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.

About this Blog


Recent Posts

My Kanban Board

The Project Manager brand called ?

The System Failure Assessment

The Risk Assessment

The High Risk Project

The Project Manager brand called ?

The brand you create will define your style of Project Management. You need to leave a mark on your projects. Stand out from the vanilla Project Managers.

My Project Manager brand is called "Bring it on".

Transparency and Clarity with a Bag of tricks to meet all the challenges is how I run my projects so "Bring it on".

  • Run a transparent project. Be prepared all the time to provide stakeholders the status of the projects. Always be the open Project Manager. Give the good and bad news.
  • Run your project with clarity. Define the deliverables making it crystal clear with your stakeholders what is being delivered. 
  • The bag of tricks is a metaphor for the tools, frameworks, methodologies, and approaches that will be used to run the projects. Have many options to make that project work. Go Hybrid or Hybrid-Plus. It's all about reaching into that bag and selecting the appropriate tricks to make the project a success.


Posted on: April 30, 2018 08:39 AM | Permalink | Comments (10)

The High Risk Project

Project Management has been around from the beginning of time. Just think about the wonders of the world that have been built. A form of project management had to have been used to accomplish such feats. The Romans and Egyptians are examples of accomplishing amazing construction projects with only primitive tools and slaves. The use of slaves must have been ingrained into project teams through the years to joke about Project Managers being slave drivers.     

Fast forward to modern times. Project Management is a critical discipline to ensure successful delivery of projects on time within the budget. Projects are tied to a budget with a reasonable variance for the bumps in the road that could pop up. The bumps in the road are the project risks that should be identified and monitored all the time. The entire team needs to be onboard with open communication to immediately report any risks that are starting to materialize. If you stick your head in the sand and hope that the risk goes away without any mitigation, good luck, get your resume ready. 

The person overseeing the entire high profile project needs to be transparent, accessible and have integrity. Knowing when to say timeout takes guts when it's starting to look bad. Slapping on workarounds for deficiencies that eventually catch up with the project is just pure stupidity. Money and time are just wasted and your competency will questioned. 

Having an unrealistic attitude that we have put in many hours and spent big money on the project already so it's unstoppable because we are at the point of no return will not work in your favor. Any failing project can be shutdown to repurpose it or dismantle it to stop further financial loss. Repurpose or dismantling will come at a cost, but if you continue on with a poorly planned project that should have never gotten a green light to proceed, you better have deep pockets to keep funding that White Elephant. A lot of people will be outraged and at the same time relieved that bleeding will be stopped. 

It's all about gathering the required cost and time to complete a project on-time within the budget. Not an easy job for some projects, but it needs to be done properly without cutting corners to get an approval. That's the expectation you expect when you entrust a project team to embark on a major high risk project that is very expensive. 


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

Posted on: April 15, 2018 06:55 AM | Permalink | Comments (11)

The System Crashed Hard

The Disaster 

A server containing multiple disks managed by a vendor for the State of Hawaii’s driver's licensing programs had multiple hard disks crash. The storage media is encrypted and secured with some data not readable. There was no security or data breach. It will take a couple of months to determine if the data can be recovered.

The Vendor

The spokesperson gives a briefing at a press conference similar to "the dog ate my homework".

1) There was a backup system in place that's supposed to protect the data when the hard drives crash, it was not properly configured.

2) They were not aware that certain documents or images were not getting backed up properly.

3) The backups are checked to make sure everything is working properly. Don't  know what the details are and what the plan was on checking the data.


When implementing a new system, I have few suggestions on how to make your system bulletproof. I used to be a Systems Administrator and I never lost any data on my watch.

1) The Project Manager in charge needs to have good Subject Matter Experts to recommend the technology, security, and procedures to be in place to ensure the system has the redundancy to withstand a disaster and prevent a security breach.

2) The Statement of Work needs to always include clear expectations.

3) Service Level Agreements need to be in place for the system.

4) Disaster Avoidance plan and Recovery Strategies to meet Service Level Agreements.

5) Test your systems periodically to ensure that the data is being replicated or backed up properly to a media that will go offsite.

6) Make sure you have a good hardware / software support contract in place.

7) Never ever trust the vendor. Make a checklist of your key deliverables to be reviewed and demonstrated when you begin the sign-off stage in the project. Any missing checks will result in a big missing check for that vendor to cash.

Posted on: March 27, 2018 10:18 AM | Permalink | Comments (9)

Bring in the Project Manager

The Point Person

A Project Manager is your architect to formulate and execute a plan to deliver a project on-time within the approved budget. Project Managers are involved from the inception of a project or they need to jump in on a project in progress and take it over. 


The Buck Stops Here

Project Managers should assume full responsibility of the project they are entrusted with. Any risks or concerns need to be flushed out. A good Project Manager is transparent. 


Interpersonal Skills

Project Managers need to be approachable. It's a balancing act of authority and treating people with respect. Don't create an atmosphere of fear. Let your team know that you are there for them anytime. You want a team to be open by reporting issues immediately rather than finding out latter when they can no longer cover it up. 


The Project Milestone

Reaching a milestone in a project is an accomplishment. Placing KPI's (Key Performance Indicators) in your Gantt chart after major tasks are completed is your insurance to reach that milestone everyone is working hard to get too. Defining KPI's will provide the needed validation that you are achieving the project goals as you complete critical tasks. Find out early that you are really on track to hit your milestone.


Controlling Scope Creep 

The scope definition of the project should be crystal clear to avoid additional requirements later in the project. Introducing changes and addtional requirements in a project in progress will happen. You need to readjust your Gantt chart to accommodate the new tasks. Be sure to document the justiication for the changes that were inserted in the project. When you start to get many requests for changes that are out of scope that is a red flag. You need to suspend the project and meet with your stakeholders and go over the project requirements again to uncover any additional requirements that might have been missed. New requirements will affect your delivery date and budget. If you just allow changes to keep going through you will miss your delivery date and be over budget with a different deliverable. 


Managing the Vendor 

When you work with vendors they give you a SOW (Statement of Work). You need to build your Gannt chart from the SOW to validate the timeline and the deliverable promised. Some vendors assign their own Project Manager to ensure an implementation is on track. Request a copy of their project plan so you can monitor their progress. You will have your own project plan with high level tasks of the vendors project plan. Reconciling the two project plans will ensure that everyone is on the same page to deliver an on-time project.


The Project is Done

Go over lessons learned to note adjustments for any future projects. Have a celebration to reflect on all the hard work that made the project a success. 


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

Posted on: March 18, 2018 09:15 AM | Permalink | Comments (7)

The Project Manager's Attitude

Project Management Attitude 

Project Managers are a special breed of professionals. It's a calling to lead people on the right path to achieve results. Having the right attitude in Project Management is so important. Relying on education and certifications alone is not going to make you a good Project Manager. It's all about heart and soul for the role.

A person can know the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) inside out. Will that guarantee that you are a competent Project Manager. If you know how to recite the alphabets and have a good vocabulary does that make you a writer of novels. The point I'm making is just because you have an aptitude in a profession does not mean you belong in that profession. Project Management is special and not everyone should be in that role. I don't care how many certifications you have.

The Project Manager that knows how to read people to bring out their best and guide them to success is what Project Management is all about. Your role as a Project Manager means that you are the focus of attention. Your attitude will play an important part in your role to be a good leader that is followed and respected.


(Note - this article was originally written by Drake Settsu and published on in February 2017)

Posted on: March 17, 2018 07:52 AM | Permalink | Comments (16)

"If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. Then quit. There's no use being a damned fool about it."

- W. C. Fields



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