Project management

This category contains 69 posts

Projects need to think beyond outputs

A common distinction made between projects and programmes is that projects deliver outputs (things) whereas programmes deliver outcomes (benefits). I think this is a dangerous separation, particularly in digital projects and programmes today. The view is most evident in the Managing Successful Programmes (MSP) approach, which has been long advocated by the UK government. But … Continue reading

The distorted lens of risk registers

Where do you list your project risks? The more traditional project management approach tells us to use a risk register, and that’s certainly what happens in a lot of projects. But from my point of view it’s a trick question, and that’s not just because “risks” are not singular. We might write some so-called risks … Continue reading

Deal with the showstoppers first

It’s never nice being the people who tell stakeholders No, and we IT people certainly have a long history of that. But even with more collaborative ways of working we can find ourselves in a delivery team where everyone else is waiting for us, and the only question anyone asks is “Are they going fast … Continue reading

Frequent delivery generates opportunities

Frequent delivery throughout a project doesn’t only allow you to test your product and manage the uncertainty of a big bang launch. It also opens up the possibility of unexpected opportunities. Imagine if we were to plan our project but didn’t get the product out there early and often. We would start with a collection … Continue reading

Getting partial value from partial delivery

A test of whether we are getting the most out of agile is whether we can get partial value from partial delivery. Often I hear people in delivery teams say “We’re doing well at agile, but we’re being held back because the rest of the business needs to be agile, too.” In many ways I … Continue reading

Is your risk register helpful?

Often when I talk about unhelpful entries in risk registers there is some disbelief from the people I’m talking to. I present some examples, and people’s first reaction is “but these don’t make sense”. Nevertheless, there are plenty of sensible people putting unhelpful entries into risk registers. People so sensible, in fact, that perhaps you … Continue reading


Simple ideas can be powerful. Last week Niels Malotaux introduced me to the “prespective”—the idea that instead of waiting to the end of an iteration to look back on what slowed you down, you do so at the beginning. You ask yourselves: “What is going to slow us down this iteration/today, and how will we … Continue reading

Make a burn-up chart in Google Sheets… the easy way

[Update 20 Nov 2018: The very latest version of the Google Sheet for creating burn-up charts is available at Github. It also has detailed instructions. Please go there instead. Otherwise there is a history of articles which are out of date: from 2011, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2018.] Tl;dr: I’ve simplified my Google Sheets burn-up … Continue reading

Elevating resource demands to a business question

It’s not just pure technical decisions which are business decisions. I’ve written before about how your architecture impacts your business strategy, but the same can be said of other aspects of technologists’ work, too. Here is an example I was involved with recently. The question asked of me was: How long do you need the … Continue reading

The project as machine

The project managers I respect most are those who make it look easy—especially if I know the project in question is particularly nasty. I know one project manager who came in after four previous attempts to start the project, all of which failed. 12 months into the 18 month piece of work he described it … Continue reading