PM Quotes from eMail

These are pretty good / funny:

“Project management is like dating – you smile a lot, you pretend to enjoy yourself, and you wait for some jerk to call you back.” – Anon

“Banging your head against a wall uses 150 calories an hour.” – firstscience.com

“We build systems like the Wright brothers built airplanes – build the whole thing, push it off a cliff, let it crash and start all over again.” – R.M Graham

“This program is too large to manage using a project management tool. That’s why we’re using spreadsheets and PowerPoint.” – Former program manager on a program that was $200M over budget and two years behind schedule!

“If everything seems to be going well, you obviously don’t know what’s going on.” – Edward Murphy

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Managing Remotely

Many managers have the opportunity / expectation to manage teams who are not in the same work space as they, the managers, are.

The challenges to this type of management are, at least, as many as they would be when managing a team in the same work place but these challenges are exacerbated by the nature of the remote work locations.

Managing a team of workers towards a well known result is often difficult. When, however, the expected results are not clearly defined, as in many projects, departments, projects, it becomes even more difficult.

If there is one fundamental requirement for effective Management, I believe, this is “Communication”. Clear and open communication is critically important in any team effort and having team members work remotely puts even more importance on this fundamental skill.

Time, Cost, Quality and Scope are absolutely critical aspects of team work and these must be accurately measured and managed. Regardless of the team members’ locations, these measurement factors must be clearly established (communicated) to all the team members at the beginning of any work effort so that they are all aware of and accept the targeted metrics for these factors on each work effort. Whether or not a team is geographically dispersed, these factors must be understood and accepted.

During the execution or performance of each engagement, the measured progress through these metrics of Time, Cost and Quality will need to be presented, explained, and managed so that each team member knows what their contributions have been, whether they are within tolerable limits for their work, and what they will / may need to do in order to bring their efforts and results back into line with the predetermined expectations.

The Scope of a work effort can also be affected by the proximity of the team members. When a change is identified, it is critical, once again, to clearly communicate what is expected from each change, how it can impact work that has already been completed and that which is still planned, what will the cost of these changes be and, as critical, when will the ultimate user or client want these changes applied. With a remote team, these points must be analyzed, agreed upon, and understood especially in terms of the acceptance / approval and timing of the application of these changes.

In some instances, remote team members, have the opportunity to work on different portions of the 24 hour world clock (i.e. the Manager may be working in India (IST) while some of the team members may be in other parts of the world: China, South Africa, or North or South America, etc.). This situation will require that even more emphasis be placed on clear, written, accessible communication. And, if translation services need to be applied, this will further complicate the communication efforts.

The importance of a Communication Plan in the setting of a geographically dispersed team becomes more important given these possibilities and complicating factors.

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People Management Principles

My People Management Principles begin with a few fundamental ideas:

  1. Praise good performance in a Team Setting
  2. Criticize in Private
  3. Find opportunities to describe details of a team member’s positive performance / contributions to your Manager with the Team Member present
  4. Work with any Team Members who may be struggling with their assignments in Private and help them show their progress to the Team
  5. Clearly set performance Objectives individually and with the Team
  6. Clearly describe your Objectives to the Team
  7. Objectively report on achievement of Objectives from all sides: Company, Team, and your accomplishments
  8. See Principle #1
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First 90 Days BA

One suggested checklist for a Business Analyst contract or employment opportunity could cover topics in three general areas:

  1. Immediate Information Needs
    1. Where current projects, progress, status and operational needs are discussed
  2. Current Application Architectures
    1. Where tools, configurations, expectations and limitations are made available
  3. Long Term Strategic Goals
    1. Where the Organization, Division, Department and Staff Objectives are made available along with guidelines at the Portfolio, Program level are discussed

My latest detailed checklist looks something like this:

  1. Immediate Information Needs
    1. Current Department Activities
      1. Projects and Resources Assigned with Level of Commitment(s)
      2. Maintenance of Applications (Resources and Levels)
      3. Infrastructure Changes
        1. In Scope of Responsibilities or NOT
      4. Reporting Process
        1. Time Sheets
        2. Work Effort Status
        3. Issue, Risk, Change Controls
        4. Budget Progress
      5. Project and System’s Life Cycle Steps and Phases
        1. Entry and Exit Criteria
        2. Templates, Techniques, Measurements
    2. Current Application Architectures
      1. On Line (internal) Applications
      2. Web Based Applications
        1. Employee Facing
        2. Customer Facing
      3. WAN, LAN Configurations
      4. SAN Configuration(s)
      5. Dev and Testing Tools
    3. Long Term Goals
      1. Work Backlog
        1. Approved
        2. Recently Declined
        3. In Review
        4. Needs Review and Evaluation
      2. Infrastructure
        1. Capacity
        2. Growth Plans
      3. Stategic
        1. Business / Executive Level Strategies
        2. Portfolio Management Process
        3. Technical Architecture Alignment Plans

Although there may be opportunities to conduct some of this work in parallel, the first item, Immediate Information Needs, must be done quickly so that we can get in synch with current work efforts as soon as possible. I believe that the other major sections of this outline plan are essential for our successful entry into an organization; however, the immediate need is to understand the current work commitments, the staff and consultants (if any) who are assigned and are capable of delivering their commitments, and the infrastructure and tools available for the current work.

What do you think?

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Issues Risks and Changes

An Issue is a situation that occurs when a Project Team encounters a question or decision that may change the Scope, Cost or Quality of an active work effort.

When an Issue is identified, its information should be captured and an Analysis performed to assess the Impact and Importance of this Issue.

The Resolution of an Issue can occur in several forms:

  • The Steering or Advisory Committee can decide how to deal with each Issue and take appropriate action so that the Project Team may continue without interruption or change of course
  • A Change Order can be prepared that will affect the previously planned work and, when approved, will change the Scope, Cost and/or Quality of the newly intended results
  • The Issue can be closed with a notice to those affected that this Issue will NOT be dealt with until after the current project effort (Scope, Cost, Quality) is completed

A Risk is a situation that could have been documented at Project Initiation where the Project Planners anticipated that this type of situation or Risk may occur and could affect the Planned Progress of the project effort.

When A Risk (identified or not) begins to occur and have an affect on the planned Scope of a project, the  management team must take action according to a prepared Mitigation Plan OR prepare one at the time of Risk Discovery that will mitigate the affects of this Risk.

Some Risks may result in Change Orders that can be Assessed, Reviewed, Revised or Approved which, then, can affect the Scope, Cost and Quality of the previously planned work effort.

Issues, Risks, and Changes will occur in most projects or planned work efforts.  “No Plan Survives Engagement.”

When changes occur it is necessary to recognize the change (at its occurrence or request point), document the information available at the time of this recognition and take appropriate action to determine what the impact and importance is of each Change Request.

The potential resolution or disposition of Change Requests are:

  1. Approve and Include in the Scope, Cost, and Quality of the new Planned Result
  2. Approve and Delay inclusion until a certain point of time in the future
    1. within the duration of the current plan
    2. after the current plan is complete
  3. Reject the Change with sufficient explanation that the Sponsors and Beneficiaries of the current plan understand the reason for this Rejection
    1. supporters of the Change can revise and resubmit when the believe it is necessary

How does your organization handle Issues, Risks, and Changes?

 

If we know what the Scope of a given project or effort is then we should also be aware of the expected Cost and Quality of the usable results.

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Next Week, Next Month, Next Year

Which of these phrases do you use for putting off Planning for your Business?

You may be caught up in the struggle of each day’s situations, problems, complaints, bills, etc. BUT, at some point, each of us must take on the job of thinking about our future:

  • What do we want to accomplish?
  • How can we move toward those accomplishments?
  • What will it cost and take in Dollars and Effort to take the next best step?

Take one strong next step and put an entry in your calendar to repeatedly reserve time, even just 30 minutes a week, to write down some ideas about your latest answers to these questions.

This alone will help you to build momentum towards a future perspective on your business efforts and THAT can help you make shorter term decisions about what is Most Important to you while you are caught in that daily struggle.

What do you think about this?

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Tales from the Crypt – Vol 1

I may be old and slow but my brain is still running!

Here are some ideas about Growth:

  1. If your resources are in short supply, don’t oversell them.
    1. Before you push new sales for your dream of new revenue for funding growth, focus on finishing up some active engagements (this would apply to a Service or Consultancy business) so that those same proven people can be available for new work.  Build your Resource Pipeline with these proven and some new resources and THEN Sell to fill up their capabilities.
    2. It may feel uncomfortable to slow down the Pace of Your Sales efforts for a while, BUT by giving the Delivery efforts some time to finalize committed Delivery, you do several things:
      1. Reduce the need to slice your existing resources even thinner
      2. Allow the committed plans / schedules / deliveries to be made with less interruption
      3. Calmly finish what is already on your resources’ plates
  2. If you are evolving from an Entrepreneurial organization to a more Process Driven one, remember to “Brace Yourself”:
    1. While the organization can be prepared for a new approach to business, those in the leadership positions up until that time, have had the luxury of not having to follow any repeatable / auditable process.  These folks will need support to embrace / accept these changes, too.
  3. Implementing new Standards, Measurements, Policies, Practices, and Metrics is a never ending effort, so do NOT rush into making a LOT of changes or one or two BIG changes.
    1. Start small and make sure you have a Recovery Plan in  case your early attempts at change are not so effective
    2. Be Persistent in looking at ALL processes and designing improvements in increments with lots of effective Communication to all affected parties
    3. Build an Advisory / Leadership board with a schedule and the appropriate authority to make changes within their areas of responsibility
  4. ???  What else do you think would be good advice for an organization with the desire to grow and change?
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