Random Acts of IT Project Management

Project Management for Information Technology

Archive for September, 2009

Entrepreneurship and Ruling the World

Posted by iammarchhare on 4 September 2009

I came across Kate Phillips article on “Why Entrepreneurs Rule the World”, and I wanted to share it with you in parting.  It’s a little long (but not any longer than some of mine 🙂 ), but well worth a read.  An excerpt:

Once upon a time… the world was full of small business people and independent entrepreneurs. Every town had a butcher, a baker, and a candlestick maker.  A blacksmith, a barber, and a farmer (or two).  A shepherd, a weaver, and a preacher.  There were no factories, no corporations, and… no employees.

One thing is clear to me: no matter what rung of the ladder you are on, jobs are going out of style.  Fast.

For years now, the trend has been away from hiring employees and towards hiring independent contractors.  Why?  Huge savings in benefits, also huge savings in waste.  Rather than paying for people’s time, contracts allow employers to pay for the *result* they want.  Deliver this, we’ll pay you “X.”

We’ve put our faith and trust in the wrong places, counting on an employer or a company to sustain us, when we should have been developing our own value in the market place.  We can no longer count on jobs to sustain us, rescue us, or bail us out.  Employers are doing their best to keep their own head above water, do not count on them to rescue you.

In case you didn’t get the memo: Jobs are Dead.

…Two years ago I attended an orientation at my daughter’s high school.  One teacher spoke about “how we’re going to help your children prepare for the job market.”  They would learn to write resumes and cover letters, fill out applications and interview for jobs.

I inquired afterwards what was being done to prepare kids for a world in which jobs are going away.  What do the kids learn about businesses?  About self-employment options?  Is there a class teaching entrepreneurial skills?  Could I volunteer in such a class?

You could well imagine the response from the teachers.  Of course, no one has trained them to think this way either.  We’ve all been brainwashed into believing that there is a job “out there”.  There are opportunities “out there”.  However, it is up to each of us to take ahold of our destinies and our lives and move on in a new economy.

It is not an economy of our own making.  However, opportunities rarely are of one’s own making.  Rather, opportunities present themselves and we either jump on them or let them pass on by.

Me?  I’m moving!

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Posted in Consulting, Economy, Employment | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Social Media Here, Social Media There, Social Media Everywhere

Posted by iammarchhare on 4 September 2009

Not long ago, I posted “Mixing Social Networking & Business”.  In that article, I drive into the ground (or, did I beat a dead horse?) the point that social networking without a strategy will probably mean another failed IT initiative for that company.  Maybe it wasn’t IT that truly failed even, but IT will get the blame anyhow.

I also made a smaller point that much of it would apply if you are doing social networking as an individual but for business reasons.  Perhaps you are building your network, establishing your expertise or some other objective.

The experts all seem to agree.  “You need to network.”  “You should be running a blog.”  “You need to get on Twitter.”

Pawel Brodzinski at ICPM asks a rather interesting question in “Social Media versus Project Management and Software Development”:

Let me ask one question: while exercising all these activities how do you find time to actually manage projects or to develop some code from time to time? “I don’t have private life” counts for the answer if you ask me, but I wouldn’t advise you to go that way.

I understand a trend to incorporate every new cool service which is out there to our professional lives but sometimes it starts to be counterproductive. People focus on “socializing” instead of getting things done. Mixing software development or project management with social media doesn’t have to be win-win because some guru said so.

I have to admit that the same thought has occurred to me from time to time.  On the one hand, is hanging out at the virtual water cooler really any different than what goes on in many companies anyhow?  And, yet his point that it really doesn’t normally help out his project is well taken.  His point that a person needs time away from work is well taken also.  And, it doesn’t really make his day go any better, at least on a regular basis.

So, again, are you focused?  Are you truly using social networking to work towards your stated objective or are you off-track?

I want to leave you with this thought because my life has certainly had some unexpected turns.  I’ve enjoyed this immensely, and I’ve learned a lot.  I’ve honestly been surprised at the number of hits I started getting just a couple of months into this blog.

However, I too need to strategize and concentrate on what’s important.  I’ve come to the decision to end this blog.  I am starting a new one up for more general tech interest that is more in line with a new business strategy.

So, if you want to drop by and say, “Hi” at the blog for John D’s Computer & Network Services, I’d appreciate the favor.  I promise to blog about projects from time to time. 🙂

Posted in Admin, Business Strategy, Social Networking | Tagged: , , , , | Comments Off on Social Media Here, Social Media There, Social Media Everywhere

Railing Against Project Bureaucrats

Posted by iammarchhare on 3 September 2009

Being a project manager is walking a fine line.  Many mistake project management for doing EVM, making a schedule, filling out a charter, and so on.  These are functions of a PM, but they are not the most important.

TechRepublic posted “Managing innovative projects: Don’t mistake the map for the journey” by Rick Freedman.  Freeman writes about these paper pushers who “manage” projects:

When I teach project management, I often draw a distinction between project managers and project bureaucrats. We’ve all had encounters with project managers who turned into bureaucrats. Project bureaucrats are more interested in ensuring that every step of the methodology is applied and every line of every form is filled in than in what’s actually happening on the ground. On the other hand, it’s common to meet project managers who apply minimal project methodology, yet, through their expert use of relationships and personal interactions, always seem to know exactly where the project stands.

He goes on to give an excellent example of a project failure.  That is, it was a bureaucratic failure.  Yet, the product was an ultimate success.  The product was the film Titanic.

So, how does he view being innovative while still maintaining project discipline?  You’ll need to read his article to find out.

Posted in Agile, Leadership, PM Basics | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Cloud Computing Risks

Posted by iammarchhare on 2 September 2009

I have posted an article about yesterday’s “Gmail Outage & Cloud Computing” on my new blog.  You certainly need to consider outages as an identified risk for cloud computing and develop appropriate service level agreements (SLAs).

Posted in Risk Management | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Cloud Computing Risks

What Is Agile Software Development?

Posted by iammarchhare on 2 September 2009

One of the best explanations I’ve seen yet of Agile is the article “10 Key Principles of Agile Software Development” over all All About Agile.  Not only does the author give a good summary of some key concepts, but also some of the variations, including the original DSDM.

Enjoy!

Posted in Agile, Software | Tagged: , , , | Comments Off on What Is Agile Software Development?

“We Found a Bug!” How Should Support Be Handled?

Posted by iammarchhare on 1 September 2009

Over at Agile Chronicles, Mike Cottmeyer posted “Handling Support on Agile Teams”, but as even he himself says, “This is a problem not unique to agile teams. Software organizations have been struggling with this one for years.”

Indeed, he is most correct.  How to account for time dedicated to support once the code is out in the open?  I have noticed, though, that the more seasoned the team, both as individuals and as a unit, the less defects are likely to be produced.  Yes, experience is the best teacher, but it isn’t necessarily the most efficient one.

Cottmeyer lists 3 options for dealing with defects.  Each has its strengths and weaknesses.  Personally, I think a lot on the exact method you pick is going to have a lot to do with the overall environment, the types and number of current projects and the overall effectiveness of the developers.  I use “effectiveness” as not only productivity, but experience level and ability to task switch.

That last point should not be underrated.  The ability of any individual to multitask is going to have a profound effect upon the duration and quality of their work.

However, here are some other factors to keep in mind:

  • Responsibility.  How often is Jane going to fix John’s code without resentment building up?  Is John mature enough to at least accept responsibility for his mistake and learn from it?
  • Amount and severity of defects.  Some defects can wait.  Are you getting an abnormal number of defects?  Of course, you’ll need some type of historical data to go on, but if there are an abnormal number, it might be time to do a triage or at least a special after action review.
  • Corrective to preventative measures.  It isn’t enough to just fix the immediate problem, but for the team to learn how to avoid it next time.
  • Seniority mix of the team.  I have long argued that you want to avoid all junior developers for a team.  However, you also want to avoid all senior developers on a team.  You want a mix, but no more than 50% new developers and no less than 50% experienced ones.  Why?  Because you need mentoring, coaching and the examples of the senior developers to grow the junior ones.  However, an injection of new ideas is not a bad thing, either.  Not only that, but a team of all senior developers can become an ego party.  Frankly, it is not the most efficient way to get work done, and neither is it all that entertaining.

One of the key requirements of being a manager, but especially a project manager, is flexibility.  How you deal with defects will test your skills and bend you out of shape if you allow it.

Posted in Software | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Comments Off on “We Found a Bug!” How Should Support Be Handled?