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Project Management for IT Professionals

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This CompTIA video training with Steve Caseley covers project management fundamentals, including project planning, developing project schedules, risk management, project tracking, and more....
This CompTIA video training with Steve Caseley covers project management fundamentals, including project planning, developing project schedules, risk management, project tracking, and more.

Related area of expertise:
  • IT project management

On time, on budget, and to specification: your boss expects all three. Make sure your projects stand out and meet these key goals by applying common-sense project management techniques to your work! From initiation, to planning and execution, to completion, Steve Caseley's Project+ training will help you optimize your IT project results…sans panic!
Whether you're new to project management or just want to brush up on the best practices for managing IT projects, the skills you learn will help you improve your everyday work. As a bonus, you can master the exam objectives and gain the confidence to pass CompTIA's most current Project+ certification! Project+ is an industry-recognized credential that shows employers you're an indispensable project leader.
This training has been approved for Category A PDUs. For a listing of how many PDUs are earned for this training, please visit our PMI R.E.P. FAQs on our Forum.
 show less
1. What is Project Management (46 min)
2. Project+ and how to prepare for the exam (48 min)
3. Pre-Project Setup (34 min)
4. Project Planning (38 min)
5. Prepare Scope Statement (36 min)
6. Create WBS and WBS Dictionary (39 min)
7. Define Change Management Process (35 min)
8. Develop Project Schedule and Resources and Roles (53 min)
9. PERT/GANTT/CPM and Schedule Compression (56 min)
10. Communications Management Plan (43 min)
11. Risk Management Plan (40 min)
12. Quality Management Plan (28 min)
13. Cost Management Plan (34 min)
14. Procurement Management Plan (34 min)
15. Transition and Project Management Plan (28 min)
16. Human Resource Management (45 min)
17. Project Governance (36 min)
18. Project Tracking (30 min)
19. Project Change Management (36 min)
20. Project Risk Management (34 min)
21. Project Quality Management (34 min)
22. Project Delivery Management (39 min)
23. Earned Value Management (50 min)
24. Project Communication Management (37 min)
25. Project Closure (33 min)

What is Project Management

00:00:01

Welcome to this nugget series on Project Plus Certification, specifically the PK0-003 certification, often referred to as the 09 Edition which is the latest edition of Project Plus Certification. Before we get into the details of the Project Plus Certification Exam itself I wanted to spend just a few moments with you outlining what is Project Management and we're only going to spend a few minutes because I really expect you all have a solid understanding of what Project Management is, if you are not well versed in Project Management you probably wouldn't be going for the Project Plus Certification. But my definition of Project Management, and that's consistent with the PMI PMBOK, the Project Management Body of Knowledge, definition of Project Management as well as really the general industry standard definition of what Project Management is and I'm sure it's very consistent with yours. Your project is successful if it's on time. If your project was stated that it was going to take six months to complete then completing your project on time means that you've completed your project somewhere in the five and a half month to let's say six and a half month range.

00:01:26

When we refer to or at least when I refer to being on time, on budget, on scope I often refer to as an -ish. So when I say the project is on time, original forecast was going to take six months if we successfully deliver the project somewhere in the five and a half to a six and a half month window I consider that to be fairly successful. Similarly for budget if the project was forecast to be delivered for $50,000 and we've delivered it for $48,000 or even it may be as much as $52,000 again to me that's well within the bounds of -ish and well within the confines of being determined to be a satisfactory successful budget. On scope really means to specification and this one is certainly much harder to measure you can't say to specification and measure it as well as you can measure the calendar or the time. So what does "to specification" mean? It means the person that the project is being delivered for is satisfied with the results.

00:02:45

And even sometimes it's hard to measure satisfaction with results versus being on scope because if the project was determined to deliver A, B, and C functionality on startup and halfway through the project it was determined that we really don't need B, we need A, E functionality the project is still successfully delivered if we delivered with A, B, and C but the person getting the project may not be as satisfied because they made an error in the definition of the original scope, thought it was a B, but it turns out it's closer to an E. And we have a thing called scope management or change control to help us work through those changes as we go through. So again generic definition of what Project Management is I'm sure very consistent with three expectations is it's on time, on budget, to specification, or as I've written down on scope. So with that definitely of Project Management let's spend a few more moments and explore what is a project.

00:04:05

And my definition of a project is it's temporary, it's undertaken for a specific purpose, it has a defined beginning and end, and it requires resources. This definition of a project is taken from PMI and from the PMBOK guide the Project Management Institute, Project Management Body of Knowledge. PMI the PMBOK guide is an international standard for PM.

00:04:41

Now you may be saying "Why is he spending so much time talking about the PMBOK in a Project Plus Certification? I'm not doing my PMP, I'm doing my Project Plus." Well whether you're going for Project Plus or not you're following the international standard for Project Management and the Project Plus Certification still has a lot of foundation on the PMI PMBOK guide. Now I'm only going to do a few references to the PMBOK guide in this introductory nugget, after that we will focus very much on the specific applications required for Project Plus, but as we work through this introduction again I will continue to draw on the PMBOK and I just wanted to make that point clear. I understand this is a Project Plus Certification. So what is a project? A project is temporary.

00:05:39

What does temporary mean? It means it has a defined duration. It may be five hours for a very, very short project; it may be five days; it may be five months; it may even be five years. And a five-year project is still deemed to be temporary. The project was undertaken to achieve our next definition which is a specific purpose and the project will cease to exist in five years when that specific purpose has been completed, delivered, satisfied.

00:06:27

So the next definition of a project is it has a specific purpose. It has a unique requirement that the project is going to solve, remove, satisfy pick the word that you like. Now when I say it has a unique requirement that's for the project. If we have a five-year project that unique project is going to be large and complex and may have a number of facets to it but it still has the specific purpose for which it was undertaken.

00:07:10

Very consistent with the definition of temporary a project has a beginning and an end; it has the start date and it has a published end date. It's our job as a project manager to try to achieve the end date and complete the project as close to the end date as possible and we discussed that in the introductory already and we often need to change management when the scope of the project changes and again we will talk about this much more in the future nuggets in this series but it's important to recognize that as a project manager we need to strive to achieve that end date and complete our project as close to the end date as possible. And the final definition of a project is it requires resources. It may require human resources, it may require technical resources, it may require physical resources, it may require other types of resources.

00:08:21

And you may say "Well that's standard, everything that happens in business requires people, people require" I'm going to over simplify here "technology, we need computers." Now I know there are many jobs that don't need computers but jobs require computers, jobs require physical, they need desks, they need telephones, they need etc. etc. So why is this unique for a project? It's not but the uniqueness for a project in the resource area is focused on the fact that the project is temporary, has a beginning and end which means we need to ramp up the resources the humans, the technology, the physical and we need to ramp down or be prepared to release the resources back to the organization. Continuing on our overview of what Project Management is and continuing on using the PMBOK guide as the international standard for Project Management we'll explore what the PMBOK guide says is Project Management and the PMBOK guide says there are nine disciplines for Project Management and these are the nine scope, time, cost, quality, human resources, communications, risk, and procurement and the ninth is the integration of the four of them into a consolidated, concise, day-in day-out approach to Project Management. So let's explore each one of these nine disciplines in a little more detail. The first three scope, time, and cost we've already discussed in this introductory nugget. Scope is delivering what it is that the sponsor for the project wanted and only what it is that the project sponsor requested.

00:10:25

Doing good scope management is critical to completing our project successfully and the key facet to that is making sure we do a good definition of what it is that we want and then during delivery we ensure that we're only delivering the original specifications for the project. Time management is delivering it on schedule and again I'll throw that -ish in there. If the project was undertaken to be completed in five months we deliver it in five months; if the project was undertaken to be completed in three and a half years we complete it in three and a half years. And cost again is delivering to the defined budget for the project. If it was a $50,000 project we deliver it very close to $50,000. Now as we explore the other areas from the PMBOK guide that we haven't touched already-quality.

00:11:24

Quality is a key aspect to successful Project Management. It's not just delivering what it is that the customer wanted but it's delivering it at a level of quality that makes it usable. And if you think of a physical aspect you had a project to paint a room.

00:11:45

So the scope was what? Paint the room. But if the quality of the paint job is poor and you didn't have full coverage of the walls well is it usable? Probably not because your expectation was a nice uniform paint job or if the quality of the paint job was so poor that there was paint all over the floor and not only did you paint the walls but you also painted the windows and various other aspects you may have completed the scope for the project called painting the room but the quality resulted in or the lack of quality resulted in the non-usable project so we as project managers need to have a high focus on ensuring that our quality is appropriate. We've touched already a little bit on human resources in the resource aspect but again Project Management and especially for most projects where you're focused on Project Plus Certification it's typically going to be IT projects we often have a lot of unique characteristics managing IT people so we will look at motivational theories for IT people, we will look management theories, but we will look at various aspects for human resources management to make sure that we have an effective cohesive team focused on completing the project. Communications communicate, communicate, communicate, communicate and if you're not sure the message is delivered, its clear communicate again.

00:13:33

Now that may seem very dull and mundane, of course I'm going to communicate status, but often with projects we don't spend enough time and effort on communications. We need to make sure all participants, all stakeholders, everyone who's interested knows about our project.

00:14:09

And with good effective communications communicate, communicate, communicate make sure the message is clear to all participants, all stakeholders, everybody interested, they know about the project then they're engaged and they're willing to help you be successful that's the key to communications is full, open, frank, honest communications to all of the participants so that we keep them engaged and keep them willing to help when we have project delivery challenges. Risk management is a key aspect to successful Project Management. Risk management is all about being pro-active.

00:14:59

Risk management is all about sitting down in the calm and quiet of project planning, thinking about where can things go wrong and once you think about where things go wrong you fix it, you remove it, you change it early and that's the key to effective risk management it's the pro-activity. Dream and worry of where things can go wrong and then develop strategies to fix, to remove, to change, to eliminate the risks early not waiting for the bad things to happen on your project. And then procurement making sure we have the appropriate processes in place to buy the services, the product, the equipment needed for our project and often procurement if there's a significant purchasing facet to your project will be very complex because you need to cross boundaries and you need to get the procurement department and you need to get the purchasing department and you need to involve other typically non-project participants into our project. So those are the eight core activities that we need to do and the ninth that makes us effective project managers is it's fully integrated. Every day everything we do we need to be considerate of what impact does this project activity, what impact does this decision I'm about to make have on the scope, the time, the cost, the quality, the team? Do I need to communicate this? Does this change my risk situation? Does this eliminate a risk or does it introduce new risks? Do I need to change the way I'm dealing with my procurement department?

00:17:13

So every day everything we do we need to integrate all aspects of Project Management every decision, every facet of the project and most importantly every change that your project is going to encounter consider we need to consider what impact does this change have on the scope, on the time, on the cost, on the quality and so on.

00:17:53

But if we follow each of these nine disciplines, if we have a solid understanding of each of these nine disciplines and we make sure we're doing each of these nine disciplines every day we're well in our way to passing our certification exam and we're well on our way to being successful project managers. I've one last aspect from the PMBOK guide that I want to share with you and that's the Project Management life cycle and again this is directly from the PMBOK guide.

00:18:22

The PMBOK guide defines Project Management as having five stages, phases to the project. First up front is initiation. This is validating it makes sense. At a 30,000-foot level are the requirements achievable and budgetarily does it make financial sense?

00:19:06

At the 30,000 level this is a quick upfront validation that the project makes sense and projects that do make sense that pass the initiation checkpoint, the requirements are achievable, and it makes financial sense will go on to the remaining aspects of our Project Management life cycle and the projects that don't make it through this checkpoint are abandoned and saying "Decent idea but not valid, not reasonable, not feasible." Carrying on, planning is key.

00:19:41

Planning is going to address all knowledge areas, KA knowledge areas, from the PMBOK guide so scope, time, cost, quality, human resources, risk, communications, and procurement are all integrated into planning to ensure that we understand what the scope is, that we have a published time line, that we have a published budget, that we have a firm definition of the quality for the project, that we have an understanding of how we're going to do human resources management and how we're going to have a cohesive functional project team, that we have an established communications strategy, that we understand the risks associated with the project and we have processes in place to eliminate, to mitigate, to remove the risks, and we're appropriate that we have the procurement strategy in place. Without planning, without defining how you're going to address all of the knowledge areas and you publish it all in a project plan and you get sign off and approval of the project plan but without planning in place across of the knowledge areas you're managing a moving target and you're not going to be overly successful.

00:21:06

Don't ever skimp on planning. Management will often say "No, no, no, you don't have time to create the plan. We need this project started now. I need people working on it now." You need to push back and say "I understand the urgency of the project therefore I'm going to create a realistic project plan that's going to ensure we deliver it successfully and then with this plan I'm going to manage it to a successful conclusion" as opposed to simply staring without a truly sense for what the project is going to achieve so stick to your guns and ensure you get the appropriate time to do the plan. Then we move into the delivery stage.

00:21:54

And delivery as summed up by the PMBOK guide is two pieces. Executing is where the team completes the project. This is where the analysis, the design, the construction, the building, the testing, the validation takes place. There is not a lot of Project Management activity in executing. The key thing that we do is we facilitate the team getting the job done. Monitoring and controlling is where we, the PMs, ensure that we're delivering against the plan.

00:22:47

If the plan said by week 3 of the project we should be at step 5 in monitoring and controlling we validate that at week 3 in the project we are on step 5 which allows us to predict that we're still on schedule. But by week 3 id we're not on task 5 and we're only on task 4 then we're monitoring and controlling and predicting early that we're going to have a time challenge on our project and then we can begin to take pro-active actions to deal with it early not late.

00:23:27

Monitoring and controlling is where we the PM team keeps the project on tract and we manage it against the plan. And then finally closing is where we wrap it up, get acceptance, and most importantly and often overlooked in Project Management is we do a Lessons Learned what worked and ensure that we repeat it, what had challenges develop strategies to fix, and what failed we never do again. So this is the Project Management life cycle. This is what we as project managers will be doing to ensure our project is on schedule, on time, on budget, is successful. As I mentioned in execution is where the team completes the project delivery and we'll look at what happens in executing here in one second. As I just mentioned the IT life cycle is what takes place in executing.

00:24:50

Here I've defined a generic IT life cycle but it defines the steps to complete the work, i.e. the scope, of the project. As I said this is just a very generic IT life cycle but in requirements the IT life cycle is to identify all of the steps/tasks required to conduct the requirements, to do the workshops, to run the interviews, to document the requirements. The analysis part of the life cycle again identifies all of the steps, all of the tasks associated with taking the requirements to the next level in detail. Design identifies all of the tasks associated with doing database design and program design and network design. And development identifies all of the steps and tasks associated with developing the code, unit testing the code, system testing the code, acceptance testing the code and the same thing for implementation identifies all of the steps and tasks associated with completing the work for the project. Now let's take that back again and compare it to our PM life cycle.

00:26:13

PM life cycle starts with initiating, validating the project makes sense; for those projects that make sense we then go into planning and all of this PM work happens before the project life cycle, there is no project delivery work undertaken while we're still in initiating planning, we're simply working through our Project Management life cycle. Once the plan is approved we then move into the executing stage where all of this work takes place and in parallel with that we have monitoring and controlling which is where the PM monitors that the project is performing to the plan that we are on track, that we are on schedule, that our strategy for communications, that our strategy for risk management are taking place and then finally once executing and monitoring and closing is done all of the steps in the project life cycle itself are completed we do close where we gain acceptance, we have our priority, and let's face it because we're following a proven Project Management life cycle that is built into a proven IT project life cycle there's no reason to believe that our project is not going to be a success so therefore let's plan the priority now.

00:27:44

We need both we need the IT life cycle which defines what needs to be done and we have the PM life cycle which monitors success and takes pro-active steps to ensure success. Sorry about that, I hit a button that took that down to a condensed size let me take it back up. But we need both, we need the Project Management life cycle and we need to follow the proven steps in the Project Management life cycle to ensure that we are executing the project appropriately, that we're monitoring and controlling for success but we also need the IT project life cycle which takes place in execution that defines all of the work required to complete the project. And just to drive home that PM will help make projects more successful I'm going to refer to the Standish Group CHAOS Report.

00:29:06

And again I have an expectation that most of you probably have some degree of familiarity with the Standish Group CHAOS Report so I'm not going to spend a lot of time on it nor is it particularly critical to passing your Project Plus Certification but it's just another justification for why PM is important and why completing certification like this Project Plus is important to you and your career.

00:29:31

The Standish Report went out and surveyed a large number of IT projects. The Standish Report is focused on IT projects and when they initially did their report and this is very old now, I can't remember how many years the Standish Report has been around but I'm betting it's 20-plus years at this point when they first examined IT projects they determined that 30% of all IT projects were a failure. They started, they spent money, and in some instances a lot of money, millions of dollars, and then they failed. They stopped. The money was spent and no results were realized. The money was lost 30%.

00:30:21

They also said another 30% of the projects were challenged. What this challenge means? They started and they finished so they did deliver results but there were challenges. They were late, they were over schedule. Probably directly related with being over schedule is they were also over budget and in some cases over budget by two and three and four times the original budget and/or they delivered limited or partial solutions so although they delivered results the results may be limited.

00:31:02

So why do I bring out the Standish Report to try to drive home the importance of Project Management in Project Plus Certification? Because the Standish Report refreshes itself; every two to three years they go out and they resurvey and what they have found every time they've gone out and refreshed and resurveyed the results get better.

00:31:32

So the number of projects in total failure is going down not dramatically but it's going down. The number of projects with project failures is going down and the number of projects with project success is going up consistently. Refresh after refresh after refresh the Standish Group CHAOS Report is getting better results.

00:31:58

So after observing the better results they did their analysis on why. Why are we getting better results? Is it because of new technology? Is it because of better programming language? Is it because of better software development tools? And largely they said no. Tools, hardware, better technology is not why. The reason we're getting better is better PM. Over the years IT has recognized that Project Management is a required discipline and IT is focused on Project Management training and that's why certification courses like this Project Plus exists just to ensure we're developing better project managers, that our project managers are more qualified, and as a results of being a better qualified PM getting your Project Plus Certification we will be amongst those that are delivering in the 40 to 50 and hopefully soon to 60 per cent success projects. Good effective Project Management does absolutely make a difference with project success. Another aspect that's critical to understand as we become IT project managers and get our Project Plus Certification focused on IT is IT projects are special, they are harder generally speaking than most other projects. And typically they're harder, they're special for four main reasons. Software is much harder to define the requirements. Software is intangible and therefore how do you ever create a clear unambiguous definition of the requirements/scope for a project because it's intangible.

00:34:16

Unlike building a house where there's hundreds and thousands and millions of blueprints, unlike building bridges where there's tens of thousands of models, unlike being able to take pictures of the paint job in the bedroom that you want to mimic there really is no easy way to define the requirements. We can't build models although we are beginning to use and beginning oversimplification, we are using prototyping and other advanced software tools to helps define the requirements but generally speaking because software is intangible defining the requirements for IT projects is much harder than most other projects which is going to make our chances of being a success more difficult and add to our challenges. IT projects are often encountering changing technology.

00:35:09

Probably no matter the length of your project, whether you have a one-year project or a three-year project, technology is going to change, the release level of software is going to change, the release level of your operating system or the release level of your programming language, the release level of your database management system, or the release level of your middle ware, or the release level of you web browser, etc. etc. Release levels are going to change and hardware is going to change.

00:35:42

Every time your project has to make a decision do we embrace the technology change or do we freeze technology change adds extra complications and risks to our project. IT projects, especially now because of the maturity of the types of projects we're delivering, often cross organization departments. Not only is there a warehouse app talking to the warehouse but we also have to talk to the purchasing department because they want a say in how the warehouse space is planned so they can purchase bulk, we're going to have to talk to the finance department, we're going to have to talk to the merchandising department, we're going to have to talk to the shipping department, we're going to have to talk to someone. And the issue with all of these cross organizational boundaries is when you start talking to these multiple departments the potential for conflict, different requirements, different priorities, which increases project challenges.

00:37:05

And finally IT projects are special because generally speaking IT is not a very mature industry. IT at best is 50 to 60 years old. Now you may say 50 to 60 years is a long time for the industry to mature and develop solid best practice but let's face it in the grand scheme of things construction millions of years, engineering some would suggest it's probably also very, very old, it's certainly thousands of years old and so on. Most of the other areas where projects are undertaken are very old, very mature and construction has changed from the cave dwellers and engineering has changed from the times of the ancient Greeks but the change has been slow and evolutionary where IT are changed when it's taking place is typically revolutionary and as a result we still haven't been able to establish we're getting better, absolutely we're getting better. And having certifications like Project Plus is a long way to developing solid reliable best practices but we are still evolving our best practices.

00:38:54

So being an IT project manager is hard work; getting your certification, becoming Project Plus is showing your boss that you care about Project Management and you are taking the initiative to go out and prove that you have what it takes to be a successful IT project manager. I hope I haven't painted too gloomy a picture for you that IT projects are doomed to be a failure because that's not true. IT projects, as proven by Standish, 40% are successes.

00:39:39

If you apply PM Best Practices as we're going to discuss in this nugget series pass your Project Plus Certification proving that you know PM Best Practices your projects will be in the 40% success. I also want to share with you just a few more almost tricks of the trade if you can look at it that way. These are not necessarily items that are going to be tested on the Project Plus but to me these are key to project success as well. Number one is executive support. We need the executive buy-in, we need the commitment to help, we need senior executives who are bought into the project and who are knowledgeable and willing and committed to help. No matter how many best practices you apply, how consistently and reliably you apply your best practices you're going to have some project delivery challenges at least I do and I think any project manager out there is going to have some project delivery challenges but if we have the appropriate level of executive support, we have their buy-in and commitment help when we have challenges they're there and they help. They remove problems, sometimes they add dollars, sometimes they tell a conflicting manager that they need to tow the line and support the project but if we have executive support bought in, willing to help they're going to do what they can do and let's face it executives have a lot of power they're going to do what they can do to help the project be a success. The next key success factor is a high level of business involvement.

00:41:40

We need subject matter experts from the business interfacing with our IT gurus. Our project team members are experienced qualified analysts and experienced qualified designers and experienced qualified developers. Their focus, their specialty is on IT. We need our IT gurus talking to our SMEs who understand marketing, who understand finance, who understand warehousing, who understand the business requirements and these guys need to talk "I would like to suggest daily" but certainly very frequently ensuring that our project team let's get rid of the gurus, let's just call them our project team our project team can get their questions resolved timely and accurately. And finally well defined requirements and you're going to say "Well Steve you're contradicting yourself. Just a moment or two ago you told me how IT is very hard to define requirements because software is intangible." True. So recognizing that IT requirements are very hard to define we need to work hard to define the requirements.

00:43:14

Do we do prototypes? Do we do models? Do we do workshops? Do we do, do we do, do we do but recognizing that IT projects are so challenging we need to focus our time on making sure our requirements are well defined and when the requirements can't be well defined we rely on that high level of business involvement to get our questions answered timely and accurately. And with that in the successful application of IT Best Practices your definitely on your way for ensuring that all of your projects are in that 40% and our goal as PMs should be to ensure that all of our projects are in the 100% success factors and leave the 60% of failures to those project managers who aren't as wired into the process as we are. This introductory nugget has been focused on laying the foundation of what is project management. We referred to the PMI PMBOK guide which our international standard and we discussed what a project is. It's temporary, is has a unique purpose, it has a beginning and an end, and it requires resources.

00:44:55

We looked at the PM Best Practices Principles of scope, time, cost, quality, procurement, communications, human resource, and risk management in an integrated fashion and the goal of applying the principles to a project is to ensure that we deliver our project on time, on budget, on scope, to specification to achieve the business benefits that the project set out to accomplish.

00:45:41

That lays the foundation for Project Plus Certification. In the following nuggets we're going to spend more time talking about the details of Project Management and focus on the application of Project Management as defined for Project Plus. This concludes our nugget on what is Project Management. I hope this module has been informative for you and thank you very much for viewing.

Project+ and how to prepare for the exam

Pre-Project Setup

Project Planning

Prepare Scope Statement

Create WBS and WBS Dictionary

Define Change Management Process

Develop Project Schedule and Resources and Roles

PERT/GANTT/CPM and Schedule Compression

Communications Management Plan

Risk Management Plan

Quality Management Plan

Cost Management Plan

Procurement Management Plan

Transition and Project Management Plan

Human Resource Management

Project Governance

Project Tracking

Project Change Management

Project Risk Management

Project Quality Management

Project Delivery Management

Earned Value Management

Project Communication Management

Project Closure

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Steve Caseley
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