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How You Can Improve Business Support

While on a support call recently, I had the misfortune of suffering through long hold times, dreary music, and being transferred from person to person with no end in sight. While I waited I had plenty of time to think about what could be done better not just for this experience, but also from my own perspective to improve interactions with my own business. Listen More, Speak Less First, start by listening to your business—really …

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Risk Response Strategies: Transfer or Avoid the Danger

As I’ve noted in other articles, a risk is an uncertainty that matters. Some event has a significant probability of occurring, and there will be a significant consequence if it does. A risk represents a threat, and a wise project team endeavors to identify project threats and analyze them for effective strategies, so that the probability of occurrence can be reduced or the consequences reduced. Or both. Of Mice and Risk Management Consider the following …

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How to Identify Risks with a SWOT Analysis

Project managers can use several tools to identify project risks, including interviews, brainstorming, checklists, assumption analysis, cause-and-effect diagrams, the nominal group technique, and affinity diagrams. One of my favorite techniques is the SWOT analysis, where you and your team can identify and prioritize strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Once you’ve completed the SWOT analysis, you will have identified opportunities (positive risks) and threats (negative risks), inputs for your risk register. The information can help you …

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How to Find the Value of Service Improvement & Sell It to Leadership

In tougher economic times, many organizations will start to evaluate all the components that make up their operational model. In other words, they look for value. A challenge for those delivering services will be to illustrate not only the current value that they provide but also future-state value that can be added with some margin-of-improvement initiatives. When speaking about business value, we must first recognize that this term can be interpreted in slightly different ways. …

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The Way You Describe a Risk Is What Makes It Manageable

Project managers know that risk management is an ongoing process, and risk identification happens throughout the project life cycle. In many projects, the team is empowered to draft risk log entries. Of course, one of the basic requirements in identifying project risks is describing each risk in such a way that it is meaningful to management and other stakeholders who aren’t part of the project team. If you’ve ever seen a risk log entry like …

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Finding Value in Event Monitoring

Fact: Your IT operations are monitoring your infrastructure in some capacity. Whether it is network traffic, database activity, application health, or a combination of these, your goal is to ensure stability. How well is this working out? Depending on your IT organizational structure, each “silo” may answer that everything is working rather well, so you might want to reframe the question to determine what value your monitoring is adding. If you were to look at …

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Failure Is Not Optional: Why Project Failure Is OK

Back when I was on active duty in the U.S. Navy assigned to a systems command, I was assigned as project manager in the development of a methodology to incorporate technical performance within the realm of overall project performance measurement and control. I sat down before my boss, who was a brilliant engineer, and he asked me this question: “What is the value of failure?” Then, after a bit of discussion, he said: “That is …

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Four Questions for Quenching Knowledge Management

The thirst for knowledge must be quenched. Every day people are looking for answers that they need. The question you have to ask yourself as a service provider is, “Are you positioned to satisfy their needs?” One of the fundamental challenges with knowledge management isn’t capturing the information; it is usually the ability to actually manage it. Part of the discovery process should lead us to ask ourselves why we need to do this in …

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The Missing Link in Your Project Process

We are project managers. We know the importance of establishing a proper process to manage our project. It is a matter of effectiveness: We want to achieve the results. It is also a matter of efficiency: We want to use the most optimal process. Choosing and establishing the best processes for your project is an important step in managing your project. Let’s take the world of software development. The process can include many steps, such …

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Using the RACI Matrix to Maximize Project Accountability

One of the challenges of planning and controlling a complex project is delineation of roles. This can be especially challenging when representatives of multiple organizations are participating in the project. For any particular phase or task, it can be difficult to explain what participation is expected of each assigned team member, as roles might change from one task to another. Responsibilities The PMBOK includes a brief description of a RACI matrix or chart in the discussion on …

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