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The Titanic and the Manager's 5 Deadly Sins

by Luis Alberto Caceres Villota

The Titanic was an ambitious project, projected to reach extraordinary success...but it sank. Why did this happen? By going through this interesting historical case, we'll visualize how behavioral aspects could sink the best project or business. These are “must have” concepts for any manager interested in getting the most from projects.

Topic Teasers Vol. 86: The Failure Repository

by Barbee Davis, MA, PHR, PMP, PMI-ACP, PMI-PBA

Question: I’m not in IT, but I’m heading a project to implement one of those big name software packages that is supposed to place all the corporate information in one application. We’ve rolled it out, but as a 24-hour organization it seems that we have departments unable to access their information at all hours of the day and night. Our vendor is on call for the fixes, but the outages interrupt our business. I’m discouraged, angry and exhausted. How do I manage these issues?
A. With a big name supplier, the responsibility to keep things up and going is on their shoulders, not yours. Contact upper management and ask to have any payments to them stopped until all areas of your organization are up and running with no down time for at least six weeks.
B. Each department was probably given a chance to express what connectivity they needed before the customization of this overriding package was finalized. Get the name of each person who was part of the planning team and subsequently had an outage in their area and report them to their own manager.
C. Ask your own IT team to get involved in solving these issues. Obviously, the vendor does not have competent people on its staff who can manage an install like yours. If your own internal staff takes over the responsibility, you will have better communication and a team that understands the high stakes when your systems go down.
D. The reality of any install that must switch over an entire organization at one time is that there are going to be hiccups. But as a non-IT expert, the most productive path for you is to create a way that the failures can be grouped and tracked so that past problems can be easily accessed to provide faster solutions to new outages or feature failures that occur.
Pick your answer then Test Your Knowledge!

Deep Dive Models in Agile (Part 4): Business Data Diagram

by Candase Hokanson

This series provides valuable information for the product owner community to use additional good practices in their projects. In each installment in this series, we take one of the most commonly used visual models in agile and explain how to create one and how to use one to help build, groom or elaborate your agile backlog. This installment looks at business data diagrams.

Big Data & Data Analytics: What's in Store?

by Michael Wood

Despite the poor success rates reported in 2015 in using Big Data and data analytics, it appears that for 2016 and beyond, they are on their way to being a massive market. What are your organization’s plans for pursuing these initiatives?

Demystifying Software Project Estimations Using Function Points

by Saurabh Saxena

In the world of IT, each project comes with a different set of expectations and requirements that make everyone nervous about estimating cost, time and level of effort. Estimations based on a mature estimation model (function points) are more likely to be successful than projects that are estimated ad hoc, based on expert judgment alone. Function points translate all project functionalities into equivalent efforts. Combined with a well-defined process, they serve as a powerful tool for accurate estimations.

Big Data Projects: Strategic Disruption or Storm in a Teacup?

by Jiwat Ram

Stories of many failed Big Data projects have cast doubts on their strategic necessity and value. This raises the question of whether Big Data analytics and the associated technologies are a strategic disruption for organizational productivity, or just another hyped-up pretender of business value—a storm in a business teacup?

Topic Teasers Vol. 83: Does This Metric Make Me Look Fat?

by Barbee Davis, MA, PHR, PMP, PMI-ACP, PMI-PBA

Question: Ah, the dreaded new boss! This organization works through other vendors to deliver our international training services. My team reviews them for longevity, education and certification of instructors, stability of organizational structure, quality and content of their materials, publicity and webpage honesty, and similar traits found in a high-value partner. The new boss has no background or understanding of our industry or training in general, and immediately wants to impose strict metrics to evaluate my team and me. This doesn’t seem like a good idea. Am I missing something?
A. Metrics or concrete, short-term data about the performance of each person working for an organization are crucial to make sure that team members are not slacking off and occupying a position someone else could use to bring the company more value.
B. The new boss is trying to make his or her mark by introducing the new metrics to have something concrete to show. These statistics will prove to not be a good idea over time, so let the organization figure it out for itself. Collecting them is the equivalent of the lion’s roar to mark this territory to all within earshot.
C. Only people who are fearful of what the data will show will object to having it collected, formed into charts and submitted to management. In fact, since you know what is being gathered you can change your daily performance to be sure you look good in these new metrics regardless of whether or not it is the best use of your time.
D. An organization should look at the need for and value received from any metrics gathered and used. Unless they are collecting data that is meaningful and will lead to better results, they are a waste of company time and resources, may be misleading and may be discouraging for the team.
Pick your answer then Test Your Knowledge!

Topic Teasers Vol. 81: Knowledge Management

by Barbee Davis, MA, PHR, PMP, PMI-ACP, PMI-PBA

Question: There is good news and bad news! I have been asked to head the largest project of my career—that’s the good part. The bad part—it’s about knowledge management. Of course I know in general terms what that means, but somehow with the budget and size of the team I’ve been assigned, I think they are expecting a much broader scope that I may have anticipated. How can I get a quick update of the latest version of the extent of this generic term?
A. This can mean many different things within an organization. Update yourself with some quick reading, then check with the project sponsor or business analyst to make sure you aren’t including or leaving anything out of the scope that management is expecting.
B. Ask your team to see if any of them have encountered this term in past jobs or in a user group setting. Don’t be afraid to let them fill you in on what this means in today’s terms, especially if they are young.
C. Check at your local community college or with national training vendors to see if they have a two-day class on this topic. If a project manager like you has questions, there must be many other people in your area who need the same information.
D. Ask the Project Management Office (PMO) in your organization to have the training department conduct a training session for you and your team so that everyone has the same information. In that way you can learn about it yourself without having to expose your current lack of knowledge.
Pick your answer then Test Your Knowledge!

How to Improve Risk Management with Big Data Analytics

by Bruce Harpham

We have risk registers, risk workshops and other options. Yet many projects are still derailed by risks that result in delays, loss and public criticism. Big Data—a term that took off in the 2000s—is part of the answer.

Data Warehouse BQA Prototype Plan

PREMIUM project plan

This Microsoft Project Plan will walk you through the ins and outs of putting together a business question assessment to analyze the data you need for your data warehouse.

Data Warehouse Strategy Project Plan

deliverable

Need to plan a data warehouse project? This synopsis outlines the steps, deliverables and team roles for strategizing, architecting, designing and planning the implementation of a data warehouse.

List of Common Schedule Risks

deliverable

This list and overview of common schedule risks will help you maintain vigilance against pitfalls that can interrupt, stop or ruin your software development project.

Data Transformation Map

deliverable

Map the transformation of the data elements from source system tables to data warehouse target tables.

Data Warehouse Extraction Tool Recommendation

deliverable

How do you select the best data extraction/transformation toolset for your data warehouse? Evaluate features, functionality, vendor reputation... the works. Follow the example set by this robust tool evaluation.

Redbrick Data Warehouse Backup and Restore Procedure

deliverable

Even though you've built the perfect data warehouse, it's better to be safe than sorry if something goes wrong during its operation and you need to restore the original data files. Take the time to document your backup and recovery procedures, as in this example.

Data Warehouse QA Form

deliverable

A handy spreadsheet for recording Data Warehouse QA issues, from data transformation to report generation problems.

Offshore Outsourcing Project Plan

PREMIUM project plan

Find greater profits using offshore outsourcing, and use this project plan to make sure it's done right--and on time.

Data Warehouse Tool Cost Matrix

deliverable

There's a lot to consider when selecting a Data Warehouse toolset. Use this comprehensive tool evaluation matrix to guide your final selection.

Data Warehouse Tool Selection Plan

PREMIUM project plan

This Microsoft Project plan can serve as a guide to evaluating vendor tools for your data warehouse. It includes a Gantt chart schedule and cost analysis for the complete tool selection process.

Business Case

PREMIUM deliverable

Mission-critical projects need to be well-justified, with clear goals that can be referenced throughout the life of the project. This business case template offers an excellent approach to goal-setting and a way to communicate those goals effectively.

Self-Documenting Code Checklist

checklist

Code is a developer's signature on a software project, and not all developers play by the rules of good coding standards. Ensure that your development team leaves a coding legacy that not only implements the application at hand but can be understood by others and maintained during future development cycles.

Data Warehouse Project Plan

PREMIUM project plan

Are you putting together a data warehouse? This Microsoft Project plan will help you keep tabs on all the complex stages and steps involved in building decision support systems and a knowledge-based applications architecture and environment.

Integration Test Plan Outline

deliverable

Here is a solid outline of a plan for testing individual development components in context with the overall system.

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"If you can't be a good example, then you'll just have to be a horrible warning."

- Catherine Aird