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 and Discipline.

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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)

Kindergarten and Project Management

Your child is going to Kindergarten, you are going to leave your child’s education and care in the hands of a professional that has a goal to reach at the end of the school year. Prepare the children for 1st Grade. The teacher will be in charge of twenty children ages 5 to 6. With that many kids some ground rules need to be set so that everyone in the class knows the expectations.

The teacher gives the parents and children a tour of the classroom and playground to familiarise them and presents the class rules.

The Project Kickoff meeting is when you assemble all your team members with stakeholders in attendance watching you layout how you are going to run the project. Think of the stakeholders as parents that want the project team members to succeed.

The project manager presents the project to the team showing the project timeline and tasks assigned to the team. The expectations of the project manager is conveyed to the team that a weekly status meeting will be held on Fridays. Be prepared to report your status and if you cannot attend make an effort to email your status report by 5pm. I’m keeping it simple to illustrate the point I’m making on what team members are responsible for.

Whether you are teaching Kindergarten or running a project you need to set the ground rules and expectations from the beginning and develop and refine it along the way. Setting up expectations and ground rules will avoid any assumptions and make everyone’s job easier by knowing what is expected of you.

 

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

Posted on: January 23, 2018 03:29 AM | Permalink | Comments (11)

Scope Creep a dirty word in Project Management

I worked on a project that was eventually terminated due to scope creep causing enormous cost overruns. The Project Manager did not stay within the scope. This happened slowly over time like a small crack in a dam leaks water. Change requests kept coming in and they were all getting approved. The cost of the project just kept going up. Change requests are a part of every project it happens. This project had change requests beyond sanity. We were replacing a system with the same system in the end if we did not pull the plug on it and cut our losses already.

 

Some causes of scope creep:

(1) Poorly defined requirements that don't clearly highlight the objectives you want to achieve. You need your deliverables defined clearly.

(2) Weak change control.
 

(3) Sponsors that are weak.
 

(4) Selecting the wrong vendor solution.

(5) A Project Manager that does not raise the flag when he sees the project spiraling out of control. He thinks he can salvage it.
 

(6) Having no sign-off from all parties that have a stake in the project. They need to speak up if they feel the proposed project falls short of their objectives. Hash it out before you formally kickoff the project.

 

My granddaughter loves playing Minecraft. The creepers job is to ambush players. Players can avoid creepers by running away or facing them to get rid of them. You can runaway from the creepers to avoid them, but they are still out there looking to cause trouble. Exterminate the creepers to get rid of them. The same goes for scope creep in project management. Don't allow numerous changes without challenging it. Face it head on and ask for a compelling justification. If your given a weak justification terminate that change request.

Minecraft Creeper

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

Posted on: January 18, 2018 03:32 AM | Permalink | Comments (12)

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)

The sticky notes Project Management tool

One of the most high tech tools at your disposal is the sticky notes. When you are brainstorming and laying out your project you need to start labeling all your high level and detailed tasks on sticky notes. 

When you are all done creating your labeled sticky notes the fun starts. Look for a wall or window in your office to start arranging the notes. You are going to assemble a puzzle called your next project. You can keep shifting the notes around to ponder different approaches until you feel you have tasks in the right sequence. 

This is actually the high tech part of laying out your project. Enter your masterpiece puzzle of tasks into a web based project management software or Microsoft Project.

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

Posted on: January 15, 2018 04:39 AM | Permalink | Comments (11)
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