Project Management in Real Life

Sharing my Project Management adventures and some tips. I try to keep my articles brief and to the point. Project Management is an Art and Discipline.

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Recent Posts

The Whiteboard

Proposals for solutions the three options way

Scope Creep a dirty word in Project Management

Good Morning Hawaii - Seek Shelter

The sticky notes Project Management tool

The Whiteboard

The whiteboard is a Project Manager's canvas to record information and get a visual reminder everyday of the important due dates, to do list, notes, and whatever you feel can be on public display in your office for co-workers to see.

I list all the projects that I'm working on with a circle next to the project name. The circle will be filled in using the appropriate stoplight color to indicate the current status of the project.

I can go on and on listing the benefits of having your own whiteboard in your office. 

Posted on: January 20, 2018 07:03 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

Proposals for solutions the three options way

Present your solutions with the three options approach. When you are on a budget and faced with a problem that needs to be addressed you need to look at various options to address the problem. 

1) Look at the short term cheap fix solution if it will meet your needs until a long term solution is implemented in the future. 

2) When you are uncertain when a long term fix will be implemented you need to look for a solution that has the capability of going the distance without all those bells and whistles. 

3) The long term solution with all the bells and whistles that will address all your needs into the future. 

It's all in how you present the options to management. You need to upfront commit to your first pick and hard sell it. Management will have a chance to see the three options and decide to just fork out the money to address a permanent fix or select one of the two cheaper solutions to buy time to get that permanent solution in the budget.

(Note - this article was originally written by Drake Settsu and published on in April 2014)

Posted on: January 19, 2018 03:50 AM | Permalink | Comments (5)

Scope Creep a dirty word in Project Management

I worked on a project that was eventually terminated due to scope creep causing enormous cost overruns. The Project Manager did not stay within the scope. This happened slowly over time like a small crack in a dam leaks water. Change requests kept coming in and they were all getting approved. The cost of the project just kept going up. Change requests are a part of every project it happens. This project had change requests beyond sanity. We were replacing a system with the same system in the end if we did not pull the plug on it and cut our losses already.


Some causes of scope creep:

(1) Poorly defined requirements that don't clearly highlight the objectives you want to achieve. You need your deliverables defined clearly.

(2) Weak change control.

(3) Sponsors that are weak.

(4) Selecting the wrong vendor solution.

(5) A Project Manager that does not raise the flag when he sees the project spiraling out of control. He thinks he can salvage it.

(6) Having no sign-off from all parties that have a stake in the project. They need to speak up if they feel the proposed project falls short of their objectives. Hash it out before you formally kickoff the project.


My granddaughter loves playing Minecraft. The creepers job is to ambush players. Players can avoid creepers by running away or facing them to get rid of them. You can runaway from the creepers to avoid them, but they are still out there looking to cause trouble. Exterminate the creepers to get rid of them. The same goes for scope creep in project management. Don't allow numerous changes without challenging it. Face it head on and ask for a compelling justification. If your given a weak justification terminate that change request.

Minecraft Creeper

(Note - this article was originally written by Drake Settsu and published on in August 2015)

Posted on: January 18, 2018 03:32 AM | Permalink | Comments (10)

Good Morning Hawaii - Seek Shelter

Hawaii Civil Defense

Hawaii gets a nice Saturday morning wake up alert on their phone.

Words cannot describe the initial reaction you get when you receive an alert that you need to seek immediate shelter because a ballistic missile is on it's way. You only have about 20 minutes to find your hiding place. 

Project Management failed on setting up the new civil defense preparedness for a ballistic missile attack on Hawaii. The failure caused panic and pain. Your life could be ending in 20 minutes. You keep waiting for the all clear and nothing happens. It took over 38 minutes for the Hawaii Civil Defense to send out an alert that there is no threat.

Some lessons learned:

  1. There was no leadership from the top to bottom that day. Just confusion. They knew immediately that the alert was and error.

  2. Step up, no one had the guts to take charge of the situation to immediately send out an alert that there is no missile on it's way.

  3. How does one person have access to such a critical life and death alert without management authorizing the alert to be sent out.

  4. Training and safeguards was obviously missing in the project plan.

  5. No contingency plan was properly developed to execute in the event of an erroneous alert going out to the public.

My final thoughts on the incident is that Project Management and Leadership play such an import part no matter what type of project it is. In this case the residents and visitors in Hawaii will never forget this date 01-13-2018 because a Project Manager and lack of Leadership really really messed up bad.

Posted on: January 16, 2018 06:20 AM | Permalink | Comments (19)

The sticky notes Project Management tool

One of the most high tech tools at your disposal is the sticky notes. When you are brainstorming and laying out your project you need to start labeling all your high level and detailed tasks on sticky notes. 

When you are all done creating your labeled sticky notes the fun starts. Look for a wall or window in your office to start arranging the notes. You are going to assemble a puzzle called your next project. You can keep shifting the notes around to ponder different approaches until you feel you have tasks in the right sequence. 

This is actually the high tech part of laying out your project. Enter your masterpiece puzzle of tasks into a web based project management software or Microsoft Project.

(Note - this article was originally written by Drake Settsu and published on in August 2015)

Posted on: January 15, 2018 04:39 AM | Permalink | Comments (11)

"If opportunity doesn't knock, build a door."

- Milton Berle