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Archive for the ‘Economy’ Category

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!

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

Real Life Project Management: Economic Lessons from Mulching

Posted by iammarchhare on 27 July 2009

I republished the article “Real Life Project Management” as “Real Life Project Management: Economic Lessons from Mulching” on Associated Content.  I intend to make a “Real Life Project Management” mini-series.

Posted in Economy, PM Basics | Tagged: , , , , | Comments Off on Real Life Project Management: Economic Lessons from Mulching

Random Stats

Posted by iammarchhare on 30 June 2009

I was a little surprised today when I was looking at Dice.com.  It turns out that there are only 3072 results for “project manager” in the US.  Of those, 2060 are in “development”.  I really expected a higher percentage to be in infrastructure and/or networking.

If you are interested in locations, New York had the highest in “development” and “project manager” positions, coming in at 101.  It had 179 overall.  Even San Francisco only had 81 PM positions (less than half).  However, even then San Francisco was tied for 2nd place with Chicago.  Cleveland only has 23.  Jacksonville, FL comes in dead last with only 12.

I was originally looking for information on programming languages, actually.  Since it seems that roughly 2/3rds of us are dealing with developers or software engineers, I will share that with you as well.  I’m not trying to start another religious war about programming languages, but I did want to see what employers and clients are looking for.  Keep in mind, though, that languages are just a tool.  We may have our favorite tools, but they are still just tools.

Java – 8268 results

C# – 4036

C – 2355

C++ – 4103

COBOL – 481

Flash – 843

PHP – 1073

XML – 4337

HTML – 3155

SQL – 9168

I ended up throwing out the .NET number because the numbers just didn’t add up.  It seems to me that a lot of the HR/recruiters still don’t know the difference between .NET and C#.  Or, is there really a C# implementation outside of .NET (because I’m not aware of any)?

So, why do this exercise?  Well, if someone wanted to learn a new skill in this economy, would it really make sense for it to be COBOL?  Yes, it has its uses.  It might even be fascinating for some people.  However, if your aim is to improve your stance in the marketplace, I think COBOL should not be your target area skill set to upgrade to.  If you understand Java, perhaps it would be easier to be hired in as a project manager overseeing a Java development team.

What do you think?  Other than certification, what can you do to increase your value in the marketplace?

Posted in Economy, Software | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Random Stats

Real Life Project Management

Posted by iammarchhare on 23 June 2009

Steve McConnell wrote about a home project he worked on in “Building a Fort: Lessons in Software Estimation” and the take-aways he had.  It’s a neat little reminder that, consciously or not, we use/ignore project management techniques on a daily basis.

For example, there are many events can take quite a bit of preparation and planning this time of year.  Graduation parties, planting a garden and let’s not forget weddings are all competing for our schedules and other resources.

This year, many are running into a new obstacle: money.  Obviously, I don’t mean to suggest that it was ever an unlimited resources, but for many it is more scarce than at times past.  Even those who do have sufficient means are more reluctant to dip at the well because they don’t know what tomorrow might bring.

You PMs know the concept: Triple constraints.  You can control one of them and influence the other.  The 3rd will be the result of the other 2.

If you do a lot of internal projects, you can get caught in the trap of thinking strictly in terms of “estimating” a project in regards to effort and/or duration.  However, the reality is that at some point, it boils down to the bottom line.  “Time is money” goes the expression, and a project may have little effort required, but the outsourcing or off-the-shelf aspect of it drives up the cost.

Let’s face it that companies as well as individuals are very interested in the bottom line.  The controlling factor in your project is likely to be the budget.

That’s not always a bad thing.  As I go around the house, I keep thinking, “Do I really need mulch here?  If so, how much do I really need?”  Surprisingly, I’ve run into 2 other homeowners with the same exact thoughts recently.  We learn to tighten our belts and become more efficient homeowners.

Companies can learn to become more efficient as well.  Some will not.  For some, it may be too little, too late.  Some will try to ride it our, but they will either make no changes or make the wrong changes.  Others will learn to adapt.  They will learn better ways to get things done.

There used to be a time when if a person ran out of money, they simply didn’t spend any more.  Sure, you had your occasional exception that stupidly borrowed from the local loan shark, but most learned to live on less.  They had to.  It was called living within their means.

American credit had gotten way out of hand.  We thought we could borrow utopia.

What I am saying is that we don’t have to continue to be that way.  We can again learn to live within our means.  We can learn to do more with less.  We can work smarter instead of harder.  These may sound like antiquated clichés, but they are sayings that came with the wisdom of experience of another generation who faced their needs head-on.

Meanwhile, I am going to have to go to the store and get a couple of items.  One of them will not be mulch, I guess.  I will have to control the one constraint (cost) better than scope or time (duration) for now.

Posted in Economy, Estimating, PM Basics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Real Life Project Management

Project and Program Management Key to IT Efficiency

Posted by iammarchhare on 11 June 2009

I attended a seminar last week in Columbus put on by CA called “Challenging Times Require Efficient IT”.  In it, they showcased the CA Clarity TM PPM On Demand solution.   If you have worked with Clarity before, it is basically just the version that they push for their Software as a Service (SaaS) solution.  If you haven’t worked with Clarity before, you might want to give it a once over if you are looking for an enterprise solution to PPM.  I don’t get paid for any endorsements, I just prefer their solution over at least one other.

Overall, it may seem like a strange time to invest in a tool.  However, curbing waste and ensuring your project portfolio is strategically aligned with your business goals can save you money in the first year, or so believes CA (note that isn’t a guarantee; they are just saying it can do so).

At any rate, the real attraction was the first part, “Why Project and Portfolio Management Matters More in an Economic Downturn”.  There wasn’t anything really earth shattering in the presentation, but I did want to hear what they had to say.  Without taking notes, here are my take-aways:

Gaining insights into what is going on with your resources answers the question: Are you working on what’s strategically important?  Strategies may need to change.  Ongoing projects need to be regularly evaluated to see if they are still meeting strategic needs.

The CIO really needs to be part of the change governance board.  Prior to the economic mess, there actually was an upswing in CIO participation on these boards.  The CIO is the one that can reach across the organization to get the right kind of input from other departments.  Without CIO participation, the other departments discount the board’s importance and so key decision makers are not present at the meetings.  After the economic mess, CIO participation is down from what it was, which is a disturbing trend.

A strong governance board and appropriate executive views into work allow projects to be killed earlier.  If they are not meeting the strategic needs or it turns out they are too costly, then the proper decision makers can kill it before it gets worse.  In a down economy, lessening such waste is a huge benefit to the company.

New projects are less likely to be started if they do not meet strategic needs.  Again, this reduces wasteful spending.

The last part was a demo on the On Demand solution.  Like I said, if you’ve used Clarity, the interface is pretty familiar.  I don’t know the costs involved, but having someone else worry about the infrastructure costs may be attractive to certain companies.  Obviously, a lot will depend upon company size and IT objectives.

Posted in Economy, Tools | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

The 5 Economic Storms

Posted by iammarchhare on 5 June 2009

It seems like the recent economic news is a continual rollercoaster ride!  Rosy predictions bring up hopes, which are dashed by some report or other.  What is the truth?

Well, if you believe as I do that a lot of the media grabs on to small things and hypes it, you will be on the lookout for someone who seems to have a clearer picture of what is really going on.  Maybe you will agree with them or not, but at least it is something more concrete than looking at a percentage of a percentage point difference and saying the recession is over.

Enter Martin D. Weiss, PhD, who wrote an article posted 11 May 2009 on the Money and Markets web site.  He lists “Five Economic Storms Raging NOW!”.  You know most of them, such as the one about big banks’ risk of failure, but do you know how bad it really is?  Let’s take the #1 and my favorite: Plunging Jobs:

Storm #1.
Plunging Jobs

On Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced that job losses were running at a slightly slower pace than in the first quarter. So Wall Street cheered.

But it’s a joke, and the 539,000 additional Americans out of work aren’t laughing.

Nor are the 23 million people — 15.8 percent of the work force — who are officially unemployed … are struggling with lower paying part-time jobs … or have given up looking for work entirely.

Look. In December 2007, there were 138.1 million jobs in America. Now, there are only 132.4 million.

So even if you accept the government’s tally of the narrowest unemployment measure, 5.7 million jobs have been lost.

Plot those figures on a chart and the picture is absolutely unambiguous: Jobs in America are collapsing. Right here and now!

Where’s that “slightly slower pace of collapse” they’re raving about? You’d need a microscope to see it.

Check out the other 4 economic storms at the Money and Market site.

Frankly, the US is spending a lot of money for very little result.  Worse, we are leaving a debt to our grandchildren’s children.

Contrast this with what the Bible says a “good man” or righteous person does, which is leave an inheritance that will last to his children’s children (Pr 13:22)!

Posted in Economy, Employment | Tagged: , , , , , | Comments Off on The 5 Economic Storms

US Debt Clock

Posted by iammarchhare on 1 June 2009

Here is something that should wake you up this morning:  The US National Debt Clock.

Posted in Economy, Mostly off-topic rambling rabbit holes | Tagged: , , , , , | Comments Off on US Debt Clock

Consulting Maxims

Posted by iammarchhare on 21 May 2009

If you are reading this, then it is likely I’m either still on the road or recovering from the road trip.  However, this gives me an opportunity to point you to some backlogged bookmarks I’ve built up.

Many PMs are consultants, so TechRepublic’s article on “18 maxims of successful IT consulting” might be of interest to you.

And, if you are not a consultant … well, rethink that, will you?  As I’ve quoted before, we are all consultants in this economy.  Companies can let you go at any time with no reason.

Posted in Consulting, Economy, Employment | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Consulting Maxims

IT Jobs – Some Things to Think About

Posted by iammarchhare on 20 May 2009

I’m still on the road, but if you are laid off, thinking you might be laid off or just generally uneasy, you might want to read this article.  Technology Ladder posted an article by Kevin Fogarty that “Tech Employment [is] Down, Not Out”.

Fogarty points out that medical IT jobs. VOIP and IT security jobs are growing sectors.

Posted in Economy, Employment | Tagged: , , , , | Comments Off on IT Jobs – Some Things to Think About

Obama Closing Up Tax Loopholes

Posted by iammarchhare on 5 May 2009

Today’s Bangkok Post reported that “Obama cracks down on US outsourcing”.  They report:

President Barack Obama Monday rolled out a plan aimed at saving $210 billion over the next 10 years by clamping down on tax havens and curbing US companies’ incentive to outsource jobs.

While the effect will not be immediate, it is sure to have an impact upon IT.

Sources:

AFP. (2009, May 5). Obama cracks down on US outsourcing. Bangkok Post. Retrieved from http://www.bangkokpost.com/breakingnews/142355/obama-cracks-down-on-tax-havens-outsourcing-companies

Posted in Economy, Employment, Outsourcing | Tagged: , , , , , | Comments Off on Obama Closing Up Tax Loopholes