UCLA Extension

Successful Project Management

A 3-Day Short Course

Many projects are delivered late and over budget. These projects often do not meet the original requirements, have an unacceptable number of problems, and may not even function properly. This course shows participants how to manage projects to avoid large schedule and cost overruns, whether the project is a few thousand dollars or tens of millions of dollars, as well as how to recognize and overcome potential pitfalls in project management. This intensive three-day course is designed for current or future project managers, project engineers, and principal investigators who wish to enhance their insights and skills as project leaders. It also is very useful for senior managers to whom project managers report, line managers whose staff work on projects, and for project team members. The course is designed for practicing professionals whether new to project management or managing small-to-medium projects or an experienced project manager handling large projects. The course is geared to help you regain control of your projects.

Complete Details

The course presents practical techniques and tools to estimate, plan, lead, organize, control, and complete high-quality projects that are on budget and schedule, and that meet the needs of the customer. Participants are encouraged to bring real project management problems to class for analysis and discussion.

The course is highly participative and integrates lectures, discussions, and individual and team exercises. The course is aligned with PMI’s A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge—Fourth Edition and offers 21 PDU (PMI Professional Development Units). (PMI, PMP, and PMBOK are registered marks of the Project Management Institute, Inc.)

Please bring a calculator.

Course Materials

Lecture notes are distributed on the first day of the course. These notes are for participants only and are not for sale.

Coordinator and Lecturer

Donald S. Remer, PhD, PE, President, Claremont Consulting Group, Claremont, California; and Oliver C. Field Professor of Engineering, Harvey Mudd College of Engineering and Science, Claremont, California. Dr. Remer has been managing projects, performing cost estimation and project feasibility studies, and doing technical and economic evaluations for over 25 years. He has managed over 60 projects ranging from tens of thousands of dollars to hundreds of millions of dollars. His industrial and consulting experience includes aerospace, automotive, biotechnology, chemical, computers and software companies, electronics, medical products, oil shale, paper and pulp, and petroleum companies; design, construction, and legal firms; local, regional, and federal agencies; utilities and railroads; research and development laboratories; and energy, environmental, and sustainability projects.

Dr. Remer’s clients range from small entrepreneurs to Fortune 500 companies and government agencies, including clients such as Beckman-Coulter, Boeing, Booz-Allen & Hamilton, eCivis, GEC Marconi and Lear Astronics (now BAE Systems), Hewlett-Packard, TRW, Disney, the FAA, Sequent Computer (now IBM), JPL, 20th Century Fox, Amgen, QAD, Raytheon, Northrop Grumman, St. Jude Medical, Lawrence Livermore and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Air Force, County of San Bernardino, and the City of Tucson, Arizona. He has also served as a task force and project manager and division coordinator for Exxon, and director of the Energy Institute at Harvey Mudd College. He has presented short courses in project management, managing and estimating software projects, and project cost estimation and economic evaluation to over 10,000 practicing professionals.

Dr. Remer is a registered Professional Engineer in California and Michigan. He is the former director of the American Society of Engineering Management and is currently on the editorial board of the International Journal of Production Economics. He was recently selected to be a charter member of the new Engineering Management Honor Society that was started by the American Society of Engineering Management. He has produced over 50 publications on cost estimation, capital investment evaluation, and engineering and project management. The International Society of Parametric Analysts named his paper on cost modeling the outstanding paper of the year in the Journal of Parametrics. Dr. Remer was case study editor of The Engineering Economist and has been on the editorial boards of Engineering and Process Economics and Engineering Costs and Production Economics.

Course Program


  • Why projects are often late, over budget, and/or canceled

Nature of Projects and Project Management

  • Projects often go over budget and schedule
  • Project manager’s role
  • Differences between projects and operations
  • Selecting a project manager
  • Rule of three for project manager selection
  • Four major functions of a project manager

Project Requirements

  • Gathering requirements
  • Challenging requirements
  • Looking for hidden requirements
  • Critique of a requirements statement

Project Planning and Scheduling

  • Why plan
  • Case study of good planning
  • Checklist of major plans
  • Planning tools
  • Work breakdown structure (WBS)
  • Eight key initial questions
  • Gantt and milestone charts
  • PERT/CPM Networks
    — Critical path
    — Float
    — How to reduce the critical path
  • Scheduling factors
  • Development time vs. cost trade-offs

Project Estimating

  • Cost and schedule fantasy factors
  • Estimating methods
    — Top-down estimating
    — Bottom-up or detailed estimating
    — Parametric estimating models
    — Activity-Based Cost (ABC) estimating
    — Ratio (factor or percentage estimating)
    — Three-point or range/probability estimating
    — Price-to-win estimating

Managing the Project Development Process

  • Key initial questions
  • Contingency policy and contingency algorithms
  • Case study of why you need contingency
  • Labor costs, including overhead and fringe benefits
  • Productivity of project team members
  • Documentation and meetings
  • Cost quotes
  • The 90% syndrome
  • Pitfalls for a project manager
    — Communication pitfalls
    — Schedule pitfalls
    — Cost control pitfalls

Measuring and Tracking Technical, Schedule, and Cost Performance

  • Metrics collection caveats
  • Starting a metrics collection program
  • Two metrics case studies
  • Advantages of a metrics program
  • Cost-effective metric examples
  • Financial metrics
  • Earned Value Management (EVM)

Project Control

  • Key problem areas in project control
  • Change control processes
  • Reporting progress
  • Reasons for cost overruns and schedule slippage
  • Postmortem analysis

Project Organizational Structures

  • Project management in functional organizations
  • Project or team-based organizations
  • Functional vs. project-based organizations
  • Matrix organizations
  • Comparing organizational structures: advantages and disadvantages
  • Conflict in various project management structures

Project Staffing and Working with Contractors

  • Staffing a project team
    — Seven characteristics of effective project team members
    — Evaluate your current project team
    — Successful team building
  • Changing technical label pool and cultural issues
  • Downsizing
  • Using contractors
    — Benefits
    — Drawbacks
    — Addressing drawbacks
    — Performance incentives
    — Measuring the contractor
    — Contract interpretation

Reduce Risk by Evaluating a Project’s Chance of Success

  • 10 key criteria
  • Case studies
  • Evaluating your current project

Emerging Project Management Issues

  • Reengineering, reorganizing, Mergers and Acquisitions (M&A) impact on projects
  • Environmental, Health, and Safety (EH&S); security; and other governmental regulations
  • Increasing litigation potential
  • Managing international projects, global project teams, and virtual teams
  • Off-shoring and outsourcing: macro trend
  • On-shoring in the U.S.: micro trend
  • Improved quality
    — ISO
    — CMMI (Capability Maturity Model Integration)
  • Schedule compression
  • Flexible career options
  • Increased training demands
  • Shared resource conflicts
  • Certifications by professional organizations
    — Cost estimation
    — Project management

Summary and Wrap-Up

  • Key ideas and challenges to take back to your organization
  • Your personal action plan
  • Tips for applying what you learned when you return to work

Information Sources for Project Management

For more information contact the Short Course Program Office:
shortcourses@uclaextension.edu | (310) 825-3344 | fax (310) 206-2815