Cyber Attacks: An Upcoming Panel Discussion

Posted by Marita Malone

Hello from the School for Professional Studies’ Criminal Justice and Security Management Program! We’re halfway through Spring 1, and we’re excited about our upcoming Panel Discussion on “Cyber Attacks: Advanced Persistent Threats.” It is being held Thursday, March 10th, 2011 in the Busch Student Center, Rooms 172-173. It will be from 6:30-8:30 p.m. and complimentary cocktails and hors d’ouerves will be served.

Is 2011 the year of the cyber attack? Globally, numerous government entities and companies have already been attacked by Advanced Persistent Threats (APT). These threats are not simple one-time hacker attempts, but sophisticated ongoing cyber attacks that steal and change sensitive data and information over a long-term period.

These attacks cannot be easily removed from computer networks. The first step, though, is to understand what separates these threats from traditional, human-hacker attacks. With APT, prevention is ideal, but detection is a must. The panel will discuss these differences and the fundamentals of detection.

We have a fantastic panel of speakers for this panel, including Larry Cockell (Senior Vice President and Chief Security Officer for Time Warner, Inc., and former Deputy Director of the United States Secret Service), Jeff Pricher (Technical Director, Information Security at Savvis, Inc., and Cyber Operations Officer at Missouri Air National Guard), Joseph Malec (Security Analyst, and President of Information Systems Security Association-St. Louis Chapter), Dr. Ed Wassall (Director, Precon Systems Engineering, Guarantee Electrical, and former Senior Vice President Integration Services, SBC Communications), and Brad Breier (Unit Chief, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Cyber Division).

Interested? Register for this free event. We’re excited to beable to also offer complimentary parking across the street at the

Laclede Garage: 3642 Laclede Ave., St. Louis Mo 63108.

For more information or questions regarding this event, please contact the Office of Alumni Relations at alumni@slu.edu or 314-977-2250, or contact Dr. Marita Malone, Criminal Justice and Security Management, School for Professional Studies, 314-977-3204.

Photo Credit: http://www.fotopedia.com/items/flickr-2830319467

Is Terrorism Black and White?

Posted by Marita Malone

Terrorism is a word thrown about in the world and in the media, especially since the attacks on September 11th, 2001.

What is terrorism? There are several different kinds, and not all of them are so black and white. Two of the most commonly known types are domestic and international, but you can also add religious, dissident, and state-sponsored to the list.

Is dissident terrorism acceptable if it’s the only way to express one’s disagreement and to change things?

What about those poor, fuzzy minks that are released because they’re in captivity to die for their coats?

Speaking of fuzzy, is releasing these minks so clearly wrong? On a larger scale, is it so wrong to fight in any way possible for a way of life that was your father’s and your father’s father? There must be answers.

After September 11th, in response to all the terrorist threats to this country, President George W. Bush and his Cabinet created the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which allocates resources to defending the United States against terrorism and being on the offensive.

The DHS website covers the Department’s counterterrorism area, as well as its concerns about immigration and cybersecurity. The cyber world is a fertile terrain for terror in the most recent decade, and having qualified employees in this area is becoming an increasing need for the government.

The department’s website gives an acceptable definition of terrorism, but it does not help Americans to understand what terrorism is.

During this upcoming Spring 1 term, you can increase your knowledge of the history of terrorism, the reasons behind the movements, how the media plays a role, and the future of terrorism in the elective course CJSM 393: Introduction to Terrorism.

In this course, you learn some of the answers to the questions in the first paragraph of this blog—as well other questions that are even more complex.

Within these eight weeks, students gain a new perspective on terror and the rationale behind it. They also acquire a clearer understanding of the kinds of terrorism and how they influence the American society.

Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/birdeye/3071528506/

Gearing Up for the Holidays

Posted by Matt Grawitch

This time of year is supposed to be one of the most festive times of the year. Yet, inevitably, the Christmas season has the ability to stress many of us out. Shopping, parties, the end of the semester, family celebrations, and numerous other demands (exacerbated when you have children) can create an exorbitant amount of stress.

It amazes me that many people who effectively manage a stressful daily work life can sometimes forget how to apply those skills to stressful times outside of work (and I put myself in that category as well). But if you are one of those people who do a good job of managing your work-related stress, now might be the time to think about ways to apply those skills to the non-work domain.

Those of us who study issues surrounding the work-life interface would talk about this application as work-to-life enhancement or enrichment. It occurs when stuff that you learn or acquire at work spills over into your non-work life in a positive way.

So, if you have some effective time or stress management skills that come in very handy at work, try putting a little extra effort this year into applying them outside of work. Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Conflict management – If you are great at conflict management in the office, it’s time to make sure you apply some of that during the Christmas season. There’s no need to allow yourself to get into unnecessary arguments with your spouse, children, family, or friends.
  2. Time management – Do you have a schedule that you actively manage at work? Do you do a good job of minimizing interruptions so you can accomplish your goals? If so, how do you do it at work, and how might you apply that at home?
  3. Deep breathing – Many people use deep breathing or other stress management techniques at work when they get overwhelmed. If you are one of those people, pay particular attention to your breathing and stress management during the holiday season. Shopping can be a brutal experience, standing in line for hours at a time. Unfortunately, people around you may not be handling their stress all that well. So, make sure you engage in conscious stress management techniques during this time.
  4. Health habits – Some people are very good at maintaining at least a reasonably healthy lifestyle. They eat right, exercise, and get plenty of sleep. Unfortunately, for many of us, that behavior disappears during the holiday season as we allow demands on our time and other resources to ‘force’ us into unhealthy behaviors. To increase your ability to survive the holiday season unscathed, try making sure that maintain at least some of your healthful behaviors during the holidays.
  5. Mood management – Dealing with conflict, time demands, stress, and unhealthy choices can be a lot easier if you enter into those situations in a positive mood. Positive mood increases resiliency to negative events. So, start your day with something that puts you in a positive mood, whether it is music, a good breakfast, a workout, or a warm shower. It can help set the right tone for the day.

These five suggestions are, by no means, designed to be all-inclusive. Some people may like all five, some may like only one or two of them (a very small number may not like any, I admit). But, I would like to know what works for you. What do you do to help you manage the holiday stress that inevitably comes (unless you lock yourself away for a month or so). So, comment and give me your suggestions. And I wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! Stay safe and have fun!

Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/laffy4k/310048508/

Job Searching in Criminal Justice and Security Management

Posted by Marita Malone

I decided for this blog posting that I would provide some insight regarding jobs in the field of Criminal Justice and Security Management.

If you’re interested in highly coveted government job, check the Internet under “Office of Inspector General” and see how many hits you receive. MANY jobs are in the federal system, some requiring no degree, some a baccalaureate, and others an advanced degree. If you are interested in being a Special Agent (you can not apply until you’re 35 years old and older if you have military experience), agencies such as the Secret Service, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and U.S. Post Office require advanced degrees.

However, the Drug Enforcement Administration and almost all of the Offices of the Inspector General require a bachelor’s degree and might hire you with limited professional experience. Special Agent positions in the Offices of the Inspector General and law enforcement agencies do not have some of the “blood and gore” that local and state law enforcement people confront, with the exception of the Drug Enforcement Administration.

The advantage of the Criminal Justice and Security Management (CJSM) degree is that it opens your options to the private and the public sector. To be a supervisor of security, you will need some entry level experience, or come from a law enforcement agency.

When I say entry level, I do not necessarily mean a security guard, although many security positions pay more than what you might be currently making. Starting from the ground level as a security guard, unless the salary is higher than your current salary, is not the best move for advancement. Loss prevention investigators or a support position with a security division might be a better start.

If you’re currently in law enforcement, you cannot assume that moving into a private sector management position will be easy, because you lack the terminology and culture of private security (“Talk the talk, and walk the walk”). The CJSM degree will help you with that.

To help you get started in your job search, check out some of these resources:

If there are other good places to start, please feel free to comment and share.

Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/djackmanson/3870849170/

Gearing Up For Graduate Courses

Posted by Matt Grawitch

I am gearing up to teach my first graduate course at the School for Professional Studies. The course is Contemporary Organizational Leadership and it is offered as a fully online course with a blended option for students who want some face-to-face interaction.

The course is a core requirement of both our Leadership and Organizational Development Program and the Organizational Informatics Program. I have to say, I am extremely excited (and a little nervous) about teaching this new course.

Teaching (and being a student in) a graduate course is very different than an undergraduate course. The workload is more intense. The expectations are much higher. As an instructor, my job shifts from the role of subject matter expert to learning facilitator. Students are encouraged to explore their own perspectives on leadership, and it is my job to provide them with ample resources and opportunities to do that.

The online format is a terrific way to offer this seminar course. Podcasts, YouTube videos, online readings, and other electronic resources offer so many more options than a traditional face-to-face class. And, of course, there are asynchronous discussions and blogs, so my students can log in and share their thoughts anytime from anywhere. Add to that the weekly lunch and learn webinars (which can be archived), and students have many opportunities to maximize what they take away from the course.

So, as I gear up for this new teaching experience, I do so with nervous excitement! I want my students to succeed, and I want to be an effective learning facilitator. I want to be able to see how their perspectives grow and change during the course and throughout the program. But, most of all, I am looking forward to providing them with the foundation they will need to become better leaders and managers – and that foundation comes from encouraging self-reflection and self-awareness. And there is no better place to encourage self-reflection and self-awareness than a Jesuit University.

Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kathyschrock/3548570278/

Reflection – The Jesuit Way

Posted by Stephanie Mooshegian

The 2010- 2011 school year is here! August is one of my favorite times of the year. A new school year, list of classes, and a fresh start…what more could an academic and life-long learner love?! Students have returned to campus – either filling seats in our classrooms or actively participating in online discussion boards. Summer routines are fading, and for the Nontraditional Billiken, fall schedules are evolving into weeks packed with work, class, and personal activities, such as children’s soccer games and scout meetings – and for those students in the sandwich generation, parents’ appointments and doctors’ visits. The weather is starting to cool, which is a much needed relief in the St. Louis area, and as the seasons shift, undoubtedly, change is everywhere.

For the most part, I see students (and faculty and staff) catch the wave of excitement for the new school year and quickly adjust to the fast-paced schedule. Students become accustomed to life on the go and tend to manage their responsibilities remarkably well. During the hustle and bustle of daily routine, students are challenged not only to meet their work, life, and school demands, but are also challenged to expand their worldview by learning about new ideas and thinking critically about familiar concepts. In being part of SPS’s learning community, students are continuously growing and developing, even though students may not make the time to fully recognize these changes as they occur. Being immersed in the daily grind, students may be prevented from seeing the big picture – why they chose to be part of SPS’s learning community in the first place.

In this first week of school, I know that students are inundated with course syllabi outlining eight weeks of course requirements and the daily hassles of preparing for a new term. I notice how quickly students tend to adjust to overdrive! Instead of becoming absorbed in the details, I encourage students to stop and take a few moments to pause and reflect. Think about why they choose their major or program of study…how they contribute to SPS’s learning community…what they will do after graduation…what they are called to do in life. Reflection is an integral component of learning and development. In taking the time, even just a few minutes a day, to pause and think about the big picture, students gain perspective about those exciting changes that are happening each day.

Not only does reflection enhance personal and professional development, reflection is at the heart of the Jesuit mission in which Saint Louis University was founded. There are a number of resources available to students who would like to learn more about reflection and spiritual development. SLU’s campus ministry offers a number of programs, and some are even customized for a busy lifestyle. Our distance learners who cannot access SPS’s campus might check out a comprehensive mission website, organized by campus ministry at one of our fellow Jesuit institutions, Creighton University. Whether or not students decide to participate in formal methods of reflection this week, I encourage all of them to take a deep breath, pause, and remember why they are doing what they are doing now and who they are called to be. It’s one way to acknowledge not only the moment but also the possibilities that await.

Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ekkaia/126094248/

Things I’ve Learned Along The Way

Posted by Matt Grawitch

As we enter the month of August, parents are getting ready to send their children back to school. College students are starting to make their trek back to campus, and faculty member are diligently preparing their classes.

Now is a good time to reflect and share some of the important lessons I have learned over the past few years. These are not a “Top 5″ list or anything like that (you’ll see the problem with that down below). To be better prepared for the upcoming challenges that a new school year present, I am sharing my wisdom.

Lesson #1: Most lists are arbitrarily put together. Any time you see a ‘Top 5′ or ‘Top 10′ list of important ideas, usually they don’t mean anything. There was no systematic process used to identify the ‘Top 5 ways to manage stress’ or the ‘Top 7 habits of successful employees’. This is not say that those 5 ways to manage stress or those 7 habits are unimportant. But, they typically only represent the author’s opinion, not some sound, systematic process.

Lesson #2: Experts often make up much of what they say! I know it sounds odd, but most experts know only so much. They have a particular field of study or expertise, and they fill in the gaps with things that sound logical or intuitive, rather than being based on anything scientific. They typically over-generalize from previous research (meaning they read more into research results than are actually there). This is especially true when something major happens, like a school shooting, a terrorist attack, or a plane crash. We all do this: speaking on topics based on what we know and filling in gaps based on what sounds logical. Remember that before you make a major life decision based on the work of one ‘expert’.

Lesson #3: No major innovation was developed by playing it safe! Every major life innovation over the last 100 years (and more) resulted from someone (or a bunch of someones) taking huge risks, being willing to experiment and meet with a series of failures before they found success. I would never suggest that we all go out and take a series of major risks, but we always need to remember that if we want to innovate, we have to take some amount of risk (read, calculated risk). Most of the good things in life require some risk: marriage, parenting, love, hope. Without the risk, you will not get the reward.

Lesson #4: Most people want to enjoy their work! Believe it or not, most people do not hate to work. However, they want to have fun while they work because the more fun we have, the more camaraderie we develop in our jobs, the less it feels just like something we have to do, and the more it feels like something we want to do. Add to that the feeling that you are doing something meaningful, and you are set for a productive, engaging work life. It’s getting to that point that can be difficult. But, if you are not there now, keep learning, keep reflecting, and keep searching, because there is something out there for you. But, remember Lesson #5.

Lesson #5: Change is really damn hard! And, the bigger the change, the harder it is. Don’t ever let anyone try to convince you that change is easy. Whether it is getting a new job, changing your eating habits, quitting smoking, or changing your outlook on life, it’s going to be difficult. But, if you keep trying, if you learn from failure, and if you can generate some small wins early, you will increase the likelihood that your ultimate goal will be reached.

These are just a few of the things I’ve learned along my life journey. What have you learned? Are you willing to share?

Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/pointofdesign/3142962416/

Project Management and Earned Value

Posted by David Montour

If you are a project manager, you should always seek to understand how far along you are in a project. You may have a vague idea, like “we are pretty close to schedule”, “we’re about half done”, or “we’re 80% complete.” However, it’s better to be much more precise than that. If you have a good work plan and you are keeping it up to date, you should have a sense for how much work is remaining and what the projected end date is. But are you 50% complete? Or 55% complete? Or 80% complete? It’s hard to know for sure.

What is Earned Value?

Earned Value provides the basis for cost performance analysis. If you want to know what’s happening to the cost of your project BEFORE it is completed, you need to know what the planned cost at any time was and also what the cost of the completed work is.

Background

You can actually trace the beginning of earned value to the late 1800′s and early 1900′s. It was primarily used by managers on the factory floor and production lines. In the 1950/60′s the Critical Path Network (CPMN) and Program (or Project) Evaluation and Review Technique (PERT) methods were used.

  • CPMN or CPM calculates the longest path of planned activities to the end of the project, and the earliest and latest that each activity can start and finish without making the project longer.
  • PERT – Program (or Project) Evaluation and Review Technique method is used to analyze the involved tasks in completing a given project, especially the time needed to complete each task, and identifying the minimum time needed to complete the total project.

In the 1970′s the term Triple Constraints was established, referring to three primary focus areas: Scope, Time, and Resources.

  • Scope – Refers to the necessary work to be performed in order to produce the desired project results.
  • Time – The duration of time it will take to complete the defined scope of the project.
  • Resources- Includes the money and effort expended on people (labor), and services/products

In the 1980′s Multi Project Management and Project Portfolio Management were the focus. Finally from 1990- present, “Project Integration” has been the key buzzword – which forces project managers to focus on:

  • Aligning projects with organization strategy
  • Aligning projects with organization culture
  • Aligning projects with organization structure
  • Aligning projects with organization roles/skills
  • Aligning projects with a consistent/structured approach
  • Aligning projects with earned value management

Earned Value leverages the triple constraint by determining a distinct priority of the components and managing the project to that prioritization, enhancing the chances for project success.

Integration of Projects and Earned Value

Earned value is a way of measuring strategic and environmental progress.

In any project, the value to be gained is based on completing the work. However, there are two primary issues that have to be addressed.

  • Aligning With Organization Strategy
    • Problem: Too many project proposals, given limited resources of money, people, and equipment.
    • Solution: Allocate resources to projects that contribute the most value to strategy (customer) and balance organization risk, using earned value as an analysis management tool.
  • Aligning With Operating Environment
    • Problem: Disjointed tools and systems and non-supporting organization culture.
    • Solution: Tie all together in a seamless structure within operating environment, using best practices (i.e., earned value).

From personal experience, the business value is achieved when the project is completed. However, putting into operation an Earned Value Management System (EVMS), including implementation and setup, training, cost/schedule/resource/WBS tracking, project data assistance, and project management execution are just a few of the capabilities a company needs to manage schedule, costs, and resources.

As a working professional I encourage hands on project management, as well as supporting the triple constraint bridge between scope, time, and resources. Success of any project is dependent not only on the EVMS system, but also on a project managers’ skill, effort, and willingness to work with collaborative teams, enabling efficient management of any project regardless of size, technical complexity, or structure. You must demonstrate to the customer that you as a project manager can manage costs, schedule, and resources (i.e., Earned Value Management or EVM). This level of successful management can make future additional contracts a reality.

Earned Value 101

Metrics (Building Blocks) and Key Performance Indexes.

There are three metrics that form the building blocks for earned value – Budgeted Cost of Work Performed (BCWP), Actual Cost (AC) and Budgeted Cost of Work Scheduled (BCWS).

  • AC (Actual Cost)): The amount reported as actually expended in completing the particular work accomplished within a given time period (Same as ACWP – Actual Cost Work Performed)
  • BCWP (Budgeted Cost of Work Performed): the budgeted amount of cost for the work completed in a given time period (Same as EV – Earned Value)
  • BCWS (Budgeted Cost of Work Scheduled): the budgeted amount of cost of the work scheduled to be accomplished in a given period (Same as PV – Planned Value)

These three building blocks are needed and used to derive the following key performance indices that are required by most if not all customers and used by practicing project managers who utilize EVM as a management tool.

  • Schedule Variance (SV) – The Schedule Variance (SV) tells you whether you are ahead of schedule or behind schedule, and is calculated as Earned Value (EV) – Planned Value (PV). If the result is positive, it means that you have performed more work than what was initially scheduled at this point. You are probably ahead of schedule. Likewise, if the SV is negative, the project is probably behind schedule.
  • Cost Variance (CV) – The Cost Variance gives you a sense for how you are doing against the budget, and is calculated as Earned Value (EV) – Actual Cost (AC). If the Cost Variance is positive, it means that the budgeted cost to perform the work was more than what was actually spent for the same amount of work. This means that you are fine from a budget perspective. If the CV is negative, you may be over-budget at this point.
  • Schedule Performance Index (SPI) – This is a ratio calculated by taking the EV / PV. This shows the relationship between the budgeted cost of the work that was actually performed and the cost of the work that was scheduled to be completed at this same time. It gives the run rate for the project. If the calculation is greater than 1.0, the project is ahead of schedule. If it is below 1.0 the project is behind schedule.
  • Cost Performance Index (CPI) – This is the ratio of taking the EV / AC. This shows the relationship between the Earned Value and the actual cost of the work that was performed. It gives the burn rate for the project. If the calculation is less than 1.0, the project is over budget. For example, if the CPI for a project was EV/AC = (50 / 55) or .91. A CPI of .91 means that for every $91 of budgeted expenses, your project is spending $100 to get the same work done. If that trend continues, you will end up over budget when the project is completed. If the calculation is greater than 1.0, the project is under budget and your team is performing more efficiently.

Coordinated Responsibilities

Earned value serves no purpose without a detailed project plan.

A project requires involvement by all project team members. Ultimate success is highly dependent on their combined efforts helping to achieve a smooth and successful implementation of the product or service. Responsibilities of the team include:

  1. Assemble an up-to-date project plan.
  2. This plan would act as a “yard stick” for the project by providing the basis used to regularly assess the earned value performance of the project. The project plan would include a complete list of the activities required to complete each project, as well as the milestones, dependencies, costs, resources and time frames involved in undertaking the project. The above diagram depicts the steps involved in creating a project plan which ultimately is used for Earned Value Management.
  3. The Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) will list the phases, activities and tasks involved in undertaking the project, along with key milestones. The team will need to quantify the human resources required to carry out each activity listed, then construct a project schedule, which describes the flow of project activities and the time frames involved including listing any planning assumptions and constraints.
  4. Creating a comprehensive Project Plan is a critical step in the Project Life Cycle, as it will be used to:
    • Monitor and control the overall progress of the project i.e. EVMS
    • Create the resource, cost, and quality plans for the project
    • Help the project manager identify any task slippage and budget overruns
    • Determine whether the project activities are complete and the project is ready for closure
    • Assess the level of success of the project after it has been closed
    • Provide project performance metrics desired by the customer for the cost performance index (CPI), schedule performance index (SPI), and other EVM variance analysis reports.

In some cases, there may well be enough value to go through the pain of a culture change and time tracking. If there is enough benefit. However, institutionalizing Earned Value is a very good technique for determining where you are at on a project and how much work is remaining.

“EVMS forces us to look at our programs through the eyes of the customers. Although not a silver bullet, EVMS provides an easy and accurate way to evaluate how we are doing on a program.” Dr. Harold Kerzner, Ph.D. (Advanced Project Management – Best Practices in Implementation)

Photo Credit: http://www.pmiwdc.org/files/July%202006-Earned%20Value%20Analysis%20for%20Tool%20Time.ppt

Content Acknowledgment: http://www.theicpm.com/download/whitepapers/59-laymans-guide-to-earned-value/download

Effective Communication is More Important than Your IQ

Posted by Matt Grawitch

If you’re a student, a manager, or even a CEO, it helps to have a high level of intelligence. Being able to think critically, to see the bigger picture, to understand complex phenomena can be very important to success.
But, how would you answer if I asked you this question: Is it better to be extremely intelligent or to be an effective communicator?

Beyond the obvious answer (it’s better to be both), my perspective is that your ability to communicate your thoughts and ideas is way more important than your overall level of intelligence.

Before you ask me for some solid research evidence to support my argument, let me tell you that I have no systematic data available, nor am I aware of any studies conducted on this topic. However, I could provide a list of students who were highly intelligent but were unable to effectively convey their thoughts in speaking and writing. I could also provide a list of students who were of average intelligence but were able to effectively communicate their thoughts in speaking and writing. Which group performs better?

In an undergraduate curriculum, such as our Organizational Studies Program, students who can effectively communicate their thoughts in speaking and writing far outperform those who cannot, regardless of their level of intelligence. In speaking with some previous students, the need for effective oral and written communication extends to their work roles as well.

So, what does this mean? It means that even if you are highly intelligent, you should be looking for ways to sharpen your speaking and writing skills.

At Saint Louis University (SLU), several opportunities exist to enhance students’ use of written and oral communication. SLU offers a Writing Center to assist students in improving their writing skills. The School for Professional Studies offers both writing and public speaking courses as a part of its core curriculum. The Introduction to Organizational Studies (OS) major offers an opportunity for students to sharpen their writing and public speaking skills even further, and numerous courses within the OS major provide opportunities for continual development in writing and public speaking.

Whether you are a current SPS student or a professional long finished with your formal education, consider what you can do to become a more effective communicator. Improving your communication competencies can unlock opportunities you never knew existed and, perhaps most importantly, you will be able to improve the way you interact with those around you – your co-workers, friends, spouse…and even your children.

Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/turtlemom_nancy/1914397629/

Why Project Managers Follow A Methodology

Posted by David Montour

I recently completed teaching our Spring 2 online course (CTM-345) titled “Project Management Principles & Practices.” The final assignment for the students is a project paper which encompasses all of the methodologies and principles learned throughout the course.

The major purpose of the project paper is to give students the opportunity to apply, demonstrate, and apply their acquired knowledge to a project of their choice. They are asked to discuss a project that is of sufficient magnitude to exhibit all the tools, principles, practices, and methodologies covered in class Extra points are given for creativity and demonstrating comprehensive understanding of the project management function.

In addition, they are asked to provide a paper discussing a project. The students are asked to discuss the “Why,” “Importance Of,” “Trade-Offs of Not Using,” and “Real World Examples” of companies who have been successful or not using project management principles.

Strict Adherence to the template format/layout provided in the Syllabus is a requirement!

Some have asked why the strict adherence? The following is my response.

Let’s start with a quote from Harold Kerzner, Ph.D., a highly recognized expert in the field of Project Management.

“To win a decathlon requires the extreme best from the participant. It is very grueling and demanding set of events. The decathlete is usually very good and in fact the best in one or two events and in good standing in the other eight or nine events. The objective is to be the overall best in all ten events. Decathletes, like most athletes, must complete in head-to head events to know if they are able to win the overall decathlon.”

With that said, a Project Manager (PM) manages temporary, non-repetitive activities and frequently acts independently of the formal organization. The PM assembles resources for the project, provides direction, coordination, and integration of a project team. The project team consists of diverse project stakeholders dependent upon each other for both business and technical answers. The PM is responsible for the performance and success of the project, as well as bringing on the right people at the right time to address the right issues and make the right decisions.

The integrative nature of project management involves coordinating multiple processes for a project. This applies through all the process groups of Initiating, Planning, Executing, Monitoring and Controlling, and Closing.

There are many reasons why there has been an increased focus on project management:

  • Explosion in human knowledge on managing projects
  • Mass customization of products and services leading to common processes
  • Expansion of global markets and recognizing proven project management best practices are needed

As a result of this increased focus, the scope of project manager’s responsibilities has increased. Most companies share a Common Project Management Language and recognize the importance of project management and the need for a good understanding of the basic knowledge of project management. These organizations recognize that common processes need to be defined and developed so that project success can be repeated.

A Singular Methodology for project management is used to take advantage of the associated synergistic effects required when managing a project. This benchmarking method recognizes that process adherence and improvement is necessary to maintain competitive advantage, enabling Continuous Improvement and Refinement.

As I tell my students. “As you are now aware, a project manager’s toolbox essentially contains a set of processes, procedures, instructions, plans, schedules, unique terms and conditions, and project performance metrics that must be included in the successful management of any project, regardless of size, structure, or technical complexity. It has become a universal expectation, whether public, private, government agency, or your own company, that these established project management best practices are expected to be followed.” I also offer the below to consider:

“If two submitted proposal responses for a product or service being considered are determined to be potential candidates by a customer, an evaluation team must determine what the differentiator is? That differentiator can be who follows and has institutionalized within their organization Standardized Project Management Best Practices.”

The premise and response to the question “Why strict adherence to a format” is simple. If a company, business unit, or project manager does not adhere to and follow established and proven project management best practices, formats, and methodologies, what level of confidence does the public, private, or government agency customer have that the product or service being built for them will meet all of the technical requirements and performance specifications defined in a statement of work, proposal and subsequent contract, and those requirements/specifications are all within scope, on schedule, and on budget?

Thus, in effect, following the proper format is a critical evaluation element since it serves as the basis for a student to demonstrate their understanding of Project Management Principles and Practices.

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