Course Description: "Project Management Best Practices"

Karl Wiegers

Abstract: Managing software projects is difficult under the best circumstances. You can reduce the difficulty and improve your chances of success by applying known industry best practices for software project management. Best practices are based on industry studies of successful and failed projects, and on the speakerís personal experience. This course presents some 30 such best practices, grouped into these categories:

  • laying the foundation for success
  • planning the project
  • estimating the work
  • tracking your progress
  • learning for the future

Several topics are discussed in depth, including software risk management and Delphi estimation. The attendee will have an opportunity to try many of these techniques through short practice sessions. Small group discussions also let participants share some of their project management-related problems and identify which of the best practices presented might be useful solutions to those problems.

Audience: This course will be useful to software managers and project leaders who wish to learn better ways to plan, estimate, and manage their software development projects.

Format: Lecture, small group discussions, and many practice sessions.

Biography: Karl E. Wiegers is Principal Consultant with Process Impact in Portland, Oregon. Previously, he spent 18 years at Eastman Kodak Company, including experience as a photographic research scientist, software developer, software manager, and software process and quality improvement leader. Karl received a B.S. degree in chemistry from Boise State College, and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in organic chemistry from the University of Illinois. He is a member of the IEEE, IEEE Computer Society, and ACM. Karl is the author of the books Software Requirements, 2nd Edition (Microsoft Press, 2003), Peer Reviews in Software: A Practical Guide (Addison-Wesley, 2002), and Creating a Software Engineering Culture (Dorset House, 1996), and more than 160 articles on many aspects of computing, chemistry, and military history. He is a frequent speaker at software conferences and professional society meetings.

Outline for "Project Management Best Practices" Course

I. Introduction (30 minutes) A. Introduction to course, objectives, participant expectations
B. Practice session: your project management strengths and challenges
C. Goals of software project planning and software project tracking

II. Small group discussions on project management problems in their projects (20 minutes)

III. Laying the Foundation (60 minutes) A. Project success criteria (with practice)
B. Project drivers, constraints, and degrees of freedom (with practice)
C. Product release criteria (with practice)
D. Negotiating commitments (with practice)
IV. Planning the Project (105 minutes) A. The project management plan (with practice)
B. The work breakdown structure
C. Timebox development
D. Decomposing tasks to inch-pebble granularity
E. Software development life cycles (with practice)
F. Using planning worksheets for common tasks (group practice)
G. Planning for rework after quality tasks
H. Managing project risks (with practice)
I. Managing dependencies
J. Planning time for process improvement
K. The learning curve
V. Estimating the Work (60 minutes) A. Elements of project estimation (with practice)
B. Estimate based on effort
C. Schedule people at no more than 80% of available time
D. Record estimates and how you derived them
E. Wideband Delphi estimation process
F. Estimation tools
G. Contingency buffers (with practice)
VI. Tracking Your Progress (60 minutes) A. Recording estimates and actuals
B. Project tracking tools
C. Tasks are complete only when 100% complete
D. Earned value
E. Re-planning (with practice)
F. Project metrics and goal-question-metric (with practice)
G. Open and honest status tracking
VII. Learning for the Future (20 minutes) A. Post-project reviews
B. Lessons learned (with practice)
VIII. Small group discussions on solutions to the problems from the discussion in section II (20 minutes)

IX. Practice activity: Defining your path forward to improved project management practices (10 minutes)