PMC SIG Newsletter - January 2016


Chair's Piece
Agile is here there and everywhere. Any ostrich can see that.
Agile Demystified
The Secretary's bit
Profile of a member
Can you help?
Secretary's piece
What are we being asked to get involved with: do you want to be involved?
PMC Supported Events for 2016

Chair's Piece

This is the first newsletter of 2016, and February is almost over, so a little late for “happy new year”, even if you're Chinese.

Question - what is ISO 21508?
For those who have not just googled it,  ISO for Earned Value Management has just started, what Google does not tell you is our own Steve Wake is representing the BSI on this work.

In this edition of the newsletter Steve Wake will be asking what the APM has to say about agile, and introducing  an article from DSDM. Who are DSDM? They are a not for profit organisation who promote an agile framework to deliver the right solution at the right time.  They also participated in our very  first Podcast.  If you not listened or subscribed to the PMC podcast already I suggest you do.  Yes, it is a work in progress and they are getting shorter.  You can find the first here and the second here.

Latest figures show the PMC back to basics Earned Value webinar is the 4th most ever watched APM video, if you have not seen it already then watch it here.

I had hoped to be reporting the IBR guide was available in all good bookshops, however we are in the final stages of the publishing processes, so not long now.   We have also completed a review of the EVM guidelines, which has a number of minor changes, but given the number of copies in circulation we are probably going to be supplying  an erratum listing the changes.

 The “Planning guide” is proving really popular, and for anyone attending our half day conference “Cracking the application of Planning, Monitoring and Control”, on 18th May, all attendees will receive a free copy.  With 3 months to go the event has sold out, and we increased the number of places trying to accommodate everyone. Obviously an event not to be missed, with a great line up of speakers. Thanks to BAE Systems for sponsoring the event, plus  Wellingtone has purchased a trade stand.  If you too would like a trade stand for your company at any of our events, then please get in touch.

For those who missed out on this event, we have a smiliar event called “ Fundamentals of project planning, scheduling monitoring and control” in Bristol on the 2nd May plus make sure you book your place for "APM Presents" on the 17th March in Coventry to avoid disappointment again. 

The EVA event is in its 21st Year on the 16th and 17th June. This has a ‘must-attend’ international reputation and is certainly the best ‘independent’ for spotting trends and introducing new ideas. In recognition of the long-term APM PMC support any individual member registering to attend the PMC SIG AGM on the evening of the 17th June will be eligible for free entry to EVA21 from 1400 on the second afternoon of the conference. AGM details will be issued separately. The Head of Project Controls for Crossrail, Richard Palczynski, will be discussing Planning, there will be some acting and Eddie Obeng will close this session. Check out for more details. There is always something new and unusual and we recommend the whole thing if you can.

Last week saw the start of another innovative venture called "Quantum Project Management" , David Shannon held a workshop in London on 18th February. Thank you to those who participated. We eagerly await the ouput from this workshop, I am hoping to cover this in the next newsletter. If you want to get involved in the further development please contact us by email.

PMC are setting up a BIM working group, we already have a core of experts, but if  anyone would still like to get involved please contact us by email.

In addition to the on going publications, i.e. Estimating guide, introduction to project control, and operation chopping board, PMC are looking to produce a number of new papers and articles on PM Logistics and project acceleration, so if there are any experts on Logistics or Acceleration who want to join the working group then please get in touch.

Finally, congratulations to Simon Taylor on his new appointment to the APM board. 

Stephen Jones

Agile in here there and everywhere. Any ostrich can see that.

What does the APM have to say about Agile?
Not a lot.
I’ve heard a lot of discussion and seen lots of stances taken.
For and against.
I’d prefer, with.

To properly start the ball rolling the PMC SIG is intending to work with  DSDM led by Steve Messenger .
The  aim is to produce something of value to all who come into contact with Agile.
It might be a workgroup it might be discussion it might be workshop it might end up as a document.
Get in  touch with the SIG if you have an interest in some way. We’ re just setting up.

My own experience is from an Earned Value perspective and I am now past the stage of hearing Agile zealots saying Agile does this and me saying “I can do that now any way”.
I am certain  that the next project to save the planet or push forward the boundaries of the possible will involve Agile in some way. It is here to enhance and improve what we currently do. Not to replace. It has to become part of the everyday. Part of the way we do things.
 The sooner the better.

It took more than 40 years for the APM to produce a proper guide to planning. We guarantee that we will beat that timescale for this work.
We’re being Agile already.

Steve Messenger has made a start below.
Think about it.
Talk about about it.
Write about it.
It’s time to get off the fence.

I wonder if he’ll write the same things in six months?

Steve Wake MAPM
APM Chair, PMC committee member

Agile Demystified
Often when I discuss Agile with people, I find there are many misconceptions.  For instance, some believe agile is a free for all without structure and without governance.  Others treat it as an excuse for not planning and not providing estimates of cost and time.  Many believe it is a panacea and can be used in all cases, all of the time.
Of course, none of these are correct. 
Originally “defined” in the Agile Manifesto in 2001, the concept of agile has evolved.  It is not a particular method, technique or tool (such as SCRUM or DSDM). It is more a way of thinking and actingcentred on people and their interactions and encouraging the delivery of value early and often.  It also requires a lot of discipline and can and should be integrated required corporate governance to provide strong indicators of progress and spend.
I believe the following really define agile at its best.

Just in time planning that can embrace change
Traditional approaches often require that plans are defined well into the future.  Once agreed, the plans can then be difficult to change.  However, business imperatives can change very quickly and it is important to be able to respond.  Moreover, as we develop and use the products and services we introduce, we clarify our understanding of what they are what they need to do.  However, we do want to understand how we might proceed, and need to understand potential resource, time and budget usage.
With this in mind, Agile approaches plan the long term in outline, providing high level cost, time, resource estimates and understanding that these plans are likely to change.  Plans for the immediate future are more detailed, as this is more certain.  This form of planning more easily enables us to embrace change as we need to and without undue bureaucracy.

Deliver value early and often
It can take a long time for the benefits of projects and programmes to start to add real value.  The agile approach is to provide the organisation with products and services incrementally as early and often as possible.  The organisation then not only reaps the benefits of early use but also gains confidence in the rest of the project or programme.

Constant, iterative feedback leads to a better result
Agile accepts that it is often normally impossible to be able to understand a problem or requirement in detail from the start.  Instead, an iterative approach is taken.  Enough initial work is done to set a good foundation, (i.e. the overall high–level requirements), the detail can emerge and will evolve as more is known, as people have the chance to give feedback and as the business changes.

Better results emerge when teams are small, motivated and empowered

Agile approaches promote the use of small, multi-disciplined and multi-functional teams.  Teams are given specific goals, uniting them with a common purpose and creating a culture of collaboration.  The team is responsible for its own success, and empowered for all aspects of achieving the goal.  Having customers are an integral part of the team helps to ensure that the right outcome is delivered.  The limits of empowerment will be clear, however, and take into account corporate procedures such as governance. 

In summary
So in summary, agile is not an unstructured free for all but a disciplined approach that can result in real benefits for an organisation.

The Secretary's bit

A number of good project management  articles  have been published in recent weeks and months . Below is just  a small selection that you may find of interest.

1. The first “The 1986 Challenger disaster and the misunderstanding of RISK”  Is a very stark reminder how important it is to analyse risk realistically.

Below is the introduction to the article…….

In the past week, the 30th anniversary of the Challenger shuttle disaster has been marked with tributes for the sacrifice of the crew. In the investigation that came after the tragedy, the brilliant physicist Richard Feynman identified a culture at Nasa where risk was not understood, writes mathematician Dr John Moriarty.

The Challenger was lost because one small part - an O-ring seal - failed during a launch in cold weather. The possibility of this part failing had been predicted long before, but Nasa managers chose to ignore the concerns.

Below is the link to the article……..

2. The second is an interesting look at trends.

Project Management Trend Predictions for 2016
Below is the link to this full article...

The New Year is just that – “new,” so the time is now to start thinking about what 2016 will bring the project management. In the ever evolving project management industry, project managers and teams need to stay ahead of the game and understand the trends that drive industry changes. Here’s what you can expect in 2016:  

The IoT and Big Data
The Internet of Things (IoT) was the buzzword of 2015, and it will continue to be in 2016. 

As the IoT grows, the role of the Project Manager will get more and more important as they have the necessary skills to handle the challenges of integrating it into existing systems and handle all the data it produces. 

Going hand-in-hand with the IoT is the issue of Big Data. Big Data, or to be more precise, analyzing and – another buzzword of 2015 – hacking it, is crucial for PM as it improves efficiency and accuracy. Project managers are constantly looking to improve data response rates and bring order to the vast amount of data that it offers. Of course, more data also means cyber-security is a top priority. 

Increased emphasis on mobility

Project teams working remotely is not new, but it continues to grow and isn’t showing any sign of slowing down. The increasing use of technologies, such as cloud project tools, enables project teams across all industries to work together even if they are geographically dispersed and need to bridge several time zones. Project Management professionals can expect the demand for web-based and mobile applications to increase steadily in 2016.

Virtual teams have the benefit of allowing team members to work from the comfort of their homes or cafes, while traveling to a client, or on their commute to and from work. Virtual teams are a benefit for businesses because it allows them to tap into a much wider talent pool than they could when hiring for a single location. Employees with children and millennials are particularly keen on having a flexible work schedule and location, which leads to a better work-life balance. 

Naturally, remote teams can come with challenges. Managing remote teams in different time zones, communicating across language barriers and cultural differences, as well as being able to differentiate between work time and personal time requires many soft skills such as intercultural competence and communication skills, emotional intelligence, and time management.

Need for more certified PMs

Tighter budgets, the pressure to deliver products and services quicker, and increasing scrutiny of the project’s process from various project stakeholders, can often make project management a difficult environment to navigate and succeed. This is why we expect an increased demand for certified PMs. We are already starting to see more Project Manager job ads with a requirement for a PM certification and expect to see more and more in 2016. 

For new and established Project Managers alike it’s worth looking into the possibility of acquiring a certificate. Not only because without it job opportunities will continue to be scarce, but also because it is a good investment to enhance and add value to your skills. Experience, of course, still and will always matter greatly, yet, a certified Project Manager simply holds the better cards to win in the job race.

Increased agility & flexibility
Agile’ has been the trend for a few years now, but will become even more vital in 2016. What was once a method limited to software development, Agile PM only now has spread across all industries and merged with classical project management methodology. The reasons are manifold, and the benefits of Agile PM have been recognized widely. The trend of adopting Agile PM methods has come hand-in-hand with the adoption of PM software solutions and applications that digitize and automate processes and benefit data analysis. This has increased the manageability of both complex and large-scale projects, as well as projects with extremely short, fast, life-cycles, particularly in innovation-driven industries. As the innovation-driven industries are expected to grow exponentially, we expect a larger and more significant adoption of Agile PM in 2016.

Increased agility also transforms stakeholder relations as there is more transparency. As a result, ‘teamwork’ doesn’t just include the project team itself, but also internal and external stakeholders. We predict that stakeholders and clients will be more integrated into project processes from the initiation phase all the way to the implementation phase. 

Project managers will have to make sure that the team is well-oiled and consistently keep stakeholders updated to make the project run smoothly. Teams that work together efficiently and effectively spend less time resolving issues and more time delivering results – a win-win for the customer and team.

A Project Manager’s New Year’s Wish List
Now that we’ve established what project management trends you can expect in 2016, what are the New Year’s resolutions for a Project Manager? In short, projects that run smoothly, with all stakeholders on the same page when it comes to expectations and demands, effective team communication, and project success. Easy, right? As 2016 progresses, it will be interesting to see how the project management industry continues to evolve.

3. The third is around Estimating,

Make Confident Estimates in 5 Steps
Below is the link to this full article....

Do you sometimes have difficulty making project-related estimates?  When you do make an estimate about about an uncertain, future outcome, how confident are you in your estimate?
How confident do you want to be?

Making estimates about uncertain, future outcomes is something every project manager does regularly. Sometimes, owing to our experience and knowledge, making those estimates is easy. But other times, creating an estimate is difficult to do. Even after we make an estimate, we may not feel confident about that estimate.

Here’s a new estimation technique to use when you’re faced with estimating an uncertain outcome: Statistical PERT. Statistical PERT is an easy, five-step technique that uses Microsoft Excel to create probabilistic estimates for bell-shaped uncertainties. (A bell-shaped uncertainty is one where there is an improbable minimum value, and equally improbable maximum value, and a most likely outcome that lies somewhere towards the middle between those two extremes).

You already know PERT: the Program Evaluation Review Technique. PERT estimation using the PERT formula has been around for decades, even before the birth of personal computers. The PERT formula is:

Optimistic+4(Most Likely)+Pessimistic)/6

What does the PERT formula calculate? It returns the arithmetic average for a bell-shaped curve that is implied by an estimator’s three-point estimate. With PERT, one-half of the expected outcomes for an uncertainty should exceed a PERT estimate, meaning a PERT estimate is no greater than 50% reliable. Do you want to estimate project tasks and be wrong half the time? I don’t!

Some people manipulate the PERT formula to place greater weight on the pessimistic outcome, but it’s an arbitrary manipulation of the PERT formula. Isn’t there a better, easier, more flexible way to obtain probabilistic estimates?

Yes, there is! Using two, built-in statistical functions that come standard with Microsoft Excel, Statistical PERT lets anyone create probabilistic estimates using a simple, five-step process. Even better, Statistical PERT lets estimators use their own, subjective opinion about the most likely outcome to influence those probabilistic estimates.
Let’s examine the five steps of Statistical PERT.


Step 1: Make a three-point estimate. This is no different than making a PERT three-point estimate. Choose minimum and maximum values that represent implausible, extreme values for the uncertainty you are estimating. Then, choose a most likely outcome you think best represents what will actually happen in the future. The most likely outcome should be somewhere towards the middle of the range.

Step 2: Use the PERT formula to estimate the mean. The statistical mean is the arithmetic average of all possible outcomes for the uncertainty you’re estimating. The PERT formula estimates the mean.

Step 3: Render a subjective opinion about how likely the most likely outcome really is. With Statistical PERT, you can choose between six different opinions:

  1. Nearly certain
  2. High confidence
  3. Medium-high confidence
  4. Medium-low confidence
  5. Low confidence
  6. Guesstimate

Step 4: Create a SPERT standard deviation using the SPERT-7 Rule. Each of the subjective opinions in Step 3 corresponds to a ratio scale multiplier that is used in Step 4’s SPERT standard deviation formula. The correspondence looks like this:

  • 7% (nearly certain)
  • 14% (high confidence)
  • 21% (medium-high confidence)
  • 28% (medium-low confidence)
  • 35% (low confidence)
  • 42% (guesstimate)

The SPERT standard deviation formula is easy:

SPERT Standard Deviation=(Maximum-Minimum) × Ratio Scale Multiplier

Step 5: Use NORM.DIST and/or NORM.INV to create probabilistic estimates in Microsoft Excel. With the PERT-estimated mean and the SPERT-estimated standard deviation, you now use two statistical functions for the normal probability distribution in Microsoft Excel 2010 or later. The NORM.DIST function (normal distribution) finds the cumulative probability of any value between the minimum point-estimate and the maximum point-estimate. The NORM.INV function (normal inverse) finds the precise point between the minimum and maximum point-estimates that matches any probability you choose between 0% and 100%.

Here’s a Statistical PERT example. Suppose I want to create a planning estimate for a project task that I think will most likely take 60 hours to complete, but it could take as little as 40 hours or as many as 100 hours.

Step 1: Make a three-point estimate. My three-point estimate is {40, 60, 100}. As long as the minimum and maximum point-estimates are improbable and possible, and the most likely point-estimate is somewhere near the middle of the range, I can use Statistical PERT.

Step 2: Use the PERT formula to find the mean.

PERT Estimated Mean= (40+4(60)+100)/6= 380/6=63.333 hours

Step 3: Render a subjective opinion about how likely the most likely outcome really is. I’ll say that I have “Medium-high” confidence in the most likely outcome of 60 hours.

Step 4: Create a SPERT standard deviation using the SPERT-7 Rule. The SPERT-7 Rule equates “Medium-high confidence” to a ratio scale multiplier of 21%. Now I can find the SPERT standard deviation:

SPERT Standard Deviation=(100-40)×21%=12.6 hours

Step 5: Use NORM.DIST and/or NORM.INV to create probabilistic estimates in Microsoft Excel. We’ll use NORM.INV to find a SPERT estimate that has 80% confidence. Put another way, I want an estimate where there is only a 20% risk that the actual outcome will exceed my SPERT planning estimate.

NORM.INV requires three arguments: probability, mean, and standard deviation. The preceding steps obtained all that information, so, in Excel, I just plug-in the values into the NORM.INV function:

NORM.INV(0.80,63.333,12.6)=73.9 hours

That’s it! My SPERT estimate with 80% confidence is 74 hours. So, there is an 80% probability that the actual outcome for my project task will be equal to or less than 74 hours; there is a 20% risk that the actual outcome will exceed 74 hours.

Using Statistical PERT is easy to do.  Try using Statistical PERT the next time you’re faced with estimating a difficult, bell-shaped uncertainty on your next project! Statistical PERT makes it easy to confidently estimate any bell-shaped uncertainty.

William Davis

Profile of a member

Simon’s career started in the steel manufacturing industry in 1995 learning mechanical design and fabrication. As technology advanced so did his skill set and he moved into product design for the food service sector working for clients such as Nestle, Unilever and Virgin.

As part of the end to end product design process, planning & project management became more and more part of his working life and this became something he decided to focus on as he took a job as a project manager working with in the London Underground supply chain. Being accustomed to processes and procedures within the LU network he moved to work directly for London Underground during the PPP contract (Public Private Partnership) working closely with Metronet and their suppliers.
It was here that his career as a planner finally took shape working on stations and line upgrade projects. He became a full time planner working on the Victoria Line Upgrade (VLU) and was then promoted to Programme Planning Manager in 2006.

After successful delivery of the VLU (ahead of schedule) he became Head of Planning for deep tube line upgrades and subsequently Head of Planning at Transport for London (TfL) where he was responsible for planning within capital projects across all transport modes. He was also heavily involved in planning and controls career development, including direct responsibility for the TfL planning apprenticeship.

Simon joined HS2 in March of 2015 as Head of Programme planning where he is responsible for planning and planning capability on one of the largest infrastructure programmes in Europe. He is a member of the APM board, Vice Chairman of the APM PMC SIG and co-author of the APM handbook on Planning Monitoring & Controls.

Simon Taylor

Can you help?

We have been asked to assist in a research project that Roger Joby one of the PMC SIG volunteers is involved with. Can you help ?

Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU) is currently undertaking a research project investigating organisational justice and its impact on construction project performance. The aim of the research is to explore how members of construction project teams perceive issues of fairness and equity of treatment and how those perceptions impact on the performance of construction projects. An online survey on this topic was conducted last year and a framework for the relationship of organisational justice and construction project performance has been developed. To advance and refine this framework focus groups with industry practitioners will be run in March 2016. One of the focus groups will be run at the APM SIG on 11th March 2016. The focus group will consist of five to eight participants and will have a duration of about 1.5 hours. It gives the participants the opportunity to discuss this new and interesting field in project management research with other interested participants and to gain knowledge on this topic.

If you are a construction industry professional and interested in participating in a focus group on this topic and please feel free to contact the responsible researcher at LJMU Christine Unterhitzenberger via email:

Christine Unterhitzenberger

Secretary's piece

PMC SIG Meeting Dates for 2016

  • All meetings will begin at 10.30am sharp
  • 11th March, 8h April, 10th May (TBC), 17th June (TBC), 8th July, 9th September, 14th October, 11th November and 9th December.
  • No meeting in August.
  • We will continue to have the dial in facility available for each meetinf please contact the secretary if you would like to use this facility.
    Meetings will be held at Gardiner & Theobald, 10 South Crescent, London




  • The SIG will be starting work shortly on Operation Chopping Board, a series of small useful guides . If you have a contribution to make or would like to be involved please let the secretary know.
  • Sales for the Planning, Monitoring & Control Guide continue to at pace and we have received a number of favourable reviews.
  • The Planning Monitoring and Control Foundation exam to accompany the guide is now available but we would like to see an increase in growth. For more information follow the link here
  • The uptake of the Earned value practitioner exam continues, but we would like to see an increase in growth. For more information follow the link here
  • The IBR guide is now complete and undergoing the final reviews prior to publication. Thank you to all of you who have contributed over the past year. The SIG is hopeful it will be published in Q1 2016


  • We have had a number of articles appear over  the past few months in various publications, but are always on the lookout for new ideas and things to publish , so please get scribbling  we would  love to know what members are up to, and who you are. Please send direct to Jenn Browne.
  • We are also keen for you to let us know if there is anything you would like to see in the newsletter?  Again let the Secretary know.
  • The SIG has been asked to consider developing a number of POD casts, what do you think?  Let the secretary have your thoughts / ideas in the usual way. 

What are we being asked to get involved with; do you want to be involved?

Get Involved

A look ahead to 2016, some headline topics and events we are looking to support. Please feel free to suggest others:

  • Publication of IBR Guide Q1 2016
  • Publication of the new Estimating Guide
  • Operation Chopping Board
  • Introduction of Planning Guide Exams
  • Review EVM guidelines 2nd edition
  • Body of Knowledge section review
  • All current PMC guides reviewed
  • Newsletters
  • More Webinars
  • Further Podcasts
  • Joint branch /PMC Sig events
  • Complex event
  • SWWE event
  • Project Challenge
  • Project Expo 2016
  • EVA 21
  • Australia EVA
  • APM Presents... Project Management in practice - two of our committee members, Gary Mainwaring and Milla Mazilu, will be presenting the session 'Planning, Monitoring and Control for beginners' at this full day conference comprised of taster sessions from thirteen of our APM Specific Interest Groups.

  • We would like to look at the possibility of getting a regular Blog / discussion forum set up, if any one is interested in contributing / running with this please let Jenn Browne know.

  • We have an opportunity to host an evening Agile Event in London, do you have speakers? Want to be involved let us know.
  • We are intending to host a number of webinars over the coming year. If you have a specific topic or want to be more actively involved let us know.
  • London Branch and the Northern Ireland Branch are keen to work with the SIG to do events in the coming months.

PMC Supported Events for 2016

The PMC SIG relies on volunteers like you with an interest in Planning, Earned Value and Project Controls to develop and deliver these products. We aim to continue to be the most productive SIG. We generate and deliver knowledge, advice and guidance that are shared both within, and outside of our association. PMC cannot do the work without your input. You are helping to build and develop a Project Management community without boundaries.

Once again we invite you to participate and contribute, by supporting and attending our events subscribing to our newsletters, watching the Webinars, and volunteering to get involved in Working Groups throughout the year.  We are a charity and welcome any offers of a free meeting room and/or sponsorships.

 Once again, thank you for your continued support.

Contact the SIG

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