Common questions

Q: Project execution determines the success/failure of a project. What is most important while we are executing a project?

A: While we are driving our car, our GPS knows where we are accurately and can re-plan our route in real-time. When our family members travel to different cities, the automated teller machines (ATM) can handle transactions requested by your different members in real-time.

While you are executing your project, can your project management system know your project status accurately in real-time? If you are using a manual-input form-based project mgt. tool for project execution, you are quite far away from leveraging technology well since it is quite different from the technology used in GPS or ATM. In history, manual-input form-based project mgt. tools were designed mainly for project planning, not for project execution.

It is most important that you use the right tool for your project execution.

Q: Why resource management is the weakest spot in project mgt.?

A: Human resource allocation and utilization are far more complex and dynamic than other things such as activity scheduling and cost budgeting in project mgt. Most companies today still don’t have a system (let alone an up-to-date system) that has the skill information of their human resources. It is close to impossible for their project managers to plan and allocate all needed human resources properly for the project except for the subset of the needed human resources that the project managers happened to work with in the past.

If the schedule of a project activity involving 3 human resources is changed, all the 3 human resources will need to be reallocated. Unless all these 3 resources are sitting on bench (having no job) for the new scheduled period, the reallocation will then create one or more resource conflicts and would affect other activities in the same project or other projects. A resource conflict is not an easy thing to resolve since it often has ripple effects. Some project managers even choose to ignore resource conflicts since they neither have the proper tool nor the negotiation skill to solve them.

Many modern businesses have labor intensive projects. But many companies today still don’t have the technology that can connect project labor cost to project human resources. The disconnection not only affects their ability to budget the labor cost properly but also their ability to manage resource efforts within budget.

Q: Why do people feel safe to lie in a project?

A: It is common that many intra-connected things such as labor cost and human resource effort as mentioned earlier in a project are disjointed. Also, many interconnected things such as planned value and earned value in a project are statically and dynamically disjointed. If the project is small in size, it is still possible that the project manager can put the missing pieces together and keep people honest. If the project is large and complex, even a very experienced project manager is dealing with the missing pieces based on his gut feel. Therefore, a large and complex project put in the hands of a 40-year-experience project manager still has a reasonably high chance to fail.

Q: Can modern technology help eliminate the disconnection in project mgt.?

A: Yes, other sectors such as banking and securities have used real-time transactional technology for their systems to eliminate the disconnection. For example, your family can’t fool your bank’s ATM with the account balance that you don’t have and your broker can’t fool the exchange’s system that the trade that you have changed your mind.

Q: What is the biggest feature of PPM?

A: PPM in project mgt. is equivalent to an automated teller machine (ATM) in savings and checking accounts mgt. If the project team of 5, 50 or over 100 people doesn’t have an ATM equivalent system to manage their project, they can only fill in the e-Forms to record the time and cost they took away from the project and the results that they put back. But using human inputted e-Forms to document transactions is a very passive control model which can easily result in “garbage-in, garbage-out”. Human input e-Form is far too unreliable and slow to be able to preserve the data integrity of the banking system when the family of 2, 3 or 4 people withdraw money from different locations in real-time. Human input e-Form is also far from sufficient to preserve the data integrity of the project mgt. system when 5, 50 or over 100 project team members are continuously consuming resources and costs in the project.

Q: Why are most of the PPM tools on the market based on human inputted e-Form design?

A: ATM is an online transaction processing (OLTP) system, and the OLTP technology is far more difficult than the e-Form. In addition, project mgt. is far more complicated than the savings and checking accounts mgt. Implementing project mgt. practices and workflow based on OLTP technology have high barriers to entry.

Q: What are the commonest reasons why people are changing from other project mgt. tools to PPM?

A: The commonest reason is that the tools they used are inadequate for project progress management (see The Myth of 90% Complete). 

The second commonest reason is that the tools they used either inadequately support or have no support for resource and cost mgt. since resource mgt. is a common weak spot of the project mgt. tools on the market.
The third commonest reason is that the tools they used can’t support business or client delivery projects.

Q:Why can projects changing to PPM possibly make tremendous gains?

A: Other industries such as GPS, banking and securities industries are using technology to provide real-time services like real-time route re-planning, automated teller machine (ATM) and real-time trading.  The project mgt. industry uses technology mainly for project document generation such as generating project plans based on project management templates (Kanban, Gantt Chart, WBS or Critical Path) and generating project reports based on manual schedules, cost and other updates.  The problem is that the updated information is far too unreliable for medium to large size projects and often results in (see The Myth of 90% Complete). The projects changing to PPM can possibly make tremendous gains because PPM is architecturally the same as an ATM or a real-time trading system and can protect project data integrity in real-time to ensure timely reliable project information to the project stakeholders.

Executives will have the capabilities to effectively sponsor projects
and train managers in modern project management.
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