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Q2 2016 PMI Certifications Update

  • By: pcadmin on 02 Aug 2016

The Project Management Institute (PMI) just released the latest figures on the number of holders of each of its certifications as of June 30, 2016. The figures show solid growth in most certifications:
 

Total Project Management Professional (PMP)® credential holders:

718,131

Total Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)® certification holders:

31,755

Total Program Management Professional (PgMP)® credential holders:

1,662

Total PMI Scheduling Professional (PMI-SP)® credential holders:

1,516

Total PMI Risk Management Professional (PMI-RMP)® credential holders:

Not published

Total PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)® certification holders:

12,044

Total PMI Portfolio Management Professional (PfMP)® credential holders:

355

Total PMI Active Professional in Business Analysis (PMI-PBA)®:

843

Honest, Fair and Ethical

  • By: morley.selver on 11 Jul 2016

by Morley Selver, P.Eng., IPMA-B

As I mentioned in a previous article, you have to treat every project as if it will end up in court. If you are unfortunate enough to be there, then you want to be on the winning side. You need a reputation that cannot be called into question. In your project management career you will come across all kinds of issues and it is important that you be honest, fair, and ethical in all your dealings with your team members, vendors, contractors and any other people with whom you come into contact.

Will People Work With You?

To be a leader, you have to be honest with everyone and in everything you do. You have to lead by example. In all projects, mistakes happen, things change, in fact change is inevitable. If the mistake is your fault then say so and get on with the work. Do not blame other team members. You should stand up for your team members. If you do not stand up for your team members, motivation will be affected, decisions will be harder to make, and they will not want to work with you again. You have to be able to respond positively to acceptable criticism and personal attacks. At all times you have to be reliable, trustworthy and discrete. If you say you will do something, then do it, as deeds speak louder than words. We all know someone who is all talk and no action. These people we don’t like to work with.

The same goes for contractors and vendors. They are part of your team and you have to stay on good terms with them as well. If you made the mistake, do not try to blame the contractors / vendors as it will only cause you greater problems. Contractors / vendors have reputations and costs to control and they will not stand to be blamed for something that is not their fault especially if it will cost them money. They will bypass you and go to your management if necessary. They will also refuse to deal with you which causes its’ own problems. You do not want to put yourself in these positions, so be above board in all your dealings.

Try and Convince Your Boss Not To Do This!

An issue that comes up or will come up, is requesting a quote from a contractor / vendor when you have no intention of using them and are only looking for a check price. If the contractor / vendor finds out this what you are up to, you will have trouble getting a price out of them in the future. Keep in mind it costs the contractor / vendor money to put together an estimate and if there is no return for the effort they will not do it. This happened recently when a Canadian city was looking for quotes on streetcars. They didn’t get bids they liked so they tried to get a quote from another vendor who was not in the original bidding effort. He was not interested in giving a price as he figured out they were only looking for a check price. This put the city into the position of not knowing if the price they have is good or bad. The way around this is to pay a contractor / vendor to put an estimate together for you. It may not be cheap, but at least you get an estimate that is somewhat accurate. This way you are upfront and honest about what you are doing.

Project Management Is Not A Popularity Contest

When you are the project leader, your company, or the owner, has given you their money and are asking you to manage it wisely for them. Someone has faith in you, that you can do the job. In order for them to continue having faith in you, you have to be above board in everything you do, i.e you have to behave in an ethical manner. Ethics is the morally accepted professional conduct for every individual and is a basic trait in every social system. At all times you have to be aware of ethical issues and address them. You have to be open about your own personal and professional ethics. In times of conflict or crisis you have to maintain your ethical standards. You have to live up to agreements, be transparent, fair, and categorical in ethical standards.

When you are the project leader, others will always try to influence your behaviour towards them. The best example of this is gifts from a contractor / vendor. Most organizations have policies and procedures to follow such as not accepting gifts greater than $25.00 in value. Myself, I will let someone buy me a cup of coffee but that’s it. If your company does not have a policy, then make your own personal policy to maintain your ethical behaviour. Any gifts you receive could be raffled off, or given to charity, (get and keep receipts if donating to charity). Remember, your job is to protect your companies interest, not to be the most popular person on the project. With all projects there will come a time when you will have to make tough decisions that a contractor / vendor is not going to like. No matter how uncomfortable the decision is for you, you will have to make it. The only way you can do this is if you have a clear conscience. You can not be influenced by anyone.

In summary, as the leader, you have to look after your companies investment and you always have to be prepared to make the hard, uncomfortable decisions. You can only do this comfortably if you are reliable, honest, and follow ethical standards.

Four Key Elements: Scope, Schedule, Budget and Resources

  • By: pcadmin on 19 Jun 2016

by Morley Selver, P.Eng., IPMA-B

HHas This Ever Happened To You? Have you ever go to a scope review meeting with the client where they keep adding items to the scope without any thought as to what the affect will be? After the scope changes are added up they can’t understand why their project is now way over budget. This is the sticker shock phase and results in scope cuts to get the project back to where it should be. This has happened to all project managers and will continue into the future. So don’t feel bad if it has happened to you. What you need to understand is what is happening and point out to the client that every change they make affects the project either in cost, schedule or resources required. There is no getting away from it.

You Need To Understand SSBR

You have to understand the relationship between Scope, Schedule, Budget (cost), and Resources (see Figure 1). Resources refers to people, funding, equipment, or materials. When one of these parameters changes, one or more of the other three has to change as well. In other words, as the scope is increased, the budget, schedule or resources required to meet the new scope may change. As a simple example, if you take a piping run and add a valve, the scope changes (added the valve) the budget changes (the cost of the valve), the schedule could change (the valve addition could put the piping run on the critical path) and the resources could be affected (need to redesign the pipe run with the new valve in place).

In Effect 24/7

These four constraints apply to all projects and are in affect all the time. When you start your project, management has to decide whether the project will be cost driven or schedule driven. They can not have both, no matter how hard management wish and hope. You are going to manage a schedule driven project differently than one that is cost driven

You will have a disaster in the making if you, or management, change priorities in midstream, say from a schedule driven project to a cost driven project. Been there, had that done to me. When you are schedule driven, you spend the money required to meet the end dates. This could include overtime and paying to expedite material. To change from this mode to one of “we now have to watch the dollars” is difficult to do. Management has to pick the priority at the beginning and stick with it.

Recently a lot of projects were resource driven, i.e. there were not enough people to do the work, which had a big effect as it controlled the schedule. The lack of resources required the scope to be cut back to do what the resources could handle. Currently we are dealing with funding (resource) issues. The scope, schedules, and resources are being adjusted to match the funding available.

This Applies To Your Everyday Life

When managing your projects you have to keep this relationship in mind and you have to apply it on a daily basis. If you are managing several projects, each project has it’s own Scope, Schedule, Budget, and Resource issues that you have to contend with, (see Figure 2). The 1, 2, 3 would be your different projects.

This relationship also works in your everyday life, think of building a deck on your house and doing all the work yourself. You develop a budget, look at the scope to see what you can afford and cut scope as necessary. Since you are the only resource, your availability will determine the schedule. If you have a day job this becomes weekend or after hours work. You need vacation and some times you just don’t feel like doing anything. We’ve all been there.

But it is not just you that has this relationship, your boss has it as well, only on a higher level. Figure 3 is the arrangement you boss is looking at. The 1, 2, & 3 could represent project managers. Whereas you could be managing a $1,000,000 project, your boss is looking after the total capital budget for your company which could be in the 100’s of million dollars. For those Budget dollars, there is a corresponding Scope, Schedule, and Resources. He has the same restrictions as you do only on a larger scale. If one of the project managers overruns his budget, then the boss has to figure out where to get the additional funds from the fixed pot of capital money. He can cut scope on another project and take those funds to fund the overrun. These are everyday project decisions that have to be made.

If you work for a company that has more than one facility or division in your country, then there is probably a vice president of capital projects who has the same restrictions as you have only on a much larger scale. The 1, 2, & 3 could represent different facilities within the company. At this high a level the resources could become the funding available to the company.

If you work for a global company the 1, 2, & 3 could be different countries. Then the company would have a vice president of world projects who would have the same restrictions as you. Look at some of the global oil companies, they have capital budgets in the billions of dollars and they have to manage the money the same as you do. With the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, BP has to find funding (resources) to pay for the cleanup. It is known that they have gone to various banks for loans as well as the sovereign funds in the Middle East.. We don’t know if that will be enough to cover the costs or will they have to find funding within the company. The oil spill cleanup and trying to stop the flow is making the exercise schedule driven so cost is not a burning issue at this point. Once they get the flow stopped or under control, the project will either stay schedule driven or become resource driven due to availability of funding.

Here Today, Gone Tomorrow

This relationship is the reason your project could suddenly get cancelled. If something happens in one of the facilities that requires an unexpected expenditure, rather than going on the market for more money, management will just start canceling projects until they have enough money. You could be minding your own business, have a great project, managing it perfectly, but have a border line rate of return or a lower priority, when all of a sudden it’s canceled. This is the relationship that management are following when making these type of funding decisions.

Keep this relationship in mind as it is a basic project control relationship. Make a copy and put it on your wall. Every time someone asks for something take a look at the relationship, determine what is going to change, make a note for future reference or write out a change notice accordingly.

New Video - Evaluating Project Management as a Discipline

  • By: pcadmin on 02 Jun 2016

Procept associate Dr. Mark Kozak-Holland discusses the theoretical frameworks underlying the discipline of project management and reveals the inherent weaknesses and biases we often overlook in our models. A fascinating topic for project management professionals and students of the subject.

Recorded at the 5th Annual PM Paper Competition in Toronto, Canada in September 2015.

New Video - Contract Management for Field Engineers

  • By: pcadmin on 09 May 2016

Procept Associates senior consultant Morley Selver provides an overview of contract management for field personnel on construction/engineering projects in this one-hour webinar. This webinar is an overview of the concepts, taken from Procept's 2-day course of the same title, available in classroom and self-paced online format.

The Amazing World of E-mails

  • By: pcadmin on 06 May 2016

by Morley Selver, P.Eng., IPMA-B

Isn’t technology wonderful? I have a friend who works in Papua New Guinea and through the wonders of e-mail we have instant communication. I just type out a few words and hit send and within seconds he receives my musings. That is truly amazing. However, as you are well aware, there is a good side and a bad side to everything and e-mail is no different. We have all had times when 2 seconds after hitting the send button we have second thoughts about what we have sent and at the speed of light there is no getting it back. If not handled properly, a miss-sent e-mail could cause you untold grief or even ruin your career.

For Your Eyes Only

Have you ever typed an e-mail with information for the eyes of the recipient only, then find out that they have forwarded it on to someone else without editing the e-mail first! This could be embarrassing. If you are going to forward an e-mail with a thread, read the complete thread and edit if necessary. A lot of trouble can be caused if the wrong information or privileged information is sent to the wrong person.

People say things in e-mails that they regret later when the words fall into the wrong inbox, like their bosses. Be very careful what you say about people or clients, etc. You have to be very careful not to put something in an e-mail that could have negative consequences for you. You can not depend on the recipient not to forward your e-mail unedited.

Be Careful Out There

If the subject matter is of a sensitive nature or private, then phone or do a personal visit. Keep in mind, in the case of legal problems, the project e-mails can be subpoenaed by the courts and what you have written could come back to haunt you.

Before you fill in the “TO” field of your e-mail read and re-read it to make sure it is the way you want it. Only after you are happy with the way it is written and any attachments added should you fill in the “TO” field. It has happened that e-mails have been accidentally sent before the body of the e-mail was finished.

If you have to write an e-mail of a contentious nature, it may be better to sit on it for a day before sending it. Write the draft, don’t fill in the “TO” field and then let it sit. Look at the next day and see if it still applies.

Who Sent This E-Mail?

Look at some of the e-mails you get! They have no contact information on them at all. If you need to phone the person you have to go out of your way to get the number. Don’t be that way. Always use a signature with contact information, phone number and extension, cell phone number if you have one, fax number, and business address. It’s not like you have to type this every time. You should have a business signature for external e-mails and a personal one for internal e-mails. Any business e-mail should have the business signature and not your personnel signature.

Always read and reread the “TO” to make sure you are sending the e-mail to the right person. It is not uncommon to have several people with the same name in your contact list. I have two, one internal and one external to the company. The only difference is their middle initial. With e-mail programs there is the chance it will automatically insert the wrong person into the “TO” field. Force yourself to read the complete name to ensure accuracy. Think about the information in the e-mail, have you included everyone in the “TO”. It’s okay to use the “CC” to include people who should know about what you are discussing in the e-mail, however, be very careful how you handle “BCC”. In business, do not hide who you have sent the e-mail to. Doing so will come back to bite you. If found out, it’s only a matter of time, people will question your character and you will not come out of this situation looking good.

The Ball Is Not In Their Court!

One issue you will come across is someone looking for information, sending an e-mail requesting the information, then sitting back and waiting for the e-mail to get answered. You know what it’s like with your own e-mail. You may get numerous e-mails every day, so you go through and pick out the ones that you think are important, answer them and maybe get around to the others. So, just because you have sent an e-mail does not mean the ball is in the other persons court. If your e-mail is important and you are looking for an answer, then phone the recipient and tell him to look for your e-mail as it is important to you and your project. It’s your responsibility to chase it down.

This Is Confusing!

A long time ago, when I started out in my project management career, e-mail had not been invented and faxes were the main method of instant communication. Each fax would have a company logo or letterhead on it and they were easily recognized and remembered. Today, when you print out an e-mail, they all look the same. Print out several that you have and see how ‘confusing’ they appear. The subject does not jump out at you. You have to search the document for the e-mail subject. If left on the computer, finding the e-mail subject is relatively easy and you can search to find what you are looking for. Some people print out e-mails for follow-up or for a hardcopy record. Finding the subject on the printed e-mail can be a real pain to do, so in order to save time and effort, when you print out an e-mail, write across the bottom what the subject is. This way you just scan the bottom and there is the information you need. This also applies to other documents as well, not just e-mails. By writing the subject on them it saves you time scanning for information hidden in the clutter.

I’m Really Old

I’m old school and prefer to have face to face conversations with people rather than send e-mails. I like to get the body language from the conversation. It’s also more personal and harder for others to ignore you. For distant communications I prefer to phone. As a project manager it is important for you to go out and talk to the designers, draftsmen, tradesmen, etc. working on your projects. It is important to them that you show an interest in them. This will do more to motivate your team than any e-mail you send out.

These are just a few e-mail tips to help you communicate in a more professional manner.

Q1 2016 PMI Certifications Update

  • By: pcadmin on 27 Apr 2016

The Project Management Institute (PMI) just released the latest figures on the number of holders of each of its certifications as of March 31, 2016. The figures show solid growth in most certifications:
 

Total Project Management Professional (PMP)® credential holders:

712,948

Total Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)® certification holders:

30,994

Total Program Management Professional (PgMP)® credential holders:

1,572

Total PMI Scheduling Professional (PMI-SP)® credential holders:

1,494

Total PMI Risk Management Professional (PMI-RMP)® credential holders:

3,554

Total PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)® certification holders:

11,136

Total PMI Portfolio Management Professional (PfMP)® credential holders:

314

Total PMI Active Professional in Business Analysis (PMI-PBA)®:

688

New Online Course: Operators as Part of the Project Team

  • By: pcadmin on 15 Apr 2016

Your Operators are the life blood of your project. For a project manager caught up in the frenzied bustle of his or her work, this can be an easy fact to overlook. However, the Operator has tremendous influence over project success. The PM who has a deep understanding of the role is in an excellent position to create an effective ally.

In order to protect the Owner's investment, Operators must provide input into the design, construction, startup and operation of a project. Engineers, vendors and contractors all rely on Operator feedback and so the PM needs to take steps to reliably document and record Operator input.

In this short, e-learning course, participants learn about the role of the operator and how to effectively incorporate them into the project team without leading to disruption.

New Online Course: Introduction to Agile Requirements Using User Stories

  • By: pcadmin on 15 Apr 2016

Agile teams use Use Cases and User Stories to define requirements, but what other… Wait a minute... What’s a User Story?

Not everyone has heard of them but even those who have may benefit from complimentary tools that highlight patterns in the roles of stakeholders, putting a face on the users with personas.

This 1-hour e-learning course will provide an introduction to user stories, highlight what is a terribly-written user story, and how to fix it. Don’t do a perfect job of building the wrong thing; use these agile tools to ensure that you build the right thing.

New Online Course: Fundamentals of Capital Project Cost Control

  • By: pcadmin on 15 Apr 2016

Project budgets can vary from $5,000 to whatever size a company can handle. The problem companies have with capital projects is how to allocate the scarce resource (money) to the maximum benefit of the company. Some factors that go into choosing which projects get done include what the competition is doing, the company’s long-range plans, return on investment (ROI), and risk. ROI is critical to making a decision, as a company is only going to undertake a project if it can make a return on its money by doing it. Think of all the projects you know about that were over budget. What affect did that have on the ROI and did it add value, or cost the company money?

As you know, it is very important to keep a project on track and within budget. It is imperative that costs be controlled during all phases of a project, and you can only control costs if you know what goes into making up the total project budget. You have to set up a project so that costs can be easily identified and controlled.

Project cost control is a lot of work and requires a team effort. In theory, project cost control sounds easy but it is a lot more difficult to put into practice, especially if basic financial information is not correct.

Sign up for this course today and learn the fundamentals of capital cost control for your project.

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