Best Practices

Best Practices
Lesson One
• Correctly identify the proper user.
• Develop and maintain a quality relationship with the user and user groups.
• Create and maintain a platform for communications in order to have a quality
relationship with the users.
• Demonstrate results and understand why it is important to do so.
• Educate the users on the project management process and what their roles
and responsibilities are within that process.
• Consider user feedback and consensus.
• Identify and recruit an evangelist.
• Show why and how to conduct primary research.
• Show respect for users.
• And focus, focus, focus on real user needs.
Lesson Two
• Have a clear vision for the project that is easily understood.
• Get executive commitment.
• Make fast decision.
• Have a decision pipeline.
• Focus on executive sponsor process education.
• Use measurements. Understand how and why you need to negotiate.
• Have a well-thought-out plan to convince the executive sponsor you are on
target and gain his or her support.
• Understand the benefits of a kill switch and why every project should have one.
• Finally, appreciate the merits of celebration – and never take it lightly.
Lesson Three
• Everyone involved must be on the same page in terms of the project’s business
• Make sure stakeholders can recite the “elevator pitch,” a concise and
comprehensible explanation of the business objectives delivered in 10 seconds or
• Consider the big picture and how the project fits into the organization’s overall
• Promote speed and understand how the clarity of business objectives can
increase speed.
• Have a yardstick (project measurements).
• Make return on investment (ROI) a clear business objective.
• Collaborate with team members to ensure a clear and concise message on
business objectives.
• Build the foundation for a peer review process.
• Do you homework through basic and fundamental research and test the clarity
and reliability of the business objectives.
Lesson Four
• Minimize scope to facilitate optimization.
• Understand the merits of stepping-stones and the dangers of milestones.
• Time is the enemy of all projects, so consider time boxing, which involves setting
deadlines and a fixed amount of time in which to complete the project or steppingstones.
• Examine the rules of engagement.
• Manage expectations by minimizing and optimizing the scope.
• Make use of a small medium, like an index card, to help optimize scope.
• Use role models as guides for both good and bad behavior.
• Assess the need of a requirement by its yield or gain.
• Consider the risk of each requirement.
• And finally, consider cost, risk, and gain as elements to optimizing scope. This
point came out of an effort at a CHAOS University workshop to create a zoo,
which is why it is named Panda Bear.
Lesson Five
• Use an iterative development style – it is the heart and soul of any agile process.
• Collaborate with team members as part of the agile development process.
• Follow up with rapid feedback, which promotes quickness and velocity –
cornerstones of agile methods.
• Recognize that the agile process instills better testing and code quality controls
that conventional software development.
• Consider the use of a Web-bad standard infrastructure as a key component to
the agile style.
• Ponder no new releases.
• This is one of our more controversial subjects, for it knocks down one of the
software industry’s biggest profit windmills. Organizations should go to a norelease policy and implement features and functions in a rapid pace on a standard
Lesson Six
• Projects must follow project management fundamentals.
• Keep track of all project management details – project managers need to plan for
the changes or functions required to arrive at a goal.
• Project leaders should possess basic project management skills.
• Project managers need leadership qualities to be effective leaders.
• Make and maintain connections, as they are important to the success of a
• Promote both an individual and collective sense of ownership among the team –
the sense of pride and accomplishment that comes with ownership will contribute
to the success of a project.
• Recognize that members of a project team are inclined to have a stronger
commitment to the team if they feel their participation and contributions are valued.
• Understand the business.
• Be able to pass judgment on issues under consideration and reach a firm
• And finally, experienced project managers increase the odds of success.
Lesson Seven
• Create and maintain accurate estimates and develop a more systematic approach
toward project estimating and costing.
• Know that projects are marathons, so prepare for the long run.
• Look at ways to make your project more financially attractive. Consider working
with a project budget and understand how companies manage their information
technology money.
• Know the elusive financial break-even point and how that point changes as the
project moves forward.
• Manage change; failure to do so is almost always a major contributor to project
• Use incentives to finish the project as a way to improve success and reduce
• Don’t be afraid to kill a project and take your lumps and losses.
• Recognize the benefits of pruning or re-factoring your code – cutting our unused
or meaningless code.
• And finally, create a functional pipeline.
Lesson Eight
• Examine the matter of competency and what you need to consider in evaluating
the competency of your staff and the team.
• Place workers with skills in jobs that will most benefit the project.
• Use incentives as a tool to motivate achievement of project goals or significant
• Look at team building and keeping the team together.
• Establish staff development and training programs.
• Make use of mentors and mentoring to improve the skills and competency of
staff members and the team.
• Consider the role of “chemistry” among team members and how it can affect the
project in both positive and negative ways.
• Learn what you can do when the chemistry does not work and you have an
exceptionally difficult team member.
Lesson Nine
• A formal methodology must have a problem statement to ensure that everyone
is solving the same business problem.
• Establish a formal process for gathering and maintaining requirements.
• Develop a detailed project plan.
• Understand that one missed small detail can cause big problems that could
lead to project failure – the “butterfly effect.”
• Consider the use of analogies to improve communication between users and
developers. Maintain a formal methodology to support interaction between
• This point includes a case study on how a formal methodology improved the
results in hospital intensive care units. Consider the concept of the Project
Management Office (PMO).
• Integrate formal peer reviews into your formal process.
• And finally, employ a flexible formal process to improve the success rate.