Recent Posts by Dr. Dan Patterson, PMP

Dr. Dan Patterson knows projects. He lives and breathes project management. He has invented many of the project controls tools that the industry relies on today. Most important, Dan likes to make a difference and his energy is infectious.

Turning Project Closeout into Future Project Success

Quick question: how many phases are there in a project? Theory states five: concept, planning, execution, performance monitoring, and closeout. In reality though, most projects consider just two: planning and execution. People regularly theorize about the value of “lessons learned” and “archiving” during closeout, but the truth is, this rarely gets done on real projects. I believe this is due to the minimal benefit associated with reusing lessons learned and historical as-built performance, and worse, capturing this in a meaningful way is challenging. Therefore, closeout has primarily been seen as a “check the box” type exercise if it’s even done at all.

Skipping or skimping on closeout eliminates our ability to recycle information to the concept and planning phases on new projects; we tend to then start from scratch every time. How often do you waste valuable time searching for and then trying to understand the context of a previous project? 

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Building Defendable & Realistic Project Schedules

A couple of years ago I protested my property taxes and found myself having to present my case to the local appraisal board. Arriving a little early, I was able to sit in on another home owner’s review, and it was an interesting lesson. They too were protesting their appraisal value, but their defense was not much more than “my house has been over-appraised because it simply isn’t worth that much.” Their request for a reduction in appraisal value was rejected. This got me thinking. What if the homeowner was in fact correct? The real problem wasn’t the question of the home-owner being right or wrong; it was the fact that they didn’t present a quantifiable basis estimate to defend their argument. As with many of my life experiences, this got me thinking about how to improve CPM planning.

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Shine a Light – Let’s Stop Planning in the Dark

I’m going to talk about something called Knowledge-Driven Planning. And to be clear, I’m not talking about traditional, tired old project benchmarking here – I am talking planning 2.0. I am talking about having my very own personal planning assistant. I am talking about having a virtual interactive planning session as I build my plan. I am talking about calibrating my plan against expert knowledge in real-time, to ensure realism and achievability.

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Proper Project Risk Analysis - It's Not About Monte Carlo

If you know me, you know that I have spent a great deal of my career building project risk analysis software - Pertmaster (PRA) and Acumen Risk. I am grateful these tools made a positive impact in helping most organizations and project teams improve their schedules and forecasting. When I invented Acumen Risk in 2012, the objective was to design a tool that would literally put me out of a job facilitating project risk workshops. I believed the complexities of traditional Monte Carlo and risk modeling should not be left solely to internal or external risk experts. Instead, the tool should act as a pseudo-facilitator that simplified the entire process and enabled the team to build their own risk models.

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4 Bad (Planning) Habits to Kick this Year

After being on the road these last two weeks presenting at project planning conferences and talking to hundreds of project practitioners, I have come to a simple realization...we have accepted and implemented some poor planning habits in our industry that prevent us from producing accurate and achievable plans, faster. 

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Demystifying Artificial Intelligence & How it Will Make Project Planning Better

This article describes and explains the concepts and terminology behind what is today being termed as Artificial Intelligence. Further, it illustrates how these concepts relate to the field of project management, offering opportunity for better, more effective project planning and control.

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"Artificial Intelligence" is so 'yesterday.' What about good, old "Human Intelligence"?

A few years ago, someone asked me, “What does your company do?” I replied, “Oh, we offer a disruptive solution…” He groaned and said, “If I hear one more company saying they are disruptive…” “Disruptive” was a buzz word that was so overused that it quickly became void of value. Several years later, I fear the phrase “Artificial Intelligence” is quickly headed down the same path.

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Introducing the Concept of Predictive Planning

Do you remember the number of times you have had to manually check your Word document for spelling errors? How many times a day do you explicitly type a recipient’s email address when compiling an email? How often do you mentally calculate how many miles a journey is when planning a road trip? The answer, of course, is never. Today, we rely on computers to store and, more importantly, recall knowledge, eliminating the need for us to carry out repetitive and mundane tasks.

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The Importance of Benchmarking During Pre-Planning

Without question, the most successfully executed projects are those that have the best-laid plans. In turn, agreeing upon and understanding exactly “what we are going to build (project deliverables)” before diving into “how we are going to build it (the project plan)” is equally important.

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Featured Series, Part 2: Why Defining Deliverables & Scope is Just as Important as Planning the Work

In our previous post, we introduced three indices to help better measure plan realism and achievability. For this to be effective, we first need to differentiate between deliverables, scope and work. 

As we expend time, effort and money on project execution, we are simply converting work into deliverables. If project execution is 100% efficient and to plan, then this conversion of work results in an as-expected asset (deliverable) at the end of the project. If, however, execution is less than 100%, then additional time and money is spent to achieve deliverable completion.  The net result is that we end up spending more time and money than planned.

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