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 requiring just the right balance for each project. Every project is different. You can cookie cut your approach, but be sure no two cookies taste the same.

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Recent Posts

Good Morning Hawaii - Seek Shelter

The sticky notes Project Management tool

Project Management Key Performance Indicators (KPI's)

Budget Creep a Project Manager's Nightmare

Project Managers and Quarterbacks

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)

Budget Creep a Project Manager's Nightmare

Going over budget within the scope of a project can happen. You think you covered all the possibilities that could occur in the project. You submitted a budget with padding so you can avoid a budget overrun. You are now at the one third milestone in the project and your funds are being depleted faster than anticipated. How did I not see this happening?

Reporting any budget variances on a monthly Project Stop Light Report will expose your budget creep. You will see how your monthly expenditures keep going up for the project. That is your cue to stop the project and revisit the budget. Are the projected estimates accurate or grossly underestimated? The faith of the project is in jeopardy now. Will the project be shutdown or will additional funds be allocated for it? A big decision needs to be made based on an accurate big picture on what the new realistic funding will be to keep the project moving.  

Project Managers need to always keep an eye on the budget and raise the red flag when the project funds are depleting ahead of time. Avoid what I call Budget Creep.

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

Posted on: January 13, 2018 08:03 AM | Permalink | Comments (5)

Project Managers and Quarterbacks

Running projects and playing football have similarities you are working toward a goal. Projects have milestones and football has touchdowns. The project manager will direct and manage project execution making adjustments along the way to keep the project moving. The quarterback will run plays and make adjustments to guide the team down the field.

Project Managers and Quarterbacks are leaders that your teams depends on and looks up to for guidance. Both positions are in the spotlight requiring charisma and professionalism. Both positions will take the fall for any failures of the team.

Your key to success is motivating your team that everyone has an important role on it. Continuous process improvement to find better ways to execute.

Communication is so critical that you need to be a good listener and follow up with any concerns or issues brought to your attention. Always follow-up.

Take care of your team and they will follow you.

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

Posted on: January 12, 2018 09:50 PM | Permalink | Comments (6)

The Statement of Work

The Statement of Work also known as the SOW that a vendor provides needs to be thoroughly reviewed to ensure that all expected deliverables are there. The information in the SOW will also help to plan out the preparation work prior to the vendor performing their work. It also helps to plan out post SOW follow up work.

Read The Vendor Statement of Work for more SOW information.

Posted on: January 10, 2018 04:05 AM | Permalink | Comments (6)

The Inquisition and Live Theater

Implementations in a 24 x 7 x 365 organization needs to be planned out carefully to ensure minimal down-time to the organization.

1. Test Test Test in an environment that resembles your production environment to ensure a successful implementation in your production environment. Get your sign-offs to document that the objectives have been met.

2. Change Management approves the project to go live, but there are some risks that need to be addressed in a Risk Assessment meeting. This meeting requires an audience that represents key players from all departments that will be or could be impacted by the implementation to give their feedback on the implementation. Present a timeline of the implementation tasks. Set a point of no return that means no looking back. You are committed to finalizing the implementation. Set a backout point to return the original system back to users if the implementation is encountering issues. You will need to know how long it takes to restore your system. Provide an estimated time when users can expect the system back. Pad your timeline to not take all day, but allow for the things that go bump in the night. 

3. Have your standby spreadsheet of contacts that do not need to be onsite, but could be consulted during the implementation.

4. Send out periodic status updates on the progress of the implementation. 

I wrote about the risk assessment and going-live on my blog Just Drake's View:

The Risk Assessment

It's the 11th Hour the Curtain is Going Up

Posted on: January 08, 2018 07:10 AM | Permalink | Comments (3)

"One never needs their humor as much as when they argue with a fool."

- Chinese Proverb