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Types of Variances: Favorable versus Unfavorable

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In project management terms, a variance is the difference between the anticipated state of the project and the actual state at a particular point in time. At the beginning of the project, when the planned schedule, budget, scope, etc. have just been calculated, the actual state and the predicted state are exactly the same. There are no variances. This is the point at which the project should be baselined.

As time progresses, the execution of the project may not follow the plan exactly. For example, if a task starts later than it was scheduled to start, there is a difference between the baseline Start date and the actual Start date for the task. The actual Start date is later (greater) than the baseline Start and the difference between these two dates is a positive number – there is a positive variance. As you can imagine given this example, a positive variance is unfavorable. In this case, where a task is late to start, subsequent tasks may also be delayed, and the recalculated schedule may show a Finish delay. (more…)

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What Are the Different Types of Task Dependencies

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Once the WBS is built, you are ready to decide the order tasks will be performed. Some tasks depend on one or more tasks before they can start. For example, you can’t put up the walls until you pour the foundation. Some tasks need to start or finish at the same time, while other tasks can’t start until another one is already underway.

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The Risk of Risk Management: Why it feels so wrong to do what’s right

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When unplanned events arise, there are severe repercussions for the projects you are accountable for. Yet, project risk management typically has an unpleasant connotation.Trying to sell executives on risk management is like taking the role of an insurance salesperson, dwelling on the negative potentialities that might not even happen. There are enough “real” uncertainties and issues that exist right now in any project; how are you going to convince executives to spend their money on risks that have a limited chance of happening?

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PMI Partners with Project Assistants to Deliver Online Risk Management Training

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View from the Top: How Harmony Solves Organizational Enigmas

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Project Assistants CEO Gus Cicala will write semi-monthly contributions for the blog that provide his view of what is going on in the world of project management and what it might mean for your organization.

Two of the most frequently quoted business aphorisms are seemingly at odds with each other. Steven Covey prioritizes strategy with his famous quote, “Begin with the end in mind.” But that seems to contradict the saying, “A mediocre strategy well executed is better than a great strategy poorly executed,” which has all-but been business’ battle cry of the century. So which is it? (more…)

Posted in General Project Management, Project Leadership, Project Portfolio Management, Theory, View from the Top | Tagged , , , , , , ,

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Agile Webinar Set for February 26th

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Agile methodologies have been hyped as the silver bullet for IT delivery solutions as it builds its track record for success in the world of increasingly customer-focused deliveries. But Agile is often seen as incompatible with project management. Traditional project management prescribes a defined budget, deadline, and scope starting points, whereas agile encourages a non-prescriptive, amendable approach to getting to an endpoint. But the two can, in fact, be brought together in a usable way.

On Wednesday, February 26th, Project Assistants’ first installment of the 2014 Webinar Series will address this issue in Taming the Beast: Bringing Project Management and Agile to a Peaceful Coexistence Methodologies. (more…)

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How Does an Organization Change and Innovate?

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It isn’t just about math and science anymore. It’s about creativity, imagination, and, above all, innovation. Organizations cannot compete on cost alone; innovation is CEO’s #1 priority.”

-Business Week Special Report

As the above quote demonstrates, the industry trend has transitioned from the knowledge economy to the innovation economy. In our last post, we demonstrated that adaptability is the key trait for organizations to survive turbulent times. But change and innovation aren’t just a simple “choice.” Many organizations have tried to implement changes, only to see no improvements. Others have been convinced of the importance of change, but remain fearful that they’ll cause a revolution instead of an evolution. Still others have decided to focus on innovation and are left with the question: “Now what?”

This post brings good news to those organizations. There is a formal method for change (more…)

Posted in General Project Management, Project Portfolio Management, Theory | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Replies

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Evolve or Die

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During attritive economic times, luck alone does not determine which organizations survive and which become extinct. There is a process of Survival of the Fittest that takes place, to where those who are most attuned to the economic climate, business culture and consumer trends live on to fight another day.

While this perspective highlights the importance of “fitness” to a given environment, the true crucial feature is adaptability itself. As an example, let’s say that we lived in a business culture to where consumers only sought out the biggest and most recognizable names in a given industry. The organizations hauling in the largest profits and making the most notable expansions are able to hoard the market, whereas organizations earning slim margins on low-risk projects are simply flooding the market and are bound to die off. (more…)

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An Approach to Optimal Resource Management

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In an earlier post, we covered how to gauge the value of using a more rigorous Resource Management approach for your organization. This post is aimed at providing a process-based framework for employing optimal Resource Management.

The famed Project Management expert Dr. Harold Kerzner often talks about how assessing project failures should go from the top-down, whereas most organizations have a bad habit of pointing the finger at the lowest man on the totem pole and moving on (see: How the Seven Deadly Sins Can Lead to Project Failure). (more…)

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The Central Resource Management Metrics and Concepts

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A question we frequently find at conferences is “How are other companies implementing resource management?” This is a broad question that we could not possibly cover in a single post, but we thought a helpful starting point would be to delve into the fundamental metrics, terms and considerations used in resource management. In the interest of working from the ground up, this will serve as useful reference material for when we move into deeper theory. (more…)

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