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

The Project Presentation

The Problem Solver

My Project Management Zen Moment

The Project Manager with dirty hands

I need to make this Meeting happen

The Problem Solver

A good Project Manger is the problem solver that needs to know how to respond fast to get a resolution with acceptable outcomes to keep a project moving. Don't just be a delegator. Jump in and work with the team to a find solution. 

Having the ability to sense trouble is an asset for a Project Manager. Staying cool and taking ownership of the issue avoids any confusion on who is the point person to get a resolution delivered. You will work with subject matter experts or become one on your quest for a resolution. 


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

Posted on: September 08, 2018 07:35 AM | Permalink | Comments (10)

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)

Tales of Project Management

You are the Project Manager for two important projects that need your attention on a Saturday night what do you do? Have the right people on the project. 

I had a Radiology/Pharmacy system relocation go-live that involved moving the system across town to a new Data Center. The second project required some critical tasks to be performed for another project that cannot move forward until two critical tasks are completed.

The players that supported me was a Business Analyst, Data Center Operations Supervisor, and HP Field Engineer to shut down and pack up the hardware at 23:00 to let the moving company deliver the system to the new Data Center.

The system arrived in the new Data Center in good condition. The Data Center was already prepared for power, network connectivity, and telephone lines. Everything went well except an issue with a legacy application that had issues with a modem. I had to leave the team and work on my second project that I was the only player that could do two critical tasks to keep the project on track.

I had to drive back to the old Data Center to perform the two critical tasks. It's 03:00 and I go to work and everything went according to my plan and I finish at 04:30. 

Time to drive back to the new Data Center to help the team get the legacy application working. We get the application to work at 11:00 Sunday morning. 

The key to a successful project go-live is teamwork, it's so important to support each other. Having a good Risk Assessment review meeting to make sure you cover everything in your go-live plan is so important to catch anything that you might have missed on the plan.

Tip for your project go-live plans. When you develop your plan break the timeline tasks down in half hour increments when possible. By breaking down your tasks in half hour increments you can measure your progress better. You will see what areas are taking more time or less time to complete. You can determine if you need to back out the implementation or continue to move forward. In some cases you can't go back so it will help you give a status report to management.


(Note - this article was originally written by Drake Settsu and published on in December 2013)

Posted on: May 31, 2018 09:28 AM | Permalink | Comments (13)

The Orchestra Conductor of Projects

The Symphony Orchestra Conductor interprets a composer's score to set the tempo for the Orchestra. The conductor stands most of the time on a raised podium with a baton, but also uses hand gestures and body language to convey the emotions of the musical score to the orchestra.

Will an orchestra function without a conductor?  Yes, the show will go on with some inconsistent interpretations of the score. Will there be a good review of that Symphony? Highly unlikely unless they get lucky.

Being a Conductor is an art. Just because you can play beautiful music does not mean you can conduct. The Symphony Orchestra needs a Conductor to be successful on their delivery of music.

The Project Manager is that point person that guides a team to complete tasks on time. The tasks can be completed independently of each other or they need to be completed in a defined order of dependencies to accomplish a deliverable. All the tasks make up a project with a defined scope to deliver results.

Being a Project Manager requires the ability to have a vision on how you will deliver a project on schedule by guiding your team members to stay focused on their part in the project. Every team member plays an important role no matter how small they think their part is. No room for slackers or weak links that will comprise the team's rhythm.  

Will a team function without a project manager? Yes, it's done all the time. Will the project be on time within a budget? I don't recommend taking chances without a project manager because you might be lucky to have some good team members that can guide the team to a successful delivery of a project. That might not be the case all the time.

Being a Project Manager is an art too. The delivery of projects on schedule within a budget is like a Symphony Orchestra Conductor that delivers a beautiful Symphony with a standing ovation at the end. That's why the Project Manager is the Symphony Orchestra Conductor of Projects. They deliver results. No standing ovation, only pure satisfaction for the team delivering a successful project.


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


Posted on: February 16, 2018 05:13 AM | Permalink | Comments (9)

The Flaming Email

I had an experience of a flaming email years ago from a contractor Mr. PMP type. He was an arrogant you know what. That contractor sent out an email to a distribution after hours to slam me on something. I was out of the office already having dinner. I had a smartphone and was composing a response and before I could send my response out I received an email from a team member responding to that flaming email defending my position on the issue. She slammed Mr. PMP with facts that put the arrogant Mr. PMP in his place. She made it easy for me, all I had to do was thank her and concur with her email and case is closed. By the way Mr. PMP did not respond back. Silence is golden. When you gain respect from your team and have a reputation people will defend you and stand by you. It's a priceless good feeling that you are making an impact on your team.

Mr. PMP never spoke to me again and avoided me. What a cry baby he can only dish it out, but when he is proven wrong he won't admit it. We don't need Project Managers that behave this way to discredit the profession by acting arrogant and unprofessional. Mr. PMP was an older gentleman that should have known better on how to exercise people skills. 


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

* This incident happened a long time ago. Please use email responsibly.

Posted on: February 06, 2018 04:28 AM | Permalink | Comments (11)

"I was gratified to be able to answer promptly, and I did. I said I didn't know."

- Mark Twain