Delivery on time is most crucial in project management. As a project manager if you have that art of maintaining this consistency over a period of time then you can call yourself a superb project manager. But then you have to ensure that this delivery on time has happened without any changes in the other variables like resources and financials. This is quite difficult to achieve. That is where you will find this book written by Mark J. Woeppel handy in getting you mastered on the subject with practical life insights. The title of the book is Deliver Projects on Time Using New Book on Visual Project Management. This is the third book from Mark J. Woeppel on project management and all the three books are a must read for all project managers and aspirants.
The book has reportedly been produced after an exhaustive research and on top of that the ample experience that Mark J. Woeppel carries has worked as the cherry on the cake. What you need to focus is very important to understand so as to achieve your goals. For delivery on time and on budget you need to focus on improving your project teams’ productivity, the delivery process needs to be enhanced & reduced but without any compromise with the quality or deliverables, and a continuous focus on costs reduction is necessary for all kind of projects. If you are able to understand the core areas of focus to achieve your targets then there are certain more drillings required to get to the root cause of the issues or points of improvement. If the delivery timelines are getting delayed then you need to understand the basic reasons behind the delays. If there are multiple reasons then you need to arrange them in an order of severity and then apply 80:20 rule to weed out the top ones. Don’t stop after the first weeding out cycle. Repeat it to hit the next top ones and so on. This is all that you are going to learn in Deliver Projects on Time Using New Book on Visual Project Management by Mark J. Woeppel.
With all good efforts from every member of the team, any project must turn around at a faster pace. But usually this does not happen. There are certain more areas to focus upon so as to achieve this goal. Firstly you need to remove the biggest barriers
After finishing Deliver Projects on Time Using New Book on Visual Project Management by Mark J. Woeppel, you will have learnt some simplified techniques for managing your projects during initiation, execution and delivery phases thereby being able to deliver fast without any shortfalls in schedule, budget, quality, or deliverables.
Be ready to play and enjoy music on the horizon as EMC World 2015 reveals the launch of powerful solutions. Project Horizon is released just a couple of days back by EMC and this is something to do with the Content Management, one of the expertise areas of EMC. Let us understand what exactly Project Horizon is? The Enterprise Content Division of EMC (ECD) has offered their new baby in the market named Project Horizon by claiming it to be a powerful content platform especially meant for the next generation. This content platform is clubbed with a marketplace of various solutions and applications so as to enable content flow in digital format to build a digital enterprise. The Horizon marketplace will include EMC’s in-house applications and the apps from their partners as well. All these applications are meant to be purely cloud-based solutions available on mobile platforms.
The Co-Innovation Program works in lines of Scrum and Agile but in a unique style when it talks of engaging customers as early as finalization of specifications or the beginning of development cycle. This unique style is based on rapid visual prototyping. So basically, all the iterations will be design-led and will ensure validation of business issues and the corresponding proposed solutions. There are four applications under consideration which are components of this Co-Innovation Program. These applications intend to focus purely on end-user productivity and complement any kind of existing document-based solution. These are:
This app assists you to author a document with an inbuilt work flow of review and approval process. It brings in a real-time collaborative environment.
This app helps you to enhance your productivity on the mobile platform. The solution works on smartphone and tablet to work as a scanner and capturing tool in an efficient and fool-proof manner. This is basically a complete digital document management system that not only captures the documents but also helps you in organizing them in a classified manner so that the system recognizes it easily as and when it is required to extract. It is a perfect go for an organization to decrease their carbon footprint and go digital. It also helps an organization to save on paper.
This app does document collection and validation.
This app takes care of document sharing management that is required for a short duration.
Vorex Inc. is a pioneer in providing business solutions on the cloud with a smart combination of professional service automation (PSA) and PM (Project Management) Tools. These solutions work well for small to mid-sized business models (SMBs). Recently Vorex announced its solution on Samsung KNOX Marketplace. KNOX is an online mobile store provided by Samsung to provide solutions that are focused on the business segment. The store providing cloud-based solutions is fully secured and easy to deploy and manage. These secured applications and business solutions from Vorex are ideally focused on SMBs, and firms engaged professional services like IT, marketing, accounting etc. to automate their business and grow their revenues.
By providing these solutions, Vorex intends to increase its global footprint as any SMB or professional firm situated anywhere in the world can download these solutions from Samsung KNOX Marketplace. The ready to launch apps that are available from Vorex on Samsung KNOX online mobile marketplace include following:
The service desk is a comprehensive business application that takes care of time management, expense management, service and support management, reporting management, invoicing management, project management and their complete workflow. This all-in-one solution is actually a power pack to boost business growth.
2. Professional Service Automation (PSA): This business solution helps a business in managing project management, time tracking solution, client management, employee management, customer relationship management (CRM), customer account management, budgeting, and forecasting.
Currently, these solutions are available on Android platform.
Lattice Engines and Leadteq have joined hands to expand the horizons of Lattice’s state of the art predictive analytics suite. The expanded horizon will empower Leadteq’s customers to taste the beauty of the former’s product. The Vice President Business Development and Strategic Alliances of Lattice Engines, Michael Meinhardt announced it today. The expansion means that the with the use of these predictive analytics apps, Leadteq now can anticipate a substantial growth in their business in terms of leads getting converted into customers at a faster rate thereby accelerating their growth in revenue of their customers.
Leadteq is a Gold partner of Oracle, based in Sweden, providing Oracle’s marketing and lead management solutions to their customers. Marrying these solutions with the predictive analytics suite will definitely help Leadteq’s large sized clients.
Lattice is known for their predictive marketing expertise to help sales and marketing teams worldwide. Marrying Lattice’s predictive analytics tools with Lattice’s 360 method B2B solutions based on Oracle Marketing AppCloud in the Nordics region.
A very interesting question I found on the forum asking what would be some of the emerging trends in information technology this year. Instantly following emerging trends popped up in my mind as listed below:
Technology and cloud are bound to become synonyms soon. In fact, for some, it already is. The concept of own data centers and larger teams to manage it, and, on-premise hosting of business applications is going to diffuse. As per the multiple research papers and reports on the subject an organization can save forty percent of it technology cost by abandoning both and moving to the cloud. Setting or maintaining own data centers is a diminishing concept and the organizations that don’t understand it will suffer the heat. Disaster recovery is a piece of demand from the cloud partner rather than fighting for it on your own.
Moving your business applications on the cloud required a hundred percent availability of internet and network. You need to think of network optimization tools, network performance tools and a backup of your primary internet service provider. End users in no case would be ready to listen to any kind of lousy excuses.
With increased demand of external world connectivity you need to be doubly secured for infringements in your network. Any suspicious attack not only presents a big threat to your business data but also is prone to slow down your network. You need to ensure high-level security during data flow through the internal and external pipes.
People don’t like to be static and stuck to their seats for long. It does not increase productivity. Productivity is hampered nowadays if the business is not available while the person is on the move. Mobility is the demand of the day. You need to provide business solutions on mobile devices working free flow and hassle free.
Handling multi-OS devices is not a simple task. With an inclusion of the different type of mobile devices on official grounds need to look at the security aspect from a different angle. Equip your organization accordingly as the onus lies on you. And then there is BYOD that is an entirely different animal to handle.
The paradigm is shifting faster for CIOs and CTOs faster than anticipated thereby demanding a high level of transformation at individual, team and organization levels.
This is a great learning for project managers. This is in regard to Multan Airport upgrade project where the Pakistan country has incurred a huge loss of Rs. 222 million.
It is not that projects do not fail. They do fail. But if there is no learning taken from a failed project, then it is an exponential loss. Although the investigations and post-mortem have identified corruption and irregularities as the main culprits but it clearly indicates a poor project management. It seems there were no checks and balances while undertaking construction, purchase and contracts activities. The project has not been handled as it should have been. The whole blame has gone to the project management and consulting company ECIL Ltd.
If you read the whole story (link provided above), there are many loopholes and irregularities that have taken place for the personal vested interests. Overall, there seems to be no control at any moment of time. And moreover, it is quite easy to target one agency (generally the external) to blame and to scapegoat others but the failure should go to all stakeholders involved in the project.
For such projects where stakes are huge not only in terms of money but also in terms of the reputation of a country, proper care needs to be taken care of in project management.
Although there still is some resistance even from the cloud service providers to hold business critical applications on the on-premise model and move the rest of the apps on the cloud, but this reservation does not indicate any limitations of the cloud performance or availability. It is rather indicative of weaknesses in the other infra links like bandwidth availability and uptime. Project Management, as we all know, is a process to manage projects in an efficient manner to control timelines, teams, resources, customer, and deliverables. TeamGantt has declared the desktop version of project management completely obsolete by presenting a state-of-the-art web version at an apt time of their fifth anniversary.
It is definitely easy to use, maintain and afford any application on the cloud as compared to its on-premise or desktop models. TeamGantt boasts this to be the easiest to use cloud application in the project management arena, worldwide. The company’s products are present in more than sixty countries and is offering an easy replacement plan for the organizations wishing to move from desktop project management version to cloud version. This is supposed to be quick to assign, easy to track and monitor projects management application for the project managers.
TeamGantt solutions are appreciated well by their customers having a global presence.
Most of the meetings are conducted in an unstructured manner. Finding earlier meeting details in regard to its scheduling, participants, discussions held, decisions taken etc. is a fight. Usually, it starts with searching in old emails with no concrete achievements of 100%. So many of us would have wished to have a web based solution accommodating end-to-end meeting management system. Here comes Meeter a new product with an aim to make your meetings more serious and fruitful by assisting with automatic scheduling, analytics, audit trails and history maintenance.
Meeter manages individuals and groups in business and personal capacity. A dashboard presents a complete scenario of past, present and upcoming meetings. Since meetings are quite a critical component of a business, and in today’s scenario of mobility, all participants are not bound to be at the same location to be a part of the meeting. Meeter helps not only in full-fledged automated meetings scheduling but also assists in capturing each element of the meeting when it is conducted. Against each minute of the meeting, relevant documents linking is possible.
Meeter works intelligently by capturing past behavior or participants, meeting spaces etc. and uses this algorithm while scheduling upcoming meetings in a very smart way. It provides an innovative calendar. One meeting can accommodate hundred participants in scheduler. Meeter is a SaaS-based web application available on mobile also and is imbibed with significant security features. Meeter can be integrated easily with Outlook, Google, and other calendars.
Leading a change management portfolio is not an easy task. There comes a lot of resistance from all corners the moment you announce a change or rather much before. The moment you declare a beginning of efforts for development or deployment of a change, the resistance starts popping in. This all creates a lot of distraction and could become a major cause of delays for your initiation, development, efforts and deployment. To handle it carefully you need to learn some tactics so that the whole gamut moves in a right direction in a very positive manner. This definitely can’t happen if momentum is not synergized and the efforts are not synchronized.
To be a successful change manager, here are few suggestions that I gained from my own experience:
If we look at the event Change Management 2015 that was held in Las Vegas, Nevada, there are many learning points that I could shell out of the article published by Braden Kelley a couple of days ago. The annual conference was organized by Association of Change Management Professionals (ACMP) and was attended by more than one thousand professionals from various countries. There are over twenty million estimated project managers across the globe. In my opinion, each project manager must be a change management professional (Certified Change Management Professional, CCMP).
Author of Drive and many other books, Daniel Pink was the keynote speaker. He is a big transformation agent and feels that the increasing volume of information availability online has a greater impact on society as a whole and the same can be utilized in a constructive manner to sell, influence and initiate change. Earlier there used to be a wide gap between the level of information contained by a buyer and a seller. Seller used to be the main source of information for a buyer. But now that is not the case. Usually, a buyer is as much or rather more learned about the product or service than the seller.
That is how the need of knowledge or information curators arose. As opined by Dan, everything that is done in business today involves two basic things – sales and change. But still the B-schools are far away from teaching both these subjects in their MBA programs.
So to conclude, let us see what is required in a project manager to become a good change manager? A project manager has to be a great change agent. The need of change is very important to understand and so is the implementation of change in a timely manner.
The other day I read quite an interesting article written by Jamie MacDonald raising a very basic questions about having project manager’s qualities in each one of us. I accept that right since our childhood we start managing our school, friends, homework, teachers, parents, siblings, relatives, sports and so on and hence the fundamental learning of becoming a project manager gets imbibed in us right since then. If we look back carefully to our childhood days we might be very easily able to assess what kind of project manager each one of us was in terms of managing our daily chores and activities.
The same trends continue within each of us. All of us might not carry a job title of project manager, but more or less we keep doing project management throughout life. Every day is logically a new project in which some threads are connected to yesterday, some new threads evolve from today and some planning goes for tomorrow. That is what every one of us do. We ourself identify our weaknesses, find out ways to get us trained and master in those areas to overcome those weaknesses.
Recently I read a superb article by Tom Goodwin in which he emphasized on a digital transformation of an organization rather than building a strictly formal and unpractical digital strategy. If you build a sensible business strategy keeping in mind the fast changing technology scenarios across the globe, probably your don’t need a separate digital or mobility strategy. The best examples in that matter are Uber in redefining the cab business, Instagram revolutionizing the meaning of photography or for that sake Netflix that ensured a foolproof technology for transmitting hassle free video streaming. All three are clear examples of the digital revolution, thinking beyond and innovation.
The newer technologies and technological developments have destroyed the hidden wall between the tech-savvy and tech non-savvy sections. They have designed the new applications and technologies in such a simple manner that you learn on your own as you start using it. You don’t need a special training or certificate for that. Instacart, Twitter, WhatsApp, FaceBook, Pinterest, LinkedIn are some of the finest examples of what I am trying to convey. In fact, such developments have removed geographic barriers between the countries. People now can talk through their smartphones without spending a penny and bothering about the service provider.
Logically every day a large number of new applications are launched worldwide. Android, Samsung, Vodafone etc. have their exclusive stores to provide these applications to their customers from their respective stores. The launch of a new mobile application is just a click away. All this has brought even a small application developer equal to large sized software development organization when an application developed by former becomes a hit overnight thereby pushing the latter to backseat.
It was way back in 2009 when I was told by my organization to visit Cairo, Egpyt to deploy an NFC technology based solution as a pilot project. The pilot was to be run in the biggest mall of Cairo, known as City Stars. NFC (Near Field Communication) is a technology that enables a smartphone to become an RFID tag reader and it can also act as an RFID entity to be read by another reader. We imported ten pieces of Nokia 6210 Classic (Nokia 6210C) from Ireland for this project.
The scope of project was as below:
1. Attendance of 800+ guards
2. Real-time monitoring in control room of shortfall in guards and immediate action
3. Supervisors tour plan and actual tour taken on various floors
4. Real-time incident recording, reporting, and monitoring
All the objectives were achieved. Each guard was issued an RFID card. Each critical location that was a part of Supervisor’s tour was fixed with an RFID tag. Each Supervisor was given Nokia 6210C.
If you look at the way the digital wave is penetrating businesses and forcing them to adapt it for various reasons, it seems that in coming few years there will be phenomenal transformations happening on this front. Definitely on the imagination front mixed with the concepts of Big Data, IoT (Internet of Things), IoE (Internet of Everything) and Digital World; there can be many things that can be thought of happening in next years.
Some of them I can foresee happening are listed below:
Companies in India have started adopting low-budget digital technologies for their field taskforce. These solutions could be ranging from tracking, monitoring, real time updates & incident recording, attendance, customer feedback and so on. As per a recent research report published by Jaideep Mehta, IDC India, Managing Director, talks about an adoption of digital technology for critical activities in a simple yet achievable manner thereby resulting in an increase in productivity and business results.
The report published in The Hindu Business Line is about a logistics company that deployed a system to track their workforce in monitoring if the deliveries happen in time as per the plan. This monitoring happens in real time by means of simple Android devices and any deviations are alerted in real time. This simple mechanism helped the organization to increase productivity by 33% and the deliverables per day gained by 25% per taskforce. All this magic happened within three months of the adoption of this mechanism.
A similar case is about an investment bank offering loans and funds for various purposes, online. The CEO of this bank decided to deploy an online video chat system for a real-time interaction between bank officers and with their prospective customers and it did wonders. This kind of engagement started bringing fruitful results within no time of its adoption.
What we see here is that the same digital solution will not work for all but definitely the relevant adoption can do miracles. Are you ready for this digital adoption/ digital transformation?
Long time back I read somewhere – A kingdom is as good as its king. If it comes to product/ service and customer, it could be redefined as – A product or service is as powerful as its customers. Your customer, whether one time or regular, whether small value or high value, whether a potential buyer or not; has one thing in common to pay you back – their feedback. Never underestimate your customer. A single positive line about your product or service can go as viral today on powerful social media and could create wonders for you. Similarly, a negative feedback could build a negative image of your organization and product (or service) in the minds of your customers and prospects.
Expressing your hunger for a feedback from your customer can be done in many ways – a personal note to your customer at the time of buying of your product or service or a few days after, a personal phone call, a small get together organization, a poll (but personalized) or a survey, etc.Don’t impose or predefine the length of feedback. Let it come out of the flow, person to person, the customer to customer. It could be a single word like “Wow” or a single line. Or it could be multiple paragraphs, pages etc. It could be about a single aspect of your product or service or it could be about the multiple aspects.
Try to categorize the customer feedback in various categories. It could be reliability, ease of use, ease of maintenance, availability, scalability for future needs, flexibility for existing needs, ease of understanding, ease of using, value, features, service and support; and so on.
Whether it is a product or a service that you are selling to your customers, it all matters most about it when it comes straight out of the mouth of your customer. Quality as such has no meaning how so loud drums you keep on beating on your own. Your product or service is, in a logical sense, should be able to win the heart of your customer. And if this happens, then nothing can stop it on reorders and new customers acquisitions provided you are capable to build “visible” customer success stories. Remember that your level of higher achievement comes through customer delight and not product selling. Product selling can be played with, but not customers’ words.
Once a customer says in public all positive about the product or service, that product or service owner has got a free of cost marketing guy with high influencing factor, without any much efforts. That is what is required. First you need to ensure your product is high quality. Use it yourself first in the same manner customer would be using it and then ascertain if you are able to fetch the same results as you are expecting it to deliver to your customers? Once you are convinced, throw it in the market and acquire customers. Inspire them to use it extensively and show your hunger for their feedback.
Once you have got feedback, with their permission, publish these success stories online – on your social media page, on your website, or whatever other best possible ways come to your mind.
To continue with previous articles on analytics, let us assume that we have a problem statement in place and relevant data for churning is available. Remember that the data for analytics is always voluminous as with a small chunk of data appropriate results can’t be arrived upon. So once you have this large data with you first thing that is required is data exploration. Data exploration is nothing but an exercise to get acquainted with various aspects of the data.
First to know is if you have all the relevant fields available in the data or not. If something is missing, an alarm is to be raised to get fresh data with complete fields. The second aspect is to know if the data in those fields is relevant and executable or not for driving out your conclusions or not. For instance, the data field may have data in text form while you would need it in numbers. So what field’s data needs to be converted to what form is essential to understand.
Data exploration basically to know what all is there in your data. Understanding of datasets, variables, and their business corresponding meanings. Remember that time spent here in doing this exercise is worth rather than creating confusions at a later stage. Understanding the data period is also very important. You must know if the data with you is of what period. Once it is done, ascertaining of the quality of data becomes a bit easier. At this juncture, you have to ascertain what data that you required is missing.
As we all know analytics is purposeless if objectives are not clear. There has to be a problem statement to start your exercise in analytics. Another critical aspect is the data. If you have a problem statement very clearly defined, but relevant data is not there with you, then the whole exercise can go waste. The data has to be substantially large in size in order to arrive at the right kind of conclusions and results. So basically we have learnt three basic ingredients for Analytics as below:
Once you have these three ingredients in place, you are ready to start your journey in analytics to draw out conclusive results in a very objective manner. At no point in time, you will be able to get hundred percent clean and complete data for your exercise. In real world whatsoever precautions, you take, you are bound to have some or the other shortfalls in desired data. That is why you have to take some assumptions. One thing to keep in mind is that higher the volume of assumptions, lower will be the chances of correct results. The results have to as near to correctness as possible, even though, the data might not be there in terms of perfection and completeness.
So it is important to present your assumptions while presenting your final results. The process of churning of data in terms of using analytics tools might vary from problem to problem and person to person.
We discussed, in the end, about Analytics project in the previous post, from where we will take it further. If we look at the key steps of an Analytics project as below, we can very well correlate it with the project lifecycle where more or less the steps resemble with the various steps we following in a software project. Here are the various steps to be followed in an analytics project:
1. Problem Statement or Definition:
Understanding business problem well is the most important factor so as to ensure that you move in the right direction. Definitely like other projects, analytics projects also have tight release dates. Business problem will tell you what exactly is the issue that you are going to resolve in alignment with the business context. Your immediate task after understanding the business problem will be to gather the relevant data belonging to considerably large period. At times, when you are lucky, your customer will give you relevant data along with the business problem statement. But if not, then you will have to hunt for the data. Your customer’s business problem will need to be translated into analytics problem. By defining the analytics problem, you will be clearly able to state what you are going to predict at the end of this analytics project after building analytics model. A clarity or rather a customer sign off on this will be very helpful in later closings.
2. Data Crunching or Exploration:
Data familiarization and exploration are the next important steps to follow.
3. Information Building:
Once you have understood the data well, you need to go for some data modelling. This will be an exhaustive exercise in which you will identify the missing links and apply data modelling techniques. Your must be quite familiar with certain terms like values, outliers, variables, regression, decision tree, clustering etc. to master this phase of the project.
4. Data Modelling:
Once your data is in place after you have done some homework in your data crunching and data building, the next step is data modelling. In this phase, you follow a technique run-observe in a repeated manner. Here you will have multiple iterations of running a model, evaluating the results, perform some calibration and re-run, re-observe till you reach a satisfaction level of results desired.
5. Validation or Confirmation
The final set of shortlisted models (not more than three usually) now have to pass the validation process. Here you will put in a fresh set of data in the data model built to ensure that the model is not specific to previous data or conditions only and holds good to produce a similar kind of resultant.
6. Deployment and Monitoring:
Out of the final set of shortlisted models, the best one is chosen for deployment and monitoring the results. Monitoring of results is important to check the model behavior in real life scenario.
You have a stated problem to resolve that is and the problem statement relates to future. Then the best way is to study the past data, response, behavior and results. It might appear simple here but in actual it is not, else everyone on this earth would have become a great analyst. It depends a lot on the clarity of assumptions you make while bringing out your results or driving your analysis. It is also important to understand what data is required to do what kind of analysis. It might happen that your problem statement and the data you are provided with might not align to an extent to bring out a good analysis and analytics report.
Analytics is a science. It is a process of gathering raw data, churning it to get some business insights and help the business in decision-making. There are certain standard and well-established analytical techniques that are used solve business problems related to various business verticals like retail, distribution, medicine, services etc. Once you are through with the basic understanding of statistical techniques, which are very important to learn, you can then start learning how to build predictive analytics models.
If you want to become an expert in business analytics you must understand the important steps to be followed in an analytics project. There might be a slight variance in the steps depending on what kind of problem you are planning to solve, what all data is available and what tools you have on hand for your assistance. So one thing is quite clear here about the lifecycle of any analytics project:
Still it takes a lot to become a perfect analyst that we will look at in next few posts.
Look at the beauty of each game being played between any two team in the ongoing World Cup 2015 co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand. Each game is powered by predictive analytics that brings in a lot of thoughtful and intelligent analytics that you get on your TV screens or the wide screens on the ground if you are there. The statement holds quite good here that came a couple of months back about the death of business intelligence and birth of predictive analytics. It makes sense also. With BI, most of the time, the businesses were just doing a kind of post-mortem or rather an intelligent post-mortem but nothing so fruitful to make life more secured in a futuristic sense.
Predictive Analytics brings in some resultive analytics regarding the result or future. And this analytics comes in with churning of past data, environmental factors, and a lot of other relevant data. For instance a match between Australia and Sri Lanka in which Australia is batting first the first few analytics come as below:
and so on.
That is the beauty of predictive analytics where each and every bit of past data is churned in a very intelligent manner to bring out various meaningful analytics that are helpful in predicting the outcome or future of the business initiatives.
ICC (International Cricket Council) has partnered with SAP for cloud services and predictive analytics for the world cup 2015 being played in Australia and New Zealand. The services will stay till the end of World Cup 2015 in which SAP is using its HANA platform to capture and deliver real-time analytics, statistics, data and live match experience.
Five Learnings For Project Manager From Why Do Smart People Make Such Stupid Mistakes by Chris Merringtonbook review, Contract negotiations, Project management, Project Manager
Why Do Smart People Make Such Stupid Mistakes: A Practical Negotiation Guide To More Profitable Client Relationship by Chris Merrington is quite relevant to project managers as negotiation is something that they need to do day in and day out with various stakeholders to keep their project stay healthy and running. Let us see as per the book, if project managers make such stupid mistakes in their routine professional life. There are total 11 chapters in this 207 pages book having quite interesting scenarios and anecdotes. The author is a known speaker, consultant and is the founder of a firm named Spring 80:20 that works in consulting and conducting workshops.
Some key learning for project managers from Why Do Smart People Make Such Stupid Mistakes: A Practical Negotiation Guide To More Profitable Client Relationship by Chris Merrington that I could chalk out are:
It is a lot more to learn from this book for project managers though the book has not been specifically intended for them.
Project Scope Management: A Practical Guide to Requirements for Engineering, Product, Construction, IT and Enterprise Projects by Jamal Moustafaev is a lovely hardcover book with an excellent and relevant cover. The cover is able to convey that it is mean for the project managers across the globe working on any kind of Engineering, Technology, Enterprise or Product related projects. In a nutshell, it promises to deliver a practical approach to Project Scope Management. A very useful and a must read for all project managers. The book was released in the last month of 2014 and hence is still not in focus for many project managers. It’s author Jamal Moustafaev is a well-known entity in the project management arena.
Project Scope Management: A Practical Guide to Requirements for Engineering, Product, Construction, IT and Enterprise Projects by Jamal Moustafaev focuses mainly on subjective customer requirements gathered at the time of business analysis. This as per the book could become the key factor in killing the project if the requirements are not clear, crisp and complete. This could frantically lead to important and critical omissions during product development and hence would cause ambiguous feature building of the product. According to Moustafaev if these factors:
would in turn create a big disaster resulting into:
These are the very basic fundamental and core areas of project scope that are touched upon in the book Project Scope Management: A Practical Guide to Requirements for Engineering, Product, Construction, IT and Enterprise Projects by Jamal Moustafaev in a very practical and guiding manner. In order to get out of this disaster, there is no way out unless some core touchpoints are taken care of right at the beginning of a project. An unclear requirement from customer will always lead to never-ending requirements coming up from the customer throughout the project so as to cover up the mistakes done at the beginning of the project. To handle such situations, a deep engagement of all stakeholders is very critical.
After highlighting the above key factors causing disaster in a project, the author guides explicitly the core focus areas in gathering project requirements and thereby defining the scope of the project. It emphasizes on verification and control mechanism on each and every step of the project so as to minimize the risks arising out of it at a later stage.
There is a lot more to learn in this 366 pages book Project Scope Management: A Practical Guide to Requirements for Engineering, Product, Construction, IT and Enterprise Projects by Jamal Moustafaev that no project manager can afford to miss.
This is the replication of already running successful training mission for Airmen and Soldiers in North Carolina, where more than 250 have already been trained successfully. The program was initiated under the leadership of project management instructors Bill Flanagan and John Keane from Black Diamond Project Management team. Already trained project managers volunteering as a project management training instructor help in achieving this mission. The same has now been replicated by Chicagoland division of the Project Management Institute (PMI) where they have collaborated with Black Diamond Charities known as BDC, Illinois with a similar mission of providing project management training to veterans under the guidance of trained instructors.
Veterans – airmen and soldiers – based on their job training and lifestyle are more equipped to become successful project managers as project management, task management, and time management gels well with them as their natural stint. There is a lot of commonality in project management and military trainings.
An analysis report published six years back stated around seventy percent of projects fail in one aspect or the other in meeting their:
A project success can be factored on key parameters like:
Obviously if a project crosses its budget there could be various reasons some of them being quite weird. Budget could have outburst due to the scope finalization not handled properly in the beginning. This is one of the examples lying in a weird category but is actually among most usual happening causes for project failure.
Some other reasons could be:
Mostly this happens if:
If we look at top three reasons causing project failures, those would be:
The seventy percent project failing six years back still holds good though there are many new terminologies and organizations have evolved during this period that claim to deliver ninety percent success in your project.
PMO or Project Management Office is basically a controlling and administrating agency for Project and Project Manager portfolios. Following are the roles of a PMO:
Have you tried the new series of OnApp CloudPODs released by Webair. When you are a part of corporate or enterprise cloud solution team and are looking for tools that accelerate the deployment of the cloud with a considerable pace then you must try OnApp CloudPOD. The solution not only accelerates the deployment of cloud but also enhances hardware performance thereby increasing your customer service performance metrics. Overall if you see, it gives you a complete Cloud Management Solution bundled in for tackling all cloud-related issues in one go. Webair is a well-known entity in Cloud Hosting solutions, Cohosting, colocation, manageable and managed solutions. With already so much available under one name, an addition of CloudPOD has empowered its hosting services portfolio to a greater extent. The just a two-week old launch has been well acclaimed all across the globe.
Basically, CloudPOD is a wide range of cloud package solution that aggregates the cloud management software from OnAPP with the three other essential components of cloud – hosting, hardware and connectivity – to provide an optimized solution. The new CloudPOD from Webair lets cloud service providers implement the OnApp clouds solution of their own choice, which can easily go hand in hand with the pre-configured Dell hardware suited for enterprise cloud solutions. This way Webair’s CloudPOD solution provides a completely synchronized solution in terms of performance, network and infrastructure. It suits for all sizes of clouds – ranging from a starter and going up to the large enterprise sized ones.
Currently the benefit is to the customers in New York, Montreal, Amsterdam, and Los Angeles to manage their datacenters in these vicinities where Webair is able to provide hundred percent network uptime.
Unification of Apache YARN and Apache Mesos resource management solution is available in the newly launched open-source Myriad project. Myriad is the first ever produced resource management framework. The beauty of the product is that while on one hand your enterprise, cloud and datacenters services and applications are running and alongside, on the other hand, it can run Apache YARN jobs. As we know that there is a beautiful product from Mesosphere called Mesosphere Datacenter Operating System (DCOS). DCOS exhaustively manages cloud and datacenter resources. We also know that Apache Hadoop is provided by MapR Technologies Inc. Myriad is, in fact, is a product jointly from MapR Technologies Inc. and Mesosphere.
Myriad, available on GitHub is an open source project tool empowered to consolidate big data while running other services in the datacenter. It manages to consolidate all this in a manner so as to create a single pool or resources which help in increased utilization and higher efficiency in operations. There is a clear-cut optimization visible with improved results. This is probably a superb answer to the issues so far being faced in running big data jobs by Hadoop developers where it had to be run on dedicated clusters. By running them on dedicated clusters these resources used to stay in isolation from other services, jobs, and applications running in parallel. This is obviously a major drawback causing lower server utilization.
The issue has been overcome by bringing in Myriad that allows both Apache YARN and Apache Mesos to run alongside, as a single pool of resources whether it is big data jobs, applications, services or scripts. When YARN and Mesos are run together, Mesos collaborates the distributed and isolated resources in a single pool thereby increasing CPU, memory, storage management in a big way.
To break the deadlocks arising in a project, a product manager needs to learn and master an art of breaking those deadlocks. One of the manners to do that is a compromise. A compromise in a deadlock situation can break the deadlock and things can start moving further.
When it is a clash of egos, it becomes difficult for the two opposite ends to bend down and accept defeat. It becomes a kind of war between the two and even if both know they are wrong at one point or the other, neither of them still will agree to it. This kind of clashes can happen in various teams working on a project. For instance, it can happen between the two teams – Testing team and Development team, where both want to provide their correctness. If there is a flaw in the product, that can be overlooked by the testing team for the time being at the time of iteration closure, though can be taken care of at the time of final release, it all depends on testing team to document it and release the iteration. But usually it does not happen and that is one of the major reason of iterations getting delayed.
At this kind of juncture, it is the project manager who has to resolve the things in a diplomatic manner. Both the teams have to be convinced they are right at their end.
As a Project Manager, I had a different kind of learning that was great in all aspects. So here it goes:
Whether it is Agile or the legacy Waterfall, the life must go on for all projects in a successful manner. There have been success and failure cases in both scenarios’ real life projects. Even if Agile loyalists keep claiming that Agile is stronger than Waterfall and assurance rate of success in Agile is much higher, one must understand very clearly that not all projects can run hundred percent on Agile and the same holds good for Waterfall. There are certain projects that would run a better success rate if done in Waterfall. It is important to hold the nerve of the project to understand whether to go for Agile or Waterfall.
Approach that is taken in Agile is bottom-up and is claimed to be faster, much accurate in predicting the fate of action; and results realization. The complete requirements of are broken down into small packets and each packet is assigned a timeline for its completion. It is termed as iteration. Each iteration is given a short duration of seven to ten days. Each participant in an iteration is equally responsible and accountable. Definitely the empowerment is much higher in Agile.
One thing is sure, the visibility of progress and results accrual is much higher in case of Agile than in Waterfall.
When you are covering the final phase of your project the top management of the other side will have only one question in mind – what after handover and sign off. Usually, that is the reason why they become over cautious and start probing much about the product in question. There might be some weird questions coming for which you have no answer, but you have to stay confident and committed.
One of the best way in this phase is to convince the customer about the product stability and all good efforts gone into building it. And also ensure that the product still belongs to you even after the handover and sign off. Therefore in case of any genuine bug encountered ever, it will be taken care of instantly. It is not hundred percent sure that during deployment and handover phase any shortfalls and bugs emerge out. There might be some unique, less prominently occurring business cases that might not have been handled so seriously but could lead to a big disaster or breakdown in the future.
So keep your love intact for the product that you built and stay connected with the product and customer for its complete life.
Release phase of a project is one of the most customer intensive phases where for each release you have to take a final sign off from customer. The release might be of final documents submitted to the customer, training imparted to key users regarding product usage or the product handover. There are many more activities involved during this phase. The most important part is to keep the customer as engaged and happy as possible. This is logically the last check post before you reach your final destination and declare your whole journey as successful.
That means during this phase a project manager has to be at the peak of his communication skills. His prime role is the convince customer all efforts that have been done in the project have solely for the sake of customer itself. Nothing should be projected as a shortfall of the project. Never convey to your customer that he had ordered for a strong coffee and you on your own decided that tea would be better and are trying to convince your customer the change you decided on your own. Nobody would accept this unilateral decision taken by one person where both the persons were involved in the transaction.
In fact, you didn’t have coffee in the kitchen and instead of telling the reality to your customer and asking for an alternative of his choice from the options you have with you, you decided on your own. That will definitely kill your project there and then only.
The role of a project manager varies in various phases of a project. He has to act as a single star in the movie playing various roles as per the demand of the story. All the lead characters of the story are to be played by a project manager himself. In the testing phase, the project manager is required to behave like a self-critic. This is the most difficult task for a person – to be a critic of his own creation.
When the project manager is in the development phase, his prime concern is to meet timelines and releases though the secondary concern is also the quality of the product. But usually when you are a creator, you get totally engrossed in your creation that at times you miss something or the other. That is why in quality phase, the project manager has to act differently and be on the other side of the mirror. This way a project manager himself can realize the rust and dust that may destroy his product and effectively the project.
As discussed in my previous post, a project manager is supposed to carry various hats and has to be smart enough to understand which hat to wear in the respective phase of a project. When a project is in the development phase, a project manager has to act more than a development manager for various reasons. In the development phase, the main focus should be on timely completion of – planned milestones, releases and information to other stakeholders.
All this must happen in a systematic manner but with no compromise with the quality and delivery aspect. The testing scenario has changed altogether. It goes hand in hand with the development in small iterations and not like the earlier times when it used to happen on the completion of development. So is true for customer engagement. Customer engagement is important in this phase for the purpose of getting a sign off for each and every small unit built and released. Obviously, since the whole game is being played for the customer only, it is important to pass quality and customer approval side by side.
Think of the earlier scenario when product was developed in an isolated state, purely based on the requirements taken from the customer. And then it used to go to the quality inspection. It used to travel to and fro multiple times for bug fixing, recommended changes and UI suggestions (which includes navigation part also). Now quality has a bigger say, during the product development. For that purpose quality team has to be as learned about the business requirements and more importantly the actual business processes so that the product is aligned properly during the development phase only.
A project manager has to have multiple faces during the lifecycle of a project. There is no harm in carrying various hats or masks to wear on various occasions, during various phases of a project. In reality, there is a lot of heat transfer during a project. There are moments when a huge pressure is imposed on a project manager and in return the project manager has to dissipate this pressure over his team. The pressure must be absorbed in a very constructive manner. And same should be the strategy while transferring the pressure.
Obviously the pressure will not stay same or constant. It will keep on changing depending on the situation. At times, a project manager will have to raise a false alarm or in other words to build an induced pressure so as to keep his team awake and alert. It all depends on meeting your timelines and milestones. As long as you are on track, the situation will be normal and there will be no considerable external pressure except the one built within to keep yourself going, meeting timelines and goals. The moment you start derailing, instead of acting as assistive agents (which is the most urgent requirement at that juncture), your other stakeholders in the project will start poking you and demanding quick results.
Reasons for delay become meaningless if every activity starts getting delayed and every time there is a new story for the stakeholders. After all, it is not only your performance that puts an intensive impact on the project progress but of each of the team members’ too.
The role and responsibilities of team members change while moving from legacy waterfall methodology to Agile. In Agile the whole perspective and outlook of each and every team member changes. There is a higher level energy engagement requirement from each member thereby calling for high energy and higher dynamism. The expectations in waterfall are mild and with higher frequency. The reviews and meetings are at a longer frequency and focus more on limited people. Here the focus goes on each member. Each member is answerable and accountable. There is higher amount of empowerment.
In Agile there needs to be a consistent bonding between development and business. Both need to intersect each other regularly rather than going parallel. Intersection means interaction. The two need to interact on regular basis, for higher alignment and better engagement. To make all this happen there has to be an entity and the entity is called Product Owner. The product owner acts as a strong link between Development team and the Business team. All this happens with the help of knowledge, wisdom and extra-edged capabilities of product owner.
The product owner is responsible to keep everyone engaged and connected. Major strongholds of a product owner need to be an analyst, a project manager, a communicator, a trainer/ orator and a great leader. He must plan, prioritize, define iterations size and frequency, take quick decisions and keep motivating others. All stakeholders are brought on board as and when required and there needs to be no compromise in that if life has to go smooth. That is where the product owner’s role comes into light.
If it is a once sentence difference that clearly distinguishes between Agile and Waterfall it goes as the title of this post. There is in reality no “Maybe” in Agile. For customer requirement at the start of a fresh iteration the exercise is done to mark either “Yes” or “No” against it. The tasks for that iteration are very clearly identified, marked against respective team member’s name. During any iteration that is a week to fifteen days duration, the respective task connections talk, meet and update their progress on day to day basis.
That means if there is a scope of some non-clarity in a small piece of requirement and is not cleared at the right time, it is not pure Agile methodology adopted in the project. It is then a mix of agile and waterfall that is working in that project. Something important to note is that the projects in which Agile is adopted even in some parts of a complete waterfall project have comparatively higher chances of successful closures than if the project was taken as hundred percent waterfall. On the other hand if in an Agile project if some part is adopted to be taken in waterfall way, the chances of success reduce.
Some organizations adopt agile in such a smaller way by introducing it as a subset of a waterfall project in order to have a taste of it. And in fact it also helps them to get a clear cut difference between the two practices.
If someone says Agile is faster than waterfall, it is right. If someone says Agile is less costlier than waterfall, then also it is right. But it is right only in context when the complete lifecycle cost is compared. Overall iteration costs might be higher in case of Agile but since there is less rework at later stage, it covers up the extra cost being incurred. There is a silent bomb that is always ticking in Agile methodology. If a fault or defect is not caught in time and comes into notice at a later stage, the bomb explodes and makes the complete project haywire.
But chances are quite bleak of such a consequence because at the end of each iteration, each qualified result is got vetted by the customer thereby taking a sign-off. That reduces the chances of any leakages to come into notice at a later stage. It is the rigidity that waterfall carried resulting into more chances of failures. It is the flexibility in Agile that ensures small wins into a bigger win. Moreover it also depends on a project, organizational behavior and desired outcomes.
Another boon of Agile is regular engagement, response and small closures that lead to bigger closures. The rigidness in waterfall says requirements finalized once cannot be changed, while in Agile the customer requirements are confirmed and reconfirmed on every iteration.
That is the beauty of Agile.
Agile concept evolved around two decades ago and is in practice for over a decade now. Within last decade or so the practice has evolved to an optimized level and has proven its usefulness and beneficial results. Project Management took a new turn with involvement of Agile in it. To a substantial extent, it has become a standard adoption in comparison to the waterfall methodology. Quicker finding of faults and their timely addressable possibilities have resulted into higher rates of project closures successfully with adoption of Agile methodology in projects.
The predictions and visibility has become more realistic with Agile. The whole gamut has changed with adoption of Agile – be it the operating mechanism, product development or testing and in fact the various functionary roles. Customer engagement has increase tremendously. It is not like earlier when customer presence was substantial only at two junctures of the project – at the time of capturing of customer requirements in project initiation stage and at the time of deployment stage. With Agile in place, customer has to be a regular part of project development iterations. Each iteration is closed only once customer consent is taken. Customer approval seals an iteration and hence the part by part closure of project.
That way Agile has been tremendously helpful in providing a right kind of momentum and has reduced time delays and rate of failures.
A project passes through various stages – project initiation, development, execution, deployment, sign off and closure. All this takes a lot of strategy, energy and power to drive it in right direction. At times projects do get speed but lead to wrong results if not driven in right direction. And at times, even if the project is going in right direction, it might not win the race, if it lacks speed.
There have been instances when project got initiated with all kind of right spirit but had to be called off due to lack of energy or speed. Speed is an important factor for a project. Without proper speed a project, even if with right constituents, will lose its vigor and hence lead to failure.
It is always good to carry along some good, genuine motivators in the team to keep team speed appropriately managed.
A Project Manager needs to have a top priority for his team. A motivated team can make you win any battle. And a demotivated team might not be able to stay confident in even normal situation. He needs to facilitate his team in all aspects. For that it is very important to understand what all it takes to become a successful facilitator. To facilitate your team you need to be having a good PR. For your team you might have to get favors from various functions.
One such event I remember is when I had to ask for a deviation from HR on one of their policy, for one of my team member who had a genuine reason for violating that particular HR policy.
Similarly you, being project manager of your team, need to be a good curator to keep curating your team members on continuous basis.
Customer requirement capturing phase generally is the period when exact requirements of the customer emerge. It starts with the “What-is” situation going forward to customer’s “to-be” stage. The latter in any case has to be a better and advanced condition from the former. Current situation might be at any level but there is always a scope of improvement, enhancement and improvisation. Even if an organization is fully automated with all business apps in place, there could be a scope requirement in certain integration, mobility and workflow.
Once the customer requirements are finalized and signed off, it does not mean there will not be any changes any further. Things keep evolving and change is always inevitable.
While driving towards Jim Corbett from Delhi with a Tata Safari Convoy of 22 Safaris and 4 additional official vehicles, organized by Tata Motors as a North Region Drive, it turned out to be a great learning from every moment spent with the whole team. There were professionals and businessmen in the group. There were young and middle aged in the group. But it never felt like out of group while talking to any of the members.
It was a distance of around 230 kilometers. We started quite early in the morning and it was almost sure that everyone had come without any breakfast at such an early hours of the morning at the assembly point. Starting was a bit late as there were twenty two cars that were coming from different corners of National Capital Region of Delhi. After starting it was decided to stop somewhere in Gajraula. There is a complex in which you can find different restaurants. Twenty cars and around seventy persons definitely crowded the complex. We tried McDonalds first but it seemed the guys got frightened to see so many people together and we also felt it would take a long time to cater.
Within the same complex we found Tadka Restaurant. We decided to have Paranthas there. In no time it was unanimously decided that we all will go there. There was no panic. In no time the sitting for all was organized on first floor and everyone enjoyed PArathas, butter and Chai.
A great learning for Project Managers on how to manage crisis situations during project lifecycle.
A recent trip to Jim Corbett gave a great learning for project managers on how to manage a project. The expedition was a convoy of twenty two Tata Safari owners along with four cars for Tata Motors official media crew. So in all there were total twenty-six Tata Safari cars to start from Delhi to Jim Corbett. The three day trip gave lot of learning for a project manager that I would like to share here:
Overall it was an unforgettable experience.
What happens when a project fails. It is the turn of project manager to give valid reasons to safeguard himself. Management on the other hand have their own reasons to fire project manager especially if it is a high stake project. A direct question that goes to project manager is why he did not trigger a shout the moment he anticipated delay/failure. But does it not indicate a shortfall at management’s end. If it is a high stake project, is management not responsible to get a regular and frequent project update and vet it with facts and figures rather than banking totally on project manager.
Usually there are some very frequent reasons that are repeated in one form or the other in most of the project failures. A couple of those are as below:
Hardly 13% of projects see the light of day within prescribed timelines, budget and customer satisfaction. If any of the three is less than 100% in the project conclusion summary finalized at the end of a project, don’t treat it as a successful project closure. Actually a project manager has to be quite witty in handling a project otherwise he is bound to get trapped in a vicious circle with timelines, budget and customer requirements on the periphery.
If it is getting delayed in meeting deadlines for releasing a milestone, project manager either increases the cost of project by injecting more manpower so that the development finishes in time or there is a compromise with the delivery of what is committed. Other way round – If budget is constrained during a project, either it impacts on team size or the customer requirements are cut or molded in accordance to meet the crisis. Similarly there are 99% chances of change in requirements during a project.
Logically a project manager has to be tricky enough to follow a ‘no compromise’ path in order to obtain 100 out of 100 at the end of a project. All said and done, it is quite difficult in real life. A data presented by PMI (project management institute) around a year before reported a loss of a little higher amount than invested in the project for a successful closure.
This is a task management tool that allows to work collaboratively among different team members despite their geographic differences. The beauty of this product is that it builds tasks in a tree-type model and hence helps you in planning and organizing tasks in a better way. The product is called Quire and if you have not put your hands on it, you can give it a try. The project task management becomes simpler and easily manageable while using this tool.
You don’t require a special training to use this tool and can easily manage your tasks (daily or periodic), team’s task management, project management and effective planning in organizing and getting quick results. The visual presentation of your tasks in collaboration with your teams changes dynamically in real time as and when anywhere any changes happen. User interface is quite intuitively designed in such a manner that the tree structure model helps you in recognizing tasks and sub-tasks in a clear manner without any extra efforts.
Definitely, a project manager, team manager or product manager would always like to like to have a clear picture of tasks in hand, sub-tasks bundled with a particular task, and each task/sub-task mapped to who it is allocated to. A real time, at a glance, clear visual presentation is always going to help to manage and organize them. That is where you can easily bank upon to manage and organize your tasks buckets.
Business Analysis Certification has been launched recently (in November 2014) by PMI (Project Management Institute). A Business Analysis Practice Guide has also been launched in wake of the above mentioned certification. The two excellent online community efforts are in place for last twenty years on their two portals – ProjectManagement.com and PMI.org where they keep engaged and updated all project management enthusiasts on global arena. The certification is named as Professional in Business Analysis (given by PMI) – PBA. The practice guide is titled as The Business Analysis for Practitioners – A Practical Guide. Both were launched in November and December respectively.
The call comes in wake of high demand of professionals in business analysis from various industry verticals. The demand is valid as the technology and information systems are evolving continuously for last three decades and the business applications have reached to a level of maturity where analytics is now the next thing that is going to give a thrust to business in real sense.
The main components of practical guide of Business Analysis would be assisting analysts in identification of core business needs and marrying them with a suitable solution after proper evaluation. There would be proper guidance in making business analysis enthusiasts to identify the core business issues where analysis is prime concern to evolve business out of that crisis by providing an appropriate solution. This analysis will definitely be taking care of the business ecosystem, constraints and opportunities. There would be requirements capturing, analysis, verification of requirements, evaluation and assessment and then solution deployment (probably going in line with the project management).