Random Acts of IT Project Management

Project Management for Information Technology

The Devil is in the Details

Posted by iammarchhare on 26 August 2009

Seth Godin posted an interesting post on Seth’s blog.  Is it better to get new tires for a Suburban to increase gas mileage by 3 miles per hour, from 10 mpg to 13 mpg, or to rework a Prius to double their gas mileage from 50 mpg to 100 mpg?  Careful how you answer!

The answer is on onpreinit.com, posted as “The MPG Illusion & Seth Godin”.

Next time you are tempted to throw a lot of facts and numbers at someone, stop and think.  Graphs are a lot more useful, you know.

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‘Forty five percent (45%!) of project costs industry-wide is rework’

Posted by iammarchhare on 25 August 2009

That’s the claim that Jamal Moustafaev makes in “Who Needs Walkthroughs, Inspections and Peer Reviews?”.

That is a sobering statistic, but it only tells part of the story.  When you remember that a $1 mistake early on in the project easily balloons into a $40 fix later on, you begin to see why it is so important to do requirements correctly.  However, even good requirements have flaws.  Therefore, it is vital to pull together your team and do a thorough walk-thru of the requirements, project plan and statement of work.  It is important that these documents undergo a peer review by a fellow project manager as well as the technical project team.

Moustafaev makes several good points about pitfalls and things to look for in walk-thrus and reveiws.  A worthwhile read!

Posted in Requirements | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on ‘Forty five percent (45%!) of project costs industry-wide is rework’

Dangers of Blogging

Posted by iammarchhare on 24 August 2009

I’m sure you’ve all heard the advice.  Become an expert in your field, get on LinkedIn, get on networking sites, answer questions, network, participate and start your own blog.  Well, perhaps that is good advice, but the last one can be a little more dangerous now.  Or, at least if you are a celebrity chaser.

The Telegraph reported on 19 August that “Google reveals blogger’s identity after Vogue model’s ‘skank’ insult”.  The blogger, who went by the ever so original “Anonymous”, described Vogue covergirl Liskula Cohen in several unflattering terms.  A New York supreme court judge quoted an earlier Virginia ruling that online critics can be held accountable once they cross a certain line.

I’m all for civility online, but the constant eroding of speech on the web is somewhat of a concern to me.

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Alfresco Enterprise Content Management Tool

Posted by iammarchhare on 21 August 2009

At one place I worked, we were looking into some content management systems.  When I found out the licensing cost for one tool we were already using, I was pretty much floored.  The old pricing scheme was pretty high, but in order to update, we had to move to a licensing scheme that seemed pretty insane to me.

Since there already was a Microsoft license in place, the recommendation was to move to MS Sharepoint and dump the more expensive tool.   It literally meant quite a bit of conversion and testing time, though.  There was a weird path assignment for many documents, and it would have been easy to have a lot of broken links.

Well, Alfresco offers an alternative to the more expensive contenders.

Twenty years of experience drove us to believe that the Enterprise Content Management industry was driven by:

  • High Cost — Application driven purchases with a high up-front investment and per user pricing
  • High Complexity — Long rollout cycles and complexity resulting in software either not being implemented or used
  • Lack of Customer Control — Proprietary control preventing choice and ability to switch to other vendors

For these reasons the vast majority of people do not use ECM systems but instead work with shared drives and email to create, share and store content.

That last paragraph really hit home with me.  At the company I was working for (above), there were quite a few pockets of people using shared drive because no one wanted to pay for the overpriced licensing.  While an older version of Sharepoint was in place, it’s use was mostly for project work.  There really was no central schema to how to get information.

At any rate, I plan to have a further look into Alfresco.

Posted in Knowledge Management, Tools | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Alfresco Enterprise Content Management Tool

Highlights From Seth’s Blog

Posted by iammarchhare on 20 August 2009

Most of you know by now that I enjoy Seth Godin’s blog.  You’d be amazed how many of his posts relate to project management as well.  Here are some highlights from this month:

1. “All storms are perfect” makes the point that a perfect storm can be anticipated.  I don’t want to give his whole post away (it’s very short), but notice where the actual failure is in his example.  Now, ask yourself, “What sort of ongoing verification have I put into place once this project has been completed?”

2. Godin tackles a requirements definition problem in “Are we solving the same problem?”  If you’ve ever had to sit through some large vendor’s sales pitch, you surely can relate to this post.  How many sales people drone on and on about features you aren’t even interested in?  Worse, have you ever delivered a project only for the enduser to say, “That’s not what I wanted”?  Perhaps you were, like the vendor sales person, focusing on the solution and not the problem.

3. Godin’s article on “When tactics drown out strategy” reminds me of my own difficulty in separating tactics and strategy.  It is far too easy for me to focus in on details and forget why I’m trying to get it done in the first place.

4. In “Critics that matter”, Godin points out that there are critics that matter, critics that are loud and critics that are difficult.  I have alluded to this in previous posts that you won’t please everyone.  As I have stated in “Ambiguous Scope”, the sponsor needs to define for you when a project is “done”.  It needs to be measurable.

However, there will be other key stakeholders on the project that you need to identify and engage them in shaping requirements.  They are called “stakeholders”, but don’t kid yourself that all of them have a stake in “the project”.  Don’t lose sight of the fact that their real concern is in the product being produced!

You know the audience is somewhat different, the tools are different and even the emphasis is different, but there are a lot more similarities between marketing and project management than either side will admit!

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43 Things Actually Said in Job Interviews

Posted by iammarchhare on 20 August 2009

CareerBuilder on MSN published “You Said What?!”, which lists 43 things that real job applicants have said in a job interview.  Some of them just make you scratch your head, but others are real jaw droppers.

I guess I now know why there are professional agencies out there to coach people.

You may be a techie, but don’t underestimate the value of people skills.

Posted in Employment | Tagged: , , , , | Comments Off on 43 Things Actually Said in Job Interviews

Signs of “The Times”

Posted by iammarchhare on 19 August 2009

The British newspaper The Sunday Times will become the guinea pig for testing paid access to the newspaper, reported the Bangkok Post in “Sunday Times to test charge for content”.  News Corp owns The Sunday Times, The Times and The Wall Street Journal and already charges for access to the latter.

You could say it’s a sign of The Times.  I’m no fan of paying for access to online news, but as newspapers all over shut their doors, we’re likely to see more of this.

The interesting thing to me, though, is that newspapers for years supported themselves by advertizing.  Very few modern newspapers have kept themselves running on subscriptions alone, and certainly no large ones that I’m aware of.  It seems odd that this aspect hasn’t translated well in the online world.

Makes you wonder how much longer free news broadcasts from the major networks will be available.  Will they start charging for those at some point?  I certainly hope not, seeing as none of them are worth paying for.

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Should You Pursue PMP Certification?

Posted by iammarchhare on 19 August 2009

There’s an interesting article at Project Manager Planet titled “PMP Certification: Is It Worth It?

The gist of the article is that it is worth it if you are a practicing project manager.  Beyond that, it gets hazy.  However, if you are seeking employment, it is a checkbox on many employers’ checklists.

However, the lean employment market is causing a flood of PMP applicants and this in turn is diluting the certification’s prestige and meaning. “More and more individuals are taking the PMP exam who are not intending on practicing the principles, which has negative impact on the value of the certification overall,” said R. Thomas Nieukirk, Jr., director of Knowledge Management at CGN & Associates, a global business performance consulting firm with offices in the U.S., China, India, and throughout Europe.

Actually, I find this statement ironic.  Many PMPs do not intend on practicing the principles because many companies neither intend on supporting them or caring about them.  Yes, they will list “PMP” on their requirements, but when you actually talk to them about a position, you are gritting your teeth throughout the entire interview because it is obvious they don’t have a clue.

Some companies refuse to learn from their mistakes.  Projects are setup to fail because the product manager promised the moon in 3 months so they could meet some short term performance objective.  Testing is always shorted.  Resources are always stretched thin because they couldn’t set priorities.  How many projects do you think are successfully completed at companies like this?

Whether large or small, startup or mature, all organizations need to be in a cycle of continuous learning.  Look at the US automotive industry.  One of the companies has now effectively failed twice.  Whatever happened to the giant makeover that was supposed to occur after the 1970s?  Why did they not learn?

Companies that quit learning and quit innovating eventually die.  No government bailout can bring it back from the dead once it gets beyond a certain point.

Posted in PMP | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Making Extra Cash

Posted by iammarchhare on 18 August 2009

TechRepublic posted “10 ways techs can make extra cash” a while back.  There are some good ideas there, and even gives you sites that cater to specific categories.  Some of these can even help drive people to their own business.

Posted in Consulting, Employment, Outsourcing | Tagged: , , , , , , | Comments Off on Making Extra Cash

Anyone Up For a Freelance Collaboration Site Review?

Posted by iammarchhare on 18 August 2009

There are a number of freelance sites out there, some of which cater to IT professionals.  Does anyone have experience dealing with any of these and would be willing to author a review?  It would be nice if I could get reviews from both hiring agents and contractors.

Here are the ones I know about:

  • eLance
  • Success Group International Global IT
  • LimeExchange
  • Guru
  • GetAFreelancer
  • oDesk

I would post the review with author credit duly given, naturally.  There’s no money to be made from this, but it should count for 2 seconds on your 15 minutes of fame. 😉  After all, who can resist fame amongst all one dozen steady readers of this blog. ;->

Posted in Consulting, Outsourcing | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Anyone Up For a Freelance Collaboration Site Review?