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Project Management Practitioner's Handbook
by Ralph L. Kleim and Irwin S. Ludin
AMACOM Books
ISBN: 0814403964 Pub Date: 01/01/98

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The question, then, is how to deal with conflict constructively. Since it really centers on people, it makes
Title
sense to view conflict as primarily a people issue. Perry takes several actions to respond to conflict.
1. He diffuses the charged emotion within himself. If he has to, he will do something as simple as
count to ten before doing anything.
2. He diffuses the charged emotions in other people. He will calm down people by calling for a
-----------
cooling-off period, especially when emotions run high.
3. He identifies the facts of the situation to determine the cause of the conflict. He avoids comments
that can be viewed as taking sides or being accusational.
4. He applies active listening. He listens for the facts to acquire an objective assessment of the
situation. Active listening helps to avoid being “pulled into” the conflict.
5. He acknowledges any anger that may be present, while focusing on the merits of the conflict. If
anger is justified, he acknowledges it.
6. He keeps everyone focused on the cause of the conflict. He avoids the tendency to blame someone
or to rationalize it away.
7. He keeps the big picture in focus. He asks himself what the best way is to resolve the conflict so as
to achieve the project goal.
8. He sets a plan for resolving the conflict. He also remains objective.
9. He seeks participation in the resolution. Unless an impasse occurs, he lets the people decide on a
mutually agreeable solution. That builds bridges and commitment to the solution.
10. He encourages a win-win solution, not a win-lose or lose-lose. With a win-win solution, emotions
will subside and there will be little or no room for bitterness.
Handling Difficult People
Project managers work under pressure, with little formal authority over people. Dealing with difficult people
under such circumstances just adds stress as they try to bring their projects in on time and within budget.
If that were not enough, project managers must deal with different types of difficult people. In his superb
book Coping with Difficult People (New York: Dell Publishing, 1981), Dr. Robert Bramson identifies what
he calls the hostile aggressive, com-pleat complainer, clam, super-agreeable, negativist, bulldozer, balloon,
and staller.
In the project environment, all these categories of difficult people are present.
The hostile aggressive, for example, likes to “shoot holes” in any schedule proposal. The super-agreeable
agrees to perform a task by a certain date but changes his mind based on who he talked with last. The staller
is the customer who is required to make a decision and takes forever, causing the project to be delayed.

Getting Teamwork to Work
How people on a team interact can influence the results of a project. Setting up an adequate project office
contributes to effective teamwork in any project-oriented team. In addition, good communication and
interpersonal skills, and effective use of conflict management techniques can go a long way toward producing
positive results for a project. Perry realizes, however, that the responsibility lies with everyone to exercise
positive team dynamics throughout the life of the project.

Questions for Getting Started

1. If setting up a project office, did you:
• Develop a layout?
• Determine the contents?
• Determine the location?
• Determine who will work there?
• Determine the necessary equipment and supplies?
2. If setting up a visibility wall or room, did you:
• Develop a layout?
• Determine the contents?
• Determine its purpose?
3. If holding checkpoint review meetings, did you:
• Decide to have agendas?
• Determine the locations?
• Determine how to notify attendees?
• Decide to have minutes taken?
• Determine the necessary equipment and supplies?
• Make an effort to get everyone™s participation?
• Determine length of the meetings?
4. If holding status review meetings, did you:
• Decide to have agendas?
• Determine the locations?
• Determine how to notify attendees?
• Decide to have minutes taken?
• Determine the necessary equipment and supplies?
• Make an effort to get everyone™s participation?
• Determine length of the meetings?
5. If holding staff meetings, did you:
• Decide to have agendas?
• Determine the locations?
• Determine how to notify attendees?
• Decide to have minutes taken?
• Determine the necessary equipment and supplies?
• Make an effort to get everyone™s participation?
• Determine length of the meetings?
6. If holding ad hoc meetings, did you:
• Decide to have agendas?
• Determine the locations?
• Determine how to notify attendees?
• Decide to have minutes taken?
• Determine the necessary equipment and supplies?
• Make an effort to get everyone™s participation?
• Determine length of the meetings?
7. If giving presentations, did you:
• Determine the types to give?
• Determine your audience?
• Recognize the key perceptions?
• Prepare the logical structure?
• Develop clean, meaningful material?
• Rehearse?
• Give a successful delivery?
8. Are you an active listener?
9. Can you “read people”? Do you need a way to do that? What is that way?
10. How well do you deal with conflict? What approach do you take to deal with it? On an individual
basis? On a team basis?


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Project Management Practitioner's Handbook
by Ralph L. Kleim and Irwin S. Ludin
AMACOM Books
ISBN: 0814403964 Pub Date: 01/01/98

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Title
Chapter 15
Performance Assessment: Tracking and Monitoring
With a solid project definition, plan, and organizational infrastructure, Perry is confident that he can control
-----------
his project. He is not naïve enough, however, to think that he can sit back and remain idle. Quite the contrary,
he knows all about Murphy™s law. He knows from the physicist™s view of the universe that entropy can occur.
So he responds”not reacts”to changing circumstances. He does that best by tracking and monitoring
performance. And the keys to tracking and monitoring performance are status data and status assessments.

Collect Status Data
Status data offer several advantages for Perry. From the data he can determine project performance ”
specifically, how well the goals of the project are being met. He can also determine how efficiently work is
being done. He can reduce his and everyone else™s frustration and anxiety by providing feedback. It instills
confidence in everyone that the project is under control, that the project manager is monitoring its pulse.
Finally, he can maintain communications and information sharing among the participants.
Unfortunately, status data are often not collected well. The task can be labor intensive and time-consuming.
This is especially the case when there is no previous infrastructure in place or when the team members lack
experience. If the project manager, or the team, lacks the expertise or knowledge of collection, there may be
an inappropriate assessment. Also, the project team may be using incompatible computing tools and
converting the data requires considerable effort and expertise. Teams using older software and hardware
particularly find this situation complicates data collection.
The style of the project manager can affect data collection. If she prefers to “shoot from the hip” or rely less
on administration, the project manager will likely rely more on intuition and informal methods for data
collection. Though there™s some merit under certain circumstances, this can result in gross misjudgments.
Likewise, the project manager may not have a good grasp of the project™s scope. Failure to understand the
scope can result in problems determining what data are needed.
Perry, fortunately, is not one of these project managers. He understands the importance of reliable data. He
must have certain prerequisites in place to do meaningful assessments.
• A solid information infrastructure. He sets up a process for identifying, collecting, and compiling
data that will be reliable and valid.
• Available expertise. He assigns responsibility for collecting data to someone who has a good
understanding of data collection techniques.
• A standardized set of tools to collect and compile the data. He knows that a mixture of incompatible
hardware and software will cause frustration levels to rise and nobody, not even himself, will bother to
collect data.
• Clear value in collecting data. If people do not see the value of data collection, they will be reluctant
to expend the effort. Collecting data must be meaningful on both individual and group levels. This
distinction is important, since it affects how the data will eventually be formatted and reported.

Methods of Collection

Perry uses formal and informal modes for collecting data. Formal modes include status reviews, one-on-one
sessions, and forms.
The status review, discussed in Chapter 13, is held regularly. The meeting covers cost, schedule, and quality
measures. Perry collects data prior to the status review, so that at the meeting he can discuss the current status,
make an assessment, and determine corrective actions. With proper technology, he could, at the meeting, enter
the data into a computer, generate the necessary reports, assess the program, and decide an appropriate action
to take.
There are problems with collecting data at status review meetings. For example, sometimes the meetings can
skew results. Peer pressure can directly or indirectly force people to fudge the data in order to paint an
optimistic or pessimistic picture. It is also important to remember that while collecting status data, the project
manager remain objective and not influence the reports. The project manager must hear what he needs to hear
and not what he wants to hear. Biased data lead to biased assessments.
One-on-one sessions work best for collecting data just prior to a status review. The project manager or her
representatives meet with each person individually to collect status data.
But as the number of team members increases, so does the time needed to collect data and, as time passes by,
the data age. Also, the data collected in one-on-one sessions could be more subjective than if gathered in a
group setting. If peer pressure does not overtake a status meeting, more objective data will likely be available
as people question the reports.
Forms are another way to collect data. Team members complete the forms with status data and submit them to
the project office for processing. The data are then compiled. Ideally, the forms are computer-based and team
members can forward them electronically for quick, easy compilation.
Collecting data on forms presents a challenge, however. Getting the forms submitted on time is one problem,
since some people often procrastinate. The other is that forms may get lost. Both problems grow in magnitude
as the number of team members gets larger.
Informal modes of data collection include holding ad hoc sessions, using word of mouth, and relying on your
own judgment regarding status. Informal modes are quicker and involve less administrative hassles; they are
the path of least resistance. But the data collected may not be objective, resulting in a greater chance of error.
Still, many project managers rely on informal methods.
Perry decides to use both formal and informal modes of data collection. He uses status reviews to verify the
accuracy of the data collected in one-on-one sessions and via forms. But he also keeps his ears open for
additional information.

Data Validity and Reliability

When collecting data, Perry keeps two main concepts in mind: reliability and validity. Reliability implies
consistent results”in other words, does the data yield reliable results? Validity involves the approach or tool
used to collect data. Does it influence the results, thereby introducing bias, which in turn slants the results?
Some validity errors include inconsistent application of measurement tools, failing to account for changing
circumstances, using a collection tool that guarantees a particular result, and undue influence by the
personality of the data collector. These are threats to data validity because they influence the data being
inputted and the information being derived.
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Project Management Practitioner's Handbook
by Ralph L. Kleim and Irwin S. Ludin
AMACOM Books
ISBN: 0814403964 Pub Date: 01/01/98

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There are other examples of how collection efforts can negatively influence data reliability and validity.
Title
• The “90 percent syndrome.” Team members say they have 90 percent completed a task; for its
remainder, it stays 90 percent complete. Then the task slides past its completion date. Of course, the
problem is that the last 10 percent proves the most difficult.
• The Hawthorne effect. What was accomplished just prior to collection influences a person™s estimate
-----------
of the amount of work done. The problem is that what was done last may not be significant, giving a
misleading impression.
• Overly negative or positive data. Some team members always exaggerate, saying too much or too
little has been done.
• The “good news” effect. Some team members tell the project manager what she wants to hear,
usually good news. Hence, the project manager does not get a balanced view.
• Lies. Rather than give honest data, some people lie, figuring perhaps no one will know or the project
manager will eventually leave before anyone finds out.
Faulty data collection can have a big impact on project performance. Garbage in, garbage out: the quality of
output is only as good as the quality of input. Good data lead to good decision making; bad data lead to poor
decision making.

Assess Status
With reliable and valid data, Perry can assess overall project performance. Assessment involves determining
how well the project has and will achieve its goals. Perry focuses on three areas: schedule, cost, and quality.
Perry assesses status via two principal reviews, looking back (history) and looking forward (the future).
Looking at past performance is called tracking; projecting into the future using past performance is called
monitoring. Both are important for determining where the project has been and where it will be if the current
level of performance continues.
A key concept behind assessing status is variance, the difference between what is planned and what has
actually occurred up to a specific point. The formula is quite simple:
Variance = planned ” actual
If the difference between the two is zero or a positive number, then the project is proceeding as expected,
whether from a cost, schedule, or quality perspective. If the difference between the planned and the actual is a
negative number, then the project is not progressing as anticipated. Quality variance is discussed in Chapter
16; the remainder of this chapter deals with cost and schedule variances.
It is important to note, however, that variance is a deviation from what is expected. The deviation in itself
may not necessarily mean something is wrong”it can indicate something good, too. A variance is a signal to
investigate the situation and determine whether to take action.

Determining Variance

The tracking portion of the variance calculation is the actual to date. The monitoring portion is the estimate at
completion; it is based on actual progress to date plus the remainder of work to do, assuming the current rate
of progress is maintained.
Cost variance is calculated by using this equation:
Cost variance = budgeted cost ” actual cost
The equation result tells Perry whether he has spent more money than planned up to a specific point in time.
He calculates it for each task, which in turn is accumulated to give the total estimate at completion for the
entire project. A positive value is called an underrun and a negative one is called an overrun. Exhibit 15-1
shows examples of cost variances on the Smythe Project.
Exhibit 15-1. Cost variances.
Smythe Project Budget Sheet
$ in Thousands
April 16, _____
Budget to Actual to Total Estimate at
Task Date Date Underrun Overrun Budget Completion
6.1.1.1
Identify limousine 168 360 192 840 1,032
service to church
6.1.1.2
Coordinate limousine 56 104 48 280 328
service to church
6.1.1.3
Identify limousine 168 110 58 840 782
service to reception
6.1.1.4
Coordinate limousine 56 124 68 280 348
service to reception

Schedule variance follows the same pattern. It is the difference between planned and actual start and end
dates, respectively. This variance tells Perry whether he has spent more time than planned on a task up to a
specific point in time. He calculates it for each task, which in turn is accumulated to give the total estimate at
completion for the entire project. A positive value represents an ahead-of-schedule condition while a negative
one represents a behind-schedule situation. Exhibit 15-2 has some examples from the Smythe Project.

Earned Value

In the previous section, cost and schedule variances were treated independently. There is, however, a way to
treat them as an integrated entity, called earned value. It is the preferred way to measure project performance.
Earned value consists of three basic variables:
Exhibit 15-2. Project schedule sheet.
Smythe Project Schedule Sheet
April 16, _____
Duration Actual Estimate at
Task Early Start Early Finish (days) Actual Start Finish Completion
6.1.1.1
Identify limousine April 1 April 3 3 April 2 April 5 April 5
service to church
6.1.1.2
Coordinate limousine April 7 April 7 1 April 9 April 11
service to church
6.1.2.1
Determine
transportation April 4 April 6 3 April 6 April 7 April 7
requirements to
church
6.1.2.2
Coordinate
April 7 April 8 2 April 7
transportation to
church
6.1.2.5
Arrange for valet April 9 April 9 1
service for church
• Budgeted cost for work scheduled
• Budgeted cost for work performed
• Actual cost of work performed
The budgeted cost for work scheduled (BCWS) is the estimated cost for a task, or group of tasks, that are
scheduled to be performed for a specific time period. In other words, it is the estimated value of the work
scheduled. The budgeted cost for work performed (BCWP) is the estimated cost that is approved for a task or
group of tasks, to be completed up to a specific period of time. In other words, it is the estimated value of the
work completed up to a specific point in time. The actual cost of work performed (ACWP) is the actual costs
accrued for a task, or group of tasks, up to a specific point in time.


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Project Management Practitioner's Handbook
by Ralph L. Kleim and Irwin S. Ludin
AMACOM Books
ISBN: 0814403964 Pub Date: 01/01/98

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The BCWS, BCWP, and ACWP are all instrumental in calculating the cost variance (CV) and the schedule
Title
variance (SV), which in turn are used to assess individual and project performance. Here are the calculations
for both:
CV = BCWP - ACWP
-----------
SV = BCWP - BCWS
For the Smythe Project example (using $ in thousands):
CV = 200 (or BCWP) - 300 (or ACWP) = - 100, indicating a cost overrun
SV = 200 (or BCWP) - 220 (or BCWS) = - 20, indicating behind schedule
For ease of calculation, the best approach is to convert the cost variance and schedule variance to percentages:
CV % = (BCWP - ACWP) / BCWP
SV % = (BCWP - BCWS) / BCWS
For the Smythe Project example (using $ in thousands):
CV % = (BCWP - ACWP) / BCWP
= (200 - 300) / 200
= -50%, indicating a cost overrun
SV % = (BCWP - BCWS) / BCWS
= (200 - 220) / 220
= -9%, indicating the task is behind
schedule

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