Monday, 30 December 2013


This is a short article to explain the fundamentals of the MoSCoW concepts.  I have been using RAD (Rapid Application Development) for many years, while being a Lotus Notes developer.  

Rapid Application Development does not mean lazy programming or rushed projects, but is a methodology that allows the Project Manager to cut out the "fluff" in projects and applications and to develop the right product, suited to the environment it is designed to work in. 

The 80/20 Pareto Rule means that a few (20 percent) are vital and many(80 percent) are trivial.  The concept of MoSCoW, it to concentrate on the vital deliverables and save the trivial to the end, or cut them all together.

Must haves - The "M" of MoSCoW, is for the priorities, the tasks that must be delivered, otherwise the project will fail.  For example, if building a house, these would be the walls and roof.

Should haves - The "S" of MoSCoW, is for the secondary priorities, the tasks that need to make the product complete and without them, the product will be functional, but not as functional as it should be.  For example, if building a house, these would be the plumbing, insulation, electrics, windows, flooring, fixtures and fittings.

Could haves - The "C" of MoSCoW, is for the additional tasks that would produce the best product possible.  For example, if building a house, this could mean the addition of a swimming pool.

Won't haves - The "W" of MoSCoW, is for the tasks that will not be completed.  If the project had all the time and money in the world, these tasks may eventually be completed, but they are superfluous to the final Product and therefore will not be delivered.  For example, if building a house, this would be the Helicopter pad.

As I said, this is a very short article, but a useful one, I hope.

Monday, 9 December 2013

Project Time

Time is part of the Project Management Golden Triangle.  I have blogged about the Golden Triangle before, but the concept is that you have Time, Scope and Quality, as three sides to a triangle and they all impact each other.  If you extend one side of the triangle, one or both of the other two sides will be impacted.

Time is an important aspect of Project Management.  People who understand scheduling will understand how simple and how complicated time planning can be.  On larger projects, the project plan will be controlling many different work streams in parallel and the Project Manager needs to understand the impact of time on each of the work streams and resources. 

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Introduction to Change

Part of the overall project governance is the Change Control.  This can refer to changes in the scope of the project, the budget, the Schedule, the services provided or the products the project produces.  Change control needs to be in place to ensure that the project is delivered on time, to budget and delivers the required product.  Change control ensure that any change introduced to the project is defined.

Friday, 1 November 2013

Risk Management Plan

Risk Management PlanThe Risk Management Plan is one document of many that combine to make the Project Management Plan, in my view.  The Project Management Plan is a set of documents that tell you how the project will be managed in terms of scope, cost, quality, change, resource, risks and much more.

The Risk Management Plan defines how risks will be controlled within the project.  It begins with the identification and then defines the action plan to deal with each type of risk.  The Risk Management Plan does not identify individual risks, but is a structure for dealing with risks.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Weekly Reports

Part of being a good Project Manager is being a good communicator.  A good communicator can convey information both orally and in writing.  One of the key communications is a weekly status report.  This report can become an historic archive of the way that the project is progressing and can allow all stakeholders to see where you are against your schedule and budget and see what the major risks and issues are.

I have a template that I use each week, so that the stake holders can see the progress easily.  This report is produced on Friday afternoon and distributed to the required stakeholders.  I then place this report into a folder within my project site on SharePoint so that anyone can see the report.  The target of this report is to be a single printed page, as any more may take too long for a senior stakeholder to read.  I try to make the report graphical, so at a glance you can see which areas require attention.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

When a Project becomes a Program

A Project is a temporary endeavour undertaken to create a unique product, service or result.  This is the definition from the PMBoK guide from the PMI.  A project is not a permanent fixture, including resources, budgets and teams, it is only in place to produce the final product.  A project has a defined end and can be stopped, if the end is not going to be achieved or is no longer a business requirement.

A program is a set of related projects which are managed in a coordinated way to obtain benefits not available from managing the Projects individually.  Programs will contain projects, but Projects may not necessarily be contained within a Program.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013


This first item on the Project Manager's agenda when commencing a project is usually to define the scope.  In many corporations either a Project Charter or a PID is created and approved before the project is authorised.  This single document contains the scope of the project and the business justification.  Importantly, this document authorises the project to go ahead and confirms the name of the Project Manager.

The scope document is often referred to throughout the life cycle of the project and is used by all stakeholders to confirm the direction of the project.  Where the Initiation document provides an outline of the scope, a further breakdown and detail must be confirmed.

My current project is having difficulty defining the scope.  Some of this is due to budget reasons and some of it is down to communication issues.  My current client is a Japanese bank.  The communication issue is not just the language, but the culture.  I have previously written an article relating to the culture of a Japanese corporation.

Friday, 6 September 2013

Excel - Add a Month

I use MS Excel extensively in my day to day role.  Sometimes the simplest formula can stump me, but when I find a solution, I try to capture it and add it to this blog.

This formula will take a date (say 1st Oct 2013) and then add one month to it.



Thursday, 5 September 2013

4 P's of a Presentation

I am currently working as a Consultant Project Manager, working side by side with one of the best consultants I have ever had the pleasure to work with.  I am someone who always likes to learn, so I have been watching the way that the other consultant is working on various  tasks, learning and understanding new methods and ideas along the way. 

As consultants, we produce many reports, breakdowns and presentations.  One simple tip that I have learned for a presentation format is to tell a story using the 4 P's.  This was such a simple tip, but one that will stay in my mind and will be incorporated into every future presentation.

  1. Present - What is the situation now.  Explain the fact of the existing processes, procedures and architecture.
  2. Problem - What is the problem with this existing model.  Explain the issues and risks with the current model, keeping to facts and providing evidence of situations that have caused, or could cause, problems.
  3. Possibility - Suggest some options, clearly indicating the pros and cons of each.  This must be factual, stating as much information as possible, but limiting the information into a manageable size for the presentation.
  4. Proposal - Provide a single recommendation from possibilities mentioned in stage 3.  this needs to have backing for the Subject Matter Experts.  This should not be swayed by personal opinion, but should reflect the best possible option for the business and explain the reasons for the selection over the other options.

When this simple method of presentation planning was explained to me, I could not believe that I had never heard of this before.  Usually simplicity is the best option and from now on, I will be remembering the 4 P's.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Does a PM need to understand the technical level of the project subject?

This was always a question playing on my mind throughout the time I spent as a consultant.  My specialist subject was Lotus Notes/Domino and I was at the top of my tree.  Throughout my career, there was not a problem that I could not solve with assurance and conviction.  People often tested me, but I would often indicate a possibility of three solutions to the problems they faced.  At the technical level, there was not anything I did not know.

Friday, 12 July 2013

Google apps (part 2)

This article is a continuation of an earlier article I wrote in January this year.  I was surprised by the number of Google Applications I used almost on a daily basis.  What did we do before Google?

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Standard Documentation

Is there such a things as Standard Project Documentation? I know different methodologies state that there should be x, y and z, but is there any standard format to these? … And should there be?

Most companies have a communications department, which designs templates and colour schemes for corporate literature, usually limited to external communications.  I have worked with guidelines for logos, colour schemes and fonts, but usually this have been for external documentation and website designs.

Friday, 14 June 2013

Project Governance

Project governance is the framework which ensures that the project has been correctly conceived and is being executed in accordance with best project management practice and within the wider framework of the internal strategies and processes for each organisation.

Project Governance provides a centralised strategy for project control and reporting, including a set of rules of engagement and guidelines with project teams including external parties.

Friday, 24 May 2013

Agile Methodology

As I mentioned in a post last week, I have consulting at a client site that uses an Agile Project Management Methodology.  As a Project Manager, I had thought that I have not used Agile before, however, I now understand that as a Project Manager / Developer for many years, I have previously been using an Agile methodology.

In my very first job, after leaving university, I was coding a 4GL, and our Project Management Methodology was DSDM (Dynamic Systems Development Methodology).  I went on a course and actually became a DSDM Practitioner.  This was back in 1997.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

The new role in more detail

Over the last two years, I have been working for a Japanese Bank, without giving away the client name, it is the largest of the Japanese Banks.  I am now working for a consultancy, working on the client site of another Japanese Finance house.  There will be many similarities to the previous company, however there will be differences in processes.

Monday, 20 May 2013

End of the first week

I had planned to write an article each day this week, but time was not on my side.  I have been trying to get to grips with understanding the scope of the project and line up meetings with a view to moving this project forward.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

The first few days

I started a new job last week, which will be to Project Manager the move of three data centres to two new locations.  I am quite excited about the new role, as always, and am looking forward to building new relationships and the hard work that will follow in the coming weeks.

Friday, 12 April 2013

Google apps (Part 1)

I have come to rely on Google for both searching the internet and for many of the applications that I can use online that interlink with one another.  I have moved from the Windows smart mobile devices, to Android, due to the interaction and integration with Google.  I thought I would write a small article to demonstrate the applications I use and summarise how I have come to rely on Google.

Thursday, 11 April 2013


I come across as calm and composed, for the majority of the time to many people .  People often ask me how I remain calm in certain situations or when people are stressed around me.   In an interview once, I was asked "How do you cope in stressful situations".  I will attempt to answer these statements and questions in this article.

I rarely get stressed.  I get stressed over personal issues and when my loved ones are upset, but this infrequently happens.  Even on a rugby or hockey pitch, I never get that "do-or-die" attitude to winning, but would rather have played well myself than to have won the game.  I get upset if I do not perform, but do not get upset if the better team has won, as long as I did my best.  I am very upset when I do not have a good game, even if we win.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Two Project Managers

Can two Project Managers work on the same project?
I think they can, as long as the relationship is clear and the roles and responsibilities are defined from day one.  Management above the project must buy-in to the concept of having two project managers and must agree to the defined R&R.

I am working on a large project.  Within 6 months, working on the initial concepts, designs and plans in the initiation stage of the project, I realized that there was too much coordination, communication, vendor management, internal team management, user management and reporting required for a single Project Manager.  I needed help and I was not afraid to ask. 

We now have two Project Managers on the project and it is working really well.  I am an easy person to build a relationship with.  I will trust and accept any person, until they cross me or my team.  The new Project Manager has a wealth of experience and is a great asset to the Project.

People within the Project Management Department often comment that there are two Project Managers working on the single project, but I see no issue with it.  Slowly, the colperets are coming around to understanding that the Project has a requirement for two Project Managers to work in tandem together to be able to achieve the final delivery in the manner that the corporation requires. 

Usually a Programme will have many Project Managers, but usually a project will only have one, however, due to the size and structure of the project, this project warrants the use of two project managers.

Defining the roles and responsibilities between us was an important "first day" task.  Over the past year, I had built relationships with vendors, internal technical team, management and the business.  The one part (and important part) of the Project Management I failed to keep on top of was the reporting.  My direction as a Project Manager is to "get the job done", so I did.  I covered all bases, ensuring that we had the best options, decided on the best solutions, worked with the best people and built relationships to ensure we obtained the best deals for the company I am working for.  This was all to the detriment of the reporting side and the management of the stakeholders.  A bad mistake.

The other Project Manager will take care of all of the governance and the management reporting side of the project, leaving me to run with the vendor engagement and the management of the technical teams to deliver the product.  I am a Project Manager that focuses on the delivery rather than the Project status updates and the "Project Management" side.

Have you ever worked on a single project, with another project manager? What was your experience, what worked and what didn't?

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Risk Management Exam - Monitor and Control Risks

Below are my small notes for this process.  I used this in conjunction with the main notes, that I described in an earlier post.
  • Process of implementing risk response plan, tracking risks, monitoring residual risks, identifying new risks, evaluating risk process effectiveness.
  • Ensure project assumptions are valid.  Monitor contingency reserves.

  • Risk reg
  • PMP
  • Work performance information
  • Performance reports

  • Risk reassessment
  • Risk audits
  • Variance & Trend Analysis
  • Technical performance Measurements
  • Reserve analysis
  • Status meetings

  • Risk reg
  • Org Process Assets
  • Change requests
  • PMP
  • Project Docs

Org Process assets – Templates, RBS, Lessons learned

Change request – Contingency plan or workaround might require a CR

Recommended Corrective action – Contingency plan / workaround (unplanned, unidentified)

Recommended Preventative Actions – Documented direction to reduce probability of negative consequences

Monday, 18 March 2013

Risk Management Exam - Plan Risk Reponses

Below are my small notes for this process.  I used this in conjunction with the main notes, that I described in an earlier post.
  • Process of devising options and actions to enhance opportunities and reduce threats to project objectives.
  • Includes assign risk owner.  
  • Addresses risks by priority.

  • Risk Reg
  • RMP

  • Strategy for neg risk or threat
  • Strat for Pos R or opp
  • Contingency Response strategy
  • Expert Judgment

  • Risk reg
  • Risk related contract decisions
  • PMP
  • Project docs

Strategy for negative risks
  • Avoid – Change plan
  • Transfer – To someone else.  3rd Party. Insurance, warrantee, guarantee
  • Mitigate – Reduce probability, change supplier, more testing
  • Accept – Passive (do nothing) Active (strategy or contingency plan)
Strategy for Positive Risks
  • Exploit – ensure risk is realised, eliminate uncertainty
  • Share – Allocate some of opportunity to 3rd party to ensure risk is realised.  Both share gains
  • Enhance – Increase probability or impact – e.g. more resource for early finish
  • Accept – Not actually pursue, but take opportunity if it comes along

Friday, 15 March 2013

Risk Management Exam - Perform Quantative Risk Analysis

Below are my small notes for this process.  I used this in conjunction with the main notes, that I described in an earlier post.
  • Process of numerically analysing the effect of identified risks on the project objectives.
  • Performed on prioritised risks and analyses potential risk events.
  • Repeated after plan risk response and monitor & control risks

  • Risk reg
  • RMP
  • Cost Mg Plan
  • Schedule Mg Plan
  • Org Proc

  • Data gathering and representation tech
  • Quantitive risk analysis and modeling
  • Exp Judgement

  • Risk reg up

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Risk Management Exam - Perform Qualitaitive Risk Analysis

Below are my small notes for this process.  I used this in conjunction with the main notes, that I described in an earlier post.
  • Process of prioritizing risks for further analysis and combining their prob of occurrence and impact.
  • Improve performance by focus on high risks. Prioritize, Probability, impact on objectives
  • A rapid and cost effective means to establish priority for plan Risk Responses

  • Risk Reg
  • RMP
  • Proj Scope Stat
  • Org Proc

  • Prob & Impact An
  • Prob and Impact Mtx
  • Risk data qual ass
  • Risk cat
  • Risk urgency ass
  • Exp Judgment

  • Risk Reg upd

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Risk Management Exam - Identify Risks

Below are my small notes for this process.  I used this in conjunction with the main notes, that I described in an earlier post.
  • Is the process of determining which risks may affect the project and documenting their characteristics.
  • It is an Iterative process

  • RMP
  • Act cost est
  • Act duration est
  • Scope baseline
  • Stakeholder reg
  • Cost MP
  • Sched MP
  • Qual MP
  • Proj docs
  • Ent env
  • Org Proc

  • Doc reviews
  • Info gathering techniques (brain storming, Delphi, interview, root cause)
  • Risk reg (1. id of risks - event & impact, if cause then effect.  2. Potential responses)
  • Checklist analysis
  • Assumption analysis
  • Diagram tech (cause and effect, flow charts, influence)
  • SWOT
  • Expert Judgment

  • Risk Reg

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Risk Management Exam - Plan Risk Management

Below are my small notes for this process.  I used this in conjunction with the main notes, that I described in an earlier post.
  • Process of identifying how to conduct risk management activities.
  • Ensure degree, type and visibility in line with project importance.
  • Plan to provide resources and time for RMP.  Basis for evaluating risks.  
  • Begin at conception.

  • Project Scope Statement
  • Cost Mgmt Plan
  • Schedule Mgmt Plan
  • Comms Mgmt Plan
  • Ent Env
  • Org Proc

  • Meetings

  • Risk Management Plan

Monday, 11 March 2013

Risk Management Exam - Formula

In the exam there was not too much requirement for learning the formula, however it is useful to know the following formula to ensure that you have them on hand for the exam.

With the PMP exam, I practiced making a brain dump several times, so that the first thing I did when I sat down to take the exam was to brain dump my formula on to a sheet of paper.  This way, I could quickly reference the formula with ease.  I followed the same pattern for the Risk Management Exam.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Risk Management Exam - Crib Sheet and Formula

To help me to study for the Risk Management Exam, I studied two books, which included the Risk Management section of the PMBoK guide and a study guide for the PMI-Risk Management Professional certification.  While reading each of these books, I took notes, ready for me to have a single source to revise (or prompt) my study from.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Risk Management Exam Prep - The beginning

Last week, I successfully passed my PMP Risk Management Professional Exam.  I started studying back in November, by reading the PMBoK Guide chapter on Risk Management and then read a few blog articles on the experience people had and the lessons learned from taking the exam.

Over the Christmas period, I had a break from study to enjoy the time with my family, so my mini-plan failed to go according to plan.  At the beginning of January, I started to plan for the exam, which included understanding the exam structure and discovering the cheaper options for exam preparation material. 

Friday, 1 March 2013

I Passed my PMI Risk Management Exam

Just a quick note to tell the world that I successfully passed my Risk Management Exam today.  I will say that it was fairly difficult, but not as difficult as the Project Management Professional Exam that I took (and passed) in September last year.

The exam consisted of 170 questions, all related to Risk.  There was a fair amount of HR and Communication questions in the exam, but the majority was around the 6 Risk Processes and the emphasis seemed to relate to the Risk Response Planning Process.

I studied hard, but not hard enough, for my strict self-imposed standards.  I will give you a break down of my study plan and the resources that I used in a new post over the weekend, but for now, I just wanted to let the world know I PASSED !!

I am not overly happy at the moment, I am still waiting for it to sink in.  I feel drained and am looking forward to going for lunch with my wife.

More soon...

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Exam Booked !

If you read this blog, you will know that I have been studying over the last couple of weeks for the PMI Risk Management Exam.

I have been reading through the PMBoK guide Risk Management Knowledge area, and have been supplementing my study with a Risk Management Book by Abdulla Alkuwaiti.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

iGoogle Replacement?

I have been using iGoogle for many years and like the home page it have.  I have, and use, only seven widgets on the home page, which I find very useful.

The main use is the excellent bookmarks widget, which allows me to categorize my bookmarks and easily find (and add) bookmarks.  Even my children know how to use this widget.

Thursday, 31 January 2013

Lack of posts

Wow - it is already the 31st January.  2013 seems to be going as fast as 2012 flew by.  Before we know it, it will be Easter holiday time.

This month has been a short month for me.  I worked through Christmas, into the New Year and then took a week of holiday with my family to Centre Parcs.  I have been back at work for three weeks and have not made time to write a blog.  I have two poor excuses.  The first is that I am trying to study for the PMI Risk Management exam.  The second is that I am tracing my family tree.  Both of these tasks have eaten away my free time in one way or another.

As for the family tree, I had previously gone way back along both my Wife's and my own family tree, but I had branched out in all directions.  I decided that I needed to start over and concentrate on the male side of the lines, following the 4 grand fathers that we have.  I will create a blog post next month with a short summary, but I warn anyone looking to start their own tree that the process is time sapping and very addictive.  I find it very therapeutic, which is a welcome break after studying and working hard.

January 2013 - Project Update

As you may know, I am working for a Japanese Corporation as a Project Manager to migrate all of our users from Lotus Domino email to Exchange.  This sounds quite a simple project, and it would be, if there were not so many dependencies on a corporate email infrastructure.

For almost a year, we have been working hard to understand the dependencies, understand all of the risks, complete the design to ensure the most robust, reliable and fault tolerant system we can. 

I am from a Lotus Domino background and have more than 13 years consulting experience and I am working with a Technical Architect who has been an Exchange consultant for roughly the same period of time.  This relationship has a chemistry which is very useful to the project as we are able to compare best practices and techniques for email on a global level.  We have considerable banter regarding our own technology expertise, which is useful when discussing design issues and infrastructure considerations.

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Gold Plating

Gold plating is the addition of features in a project that were not requested within the Project Scope. Project Scope Creep comes from the customer side, where as Gold Plating is introduced by the Project Team.  Gold plating can be a good or a bad thing for a project, as the customer may or may not accept the change. 

If the customer accepts the change, all is good, except that this may have cost the project some time or money. If the customer does not accept the Gold Plating, then remediation work may have to take place to back out the changes to the original scope, which will potentially cost both time and money.