Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Learn from project-management blunders

I like this on the best.. I have seen this foo hit the ceiling :)-

" Don't underestimate people issues"

I had a project that nearly came apart because I underestimated the impact of people issues within the project team. We had quite a few new developers, a few more experienced folks, and several contractors. The existing folks were part of a strong union and had adopted the "work to job description" mantra, whereas the contractors generally did whatever it took to get their deliverables done. This created a lot of tension within the team as the staff members felt the contractors were overstepping their boundaries (and really they were, in order to get stuff done), and the contractors felt they were carrying the "slackers" (and really they were, in some areas). A complete mess. However, none of it was obvious until the tension started to come to the surface. By then, the schedule was compromised and had to be reworked a lot."
Keep a better handle on the personal issues within the team. Ask more questions, more frequently, to get at them."

Via : ZDnet

Saturday, October 20, 2007

The Furture of Projects ?

" SaaS-style application solutions remain niche-focused and otherwise experimental. Nevertheless, we believe that now is the time when enterprise IT departments should begin planning for the growing influence of SaaS in their business practices; establish in-house understanding of the opportunities, challenges and best practices of SaaS; and begin to track the involvement of their technology providers in SaaS-related industry initiatives."

Via :Gartner

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Intersections, Innovations and Konvergance

"For most of us, the best chance to innovate lies at the intersection. Not only do we have a greater chance of finding remarkable idea combinations there, we will find many moreoif them. To be specific, stepping into the intersection does not mean simply combinining two different concepts into a new idea. These type of combinations are part of a directional and interrsectional innovation. Instead, the Intersection represents a place that drastically increases the chances for unusual combinations to occur".

Peter Dawson
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Friday, August 17, 2007

People vs Process

"It's about the people...not the processes or tasks. You treat your people right, they'll make sure the project is right."

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Re: 300 interview questions

oh heres a nice list of questions that a PM will need to answer
My fav's so far..
There was a situation where more than one-way to accomplish the same task. Your onsite tech lead and offshore tech lead has different opinions about doing this and the feelings were very strong. Both are very important to you. How do you react to this ?

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

MSFT EPM in the magic quardrants

Microsoft Office Project Positioned in the Leaders Quadrant for the 2007 IT Project and Portfolio Management Applications Magic Quadrant

"Microsoft Corp. , a leading provider of project and portfolio management (PPM) software, today announced it has been positioned by Gartner Inc. in the "Leaders" quadrant in the 2007 IT Project and Portfolio Management Applications Magic Quadrant report. The report evaluates services and products that include the Microsoft(R) Office Enterprise Project Management (EPM) Solution."

Via : CNN

In the Beginning -The Risk meeting

In the Beginning...

The opening moments of an effective meeting are a very big deal. You have the opportunity to win hearts, change minds, or at least ensure that others are listening in the opening 20 to 30 seconds. This is vital time. This is where participants decide whether or not they will be players in this event. Consider four simple approaches to get things started more effectively:

  1. Open with a promise -- By the time this meeting is over, we will have solved the XXXX problem, one of the great concerns facing our organization today.

  2. Open with something they'll get from the gathering -- When we're done, you're going to have four new tools to work with to overcome the range of risk challenges we face.

  3. Open with a short story -- If you read this morning's paper, you know that wildfires are burning just 40 miles away. We're going to take something away from the lessons those firefighters are teaching.

  4. Open with a challenge -- You have an opportunity over the next 45 minutes to create an indelible mark on the project, but that means I'm going to put you to work for the next 45 minutes....


To ensure that sense of accomplishment, meeting facilitators need to identify the following:

  • What will be done with the information
  • What the next steps are for the participants
  • What they've accomplished
  • When those actions will be evident

Facilitating meetings is challenging for some of us, as we believe there's just information to be shared and everyone should be willing to share it. That's not as common as it might sound. In many instances, introversion, fear of rejection, or simple impatience drives participants to remain as silent partners in the overall meeting experience. There are ways to drive that out of the risk discussion. The keys are a sense of safety and a sense of value-added.

Via: Cutter

Thursday, June 28, 2007

No Task Longer Than 80 Hours and Not Shorter Than 40

Raven points me to some interest truths of Projects. I actually I prefer tasks that are no longer the 40 hrs and no shorter then 20 hrs.
Kinda 1 work of 1/2 a work week seems ok with me.
"So treat your people right and remember to focus on your soft/interpersonal skills and you'll be more successful as a project manager" - totally agreed Raven !!

Friday, June 15, 2007

death by meetings

Randy recaps the pain point of org meetings !!
"Most every meeting in every company that I've worked for is scheduled in the hours before or the day before the meeting actually takes place. Quite often, attendees don't show, because they are unaware of the meeting or had previous commitments. This leads to meetings which start one half hour to an hour late, as attendees are rounded up. This means that several people are sitting around for up to an hour with better things to do. Sometimes, key attendees don't show and the meeting turns into a complete waste of everybody's time. All meetings (except emergencies) can easily be scheduled with 2 business days of notice, thus giving all employees adequate time to reschedule and prepare for the meeting. If you improperly organize a meeting where 8 people waste one hour, then you've effectively wasted an entire man-day of work. In other words, had you just stayed home that entire day and not wasted those 8 people's time, then your company would be no worse off."

Thursday, June 14, 2007

estimation blues

"Accuracy of estimation is directly related to the parameters you consider in estimations "
Rajesh actually nails that pretty well in his posting !!
I would also like to add, that most PM forgot the talent management aspect during estimation. How much of time do I need spend to convert "a resource" and obtain a buying during project execution. Normally resources are thrown in and then management of these resources are based on time/cost parameters and hardly any consideration is given to the fact that one needs to develop the resource towards the ultimate goal of the the project and vision statement of the project. 
Keeping talent development as a parameter fosters a culture of growth on every project. Thus leveraging the business Mission on the long run. And, that's strategy execution alongside projects :)-

Something to think about

The idea is that software development lifecycle events have import, not only to project management, but change management of the IT infrastructure as well.

There's a new Visual Studio Team System (VSTS) offering with Microsoft Project Server !!


Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Working the 20 somethings !!

It could become a little tricky when dealing with new age talent !!

"Nearly every businessperson over 30 has done it: sat in his office after a staff meeting and - reflecting upon the 25-year-old colleague with two tattoos, a piercing, no watch and a shameless propensity for chatting up the boss - wondered, What is with that guy?!"

This is a must read article for all Project Manager's who factor in talent capital  across multiple countries, cultures  !!

Peter Dawson
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MSFT Escrum v1.0

 Kewll..need to play with this !! :)-

"eScrum is a Web-based, end-to-end project management tool for Scrum built on the Microsoft Visual Studio Team Foundation Server platform. It provides multiple ways to interact with your Scrum project: eScrum Web-based UI, Team Explorer, and Excel or Project, via Team Foundation Office Integration. In addition, it provides a single place for all Scrum artifacts such as product backlog, sprint backlog, task management, retrospective, and reports with built-in context sensitive help"

Download available here and Steve has more info

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

project rules ( simple version )

In his recent IEEE Software column, "Ship Effortlessly" J.B. Rainsberger has a gem:

I start each project with two rules: all source files must be in a version control repository, and the build must be fully automated at all times.

Does your project follow these rules? If not, what would you have to do?

How do you get a team to develop a clear and elevating goal?

The truth is, I don't know for sure. No one does. If we did, we'd be mass-producing winning teams instead of writing about them. But here's my 2 cents worth
1. First and foremost, a team's clear and elevating goal as described above is never the goal you gave it.
That's your goal, not theirs. To the team, it's a task, a project, or an assignment. What's the difference? One is inherently motivating; the other isn't. One is something for which the team is willing to take 100% responsibility; the other is something you will hold it accountable for.
2. There is no recipe or formula you can apply to a team that will result in a clear and elevating goal each time.
The highest-leverage activity a leader can accomplish is to catalyze a team around a clear and elevating goal. If I could bottle that skill and develop it in leaders, I'd be running a skill-building production facility (and you'd be in line!). But that doesn't mean it has to be a random happenstance. It means that crafting a clear and elevating goal is a design issue rather than a formulaic process. And what you are designing is a set of conditions that encourages a team to explore what it wants (rather than what its employers want).
3. There is, however, a set of initial conditions that you can design and influence.
Unfortunately, while most leaders would kill for teams with clear and elevating goals, what they are killing are the conditions that support them. The single most important variable I've discovered is that the team's larger operating environment supports the team in thinking about what it wants out of a project the team has been assigned to. Organizations have a way of systematically extinguishing the wants of team members, while simultaneously calling for passion and commitment. We tell people what they should want. We tell them our goals and our parameters and then we tell them to get busy. As I ask folks on client sites what they want out of a project, more frequently than not I hear "Gee, no one's ever asked me that before."

The leader who understands clear and elevating goals will invest in creating a culture of responsible leadership that acknowledges intrinsic motivations and supports personal freedom and choice. Then, he or she will make room in projects for team start-up processes that truly engender ownership within the team for the project.

4. You can challenge the team to discover such a goal and even invest time in that discovery process.
Ttreat the clear and elevating goal as one of five conversations a team must have (in fact, that a high-performance team will naturally engage in). But it's not the first conversation I would encourage; it's the fourth. There are three other things I would do first to give the team the best chance of reaching high performance.
5. It's always a nonlinear process, a lateral-thinking process, and a surprising result
Most leaders make the mistake of challenging teams to "choose a number," meaning setting as its goal a performance metric for the business, project, or technology. That's frequently misplaced MBA-speak. Clear and elevating goals are usually qualitatively different than the assigned task while beautifully supporting the task getting done. For instance, a team assigned to launch an Internet banking service created the slogan "we're reinventing banking" and envisioned itself on the cover of its industry's trade journal. The team designed hotel-like hangers for its doorknobs that said "Do Not Disturb. Busy reinventing banking."
6. It usually happens coincident with breaking through conflict
Clear and elevating goals seldom emerge until well into the project. In the forming-storming-norming-performing metaphor of team development, I've found that the storming phase is often resolved by the emergence of a clear and elevating goal, which then guides the norming and performing phases. You can support this process by helping the team develop healthy ways to disagree and stay committed to each other as a team.
Hattip :  Christopher M. Avery, Senior Consultant, Cutter Consortium


project Leadership

Nice read here

Peter Dawson
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Thursday, May 17, 2007

First Steps

I was recently asked by a friend, "How can I get the company to execute projects on time within budget - all the time. What are the tools and culture needs, where do I start ?. We need project excellence "

To me that was a very opened ended question- which I will address to the best of my abilities;

To get Enterprise Project Management going is no easy task. One needs over mature of time , in this thought process. Baby steps are always called for. The cost of doing it wrong is dollars wasted or opportunities could be lost. The key is to identify the Business processes, people and tools that one has. Once this is understood, then the framework for "Organizational readiness" can be created.

These are are my first steps, My 10 point programme to create this framework would be ;

1) A Comprehensive strategy for Process Oriented Project Implementation.
This area would delve deeply into the motives of the company, what do they want, eventually. Who will lead the charge, what resources can be allocated, etc. The Essence of this Phase would be to ensure that EPM is really what is wanted and an overall EPM Mobilization efforts charter is created. This also could considered as complete business plan. After all, this is a new business practice and investment. Like all other investments a due diligence process needs to be done.

2) Best Current Practice review

Review all the Best Current Practices within the organization's current Project portfolio. Identify short coming and areas for change. Ear mark those practices that have worked well. Look for the practice that are not used anymore, ask why these practices failed or not used. Look at the lesson learnt from past projects. Follow the rigor of historical analysis.

3) Project Management Office (PMO) creation.
Create a central control zone for managing the creative processes that are needed to sustain the EPM efforts. Executive sponsorship is required. There's the saying, that those who care -- will be there. Once a new entity /department is created within a Enterprise, everyone goes gung ho and wants to be, a part of it or just shut themselves out. This is just normal human reaction. Executive leadership will ease the concerns and bridge management tiers. By showing strong support, they tell the Enterprise - this is something that is important to the business mission.

4) Validation/Communication Strategy
Identify with all partners, stakeholders and resources criteria that will ensure that the value pathway being created is within the boundaries of strategy. This will help in ensuring that PSI ( Project Success indicators) are being fostered at the early plan stage. Remember, even at this junction of the programme, the initiative is creating a method of partnership, feedback, communication that will sustain long term benefits once EPM is deployed.

5) Orientation of PM and resources
Getting the grass root level people on the same page is vital and critical. No amount of technology investment will sustain ROI's unless there is a complete buying by the grass root level folks.

6) General Management orientation
As the Mobilization efforts are in play, take time to speak to the other people within the Organization. Create an Orientation session or just a brown bag session. Let them know what is happening and how things are going. This is an across the board initiative, let all who have ears hear. Transparency and info sharing always pays off.

7) Getting IT/Technical Support in the loop
As the the technology is IT related, the IT department has a lot to contribute to the initiative. They need to understand the ramifications of the technology platform , networking, component infrastructure and support needs for an EPM solution. They are just as critical as the business owners. Seek to be known, just like you would like other to know thee !!

8) Risk Matrix
Once you gone thru at least one iteration of the above 7 steps, you would have bundles of information to created a first cut Risk Analysis. Never go to the next step till this done. Project Management is all about Risk evasion. Period !!

9) EPM Build 1.0 documentation
This is first cut on what,when, how and who will eventually need to get things done to successfully implement and deploy EPM. This is the end state for EPM mobilization efforts. What begins as a 2-4 page project Charter, now will have an end state of about 100-200 pages document. This becomes the bible for next phase.

10) Road Map
Personally I always like to create a roadmap of what the folio may need to be with lets say 5 years time. So even if a phased in or turnkey method is used. One can review holistic viewpoint and milestones across the time line. This also permits a company to project deep into what may be termed as a future folio. Immersive technlogies like HALO and Telepresence will certainly have impact in EPM in terms of Global Service Delivery of Projects. We should must always keep the eyeballs on progressive and emergent areas. Thats how one is alwasy leading and not following !!

Innovations is Hard

If you have a good idea, then 5 people have already thought about.
If you have a great idea, then 10 people are already doing it.

This is the innovations curve and where does it start and how does one get to the top ?
A small premier for you to enjoy.

Knowlege Manifesto !!

Some Time ago, I created this and now am sharing. Enjoy !!

Seven tips on how to run a successful community.

If you're building a Project community you have to love what you're doing and be the best member of it. It takes great care and patience to create a space others will share and you have to nurture it and reward your best contributors. It's a decidedly human endeavor with few, if any, technical shortcuts

1. Take emotion out of decisions
2. Talk like a human, not a robot
3. Give people something they can be proud of
4. Bring users in during community decisions
5. Moderation is a full-time job
6. Metrics spread the work out
7. Guidelines not rules

This is a good cull of information from Fortatious !!

How Adobe is leading the way into India !

A key element of what has been called "web 2.0" -- along with ideas such as user-generated content and social networks -- is the concept of "rich Internet applications" (or, as Microsoft recently termed them, "rich interactive applications"), which use the web as a platform for new types of online experiences. From delivering browser-based software that functions like a traditional desktop application to providing immersive video experiences online, a new generation of Internet-connected applications is beginning to evolve.

Adobe president and COO Shantanu Narayen talks about the key role that India will play in the company's global growth strategy. Some highlights of the article and strategy

What is Adobe doing in India, and how does that fit into the company's global strategy?
India is a huge market vis-à-vis ensuring that the publishing industry uses our product. Whether it's for newspapers or magazines or film, our products are used around the world.

What did you initially decide to do in India, and how has your strategy evolved?
Naresh Gupta, our managing director in India. In 1997 he was thinking of going home, and he talked to [Adobe co-founder] John Warnock, who said, "Why don't you set something up for us in India?"

What are examples of the kind of work that's being done there?
The [Adobe] Reader for mobile devices was completely done in India. We actually now have a full-fledged business unit there.

What are some of the challenges of operating in India, and how have you tackled them?
Hiring people poses greater challenges. The evolution and the maturity of our processes allow us to do research and development around the world. I think we have matured our communication and understanding of best practices quite well.

How does India compare with China, Eastern Europe or other emerging markets?
The other thing that's exciting is that I think India can be one of the places, [like] China, with a number of people who will access the Internet using a non-PC device rather than a PC. There's going to be new market development that happens in some of these emerging markets.

From what I gather here from their product strategy article is very simple. India is worth investing in. The challenges are high, but every emergent market space is challenging !!

Via [ Knowlege@Wharton]