Friday, November 30, 2012

Estimating Costs and Allocating Resources

                The first site I found is a blog site for J.A. Kruger & Associates, Project Management Consultants within the Engineering and Construction Industries at  The JAL & Associates blog site contains a number of blog posts on project management, planning and consulting; however, of particular interest was the blog entry on Estimating Planning Durations and Resources (JAL & Associates, 2012). This blog post provides a very comprehensive explanation on allocating resources and provides an excellent example of “work content estimating” in terms of low-level and high-level tasks.  While this site is for engineering and construction, it provides a great example of the methodologies involved in estimated task duration using norms.

                The second site contains an excellent article on project management and resource allocation.  The article is posted on Peter Kretzman’s blog at and contains an explanation of the resource allocation process, especially in regards to multiple projects and why understanding this process is so key to successful project management.  Kretzman (2010) provides a very practical, simplistic approach to resource allocation and gives a brief overview of a number of allocation tools along with their pros and cons of each.

                The third site contains an article that focuses on how to avoid resource allocation issues.  Thought the article (on Tech Republic’s website at was posted in 2003 it is still relevant today.  Fitzgerald (2003) discusses some of the issues found with overreliance on scheduling tools and provides and excellent explanation on the difference between overcommitment and overallocation.  Fitzgerald (2003) goes on to provide suggestions how to avoid both of these issues when allocating resources for a project.


Fitzgerald, D. (2003, April 21). The keys to resource allocation.  Tech Republic.  Retrieved from  

JAL & Associates (2012, February 5). Estimating Planning Durations and Resources. [Blog message].  Retrieved from

Kretzman, P. (2010).  Simple, more practical approaches to actual resource allocation. [Blog message].  Retrieved from

Friday, November 16, 2012

Communicating Effectively

"The Art of Effective Communication."

                After I reviewed each message, I thought very little changed from each modality to the next.  I thought the Email was well written, professional, and indicated a sense of urgency without being “pushy” or rude.  The voice mail and the face-to-face did little to change how I perceived the message, though I did feel that the voice mail sounded slightly more urgent.  Without knowing the personalities, it’s difficult to determine if the face-to-face speaker speaks in a more relaxed tone than the person who left the voice mail (it sounded like two different voices to me); however, people who leave voice mails may also tend to speak faster because they want to leave a message before the end of the “beep,” which may make them sound like the message is more urgent than it actually is.

                There are both positives and negatives to sending Emails.  By sending an Email, a person can take his or her time to carefully draft a message and think about what they want to say before they “hit send;” however, in an office environment, many people do not take the time to do this and they may “hit send” before they have even proofread their message.  The other negative is that your “tone” is not conveyed when you send an Email so you have no idea how the other person is going to react.  From the face-to-face meeting, I would surmise that Jane was being somewhat cautious when approaching Mark as she really needed information from him, but was concerned that her request might upset him since he had been busy in an all day meeting.  While I felt that the Email was appropriate and professional, others may feel that an Email would not convey the right tone.  In this case, Jane was cautious and almost apologetic in her asking for the report, but I also felt that she spoke much slower than the person on the phone so that could also be her normal tone.  Either way, a face-to-face allows us to read non-verbal cues that an Email cannot provide.


Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). The Art of Effective Communication. [Video] United States: Laureate Education, Inc. Retrieved from

Friday, November 9, 2012

Learning from a Project “Post-mortem”

Security Audit of a Government Agency

My company was hired as part of a contract bid to conduct an audit and network security assessment of a federal agency at multiple sites across the U.S.  The project was initiated by the headquarters for this particular agency (at Washington DC), but the work was to be conducted at the various local sites.  My role was Project Technical Lead as well as the Lead Security Control Assessor for federal government sites in Hawaii.  Working with my project team, we met all the required deliverables with just a slight slippage in the delivery date; however, it was a very difficult project with multiple stakeholders and issues. 
Processes, project artifacts and activities that contributed to the success of this project:
From The project management minimalist: Just enough PM to rock your projects! (Greer, 2010)
Step 2: Get your team together and start the project (p 10). Processes from this step that contributed to the success of his project included putting together a project kick off meeting with the customer (local stakeholders) which (1) introduced team members and their roles and responsibilities, (2) defined objectives, (3) defined the project scope, (4) defined deliverables, (5)  identified risks and assumptions  and (6) provided a proposed schedule.  The initial face-to-face meeting went well and presented the customer with the requirements, while allowing the local customer/stakeholder to have input on the project, such as the schedule and scope. 

Step 4: Figure out what you need to do to complete the work products. (Identify tasks and phases.)  (p. 17). Processes from this step that contributed to the success of his project included reviewing the initial list of deliverables and identifying the specific tasks that needed to be accomplished.  These were identified and tracked online where the overall PM could track the progress.

Step 5: Estimate time, effort, and resources (p. 20).  Processes from this step that contributed to the success of his project included assembling the core team and obtaining additional resources.  For example, a penetration test of the network was required as a deliverable and no one on the team had the skills to perform this skill so a new team member was hired.   Team members met regularly to discuss the level of effort and resources required to complete the various tasks.
Processes, project artifacts and activities that were not included that could have made the project more successful:

From Project management: Planning, scheduling, and controlling projects. (Portny, et. al., 2008)
Not involving all key project stakeholders (p. 106) and Lack of commitment by all team members to the project’s success (p. 108).  While this project was part of a multi-site project, the PM and customer rep/stakeholder did not obtain approval/buy-in from the local customer/stakeholders resulting in resentment towards the project team and their efforts to complete the project.    Obtaining information from some of these stakeholders became very difficult throughout the project.

Not identifying and sharing key project assumptions (p. 107).  Members of teams working the project at other sites had information about the project, but were hesitant or late in sharing the information.  In addition, our customer asked us to modify the standard assumptions so that the team could provide the customer with better feedback in areas where they were weak or needed to improve.  Other sites did not follow this guidance; however, had we followed the project assumption as written, the project would have been a complete disaster as the majority of the items to evaluate would have been “skipped” because the site was not ready for the review.
Greer. M. (2010). The project management minimalist: Just enough PM to rock your projects!  (laureate custom ed.). Baltimore: Laureate Education, Inc.
Portny, S. E., Mantel, S. J., Meredith, J. R., Shafer, S. M., Sutton, M. M., & Kramer, B. E. (2008). Project management: Planning, scheduling, and controlling projects. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Welcome EDUC 6145 Students

Welcome EDUC 6145 Students!

I was trying to set up multiple pages, but all new posts always post back to the original page so I'm back to displaying just one page.  If anyone knows how to get new posts to go to the second page, let me know!