Tuesday, December 01, 2009
Thursday, January 08, 2009
Here's a WBS for creative work. ...
... "It is a rather complex tool/technique, but it is very effective in breaking down a very complex problem and getting manageable work packages out of the other end. " ...
Via Think For A Change: Creativity
Sunday, December 07, 2008
Researchers exploring ways to make the information technology asset life-cycle conversation more meaningful for business leaders. ...
... "Executive management and CEOs don't have the language, models and tools to have a business-oriented value conversation around their IT infrastructure, says Peppard. We're also trying to think about how an organisation might put a value on legacy [past IT] investments. " ...
Via The Irish Times: IT project value
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
IBM study validates the challenges associated with change projects and identifies actions that differentiate the leaders. ...
... "Rather than simply throwing money at the problem they invested in building awareness of project complexity, spending more on building change skills and developing their long term tools, methods and capabilities. " ...
Via IBM: Organizational Change Projects
Sunday, April 20, 2008
Tool incorporates multiple perspectives in the requirements development process. ...
... "inteGREAT connects the collective needs of business analysts, developers and testers through a single, Integrated Body of Knowledge (iBoK), and makes it easy to create, share and analyze the requirements for a business application. " ...
Via eDev: Software Requirements Specifications
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Here is an interesting tool for managing the ideation part of the innovation process and campaigning for ideas. It is offered as a monthly subscription service. ...
... "The ideas campaign is a simple process based on well established creative problem solving (CPS) methodology. " ...
Via jpb: Idea campaigns
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Sun offers advice on green IT strategy and provides assessment toolkit as part of its eco initiative launch. ...
... "1. Assess Your Datacenter: Sun has resources available that you can use to measure the current efficiency and environmental impact of your datacenter, or we can do it for you. Based on the results, we can recommend ways to optimize space, power, and cooling for better efficiency and utilization across your IT infrastructure.
2. Optimize Your Infrastructure: Customers can upgrade their old equipment to new models that are the most energy efficient and powerful systems possible. Sun systems can deliver improved performance, power and cooling efficiencies as well as provide additional capacity in your facility.
3. Deploy Virtualization Technologies: Sun's virtualization solution is built upon industry-proven virtualization technologies from desktop, to server, to disk and tape, and includes the free and open Solaris OS that runs across more than 890 Sun and non-Sun systems and has built-in virtualization and Predictive Self-Healing features. These products, combined with innovative programs, tools, services, and strategic partnerships can help customers achieve greater utilization, greater manageability, and significant savings, while bypassing power and space limitations. " ...
Via Sun Micro: Sun Eco Innovation Initiative
Wednesday, February 07, 2007
As reported in Computerworld and discussed here, Microsoft has announced MS/Project 2007, a new version that offers some usability and performance enhancements.
Perhaps the bigger news is that Project Portfolio Server 2007 has been announced, leveraging UMT's technology (which Microsoft acquired last year). It has the requisite bubble charts, strategy alignment tools, and what-if simulations. It even includes governance workflow, something long missing from the Microsoft suite. This should give the other big EPM tools a run for their money.
One thing worth noting about the Computerworld article (below) is the 20 million user base for MS/Project. Considering that the most frequently used project management tool is still MS/Excel, and that there are plenty of other project managers using non-Microsoft products, it gives a sense of how many project managers there are in the world. The last estimate I had heard several years ago was 16 million. That number is most likely quite a bit higher now, perhaps double.
Microsoft Looks to Boost Project Software’s Appeal
Tuesday, January 16, 2007
HP research uses hybrid of nano and conventional semiconductor technology to increase the density of transistors on a chip. This advancement is accomplished using modelling and simulation tools. The research will be proven through demonstration prototype. ...
... "The technology calls for a nanoscale crossbar switch structure to be layered on top of conventional CMOS (complementary metal oxide silicon), using an architecture HP Labs researchers have named field programmable nanowire interconnect (FPNI) – a variation on the well-established FPGA technology. " ...
Via HP: HP Presents Alternate Strategy for Chip Improvement
Monday, January 08, 2007
There's an excellent article on leadership practices in this month's CIO Magazine from Susan Cramm, an executive coach and president of the coaching firm, Valuedance.
Cramm lists a number of things that IT leaders can do to practice "safe leadership." It seems like motherhood and apple pie, but it's a good reminder of the basics that we so easily forget. This includes the following (I've paraphrased the descriptions in parenthesis):
Foster good relationships (Learn the business and get around more among your customers.)
Forge a shared IT vision, strategy, and tactical objectives (Co-create this with your customers and other IT leaders. Agree on decision responsibilities. Understand the appropriate technical and business areas involved.)
Deliver on time, on budget (But beware of big, waterfall-style projects. Limit the number of projects. Less is more.)
Develop quality solutions (Have appropriately scaled methodologies, frameworks, policies, and tools, but beware.. It's easy to lose credibility here.)
Realize business value from IT investments (Use operational measures meaningful to the business. Measure during and after the project to insure business value is achieved. Hold business partners accountable for insuring benefits realization.)
Here's the full editorial...
Leadership Under the Influence - Editorial - CIO
Sunday, December 17, 2006
IBM, Intel collaborate to further the advancement of virtualization technology. The two companies are working on benchmarks, sizing tools, selection guides, etc. to simplify the process of virtualization design for IT managers. ...
... "One of the first tools to emerge from this joint initiative is a new virtualization benchmarking methodology called vConsolidate that runs multiple instances of consolidated database, mail, Web and JAVA(1) workloads in multiple virtual CPU partitions on Intel-based System x servers to simulate real-world server performance in a typical environment. IBM and Intel are contributing the vConsolidate methodology to an industry standards body for consideration. ... " ...
Via IBM:IBM and Intel Initiative Accelerates Virtualization on Multi-Processor Servers
Monday, November 13, 2006
I just finished reading Doug DeCarlo's book, Extreme Project Management. I met Doug at a recent PMI event we both presented at. Not only is his keynote presentation a crowd pleaser (hint: he plays the drums to illustrate the pace of a typical project and uses Noah's Ark as a sample project from the "ultimate Sponsor"), but his book is chock full of practical, immediately usable ideas.
I was amazed at how much his philosophy mirrors my own, with a focus on simplicity, value, results, and the understanding that change is inevitable. A key point of Extreme Project Management is that reality rules. Plans are nice, but then results must drive further planning instead of assuming reality will yield to the plan.
As an example of simplicity, consider what he calls "The Four Business Questions":
1) Who needs what and why?
2) What will it take to get it?
3) Can we get what it takes?
4) Is it worth it?
As another example, check out his "Three Sentence Project Skinny":
1) Who will do what for whom?
2) This project will be considered completed when: ___
3) Why? This project supports the organizations objective to: ___
The book also offers handy checklists (such as what to ask the sponsor during the first and secend meetings, etc..), the 4 Accelerators, the 10 Shared Values, the 7 Win Conditions, and more.
Although the book is the size of the Encyclopedia Britannica, it's extremely readable and has diagrams that bring together all the concepts in the book. I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a book grounded in reality as opposed to academic theory. Above all, this will help project managers succeed where the rubber meets the road---communicating and dealing with stakeholders.
Amazon.com: eXtreme Project Management: Using Leadership, Principles, and Tools to Deliver Value in the Face of Volatility: Books: Douglas DeCarlo
Labels: business-results, change-management, events, it-project, leadership, plan, pmi-project-management-institute, principles, project-manager, project-plan, project-planning, results, tools, value, value-management
Monday, November 06, 2006
There was a great quote from Benjamin Disraeli in David Hillson's letter to the editor in the latest PM Network Magazine.
Disraeli allegedly* said, "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damn lies, and statistics."
* As an aside, there's apparently some debate over the actual origin of this phrase.
In any case, Hillson's interesting letter was cautioning those who frequently misapply statistics, and offered some clarification the terminology----specifically, the mean (average), mode (most frequently occuring item), and median (the middle item if all were lined up in order).
I find that many misuse Earned Value statistics the same way. The intent of EVM is to be an early indicator of a potential cost or schedule overrun (and I personally feel that it's better at predicting cost than schedule). However, much like the Ghost of Christmas Future, it's not set in stone. There are many things a project manager can do to get things back in order. More importantly, sometimes there are reasons for the apparent variance that indicate that the variance is explainable and not a concern at all.
The key with EVM (much like any metric) is to not take the statistics at face value, and to use them as a trigger to do further subjective examination. It's a tool, and organizations often overuse such tools (much like they do with Six Sigma). If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.
Sunday, November 05, 2006
The Delaware Valley Chapter tools day on 4th November got off to a good start. Don McMillan describes himself as an engineer-turned-comedian and had the audience laughing out loud for an hour. His take on work, job types, marriage and life generally overlaid a serious theme - effective communication is vitally important. Humour can make the communication more effective - and poor use of PowerPoint can make it less effective. There is more on Don McMillan at his web site at
Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Sunday, October 22, 2006
We need IT project managers to be on-board with project management tools. What works? Compliance or coaching? ...
... "We get more buy-in on using the new tools from IT's customers than from the IT project managers. How do I help get them on board? " ...
Via ComputerWorld: Read
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
And James Kerr issued a list of the Ten Commandments of Project Management in Computerworld. And it was good.
I Thou Shalt Narrow Project Scope
II Thou Shalt Not Suffer a Fat Team
III Thou Shalt Require Full-Time Business Participation
IV Thou Shalt Establish Project Review Panels
V Thou Shalt Not Provoke Burnout
VI Thou Shalt Seek Outside Assistance as Needed
VII Thou Shalt Empower Project Teams
VIII Thou Shalt Use Project Management Tools
IX Thou Shalt Reward Success
X Thou Shalt Not Tolerate Quick-and-Dirty Work Efforts
So it is written. So it shall be done. Thou canst revieweth the full list below...
The Ten Commandments of Project Management
Sunday, October 15, 2006
Tom shares good advice on using easy, controllable factors, such as co-location of project team members to increase productivity. He cites interesting data on the decrease in collaboration as distance increases (measured in feet). ...
... "There's a ton of evidence, including my own research, that demonstrates, for instance, that intermingling project teammates from various functions is an astonishingly potent device for increasing project effectiveness. " ...
Via Tom Peters: The Simple Tools of Behavior Modification ...
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
At someone's recommendation, I just finished reading Unconsulting, by David Newman. Fascinating and energizing book for anyone in business.
His book is partly inspired by Peter Drucker's statement, "Only marketing and innovation produce revenue. All other business functions produce costs." To this end, Newman offers that "the bottom line is meaningless if the top line is weak." He points out that, according to studies, "Companies with the same earnings per share that got there from SALES were worth about 30% more than companies who got there with COST CUTTING."
Newman, who, according to the book's back cover, has been called "a younger version of Tom Peters with less hair," offers 95 common-sense "in your face" tips.
A few more key points, paraphrased from the book:
- When consulting, talk to people (especially the impact points such as customers, suppliers, etc.) to gain anecdotal data to gain texture, context, and perspective.
- 95 percent of problems can be addressed by making significant changes to 5 percent of the processes, people, or technology.
- Simplicity defined: Find the shortest way to the best answer.
- Be with the client, not of the client. Rock the boat. You're there preceisely for that reason and to give advice. You're there to do your thing for them, not be a "yes" man (or woman).
- There is no cookie-cutter. Don't sell canned solutions. Listen to the client and look at unique angles to each engagement.
- Bill Cosby says, "I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody."
- Don't isolate talent management and organizational development to one department. Institutionalize it in all your management.
- The unconsultant handles an engagement in this way:
"I'll ask some questions, do some research, guide the discussion, help set clear and specific objectives for the work, offer options, tools and answers each step of the way, and then we'll do the work together."
All in all, very refreshing stuff. And a good model for project managers as well. I highly recommend this book. It's not available on Amazon.com, only on Newman's site, but well worth getting. Also, see the wealth of free white papers on his site, as well as his blog...
David Newman: Professional Speaker Motivational Speaker and Keynote Speaker and Business Consultant
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
There's an excellent article by Frank Saladis on allPM about how to lead and influence others. Topics such as boosting your credibility, practicing empathy, and maintaining organizational awareness are discussed, as well as some good tips for engaging team members and obtaining buy-in.
From my experience, these are the things a project manager needs to get right. The rest is just details.
Here's the article. Well worth reading.
Positive Leadership in Project Management – Team Building, Influencing and Leadership By Frank P. Saladis, PMP :: ALLPM Project Management :: Project Manager - Project Management - Information - Forum Manager- PM Tools - Articles -PMI
Friday, September 22, 2006
Gerald "Solutionman" Haman was recently interviewed on Innovation Tools about...well..his innovation tools. And he has quite a few. An impressive list of clients have used his KnowBrainer pocket tool to generate ideas that directly led to huge profits.
The tool makes use of his "Accelerated Innovation Process," which outlines four steps. According to Haman's site, "the four steps include: (1) Investigate Needs, (2) Create Ideas, (3) Evaluate Solutions, and(4) Activate Plans." Haman stresses the importance of "continuous innovation" as opposed to being a short-term or one-time activity.
When you think about it, these four steps are very much in line with Dr. Deming's classic "Plan-Do-Check-Act" model for continuous improvement. Not a bad framework for project management either.
Here's the full interview.
Interview with Gerald Haman, SolutionPeople - from InnovationTools.com
Wednesday, August 02, 2006
I received the latest PM Network magazine from PMI the other day, and several things jumped out at me, especially following my last blog post on the winds of project management changing.
First, Neal Whitten had a great article about how a project analyst (what I've often called a "project control specialist") can be a valuable aid to a project manager by taking on the responsibilities of: project tools management, plan development, sub-plan collection, project support, supporting project tracking meetings, filling in for the project manager at times, and other areas that can free a project manager up to actually lead the project.
It got me thinking about the talents needed for the project manager role, the project analyst/specialist role, and any other roles needed on the project. But more than that, it got me thinking about talent management in general, and what it means to the project management industry.
Just look at these headlines, all from this month's issue:
- Attracting--and Keeping--top talent
- Executive Identity: Project managers should learn to think like executives
- A People Person: Succeeding in project management---and getting what you need from thise around you---requires a well-honed set of people skills
- Virtual Reality: Dispersed project teams are sparking shifts in management and leadership styles
Clearly, the talents needed to manage projects go way beyond schedule, budget, and cost control. Notice I said "talents" as opposed to skills or knowledge. As Marcus Buckingham points out in his excellent book, First Break All the Rules, there is a huge difference between skills, knowledge, and talent. The first two can be taught. The last one--talent--is innate, and cannot be taught.
This becomes clear when you apply Buckingham's definition of talent as "ANY recurring patterns of behavior that can be productively applied." Everyone has talent. It's just a matter of discovering it and matching them to the right role. The key point is that a person's nature cannot change that much, so it's important to select someone with the right talents (i.e. innate traits). Once that's done, you need to set clear expectations, motivate the person (through praise and recognition of their strengths), and ultimately develop the person (building on the strengths that already exist instead of fruitlessly trying to fix weaknesses).
So what does this mean to the project management field? Everything. It means we need to begin thinking about these innate talents when we hire and assign project managers, when we staff the project, and when we consider how to motivate the team. The talents needed for each role will be different. And, based on the nature of the project and the stakeholders involved, the talent required to manage each project may be different. There is no "one size fits all" when it comes to talent selection.
It's not that skills and knowledge aren't important, but these two items without the correct talents will not bring about success.
What I like about Buckingham's book is that it's based on facts---years of research with the Gallup organization. Anyone who selects and manages people should read this book. And when you do, think about the diverse talents needed for each person on your team, and for the project manager role for each individual project.
Labels: change-management, it-project, knowledge-management, leadership, people, plan, pmi-project-management-institute, project-cost, project-manager, project-plan, project-roles, project-schedule, project-teams, selection, talent-management, tools
Sunday, July 16, 2006
Here's your chance to find out what tools and techniques people are using in the project management arena.
PM Forum has posted a link to a survey being conducted by the Business School of the University of Quebec at Montreal.
By responding to the survey, you'll have immediate access to the data as it accumulates, you'll receive a summary report by summer 2006, and you'll be able to access the summary report from an earlier survey done in 2004.
Here's the link....
PMFORUM, Connecting the World of Project Management PMFORUM Breaking News: PMFORUM.ORG VISITORS INVITED TO PARTICIPATE IN PROJECT TOOLS SURVEY
Thursday, June 15, 2006
For those who like puzzles, they're running a program on AllPM this month based on Napoleon on Project Management by yours truly. Each week or so (through June and into July), I've been asked to pose some challenging scenarios to be discussed on the AllPM forum.
After each puzzler runs for a week or so, I then respond with what Napoleon might have done (at least, as far as I know, since he's unavailable for comment).
Check out puzzler#1 for an example (it generated some good discussion in the forum). Then take a shot at discussing your thoughts on puzzler #2.
Best of all, the folks at AllPM are having some fun with this and will be offering some free French wine to at least one "winner," to be announced on Bastille Day, July 14th. Join the fun! Here's the link...
ALLPM Project Management :: Project Manager - Project Management - Information - Forum Manager- PM Tools - Articles -PMI
Thursday, May 25, 2006
Yesterday, I posted a link to an excellent article on a software selection process. Now Projects@Work has just announced their PPM Software Evaluation Tool, a downloadable tool that offers "a comprehensive set of questions and parameters for organizations to consider when selecting a project portfolio management solution."
Here's an excerpt from the accompanying article (which is valuable in itself) ...
Don’t settle for presentations and proposals. Regardless of how you proceed through the procurement process, make sure to get your hands on the solution before you make a decision... An ideal, but time-and cost-intensive approach is to pilot the software on one or a subset of live projects before you commit to a full-scale implementation. While this last option will require you to invest in training and a limited installation of the software, if the solution turns out to be the wrong one you have minimized the cost of a failed implementation.This is sage advice, as many of these tools look great in a demo---or even a brief conference room pilot---but until you experience how easy or difficult it is to actually configure the tools, you don't really know what you're getting yourself into.
As the saying goes, "Fail fast, fail cheap."
Monday, May 15, 2006
OK, I've been fleshing out the Service-Oriented Project Management (SOPM)™ model, and have come up with a more memorable and catchy representation of the four steps, although the actual content is pretty much the same.
The acronym for the four phases is UP-IT (which can symbolize "upping" the level of customer service, saying "up yours" to old ways of doing things, or "upping" the success rates of IT projects---in which case the "it" stands for "IT").
Ready??? Drum roll please......
The four phases are:
1) UNDERSTAND ... Develop an understanding of the problem being addressed, the goals, constraints, the internal environment, the external market, benchmarks, the people and subject matter involved, potential solutions, risks, benefits/justification, and any other knowledge necessary for success. Most of all, understand the customer and what they need to be successful.
2) PREPARE ... After helping the customer obtain approvals if needed, prepare the project organization (resources, roles & responsibilities), operating principles, the infrastructure and tools needed to run the project, organizational alignment, preliminary training needed, communication, and anything else needed for a smooth road ahead.
3) ITERATE... Using the axiom, "Think bold, implement safely," plan, design, build, test and pilot the solution before attempting a full scale implementation. Encourage innovation. Implement in phases to achieve quick wins, earlier benefits, and greater customer satisfaction. Consider iterative prototypes during the design phase. Don't forget additional training needed.
4) TRANSFORM... After each project phase and at the end of the project, evaluate and document lessons learned, customer satisfaction, and benefits achieved (vs expected) for the purpose of transforming yourself and the customer for the better. This includes guiding the customer to help them achieve maximum results with the product or service delivered, and laying the groundwork for their continued success.
Now that I have the framework locked in, I'll complete the model around these four phases. I am absolutely convinced that this model can help increase customer satisfaction and the general success rates of projects.
Labels: alignment, business-results, customer, innovation, it-project, knowledge-management, people, plan, preparation, principles, project-plan, project-roles, results, risk-management, satisfaction, sopm, tools, training
Monday, May 08, 2006
Here's a great commentary by Max Wideman regarding James Bullock's article, "The Top 10 Ways Software Projects Are Different."
It's not that Wideman disagrees with Bullock on his 10 points, but Wideman astutely points out that many other types of projects share the same challenges, whether caused by conflicting stakeholders (i.e. trying to build a road amid protesting citizens) or great uncertainty (like most research and development projects, or even filming a movie where success isn't known until the test audience and final audience see it).
The point is that software projects aren't that unique in themselves. No doubt, many of them have quite a bit of uncertainty, and that requires some approaches that are different than projects with less uncertainty (i.e. rolling wave scheduling, iterative prototypes, pilot tests, etc.). However, the basics of project management should be the same for any type of project.
Like anything, we have many project management tools at our disposal, and we need to use them correctly, whether it's a software project, construction project, or any other type of project.
Here's Max Wideman's article in PDF format...
Occasionally, I'm asked the question, "What is the difference between project management and leadership?" My answer is always the same, "Nothing, if they're both done right."
At their core, both project management and leadership are about leading people to achieve objectives.
Formal project management offers some tools for effective scope management, planning, scheduling, monitoring, and risk management, that increases the likelihood that the objectives will actually be met.
Likewise, general leadership is about setting strategy, communicating a vision, and inspiring people to do their best.
In other words, a project management approach can help leaders achieve their vision, and leadership skills can help project managers insure the success of their projects.
Neither one is fully effective without the other. Good leadership requires a deliberate approach, and good project management requires strong leadership. I'd venture to say that if one is failing, it's probably lacking the other.
Just some food for thought. It may seem like common sense, but there are those who think that the two are mutually exclusive.
Friday, May 05, 2006
OK, everyone relax, I haven't lost my mind. Of course planning is important. But, as I've been saying for years, circumstances change the minute a plan is put on paper and a good project manager needs to expect uncertainty and know how to deal with it when it arises.
There's a great article in Projects@Work by Roger Bly that supports this approach. Bly talks about how project managers must manage the entire end-to-end process, and recommends taking a collaborative approach, using tools that enable frequent two-way communication and the ability for resources to keep the plan current and reflective of reality (something I completely agree with).
Here's an excerpt...
"A collaborative project execution application can make this process a reality in organizations of all sizes by allowing project teams to successfully tackle multiple concurrent projects. Projects are no longer constrained by static plans produced and updated only by project managers.
A project execution approach also frees project leaders from the mundane work of updating project plans, collecting progress information and reformatting information into status reports. Project plans can be collaboratively built and updated by the project team, often by reusing collateral, deliverables and templates from previous projects."
Far too often, a project manager will create an elaborate plan, and struggle to keep it current, ignoring the real issues that occur during project execution. If the team is trained to contribute frequent updates of remaining time (and any changes to the plan), the project manager can spend more time leading and monitoring as opposed to administrivia.
Of course, another easy way to accomplish this is to update the plan and percent complete collaboratively at a weekly meeting on an overhead projector, but it's ideal if the resources can update their own activities electronically.
For more about the need to focus on execution and communication, read the full article...
Tuesday, May 02, 2006
Service Oriented Project Management (SOPM) is taking shape as a methodology that fills the gaps in traditional project management, namely a RELENTLESS customer focus and the all-important analysis and benefits evaluation after the project has "completed."
As I fine tune the model, I'll post the iterations here, as a methodology in progress.
The four high-level steps in SOPM are as follows:
1) UNDERSTAND ... Develop an understanding of the problem being addressed, the goals, constraints, the internal environment, the external market, benchmarks, the people and subject matter involved, potential solutions, risks, benefits/justification, and any other knowledge necessary for success. Most of all, understand the customer.
2) ENABLE ... After helping the customer obtain approvals, prepare the project organization (resources, roles & responsibilities), operating principles, the infrastructure and tools needed to run the project, organizational alignment, preliminary training needed, communication, and anything else needed for a smooth road ahead.
3) ITERATE... Plan, design, build, test and pilot the solution before attempting a full scale implementation. Implement in phases to achieve quick wins, earlier benefits, and greater customer satisfaction. Consider iterative prototypes during the design phase. Don't forget additional training needed.
4) EVALUATE... After each project phase and at the end of the project, evaluate and document lessons learned, customer satisfaction, and benefits achieved (vs expected). This includes evaluating how the customer can achieve maximum results with the product of the project, and laying the groundwork for their continued success.
By using an UNDERSTAND, ENABLE, ITERATE, and EVALUATE process, with COMMUNICATE as an overarching activity that extends across all four steps, we adopt a much more holistic and customer-centered approach to project management.
A few key points... Customer satisfaction should be measured at milestones throughout the project, not just at the end. It's as important as monitoring cost and schedule (i.e. Earned Value performance).
Imagine seeing an S-Curve showing Planned Value, Earned Value, Actual Cost, and Customer Satisfaction. Maybe your project is on schedule and on budget, but the customer isn't satisfied with the results (or with the project communication, or a whole host of other issues).
A narrow focus on cost and schedule takes too much of an inward view. Besides, measuring customer satisfaction throughout a project allows for corrective action instead of managing in the rear view mirror.
More to come.
NOTE: I have since revised this model. See my updated entry.
Labels: action, alignment, business-results, customer, customer-service, earned-value, knowledge-management, methodology, people, performance, plan, preparation, principles, project-cost, project-plan, project-roles, project-schedule, results, risk-management, satisfaction, service-orientation, sopm, tools, training, value, value-management
Sunday, April 30, 2006
Here is sage advice and good references on the topic of business process improvement, which includes mapping the current and future states of the process. Ben Graham and team highlight, in this article: The Key to Good Process Mapping (PDF), the importance of organizational alignment and involvement of the key stakeholders of the process: namely the folks operating it. ...
... "There are three essentials that must be handled well to assure good process mapping. ...
1. The operating people whose work is being mapped must supply information for the map and must understand and support the reasons for the mapping. 2. The map itself must be organized in a way that enables everyone involved to clearly understand the process. 3. The information that is assembled in the map must be valid. " ...
Business Process Mapping: Good Reference: Via The Ben Graham Corporation: The Key to Good Process Mapping ...
Process maps are as important as organization charts, according to this article. ...
BUSINESS PROCESS REENGINEERING: A CONSOLIDATED METHODOLOGY (Subramanian Muthu, Larry Whitman, and S. Hossein Cheraghi, Dept. of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering, Wichita State University): "Talking about the importance of processes just as companies have organization charts, they should also have what are called process maps to give a picture of how work flows through the company. Process mapping provides tools and a proven methodology for identifying your current As-Is business processes and can be used to provide a To-Be roadmap for reengineering your product and service business enterprise functions. "
Saturday, April 22, 2006
Microsoft partner achieves specialization in enterprise project management ...
... "Berbee Information Networks Corporation has become the first Microsoft Gold Certified Partner headquartered in the Midwest to achieve the Microsoft Enterprise Project Management (EPM) specialization. The specialization, achieved in April 2006, recognizes Berbee's expertise in project management consulting for businesses needing tools and processes to effectively manage projects across entire organizations. " ...
Enterprise Project Management: Microsoft Specialization: Via Berbee: Berbee Earns Microsoft Enterprise Project Management Specialization
A few weeks ago, I commented on Part 1 of a three-part series on Earned Value Management on Projects@Work.
While Part 1 set the stage and illustrated some of the challenges of EVM, Part 2 of this excellent series offers some excellent case studies and learnings.
For instance, the US government agency, OPM (Office of Personnel Management) cites the following critical success factors:
- Continuous executive sponsorship (not just up front)
- Committment to funding for adequate tools and training
- Adequate allocation of project managers' time to manage using this system
- Piloting EVM in a small group of projects to illustrate success and fine tune the details
- Not underestimating the culture change management required, involving employees, managers, and timekeepers. Regularly maintained training and job aids are critical.
Another organization, Inter-Coastal Electronics, cites having shallow, simple WBS templates in their ERP system as a key success factor. They claim that a WBS that's too granular becomes too difficult to manage. I couldn't agree more.
I highly recommend this series to anyone attempting to introduce Earned Value Management in their organizations.
Tuesday, March 28, 2006
OK, maybe this doesn't top the skateboarding dog (see yesterday's post), but here's an extremely compelling article from the Defense Acquisition University (DAU) on why most software projects are doomed to failure.
Thanks to PMForum for posting this in their news section.
The article states that most software projects come nowhere near their original baselines (although they may come closer to approved revised baselines). It says that stakeholders and the organizational environment, more so than lack of project management skills, bear much of the blame. Here's a quote:
"No amount of training in the technical skills of program management will overcome the simple truth that, as a PM, you cannot make people do what you need them to do. This is the root cause of many software-intensive program failures. Stakeholders often cannot agree on priorities, refuse to standardize business practices, take off on their own proprietary solutions, or simply refuse to participate in the program."The article also says that the original plans are usually unrealistic to begin with, and underestimate the organizational challenges. It says we make matters worse by holding project managers accountable without giving them the necessary support to be successful.
"... Most expectations of contemporary programs are unrealistic. The cruel reality is that we train PMs and drop them in an organizational 'shark tank' that opposes many of the principles they have just absorbed in their training. Program managers often find themselves in a superfluous role, accountable, yet powerless. "The article proposes a system of observing stakeholder behavior and rewarding and discouraging behavior as appropriate. Of course, an organization must recognize the problem and commit to doing something about it.
Senior leadership must be actively involved in fostering the changed behaviors. Otherwise, software projects will continue to be underestimated and mired in conflict, despite the best training, the best EPM tools, and the best processes.
I highly recommend reading the full article, "Irreducible Truths of Software-Intensive Program Management", by David Cottengim.
PMFORUM, Connecting the World of Project Management PMFORUM Breaking News: MOST SOFTWARE PROJECTS ARE DOOMED TO FAILURE ACCORDING TO PENTAGON PAPER
Friday, March 24, 2006
A contributor to eProject's eLounge mentioned this excellent article from Chief Project Officer. It's written by Tom Westcott, founder of Project Solutions Group. Several years ago, I saw him speak on scheduling techniques at the PMI Delaware Valley Chapter's Annual Workshop, and was very impressed with his dynamic style and pragmatic approach.
In the article, Westcott talks about how PMOs must demonstrate value if they are to survive, and offers some good tips on how to do just that. Specifically, he says they must create strategic alignment, deliver real value, and communicate frequently.
Here's an excerpt on what he has to say about delivering value:
PMOs must deliver value to survive. Value is not templates, tools, methodology, processes, training; these are means to driving value. Value is gaining efficiencies, achieving cost savings, increasing customer satisfaction, reducing time-to-market, increasing revenue and profit, reducing deficits, or increasing competitive advantage. Too many PMOs wrap their whole mission and existence around the services they provide instead of their impact on the business. Executives buy value.
Too many PMO directors are former project managers who see their role as project management evangelists. This
leads to a myopic view, and often they are ill-prepared or unable to work strategically with executive management. PMO directors need to speak and think in business terms, financial and organizational. Nix the "project-management speak." How does this project benefit the organization and support our strategy? And how can we get it done as quickly and inexpensively as possible? That's what they care about.
For the full article, read on...
Chief Project Officer: PMO or Bust?
Labels: alignment, business-impact, business-strategy, customer, it-project, it-strategy, methodology, pmi-project-management-institute, pmo, project-cost, project-manager, project-manager-tips, satisfaction, tools, training, value, value-management
Tuesday, March 21, 2006
Partners collaborate to launch Project Corona, which is an Eclipse tools services framework to support integration and interoperability for project teams. ...
... "Compuware Corporation and the Eclipse Foundation announced the creation of the Tools Services Framework (Corona) Project, to be led by Compuware. The creation of Project Corona comes less than six months after Compuware officially joined the Eclipse Foundation as a Strategic Member. Corona is a server-side framework that enables Eclipse-based tools to collaborate, sharing information about projects, applications and events. Project Corona--or the Tools Services Framework Project, as it is officially called--has been reviewed by the Eclipse Technology Project Management Committee (PMC) and officially accepted for project creation. " ...
Project: Tools Services Framework: Via Compuware: Compuware and the Eclipse Foundation Announce the Tools Services Framework (Corona) Project
Monday, March 20, 2006
Flashline releases software enhancements that support full-cycle service oriented architecture SOA governance, by ensuring that policies are enforced across the lifecycle and that services align with the architecture. ...
... "Flashline, the leading registry/repository provider for SOA and software reuse, announced the immediate availability of Flashline for SOA 5.1, featuring new enhancements for governance and lifecycle management. Highlights of the new release include an enhanced policy management module, SOA starter patterns and an integration framework for enterprise systems management tools. " ...
SOA Service Oriented Architecture Governance: Software Enables: Via Flashline: Flashline Enhances Registry and Repository for SOA Governance and Lifecycle Management
Saturday, March 18, 2006
IT Governance Limited has announced a new IT governance framework (titled the Calder-Moir IT Governance Framework) that brings together multiple disciplines, including information technology, risk management, project management, strategy, intellectual property, business design and compliance.
"Until today, no single tool has provided a full picture of IT governance”, says Alan Calder, CEO of IT Governance Limited. “Collectively, existing tools have often given a confusing impression that actually hinders the purpose of IT governance, which is to equip boards with information and levers for directing, evaluating and monitoring how well IT supports their core businesses. The newIT Governance Framework directly addresses this concern.”
To view the framework, visit http://www.itgovernance.co.uk/page.framework. It's based upon Alan Calder’s book, IT GovernanceToday – A Practitioner’s Handbook, which is available at Link.
In addition to the framework and the book, the IT Governance Toolkit, which, according to Calder, will provide "a comprehensive suite of policies, procedures and task sheets" will be launched in Q2 2006.
Thursday, March 16, 2006
AllPM is one of the more content-rich project management sites. And best of all, the tools are all free.
One of the many useful areas on their site is their checklists section. I particularly liked the Consultants Methodology checklist, which I think is valuable for any project manager.
It's concise, simple, and correctly focuses on the up-front goals and solutions analysis, before getting into the actual exectution of the project. It's a 60,000 foot view, which is just what's needed before getting into the fine details.
Check it out...
ALLPM Project Management :: Project Manager - Project Management - Information - Forum Manager- PM Tools - Articles -PMI
Friday, March 10, 2006
This is a continuation of Part 1, and shows how Tom Kelley's The Ten Faces of Innovation is living proof that innovation and project management are not mutually-exclusive, and in fact, must coexist for true success.
In part 1, we talked about the book's three Learning Personas; The Anthropologist, The Experimentor, and The Cross-Pollinator. Now we'll talk about The Organizing Personas, again adapted from Kelley's book.
The Organizing Personas
4) The Hurdler – Bends the rules to get around roadblocks. Hurdlers tend to be street smart and can cleverly work around the system, undeterred by adversity. Seemingly stubborn at times, they listen to experts, but don’t let them have the final word.
5) The Collaborator – Brings diverse groups together, even if leading from the middle of the pack. Wins over skeptics and creates solutions that cross boundaries. Breaks through silos by being the glue that holds the diverse group together. Works “with” the client instead of “at” them. Prefers to coach rather than direct, coaching behind the scenes and letting the team run with the ball and have the glory. Doesn’t second-guess people from the sidelines.
6) The Director – Assembles the right people and gives them an environment that will allow their creativity to flourish. Has good strategic vision and sets the right theme. There’s no one style that works best. Some lead with calmness and others are bundles of energy. But they all give center stage to others, love sparking new ideas and projects, aim high, and embrace the unexpected with a variety of techniques, strategies, and resources. This role can be on a specific team and does not necessarily have to have a position of “director” authority in the corporation.
Just as an ideal project team should have the learning personas in order to position their project for success, these organizing personas can help turn chaos into order, and failure into success. As Tom Kelly mentions in his book, not every team must have every persona accounted for (and some people can adapt multiple personas), but like any toolbox, we need to know the available tools and use them when they're needed.
Up next in part 3, TheBuilding Personas...
Sunday, March 05, 2006
In this article, SAP leader shares lessons-learned with SAP CRM implementation: the closer you get to the customer, the more different the requirements ... CRM software needs flexibility at the customer interface ... enterprise offerings are not flexible ... without early wins in the sales force and front-office, the workforce satisfies its requirements with other tools. ...
... "For many SAP customers, CRM adoption was scheduled in the second and third phases of an ERP project and by that time, customers were either worn out or not willing to undergo system disruptions ... " ...
SAP CRM Pojects: Barriers Acknowledged by SAP: Via SearchSAP: SAP acknowledges barrier to mySAP CRM implementations
Tuesday, February 28, 2006
Sun CEO Scott McNealy challenges industry leaders to rethink traditional business models built on the global network economy, where transparency, community, and collaboration drive innovation into The Participation Age. ...
... "Sun believes the world is entering a new era - the Participation Age - where dramatically lowered barriers to entry, plummeting device prices, and near-universal connectivity are driving a new round of network participation. From blogs to Java, SMS messages to Web services, participants are forming communities to drive change, create new businesses, new social services and new discoveries. This growth in the network economy is fueled by sharing and collaboration among communities interconnected by technology and driven by purpose. Sun also believes that sharing and collaboration in the Participation Age will stimulate innovation to help all participants from across the world grow and prosper. " ...
Collaboration and Openness in the Participation Age: Via Sun Microsystems: Thought Leaders Prove Sharing Builds Economies at Sun Microsystems' Participation Age Event: Sun CEO Scott McNealy Pushes Industry to Rethink Business for 21st Century, Focus on Collaboration and Community ...
Addtional references on the intersection of transparency, collaboration, community, and innovation:
Via SAP: SAP Leads Industry Collaboration in Support of Enterprise Services: "For the first time, a community process in which collaborative business process innovation can flourish in an open and transparent forum will become the standard by which all enterprise services development is measured. The Enterprise Services Community Process is the only industry-driven method for defining enterprise services and is poised to become the preferred method for the SAP customer and partner ecosystem to achieve business process innovation through the use of enterprise services. "
Via The Future of Work Weblog: Distributed Work and Network Building Tools: "As work becomes ever-more-highly distributed, an individual's responsibility for maintaining his or her network of connections, both inside and outside his or her company, is increasing. Team members might be located in different geographic locations and timezones. They may only have come together for a short-term project or they might not even be members of the same company. ... "
Via Business Week: This Way To The Future: "Ultimately, innovation is about continually pushing back the boundaries of what is possible. The true genius of capitalism is that it provides economic incentives for sustained innovation. "
Sunday, February 26, 2006
... "Project management course, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., March 7, 14 and 21, Center for Research and Innovation, Bemidji State University. Three-day course will provide instruction in the management tools necessary to ensure successful project implementation and will cover topics including project selection, life cycle, scope planning, work breakdown structures estimating costs, execution and control and risk management. " ...
Project Management Course: Via Grand Forks Herald: LOCAL BUSINESS CALENDAR
Wednesday, February 22, 2006
Interesting article on the differences in culture and communication styles across the globe. Requires some companies, like the Manpower quote below, to document processes, such as governance, in detail. Page 2 has good insights on programming cultural styles ...
... "To overcome that, Manpower has created an IT governance system dubbed The Manpower Way. It describes the processes, methods and tools used to manage projects, people, assets, investments and budgets. " ...
IT Governance: Dealing With Cultural Differences: Via Computerworld: Culture Clash
Tuesday, February 21, 2006
Recent webcast by Managed Objects validates the hype associated with ITIL implementation. Some good advice was shared: Adopt ITIL in small pieces with a focus on top business services and their key performance indicators. Avoid the proliferation of tools to support ITIL adoption. Some not-so-good advice was evident: Select tools first and then automate processes.
I would recommend focusing on the process first, redesign as necessary, train and support people in their roles, and then implement tools in stages consistent with your desired change in process maturity. ...
... "Over 500 registrants for the webcast validated that the ITIL adoption topic is top-of-mind for many enterprises today. In fact, according to Forrester Research, with in the past year ITIL adoption of $1B+ revenue companies has increased from 13% to 20% , with that number projected to grow to 60-70% by 2008. " ...
ITIL Implementation Webcast Advice: Via Managed Objects: Business Service Management Required for Successful ITIL Adoption: Independent Research Firm tightly links BSM and ITIL Best Practices during recent Webcast ...
Monday, February 20, 2006
It seems that everywhere you turn, someone is recommending a Project Management Office as the solution to an organisation's project management woes. This 2003 article from CIO magazine makes a familiar point and provides some statistics that still have validity. Office Discipline: Why You Need a Project Management Office
The reason for bringing up the topic again now is that I recently came across a situation where a client was planning to implement project management tools - and to leave the project managers to use them as they saw fit.
McHardy's conjecture states that 'for business processes, whatever is not deliberately held together will fly apart'. In project management process terms this applies when artifacts - tools, procedures, templates, guidelines, etc. - are made available without any mechanism for coordinating their use. This is the 'discipline' referred to in the article. Without the requirement to apply procedures consistently, individuals will tend to develop their own solutions and approaches that are reasonably tailored to their own circumstances. Sometimes this will be based on tool preferences, local reporting habits, work profiles or requirement to conform to alternative procedures.
PMOs can take various forms but one common requirement is for the PMO to provide the glue to hold the processes and their use together. Even if there is no formal PMO there needs to be some cohesive mechanism to make sure the expensively acquired assets areused.
Saturday, February 18, 2006
I've been reading an excellent book by Tom Kelley, of IDEO (the award-winning industrial design firm). It's called The Ten Faces of Innovation, and from reading it, I'd say there's more than meets the eye that's applicable to project management in general. I'll be posting on that shortly.
Meanwhile, from Innovation Tools comes a good article that talks about the nuances of managing projects that are specifically for the purposes of innovation (i.e. research and experimental projects, etc.).
For example, according to the article:
- Innovation projects tend to start with loosely defined, sometimes even ambiguous objectives that become clearer as the project proceeds. The processes used are more experimental and exploratory and seldom follow strict linear guidelines.
- Teams need to be more diverse and have a higher level of trust as they explore new territory where failure is a possibility.
- With failure as a built-in possibility, innovation teams are more actively involved with risk management and need to learn to fail fast and fail smart in order to move on to more attractive options.
- Also, innovation projects generally need to be sold to project sponsors and funding committees, a responsibility usually not required from normal project teams.
Innovation Weblog - Project management vs. managing innovation projects
Thursday, February 16, 2006
Reading Dennis Littky's The Big Picture: Education is Everyone's Business has been very inspiring. Just as Littky challenges the status quo in the education system, we must do so in our organizations.
Here's a quote I especially like in the book:
"No matter how far you have gone on a wrong road, turn back"
- Turkish Proverb
I've listed 21 key points, paraphrased from the book, to illustrate how the same issues that face the education system apply to creating a learning environment in business...
- Teach how to think flexibly, not that there's a right way and a wrong way for doing everything. It's worth noting that the best tennis players hold the racket the wrong way.
- Create an environment that allows students the freedom to find themselves with the support and motivation of inspiring adults [leaders]
- Teach students to fish; don't give them fish. Quote: "We have plenty of people who can teach what they know, but very few who can teach their own capacity to learn" - Joseph Hart
- Use collaborative learning - i.e. "What do we think of this passage as compared to this one?" etc.
- Teaching and learning are about problem solving. Put teachers and learners in the best possible environment for them to do this together.
- Don't dismiss someone as "dumb in math" or "uninterested in science." Cater to their strengths [as Peter Drucker says, "Make weaknesses irrelevant" and pair people with complementary strengths if need be]
- Don't measure education [or any kind of success] by the number of minutes a kid sits at a desk.
- Remember the Three R's: Relationships (with teachers, community, parents, etc.), Relevance (to the students lives and passions - i.e. "what's in it for me"), Rigor (allow them to concentrate intensely in an area of their interest - build depth, not breadth)
- Insure a shared philosophy among the principal and teachers [i.e. management]
- Fix the atmosphere. Create an environment for learning. Fun, happiness, respect, kindness.
- Build celebration into the culture. Celebrate often, for various occasions.
- Know who really sets the culture of a school [or organization]. It's the senior students [middle management and vocal champions -- what Seth Godin calls "the sneezers" --those who can spread an "idea virus"]. Engage them in recreating the culture, and others will follow suit. You can't change the culture by holding a special assembly [or a meeting or a memo]
- Never make rules based on the exception.
- To build trust and respect, provide responsibility and decision-making to students, and control over their environment, tools, and learning
- A culture can thrive and grow on its own stories. Every interaction helps build the culture.
- Start with the student, not the subjects or classes. Quote: "One size never fits all. One size fits one." - Tom Peters
- Use real world examples - or better yet, real projects. Students can tell when things really matter and when they're contrived. [so can business people learning project management]
- Don't give grades. The real world is based on giving feedback and showing people what they need to do to improve. It helps students succeed. Grades are meaningless, subjective, and can destroy morale. Use a narrative instead. It's a tool to help learning, not evaluation for evaluation's sake.
- Quote: "Nobody grew taller by being measured." - Phillip Gammage
- Measure what counts. There is no one indicator of success that fits every student. Instead, measure how often a student talks to teachers about their problems [builds the right culture]; measure if parents agree the school is a safe place and that it views parents as partners [i.e. customer satisfaction]
- Friends of change [6 C's] are: concentration (on your philosophy), commitment, conversation, collaboration, caring, conviviality
Sunday, February 05, 2006
The convergence of benefits realization from ERP implementations and the drive towards operational excellence have placed IT at the epicenter of business process transformation. Good governance can ensure the leadership committment and focus necessary to achieve real change. Andrew Rowsell-Jones, Gartner, extends the approach for IT governance to the enterprise decisions necessary to drive enterprise transformation. ...
... "Process governance can be defined using the same tools for defining IT governance - but extended to include decisions about process priorities. These additions include the principles used to govern decisions about processes, and benefits realization, where C-level executives and at least one other business group, plus the CIO, have to call the shots. " ...
Business Process Governance: Setting Priorities: Via CIO: Change Is the Name of the Game ...
Monday, January 30, 2006
Software service augments enterprise project management tools to support the front-end-load (FEL) of IT projects: estimates, resource plans, and schedules. ...
... "SCOPE iT Inc., a provider of IT project planning software services, today announced the latest version of its flagship product, SCOPE iT v.5. SCOPE iT is a web-based software service that helps CIOs and CFOs develop more accurate IT project plans, including cost estimates, resource requirements and time schedules. According to the 2004 Standish Group Chaos Report, $55 million annually is wasted on failed IT projects, which represents 22 percent of an average organization’s IT project budget. SCOPE iT is designed to reduce that number and can help double an organization’s project success rate, saving up to 10 percent or more of its IT project budget, while improving compliance with governance initiatives and frameworks such as Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX), ITIL, CMMI, COBIT and Six Sigma.
This latest version of SCOPE iT – v.5 – provides important up-front project planning capabilities – including estimating, forecasting, resourcing, scoping and scheduling – that complement project management and PPM applications. SCOPE iT v.5 includes a number of new features tailored toward large enterprise organizations, including support for project portfolios, user definable cost categories and enhanced management, organization and customization capabilities. " ...
IT Projects: Front-End-Load Software Service: Via ScopeIT: SCOPE IT INC. INTRODUCES NEW IT PROJECT PLANNING SOFTWARE SERVICE: SCOPE iT v.5 Provides Expanded Capabilities To Increase IT Governance Success ...
Tuesday, January 24, 2006
The trend of globalization is driving complex construction projects and software implementations where new project management skills are required to be successful: respect for diversity of cultures, sourcing of local talents for delivery, designing solutions in a virtual environment, and application of distributed expertise to solve local problems. ...
... "Said Charles Foundyller, president and CEO of Daratech, Inc., Globalization requires new project management skills and processes that can meet the requirements of today's distributed enterprises. Bentley has shown an impressive understanding of the management challenges of globalization and the tools needed to meet these challenges. " ...
Project Management: Globalization and the Distributed Enterprise: Via Bentley: Distributed Enterprise at daratechPLANT
Thursday, January 19, 2006
Martin Raymond shares his observations on the emerging generation of mobile technology enthusiasts, who use technology routinely to enable their lifestyles. Data shows that teens are well equipped with devices that enable an online experience throughout a typical day. ...
... "In various research projects designed to asses the impact of mobile technology on how we learn, work and play, Future Laboratory researchers have already noted the emergence of trends such as continuous computing among the late teens - where students use mobiles, laptops and (authorised and unauthorised) hotspots to log on, tune in and bliss out on everything from exam sheet cribs to in-depth studies of the subjects they are working on. " ...
Via EducationGuardian.co.uk: E-learning: Wired-up students ...
The Future Laboratory was established in November 2001 and is recognised for its innovative approach to forecasting, using ethnographic research tools and a creative, qualitative outlook to help programmers, brands, retailers, designers and marketing departments gain better insights into market directions and the future products or brands consumers may need. It also offers lifestyle analysis, brand development and consumer network building.
Monday, January 16, 2006
Scrum employs the dreaded daily meeting. The purpose is to keep everyone focused on the RIGHT work. A daily focus helps to manage the "overwhelm" factor.
Scrum asks 3 basic questions:
- What have you done during the last 24 hours? (Progress, work completed to date)
- What do you plan to do in the next 24 hours? (Forward planning, work you are about to do)
- What is stopping/delaying you from getting it done? (Issues and risk management)
Whether you Scrum or not, have you asked your team members these questions lately? Do you ask them daily? Especially if your project is a "fixed time" project, I suggest you employ the daily meeting (doesn't have to take long at all!) and start asking those questions!
For more on Scrum see also Methods & Tools Articles Archives in HTML
Sunday, January 15, 2006
In keeping with our scrum theme, this method focuses on delivering value early in the product lifecycle. Simon Avery reports on Scrum software development method employed by Microsoft to accelerate new product cycle time to market. ...
... "To get its classified system to market as fast as possible, Microsoft is relying on what it calls the scrum method of software development, which involves a very small team of engineers. For the on-line classified product, code named Fremont, there are just six developers. " ...
Via The Globe and Mail: Executive Decision: Classifieds force sluggish Microsoft to scrum
Additional resources on Microsoft and scrum ...
Via Microsoft: Download details: Project 2003 Tool: Scrum Solution Starter: "Scrum is an Agile project management practice that employs short iterations and continuous improvement. The Scrum solution starter extends Microsoft Office Project Professional 2003 or Project Standard 2003 and enables project managers to perform basic Scrum work. "
Via Chris Flaat's WebLog : People are not fungible resources: "We are currently using both Scrum and more traditional project management on several efforts going on within our product unit, and I thought I'd share some learnings. Something we're running into is that getting people dedicated to one effort can be hard, depending on the management style of the relevant managers. "
Software Tools and Methods: "This presentation started with a brief context-setting look at why Agile approaches are gaining in popularity. It then discussed the fundamental principles that are common to most Agile methods, and used the Scrum approach to give a more detailed view by example on how Agile projects work. "
Labels: accelerate, agile, improvement, it-project, lifecycles, microsoft-project-management, people, principles, project-management-office, project-teams, small-project, tools, value, value-management
Thursday, January 05, 2006
Since communication is 90% of a project managers job, and one-way email blasts and static web-sites have proven to have limited benefit, there must be a more effective way of communicating in today's rapid-fire environment. And you're looking at it.
Blogging is fast becoming a standard tool in project management. It can be used for sharing information during requirements analysis, communicating globally, offering podcast updates, daily tips, or any number of areas where fast and daily communication is needed---which is most of the time.
The best thing is, unlike email, it stays up on the web, where people can see comments posted against the blog, and can search for specific keywords or topics. It's also a good way of encouraging crosstalk among project stakeholders. And with tools like Audioblog, you can even integrate audio and video if needed.
The brief below shows two specific examples of project blogs in action. I'd love to hear from others who are using blogs for their projects, and how they're working out.
Using Blogs for Project Management
Saturday, December 24, 2005
People tend to confuse processes and methodology. A set of project management processes is not a methodology. A methodology is how we "operationalize" our processes.
PMI offers processes for project management. PRINCE2 from the UK offers a full methodology, with stage gates, work authorization forms, and so on.
The trick is to keep our methodologies lean. I look at processes as a toolbox. They are the best practice inputs, outputs, and tools/techniques for the various elements of managing a project. And, if we follow IDEF process design standards, they also include controls.
But the methodology selects from among these processes and includes forms, templates, stage gate processes, and so on, so that project managers can have a basic foundation from which to manage all projects. Applying Jack Welch's organizational approach (see my previous blog), these methodologies MUST be lean, if project management is to come across as an enabler and not added bureaucracy.
I don't think I've seen a better list of tips anywhere than this list of 25 tips from Jack Welch.
Also, as an added bonus, here's a list of values, from Jack Welch's book, Winning. These same values can work on an organizational scale or when rolling out project management processes and methodologies (more on that later).
- Leaner is better
- Eliminate bureaucracy
- Cut waste relentlessly
- Operations should be fast and simple
- Value each other's time
- Invest in infrastructure
- We should know our business best. We don't need consultants to tell us what to do.
Very inspiring. In the project management world, waste can include any processes or forms that don't bring real value. As for infrastructure, that can be broadened to include any tools that will support our efforts to get where we need to get, including EPM (Enterprise Program/Portfolio Management) tools.
Now that we've seen his core values, here's the full list of Jack Welch's 25 tips for successful leadership ...
25 LESSONS from JACK WELCH - Business Leadership and New Management Secrets
Monday, December 19, 2005
Nice example of opportunity analysis used to define benefits of an ERP project, ahead of vendor selection. ...
... "Among other benefits, the opportunity analysis process resulted in a series of easily measured KPIs (key performance indicators). For example, building error-checking tools into the data entry system would increase accuracy from 95 percent to 99 percent, reducing billing mistakes. " ...
ERP Project: Benefit Opportunity Analysis: Via CIO Today: Proving Your Project's Worth - Infrastructure ...
Thursday, December 15, 2005
IT governance seen as hot trend for 2006. CIO's will leverage business leaders to make investment decisions and increase the business value of the IT project portfolio. Summit Strategies publishes its annual list of seven IT high-impact trends in the information technology space. ...
... "CIOs Get Business Value Religion. Leading-edge CIOs will implement sophisticated, business-focused IT governance processes and tools to increase their credibility with internal business sponsors and free up funding to support strategic business/IT initiatives. " ...
Via Tekrati Research: IT Vendors Face Fundamental Changes in 2006, Says Summit Strategies ...
Thursday, December 01, 2005
Point Advantage, a PMI education provider of PMP exam prep courses, project management training programs, and learning tools, announced on their website that PMI has lowered the passing score on the new PMP exam from 81.7% to 61%.
We reported the other day that PMI was reviewing the exam questions, as they usually do after releasing a new exam, and this is the result. Of course, they'll retroactively adjust the scores of those who have already taken the exam.
More details below on the Point Advantage site...
Project Management Certification Training PMP Exam Prep Courses
Monday, November 21, 2005
Process and tools must be integrated.
I'll say it again.
Processes and tools must be integrated.
I just love when people talk about rolling out an EPM Tool and not expecting to have to revisit, reinvent, or recreate their project and portfolio management processes.
I also love when people take the opposite approach and try to define all their processes (i.e. "the what") in isolation from how they'll be implemented, and expect that any tools will fit nicely on top.
It's fine (and even beneficial) to define processes up front, but don't expect that they won't need to be changed a bit when an EPM tool is rolled out. Ideally, the "what" should be defined with the "how" in mind, as opposed to defining processes in isolation.
In fact, processes should include the "how" as part of the design, from a high level anyway. That's why IDEF (the de facto standard for process design, originally developed by the US Air Force and now maintained by Knowledge Based Systems, Inc.) stands for Integrated Definition.
The operative word is "integrated."
In fact, IDEF integrates Inputs, Outputs, Controls, and Mechanisms. If one of these is missing, it's not a complete process design.
Incidentally, this is also one of my beefs with the latest PMBOK (Third Edition), which lists the "tools and techniques" in the Knowledge Area section, totally separate from the "standard," which only contains inputs and outputs.
Let me repeat it one more time... Processes and tools must be integrated.
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
As Hal Malcomber points out in his intriguing blog site, Reforming Project Management, mind mapping software is one of the most unsung project management tools out there. We've mentioned that here at PMThink as well.
Hal points to a new ebook from Chuck Frey on mind mapping strategies, as well as a great article from Chuck on How to Use Mind Mapping Software for Project Management.
Check out Hal's blog below, which contains links to Chucks article and ebook.
Reforming Project Management
ITIL offers a standard vocabulary for IT services and provides a guideline for key IT processes. Johanna Ambrosio explores the use of the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) to accelerate the adoption of best practices for IT service management.
ITIL Path to IT Service Management: Via SearchCIO: ITIL, a data center's yellow brick road ...
... "It took about a year to learn the ITIL lingo, have individuals become certified in the process, choose a tool and then actually do it. The firm focused on processes it did not already have in place, Metcalf said, and change management was selected because the company wanted to replace old tools. " ...
Although this article is from several years ago, recent studies show that the figures haven't changed. The sad fact is that two-thirds of IT PMOs fail.
And the key reason, according to this article, is that most of them start out as a controlling/tracking organization and not a services/support organization. I've seen this happen quite a few times myself. It's like the Chinese finger-trap, the harder you pull, the tighter the trap gets. Better to start lightly by gaining credibility and showing value. And for a PMO, that needs to begin with offering assistance to the needy.
Typically, that is done by offering processes, tools, and services---not all at once---but little by little, to the rest of the IT organization. If a PMO starts out assuming it can be the hero, taking on all projects, whipping project managers into submission, and policing work in the organization, it's fighting an uphill battle for acceptance. Better to start by providing services and removing barriers (instead of creating them), and then evolve to becoming a project management center of excellence.
For more on this, read on...
ITworld.com - Opinion: There's a reason IT PMOs fail
Also, here's a white paper from Premis Consulting that provides even more evidence and comes to the same conclusions. It offers 2 key bits of advice:
An effective PMO should work for the project teams first and management second if they want to achieve any real results.
Effective PMOs provide the project team with the right tools and practices to hit the ground running, making a difference right away.
Monday, November 14, 2005
Maybe you've heard of Parkinson's Law; "Work expands to fill the time alotted." In other words, if you give someone 10 days to complete a task, they'll take the full 10 days, either by adding unnecessary features during the leftover time, or by waiting until the last minute to complete the work (also called "Student Syndrome").
Well, the same thing applies to the roles we brand people with. We can repackage Parkinson's Law as; "Performance Expands to Fill the Role Alotted." If we give people stretch goals, and brand them with a role or image that is slightly ahead of where they are, they'll stretch to live up to that role. Unfortunately, the reverse is also true.
If we pidgeonhole someone into the role they've always filled (or worse, a less important role), they'll usually limit their performance accordingly.
It's important for morale, employee retention, and the good of the project, to give people goals that will stretch them a little. But this doesn't mean to throw them at the wolves and see if they emerge with their limbs intact. It mean we need to offer the guidance, coaching, and tools for them to be successful.
I've seen too many organizations focus on tools and processes, and only give lip service to their people. They either brand people with an image based on some preconceived idea of their ability, or they give people stretch goals without any guidance or coaching whatsoever. I'd be hard pressed to say which is worse, but neither are good.
Let's remember that it's people that can make or break an organization, even with the best tools and processes. Let's give them the attention and support they deserve.
Wednesday, November 09, 2005
Looking for a job in project management?
Post your resume for free on the Project Management Institute (PMI)'s website.
Browse jobs by state, province, or industry without logging in!
The site has about 3,700 resumes, 200 job openings and over 4,000 registered employers that search the site.
There are also career links, tips and tools.
Go to Link
Source: Nov 2005 edition of PM Network (PMI's mag)
Tuesday, November 08, 2005
An interesting morning on Saturday at Valley Forge for the Delaware Valley Chapter 2nd annual tools conference. Apart from chatting to a number of interesting people with a variety of project management tales to tell, there were the presentations.
Ken Barnhart gave the keynote address. His opening story about planning and executing an attack through a minefield against vastly superior numbers and with a number of strategic constraints during the first Gulf War gave a real world perspective to the phrase 'mission critical'.
One of his views that really resonated was dislike of the need for heroics. When the heroes are doing their stuff - commandeering resources, breaking rules, ignoring risk management - the rest of the organisation has to suffer all the disruption and clean up afterwards. The overall theme was 'Value Recovery' with a strong emphasis on doing the work that adds the most value.
And then there was the closing quote 'the man who says he can - and the man who says he can't - they're both right'. Deeep!
For the tools presentations, one could choose three out of seven presentations. The Planisware, Primavera and Microsoft Project (by Ken Barnhart) sessions were all interesting and well presented. Eventually one was left with a sense of deja vu.
Tuesday, November 01, 2005
Microsoft Office Live will be released in beta in a software-as-a-service model (similar to Salesforce.com), which can support online project collaboration. ...
Via Scobleizer - Microsoft Geek Blogger: Matt Rolak says that Office Live is up
... "Matt Rolak links to the new Office Live site. " ...
... "Via Microsoft: Microsoft Office Live: Microsoft Office Live will offer you and your employees expert business management applications, such as customer, project, and document management tools, and a security-enhanced private Web site ... " ...
It's not too late to register for the 17th Annual International Integrated Program Management Conference, scheduled for November 7-9 in Virginia.
Earned Value enthusiasts rejoice! The topic of this year's seminar is: EVM is Everywhere - "Let's do it!"
Presenters will discuss EVM best practices and tools. Here's the info...
PMI College of Performance Management
Sunday, October 30, 2005
Testimony of military CIO emphasizes the information technology transformation of the military's business processes and the advanced governance practices that are necessary to ensure information technology investments are properly focused. ...
CIO: Technology Transformation Through Governance: Via House of Reps: DAVID M. WENNERGREN DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY CHIEF INFORMATION OFFICER: BEFORE THE HOUSE ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE SUBCOMMITTEE ON TERRORISM, UNCONVENTIONAL THREATS AND CAPABILITIES UNITED STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES REGARDING DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE BUSINESS TRANSFORMATION EFFORTS ...
... "STRONG INVESTMENT MANAGEMENT AND GOVERNANCE: We have taken a number of steps to both strengthen IT governance and put into place the necessary tools to do effective investment management. Our improved IM/IT governance structure has strengthened, aligned, and integrated our IM/IT efforts across the Navy and Marine Corps, ensuring Department-wide alignment of IM/IT efforts with warfighter priorities. The designation of Deputy CIOs for the Navy and Marine Corps has been particularly helpful, aligning both IT policy and execution, and CIO and C4 responsibilities. Similarly, reporting relationships between Echelon II command Information Officers and the Deputy CIOs has helped to ensure that command IT initiatives stay aligned with the Department's IT vision and architecture. " ...
U.S. Navy photo by Photographer's Mate 3rd Class Gary B. Granger. Air Traffic Controller monitors the AN/SPN-43 Precision Approach Radar during flight operations off the coast of Okinawa, Japan.
Saturday, October 29, 2005
There's an excellent article in Computerworld on how IT portfolio management tools alone will not decide which projects get done. Politics, organizational dynamics, and subjective opinion still need to play a role, even with the best of software.
People have this picture in their mind that tools can be used to calculate ROI and magically align projects with strategic need according to a perfect formula. Voila! Automatic project prioritization and selection. The fact is that this is a myth. Tools can absolutely help, and can offer a first pass view of where projects line up. But ultimately, people must make decisions----and whenever people are involved, a myriad of other issues come up, including conflicts that must be resolved.
Here's the article at Computerworld, that rightfully talks about these tools as enablers and not the be-all, end-all ...
What IT portfolio management tools can't do: Stop politics - Computerworld
Thursday, October 27, 2005
Project management solution leverages portal framework to enable multi-enterprise project management in distributed environments. ...
Via Trilog Group: Trilog Group Announces General Availability of ProjExec™ 3.0 For IBM® Workplace™ and Open Standard Platforms: Multi-Enterprise Project Management Solution Unveiled at Project Summit New England; Offers Superior Project Execution Portal for Distributed Teams ...
... "Trilog Group, Inc., a pioneer in secure multi-enterprise project management offerings and the established provider of distributed collaborative business process solutions, announces the immediate availability of ProjExec 3.0. Designed to solve the many challenges presented by the use of separate and distinct communication and project management tools in highly distributed project environments, this innovative solution provides a single collaborative process portal environment with a common infrastructure for execution and management of multi-enterprise projects. ProjExec 3.0 is now available in two editions. The version branded as ProjExec 3.0 for IBM Workplace is optimized for IBM Workplace and IBM WebSphere Portal. ProjExec 3.0 Standard Edition supports any J2EE-compliant web application server. " ...
Monday, October 24, 2005
Ivis opens up distribution channel with Programmer's Paradise for xProcess software ...
Project Management Software: xProcess Tool: Via Ivis Technologies: Programmer's Paradise Adds Ivis Technologies' xProcess Software to Its Process and Project Management Offerings ...
... "Programmer's Paradise, Inc. (NASDAQ: PROG - News), a leading independent marketer of software tools for technology professionals, today announced an agreement with Ivis Technologies to market and to distribute their newly updated enterprise process management tool, xProcess. xProcess is a live, service-oriented, server-based environment that brings flexibility, control and visibility to process management enabling agile planning, project execution and process improvement across the enterprise. " ...
Anyone familiar with PMI principles knows the triple contraint of time, cost, and scope, and the fact that it can be used when negotiating tradeoffs. You're probably also familiar with additional tradeoffs, such as quality/grade, risk, customer satisfaction (if that's even a variable), etc.
When negotiations come to a grinding halt, we also have some other proven tools to keep in our back pocket, including:
- Fast Tracking (doing some tasks in parallel that would usually be done sequentially, which of course should be used carefully since it can add risk)
- Crashing (loosely defined as analyzing alternatives to compress the duration for the least amount of additional cost, but typically interpreted as adding resources or forcing overtime, which carries risk and adds more cost than people realize)
- Time-boxing (reducing functionality for the first release and moving it to a future release)
- Problem solving (i.e. considering other approaches to solve the root problem)
In my experience, the two methods that work best by far are time-boxing and problem solving, usually in that order, and often in combination. I also find that time tends to be the most frequently stated hard constraint, with scope and even cost somewhat more flexible (although the requester rarely admits that).
Usually, scope is the most flexible (some argue over semantics of scope vs. features/functions, vs. deliverables vs. sphere of implementation, but I tend to lump it all under "scope").
And of course, when it comes to overarching priorities, I always fall back to my own tried and true "two-sentence principle", which I stated a few weeks ago:
Speed is more important than cost. And success (in whatever form that takes) is more important than speed.
In countless IT projects, these guidelines have served me well. I'd be curious about others experiences when making tradeoffs, especially in other industries.