Voices on Project Management

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Voices on Project Management offers insights, tips, advice and personal stories from project managers in different regions and industries. The goal is to get you thinking, and spark a discussion. So, if you read something that you agree with - or even disagree with - leave a comment.

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Cameron McGaughy
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Maintain Control in Lessons Learned

Categories: IT, Lessons Learned, Teams

In a traditional lessons learned session that is conducted face-to-face, project managers know each person who is present and his or her role on the project.

But technology today affords us the luxury of being able to do many things online -- such as holding a lessons learned session. We can engage with people across the country or someone who may be sitting right next door. Regardless of where someone is located, we must maintain a cordial and professional manner when we interact online.
 
When you have dispersed project teams -- and even sometimes otherwise -- getting people to stay focused and not be disrespectful to others in a lessons learned session is a challenge.
 
To overcome this, set the rules for participating in the session. Make sure participants understand them and agree to them. These rules should include:

  • Respect. Allow someone to make his post without experiencing sarcasm, blame or degradation. Emphasize open, honest and polite communications. Project team members will develop an appreciation for each other, the project manager and their organization.
  • Treat people as if they are right next to you. Use a tone of courtesy that can be recognized in any language. Respect the person's time and keep posts brief. Do not veer off on other conversations -- stick to the discussion.
  • Put a face to a name. Many applications allow photo uploads. When someone responds, everyone can see who is participating in the discussion.  
Setting the right tone in these sessions can lead to so many other opportunities. For example, when good feelings are engendered, it helps to build your team and other business relationships. You can learn more about each person, such as associations they may belong to or networking contacts that you can use for future collaborations and project guidance.
 
When you maintain control of the meeting and employ general courtesy, it keeps the discussion flowing and ensures everyone gets the information needed about lessons to be learned.
 
How do you maintain control in lessons learned sessions?


Posted by Bernadine Douglas on: June 20, 2012 02:13 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)

Project Management Adds Value to Operational IT Departments

Categories: IT

The structured approach of project management can add value to operational IT departments. What makes this work is the approach that the project management office (PMO) or the project management team defines in its project management methodology for release of the systems into production environments.

Operational departments should execute with a process often referred to as "steady state transfer." This process gives the project team the opportunity to validate all the key production processes such as the support, maintenance cycle, systems restore and sanity testing, which is the basic testing of the system functionality.

Project teams launch the steady state transfer after successful tests show the systems are ready to be released into the production environment.

This validation step -- to ensure that the system processes are well mapped between various support departments -- adds value to the operations teams. The validation step is done during project execution using the steady state transfer process -- and without generating special projects.

This validation step in the project management practice guarantees process interface manuals are updated with any changes to the processes and the test results.

The operational departments work with the project team to complete this task and thus make a smooth transition into the "steady state" of operation.

What processes does your organization use to achieve the same results?

See more posts on IT.
Read more from Dmitri.



Posted by Dmitri Ivanenko PMP ITIL on: March 21, 2012 02:15 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)

Distributed Agile Teams: Beyond the Tools

Many of today's agile project teams are distributed around the globe. While simple implementations of agile processes assume co-location, in larger enterprises, this is rarely the case. Selecting tools to assist remote communication helps, but it's not enough.

Here are some human factors to consider, beyond the tools, to work successfully with a distributed team:

Cultural differences can become apparent when working with global talent. Some people are uneasy if some social small talk is omitted as part of doing business. Some are uncomfortable if we don't simply get to the point. This affects agile teams as they implement practices such as self-organization, pair programming, and retrospectives. Remember people's assumptions can vary.

Time-zone differences can be helpful by providing longer hours of coverage. But check with your teams on when they begin and end their workday. Different cultures have different laws and traditions on when to go home. Not all people have private transportation, and not all countries use daylight savings time.

Finding teams in compatible time zones can be an advantage with more hours of coverage, if the hours and needs are remembered. Partnering with teams that are north or south of each other makes this easier because the time difference is less extreme.

Communication differences among distributed teams also require forethought. Agile teams will notice a need for engaging and informative tools in their story grooming, estimating, planning and retrospective meetings.

Telephone calls can be awkward because there is no visual cue as to who is speaking and no person to look at. Also, sound varies for each person depending on if they are in the same conference room, on a speakerphone, using a headset or cell phone. Make it a point to include people on the phone if part of the group is face-to-face.

Video conferences or webcams might be a better option. Be aware of the background so it is not distracting. Also be aware of the lighting quality and direction -- illuminating an attendee's face is better than a dark silhouette.

Spatial user interfaces, which extend traditional graphical user Interfaces by using two or three-dimensional renderings, give people someone to look at and allow positional body language and gestures to convey nonverbal information. However, be sure to allow training time for participants so they can make the most of these environments before needing to concentrate on a meeting.

By using the right tool and having the right mindset, agile teams can work together across wide distances.

How do you work successfully with distributed teams?

Posted by William Krebs on: November 18, 2011 01:37 PM | Permalink | Comments (5)

Reinventing the Project Management Career

Categories: Career Help, IT

In my previous post, I said, "I can't be sure but I have a feeling that the nature of the project management game is changing." I'm becoming more certain of that all the time -- especially in terms of what that means for my career.

Recall that I articulated three trends that "give me pause:"

• Project management jobs are following other IT jobs to emerging markets
• Agile is gaining in popularity as a way to approach IT projects
• The way the global economy functions is said to be changing

Each of these injects a fair amount of uncertainty into my career plans.

In a project context, uncertainty is interesting in that it has the potential to positively or negatively affect project objectives. The same is true of career objectives, which makes those three trends very interesting to me.

So what are my career objectives? Simple:

1. Continue to manage projects
2. Have enough variety in those projects to keep things interesting

To what extent might the aforementioned trends affect those objectives? It depends on the timeframe. Thinking about the state of the profession over the next four or five years, two questions come to mind:

• Within that time, what is the likelihood that one or more of the three trends I outline will have an impact (positive or negative) on my two career objectives?

• What might that impact be?

You tell me.

What are your overall goals for the next five years, and how will the shifts we see in project management affect those goals?

Posted by Jim De Piante on: May 25, 2011 09:52 AM | Permalink | Comments (5)

No Project Rework

Categories: IT

Generally, an IT project schedule is divided into three phases: 30 percent requirements, 40 percent coding and 30 percent testing. But have you ever noticed that in the coding phase, 60 percent of the effort goes into unplanned bug fixing?

I read somewhere that in the software industry, 90 percent of the tasks take 10 percent of the time, while the other 10 percent take 90 percent of the time due to rework. If as a project manager you can control this rework effort, I am sure that your project will be successful in terms of profit value, customer satisfaction and team motivation.

The project I am currently working on is no different. We had the same rework problem. So based upon data analysis from the last 4 to 5 months, the team came up with a list of preventive actions that will help us in reducing rework.

But I was still looking for something to keep them motivated to avoid rework. I prepared a logo and it was pasted on all desks.

sanjaypost1.png
 

What do you say, is it going to help us?

Posted by sanjay saini on: April 09, 2010 01:24 PM | Permalink | Comments (12)
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