Monday, May 26, 2008

wiki style projct managment

Streber is a free wiki driven project management tool written in php5. Freelancers and small teams can easily setup projects and keep track of tasks, issues, bugs, efforts etc. Project-User-Rights can be adjusted e.g. to provide clients a limited view of the current project state.

this is an interesting app that i must review in more details. not sure how the app handles security for resources and workflow. however , as an open source app,  Streber requires a PHP5 enabled web server + MySQL as the databbase.

Monday, April 14, 2008

PMXPO 2008:

All project managers face challenges that seem insurmountable, but Russell Brice and his team face the world's highest peak. Success for this project team is literally a question of life or death. Hear how Russell has applied his project management experience to conquer Mt. Everest time and time again, and find out how to manage your biggest, scariest, most challenging projects with the same principles.

Russell Brice, CEO of Himalayan Experiences, has been leading expeditions to the Himalayas since 1974. He now has a regular team of sherpas who are, without doubt, the most respected in Nepal. He has led clients to the summit of Everest and Cho Oyo, and also Himal Chuli (7,540m), Shishapangma (8,046m) and Ama Dablam (6,856m).

In 1991 his ability to manage a team and overcome extreme technical difficulty at high altitude triumphed as Project Coordinator for the successful Star Balloon Over Everest Expedition.

Individually, he has the world record for the fastest single solo ascent without oxygen of both Cho Oyo and of Ama Dablam. In 1988 he was the first climber to cross the infamous Pinnacles of the NE ridge of Everest. He is now widely reputed as one of the most professional leaders of all guided expeditions to the Himalayas and has earned worldwide recognition through Discovery Channel's Everest: Beyond the Limit, now in its second season.

This is sounds an interesting seminar to attend

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Being a Green PM !!

I just got a very interesting read. To me this is a new dimension of awareness that a project Manager and EPM folio also needs to consider while going thru thier day to day work That is, Being a GreenPM.

"Similarly, if you're practicing GreenPM, you should first look to see if your organization has an environmental management policy or something similar. If so, then you should make sure your project aligns to these environmental policies and standards as well.

The second aspect of quality is the specific quality criteria that make sense for your specific project. The project's quality management plan focuses on the stakeholders' expectations (i.e., requirements) of quality, and the resulting activities needed to meet these expectations.

If a project manager is practicing GreenPM, he or she should seek to expand this discussion of quality to discuss the environmental considerations of the project. This doesn't mean that every project will have environmental considerations.

However, if you start to ask the questions and start to raise awareness, you might be surprised to learn that there are green areas of interest to your stakeholders."

To the best of my knowledge the PMI is not promoting this to within their methodolgies practices. This Consideration certainly falls under the Quality management. However, what are the question that need to be asked by a PM when engaging and becoming active as a GreenPM ? I'll cross post this question on Linkedin

[update] Posed question on Linkedin and got a couple of response

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

alternatives to Basecamp

Nice list 9 (Via Anu)

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

IT cost Cutting as per the Bible of Gartner

"Gartner believes that as concerns increase for the near-term health of some of the world's largest economies, those responsible for IT budgets can expect to receive mandates from senior executives to cut IT costs as part of an enterprisewide cost-cutting program. It recommends that organizations begin establishing ground rules for complying with such a cost-cutting mandate by following a six-step plan" [ source ]

What are these 6 steps ?

  1. Don't Wait for the Cost-Cutting Mandate from Management
  2. Choose the Best and Brightest IT People for the Team
  3. Don't Allow Finger-Pointing or Second Guessing
  4. Report Results on a Weekly Basis
  5. Identify a Liaison from the Legal Department
  6. Enlist an Internal Auditor as Scorekeeper
My question is if Gartner is sending out such messages, this will certainly impact  the innovations space. Less thinkers and developer's make the Enterprise move behind the eight ball and leaves the market open to geolocations like Singapore, India and Russia. After all, IT has to perform and produce, they just do it by outsourcing now- at a lower cost. However, the consequences is the innovations is now driven externally !!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Project Management Job listings translator

This is a classic fro PM who are looking for gigs' ! Thanks to   Nick Matteucci for making my Day /evening :)-

Project Management Job listings translator

Job posting says: What they really mean is:
Competitive Salary We remain competitive by paying project managers less than our more successful competitors.
Join our fast-paced company We have no time to train you or send you to PM conferences.  Please introduce yourself to your project team members and co-workers as well.
Immediate opening The project manager who used to have this project gave notice and left the company a month ago with no information on what they did or how they did it. We're just now running the ad.
Self-motivated Project sponsors won't answer questions or provide requirements.
We offer great benefits We'll allow you to fund your own 401(k) if you survive the 3 year project that got the last PM fired.
Seeking enthusiastic, fun, hard working, people Looking for young project managers with no training, certification, or experience who won't mind our internship-level salaries.
Casual work atmosphere We don't pay enough to expect that you'll dress up.
Dynamic environment Your project team will be yanked from your project every 3 months or 3 weeks before a major deliverable (whichever happens first)
Fun work environment Your project team members will be insulted if you don't go out and buy them drinks 3 nights a week.
A drug-free work environment. We booze it up at company holiday parties and base bonuses on ability to hold one's liquor.
Must be deadline oriented Your project will be four months behind schedule on your first day.
Some overtime required Some overtime each night and some overtime each weekend will be required.
Requires team leadership skills You'll have the responsibilities of your boss without the pay or respect.
Good communication skills. Management communicates what they want from your projects in vague terms that are impossible to decipher, you listen, figure out what they want and do it under budget and ahead of schedule.

PMBOK + Agile

THe 4th edition of the PMBOK is coming out and a draft edition was made available. Some interesting tidbits were picked up from Section 2.1.3-2:

"An iterative relationship, where only one subset is planned at any given time and the planning for the next period is carried out as work progresses on the current deliverable. This approach is useful in largely undefined, uncertain, or rapidly changing environments such as research, but it can lead to rework and reduce the ability to provide long term planning or scope control for the project. It also entails having all of the project team members (e.g. designers, developers, etc.) available throughout the project."

There are changes on the horizon and PMI is in the process of forming an Agile Project Management SIG .

PMI/PMBOK is all about defining, organizing, planning and executing predictive project.  Agility is intended to address inventive projects by defining a high-level big picture and taking a few steps at a time to ensure the project brings real business value.

The convergence of PMI and Agile is a welcome thing !

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Stakholder trust models

This is critical for a PM to understand- the Stakeholder trust model are different in each organization, let alone the person themselves.  This is a must read from a Harvard White paper

"Employees that don't trust their organizations are less loyal, less motivated, and less  productive. Customers who perceive a breach of trust are more likely to switch to a competitor.
When trust is lacking in supplier relationships, more resources need to be devoted to contract enforcement and monitoring, the result of which is increased transaction costs. Organizations that lose the trust of their investors may be the quickest of all to perish."

SO go read and don't Perish :)-

Promote Teamwork over Politics

Excerpted from Cutter's Enterprise Architecture advisory service. Five strategies for improving teamwork:

  1. Build cross-functional teams. IT teams, in particular development and maintenance teams, should be cross-functional. Each team should have a variety of people from different professional backgrounds, including business stakeholders. Technical team members should ideally be people who are already generalizing specialists or at least willing to become so. A generalizing specialist  with one or more specialties, plus a general software process knowledge, plus a good knowledge of the domain that they're working in, plus a willingness to collaborate with and learn from others is far more effective. This is supported by Larry English's work in information quality transformation -- one of his 14 points is to break down barriers between staff areas 

  2. Promote non-solo development. Doing IT work is a lot like swimming; it's very dangerous to do it alone. Agilists have discovered that both quality and productivity increase when people work together collaboratively, often in pairs. Agile methods include practices such as pair programming and modeling with others to enforce this approach. When people pair together, and particularly when they swap pairs regularly, they learn new skills, get the job at hand done more effectively, and build better bonds with their coworkers.

  3. Promote training, education, and mentoring. One way to improve teamwork is to ensure that people have a wide range of skills and thereby can relate to the issues that their coworkers are focused on. When developers understand the fundamentals of data architecture, management, and governance, then they would likely recognize the value that data professionals have to offer and would more likely be able to find ways to work with them effectively. Similarly, if data professionals understood modern development techniques and methods, then they would be in a better position to work in a more responsive manner.

  4. Promote explicit team-building workshops. They're a bit goofy, but my experience is that workshops that are specifically focused on team building can work wonders (although I'm still not that sure about those exercises where you fall backwards into other people's hands).

  5. Break bread with "those other people." It's amazing how quickly you'll build bonds with someone over good food, good drink, and good conversation.

Hat Tip to Dennis Crowley for these points !! I have always found that breaking bread and drinking wine is THE most powerfull Team builder effort. Dont take em out for dinner and drinks just to celebrate, rather just hang out together and watch a foot ball game or play pool or something like that once every two weeks.  Better still is to have a Pot luck once a month- its amazing how they all work out something to  feed themselves !! Once they learn to feed each other literally, they also learn to feed the project too :)-

Saturday, February 16, 2008

PM tragedy in five limericks !!

Thanks to Kailash Awati who manages IT development at a multinational in Australia.  This (reproduced below) come as part of my alert systems and I nearly split my coffee on my laptop- LMAO .

Hey Mate, this certainly will call for a Fosters on met when I am down under :)-

Others in PM interests, take time to visit his blog :)-

With many changes we had to cope
Deadlines near; no money, no hope.
There was no way to wrangle,
with the
iron triangle
of budget, time and scope.

The project was  in a mess.
The reason I could only guess
was the carefully constructed
schedule was busted,
thanks to a dodgy

When called to explain the delay
I told the sponsor to pray.
When he asked, "But, why?"
I said with a sigh,
"On the
critical path the tasks lay."

He said to me, "This can't be true.
There must be something you can do."
Shaking my head
in sorrow, I said,
"All that remains is

And now, I'm not in his pay,
You see, I was fired that day.
So, I exhort you all,
to stay on the ball,
and don't run your projects this way.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Talent Management & HR

A good point of contention ; Talent Management Project : Is it a HR function?

This AM , I had a good conversation with Shawn T of MISCONSULTING, which gave me a different insight of Talent  Capital - from acquisitions , development and retention strategies. The core question I have always asked myself during the Project Life cycle , is what am I teaching to my team members, what is their takeaway ? Have they engaged on the knowledge trajectory ?  Does this seem to be a HR question or a Project Management Question ? and what is cross docking synergies between PMO and HR that can be leveraged ?

The McKinsey Quarterly article on "Making Talent a Strategic Priority" ; conducted a survey of 98 business/HR leaders that yielded obstacles to effective talent management. This is a very important read for me today ( thanks to Shawn for getting my juices going !!)

The key here is "Manager's who aren't interested in "development of people's capabilities and careers" aren't really managing at all"

The top three data points  (out of 7!!)

1. Senior managers don't spend enough high-quality time on talent management

2. Organization is "siloed" and does not encourage constructive collaboration, sharing of resources

3. Line managers are not sufficiently committed to development of people's capabilities and careers.

Take time to digest all the Metric's (Exhibits)  in the report. This a must read for people who mentor and interact with knowledge workers.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

BA and PM synergies

This seems to be a very interesting read that I must digest. It's written by Ben Snyder, CEO of Systemation on his blog PMhut

Part#1 - Time to Bring Back the Soft Skills
Part#2 - Hard Data on Soft Skills
Part#3 - Using soft skills to your advantage
Part#4 - Building relationships to increase project influence

I think by the the middle of the year, I should have enough information that can move me to re-invent the wheel on this map that was brought to me by Bryce Johnson

Personally, I think the fine line between a project manager and the BA is diminishing and a new breed of workers will need to be engineered.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

[series#1] - You know something's wrong when...

Heres a couple of fun and real stuff that has come my way. All based on personal experience.

You know something's wrong when.. series :)-

  • You know somethings wrong when.. 14 out of the 23 employees in a company have resigned /dismissed.....within a 5 month period ! [ Employee retention vs Employer Mngt]
  • You know somethings wring when.. the sale's guy has not converted a single $ in the last 6 months ... and plays hockey with a Sr.Executive Brother [ Productivity vs preferential treatment]
  • You know somethings wrong when... a 10day change order valued at 10D effort and 10K value suddenly becomes 40D effort valued at 13K. [ Business Cost vs Project Profitability]
  • You know somethings wrong when... at first glance an application value should be about 150-200K ..but the project billing is actually 400K [Profits vs Billing]
  • You know somethings wrong when... when the customer yells at you and take's you to court because the software delivered is not functional as per their expectations. [Expectations vs Deliverables]
  • You know something wrong when.. the Sr.Tech lead wants to please a customer by way of creating a company and completing a project by way of quoting less. [Ego vs Team Play]
  • You know somethings wrong when ..Sr Tech Lead is promoted to Solutions Manager and still yeilds CRAP (Configurations Rarely Applied by People) !! [ Feature vs Scope]
  • you know somethings wrong when.. there are no artifacts to a project and you tasked to implement change orders on the software [ Discipline vs project rigor]
  • You know somethings wrong when... nobody knows the customers staging /UAT zone, including the customer !! [ knowledge vs artifacts]
  • You know somethings wrong when .. there are 6 managers and 4 developers !! [Resources vs Talent]
yep more follows.. stay tuned !!

Monday, January 21, 2008

5PM application

Oh I get another app via  courtesy of Ian McKenzie from Messy Desk

5PM looks to be a good web enabled online app for the community. Small and medium size folio's should certainly look into this application. However, I don't see any baseline functionlity and I did not delve deep into the reporting function. I'll sign up and try the 14 dy trail. BTW, its completely SaaS'ified  and the mothership appears to be GQ software

Eh !!  10user/20 projects/250MB/ $24Month , what does this mean ? 20 projects per month  or year or what ? There needs to  more upfront details for the community. But it's worth taking time to see what it delivers for ($2.40 / user) :)-

The Interface is sleek and neat, I kinda already like the app, just because the UX appears great !!

A Critical Look At Executive Decision Making

"What failed and why ? " is a question most PM's ask ourselves, it's part of learning and growing.

Recently I went thru a bad experience , which made me think. So while laying back and in introspection ( yes, I literally had to lie flat on my back - I am suffering from Fibromylgia - a chronic illness where the muscles on the lower back are inflamed/swollen) . I did a lot of thinking and rethinking on the critical node between businesses and projects.

So therefore , I was asking myself- what are the signs of a failed process or a failure node. The reality, is that for many projects, failure is dialed in from the beginning. The greatest challenge that organizations face is not how the project is managed, or who manages it — but simply how the choice is made.

My operating belief in the organization was that by hiring better project managers and establishing better project processes, improved project results were attainable. Arguably, it was a desire for improvement in project performance that led the organization to adopt a new project management framework in the first place, so this objective should not on the face of it seem unreasonable. At the same time, senior management within the organization clearly believed that whatever choices they made regarding the projects that they chose to initiate were fair game — that the decision-making process was separate and distinct from what was required to successfully deliver them. I call this the ultimate dichotomy of business and project decision making.

Possibly the simplest explanation is 'because they can', but that doesn't really speak to the underlying motives that actually leads them to make the decisions they do. They continue to "dial in" project's with lack of awareness on the critical nature of the their decisions and moreover, continually keep doing the same and expecting different results. I call this the ostrich syndrome. (if you stick your head deeper into the ground, the further away the problem seems to be !!). Or maybe is just plain madness- continuing to do the same thing and expecting a different result at each iteration. And yes, just because "because they can" - its also called as "corporate version of frying the ants"

Decisions made at the outset or during a project life cycle can have the impact of effectively handicapping a project and /or short-circuiting the impact of any attempts to apply proper project management.

Through this introspection, I hope to be able to inject some much-need rationality into a process. Many may view as overly irrational (yeah, I am on med's :); and reactionary to bad experiences. Nevertheless, without leadership and proper executive decision making skills, the nodes between businesses and projects will fail to connect and that is irrefutable !!