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If projects were always predicable we wouldn’t need project managers. We’d just authorize the project based on what estimators had determined and then on the expected finish date, we’d pick up the completed project with the actual costs exactly meeting the projected costs. Sadly, that’s not the case. The work of project managers is so important because life is so unpredictable. In the face of almost everything challenging in our world, we have come to…

In my office recently one of our most experienced employees came to me with a strange question. “How do you know if something is a project management system?” they asked. I opened my mouth to answer then paused… for a long time.  The answer is not obvious. In the early 1980s the first critical path scheduling packages became available for personal computers.  In fact, I find it interesting that history shows that critical-path scheduling software…

Over the years the most successful Enterprise Project Management deployments I’ve been involved with have always had a strong executive connection. In comparison, those deployments which have been the most difficult, have been those where our connection to senior management was kept at arm’s length. It’s made me do some thinking about what causes executives to be more or less involved and what recommendations I can make to organizations at the very earliest stages of…

[Note: An earlier version of this article was produced for Microsoft TechNet] In project management circles we tend to talk often about a matrix management environment. Matrix management isn’t anything new. It has become the de facto standard for management in virtually all high-tech organizations. The idea of matrix management came out of management thinking in the early 70s. J.R. Galbraith gives us one of the first published works on the subject in 1971 talking…

“So, what were you trying to accomplish here?” It’s a common question that I’ve had to ask of many project management office managers. Because of my background in enterprise project management systems, this mostly happens in response to some request to review a problem with a project management system implementation. Over the years I’ve been called upon to try to fix, repair, re-establish or just replace a failed or problematic project management system and my…

One of the first things I need to do whenever I go into a company to talk about Enterprise Project Management (EPM) is to get some kind of a consensus of what it means. I can hear some of you laughing. “Surely after all this time,” you’re saying, “we have a common understanding of such a basic term in the project management industry.” No, I’m afraid not. It’s perhaps remarkable in an age when we…

Anyone who has worked with project management systems knows that the way you display data can dramatically affect the decions people make from it. This is why we often see GANTT charts with critical activities in red. I’m reminded of one of my very first sales of project scheduling software back in the 80’s. I don’t dare share the name of the organization but it was a large utility. We’d made this sale a few…