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Project Management Best Practices for Production?

So, as I’ve described before, I work in a data processing unit for a health insurance company. But, more specifically, I work on the support team for the data processing group. The support team is made up of a manager, a team of a half-dozen business analysts, led by a senior business analyst, and two project manager. The BAs are responsible for maintaining various aspects of the production work (department communication, file processing, etc), as well as providing support on special initiatives. The implementation of the special initiatives are led by one of the two project managers (of which I am one).

I’ve been in discussions with my manager about how we can streamline work that is being done. One area we are looking at is how can we better utilize Project Management best practices in managing the work that is being done by the business analysts. While much of the work they do is routine, and therefore outside of the strict definition of a project, there are enough changes on a daily basis, and new tasks, that some features of project management would still apply.

If someone were to ask you what is the most valuable best practices from Project Management methodology (PMBOK, PRINCE II, etc), what would it be? Would it be the emphasis on planning? The change management? The need to include Monitoring and Controlling in every project? The invective to celebrate every project at it’s completion with a party?

Risk Management presentation

About 2 weeks ago, I attended a lunch put on by the Baltimore chapter of PMI. They run these lunch sessions on a monthly basis. They have a catered business lunch (hoo boy! Wraps!) and have a speaker from the chapter present on a topic.

The December topic was ‘Never cancel a risk meeting when the building is burning’, given by Chris Schaefer, PMP. I think my first question for the session, which of course I didn’t actually ask, was ‘what the hell’s a risk meeting?’. What I was able to glean from the presentation was essentially, ‘I’m probably running my project team meetings wrong.’ When I run a project meeting, I do what everyone does, or at least everyone inexperienced in project management. I focus on status. Where are we today?

What is a risk meeting? ‘Where will we be tomorrow, and what are the road blocks to getting there?’ If I can start to move in that direction, I can start to be more proactive about addressing risks before they blow up.

One area of general risk is the issue of expectation management. I wanted to share this image, since it captures expectation management pretty well (though,¬†allegedly, it’s become a cliche now).

A couple of the other take aways:

  • Approximately 71% of projects fail. Obviously risk management is not an important enough focus on these projects.
    • The Standish Group published the CHAOS report in 2004, and republished it in 2009, looking at project success standards (it seems there are tons of disputes to the CHAOS report finding, so that may be a different blog post) (Also, sadly, the report is not available in the PMI online resource library. Anyone have a copy of it you wouldn’t mind lending me??).
  • One of the recommendations for taking over a project that is already in the red is to have a clear game plan. Mr. Shaefer’s suggestion:
    • Engineer Success
    • Bargain Fairly for time, Scope, and Resources
    • Never Cancel a Risk Meeting
    • Everyone is your customer (and he mean’s EVERYONE!)
    • No surprises- communicate clearly, effectively and often
    • It’s not about you: Seek first to understand, then be understood.
    • Project Management is the Service Business
    • Event+Response= Outcome
    • The world is your oyster
(notes from “Never Cancel a Risk Meeting, Chris Schaefer, PMP. Held In Columbia, MD, 12/5/12).

Joining PMI

In an attempt to get motivated, I went out an bought a one-year Membership to the Project Management Institute (PMI) today. There are a number of reasons for this:

1) They seem to have a number of great resources in the library that Membership grants me access to.

2) Being a Member entitles me to discounts on PMP certification training and on taking the exam.

3) I figure if PMI is the gatekeeper to passing the PMP certification, then maybe PMI might also be a good place to look to for help in passing the exam. Information straight from the horse’s mouth, and all that.

I also joined the Baltimore chapter for PMI. There was a slight increase in cost for doing this, but maybe there will be additional networking opportunities and the like. We’ll see if that was $20 well spent.

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