Logo

Project Management Best Practices

Copyright 2005 Karl E. Wiegers

This is a self-training version of Process Impact's 1-day live seminar. The course consists of 9 modules with more than 7.5 hours of audio and nearly 20 practice activities. It covers 30 project management practices that can help all managers improve how they plan, estimate, and track their projects. The emphasis is on software and systems development projects, but these practices are broadly applicable to nearly any project management situation.

Each module contains slides that animate and advance automatically, synchronized with the audio presentation. Each module has several reference documents available, including magazine articles, a project initiation handbook, templates, and other work aids. You can also access those reference documents from the module descriptions on this page. From this page you can also print a PDF version of a handout with the slides and worksheets for the entire course. Many practice sessions give you a chance to begin applying the techniques described to your own project. Most modules include short quizzes so you can test your knowledge of the key points. This seminar partially addresses several of the knowledge areas in the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK), as well as portions of the following process areas in the Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI): Project Planning, Project Monitoring and Control, and Risk Management.

The course consists of the following modules:

  1. Objectives and Agenda
  2. Introduction to Project Management
  3. Laying the Foundation
  4. Planning the Project
  5. Software Risk Management
  6. Estimating the Work
  7. Wideband Delphi Estimation
  8. Tracking Your Progress [available for preview]
  9. Learning for the Future

Course Description and Outline

View License Terms


Instructor

The instructor for this presentation is Dr. Karl Wiegers, Principal Consultant at Process Impact, who developed the course and has presented it live to 20 seminar audiences in the United States, Australia, and New Zealand.

Karl's Biography
Process Impact web site
Send Karl email

Textbooks

There are many books available on software project management. One of the best is Effective Project Management: Traditional, Adaptive, Extreme, 3d Edition by Robert K. Wysocki and Rudd McGary. The references on the final slides in the student handout recommend several other books that address various aspects of project management.

Buy from Amazon.com

My own book Practical Project Initiation: A Handbook with Tools (Microsoft Press, 2007) covers many of the practices included in this course, focusing on those practices that are especially important in the early stages of a project.

Buy from Amazon.com


System Requirements


Module 1: Objectives and Agenda (15 minutes)

This module introduces the "Project Management Best Practices" course. It describes the system requirements for getting full value from the course and how to use the presentation player. It also summarizes the course objectives.

(back to top)

Module 2: Introduction to Project Management (29 minutes plus 1 practice session)

This module presents a short overview of the domain of project management. It defines "project management," states the goals of project planning and project tracking, and identifies the contents of the Project Management Institute's Project Management Body of Knowledge.

(back to top)

Module 3: Laying the Foundation (77 minutes plus 6 practice sessions)

Inexperienced or busy project managers sometimes overloook some of the most important activities to perform early in the project to provide a solid foundation for project success. These include: defining project success criteria; defining the product vision and project scope; identifying project constraints; defining product release criteria; and negotiating achievable commitments. These are the practices addressed in this module.

Reference documents for this module:

(back to top)

Module 4: Planning the Project (82 minutes plus 3 practice sessions)

Project planning is one of the core elements of project management. Project planning includes writing an appropriate project plan, choosing a suitable software development life cycle, and decomposing the project into smaller chunks of work through a work breakdown structure. Other practices described here include: using timebox development; managing assumptions and dependencies; anticipating the need for rework after quality control tasks; using planning worksheets for repeated large tasks; planning for process improvement; and respecting the learning curve.

Reference documents for this module:

(back to top)

Module 5: Software Risk Management (53 minutes plus 2 practice sessions)

As consultant Tom Gilb pointed out, if you don't actively attack your project risks, the risks will actively attack you. Successful projects are those that manage their risks effectively. Module 5 presents an introduction to software risk management. We discuss the steps in the risk management process, identify many common sources of risk on software projects, and describe how to evaluate and document your risks. A summary of risk management best and worst practices is also included.

Reference documents for this module:

(back to top)

Module 6: Estimating the Work (68 minutes plus 1 practice session)

Estimation is one of the most difficult aspects of software development. Project managers and developers sometimes are expected to produce highly precise predictions of the future based on limited, uncertain information. Unfortunately, there are no magic tricks for estimating projects This module presents some basic estimation principles and practices. Practices include: estimating based on effort, not calendar time; not overscheduling multitasking people; recording estimates and how they were derived; using estimation tools; and the importance of including contingency buffers in the plan.

Reference documents for this module:

(back to top)

Module 7: Wideband Delphi Estimation (24 minutes plus 1 practice session)

The Wideband Delphi method is a group estimation technique that works very well for estimating many aspects of software projects. In this module you'll learn about the Wideband Delphi process, step by step. You'll see how an iterative team estimation activity generates more accurate estimate ranges than you can get by asking any single individual what he thinks the future will hold.

Reference documents for this module:

(back to top)

Module 8: Tracking Your Progress (71 minutes plus 2 practice sessions) [available for preview]

Project tracking is the second major subcomponent of project management. Tracking involves comparing what actually happens both with what was planned and where the project needs to head. This module suggests some information to put into a project status report, describes how to use a project tracking tool in an honest and non-misleading way, and points out the need to re-plan periodically. The earned value status tracking technique is introduced. The module also presents a brief introduction to software metrics and describes a way to choose the right ones for your projects.

Start Presentation

Reference documents for this module:

(back to top)

Module 9: Learning for the Future (37 minutes plus 3 practice sessions)

This final module presents two practices: conducting project retrospectives, and accumulating and using project "lessons learned." Some practice sessions help you think about how you can begin to apply the project management best practices from this seminar to your own projects, starting next week.

Reference documents for this module:

(back to top)