Viewing Posts by Lung-Hung Chou
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?
In recent years, agile approaches have rapidly gained ground in many parts of the world—but not everywhere. Some areas of Asia, including where I live (Taiwan), have generally speaking not yet embraced agile ideas and practices, despite their value and potential in the region. For this reason, I’ve been working to promote the adoption of agile approaches.
What is agile? It means being flexible and able to quickly adapt to unpredictability. Agile approaches are useful where the environment is constantly changing, where requirements are not fixed or where stakeholders face constant uncertainty.
Agile is typically used in software development, but it’s becoming more suitable in any organization facing rapid changes. Developed over 20 years, agile practices focus on customer value and emphasizing collaboration.
My work has involved training Agile Certified Professionals (PMI-ACP)®, organizing agile communities, promoting agile practices and reporting on the successful use of agile. I have a digital magazine, “PM-Mag ,” with over 100,000 readers across the Chinese-speaking world. Two of the editors have earned the PMI-ACP® credential.
Through my company, I ‘ve also commissioned reports and articles about the use of agile to generate its acceptance and support. I’ve also taken advantage of other media (such as radio and YouTube videos) to raise awareness of agile in the project management world. And then there are other more novel approaches—like an ACP song played at events and before speeches. I introduced a “Hybrid PM” badge that I award to project managers I see taking up agile ideas.
In the last year alone, I trained 149 PMI-ACPs, accounting for nearly 50 percent of the PMI-ACPs currently working in Taiwan.
It was my honor to win the 2015 Agile Award for Person Who Has Done the Most to Promote Agile. The competition was strong, and I’m very humbled by this recognition.
Currently in their sixth year, The Agile Awards are organized by business management consultancy Yoh to recognize businesses, organizations and individuals who actively promote knowledge of agile, as well as its proper application and development. In the past, the awards have been dominated by Europeans and Americans.
I hope that my recognition will spur more international recognition of agile methods in project management, encouraging the further development of agile in Asia and allowing European professionals to understand agile application and development throughout Asia.
To improve the acceptance of agile even more, I encourage those who have already gained their PMP to learn from agile, especially the concepts of incremental delivery, adding business value and embracing change. These new ways of running businesses can improve the competitiveness of small to medium-sized businesses. The added value is too great to ignore.
Under the leadership of Chia-chun Hung, PMP, Uni radio station of Taiwan has transformed itself.
Hung, whose father owned the radio station, was thrust into management at a young age when his father became ill. After becoming the station’s vice president in 2007, Hung took over the business in 2011 when he was just 28.
He had been endeavoring to improve the operation structure of the station, but with little success. But after learning project management concepts—Hung is the first PMP in Taiwan with a background in radio broadcasting management—he has successfully transformed the fate of the radio station. It’s now the most popular station broadcasting in the central part of the country.
But back in the midst of the global recession, a sharp advertising downturn was crippling the station. To reposition, Hung gave Uni station a new mission: deliver positive messages that promote social change, like “home and family.” The business operation was also transformed from advertising-oriented to program sponsorship.
Hung then translated the station’s mission into a tangible objective—become an influential platform—and embedded this objective into every project’s scope.
“Knowing the objective of your project right at the beginning makes you more focused, more aware of any deviation,” Hung told me in an interview. “In the meantime, we spent a lot time communicating with our stakeholders the concept of our operation, trying to clarify ideas.”
Uni station’s programs consist of two types: those initiated by the advertisers themselves and those initiated by the station. In the former, the station helps the advertisers produce the program and realize their beliefs and ideas. In the latter, programs are produced by the station on its own, and the staff finds the appropriate organizations to sponsor them.
No matter which type, the station takes the lead in the production and helps the advertisers establish their brand’s image. The audience does not hear any advertisements during the program; the name of the sponsor is only given at the end of the show.
Seven years after Hung began Uni’s transformation program, the practice has gained the station a good reputation. Today Uni even “jumps down from the air to the ground,” holding seminars, family activities and campaigns—all in an effort to fulfill its mission.
In July 2013, a panda was born at the Taipei Zoo in Taiwan, which was undertaking its first-ever panda breeding project. While the staff was busy looking after the mother, Yuan Yuan, and the cub, Yuan Zhai, they also had another important task: making sure people heard the good news.
by Lung-Hung Chou
For practitioners who manage the construction of green buildings, projects can be complicated by different environmental standards around the world.
Taipei, Taiwan-based Sinotech Engineering Consultants, Inc. (SEC) set out to solve this problem by customizing a Building Information Modeling (BIM) software application used in the engineering and construction industry.
To help its project managers execute a project to build a new research and development building in Taipei, the organization incorporated environmental standards and concepts, along with a work breakdown structure (WBS) and critical chain approach to project management, in innovative ways.
Let’s take a closer look at this project, which PMI’s Taipei, Taiwan chapter recognized with a Project Management Benchmarking Enterprise Award.
A Solution for the Entire Life Cycle
Sinotech’s custom BIM application didn’t only collect different environmental standards for building construction that might apply to the project at hand. It also allowed standards to be applied at each stage of the building's progress from design to completion.
This means that during design, planning and construction phases—and even demolition and disposal—project managers could find the relevant standards and incorporate them into blueprints and project plans. For example, because the research and development building sought U.S. Green Building Council’s Gold LEED certification, the team imported into their plans the standards upon which that certification level is based.
Sinotech’s custom BIM application allows managers to comprehend all applicable environmental requirements throughout the entire life cycle of a building.The idea was to help project managers consider all green standards early in the project so they could be translated into specific design, planning and construction requirements.
This would allow architects and engineers to know—even before a single brick or slab of concrete was laid—if a building would meet a targeted environmental certification. If it wouldn’t meet the certification, inexpensive design changes could be made—and expensive changes after construction was underway could be avoided.
With all design and construction team members given access to the relevant information about green building standards, the custom BIM application strengthened communication—helping teams catch problems early in the project.
The Project Management Connection
By adopting a work breakdown structure (WBS) for all the different standards involved in any given building management project, Sinotech integrated into its BIM system an understanding of project management.
This meant that standards would directly correlate to the work packages required to meet those standards. With complicated environmental standards translated into concrete goals and work packages, managers and workers can avoid being overwhelmed by different levels of requirements and complicated information for each work item.
SEC also built a critical chain project management approach into the application. Suppliers and subcontractors, and the resources they require across the entire supply chain, can be efficiently scheduled in accordance with their cost and co-dependence by integrating an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system into the BIM system. This helps building projects move closer to lean construction.
The End Results
For green building standards to deliver their financial and environmental benefits, they have to be incorporated into every stage of the project.
By facilitating that process, Sinotech brought clear value to the organization’s project. As planned, the new research and development building in Taipei’s Neihu Light Industrial Zone obtained green building certifications including Gold LEED level and Taiwan Architecture & Research Center’s Intelligent Building Silver level and Gold EEWH level.