Project Management in Real Life

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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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My Project Management Zen Moment

The Project Manager with dirty hands

I need to make this Meeting happen

Bring in the Business Analyst

The Microsoft Project Plan with subprojects

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)

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 DrakeSettsu.BlogSpot.com in April 2017)

 

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

Project Management - Qualities of a leader

Leaders are born and made, they rise when they have the calling. A good leader will embrace the respect of the team not having to force their leadership skills on the team. The bad leaders are the ones that try to force their leadership and just do not connect with the team wasting everyone's time with a dog and pony show they put on to call attention to themselves. 

Something to remember on how you conduct your leadership. Put yourself in your teams shoes and step back and look at yourself and see if you like that person.

Qualities of a good leader:

1) Vision - Have enthusiasm by conveying to your team what we are going to undertake and deliver.

2) Good listener - Let others speak their view point to get a good understanding of them.

3) Approachable - Create an atmosphere that you can be contacted anytime.

4) Confidence - Believe in yourself without portraying an arrogant attitude.    

5) Credibility - You must have the trust of your team.

6) Keep one's word - Deliver what you promise.  

7) Accountability - The Buck Stops Here. 

8) Charisma - Inspire your team.

9) Decision maker - Must have confidence to make tough and critical decisions.

 

(Note - this article was originally written by Drake Settsu and published on DrakeSettsu.BlogSpot.com in January 2014 and was modified on this post)

Posted on: February 13, 2018 06:09 AM | Permalink | Comments (14)

Your Database is toast get out the butter and jelly

It's Aloha Friday morning on my way to work and I get get a call from the Data Center that the mission critical system for the organization is acting strange. Users are unable to access the system. Moments latter I get a text page from the system that a process that needs to run is gone. I had scripts monitoring the system so I knew something bad happened. 

I logon on to the system and it's not normal and the process that needs to be running was missing. I spoke with the Data Center staff and determined that an operator error caused the problem. The database that was in production was an interim database version to migrate to a new permanent database later in the month. It had known bugs that we just stepped on by accident.

I call an emergency meeting with management to brief them that the database has been corrupted. I contacted the application vendor to take a look at the database integrity. I advised management to implement downtime procedures. Hours elapsed working to fix the database with no luck. The database cannot be repaired. My only option now is the last system backup. I asked the Data Center Manager to bring the backup tapes to me. I’m holding in my hands the tapes of the mission critical system of the organization. I need a successful restore to minimize the window of data loss.

I call another meeting to break the bad news to management and staff. It’s going to be a long night we need to inform our users that the system will be down for an extended time and we will be giving periodic updates on the recovery progress. Key personal needs to be on standby and available when called.

The restore process is initiated. Restoring a large system takes hours and patience waiting for it to complete. Once the restore completes we need to run the integrity checker utilities to make sure no corruption exists on the restore. The system was validated to release back to the users with some minimal data loss between the backup and the time of the database corruption. Made some minor tweaks on the system. It's back on-line for everyone to use.

I got in the office at 8am Friday and it’s now Saturday 8am. I just experienced a System Administrators nightmare. When you are coordinating a major Disaster Recovery effort it's all about teamwork. You need to remain calm as you become the point person that knows everything that's going on. All eyes are on you. My Project Management experience definitely came into play on this recovery effort that had to be put together on the fly. You really know what you are made of when you go through an experience like a major system outage. It's a real good feeling seeing everyone work together as a team.

(Note - this article was originally written by Drake Settsu and published on DrakeSettsu.BlogSpot.com in February 2015)

 

* This incident happened a long time ago and I will never forget it. Technology has come a long way since that disaster. Today's technology can provide a faster recovery from a major disaster. 

Posted on: January 31, 2018 06:21 AM | Permalink | Comments (10)
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