The Art of Project Management: Expert advice from experienced project managers in Silicon Valley, and around the world
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The Third Most Awful Project Management Challenge

Is your Vice President ambitious and overwhelming your department with new project work?

I understand the frustration of having an overflowing list of projects. It was a major headache after the .dot com crash when there were less of us to do the work. Now the valley is busy again and your project portfolio process is full-up with projects and initiatives for SOX demands, cost reductions and new products and services.

So, let’s continue with the project management survey results. Another major headache for project managers is setting realistic and attainable project goals. Adding a SMART discussion to your tool kit is a critical tool in pushing back on leadership when they give us fuzzy direction. What is SMART? 

S=Specific. Is the project request specific? For projects or initiatives, this means that the scope is clear. Add “Is” and Is Not” lists to clarify what you need to do and what you do or don’t have time or resources for.

M=Measurable. Are your plans measurable? Measurable means that your plans are quantifiable. For project managers this means that you have clear acceptance criteria. If you have a software project, are your acceptance criteria clear? Do you know what types of defects are acceptable or not acceptable to the organization? Bottom line, do you know what success looks like?

A=Attainable. Stop the presses here. The first two are easy compared to this one. Attainable means that you have the time, talent and resources to realistically achieve your goals. Think about what you need to do to complete your current projects. Do you have all the requirements documented? Have you scheduled and funded activities to address the technological complex : ..If these questions raise doubts in your mind, your project goals may be correct but you may need additional clarity on how to attain them. Create a work breakdown structure (WBS) a graphical representation of how to achieve your goals. Make your project goals clear.

R=Realistic. Are your plans are realistic before you kick-off a new product or service?  It may scare you because it is bold to be honest with your management team.:  Just Do It says Nike.

T=Time-Bounded. Are your plans are time-bound before you kick-off a project? Time-bound means that your plans have specific milestones for major deliverables? All project managers are deliverable oriented.

You are SMART when you measure and time-bound your project objectives. You are SMART when you plan how to make your plans attainable and realistic. You are then clear about your capability to successfully complete projects. Management will buy into your confidence and then pay more attention next time you say no to all those new projects that aren’t realistic or feasible.

I welcome stories in which you used SMART to improve your project environment.

Rosemary Hossenlopp © 2007 All Rights Reserved

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About the Author

Rosemary trains IT project teams on delivering project success by improving business analysis and project management practices. She is founder of Project Management Perspectives LLC consulting and training in both the commercial and government sectors. She led many global software and hardware projects; created PMO's, and conducted project assessments. Rosemary speaks at conferences on the topics on Planning for Project Success and is a co-author of Unearthing Business Requirements, Elicitation Tools and Techniques and Organizational Project Management (June 2010) Rosemary received her B.S. from Oregon State University and M.B.A. from Santa Clara University in Santa Clara, California. She is a Project Management Professional (PMP) and implemented the Tools and Techniques initiative of the Silicon Valley Chapter of the Project Management Institute (PMI).
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