runners turning the corner

How to Increase IT Project Team Intensity

Motivation is a concept well-covered in project management resources, and is required constantly for project success.

Intensity is the level of focus by a project team on a particular activity. Without taking deliberate steps, intensity tends to naturally slide. Maximum intensity is not appropriate to maintain at all times, as it could lead to burnout. However, at key points throughout the project you will need to turn the intensity up to its highest level.

The graph below shows a healthy intensity fluctuation over peaks and troughs.

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5 Risk Tolerance Considerations for Project Managers

How Much Risk You Are Willing to Tolerate?

Every project manager deals with risk assessment and risk management. If done right, the project manager will ensure the overall project plan includes a risk management plan early in the project. The risk management plan is typically guided by the risk attitude of the project stakeholders, which is determined by their risk appetite, risk tolerance, and risk threshold.

The PMBOK Guide offers detailed definitions and guidance for each of these factors. For this discussion, we will use simplified descriptions:

Risk appetite is the level of risk that an organization is willing to accept to reach its goals and objectives. Risk appetite is typically culturally determined within the organization.

Risk tolerance tells you how sensitive the organization or the project stakeholders are to risks, their willingness to accept or avoid risk. Risk tolerance is variable, if not fluid, from person to person.

Risk threshold is the level of impact, typically a clear figure, beyond which the organization will no longer tolerate the risk. Risk threshold is a negotiated or determined quantified limit.

Project stakeholders are hardly ever asked what their individual tolerance level is. They agree on the risk management plan, but transfer their trust and expectations to the project manager. Stakeholders may understand the risk, but they may not fully grasp what acceptance of the risk means in practice.

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CIOs: Never Ask for Money Again

How Do You Fund Your IT Investments?

First of all, if you are an IT manager or executive and have asked for money to fund a project, you are brave. Too many folks in IT are order-takers. So, hats off to those valiant IT leaders who create business cases for IT initiatives, and present justifications for investments.

However, there is an inherent issue with “asking for money.” It’s as uncomfortable for the asker as it is for the askee. It is almost like you are asking to borrow money with a promise to repay with interest if everything works out.

What’s worse, a pattern of asking for money widens the gap between the business and IT. It doesn’t need to be like this.

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Change Management: 3 Success Factors for Faster Buy-In

TWEETTweet: How does change happen on an #ITProject? Inspiration, Personal Buy-In & Quality #Abraic https://ctt.ec/VjUfd+

IT organizations generally pride themselves on their ability to embrace change. Their project execution methodologies are built around an assumed ability to rapidly identify, respond, and adapt to change.

PMOs establish standardized development lifecycles and a comprehensive governance process for change management.

The Agile framework along with its variations and flavors acknowledge change as a fact of life. Rather than seeing change as a nuisance or a risk to be avoided, agile PM and SDLC models offer a specific methodology and tools to be successful in a shifting environment.

Even traditional waterfall approaches acknowledge the need for controlled governance related to change management. Standardized practices such as Lessons Learned, Post-Mortems, Issue Management, Continuous Improvement, or a formal Change Control process all revolve around the basic concepts for dealing with change:

  • know your current state or expected scenario
  • identify the deviation
  • evaluate the impact
  • define the future state or new scenario
  • make the change
  • analyze the results
  • repeat as necessary

These methodologies provide valuable, step-by-step instructions to practitioners.

But simply following the steps or implementing specific processes does not ensure buy-in throughout the organization. Beyond the methodology and processes, there are less tangible aspects which need to be addressed to produce the desired results.

Dissent is natural. Universal, undisputed acceptance is unlikely. Therefore, don’t expect everyone to just fall in line and be their usual, enthusiastic, productive selves in this new reality. There will surely be a few who push back on the change and are vocal about it.

But it’s a mistake to equate this resistance to not being “a team player.” Getting naysayers on your side will allow you to harness their outspokenness, channel their energy, and create a collaborative environment which will ultimately benefit the endeavour.

Fast buy-in for any endeavor, but especially for technology projects, depends on winning the hearts and minds of those most impacted by the change.

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Divergence - When the Business Doesn't Take IT's Advice

Dealing with Divergence: When the Business Doesn’t Take IT’s Advice

You’ve just completed a lengthy requirements gathering phase with business users and are evaluating 3 software solutions. The solutions vary in price, but all 3 meet your “must-have” requirements.

The highest-priced solution offers extensive capabilities which were identified as “nice-to-haves” that would ease multiple pain points. You appreciate the importance of these features and the positive impact they could have on the business.

You present the potential solutions, heavily stressing the benefits of the nice-to-have features: ease of use, visual data reporting, compatibility with third party solutions, and more.

At the end of day, it’s the team’s decision, and the bottom line is all too influential. They select the cheapest option.

Now what?

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How to Make IT Assessments Quick, Easy, and Effective

IT assessments have a bad reputation as being ineffective, disruptive, and time-consuming. Mikhail debunks each of these myths in this quick video about Abraic’s approach to optimized assessments:

(Did you enjoy the video? Consider subscribing to our YouTube channel.)

TWEETTweet: How to Make IT Assessments Quick, Easy & Effective
@mpapov #Abraic https://ctt.ec/8076x+

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Running an Effective Fit-Gap Analysis - Abraic

Running an Effective Fit/Gap Analysis

Commercial, off-the-shelf (COTS) software—not custom software—continues to be the preferred option for many firms, especially for ERP and CRM solutions.

The benefits of COTS solutions have been publicized widely and revolve around reduced time to deploy, cost avoidance, standards based, best practices included, solution maturity and platform flexibility, to name a few. However, many COTS deployments end up being disappointments, if not failures, once in production. Thus, many of the touted benefits are not being realized.

A critical success factor in a COTS solution deployment is the fit/gap analysis. COTS solutions are not ‘plug and play’, no matter what their marketing materials say. During the fit/gap analysis phase, decisions need to be made about customizations and functional configurations.

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10 ingredients of a successful UAT

10 Ingredients of a Successful User Acceptance Test (UAT)

The User Acceptance Test (UAT) is a critical component of any IT implementation. The goal of a UAT is to validate if a system or solution will meet the needs of business users in their operational environment.

The outcome of this phase sends the project down one of two paths. If all goes well, the project moves on to the Go Live phase. If it’s a flop, the project faces many challenges ahead, the Go Live timeframe is at risk, and the credibility of the project with the business may be tarnished. Obviously, the stakeholders want the UAT to go well. So how do you secure a win?

Let’s explore the 10 key ingredients of a successful UAT. We’ve seen this recipe work across a wide variety of IT projects.

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IT project health report Abraic

7 Elements of an IT Project Health Report

A health check is a formal examination assessing if an IT project is on track and under control, and serving as a valuable continuous improvement tool. The outcome is a project health report that proactively and impartially informs project stakeholders of the well-being of the initiative.

Too often, a project health check is only initiated once a project already is in trouble. But best-in-class organizations require health checks at several points during a project’s life cycle.

Creating the health report can be time-consuming, and it is typically not the responsibility of the project manager (PM). Instead, such reports should be produced by an independent party for the benefit of the project sponsor. I’ve seen health checks carried out effectively by a central Project Management Office, an internal auditor, or an external 3rd party.

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