by Wanda Curlee
The Internet of Things (IoT) will change the cell phone landscape.
For many years, the smartphone has been our link to apps. We could lock our cars, play games, spy on our pets—the list is almost exhaustive.
But, I am constantly brought back to a question of whether or not smartphones will always be necessary—or will they become obsolete as more IoT devices are created that combine the hardware, software and user interface into one place.
Is this pie in the sky? Based on how our technology is rapidly progressing (which I started discussing in my last post), I don’t think so.
As Maurice McGinley, design director for Amsterdam-based AVG Innovation Labs said, “Instead of having one universal device—your smartphone—controlling your environment, you would have simple controls placed where you need them, available when you need them.”
While I have no insight into the strategic direction of the companies developing smart devices, I would contend this is the direction they will be going.
And this is great for the project management discipline.
Smartphone manufacturers and network providers (Verizon, AT&T, etc.) will need to change or broaden focus, and that means investing in new projects and programs. And the portfolio manager will need to ensure the projects and programs are on the roadmap to deliver the right value for the enterprise.
Smart device manufacturers will need to figure out how to provide a friendly user interface similar to the mobile experience.
The project management discipline would be used in a similar way as the cell phone industry. The portfolio manager should scan the enterprise for projects and programs that meet the need. If there are none or not enough to help drive the strategy, the portfolio manager needs to work with the portfolio sponsor to determine the issues. The project and program managers would deliver the capabilities needed.
So, where will you be when the industry is stood on its head? How will you help to focus the IoT to deliver the right technology for consumers and companies?
Project practitioners that truly understand their industry and where it is going can be drivers of that change.
By Jen L. Skrabak, PMP, PfMP
Most portfolio managers are aware of the importance of aligning their portfolio to the strategy of the organization.
But what exactly is strategy?
Strategy is commonly misunderstood. Sometimes it is used to denote importance or criticality, for example, a “strategic program.” Other times, it may be used to convey an action plan—an organization may say that their strategy is to launch a new key product.
In reality, however, strategy does not denote importance or complexity; rather, it represents the collective decisions that enable the organization to amplify its uniqueness in order to win.
It’s important to think of strategy as having three components:
Definition: The intent of the organization over the long term.
Plan: Clear, concise and compelling actions expressed through a strategic plan and roadmap. Visualization helps to articulate the strategy, and align it with objectives and measurements. Frameworks and tools such as a strategy map, balanced scorecard and activity map help plan the strategy.
Execution: How the organization will achieve its defined plan through its portfolios (and corresponding programs and projects). The portfolio represents the decisions that the organization has made in order to execute on the strategy.
What Strategy IS and IS NOT
The strategy should define for the organization and individuals:
-Where are we going?
-Why are we going there?
-What’s my role?
In my next post, we’ll discuss how to align portfolio management to strategy.
by Roger Chou
When the Bureau of Standards, Metrology and Inspection in Taiwan's Ministry of Economic Affairs decided to adopt ISO 21500 as the Chinese National Standard (CNS) for project management, they turned to a virtual team of volunteers to review and implement the standard.
After being asked to head this committee, my first step was to make Scrum practices the method for doing the work. From there I worked to:
1) Centralize collaboration.
Since our committee of more than 30 volunteers (broken into three teams) worked virtually, we needed a tool to communicate and collect information. We relied on the LINE communication app and Google Docs.
2) Create a product backlog.
This backlog was a key reference tool for the committee. It included key stakeholder interviews and user stories that established the needs of CNS.
For example, one story said:
“As the Committee for Chinese National Standards on project management, I want the second version revised to cover our terminology standards so that it won’t waste our time in reviewing the work.”
3) Plan how to perform the work.
I instructed the individual team leaders to let their team members break the user stories into tasks to help them feel ownership of the work and create more accurate tasks.
The tasks were set up to be no more than one day’s work over four sprints (4 weeks total), allowing us to keep the momentum going.
4) Meet regularly with team leads.
This helped ensure teams were working effectively with each other. In this meeting the individual team leads were asked the following questions:
- What has my team finished since the last meeting?
- What will my team do before the next meeting?
- Are there any impediments in my team's way?
- Are there any impediments caused by my team for other teams?
5) Hold sprint reviews.
Throughout the length of the project we held weekly sprint reviews with external stakeholders.
This step not only ensured the volunteers worked to a high standard, but since this work was reviewed collectively, it served as a reminder of the commitments the teams had made to each other — be that deadlines or level or work.
When the final project was completed, it was submitted for review with a panel of industry, government and academic leaders. Our final step was to create the final user story:
“As the product owner of the project, I want to collect each volunteer’s reflection and thoughts, of about 100 words, to make the closure report, So that I may let those new to project management know how to run virtual teams with Scrum and I want to publish these stories.”
Work on this project was constant, sometimes requiring long nights of work. But it was always as a labor of love.
How do you streamline projects for virtual teams? What would you have done differently when managing a large volunteer effort like this one?
While uncertainty can influence project outcomes, contingency and proper risk response planning can decrease the potential sting. But, despite the rich theoretical background and defined best practices that have been developed for risk management, it remains a struggle for most organizations and project managers.
Why? Here are three reasons I often see:
Effectively Identifying Risks
Risk identification demands effort and time. It is easy to overlook risks in the first pass. That’s why it should be reviewed periodically throughout the entire project life cycle.
According to Rita Mulcahy in her book Risk Management, Tricks of the Trade, if you identified less than 300 project risks, you did a poor identification. To identify more risks (and exceed Ms. Mulachy’s target) try these three tips:
1) Review all documentation, including:
2) Utilize various information-gathering techniques:
3) Try different diagramming techniques, such as:
How familiar are you with these tools? Which do you find the most useful? Is there another you would recommend? I look forward to your comments!
By Christian Bisson, PMP
Standardizing project management across an organization is often met with resistance, as teams are typically eager to customize their efforts based on how they feel is the best way of working. But while there are often adjustments that must be made on a client-by-client basis, there are many benefits to creating a consistent project management experience no matter the endeavour.
A project manager’s life can go from slow and steady to chaotic in a matter of minutes. If you have a common way of working it is easier for colleagues to grab your project for a day and coordinate while you focus on other—often more urgent—concerns.
For example, if your schedule is built using the same tool or template as your coworkers’ projects, opening it up to figure out what’s next is easy. It also keeps your colleague from messing up your well-organized plan, thus making it harder for you to jump back into the project when you’re able.
Shorter Learning Curves
When you hire a new project manager, he or she must learn how the company works—from clients and colleagues to tools and processes—before they can be efficient or add value.
If project management is standardized, it drastically reduces the learning curve for the new hire.
Cooperative Continuous Improvement
For anyone that reads my blogs, it’s quite obvious I’m an advocate of continuous improvement. The best way to do this is by working with other project managers, sharing ideas on how to improve our way of working, our tools, our templates, etc. Having multiple sources of feedback allows for better ideas to emerge and faster fine-tuning.
This is generally overlooked, however, if everyone works in a silo, doing his or her own thing.
Better Client Experience
If a client works with more than one project manager at the same agency, it creates a better experience when documents look the same across projects or communications are handled the same way by different project managers.
What do you think are the key benefits of standardizing project management across organizations? What have your challenges been? I look forward to discussing.