Tag Archives: PMI-SP

Setting up a project controls system for success

A couple of hour’s hard thinking can make the difference between project success and failure!  Far too many projects are simply started without any real thought as to the best strategy for delivery and what control systems are really needed to support the management of that delivery – one size does not ‘fit-all’ and simply repeating past failures creates more failures.  Similarly, far too many control systems are implemented that simply generate useless paperwork (frequently to meet contractual requirements) when what’s needed is effective controls information.

Remembering that all project controls documents have to be used and maintained to be useful; the three key thinking processes needed to help build project success are:

  • First the big question – how are we going to do the work to maximise the opportunity of success and optimise risk??  This is a strategic question and affects procurement as much as anything – off-site assembly needs a very different approach to on-site assembly. This does not need a complicated document but the strategy does need to be agreed; see: www.mosaicprojects.com.au/WhitePapers/WP1038_Strategy.pdf
  • From the strategy, the project management team structure can be designed to best manage the work as it will be accomplished and these people (or at least the key people) can then contribute to the planning process. Pictures are as useful as anything to define the overall flow of the work; see: www.mosaicprojects.com.au/WhitePapers/WP1039_Project_Planning.pdf.
  • Once you know the way the work will be accomplished and the overall flow/sequence of the work you are now in a position to plan the project controls function aiming to apply the minimum amount of ‘controls’ necessary to be effective.  Excessive controls simply waste money and management time. My approach is always to do a bit less then I think may be needed because you can always add some additional features if the need eventuates – it Is nearly impossible to remove controls once they have been implemented.
  • Then you can develop the schedule and other control tools needed for effective management working within the framework outlined above.

This area is what PMI call Schedule strategy and Schedule planning and development. Getting this ‘front-end’ stuff right is the best foundation for a successful completion of a project; this is the reason these elements of project controls have a strong emphasis in the PMI-SP exam.

Conversely, stuffing up the strategy in particular, means the project is set up to fail and implementing control systems that do not support the management structures within the project simply mean the controls people are wasting their time and the time of everyone they engage with.

However, creating a project that is based on a sound strategy supported by a useful project controls system will require some cultural changes:

  • The project manager and project executive will need to take some time to look at strategic options and develop an effective delivery strategy.
  • The organisation and client will need to allow the project controls professionals to work through the challenges of developing a ‘light-but-effective’ controls system and then review/approve the system – this is more difficult than simply requiring every project to comply with some bloated standard controls process that no one uses (except for claims) but should deliver massive benefits.
  • The organisation will need skilled project controls professionals……….
  • And the project management team will need to be willing to work with and use the project controls.

The problem is easy to outline – fixing it to enhance the project success rate is a major challenge.

2017 Classroom courses kick off on 20th March

Mosaic’s PMP and CAPM training program for 2017 starts on the 20th March (there’s still time to book into these courses) with regular courses scheduled through to November.

The later than usual start this year was due to our moving office in February after 15 years in the old location.  The worst of the move is over and we are looking forward to getting back to helping our Melbourne trainees pass their PMP or CAPM exams.

All Melbourne classroom courses are held at the Bayview Eden hotel in Albert Park (close to the PMP test centre) and include full catering and everything else needed to fully prepare for your examination. For more information see:

If you aren’t lucky enough to live in Melbourne, Australia our unique Mentored Email courses are available worldwide for PMP, CAPM and PMI-SP exam prep. As a PMI approved R.E.P. all of our courses are guaranteed to provide the training needed to be eligible for the respective examinations.

New Planning and controls website

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Our new project Planning and Controls website at www.planning-controls.com.au/ is now up and running.  This site currently has two focuses:

Helping people study to pass their PMI-SP® examination:  www.planning-controls.com.au/pmisp-courses/  Backed by a library of helpful PMI-SP exam support resources:  www.planning-controls.com.au/support/

Providing a single location for planners and schedulers to access our library of project controls papers and other free resourceswww.planning-controls.com.au/controls/   Almost all of the papers are available for download and use under the Creative Commons licence.

This site will be progressively updated with a view to becoming a key reference for all planning and control professionals worldwide!  Any suggestions for improvements will be appreciated – we look forward to hearing from you.

 

 

Critical confusion – when activities on the critical path don’t compute……

The definition of a schedule ‘critical path’ varies (see Defining the Critical Path), but the essence of all of the valid definitions is the ‘critical path’ determines the minimum time needed to complete the project and either by implication or overtly the definitions state that delaying an activity on the critical path will cause a delay to the completion of the project and accelerating an activity will (subject to float on other paths[1]) accelerate the completion of the project.

A series of blog posts by Miklos Hajdu, Research Fellow at Budapest University of Technology and Economics, published earlier this year highlights the error in this assumption and significantly enhances the basic information contained in my materials on ‘Links, Lags and Ladders’ and our current PMI-SP course notes.  The purpose of this post is to consolidate all these concepts into a single publication.

The best definition of a critical path is Critical Path: sequence of activities that determine the earliest possible completion date for the project or phase[2].  This definition is always correct.  Furthermore, in simple Precedence networks (PDM) that only use Finish-to-Start links, and traditional Activity-on-Arrow (ADM) networks the general assumption that increasing the duration of an activity on the critical path delays the completion of the schedule and reducing the duration of an activity on the critical path accelerates the completion of the schedule holds true.  The problems occur in PDM schedules using more sophisticated link types.  Miklos has defined five constructs using standard PDM links in which the normal assumption outlined above fails. These constructs, starting with the ‘normal critical’ that behaves as expected are shown diagrammatically below[3].

Normal Critical

The overall project duration responds as expected to a change in the activity duration.

1 Normal critical

A one day reduction of the duration of an activity on the critical path will shorten the project duration by one day, a one day increase will lengthen the project duration by one day.

Reverse Critical

The change in the overall project duration is the opposite of any change in the activity duration.

2 Reverse Critical

A one day reduction of the duration of Activity B will lengthen the project duration by one day, a one day increase will reduce the project duration by one day.

Neutral Critical

Either a day decrease or a day increase leaves the project duration unaffected. There are two variants, SS and FF:

3 Neutral 1

3 Neutral 2

In both cases it does not matter what change you make to Activity B, there is no change in the overall duration of the project.  This is one of the primary reasons almost every scheduling standard requires a link from a predecessor into the start of every activity and a link from the end of the activity to a successor.

Bi-critical Activities

Any change in the duration of Activity B will cause the project duration to increase.

4 Bi-critical

A one day reduction of the duration of Activity B will lengthen the project duration by one day, a one day increase will lengthen the project duration by one day.  Bi-critical activities depend on having a balanced ladder where all of the links and activities are critical in the baseline schedule. Increasing the duration of B pushes the completion of C through the FF link.  Reducing the duration of B ‘pulls’ the SS link back to a later time and therefore delays the start of C.  The same effect will occur if the ladder is unbalanced or there is some float across the whole ladder, it is just not as obvious and may not flow through to a delay depending on the float values and the extent of the change.

Increasing Normal Decreasing Neutral

An increase in Activity B will delay completion, but a reduction has no effect! There are two variations on this type of construct.

5 Increasing Normal Decreasing Neutral 1

5 Increasing Normal Decreasing Neutral 2

A one day increase in the duration of Activity B will increase the project duration by one day, however, reducing the length of Activity B has no effect on the project’s duration.

Increasing Neutral Decreasing Reverse

An increase in Activity B has no effect, but a reduction will delay completion! Again, there are two variations on this type of construct.

6 Increasing neutral decreasing reverse 1

6 Increasing neutral decreasing reverse 2

A one day increase in the duration of Activity B has no effect on the project’s duration, however, reducing the length of Activity B by one day will increase the project duration by one day.

Why does this matter?

The concept of the schedule model accurately reflecting the work of the project to support decision making during the course of the work and for the forensic assessment of claims after the project has completed, is central to the concepts of modern project management.  Apart from the ‘normal critical’ construct, all of the other constructs outlined above will produce wrong information or allow a claim to be dismissed based on the nuances of the model rather than the real effect.

Using most contemporary tools, all the planner can do is be aware of the issues and avoid creating the constructs that cause issues.  Medium term, there is a need to revisit the whole function of overlapping activities in a PDM network to allow overlapping and progressive feed to function efficiently.  This problem was solved in some of the old ADM scheduling tools, ICL VME PERT had a sophisticated ‘ladder’ construct[4].  Similar capabilities are available in some modern scheduling tools that have the capability to model a ‘Continuous precedence relationship[5]’ or implement RD-CPM[6].


[1] For more on the effect of ‘float’ see: http://www.mosaicprojects.com.au/PDF/Schedule_Float.pdf

[2] From ISO 21500 Guide to Project Management,

[3] The calculations for these constructs are on Miklos’s blog at: https://www.linkedin.com/in/miklos-hajdu-a1418862

[4] For more on ‘Links, Lags and Ladders’ see: http://www.mosaicprojects.com.au/PDF/Links_Lags_Ladders.pdf

[5] For more on continuous relationships see:  http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1877705815031811

[6] For more on RD-CPM see: http://www.mosaicprojects.com.au/WhitePapers/WP1035_RD-CPM.pdf

PMI PDU Update

PMI is updating is Continuing Certification Requirements (CCR) to reflect the needs of employers, which will result in a revision to the way Professional Development Units (PDUs) can be earned and accumulated.

This change is independent of and separate from the changes to the PMP examination structure and content scheduled for the 1st November 2015. For more on the changes to the PMP examination see: https://mosaicprojects.wordpress.com/2015/08/01/pmp-exam-is-changing-on-1st-nov-2015/

The total number of PDUs required to retain your PMI credential are not changing but the proportion of PDUs required from different categories will change on the 1 December 2015.  PDUs earned before this date accrue on the current basis, after the 1st December the new requirements based on the ‘PMI Talent Triangle’ will apply.

The ‘PMI Talent Triangle’

PMI_Talent_TriangleThe ‘PMI Talent Triangle’ is an employer-identified combination of technical, leadership, and strategic and business management expertise, and outlines the three skill areas employers need. They are as follows:

Technical Project Management: Knowledge, skills and behaviours related to specific domains of Project, Program and Portfolio Management. Education options in this skills domain include courses on: Advanced project management, Techniques to improve your WBS, How to gather and document requirements, Risk management for your portfolio, etc.

Leadership: Knowledge, skills and behaviours specific to leadership-oriented skills that help an organization achieve its business goals. Education options in this skills domain include courses on: Negotiation, Communication, Motivation, Problem solving, Conflict resolution, etc.

Strategic and Business Management: Knowledge of and expertise in the industry or organisation that you work in, that enhances performance and better delivers business outcomes. Education options in this skills domain include courses on: Product knowledge, Industry knowledge, Business acumen, Innovation strategy alignment, Market strategy alignment, Finance, Marketing, etc.

CCR Updates

The overall framework of the CCR program remains the same. You will continue to earn PDUs in the categories of Education and Giving Back and the total number of PDUs required in any three year cycle remains unchanged. PMP and other ‘professional’ credential holders (PgMP, PfMP and PMI–PBA) still require 60 PDUs; other credential holders PMI-SP PMI–ACP and PMI–RMP still require 30 PDUs. And the activities that can earn PDUs remain the same.

However, from the 1st December 2015 the following minimum and maximum requirements will apply for the PMP credential and other credentials requiring 60 PDUs in a 3 year cycle (and in brackets the PMI-SP and other credentials requiring 30 PDUs in a 3 year cycle).

Education:

The minimum number of PDUs required to be earned by participating in educational activities is increased to 35 (18), and there are now also minimum requirements in each of the three talent triangle skill sets:

  • Technical Project Management: a minimum of 8 (4) PDUs are required to be earned participating in education focused on acquiring knowledge, skills and behaviours related to specific domains of Project, Program and Portfolio Management. (eg, earned value training, scheduling training).
  • Leadership, a minimum of 8 (4) PDUs are required to be earned participating in education focused on acquiring knowledge, skills and behaviours specific to leadership-oriented, cross-cutting skills that help an organization achieve its business goals. (eg, team leadership training, stakeholder communication training).
  • Strategic and Business Management, a minimum of 8 PDUs (4) are required to be earned participating in education focused on acquiring knowledge of and expertise in the industry or organisation that you work in, that enhances performance and better delivers business outcomes. (eg, corporate stakeholder engagement training, safety training).

Provided you earn a minimum of 8 PDUs in each of the three categories, there is no maximum in this category, all 60 (30) PDUs can be earned through education activities including up to 44 (22) PDUs in just one of the three skill sets.

The education category includes ‘self directed learning’ these are activities which are individualised learning events involving personally conducted research or study such as:

  • reading articles, books, or instructional manuals;
  • watching videos, using interactive CD-ROMs, podcasts, or other source material;
  • having formal discussions with colleagues, coworkers, clients, or consultants;
  • being coached or mentored by a colleague, coworker or consultant.

The maximum number of PDUs that can be earned by self directed learning are defined in the relevant credential handbook (PMP = 30, PMI-SP = 15).

Giving back:

The maximum number of PDUs you can earn in this category has been reduced to 25 (12) PDUs. The three elements of ‘giving back’ are Volunteering, Creating Knowledge and Working as a Professional. The maximum number of PDUs allowed against each of these categories are:

  • Volunteering: all 25 (12) PDUs can be earned by volunteering.
  • Creating Knowledge: all 25 (12) PDUs can be earned by ‘creating knowledge’.
  • Working as a Professional: a maximum of 8 (4) PDUs can be earned by ‘working as a professional.

Note: PDUs earned in excess of the maximum 25 (12) in this category are simply not counted.

Summary

From the 1st December 2015, your plan to accrue sufficient PDUs to retain your credential has to take into account the need to earn a minimum of 8 (4) PDUs in each of the three skill sets defined in the PMI Talent Triangle. You also need to remember that the maximum number of PDUs available for ‘working as a professional’ is reduced to 8 (4) and these form part of the overall maximum of 25 (12) PDUs that are available under the ‘giving back’ category.

Training providers (particularly PMI R.E.P.s) will progressively update their course information to allocate PDUs against the three elements of the PMI Talent Triangle.

These changes only apply to credential holders wanting to use the PMI CCR system to maintain their credential (and therefore stay on the PMI list of current credential holders) by accruing PDUs.  The training requirements to be eligible to apply to sit a PMI examination are not affected.

For more on the updated CCR processes and FAQs see: http://www.pmi.org/certification/ccr-updates-pra.aspx

For more on the current CCR program either refer to your credential handbook or see: http://www.pmi.org/Certification/Maintain-Your-Credential.aspx

To understand the difference between PDUs and eligible training hours see: PDUs and the PMI Examination Eligibility Requirements

CAPM Turns 10

CAPM Step outTowards the end of this year, the PMI Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)® reached its 10-year anniversary. More than 26,000 people from 150 countries hold the CAPM® today. A significant proportion of the 26,00 are our students, we conducted our first CAPM course early in 2005, jut a couple of months after the credential was released, and have been running training courses for this credential ever since.

The CAPM is designed for practitioners who wish to demonstrate their knowledge of the terminology and processes of effective project management. It shows that a team member understands the good practices described in A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide), which forms the basis of the 150-question CAPM examination. It also benefits professionals who are not on project teams but work closely with them.

Over time, many practitioners who hold the CAPM go on to earn their PMP credential, the major difference in eligibility requirements between the two credentials is a PMP applicant must demonstrate a minimum of 3 years experience working in a project leadership role. CAPM candidates just need to complete an approved training course.

CAPM PathWhilst the CAPM 10th anniversary is a significant milestone, we were offering PMP courses well before the CAPM examination was introduced and have since added our PMI-SP course.  All three are available world-wide via our Mentored Email™ courses; we run public CAPM and PMP classroom courses in Melbourne each month, the next course starts on the 19th January, and can offer in-house training anywhere.  As part of our ‘all inclusive’ package we help everyone navigate the PMI application process and guarantee to work with you until you pass your chosen examination.

For a brief history of the much older PMP credential see: https://mosaicprojects.wordpress.com/2014/10/31/the-pmp-examination-is-30-years-old/

Our Mad March sale is over

IMG_9605Our Mad March sale is finally over but our world-beating prices remain for 2014 with our guarantee to beat any comparable price by $50.

Our fully catered, 4 and 5 day classroom courses for PMP and CAPM  are $1397, no more to pay (GST included).  See: http://www.mosaicproject.com.au/

Prices for our Mentored Email™ self-paced distance learning courses for PMI-SP, CAPM and PMP depend on your location and your selected options.

  • PMP Mentored Email courses – available world-wide from $680: see more
  • CAPM Mentored Email courses – available world-wide from $600: see more
  • PMI-SP Mentored Email courses – available world-wide from $520: see more