Wednesday, 22 February 2012

What is a PID

A PID is a Project Initiation Document and is created once the authorisation to initiate a project has been given.  The PID is the final result of the initiation phase of the project and describes the "what, why, who, how, where, when and how much" of the project.  This document is fairly extensive within the Prince2 Project Management Model and will incorporate many documents, such as the project brief, project scope, project definition and project plan as well as the strategy for the project in terms of communication, quality, configuration management, risk and issues.  More information on these individual topics can be found in the Prince2 book, so I will not go into detail here. 

It is the project managers role to produce the PID and pass it on to the project board for authorisation.  In reality the stakeholders, users and business analysts will need to be involved in producing much of the documentation. 

The PID is a constantly evolving document and remains important throughout the project life cycle.  The PID contains many documents/sections including the project plan, exception plans, risks/issues and therefore is updated throughout the project.  It remains a reference point to who is doing "what, when, how, why". 

Spend time keeping the PID updated and authorised. 

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Excel: Date to DOTW

Here is a quick tip / reference to how to calculate the day of the week from a date.


A handy tip !

Monday, 20 February 2012

Define the Stakeholders

A stakeholder is a person, group, organisation, member or system who affects or can be affected by an organisation's actions.   

In terms of Prince2, the definition of a project refers to a temporary organisation and therefore the Project Stakeholders are the people, groups, systems that are directly affected by the delivery of the business products of the project.  From the early stages of a project, the Project Manager must identify the key stakeholders and understand the influence they will have on the product delivery. 

Stakeholders may be internal or external, such as Trade Unions, or external support.  The stakeholders may benefit from the project, however, to some the project may deliver a negative effect, such as reducing team sizes.   

Identifying and working with the stakeholders is a key task in the early stages of your projects.  As I am from a Prince2 background, i follow the standard 6 step approach to stakeholder engagement and interaction.   

1. Who - Identify the key stakeholders 
2.  What - Understand what the project will mean to the stakeholders.  They may gain or loose as products are delivered and therefore their commitment and influence will need to be managed. 
3.  How - This is the defining of the method of communication to the stakeholder.  This will set out the frequency and content of the information that needs to be communicated. 
4.  When - This will define when the communications and the engagement of the different stakeholders will be required. 
5.  Do - This is a simple reminder - You must engage with the stakeholders.  Make sure you do.  You cannot deliver a product without their help, as it may not be fit for purpose. 
6.  Results - Check that the engagement and communication has been successful.  Learn from feedback. 

I actually think the 6 step process is a little over the top and will tailor the steps to suite my requirements.  The key point is to make sure your stakeholders are engaged early within the project.  Be careful, the stakeholder may influence the business in a positive or negative way, so choose your stakeholders wisely.  Stakeholders generally include people from the Project Team, Senior Management, the Customer, Resource Managers, User groups, Trade Unions. 

Define the stakeholder, Engage the stakeholder and Deliver a successful project !

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Scope Creep

The first and most important part of any project is the Scope.  The scope must be defined, signed off and locked away and a change management process must be followed to make any changes. 

Scope Creep is one of the projects worst enemies and is something that all Project Managers work to avoid.  If a change is to be made, then all the stakeholders must understand the impact to the project in terms of Risk and Cost in terms of financial or schedule. 

A change to the project should be formal and may result in additional risks to the project, for example some of the resources may not be available for an extended period, or the change may impact other projects within the organisation. 

There are several causes of Scope Creep, but the most common cause is that the requirements were poorly defined.  This can be combated by spending a little more time on the PID and making sure that all the users and stakeholders are involved in this early stage within the project.  A PID is the Project Initiation Document, which is a Prince2 term and is created to "...define the project’s scope and direction and use it as the basis for its authorisation, management and assessing its success.  The document details all the foreseeable areas of the project, such as goals, scope, risks, controls and budget.".  I will discuss the PID in a further article. 

To manage the project scope, you need to make sure you are aware of the end game.  You need to know the purpose of the project and how are you going to get there?  For this the fundamental rule for my projects is to get the project defined, break it into steps and make sure these are delivered in the correct order.  I always add a sentence to my Project Definition to the effect that says "Anything that is not disclosed within this Project Definition and PID, is outside of the scope of this project.".  This tells the stakeholders within the project, that if is not in the document, it is not going to be delivered. 

In summary, make sure you have the project scope written down and signed off.  When changes to the scope arise, make sure a project change document is created and authorised by the stakeholders, before you consider changing the scope.  This change of scope will require the Project Change Document as well as a budget review and a Project Plan review.  In larger organisations the Programme Manager will need to be involved as this change in a single project may impact other projects in their portfolio. 

Beware of Project Scope Creep !

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Visio Mind Map

Today I have been investigating how to communicate a mind full of notes to my project team.  Previous companies have allowed the use of mind mapping software, either in house or on-line.  My current client is a bank and limits the use of the internet and does not allow users to download software of use various web site, especially web applications.  We are a heavy user of the Microsoft Office suite (with the exception of email) and I am limited.   

I am planning to present my current thoughts on the project approach, initial architecture design and implementation phases to my management.  I was going to create a mind map in Powerpoint, but discovered that Visio has a mind mapping template.  I have successfully created two linked mind map pages within one Visio file, which is really useful.  this was achieved by using the double-click behaviour of the shape within Visio. 

I may break down my project onto separate pages within the single file, which is much easier than using my usual mind mapping software with many files.  Does anyone else use this approach? 

One question I do have.... Can you attach some text to a box within the mind map and then print all of the text out as a document, rather than a mind map?  That would be really useful. 

Here are some simplified instructions for those how would like to try. 

1.  Open Visio and from the menu select "File -> New -> Choose Drawing Type..." 
2.  (Using Visio2003) Select Category -> "Brainstorming" and Template -> "Brainstorming Diagram" 
3.  Drag a Main Topic into the centre of your page and rename the text caption 
4.  Make sure you have the "Brainstorming" tool bar and then start adding sub tasks by highlighting the Main Topic and then clicking on the "Sub task" button in the tool bar. 
5.  Continue to add sub tasks to the Main topic, or even to the Sub-Tasks to make a hierarchical mind map. 


Monday, 13 February 2012

Project Management newsfeed

I have used a site called Planet Lotus for many years, keeping up with all of the blog articles relating to Lotus Notes.  This site is a valuable tool in today's busy world as it provides a collection, in date/time order, of all of the blog entries created by people in the Lotus Community.  It is a fantastic resource.

I am moving more into the Project Management world, I was looking for a similar resource.  It does not exist.  I am now trying (for free) to get a PM Community together and a collection of feeds to provide for all.

Here is the link.

I'd appreciate a mention to your PM's and hopefully I can grow this into a similar useful community site, just like Planet Lotus.


I inherited a new project yesterday and I was reviewing the project plan written in MS Project.  I can use MS Project, but I am not an expert.  I have created close to a hundred plans over my short Project Management career and would say that I am comfortable with the tool. 

Well, this project plan was obviously created by an advanced user, as it had many constraints and dependencies.  I did not understand the concept of some of the dependancies, for example SS (Start-to-Start) and Start-to-Finish (SF).  Some even had extra days after then, such as "28FS + 5 Days". 

I came across a simplified article on the Microsoft website, which explains the concepts of all four (SS, SF, FS, FF) dependancies in the form of a small project to deliver a Wedding Cake.  Here  is the link

Thursday, 9 February 2012


Timesheets are the pain of many peoples life.  The idea of being managed on a minute by minute basis is not the ideal way of life for many employees.  However, as a Project Manager it is a useful tool to be able to cost your project.  The question to ask in this article is... 

"How do you keep track easily?" 

I keep a note in my notepad of the tasks I need to, or have performed within the day and next to them, I write down a numeric figure to represent the number of hours that I have worked on that particular task / project.  I keep it simple and round the figures to the nearest 15 minutes. 

I have seen that some people keep their electronic timesheets open all day.  I think this take discipline and most people do not seem to be able to do this on a day to day basis.   

I find that if you do not complete the timesheets on a day to day basis, it is very easy for it to become a very difficult task and often people make up times and tasks just to fill their 8 hours of the day.  This of-course has the knock on effect to our project budgets. 

So, I pose the question to you.... "How do you keep track of your day to day timesheet?"