Random Acts of IT Project Management

Project Management for Information Technology

Posts Tagged ‘communication’

Tough Client Questions

Posted by iammarchhare on 6 August 2009

It is a certainty that clients have become more picky about who they will hire.  It is also pretty evident that many in IT are now using this opportunity to turn to going it on their own.

That’s why I think Chip Camden’s article on TechRepublic about “Answering client questions about perceived risks and benefits” is a good one to read if you are contracting or thinking about it.

For example, if you are just starting out, you may be the only one in your “firm”.  So, how do you answer the question, “How many people are in your firm?”  Remember, there’s an upside as well as a downside to being small.  Think communication.  Think reliability.  Those are the risks that the client wants to mitigate.

That’s one of the questions.  Chip asks 6 others.  A recommended read.

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The “Wave” of the Future

Posted by iammarchhare on 4 June 2009

Email has been around a long time.  Longer than the web, actually.  It was the first form of communication on a network.  Yet, it is still the most popular application in use today.  Google is working on something now that is so revolutionary that it might actually knock email off of its pedestal.

You have probably heard that claim before.  Yet, email has remained king of the hill.  So, how likely is it that there may actually be something revolutionary enough to do it?

Google is working on a new application that runs in a browser.  No surprise.  However, according to Andy Wibbels’ blog, “Google Wave Obliterates Everything”.  Imagine only needing one application for email/IM, wikis, forums, blogs, and so on.  Oh, and did I mention it will work on Android as well?

It is also pretty cool watching pictures being dragged and dropped onto a web browser and have them automatically upload.  While uploading, the thumbnails appear on other users’ web browsers.  Not to mention watching 3 people edit the same page at the same time.

I remember the first time I saw a web browser.  I knew then that what I was looking at was nothing less than revolutionary.  This has the same potential, IMO.  If anyone can pull this off, Google can.

This might change the way we work, even.

I will warn you that the entire video is 1:20:11 long.  However, I am writing this the evening before making a trip to Columbus for an 8:30 am event, but I could not resist watching the entire thing!

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Bridging the Gap

Posted by iammarchhare on 29 May 2009

This week, we’ve looked at use cases vs user stories, basic abilities for PMs and BA competencies for gathering requirements.  All of these involve in one way or another transforming user requirements into reality.  In “Use Cases and User Stories – Just Degrees of Difference?” we saw that one of the issues with user stories is whether or not the customer has built up “trust” in the process.  I mentioned in “Are You Cut Out to be a Project Manager?” that a PM must be able to bridge people and technology.  And, finally in “Avoiding Project Failure: Gathering Requirements”, we looked at some core competencies for BAs or for PMs filling the role.  All of these involve communication.

I couldn’t help but think of communication when I read “The Role of Agile Advocates” by Lynda Bourne on PMI’s blog.  She writes:

Forget the jargon of “sprints” and “iterations.” Communicate in your stakeholder’s language. As an Agile project is progressing through its cycles, what benefits are being delivered and how can they be measured? What contingencies are in place? What real progress is being made from the business perspective?

You know, this has little to do with Agile.  It is good advice always.

I’m of the opinion that all developers should have to either do helpdesk or desktop support starting out.  Why?  Because there is no better way than experience for a developer to get to know how endusers work, how they think and what they want.  You develop a real empathy for them if you care about your job at all.

I learned something early on because of doing desktop support.  I learned that users just want to get their work done.  They don’t care about bits and bytes, routers, packets, objects, classes or any of the other stuff that IT cares about.  They don’t want to learn a new language to talk to you.  All they care about is that their email, spreadsheet, billing or other program isn’t working.  They want it fixed.  I had to learn their language.

Mind you, this does not mean talking down to them.  Some of the people I dealt with were chemists and engineers.  You want to hear jargon?  They will give you jargon!  Don’t even get me started on day traders!  They are from a completely different country!  No, if you talk down to these people, they could put you in your place rather quickly!

Remember, you are rendering a service.  You might have a degree, and you might make more than a burger flipper, but the reality is you are enabling a person/team/company to be more productive.  To achieve that end, you have to be able to communicate, which means listening as well as talking.  You then have to be able to encode and decode the information between a technical core and the business owner/sponsor/customer.

Without communication, nothing else you do as a project manager will be successful.

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