Project Management

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Whether it is in software development, business analysis, portfolio management or business strategy, everyone wants to be Agile - and nobody wants to admit they aren't Agile. But what does it really take to be Agile? What is the state of Agility like?

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The product backlog is a beautifully simple artifact – a prioritized list of the outstanding work necessary to bring the product to life. To work with the product backlog effectively, it needs regular attention and care; it needs to be carefully managed, or groomed. Business analysts can play an important role to ensure that this is done well.

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There are many qualities that contribute to great business analysis. You have to be a good communicator and be able to analyze problems. It generally helps to have some solid background in the common techniques of business analysis. For some jobs you need domain knowledge, for others technical expertise. All of these are debated and discussed often in BA circles across the web. One of the attributes I don’t hear people talk about quite as much is being results-oriented.
 

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 Today it seems like every project is urgent due to time-to-market compression and fierce competition in the global marketplace.  In this article we recommend management techniques that can help you and your team manage the complexities that are most likely present in urgent projects, while establishing and maintaining an environment of adaptability, innovation, and creativity.

 

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Excellent requirements prioritization is essential to any well-run project. It ensures that the project focuses on the most important elements first, and that everyone understands and agrees regarding what the project’s most important elements are. Good prioritization of requirements will also ensure that engineers, programmers and database analysts develop a project’s most critical elements in sync with the business needs.

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Great teams, like all great organizations, are those that make a distinctive impact and deliver superior performance over a long period of time. For a project, performance is typically measured in terms of on time, under budget, with full scope of features, meeting quality specifications, and delivering the business benefit that was expected. Project teams do not need to be big to be great...big does not equal great. But all too often contemporary project teams are too large, too dispersed, too diverse, and just plain too complex to manage using typical project management techniques alone. So how can we be successful when a project demands complex teams? Success in the 21st century demands that we acquire new competencies to form, manage, and use large, diverse teams as a competitive advantage.

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The purpose of companies creating Business Analyst positions is to improve IT quality and efficiency while reducing project failures. When I first started as an Analyst, coming previously from the position of Software QA and having an education in technical writing (think documentation), I thought I was the perfect mix for the position. I quickly learned that having a job where I prove my worth through project success can be stressful.

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 This article considers the unique complexities of large, long-duration, high-cost projects that pose challenges to project success, and offers both old and new management strategies to handle the complexities... The complexities of large projects require that particular attention be directed to planning the project, developing and delivering the solution, selecting team members, and sustaining a high-performing team over the long haul.

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Through development and beyond we hope not to have show stoppers, anticipate builds and releases on time, expect teams to portray efficiency, want our customers to be happy, and hope that boss coming to work and singing melody. Sounds like a perfect five-course scrum, isn’t it?

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Complex Project Management (CPM) is the “next new thing” in our quest to achieve stronger project performance. Successful projects not only deliver on time, on budget, and with the full scope of features and functions. In addition, they deliver the expected benefits in terms of contributions to the bottom line of businesses. And projects today are complex, very complex. Our conventional project management tools and techniques alone are not adequate to successfully manage highly complex projects.

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It is no secret that our record of complex project performance is rife with failed and significantly challenged projects. This is true for virtually all types of projects. Examples abound – we offer just a few.

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In agile projects, you deliver the product in a series of successive and sensibly staged releases. Each release represents the culmination of a series of requirements decisions... One of your biggest challenges is ongoing-how to group and sequence requirements for optimal delivery. Let's take a look at adapting requirements workshops to meet that challenge.

 

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I've never been comfortable with the concept of "Man Hours," not that it's a gender issue, but rather it implies ignorance of how time is used in the work place and fumbles away some simple management concepts needed to run any business, namely accountability and commitment. Actually, I thought the "Man Hour" concept disappeared with the passing of the 20th century, but it appears to be making a comeback.

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With current economic conditions, companies are striving to do more with fewer resources, both human and material. So it should be no surprise that the fusion of business processes and practices is both relevant and necessary. Over the past two decades business methodologies and corporate programs have established track records that demonstrate performance and quality improvements within their organizations.

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When I’m not consulting or managing projects, some of my time is spent teaching MBA classes at Drake University.  The fact that I teach both project management AND creativity for business creates consternation among some of my friends and colleagues.  After all, can a project manager really be creative?  Aren’t those mutually exclusive skills?

My response is a great project manager also must excel at creativity to remain a viable, valuable asset in today’s marketplace.  Gone are the days of simply managing scope within a budget and schedule; project managers must be multi-faceted utility players.  Project and program managers are being expected to create solutions, to facilitate conflicts, and to motivate resources toward a goal in ways never before anticipated.

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