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More Project Management Best Practice Tips

Managing Risks of Fixed Costs

Last week we looked at fixed schedule, so its only natural to want to look at fixed costs too. Or perhaps I should more precisely say "fixed price" since fixed costs have a connotation of overhead. And there's a further clarification to make as well (finances are so much more complex than schedule and time) -- we're talking about risk to the seller. Many buyers like fixed prices since they know exactly what their budget will be, but its the seller who has to manage most, if not all, of the risk.
 
Now with the clarifications aside, here's my top 5 list:
 
1. Well defined scope and specifications: Having a well defined project scope and necessary specifications will make it easier to manage and estimate. Uncertainty leads to errors.
2. Diligently completed estimates: if there was ever a time to be cautious in estimating, this is it. Obviously you're not going to be able to "sandbag", but a carefully thought out and documented estimate provides a solid basis for success. Be...
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PM Tip, Week of 15 September 2019

From Risk Assessment Framework: Successfully Navigating Uncertainty. Look for news of publication in late October, early November.
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Managing Risks of Fixed Schedules

As Project Managers, we often have to perform with a fixed schedule. This type of situation can occur for almost any project or industry, but it is a special issue in the software industry when we want to meet monthly, quarterly, or other periodic release schedules. Here are my top 5 tips for successfully managing the risk and meeting the deadline:
 

 1) Be sure there is a project charter for each release, with the high level time, resources, budget, and deliverables scoped out. Factor in time off for vacation early since this can have a big impact if it comes as a surprise later. Any surprises warrant an immediate review.

2) Regularly review delivery metrics. Use experience to improve estimating and the ability to meet targets. Build an incentive/recognition plan around achieving superior metrics (not just meeting the target).
 
3) Count on product and project management being between 5% and 20% of your schedule -- this rule of thumb will help make sure you don't...
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The Power of Checklists and Sign Offs

I usually have to visit a copy shop at least 2-3 times a year to fulfill various needs for PMI meetings and events. This past weekend I had a critical business need to have a small number of copies made and spiral bound for a customer meeting. With FedEx Kinko's being the closest, I dashed off last night to have the copies done. Since I don't frequently visit, this was like a "first visit" all over again.

Fully expecting to pick up my copies on Sunday, I explained what I needed. In under 5 minutes, Kevin, a customer consultant had a copy made and bound for me to review and approve. I was quite surprised when he informed me I could come back in a half hour and pick them up. Being on the way out to dinner anyway, I returned in under an hour to pick up the finished product.

Packed with my copies, I found two similar checklists which read something like this (I've shortened, but maintained the key messages):

- I took your order, repeated your instructions, and offered you enhancements.
-...

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Less Inspection, More Prevention

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[This article was originally published 10 December 2017]

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