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.