Measure Productivity–Or Else

By Gary Hinkle
It’s amazing how many managers say they don’t have budget for productivity initiatives. Some think “productivity” is a fuzzy word, and few managers know how to measure it. But productivity can and should be measured. It’s step one towards continuous improvement.

Rating Engineers – A Tool

By Gary Hinkle
Engineering managers often ask me how they should “rate” engineers. Recently, I developed a specific tool to assess overall engineering competency. The tool can be used by both the managers doing the rating as well as the engineers being rated. Even if your company has its own rating system, this assessment tool can supplement your system as a general assessment for just about any engineering job.

Why the PMP Credential (Project Management Professional) Isn’t Enough

By Steve Wetterling
Proponents (including me) of project management methods and practices extol this invention as the best way to do all work that falls in the category of “new stuff.” When project teams skillfully develop a charter, scope and limits statements, work breakdown structures, schedules, budgets, risk analyses, etc.—and hold to them—they’re far more likely to succeed than projects teams that do not.

When Realistic Estimates and Aggressive Goals Collide

By Gary Hinkle
I’d be surprised if anyone reading this hasn’t witnessed this problem: estimates from the experts doing the work don’t align with management’s expectations. Why? Because management, committed to ambitious business goals, has dictated an unachievable schedule. Or they’ve made premature commitments to customers. The experts’ estimates are often realistic, but the reality isn’t acceptable to management.

Never Postpone the Chicken Test!

By Steve Wetterling
When I manage projects, and when I teach project management, I know it’s important to understand project risk and to evaluate, plan for and mitigate risk. When I’m teaching, sometimes a class participant stares back at me in puzzlement when we get to discussing project risk. “What’s so risky about doing a project?” The Chicken Test helps them understand.

Time-Tested and Erroneous Project Management Assumptions

By Steve Wetterling
Back when the Project Management Institute was an unheard-of start-up organization, I took my first project management course. The instructor was Ron LaFleur, a dynamic teacher who had managed all sorts of military and aerospace projects for Raytheon during the height of the Cold War. In the three-day course, he shared with us what he had learned during his long and varied career.