Decision Making Process Part 5a – The Process Overview

In this series of posts so far, I have presented the following:

  • Why we struggle with some decisions
  • The consequences of poor decisions
  • The outcomes of a good decision-making process

In the upcoming posts, I will present a decision-making process I follow for all important decisions. Here is a summary of the eight-step process. Each one will be expanded on in future posts:

  1. Begin with the end in mind – know your outcomes
  2. Analyze your alternatives – there may be more than you think
  3. Identify and mitigate risks
  4. Distance yourself from short-term emotion
  5. Have contingency plans
  6. Make the decision
  7. Evaluate the outcomes
  8. Tune the process

Following a good process does not guarantee a successful outcome. But it does put the percentages in your favor and when you look at your decisions as a whole, instead of each in isolation, you will see a pattern of success.

Think or yourself as “The CEO of your life”. Make decisions as if you were in charge of “You, Inc.” In fact, you are the one in charge. Don’t be a victim. Use a sound decision making process.

My Kindle book, “Project Management For The Real World” is available at

http://www.amazon.com/dp/b089krddvn

Decision Making Process Part 4 – Outcomes Of A Good Decision Making Process

So far in this series, I have shown why we struggle with some decisions and the consequences of a poor decision-making process. In this post, I will present the positive outcomes of a good decision-making process.

If you employ a sound decision-making methodology, you can expect to…

  • Eliminate decision paralysis: Having a strong vision of desired outcomes along with identifying and analyzing alternatives and their risks will give you confidence to proceed with the selected decision, knowing you are going in “eyes wide open”.
  • Reduce stress: Much of the stress of decision-making comes from the nagging doubt that you have considered everything of importance. A good process allows you to eliminate those doubts, and with it the accompanying stress.
  • Keep you moving forward: When you are stuck on a decision, your attention and focus stay on that decision which means time is being “stolen” from other important activities. A good process has well-defined steps that sustain your forward momentum.
  • Eliminate Regret: Have you ever been victimized with the thoughts “I should have”, “we should have”, “I shouldn’t have”, etc ? These regrets are another “time-stealer” that hurt everything else you are trying to do. Using a decision-making methodology means that even when the outcomes are not in your favor, you know you made the right call given the information available at the time. You also have anticipated and know how to deal with the unfavorable outcomes.

My Kindle book, “Project Management For The Real World”, is available at

http://www.amazon.com/dp/b089krddvn

Decision Making Process Part 3 – Consequences Of A Poor Decision Process

It is important in both project management and life in general to have a solid decision-making process. This doesn’t mean that every decision you make will always have the best outcomes, but it puts the odds in your favor that more often than not you will make good decisions.

Here are the main consequences when you don’t use a good decision-making process:

  • Regret – You know you are not using a good process if you find yourself saying “I should have…” or “I shouldn’t have”. If you use a good process, you understand that sometimes the outcomes don’t go your way, mostly due to circumstances beyond your control. You avoid regret. Wouldn’t it be great to live a life of no regrets? Or like in the song “My Way”, you can say “Regrets, I’ve had a few, but too few to mention”.
  • Unintended Consequences – This usually happens when a decision is not well thought out. Your intentions are good but it turns out bad. An example is “use it or lose it” budget policies. This almost always causes organizations to waste money to avoid future budget cuts. Sometimes, a decision can be so complex as to be unable to avoid unintended consequences. In a future post in this series, I will show how good Risk Management can minimize the damage.

When you have a good decision-making process you don’t measure success by the outcomes, you measure it by answering the question “Was my process sound?”. I will expand on this in a future post.

A reminder that my Kindle book “Project Management For The Real World” is available at

http://www.amazon.com/dp/b089krddvn

Decision Making Process Part 2 – Why We Struggle With Some Decisions

In both project management and our daily lives, we are faced with many decisions every day. The size and importance of the decisions vary but every decision we are faced with burns some amount of brain energy. If you have a good decision making process, you can minimize this energy drain.

There are many reasons why we struggle with some decisions. Here are some of the most common:

  • Too many choices – Our minds are comfortable with 3 to 4 options but when the alternatives grow much beyond that it could cause a “decision paralysis”. We see this in our daily lives when shopping. How many varieties of Cheerios are there? Dozens! When faced with too many choices, we sometimes shut down and don’t choose anything (which of course is also a choice).
  • The apparent choices are all bad – This is the case where none of the options are a win. But how do we determine which alternative is the “least bad”?
  • The apparent choices all seem equally good – In this case, we may regret choosing an option if it means we miss out on the good outcomes of the other options. Why can’t we have our cake and eat it too?
  • Loss Aversion – We fear risking something we have, to gain something we want even if the odds are in our favor.
  • Fear of being wrong – Most of us beat ourselves up (mentally) when we make a mistake. Sometimes we fear our own self-lambasting if we make the wrong choice.
  • Fear of being criticized – No one likes criticism. We want everyone to love us, right? We want to show everyone how smart we are by never making a bad choice. This is obviously unrealistic.

In the upcoming posts in this series, I will show how a good decision making process can eliminate (or minimize) all of the reasons we struggle with making decisions.

A reminder that my Kindle book “Project Management For The Real World” is available at

http://www.amazon.com/dp/b089krddvn

Decision Making Process Part 1 – Overview

If you are a Project Manager, you make numerous decisions every day. Some are minor, some major and some in-between. Good communication and decision making are the top two skills needed by the Project Manager for sustained success. In the upcoming series of posts, I will share some thoughts and methods for effective decision making.

Here are the topics that will be addressed:

  • Why we struggle with some decisions
  • The consequences of poor decisions
  • The outcomes of a good decision-making process
  • The eight step process
    • Begin with the end in mind
    • Identify and analyze your alternatives
    • Identify and mitigate your risks
    • Distance yourself from short-term emotion
    • Make contingency plans
    • Make the decision
    • Evaluate the outcomes
    • Evaluate the process
  • Summary

A reminder that my Kindle book “Project Management For The Real World” is available at

http://www.amazon.com/dp/b089krddvn

Establishing A Project Management Office (PMO) Part 8 – Summary

In summary of the prior posts in this topic series, if you are embarking on creating a PMO, you need to treat it like a project. This means appointing a Project Manager and following the usual best practices.

Here are the topics I wrote about in the prior posts:

  • Part 2 – The Business Objectives – define the results you want after the PMO is up and running. Establish the mission and clear and measurable metrics to measure PMO performance.
  • Part 3 – The Project Objectives – define the PMO organization chart, job titles and descriptions, policies and procedures.
  • Part 4 – The Stakeholders – identify who will help establish the PMO and who is affected by the PMO (normally, everyone in the organization).
  • Part 5 – The Scope – from the Business and Project Objectives and the Stakeholders, list the major activities needed to establish the PMO.
  • Part 6 – The Timeline and the Budget – these are two things that may be constraints on the hiring process.
  • Part 7 – Risks, Constraints, Dependencies – understand what can go wrong and have mitigation and contingency plans; know and work within your constraints; identify what other initiatives can affect this one.

Having a PMO is a key step to organizational growth and improvement. Establishing a PMO with a clear mission and measurable objectives is critical to its success.

A reminder that my Kindle book “Project Management For The Real World” is available at

http://www.amazon.com/dp/b089krddvn

Establishing A Project Management Office (PMO) Part 7 – Risks, Constraints, Dependencies

Continuing the series of posts on establishing a Project Management Office, I’ll address some possible Risks, Constraints and Dependencies.

Risks

As always with identifying risks, ask yourself “What worries me about this?” Here are a few possible risks. You will likely have more, depending on your unique situation.

  • Not finding qualified people (ones that match the experience, people skills and project vision)
  • We find qualified people but their salary demands exceed our budget
  • Some departments in the company may see this as an intrusion on their project authority
  • Creating “too much” documentation
  • Creating a Project Management Methodology that is “too rigid”

When you have identified your initial risks, you will apply the usual Risk Management practices (identifying triggers, assessing probability and impact, creating mitigation and contingency plans. assigning a risk owner).

Constraints

Every project has constraints, which are conditions that limit the solution. In establishing a PMO, here are a few possible constraints:

  • Staff size
  • Staff budget
  • Work location
  • PMO “up and running by” date

Dependencies

Some possible external dependencies that could delay the establishment of your PMO:

  • Budget approval
  • Establishing work location (may need an addition or remodel)
  • Getting projects approved to justify the hiring

A reminder that my Kindle book “Project Management For The Real World” is available at

http://www.amazon.com/dp/b089krddvn

Establishing A Project Management Office (PMO) Part 6 – Timeline And Budget

The Timeline

The PMO Sponsor must decide which priority is the greatest: Getting the PMO up and running by a specific target date or making sure the hiring (especially for the PMO leader) matches the desired traits as closely as possible. If there is a date that cannot move, it is possible some compromises will be made in the hiring process.

Once that is determined, the timeline can be fleshed out as with any other project. You do a work breakdown on the key deliverables (hiring staff, establishing policies and standards, creating/assigning work space, executing the organizational change management plan). Assign the tasks, estimate the durations, and determine dependencies. Mix all of these together and the result is your schedule for establishing the PMO.

The Budget

The budget will also be a key factor in the hiring process. The bulk of the budget for a PMO will be the salaries. The level of talent attracted will be directly proportional to the assigned salary ranges. It is possible that this, like the timeline, can also generate compromises in the hiring process.

Hiring the right people is the most important aspect of establishing a PMO. The manager of this project must do their best to convince the Sponsor to minimize compromises in the hiring process. The people you bring on board must be in alignment with the Sponsor’s vision of the PMO. In fact, a good PMO leader might also enhance the vision and show the Sponsor how the PMO might evolve over time.

Other budget factors might be established for the following:

  • Annual PMI member dues
  • Ongoing education for PDU’s
  • PM software such as MS Project
  • Subscriptions to PM related periodicals

A reminder that my Kindle book “Project Management For The Real World” is available at

http://www.amazon.com/dp/b089krddvn

Establishing A Project Management Office (PMO) Part 5 – The Scope

The scope of the project to establish a PMO may be produced in a variety of ways. In this post I will list my preferred methods, which happen to be the same methods I use for most any project.

Here is how I would establish the initial scope:

  1. Work backwards from the Project Objectives – The Project Objectives contain the products, services or results of a project that survive and are maintained after a project has ended. For each objective, define the steps needed to accomplish it.
  2. Construct a Context Diagram – (If you don’t know what a Context Diagram is, you can search this blog using that term). Define who your “Suppliers” and “Customers” will be and how you and the PMO will interact (what data will be exchanged). Things such as “Request for Project Management Services” or “Project Status Reports” are examples of interactions with these entities.
  3. List the Processes – Once you have a Context Diagram, you can then create the list of internal PMO processes needed for every interaction. Some or all of these may also have been defined in the Project Objectives. If you missed any in the Project Objectives, add them in as you discover new ones. You may also have processes that are triggered by events that are not from “Suppliers” or “Customers”. They may be based on time (e.g. “Produce Monthly Portfolio Report”) or the state of data (e.g. “When there are more current project requests than PM’s, notify PMO Sponsor”). Define the steps needed to accomplish these additional objectives.
  4. Review the Stakeholder List – All of your Stakeholders (the ones affected by the product, service or result of your project) should appear on the Context Diagram. Review your list of Stakeholders to confirm this. If any are missing, add them and any interactions and internal processes associated with these Stakeholders.

These four categories should produce a good high-level scope. You can flesh out additional information when you get to the “Detail Requirements” stage.

A reminder that my Kindle book “Project Management For The Real World” is available at

http://www.amazon.com/dp/b089krddvn

Establishing A Project Management Office (PMO) Part 4 – The Stakeholders

So far in this series of posts where the project is “Establish a PMO”, we have defined the Business Objectives (business outcomes we expect by having a PMO) and the Project Objectives (the things we need to accomplish to state we have now established a PMO). Now we will take a look at the Stakeholders.

Stakeholders fall into two broad categories:

  1. Those affected by the process of executing the project
  2. Those affected by the business and project outcomes of the project

Stakeholders in the first category are typically those who will work on the activities needed to accomplish the Project Objectives. They will do things such as document the organization structure, create the job descriptions, do the hiring, write processes and policy, etc.

Stakeholders in the second category, in this case, will mean everyone in the organization! Why? Because the PMO can manage or oversee projects in any area. If the PMO is around long enough they will interact with every department and many of the personnel. With so many people to inform, a careful Organization Change Management Plan will need to be documented and agreed upon. Having a PMO will be a huge change for most organizations. Some areas may even object to having one. Formal Change Management will be critical to the success of your PMO. I can’t stress this enough. If your PMO gets off to a bad start due to lack of Change Management, it may not survive for long.

If you search this blog for “Organizational Change Management”, that series of posts will provide you with guidance for this discipline.

A reminder that my Kindle book “Project Management For The Real World” is available at

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B089KRDDVN