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Monday, February 25, 2002


Advanced Project Management. In the past two entries I've focused on project management, and have provided what I consider to be critical success factors necessary for effective project management.

Advanced Techniques. Although you can effectively manage most projects by using a few simple techniques, as the complexity and scope of projects to which you're tasked with managing grow, you'll find that more advanced techniques are appropriate.

Keep It Simple. I am an advocate of keeping things as simple as possible. While I firmly believe that earned value project management, for example, is essential for project control, it's overkill for small, short-duration projects. I mention this because the advanced techniques are for high-end projects. They are not appropriate for, or applicable to, every project. Use the same judgement when selecting and applying these techniques as you would for handtools. You wouldn't select a sledgehammer to drive a thumbtack, right?

Cost and Schedule. Earned value integrates and correlates cost and schedule management. Two MS Word papers that deal with finer details are Management Impact On Software Cost and Schedule and A New Perspective in Software Schedule and Cost Estimation. What I like about these papers is the fact that the author of both (Randall W. Jensen) looks at people issues as well as quantitative methods.

Software Project Planning, Statistics, and Earned Value shows how EVPM starts with the planning and estimation phases of a project to develop the baseline to which you'll be managing, and how to use advanced techniques to develop and manage to that baseline.

Metrics Integration. A paper titled Practical Software Measurement, Performance-Based Earned Value ties together project control (EVPM) and estimating and measurement based on the Practical Software Measurement approach (PSM). This holistic approach is effective, but is only appropriate for highly mature organizations. Most US software companies, as well as large corporations with sophisticated in-house development, have a long way to go before the approach in this paper is achievable. Many offshore and selected US companies, especially those that have attained CMM level 3 or above, will find this paper useful. Another, more general, paper that will be useful to all project managers regardless of organizational maturity is A Framework for Software Project Metrics.

Project Success Factors. The following two papers cover each end of the project spectrum: Project Clarity Through Stakeholder Analysis provides techniques and advice for determining and setting stakeholder expectations. The importance of this critical success factor cannot be overestimated. At the other end is an article titled Project Recovery… It Can be Done. Needless to say, this paper is essential reading because the advice and techniques the author provides are worth their weight in gold - especially if you're struggling with an out-of-control project.

End Note. If you're working in an organization that has adopted the Rational Unified Process, or are seeking a coherent, off-the-shelf software project management process that will work with any development organization, I recommend Walker Royce's excellent book, Software Project Management: Unified Framework. Although this book is slanted towards the Rational Unified Process, the approach is flexible enough for any methodology. It covers earned value in detail, as well as estimating and planning. Although I have not written a review of this book I have read it and refer to it often.