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Melanie Franklin 5 articles
Residence: GB London
Making the case for Portfolio Management

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The Unified Project Management Dictionary

Project Charter

A project charter is a document that authorizes the project manager’s use of organizational resources for the project and is understood to be an agreement between the sponsor, stakeholders, and project manager. Project Charter is a crucial ingredient in planning out the project because it is used throughout the project lifecycle.

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Practical planning tips

Introduction

I have just created my own personal Advent Calendar, realising there are 25 days to the last working day before the Christmas close down and it is scary. There is clearly much more work than there are days, so I am going to apply every planning trick from Agile Change Management that I know to help me.

Be clear about the scope of the work

No point hiding anything, so even though it was only me and the dog in my office this morning (and he was playing with his toys and not making much of a contribution!) I have brainstormed everything that I know I have to do, and also all the things that I think that might come up that I haven't been asked for yet.

Facing a sea of Post It Notes is only the first part of "feel the fear and do it anyway". The next thing is to take the lesson from Agile about iterative development and recognise that my initial idea about how long things will take is always an under-estimate, because I forget the time needed to have the work reviewed (and finding someone objective to do that reviewing) and putting right whatever issues they spot that need correcting. Basic rule - add 50% to original estimate.

Be clear about the deadline

This is not the time to tell myself that I can find extra time. When I close my laptop on that last Friday before Christmas I know that I must then turn my attention to family, and cooking a turkey, a ham, mince pies as well as wrapping hundreds of presents. That Friday is a strict deadline so no adding extra hours on the weekend!

Be ruthless about what is important

Now comes the tricky bit - what does good look like as I stop for Christmas. What must I have completed, and what can wait until early January? I find it so useful to identify these criteria so that I don’t make emotional judgements about all my Post It Notes.

Instead I apply the criteria to each one, which ensures that I judge the priority of each piece of work on the same basis – no favourites, no selecting the easy stuff over the harder work or the work I like least!

Some of my criteria include:

  1. Is there an explicit deadline for the work?
  2. Is there a financial, quality, reputation or customer satisfaction benefit that must be met?
  3. Is there a regulatory need for this? – usually tax, expenses or something to do with accounting which is my least favourite but essential?
  4. If not done, will this piece of work block the achievement of other work?
  5. Is there a currency to the work – if I don’t get it done, will a competitor get ahead of us?
  6. And my favourite catch-all – will it keep me up at night? If my gut reaction is yes then I go back to the criteria above, to find out why I feel this way.

Use Sprints to keep things on track

For many clients, 1 week sprints are too short to get anything done, but for my own circumstances and with only 5 weeks to go until Christmas, I think 5 one week sprints will help me. Each chunk of work is the same time-frame, so that will give me some rhythm to work I am doing.

Also, a week is a short enough timescale that I cannot pretend to myself that the work will magically get done “later” – that wonderful time-frame that we all use!

Apply the rules

So what does my diary look like now I have applied the rules?

  • Organised? Yes.
  • Under pressure? Yes – nowhere to hide?
  • Delivering value? Yes – the prioritisation has made me cancel some work, and postpone other work until January which is a good thing.

And whilst it is never easy to convince yourself not to do something, the criteria help, because by comparing everything like for like it is so much easier to see the outliers – those pieces of work that really shouldn’t be there.

Conclusion

If you are going to follow this advice, I wish you luck and keep in touch – I would love to hear your planning dilemmas and success stories.

 


Published at pmmagazine.net with the consent of Melanie Franklin
Source of the article: {Linkedin} on [2019-11-18]