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.

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Recent Posts

The Orchestra Conductor of Projects

Project Management - Qualities of a leader

Do we need a Project Management Office aka The PMO

The Flaming Email

Your Database is toast get out the butter and jelly

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)

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 in January 2014 and was modified on this post)

Posted on: February 13, 2018 06:09 AM | Permalink | Comments (9)

Do we need a Project Management Office aka The PMO

The main reason PMO's are not setup is the time and investment it takes to set it up right. The current focus is get the project done now. With that type of approach you are exposed to potential problems as soon as you start the project. The PMO might be looked at like a guardian watching over us and slowing us down with red tape. 

A PMO is a big investment that takes time to evolve into the right tailored fit that meets the companies needs. A PMO will alway's be a work in progress that needs to be continually tuned to maintain it's value. The company will achieve a ROI by delivering projects on-time and controlling the project budget and scope. Management buy in and patience is required to setup your PMO. Be willing to suffer growing pains along the way it will be worth it in the end. Management will have a "Stop Light Report" showing the status of all the projects being worked on in the company using green, yellow and red to indicate the health of the project with a brief summary of the progress being made.

Start slow using the "Project Management Body of Knowledge aka PMBOK" the book of standards to guide you on managing projects. Review all your current processes and standards. Get together with all the Project Managers to agree upon a standard to be followed by everyone. Just think if you have no PMO and three Project Managers you will have three methods on running a project. It might work now, but as your projects get more complex you need to have all your project managers following a standard guideline allowing them some deviations. 

The goal is tracking your projects to deliver them on-time within the budget. Project Management is an Art and Science don't make it so complicated to implement in your company. Keep it simple and evolve with time so everyone can get onboard and not be frightened of it. 

What I look for in a Project Manager:

- Continually improving processes

- Willing to jump in and help

- Cool under pressure

- Keeping your word

- The Quarterback

- Never give up

- Approachable

- Dragon Slayer

- Learner for life

- Good listener

- Leadership

- Thick skin

- Charisma

- Follow up 

- Tenacity

- Teacher

- No Fear

- Humble

- Friend 

I can add more, but I will stop here. You get the point I'm making.


(Note - this article was originally written by Drake Settsu and published on in February 2018)

Posted on: February 08, 2018 06:26 AM | Permalink | Comments (7)

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)

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 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)

Conformity's an obsession with me.

- George Costanza