Progress Method (DPM) starts with resources as the foundation and builds upward from there.

With a resource-based approach like DPM, the project manager has much more flexibility and control to specify exactly what needs to be done on a project.  This leads to more realistic, more credible, and (most importantly) more successful project plans.

Details and registration

What’s new in Microsoft Project 2016 Video(s)

This session covers Microsoft’s vision for project & portfolio management and through a series of interesting demos showcase an end-to-end PPM solution using Project Online and Project Pro for Office 365.

Partenaire de DantotsuPM
Partenaire de DantotsuPM

And for fun but nevertheless instructive, a lesson with James Bond of the Critical Path he is so familiar with…

Campana & Schott est partenaire de DantotsuPM
Campana & Schott est partenaire de DantotsuPM

Should you become a Chinese doctor towards your projects?

I often heard people say that that Chinese doctors are paid to keep their patients in good health rather than looking after them only when they become sick!

The project manager should also follow the vital signs of his project, anticipate potential issues and address them before the project gets seriously sick.

  • personnel hopitalDefine and implement concrete measurements
  • Identify and track the Critical path
  • Respect the schedule (variance of + or – 10 %)
  • Compare current efforts and results achieved to planned ones
  • Estimate costs incurred to planned expenditures
  • Verify the quality of the deliverables
  • Follow up on open problems (how many, how old, how long to resolve)
  • Run regular periodic reviews
  • Manage and control the risks
  • Boost the morale of the team and be sensitive of human aspects
  • Ensure that your sponsor participates and that your customers are involved and informed
  • Anticipate events via trend analysis of key indicators

Define and implement concrete measurements

Without objective measures, it is difficult to judge in a factual and effective way, even though I think that some subjective signs carry as much importance as facts. So, chooseyour metrics, set a baseline and then compare progress to this reference point. Measure such things as delays on planned milestones, number of requests of change, variations between projected costs and resources consumption (BCWP, ACWP, BCWS, ACWS for the PMI fellows). Count the number of open and unresolved problems, and record their processing time. In addition to risks’ prioritization, check the involvement of sponsors and customers, verify the regularity of the communications and the frequency of project meetings…

Méta Projets Management
Partenaire de DantotsuPM

Identify and track the Critical path

A key element of schedule management is the critical path, the logical chain of tasks which, if they are not completed in due time, will inevitably delay the completion of the project. Thus, a vital sign to be watched carefully by the project manager.

Respect the schedule (any variance of + or – 10 %)

In fact, any significant variance must be analyzed to understand the reasons for the difference, envisage corrective or palliative actions and learn from these to prevent a recurrence of these problems during other parts or phases of the project.

Compare current efforts and results achieved to planned ones

I noticed that it is rather common to be under staffed at the start of the project. It often takes time to identify and recruit the best people as they are rarely unoccupied and just waiting for an assignment. The expenditures during this period may therefore be significantly lower than planned. However, it does not necessarily implies a delay in the progress of the project. As a matter of facts, I saw many under staffed team fully compensate the vacancies through better coordination and greater mobilization of team members. It is required to always put in perspective the work realized with the resources used. On the opposite side, any threat of delay in deliverables or reaching milestones of the project is usually a sign of strong fever and needs to be dealt with as a matter of urgency.

Partenaire de DantotsuPM
Partenaire de DantotsuPM

Estimate costs incurred to planned expenditures

Image courtesy of cooldesign / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of cooldesign / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Any significant overspend will obviously receive a good level of attention. But you should not forget to worry about situations of « under spending ». This weaker signal can prove to be critical later on in the project. It is often an indicator of delays to come: slow start, late deliveries of materials or software not critical today but necessary for the project on future tasks … It may also result from “simple” costs allocation errors that will catch up on you at a later time. And, it could also be played to your disadvantage by your financial colleagues during the biannual or quarterly budget reforecast exercise. Indeed, they often use as a basis of forecast the prior period spend and could propose a much lower estimate that what you know remains to be done and spent. Hence the importance for the project manager to master precisely the amount of the committed expenses versus invoices received.

Verify the quality of the deliverables

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

My experience is that quality is in most situations more important to customer satisfaction than time and cost, even if these are necessary. Without quality deliverables, there is no sustained customer satisfaction. So, any decline of the quality produced compared to specifications is to be reviewed in details to understand root causes and eradicate them. It is not sufficient to deliver in time and at cost a product that does not fully satisfy the customer, even if it apparently addresses the expressed needs. The prime focus of the entire team has to be customer satisfaction as this will bring success in the long run and lead to a stream of future fruitful projects. Satisfaction comes with the quality of the deliverables and the relationships built between the customer and the project team.

Follow up on open problems (how many, how old, how long to resolve)

No project comes free of problems, thus no reason to panic. It is particularly advisable to watch the backlog of unresolved and open problems and its evolution over time. If this backlog increases, it is a real concern. Additionally, the aging of known problems and their time to be resolved are also key indicators. Do not limit your analysis to averages (average age, average response time). As said by one of my directors, « a person not knowing how to swim can very well drown himself crossing a river which is on average 20 centimeters deep ! « . Therefore, let us try as hard as we can to understand the amplitude of variability of these indicators (possibly according to the criticality of the problems: « Show Stoppers », important, average, minor), with regard to acceptable min-max to be defined for your project. For example, any important problem should be addressed within 10 day; or, we shall have no more than 10 problems of average criticality outstanding during more than 3 weeks. Set up alarms for bells to ring when such targets are reached.

Run regular periodic reviews

Do not let the elapsed time between two project reviews stretch out to the point where you have to « jump » a scheduled session in the calendar. If the strategic checkpoints cannot take place, it could indicate an excessive workload, or delays which are starting to accumulate, or indifference of some stakeholders, or poor communications, or uninteresting agendas, or excessively long meetings… All are reasons to get on your feet and take actions.

Genius Inside est partenaire de DantotsuPM
Genius Inside est partenaire de DantotsuPM

Manage and control the risks

No excuse is acceptable to justify not revisiting the risk register very regularly to update it, to enrich it, and if necessary to activate mitigation plans. The conditions and the environment of the project do change and the risks evolve with them: new ones appear; existing ones should be retired or updated… Furthermore, the risks are often interconnected and evolve together. This is prone to create a snowball effect if we are not careful. For example, an increase of the probability of occurrence of several risks from low to medium is indicative of danger. Thus, never let the risk register take the dust on a shelf.

Boost the morale of the team and be sensitive of human aspects

Repeated late arrivals in the morning, early departures, absenteeism or on the contrary systematic overtime are some of the observable signs of problems. They often come along with a tense climate, with quarrels, with more escalations requiring your arbitration, nasty emails, the shrugs of shoulders … So many demonstrations of an illness to be taken into account to correct the situation as fast as possible.

Ensure that your sponsor participates and that your customers are involved and informed

If your sponsors seem to be less and less interested in your project: danger!

The causes may seem relatively minor: another current project in crisis, some operational emergencies, a big contract in preparation… But other causes exist that could strongly impact the project: a new project of greater priority, an upcoming reorganization, some shareholder’s change, weak or moving directions from management… You’ll be better off spending a little time investigating the situation.

If the customers appear to be more distant, less involved or dissatisfied, this is a red alert. Immediate actions are probably necessary to seek their opinion, listen to them, understand their issues and propose necessary changes.

Anticipate events via trend analysis of key indicators

Image courtesy of winnond / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of winnond / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The evolutions of indicators are often (always?) more important than their absolute values. Why is this indicator on a dangerous slope? Why is this other one erratic, unpredictable or weak? It is somewhat similar to monitoring the evolution of the vital signs of patients at hospitals, such as fever, pulse, red and blank corpuscles…

These are some of the thoughts around the vital signs of our projects which I wanted to share with you. Watch them with the greatest possible attention, as would do the Chinese doctor who has to keep his clients in good health if he ever wants to get paid!

I certainly missed some aspects which are important to you, so, do not hesitate to indicate these in your comments to this post and share your experiences.

« Dr » Michel.


January 8 – Webinar (PMI) – From Task Manager to People Manager

It is with great pleasure that the PMI IS CoP Professional Development Team announces that Eric Uyttewaal, PMP will present « From Task Manager to People Manager » on Wednesday January 8th, 2014 at 12:00pm EST / 18:00 CET/France

“Project managers” really are “people managers”.

However, project managers too often forget the definition of “management”, which is “getting things done through others”.
Project managers see their huge list of tasks in their WBS and tend to become very task-oriented. They become like goose farmers stuffing their geese with special foods to fatten their livers as quickly as possible which gives them “foie gras”. Project Managers stuff their team members with as many tasks as they can which gives them a project that finishes on time. They often lose their people-orientation in this race to the finish. The Critical Path in their schedule only tells them which tasks are driving their schedule and when, whereas the Resource-Critical Path in a project schedule shows WHO is driving the schedule and when.

Come and enter the new era of the second edition of the Critical Path theory, Critical Path 2.0.

MS Project
Partenaire de DantotsuPM
  1. Gain the insight that when resources are limited, the project schedule will be affected.
  2. See the difference between a logical dependency and a resource dependency
  3. How to identify the Resource-Critical Path (Critical Path 2.0) in a schedule

comprendre le chemin critique sur les projets

Understanding Critical Path

Seth Godin a vraiment l’art d’expliquer très simplement des choses qui pourraient paraître complexes !

http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2013/11/understanding-critical-path.html par Seth Godin

La chaîne la plus longue de tâches dépendantes, non-compressibles est le chemin critique.

Seth Godin
Seth Godin’s Blog

Chaque projet compliqué est identique. Beaucoup de personnes travaillent sur beaucoup d’éléments, dont certains dépendent d’autres.

Je veux un jardin, ce qui signifie que j’ai besoin d’ajouter de la terre, d’un bulldozer, d’un permis, de graines, d’engrais, d’irrigation, de sarcler, de planter, d’entretenir et de temps pour que tout pousse. Exécutez ces étapes dans le mauvais ordre, rien ne se produit. Essayez de faire pousser du maïs en une semaine en lui donnant un bonus ou menaçant de le faire brûler, rien ne se passe…

L’analyse du chemin critique fonctionne à l’envers, en regardant l’échéancier et sa réussite à chaque étape depuis la fin jusqu’au début, en déterminant à chaque étape ce que vous attendrez de la précédente.

Par exemple, si dans votre esprit, le jardin a un joli panneau à l’entrée. Le panneau nécessite environ une semaine pour être réalisé par le gars qui les produit et il ne dépend de rien. Vous pouvez commander le panneau n’importe quand jusqu’à une semaine avant d’en avoir besoin. D’un autre côté, vous ne pouvez pas planter jusqu’à ce que vous ayez labouré et vous ne pouvez pas labourer tant que vous n’avez pas reçu la terre et vous ne pouvez pas vous faire livrer la terre tant que vous n’avez pas obtenu un permis de la localité.

Ce qui signifie si vous êtes la personne responsable tant du panneau que du permis: faites le permis en premier.

C’est évident, n’est-ce pas ? Et pourtant…

Et pourtant la plupart des organisations se concentrent sur des objectifs brillants ou des discussions litigieuses ou se laissent dérouter par des urgences au lieu d’honorer le chemin critique.

Il y a trente ans, j’ai mené une équipe de quarante personnes construisant une série incroyablement complexe de produits, lesquels devaient être expédiés à temps pour la période commerciale de Noël. Les enjeux étaient élevés : si nous rations la date même d’un seul jour, la société entière pouvait capoter.

Nous avons fait un peu d’analyse du chemin critique et avons assez rapidement identifié les groupes de personnes sur lesquels d’autres attendraient à chaque étape de développement du projet. C’est une course de relais et à l’instant, ce sont ces quatre personnes qui portent le témoin.

Je suis sorti et ai acheté quelques boutons – verts et rouges.

Green Button
Le marché était simple : si vous étiez sur le chemin critique, vous portiez un bouton vert. Tous les autres étaient en rouge. Quand un bouton rouge rencontre un bouton vert, il pose à la simple question : « comment puis-je aider ? »

Le président ira chercher du café pour l’illustrateur qui porte un bouton vert s’il lui fait ainsi gagner trois minutes. Autrement dit, les gens aux boutons rouges n’interrompront jamais une personne à bouton vert. Pas si vous vous souciez du chemin critique, pas si vous vous souciez de la date de livraison.

Une fois que vous êtes conscients de ce qui se trouve sur le chemin, vous comprenez la chose suivante : un délai d’une heure sur le chemin critique au début du projet est la même chose qu’un délai d’une heure sur le projet tout entier à la fin de celui-ci.

Dépêchez-vous tôt, pas tard. Cela revient moins cher de cette façon et c’est aussi bien meilleur pour votre tranquillité d’esprit.

critical pathAutres billets sur le chemin critique que vous aimerez peut-être (re)lire:

Campana & Schott
Partenaire de DantotsuPM

July 23 – Webinar (PMI) – Case study: Scheduling Resource-Constrained New Products Development Programs

A PMI Innovation and New Product Development Community of Practice Webinar with Eric Uyttewaal, PMP, MVP Project

Eric Uyttewaal
Eric Uyttewaal

How can you manage 250 handoffs between 8 subprojects in a 5,000 task program in Microsoft Project?

How can you find the Critical Path in your program after you leveled the workloads?

We scheduled a new product development program at SanDisk (flash memory).

This time-to-market company has Critical Paths in their schedules that are resource-constrained.

We had to find the critical resources on the Resource-Critical Paths to come up with hard dates to commit to for marketing.

Come and find out how we met this challenge …

Microsoft est Partenaire de DantotsuPM
Microsoft est Partenaire de DantotsuPM

Click here to register

July 10 – Webinar (PMI) – Critical Path Drag

Microsoft Project
Partenaire de DantotsuPM

Register Now for this Scheduling Community of Practice Upcoming Webinar on July 10 at 17:00 CET (France)

Total Project Control

Presenter: Steve Devaux’s 1999 book Total Project Control introduced the concept of critical path drag, which three major PM packages now compute. His 2012 article “The Drag Efficient” and his chapter “Time is a Killer” in A Handbook of Emergency Response (CRC Press, 2013) expand on the concept. This webinar will explain the importance of drag in schedule optimization and recovery, and how to calculate it in both all-FS networks and with complex dependencies.

learn Critical Path in 17 minutes with Dave Litten

Learn how to answer a PMP Exam question on the critical path – in just 17 minutes! Brought to you by http://www.pm-primer.com

But don’t forget that dealines may seriously limit creativity !