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Project Skills Newsletter Issue #5 - What Should A PM Do If The Scope Is Unrealistic?
January 07, 2014


Welcome to Issue #5 of my Project Skills Newsletter.

We've started the new year! May 2014 bring us more joy and success in our endeavors!

I've just gone back to work and whoa - there's a huge lot to do on my plate :( But nevertheless, I'm determined to take time off to continue sending you good materials and techniques on project delivery!

I'd like to say a big thank you for all your emails about project management and business analysis. I love to hear more from you - so keep those emails and suggestions coming! Send them to me over here .

1. Featured Article

If you're in project management, one of the issues you'll inevitably deal with is an unrealistic project scope. Project stakeholders (usually a senior member of management wants to achieve revenue targets of $X million within a very short timeframe).

My opinion has always been this - if project scope is unrealistic at the outset, you should do everything in your power to make it realistic. Doing otherwise, i.e. accepting the scope as it is to court project disaster.

I've seen teams kill themselves because their project manager simply doesn't want to "offend management" and just bear with unrealistic scopes ...

Click here to read more.

2. Tip of the Week

My tip of the week has to do with escalation to senior management.

Often, as project managers or business analysts, do you find yourself "hanging on to bad news?"

For example, if you find out that a key requirement has been missed out and it is absolutely critical for a system to go-live.

Or you find that a key stakeholder is not cooperating and threatening to complain to his or her boss about your project team.

Usually, we tend to keep bad news inside and not highlight it to our bosses or senior managment because we don't want to seem incompetent. After all, if you're a capable PM or BA, you should be able to resolve these issues by yourself. Why escalate?

To me, that is the wrong thinking. If you detect some bad news, you should escalate it straightaway AFTER you've taken some initial steps to contain the situation.

You don't have to shout to the world that the "sky is falling" or something like that. You can simply tell your PM or immediate superior that he or she should be aware of the bad news. Don't let them be caught by surprise.

It can be tough learning to share bad news, but it's part and parcel of project risk management and your team will be better off if you practise it. Good luck!

3. Book of the Week

Each week, I pick out one book related to project management, business analysis or project delivery.

My book of the week this week is the "PMP Project Management Professional Study Guide" by Joseph Phillips.

If you’re preparing for the PMP exam, you can’t go wrong with this book. Within, you’ll gain access to:

  • 100% complete coverage of all official objectives for the PMP exam
  • Two-minute drills for quick review at the end of every chapter
  • Tips for taking and passing the PMP exam
  • A CD which includes the entire text for study and a 200 question practice exam
  • Online access to a second 200 question practice exam

... and a lot more.

As those of you taking the exam will know, going through just the PMBOK material is a pretty hard slog.

If you need something more concise and accessible, then this book is for you. I found Joe's simple and breezy style of writing easy and fun to read.

As at the time of this review, the book has been updated for the Fifth Edition PMBOK material. If you’re taking the PMP exam soon, you need to go check out this book!

Final Thoughts

I hope you all have a great week. As we step into 2014, I wish you all the best in your endeavors and may you find success in all areas of your life! If you have any questions, send feel free to send me an email. I’d love to hear from you.

Very Respectfully,
Gary Tan
Author, Project Manager & Business Analyst

P.S. Check out my tips and resources for the PM and BA.


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