Tag: Agile

2018 Merit Course Catalog is Here!

After 20 years in the training business, you know you can count on Merit Career Development for fresh and relevant content, engaging program activities, and proven-effective delivery methods that best help training “stick.” We assure you that our programs will have immediate application to your workplace, producing an immediate ROI. It’s a modest investment for a smashing return!

New courses in response to marketplace demand include:

• Project Leadership• Communicating Using DISC
• Project Change Management• Negotiating & Influencing
• Problem Solving with Root-Cause Analysis• Identifying and Managing Risks
• Preventing Harassment in the Workplace• Agile Project Management

New and aspiring leaders will benefit from our Handling Employee Performance Problems and Termination, Business Communications and Team Performance (which is also offered for experienced managers.) Visit a complete list of courses or download the catalog here.Our annual training needs survey (again) demonstrated the highest interest in courses that increase proficiency in leadership, strategy and management – even among Project Managers. We have a robust selection of these courses from Fundamentals of Leadership to advanced topics, such as 360-Degree Leadership.

Our project management courses have been updated to align with the 6th edition of the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK®) guide. Every course description in the catalog includes a listing of the number of credits by organization. See inset for example of accreditations per course.

Need help bringing training to your organization?

Thousands of studies have been conducted that validate the connection between investing in employee training and development and the increase in loyalty, morale, and retention. Lower turnover reduces costs and prevents unanticipated gaps in performance. Most important, high morale and a loyal staff translates into more satisfied customers and a better bottom line.  And after all, aren’t satisfied customers what keeps your organization in the black?!

Our facilitators are expert at tailoring course(s) to the needs and experience levels of your staff. Find out how, by contacting Jim Wynne, for a no obligation discussion at jwynne@meritcd.com or 610-225-0449.

FREE Tips

Check out our LinkedIn Friday Facts. These nuggets are excerpts from our courses that people enjoy sharing with their friends and colleagues. It will be worth your time.

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Thinking Outside the Box in Project Management

Thinking outside the boxExperienced project managers know that their work is about more than scheduling, assigning tasks, and tracking progress. While ultimately their job is to deliver on time and on budget, getting to the finish line often involves challenges that can’t be predicted and whose answers aren’t obvious. Good project managers are in the thick of things, analyzing the issues their teams face and leading in the development of their solutions.

This means that PMs need more than organizational and business skills. They need a sense of creativity and innovation that will allow them to find ways around problems ranging from random paperwork demands to the fallout from natural disasters. Though some might say project management is all about creating predictability, effective PMs aren’t afraid to think outside the box as they look for ways to hit their targets and improve the efficiency of their organizations.

For example, not long ago National Public Radio adopted an Agile-like approach to its creation of new programs. Rather than develop an idea in secret, launching it and then measuring its popularity, the network began releasing pilot programs and revamping them based on listener feedback – in effect conducting beta tests as part of its process. The result was that new titles like the TED Radio Hour and How To Do Everything were launched for an estimated one-third the cost of earlier programs.

NPR’s approach is a good example of how innovation can improve performance. Rather than blindly follow a traditional approach to program development, the network tailored its methodology to its business needs, achieving its goals with more flexibility, greater transparency, and reduced expense.

Of course, sometimes a project requires a different way of thinking from the beginning. One dramatic example occurred in 2014, when Australia’s Condor Energy needed to move 95 tons of custom-made heavy equipment from the UK to Australia – in 14 days.

On the face of it, that’s an impossible task. Such cargoes usually move by ship, which can take months to navigate between ports halfway around the world from each other. Condor’s vendor, Airland Logistics, addressed the challenge by surveying the equipment while much of it was still being manufactured, then arranging for it to be flown to Australia

as component parts on a single heavy-lift aircraft. After it landed, the equipment was assembled on-site. Along the way, Airland had personnel on the ground to ensure loading and unloading occurred safely, that customs requirements were settled ahead of time, and that transportation challenges from the airport to the final delivery site were anticipated and addressed.

If the dynamics of Airland’s project were unusual, the pressure on its PMs was no more real than that faced by others as they work to deliver on their own commitments, whether that’s implementing ERP software, constructing office buildings, or opening manufacturing plants. Today’s project managers must be able to think creatively – to imagine and recognize solutions that aren’t evident, and then be decisive enough to commit to them and move ahead.

 


Merit Career Development can help you “think outside the box” with our extensive project management curriculum. Our Project Management with Simulation course uses a state-of-the-art computer-based simulation game that tests participants’ skills in managing a real project. Participants are able to put into practice their respective knowledge, look for original solutions, try out new strategies, and see immediate results.

For more information, please contact Jim Wynne at jwynne@meritcd.com.

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The Blended Project Plan

Why using just one methodology isn’t always the answer

blended blue abstractAs projects become more sophisticated in nature and content, a host of project management methodologies have been developed to address the needs of managing these complex projects. From the early years of CPM/PERT to the current complex computer-based project management systems, we are still mired in a high percentage of failed projects. Twenty years ago, the failure rate of IT projects was 87%. Today, despite an increase in project management knowledge and methodologies, the failure rate has only dropped to 82% (Standish Group, 2009).

While project management tools and methodologies have improved vastly, the tools do not support the speed of business change. Ironically, this fast-paced and changing environment is driven by the hyperbolic increase in technology.

Despite the hundreds of project methodologies and tools available – and many home-grown methodologies developed by independent PM organizations (PMI, IPMA, et al) – the success rate remains low. To combat this low success rate, we create even more specific and directed project management processes.

For example, on change control and requirements, for companies that adhere to and enforce a strict requirements and change control process, there has been no appreciable change in the success rate. New methodologies such as Agile serve to further complicate the landscape. All of these methodologies have proven successful in limited and controlled environments; however, when pressed into a general and expanded business world, we continue with this abysmal failure rate.

We don’t need another new methodology

We need a more adaptive approach whereby the project is planned and managed according to the project directives and the needs of the business. The Blended Project Plan approach allows project managers to adapt various project management techniques to different components of the project. We can “chunk” the project to “match” a suitable project management methodology.

For example, at a recent client site we had three distinct groups present during our introduction to Agile. One group thought that it might work but preferred their current process. The second group completely supported the approach, and the third group stated that not only would Agile not help them but neither would their current process. The first group was responsible for building the hardware, the second group developed the software, and the third was responsible for the contractual implementation of the system. So we developed a Blended Project Plan under one project manager where the hardware development was managed with a traditional waterfall approach, the software development used Agile, and the field deployment team used a contract-based methodology.

The Project Management Officer implements and enforces PM standards based on a well-intended corporate policy; however, the strict adherence to these standards often stifles the project with unneeded, distracting, and cumbersome practices that unintentionally do not provide added value to the project plan. Adapting various project methodologies to specific “chunks” of the project provides for more flexibility and added value.

A parody that can be used to help explain this is the old Risk Management adage of known/knowns, known/unknowns, and unknown/knowns. This can be expanded to:

We know the requirements, and the approach to complete the task is known and standard.

The requirements are known; however, the process is dependent on project constraints.

The project requirements are not well-defined or fully understood, but once they are detailed we know how to implement.

Broadly, this can be fitted to standard project management process simplistically consisting of:

  • Standard Waterfall – sequential processing of project tasks
  • Compressed/Accelerated – overlapping of project tasks
  • Agile – spiral development

The project components can be better managed with the Blended Project Plan approach. The chunking of the plan allows the application of different measurements and controls that are in tune with the development process. The process to develop software is not the same as the process to implement hardware; however, we try to manage them using the same process. A Blended Project Plan eliminates the “one size fits all” mentality when trying to manage projects. The standard waterfall methodology contributes to understanding the critical path and the overlapped tasks impact project costs. The use of a spiral development methodology helps to control user requirements.

The roles and responsibilities change for the PMO, the project manager, and the business partner; however, the Blended Project Plan provides a greater degree of flexibility to ensure the successful completion of the project.

Merit Career Development provides project management training to fit your needs. From the fundamentals to PMP exam preparation, we can help you improve your project management skills. Whether it’s self-paced online learning, instructor-led virtual or classroom training, or exciting simulations, Merit provides quality, innovative and interactive professional education.

Learn more about Merit’s project management curriculum here.


 

© 2014 Merit Career Development. All rights reserved. For more information, please contact Jim Wynne at jwynne@MeritCD.com.

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