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, Science, and Discipline.

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The Project Manager with dirty hands

I need to make this Meeting happen

Bring in the Business Analyst

The Microsoft Project Plan with subprojects

Project Management the Kaizen way

The Project Manager with dirty hands

We need Project Managers that leads by example and jumps in to help any project team member when they are in need of help. I do not like the term "Servant Leader", it sounds like it came out of the 1700's.

Project Managers need to get their hands dirty too. Don't just direct and watch the action sipping your cup of coffee. Involvement with your team to make adjustments to keep the project moving is important. Be there for your team. If there is a task you can do, then do it.

A good example of a Project Manager getting their hands dirty was a Data Center inventory project that I was involved in. I was the Systems Administrator assigned to inventory every piece of hardware / software in the Data Center. The Project Manager got on his hands and knees in the Data Center to help me take inventory and create the Data Center floor plan.

I have gotten my hands thirty on many of my own projects looking underneath the Data Center tile floor to plan hardware projects. 

Just get your hands dirty. It's a rewarding experience when you can help out. There is soap and water to clean your dirty hands when you are done.

Leadership with no borders sounds better than Servant Leadership.

Posted on: June 25, 2018 07:53 AM | Permalink | Comments (16)

I need to make this Meeting happen


You need a meeting scheduled with a short notice. You are dealing with project team members on campus, different locations, and remote team members in different time zones. Sounds like fun.

Make a checklist of who needs to attend this meeting and who is an optional nice to have if they can attended.

Start selecting all the players for the meeting on the calendaring software that your company uses so you can see the date / times that they are available. Indicate required attendee or optional attendee. You will see a lot of meeting conflict dates and times because this is a short notice meeting. Just press on with the best date / time to schedule your meeting.

Select an appropriate meeting subject name to express the urgency of the short notice meeting. Give a brief summary of the reason for the meeting. Create an agenda and attach it to the meeting invite. Provide the conference call number for team members that will not be able to attend the meeting in person.

I call this the take no prisoners approach to scheduling a short notice meeting. If you try to accommodate everyone, it will not happen. The clock is ticking and you need answers and resolutions to issues. Explain to your Sponsors and Stakeholders that you are dead in the water because you can't schedule a meeting. People will juggle their schedules when you make an urgent compelling reason for the meeting.

That's why you are the Project Manager. Your job is to make things happen.

Posted on: June 15, 2018 08:30 AM | Permalink | Comments (13)

Bring in the Business Analyst

We live in a world with technology to give businesses the ability to run an efficient operation. Well that's not going to happen if the wrong components and processes are in place or it's time for a technology refresh.  

The Business Analyst is the person that needs to understand how the business operates to meet their objectives now and into the future. A good Business Analyst needs to roll up their sleeves and get dirty digging for information. A Business Analyst needs to work with the business units by documenting the process flow by observation and asking a lot of questions. Spend a week with the business unit that is targeted for improvement to get a good feel on how they operate.

Something to remember when you work on improving a process. I was told by an instructor in a class I attended on process improvement, "If you can measure it, you can manage it."

(Note - this article was originally written by Drake Settsu and published on in January 2016)

Posted on: June 12, 2018 09:13 AM | Permalink | Comments (13)

The Microsoft Project Plan with subprojects


You have created a meticulous Work Breakdown Structure of all the tasks for your project. The next step is to transfer that WBS to your MS Project plan. You created a very impressive project plan with over 10,000 entries. All you have to do now is maintain the plan to keep it fresh.

Are you kidding? The project scope has changed. My project plan has over 10,000 entries with start dates and finish dates. My masterpiece is ruined! I spent one month creating that project plan after the official sign off on the project.

Take a deep breath. All you have to do now is create as many as needed MS Project plans to address the additional scope. For example you can create five small MS Project plans to address the additional scope.

Great, I now have six plans to maintain for the same project. Yes, you have six projects, but you can turn those scope creepers into subprojects by creating five tasks in your master project at the appropriate areas in the project plan. MS Project can insert a project into a project, resulting in subprojects in the master project.

When you bring up your master project all the subprojects will be there creating an illusion of one MS Project plan. Well, there will be a MS Project icon next to the line number in the MS Project master plan indicating a linked project. The subproject line numbers will start with a 1 - 97 for example, they do not renumber the master project plan.

A suggestion for large projects. Create a master project and subprojects to help make the management of the plan a pleasant experience. As much as possible we diligently gather the project requirements to build a project plan that will have minimal additions, but we need to respond quickly to incorporate the additional requirements that gets approved and needs to be incorporated into the master project plan.

There is a plus to the birth of subprojects. From a reporting standpoint you can show how much additional effort was introduced into the original project. You can create reports from the subprojects and of course you can create reports of the master project with all the subprojects that are linked to it giving you the big picture.

When you are disciplined to create a master MS Project plans that employs subprojects, you gain flexibility in the master plan. You now have an Agile project plan to address the thing that go bump in the night from those sponsors and stakeholders.

Posted on: June 09, 2018 09:17 AM | Permalink | Comments (8)

Project Management the Kaizen way

Today's Project Manager is faced with many challenges to deliver projects on time within the budget. They need to work smart with so much responsibility on their shoulders. Do they have time to get involved in continuous improvement? Yes.

The open minded Project Manager can use Kaizen to bring additional value to Project Management. What is Kaizen? It is a Japanese word. KAI = CHANGE and ZEN = GOOD, so Kaizen =  continuous improvement. Never be satisfied with a process or procedure. Always be on the lookout for opportunities to make improvements, whether it's a suggestions for the organization or the way you manage your projects. Make changes with an incremental approach to gradually yield results immediately rather than going for it all at one time. Just keep your goals on the radar and be patient while you work towards the goals. Quality outcomes is the reward.

Goals have been achieved, but we are never done with continuous improvement. There is always opportunities to make something better. Never be satisfied, always be hungry to make something better one day at a time. Project Managers get a good view of what is going on in the organization, so they need to speak up when they see something that could be improved and they also need to keep tuning their tools of the trade to operate efficiently.

Posted on: June 07, 2018 10:29 AM | Permalink | Comments (17)

"In the fight between you and the world, back the world."

- Kafka