Vicki James, PMP, CBAP, PMI-PBA, CSM

formerly of Professional Project Services, LCC

Document Your Project History

How often have you been called upon to remember past projects? Are you prepared to respond to “tell me about your favorite project and why it was your favorite”?  If you are pursuing professional certification, a new job, or promotion, be ready for this question. If your brain is like mine, it is an overflowing file cabinet with some of the best material buried in the back corner. It is not always easy to access the things you have done in the past, especially when new projects are always sitting on the forefront of the mind. As a result, you will likely shortchange yourself by relying on the more accessible recent experiences that may be less relevant in the context of the position. Perhaps you come up short on needed hours experience for that professional certification because you had forgotten about that part time project you worked on when in a different position. There is a remedy for this. That is your Project Portfolio History.

I created my Project Portfolio History when applying from Professional Project Manager Certification from the Project Management Institute.  It was a necessary step for completing the application, but I quickly saw a multitude of uses for this listing. The list includes:

  • Project Title
  • Start Month
  • End Month
  • Number of Months
  • Organization
  • Project Description
  • Role
  • Responsibilities


Customize your Project Portfolio History to meet your specific needs. You may add a column for percentage of work time spent on the project, the project sponsor, team members, project methodology…whatever makes sense to you.  This is your reference and a supplement to your resume, not a replacement. You may opt to share with recruiters in which case it might make sense to keep a “private” version in addition to the “public” version with the private including key words or signals that you want to remember without sharing. My private version has notes to remind me of my favorite projects, least favorite projects, projects where I learned the most, and many of those other common asks when discussing your project past.

The project description should help describe each project and what made each unique. What technologies and methodologies where used? What was the team structure? Who were the users of the solution and how the accessed it? You do not need to answer each of these questions – rather you are looking for what about this project sets it apart from others.

This document has helped me in describing experience in resumes, cover letters, and in interviews, as well as document hours for both the PMP and the Certified Business Analyst Professional (CBAP®) certification.  I use it when customizing my resume to the job I am submitting for, developing my cover letter, review prior to an interview for a fresh look, and I even request to keep the document out and handy during an interview. I have yet to be refused to have my “cheat sheet” handy. Recruiters and interviewers have requested a copy. Remember to have a public version available. One recruiter I worked with said, “This is great! Every project professional should have this.” Start putting your together today. I have linked a Project Portfolio History template so you can get started on yours today. Start with your current project and work backwards. You can always add rows to fill in gaps if you miss something along the way.

Please share your experiences with this or a similar document by commenting on this post.

2012 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 7,800 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 13 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

Happy Holidays from Professional Project Services

I hope this holiday seasons find you and your family and loved ones well. It took me a while to figure out the perfect gift for you to show my appreciation of your support of Professional Project Services, and by extension, me. Thank you so much for following and I look forward to supporting you in your professional endeavors throughout 2013 and beyond.

I have created the linked Reading Guide to project books to help you find the book or books that will best match your needs. I will go beyond the reviews and provide additional information on target audience, specific focus, and reference or read through. I hope you enjoy and please send me your book recommendations as I work to build my 2013 reading list.

And now a Happy Holidays message from my oldest girl, Lucy…


An Ounce of Prevention – Agreement and Documentation of Project Roles

Have you ever been on or lead a team where confusion over who should do what existed? Maybe there was a ‘roles and responsibilities’ document or even RACI chart on the wall, yet team members struggled. Struggles commonly persist when a task was not included in the document or the team members did not accept the assignments. Have they even seen and reviewed it? Unclear expectations and lack of communication leads to team conflict, something we all want to avoid. Below is one exercise I have done with teams that has resulted in a better understanding and respect in team members’ roles.


Generate team discussion and agreement on who is responsible for the completion and quality of project tasks.


All team members for a small team or a representative of each team discipline for larger teams.  No discipline should go unrepresented. For best results, ask for an independent facilitator so that the project manager can be a full participant.




  • Large index cards or sticky notes
  • Empty walls for posting cards
  • Felt pens


  • Write out a team task, one task per card (may be hand written with felt pen or creating labels to stick to the cards may save some time) – Sample Set of Labels
  • Create a card for each project team discipline (e.g., developers, business analysts, test team) including single person roles (e.g., project manager, sponsor)
  • Use the team discipline cards to create areas for columns, or groups, of tasks on meeting room walls. Additional groupings for “ALL” or “TBD” may also be represented.
  • Leave some blank cards and felt pens around the room for team members
  • Organize your pre-written cards so that can easily get to the most controversial tasks easily


  • Explain the goal and process for the meeting to team members
    • Goal – Assign all tasks to project sub-team or members with full team agreement
    • Process – Ask the meeting participants where each task belongs as far as who do the task. Encourage discussion of “why” when there are differences of opinion. There are no right or wrong answers. Whatever the team agrees to is correct. The project manager may suggest best practice, but not dictate the final assignment.
  • Start with a few more obvious tasks such as “write program code”
  • Post the card in the in the group that the team agrees
    • Where differences of opinion, ask those most directly affected to explain why they choose that role or discipline
    • See if team members agree after hearing explanations
    • If still no agreement, offer the project managers view on where the assignment belongs
    • See if team can agree to the project managers view, specifically those most affected
    • If still no agreement put task aside or post in “TBD” to come back to
    • Limit the time per card to about 2 minutes
  • Move on to the tasks that are likely to generate the most discussion once team members have a handle on how the process works
  • Team members may propose new tasks for discussion by writing out a card
  • Stop about 10 minutes before the scheduled end time to get agreement for handling remaining tasks. Possible options include:
    • Extend meeting time
    • Schedule a follow-up meeting
    • Assign delegate to propose assignments for any remaining tasks and send to team members
    • Inform the team how the results will be documented and where available for future reference

This exercise focuses on who does the work. There is still a need to document who reviews, who approves, and so on. This can come in a RACI-type chart later. Another option is to mark each card as team members discuss the assignment. Choose whatever method will get to team acceptance the quickest.

I mention a RACI-type chart for a reason. When creating a matrix of roles and responsibilities use the terms best represents how work is approved in your team and organization. “Responsible”, “Accountable”, “Communicated”, and “Informed” may not hold a lot of meaning to your team members where “Leads”, “Approves”, and “Informed” may be clearer. Let the team help decide on the categories to capture so that the resulting document is meaningful.


I hope this exercise, or some variation of it, will help to avoid confusion and conflict in your project teams. Please comment or email me if you use this exercise on your project. I am interested in how it went for your team; especially any adjustments made that provided even better results.

Happy International Project Management Day 2012!

It’s that time of year again. The first Thursday of November is International Project Management Day. Frank Saladis of the International Institute of Learning founded the day to promote project management as a professional and show appreciation for those who have chosen it.

This year I am very pleased to announce Women in Project Management: Leaders in Charge. It was an honor to take part in this pre-recorded panel discussion with Naomi Caietti, Deanne Earle, and myself, moderated by Martin Chernenkoff. This 1 1/2 hour webinar is good for 1.5 PDUs  in Category C. Visit to qualify for Category B.

Please watch, listen, enjoy, share, and comment.

October Fun

The Care and Feeding of Business Analysts (Guerilla PM Interview)

I had the great honor of being interviewed by Samad Aidane for Guerilla Project Manager. Catch the interview on-line at

6 Easy Ways to Earn PDUs for your PMP

Are you up to date on your PDUs? Is your renewal deadline fast approaching? Here are some ideas, in ease to earn order, to help you get your PDUs in time for your certification renewal. Full detail for categories is available in the PMP Handbook. Refer to your copy for additional information to plan for and record your PDUs.

Category F* – Working as a Professional In Project Management

You can earn up to 5 PDUs per year, 15 per certification cycle, for working full time as a project manager. Your 25% on your way to re-certification!

*Subject to maximum of 45 credits combined in categories D, E, and F.

Category C – Self Directed Learning

Anything you read, watch, or discuss related to project management may count towards your PDUs. Keep records of the time you participate in these activities along with any notes and record your PDUs. One PDU per hour of activity up to 30 PDUs in your certification cycle is allowed.

  • Webinars
  • Podcasts
  • Articles
  • Books

There are hundreds of self-directed learning opportunities on the web. Check out these links to find out more. Sign up for their email lists to get notice of opportunities directly in your inbox.

  • – PDU of the Day provides PDU opportunities from all categories. Many are self-directed activities. Opportunities listed provide information includes category information, recording requirements, and anything else you need to know to make the most of the opportunity provided.
  • – This is a portal to many PDU opportunities of various categories. Find an event calendar of opportunities or browse for on-demand activities that are available. Also includes a link to information on the, an opportunity to earn PDUs through recorded podcasts.

Category E* – Volunteer Service

Have you volunteered with the PMI, maybe within your local chapter, or reviewing an upcoming standard on This also provides PDU credit. Find out more on volunteering at the PMI Volunteer page.

Volunteering is not just a great way to get PDU credit, it also is a great way to expand your network and your skills while benefiting PMI and project managers everywhere. You earn 1 PDU per hour up to the 45 PDU limit in your certification cycle.

*Subject to 45 credit limit for activities in categories D, E, and F.

Category B – Continuing Education

Did you know that you get credit for all project management training, not just training provided by PMI Registered Education Providers? That’s right! That is what category B is all about. Participate in any formal training session and get credit for that time of the curriculum that is project management specific. So go ahead and sign up for the project management workshop you want. It does count!

Category D* – Create New Project Management Knowledge

Do you write or train on project management? Well give yourself credit. PMI grants PDUs for sharing knowledge through writing, presenting, and training. You get PDU credit for preparation and presentation time hour for hour.

*Subject to 45 credit limit for activities in categories D, E, and F.

Conferences, Congresses, and Seminar Events

This is perhaps the most fun and efficient way to earn PDUs. Not only do you get a large selections of topics to see presentations on, but you get to meet project managers from around the world and see what is happening in the world of vendors and tools. You might not even have to record your PDUs  for sponsored events as they will often do this for you from your registration and attended sessions.

A Final Note

Make managing your PDUs easier by recording as you as you earn them. This will make the overall task easier and provide an easy to follow view of where you are in your certification cycle. Record your PDUs online on the Continuing Education Requirements System. Got too many? No problem…you can roll over up to 20 PDUs for your next cycle.

* Categories D, E, and F are grouped as “Giving Back to the Profession.” PMI has placed a limit on the number of PDUs allowed in these categories to 45 per certification cycle.
Image credit: nikolaev / 123RF Stock Photo

Number One Benefit of Achieving the PMP

I taught my first week long PMP Exam prep class last week. I recall when I first learned of these boot-camp style classes and my original thought. “Great, you learn how to pass a test. Did you learn anything about project management?” I often comment on my study experience that I learned more in studying for the PMP then I did in a 9-month university certification course and prior experience. The challenge for this course became to incorporate true learning into the crash course – to motivate the students to see how the processes, inputs, tools and techniques, and outputs would make their projects more successful.

I scheduled one-on-one briefings on the last day of class. One student, Marcus, talked of his father who had recently passed the PMP while in a long career in project management. We also had a few “seasoned” project managers in the class. Marcus questioned the value of the PMP for these folks with the reasoning that they had been successful project managers in their careers without the PMP. “Have they been successful with a reported project failure and challenged rate of 65%?” The bottom line is that even a successful project manager can learn new ways of doing things based on industry best practice and increase the chance of project success. There is no room for complacency in managing projects with millions of dollars at stake and an unstable economic market. Learning is the number one benefit of achieving the PMP.

Marcus went on to asked about case studies to support the benefit of PMP. I suggested that PMI would have plenty of information published through and offered up the two following books for further exploration.

Remember this next time a non-certified project managers claims that a PMP is not beneficial –

Never become so much of an expert that you stop gaining expertise. View life as a continuous learning experience. Denis Waitley

Disclaimer: I do not profess that someone who has a PMP is superior to someone who does not. Only that one will have learned and demonstrated more knowledge than before attaining the PMP. See The  Chef or the Cook: Choosing the Right Candidate

Additional Resources

Related articles by me

Achieving Success through Business Value

I am thrilled to announce ModernAnalyst has published my article on Achieving Business Value – check it out and pass it on. I look forward to your comments on the ModernAnalyst site or here.

Business value is a new indicator for project success. Huh? You may be wondering what ever happened to the good ole scope, schedule, and budget. They are still there and measured, but what the 2012 trends have been pointing to is that a project completed within scope, schedule, and budget and not be successful. The opposite is also true. Read complete article

I just ran across this excellent supporting video on Twitter.

Tim Banfield, APM, Project Managers should define project success “in their own terms”

Full article



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