Wednesday, September 4, 2019

What the PMBOK Doesn't Tell You

The Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) is suppose to be a project management standard, independent of industry and methodology.    There are some software project managers that claim that methodologies are missing from the PMBOK.  But I think that they forget that the PMBOK, is a standard for Project Management not a methodology.  Agile is NOT Project Management.  A project manager is not a scrum master or an Agile sprint leader.  They are two different things.

The PMBOK is suppose to be industry generic.  It specifically does not and should not include specifics for individual corporate processes.  At one corporation you may have budgetary discretion for up to 10% overage and it's automatically included and understood.  At other company's you may have to include it and at others, you may have to ask what the threshold for pain is.  This is the type of variable, that is not stated in the PMBOK, very often not documented with the company you are consulting for.    

The PMBOK doesn't do the change management process justice either.  Once a change has been approved, the project plan changes, the baseline changes.  I have seen large organizations that fail to understand what change management does to the project plan.  They continue tracking to the original baseline, scope and budget and never require the PM to re-baseline.  Not all organizations have the level of project management process built to accommodate.  A true PM professional must know and pull these tools from their tool belt.   

But what is truly missing is how to classify projects by size, complexity, budget, timing.  Program management does a little better job of it.  Smaller projects would have fewer quality and budget review points while larger projects obviously would have more, but in the end, it depends on the sponsors and how tightly they want it monitored. 

I recently spoke with a civil engineer that just passed the PMBOK, she is managing multi million dollar city water systems.  This person complained the PMBOK was geared too much towards software development methodologies.   I have also read job descriptions that have "project manager" as a title, but upon reading the duties, it is a lead or architect that they are seeking and nothing about managing scope, budget, very little on timelines, nothing on baselines, or change management.

I look at the PMBOK standard vs methodology using this rule.  Can this standard be used for building a new apartment complex, for a city water system and for developing new software?  If it works for all, then it should be in the PMBOK.  If not, then you are looking at an industry specific standard.  

What do you think?  Is the PMBOK too software development methodology focused?  What other standards (not methodologies) do you see missing from the PMBOK? 


Armada Business Consulting, Inc.

Need help getting turning standards into execution?  Call me.  For more information contact Trish at

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Innovation in Project Management - from

Innovation in Project Management

Many thanks to Elise Stevens and Fix My Project Chaos on Podcast 90– Innovation in Projects with Trish Sutter.,  Podcast 90– Innovation in Projects with Trish Sutter, June 20, 2016, ©2016 Fix My Project Chaos.

Some take aways from the pod cast:
  1. PMO processes can become inflexible cutting off creativity.
  2. Innovation is continuous process improvement.
  3. Focus on what’s going wrong.
  4. If a company fosters a culture where PMs fear change and then nobody wants to innovate for fear of reprisal and there will be little innovation on projects.
  5. Project managers must have confidence in themselves to take the risk.
  6. Trusting your team to be experts within their own areas, Trust allows them to explore what they can do that is innovative.
  7. Be open minded and creative with your leadership strategy.
  8. Allowing failure, in order to allow innovation on projects. Akin to 1 step back in order to take 2 steps forward.
  9. Many small incremental innovations can all add up to big changes.
  10. Getting external information and stimulation does encourage you and your team to be more innovative.
  11. Allow yourself time to think each day on all ideas.

Armada Business Consulting, Inc.

Need help getting from innovation to execution?  Call me.  For more information contact Trish at

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Avoiding Major Mistakes

I was recently asked if I ever made a mistake that required a public apology.   Upon reflection, I am thankful that I have not made any major blunders.

But then I am a stickler for following process.  I love process as it does prevent numerous avoidable mistakes.  I categorize mistakes into several types:

Minor Mistakes

Minor mistakes such as omissions, typographical errors and misunderstandings.  I have made my share of this type.  I can say with 100% confidence that as soon as they are discovered, they are corrected with sincere apology to all impacted.  To let something go could only result in more and bigger mistakes.

Mistakes By Others

Mistakes made by others.  I have discovered mistakes made by folks on my teams before of all kinds.  Again as soon as the mistake is discovered it is corrected.  I apologize to the whole team for that mistake and keep my team member anonymous.  Because we all know that mistakes are valuable and that team member is now more valuable as they have learned from that mistake.   

Lack of Information

You know the old adage hindsight is 20-20.  Mistakes through lack of information can and do happen.  But those aren't really mistakes unless we fail to perform due diligence before making the decision.  We can only make the best decision based on the information available at the time.  If you have performed due diligence and the information isn't available, be assured that you have done all you could to ensure the decision.  When the information comes to light that steers you in a different direction, then correct the course moving forward.  You can't beat yourself up for not being a psychic. 

Woodrow Wilson

“I not only use all the brains that I have, but all I can borrow.”

Woodrow Wilson

Failure to Follow Process

Failure to follow best practices or process has proven to be the most costly of mistakes made in the world.  This where somebody short cuts a critical process such as
  • Cutting quality assurance testing or 
  • Making a decision without doing sufficient research to support the decision. 
  • Failing to immediately correct a past error.  
  • Failing to support your team when they make errors.
  • Discovering an error in a process but failing to correct it moving forward.

#1 Cause of Major Mistakes & Blunders is Failure to Follow Process

When I inherit a troubled initiative or portfolio, I do find that the problem usually lies in that the process was not followed.  This includes all kinds of failure including but not limited to projects, developments, technology, and mundane things as well.  Through trouble shooting it is found time and again that some back stream process was omitted or shortened that cause the failure to occur or reach a large order of magnitude.

History illustrates this over and over again.  So my advice to anybody looking to avoid major mistakes and blunders are as follows:
  1. Correct problems, errors, omissions and misunderstandings as soon as they are discovered.  This prevents them from turning into monster problems.
  2. Be supportive with your team.  They are human.  Help them correct mistakes as soon as they are discovered.  
  3. Do your due diligence before making a major decision.  Gather as much relevant information as you can.  Check with experts and others. When new information comes to light, correct the process and course moving forward.
  4. Follow the process.  If you don't know the process do a little research and find out what it should be.   Learn from mistakes and correct the process immediately going forward.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Innovation in Project Management

Can we innovate in Project Management?


Innovation per Google:
noun: innovation
  1. the action or process of innovating.
    synonyms:change, alteration, revolution, upheaval, transformation, metamorphosis, breakthrough; More
    new measures, new methods, modernization, novelty, newness;
    informala shake up

    "no appliance manufacturer can survive without an ongoing commitment to innovation"
    • a new method, idea, product, etc.
      plural noun: innovations

      "technological innovations designed to save energy"
Although Project Management is a fairly mature discipline, it can be made better.  Case in point, in 2013, released the 5th edition of the PMBOK.

When I achieved my PMP in 2001, there were 9 knowledge areas.  Today a new knowledge area called, "Project Stakeholder Management" has been added.  Along with  a stakeholder analysis.  They have added how Projects fit in the overall corporate picture from vision through execution.

So, is there room for more innovation?  Not only because there have been 5 editions of the PMBOK, do we know there shall be more innovations.

A portion of of my PM methodology innovations come from following the Project Closure process.  While my projects are successful, I always find things that can be done better.  It is though this process, that I find new methods that are not covered in the PMBOK.

Come to think of it.  There are a number of practices, that the PMBOK does NOT tell you.   Thus the topic for my next blog  "What the PMBOK Doesn't Tell You"

What do you think?  What is missing from the PMBOK?  Please share your thoughts on this.
Armada Business Consulting, Inc.

Need help getting from strategy to execution?  I can help.  For more information contact Trish at

Friday, November 20, 2015

Connecting Strategy with Execution

I was recently asked:
"It's difficult to manage project portfolios and meet company objectives. How are you connecting strategy with execution?"
My answer is through the 3-Cs of Project Management. I find when I am put on a problem portfolio or program it is usually because communication failed somewhere to communicate the goals and objectives in one way or another.

Strategic Goals & Objectives

Strategic Goals & Objectives sit right in the middle between Mission & Vision and Execution. 
Strategy includes such things as specific goals and objectives with perhaps numbers and deadlines.  These strategic goals and objectives then feed the execution.

Portfolio Plans

Portfolio Plans then are the statements of specific actions or activities used to achieve an objective.  s
Programs and Portfolios are management constructs to better manage large numbers of projects or related projects and activities.  Remember projects produce deliverables, but the value is realized through programs.  

Program Management

Program management is not only for the planning performance against strategy but also are a management construct for managing the value of sub-programs, projects and operations.  It is the Program Manager's responsibility to align the program with the strategic goals and objectives to ensure appropriate use of the organizations resources and the initiative DOES PROVIDE BUSINESS VALUE!

The Program and Portfolio Manager have a duty to evaluate the strategy and the investment decision before defining the portfolio's strategy and accepting new programs and projects in the portfolio.

Communication Communication Communication

Remember the 3-Cs of project management?  Communication cannot be downward only!  Portfolio and Program Managers must report up to the stakeholders responsible for the strategy, not only the status & value of programs and projects undertaken to achieve the strategy, but also the feasibility of the selected strategy.  Many assumptions are often made when performing strategic planning.  It should not be a big surprise to anybody that reality of execution can change the strategic goals and objectives.   
So providing a feedback loop to the stakeholders of the strategic goals and objectives is required, allowing the stakeholders to correct the course if necessary.  It is through this communication loop that execution meets strategy.

What do you think?  Please share your thoughts on this.

Need help with strategy and execution?  I can help.  Contact me

Friday, October 30, 2015

Go GREEN (Part 1), Simple Things Michigan Companies Can Do to be More Green


Go green doesn't mean go Spartans, Michigan State University.  In this instance we are taking about our our Carbon Footprint. 
There are several options that Michigan companies can adopt to go GREEN and help to reduce our carbon footprint on the earth.  These include:

  • Go 100% Virtual Office Space for all Knowledge Workers
  • Require Knowledge Workers to Work From Home at Least 2 -3 Days a Week 
  • Go to a 4 X 10 Work Week (appropriate for factories)

If Michigan companies with knowledge workers, were to require those knowledge workers to work from home even 2 days per week, by using virtual meeting places and teleconferencing, it would have a major impact for the companies, the employees, the state and our carbon footprints.

Knowledge Worker:  Requires a computer and phone to do their jobs.

Consider the following facts:

Michigan Civilian labor force 2014:  4,729,900 (5)
Per U.S. Census Bureau, 2011 4.3% of the work force already does work from home.  (6)
Knowledge workers are generally considered to be 28% to 45% of the work force. (7)
45% - 4.3% = 40.7% and let us round it down to 40% for ease of numbers. 

That means there are 1,891,960 workers that are eligible to work from home at least 2 days a week. 

With an average commute time of 25.4 minutes (6) and 20 miles (9). 
Thus the average commute is 40 mile round trip.  (9)
This average daily commute burns 1.6 gals (10) (corporate fleets average 25/miles/gal)

And there are 255 working days in the year.  Less 2 weeks vacation each. That leaves 245 working days. 


At 2 days per week  296,659,328 gallons of gasoline that would be saved

Two days a week equals 98 days/year.
Thus, 98 days X 1.6 gals X 1,891,960 workers = 296,659,328 gallons of gasoline that would be saved.

That much less traffic would lower insurance rates!

At 2 days a week,  7,416,483,200 miles that would NOT be driven on our Michigan roads in a year.

The State of Michigan and counties would benefit long term for maintenance of the roads because
the above equates to 7,416,483,200 miles that would NOT be driven on our Michigan roads in a year,
That much less wear and tear on the roads that must be maintained through public funds.

Benefit to Employees and Companies

Since the actual cost for the daily commute is approx.. $20. (9)
Companies that employ the 100% virtual, will instantly give their knowledge workers the equivalent of  $4,900/year raise. 
Companies that employ the WFH 2 days a week, will instantly give their knowledge workers the equivalent of $1960/year raise.  
Companies that employ the 4X10 work week will instantly give their employees the equivalent of  $980/year raise.  

Plus you are giving your employee a better work/life balance.

Benefit to the Company

Companies that go 100% virtual, could do away with a lot of office space.  Commercial office space isn't cheap, but going 100% virtual, would considerable reduce the need for a lot of square footage.  If the company can go to a 4X10 work week, there are very large savings for electricity and heating costs.  There are more benefits than just these.   

Question of Federal and State Tax Breaks 

Global warming is fact.  We have to reduce our carbon footprint and this is a very simple way to start.  The facts stated here are just for the state of Michigan.  Imagine if we can get the entire nation on board?  If the Federal and State governments offer tax breaks, it would certainly encourage more.  

Managing a Virtual Work Force 

There are other benefits companies can realize with a virtual workforce.  But there is also an art to managing a virtual work force.  In my next blog I will discuss the art of managing a virtual work force. 

If you need assistance with setting policy and managing a virtual workforce, please feel free to contact me directly.  

What do you think?  Please share your thoughts on this. 


1 Partners Green:
2 Michigan Municipal League:
By:  JC Reindl

5 Michigan 1990 Labor Statistics:
6  Average Commute:  with Oakland County, MI having the most motorist driving alone 85.7% of
7  The knowledge (worker) economy, Oct 1, 2005, Hugh McKellar
8  Kinja “Compare your Commute time to the rest of America’s with this interactive map”, Robbie Gonzalez, 

9 Your commute is costing you more than you realize, By Chris Taylor, NEW YORK Tue May 27, 2014 12:17pm EDT,

10 Corporate Average Fuel Economy

Working With Millennials Can Give You Wrinkles You Didn't Know You Had

I had the opportunity to lead some millennials in a development project.  Per Wikipedia:
 Millennials (also known as the Millennial Generation or Generation Y) are the demographic cohort following Generation X. There are no precise dates when the generation starts and ends; most researchers and commentators use birth years ranging from the early 1980s to the early 2000s.

So,  this kid was a young hotshot (and I shall refer to them as "HotShot" for the remainder).  The project was a web-based development project.  In reviewing what had been completed, I noted that it was only tested on Microsoft Internet Explorer.   Doing my project management risk assessment, we know that any web development for the consumer requires testing on multiple browsers.

The bare minimum is Microsoft Internet Explorer, Opera, Firefox, Safari, Chrome for sites intended for desktops.  But the platform has expanded and mobile browsers are now part of that bare minimum.  So include Safari for Iphone, Android Browser and Chrome for Android and there are many more.

So I said to the HotShot.  "What about testing across other browsers?"
HotShot:  "I can't load all those browsers on my system."
Me:  "There are free online web browser testing solutions.  Do a search for them."

HotShot proceed to do the search and found a couple of free test sites and proceeded to test the application.  Exclaiming, "Oh wow, this is good."

Me:  "Will that work?"
HotShot: "Yes, thank you so much.  How did you know about this?"
Me:  "I have lots of experience.  I have been around.  I've done my share of web sites."  Pointing to my wrinkles at the same time. 

HotShot:  "You know they have procedures for that now."
Meaning my wrinkles.

Aghhhhhhh!!!!!!  You gotta love em.  HotShot was candid and trying to be helpful.  But beware, you may get the same when working with millennials. 

Other references:  Forbes:  What is a Millennial

What do you think?  Please share your thoughts on this.

Need help with millenials in your work force? Strategy and execution?  I can help.  Contact me