Ever Have One of Those Meetings?

I was in an important meeting and the project team pretty much knew that a certain person wasn’t carrying their weight. This person wasn’t a complete let down…but could do more. During the course of our project meeting an issue was raised as to why a task had not been completed. This person became defensive and started pointing fingers and making excuses. I lost it. A normally mild manner person, I let him have it. I gave him the what for and how come. However, I was out of line and spent hours in one on one meetings apologizing to this person and the rest of the team. There is a time to kick someone in the pants and a way to do it. My way that day was wrong. It costs our team more time in apologizing then this person not completing their task. The bottom line is we have to play the game with the team that we have. There isn’t always time to replace someone and many times there isn’t anyone else available…period. My advice…if you aren’t getting the job done, own it and move on. People respect that more than excuses. Secondly, be slow to speak or you may make a situation worse. I know, because I did

What’s the difference between ‘Duration’ and ‘Work’?

What’s the difference between MS Project ‘Duration’ and ‘Work’ fields?  The image below probably explains it all.  It’s a simple task from Microsoft Project that shows both the ‘Duration’ and ‘Work’ columns.


Task Duration


As you can see ‘Duration’ defines the calendar time that the task will be worked on, while ‘Work’ defines the number of man-hours.  In this case, Frank is scheduled to work only 40 hours over the next four weeks.  That’s only 25% of his scheduled hours.


Negotiating and Managing Project Expectations

One of the many factors in project cost overruns is due to setting unreasonable expectations. Whether working as a consultant outside a company or as a project manager within a company, all too often we become “yes” men to secure a deal or please superiors. We may win in the short term by getting the job or by delaying management’s wrath by telling them what they want to hear, but, in the long run, both scenarios are losers. As a consultant you land the gig and wind up with bad word of mouth advertising as being late and over budget. As an internal project manager you develop a reputation of being unreliable and/or overly optimistic. Instead, be real and upfront about duration and costs of expected projects. Give pushback to help set reasonable expectations. Maybe someone else will promise the moon? You should challenge competitors’ unreasonable assertions. You may still wind up losing the deal, but in the long run you will maintain your reputation and eventually land more deals because of it. Short term pain for long term gain is tough in this economy. What is your word worth and where do you go to get your reputation back?

Daily Scrum in 1910?

Warren mentions Henry Gantt’s desire to update project schedules daily (see post of Dec 27, 2011 http://www.projectteamblog.com/?p=190).  He met with his team daily!  I find that refreshingly visionary.  Gantt is seeing a hundred years into the future, and doing things the right way.  He’s staying on top of things in his own 19th Century way.

Sure, Gantt’s daily meetings were not the same as a Daily Scrum meeting — Scrum is not a warmed-over Gantt chart.  Gantt was simply reminding his team of the project schedule and tasks ahead, and updating his new-style chart to reflect the conditions on the ground.

That effort alone — the daily meeting — probably accounts for 75% of the success of any project.  Three cheers for Henry Gantt — 1861-1919!