Speaking Topics

The World of Project Management
The project management discipline has a plethora of guidance: bodies of knowledge, competence baselines, national and international standards, organizational practices and procedures. How can a project manager deal with all of this information, especially when some of it is in conflict? In this presentation, we’ll demonstrate how each project management guidance document is similar to a geographical map. We’ll also show how viewing the various guidance documents as maps in an atlas will help you make better use of them.

Project Estimating: a Better Way
Many projects are still handicapped by poor cost, resource, and duration estimates. In some cases, the estimates are too low and scope or quality must be sacrificed at the last minute in order to meet committed delivery dates. In other cases, estimates are too high, and the project is cancelled because it seems too expensive. In this presentation, we will describe a simple and straightforward approach to estimating that is applicable to most projects most of the time. The major elements include:

  • Separating estimating from budgeting
  • Using range estimates to minimize padding
  • More accurate accounting for lost time
  • Distinguishing funding estimates from control estimates
  • Breaking senior management of bad habits

Do-It-Yourself Guide to Assessing Your Organization’s PM Competence
Globalization. Time-to-market. Mergers, acquisitions, and divestitures. Virtual teams. Outsourcing. Customer satisfaction. What do many of today’s management imperatives have in common? They all suggest a need for better project management. In this half-day workshop, we will review a performance-based model of organizational competence along with an assessment approach that does not require lots of time or specialized consulting assistance. Participants will receive a free copy of a reporting template that can be used to stimulate action from senior management:

  • Five units of organizational competence in project management
  • Doing the right things right
  • Two types of evidence
  • How to evaluate evidence of performance
  • Sharing your results with senior management

Seven Steps to Better Benefits Realization
As the discipline of project management matures, sponsors are asking project managers to move past scope, cost, time, and stakeholder satisfaction, and to include benefits realization in their thinking. In this half-day workshop, we’ll take a unique approach to benefits realization and cover it from the perspective of the project manager. Key topics include:

  • Different perspectives: organization, program manager, project manager
  • The importance of the project life-cycle
  • Understanding the strategic drivers in your project
  • Defining and quantifying the expected benefits
  • Preparing a benefits realization plan
  • Risk management and benefits realization
  • Supporting benefits realization after the project is complete

Steering Your Steering Committee
Your Steering Committee may steer your project, but a competent project manager steers their Steering Committee as well. In this half-day workshop, we’ll look at a variety of ideas that can help make your Steering Committee a success driver rather than an organizational albatross.

  • Stakeholder analysis: who is relevant, who is not
  • The role of the sponsor: establishing clear expectations
  • Stakeholder radar: knowledge is power

The Future of Project Management
Most prognosticators predict the future by projecting current trends. Project management prognosticators are no different — they suggest that the profession will continue to grow along the same lines and at the same rate that it has been growing. But in every other field, discontinuities always intervene. Why should project management be different? In this presentation, we’ll take a look at the current state of professionalism in project management, then review some alternative — but no less probable — scenarios for the future.

Defining and Measuring Project Success
The movie “Titanic” was a fabulous box office success, but its filming was completed late and over budget. Was it a success? This session will help you get a handle on the difference between product success and project management success, and will also show you how to create and maintain success measures throughout the project life-cycle.

Project Dynamics: the Law of Unintended Consequences
The Third Law of Thermodynamics states that “every action has an equal and opposite reaction.” The Law of Unintended Consequences states that “every action has an equal and unexpected reaction.” Why? Because any complex system (like a project) is full of complex interactions that are not always considered when defining corrective action. System dynamics, developed by MIT professor Jay Forrester in the 1950s, is an almost lost art that can help project managers understand their projects better. Ever wonder why working overtime didn’t shorten the schedule as much as you’d hoped? Interested in a formal proof of Brooks’s Law: that adding resources to a late project makes it later? System dynamics explains these and other common project phenomena.

Got Motivation? What You’re Doing Wrong and Why
Few project managers would dispute the premise that their job would be easier if they could figure out how to motivate their team. Yet many project managers are still studying Maslow and trying to apply his hierarchy of needs. But his theory was never supported by research and is hardly mentioned today among Human Resource professionals. In this session, we’ll review real life case histories to illustrate why Maslow doesn’t work and to offer some alternatives.

Assessing Project Managers
As the profession of project management grows, there is increasing demand for a standard that can be used to assess actual, on the job performance as a project manager. The Global Alliance for Project Performance Standards (GAPPS) has developed just such a standard in association with all of the world’s leading project management associations. In this presentation, we’ll cover the basics of performance-based and attribute-based competency assessment, review how and why this standard was developed, explain the standard’s approach to rating the management complexity of projects, and detail the structure and content of the standard itself. We’ll also give you a chance to do a self-assessment against part of the standard!

A Program Management Primer
Program Management, like project and portfolio management before it, is spreading its wings and venturing out past its traditional application areas. But there is little consensus in the literature about what a program is or how to manage one. In this presentation, Bill Duncan, who developed the first cross-application area view of project management, will present his ideas on systematizing program management as well.

The Seven Deadly Sins of Project Portfolio Management
As more and more organizations start to get a handle on how to manage individual projects effectively, they are realizing that their improvement efforts are being stymied by poor project selection decisions, inadequate assessment of risk across projects, and other challenges related to the management of programs and portfolios. In this presentation, we’ll begin with a brief review of the rudiments of Project Portfolio Management (PPM) emphasizing the need for a defined process that is driven by the organization’s strategic goals. We’ll then present the Seven Deadlies — the most common errors made when trying to implement a PPM process — and some approaches for managing each.

PPM Times Two: Project Portfolio Management from the Perspective of the Project Manager
Project Portfolio Management (PPM) has become a hot topic during the past few years as more and more organizations have realized that they can’t afford to be working on the “wrong” projects. Treatises and training programs abound on how to do PPM, but there is precious little that addresses the role of the project manager. In this session, Bill Duncan, the primary author of the original PMBOK Guide, will address this shortcoming. Bill will present an overview of the PPM process, then describe how each of the main steps affects an individual project manager. Key learning points include:

  • The four major steps in PPM
  • How to tell if your project is at risk
  • Project risk vs. portfolio risk: they ain’t the same!
  • Project resources vs. portfolio resources: they ain’t the same!

A Six-Step Process to an Effective Work Breakdown Structure
When it comes to developing a WBS, most project managers either swear by the technique … or swear at it. The latter response is usually caused by the vast amounts of incorrect, misleading, and inaccurate information about work breakdown structures. In this presentation, Bill Duncan, will explain why much of what you think you know about WBSs may be wrong, and will then set the record straight:

  • The “right” definition of a WBS
  • Why the USDoD approach doesn’t fit most projects
  • How to select the first level of your WBS
  • Working with your team to develop a WBS
  • The role of a WBS in rolling wave planning
  • Do so-called “agile” software projects need a WBS or not?

“Understanding” Culture
The dictionary says that culture includes the customs, arts, social institutions, ethics, attitudes, behaviors, and achievements of a nation, people, or other social group. In today’s global society, even project managers who never leave home should understand not only national cultures but the cultures of their primary social groups: project teams, sub-teams, and their parent organization. In this presentation, we’ll take a look at ways to improve your cultural sensitivity. Attendees will be able to:

  • Identify the 3 basic levels of culture
  • List Hofstede’s 5 dimensions of corporate culture
  • Define 5 steps to improving their own cultural sensitivity

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
Most professionals in the field of project management seem to agree on what good practice is. But with such widespread agreement, why do we see so many projects in trouble? In this presentation, we’ll show how good practice gets turned into bad practice, and how it eventually gets pushed to such illogical extremes that it becomes truly ugly.

Ignorance is Risk
When managing or working on a project, what you don’t know can hurt you. In this presentation, we’ll cover 10 common misperceptions about project management ranging from the truth about variances and change requests (both should be sought out and celebrated!) to the reality of Brooks’s Law (adding resources to a late project will not always make it later!).

Back to Basics
In this presentation, we’ll cover the Top Ten things that every project manager should know about project management. These aren’t necessarily the most important things. Rather, they are the things that many project managers seem to forget or misunderstand. Our list of the Top Ten runs the gamut from what is the purpose of project management standards to how to make earned value work.