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Get over the PMBOK

Since it’s Canadian Project Management week, I thought I would start the week with a PMI-related post.

When I happen to discuss the PMI project management method, I often hear the comment that the PMI’s method is too heavy and creates too much red tape. The Project Management Book of Knowledge (PMBOK) is pointed as the big culprit.

Truth is, the PMI and its PMBOK a misunderstood.

Time and time again, the PMI stresses that the PMBOK is a collection of best practices in project management. It’s not a set of regulations. It’s not a list of obligations. It is simply a repository of information for project management.

The PMI does not expect small projects to go through all 50-some processes. That would turn a 6-week project into a 12-week project. In fact, the PMI states:

“The PMBOK Guide identifies that subset of the project management body of knowledge generally recognized as good practice. […] Good practice does not mean the knowledge described should always be applied uniformly to all projects; the organization and/or management team is […]

By |2009-04-20T14:34:00-04:002009-04-20|

Canadian Project Management Week

With the Vancouver Olympics project getting a lot of attention worldwide, the Canadian chapters of the PMI have organized a Project Management Week. This is a great time for all Canadian project managers to inform and train their teams about project management today.

The Globe and Mail and the French paper Les Affaires will be running a special insert next week, and your local Canadian PMI chapter has events lined up for you to attend!

To get involved virtually: join the LinkedIn group for the Canadian Project Management Week.

By |2009-04-16T14:22:00-04:002009-04-16|

Project managers are not alone

A project should not be composed a leader on top and everybody else below. Actually, that's a very good way to fail. Your team is there for the project, and so are you. Why not work together?

You need to work together.

Be with your team. Spend time with them. Take the time to explain what's going on in the project.  Listen.

When problems arise (they always arise), your team's unique perspective may be the key to solving it. Budget problems? Maybe one of your developers knows a less-expensive tool that does the job just as well. Schedule problem? Your QA specialist may have a few tricks up her sleeve to speed up the testing phase.

Project managers are not superheroes. We can't expect to fix everything on our own. That's why there are project teams.

The project can't succeed without the team, but it can succeed despite the project manager.

By |2009-04-08T12:30:00-04:002009-04-08|

Processes should not be torture

Projects need organization and structure. Without structure, budgets are approved before estimations are done, change is not managed, and it becomes impossible to keep scope, delays and budgets in check.

So most organizations adopt a project management process. The goal is noble: to clarify what each person needs to do, when and how. To ensure that the project is following the logical steps, from initiating to closing.

Then, time happens.

Over time, processes grow and start taking more and more place in the organization. Soon enough, the processes take a life of their own and, instead of helping the project along, they hinder it.

Processes and ground rules should not block the project. They should help it.

5 tips to trim your processes.

  1. Remove additional steps. A process is there to ensure things are done in order, not to multiply the number of steps required to finish something. For example, in software development: Requirements > Analysis > Design > Development > Testing > Implementation is a natural process. If you add sign-off steps in between each of those (instead of making […]
By |2009-04-06T11:54:00-04:002009-04-06|

A development process without a good dose of crazyness is wrong

I saw this great comic at Stack Overflow this morning, and I though I would share it with you.

No matter how much method we want to have in our development process, there is always a part of it that looks (or feels) like the comic above. It’s normal. When it’s over, it’s funny. Some of the best ideas can come out of those all-nighters.

Even though at Websystems we feel our development methods yields a much higher quality of product that the “lone coder” ways of our beginnings, there always comes a point when we all run around in circles. Usually in the bug fixing stage: everyone wants the software to be perfect, and we all want the software to be released. Inevitably, something will happen to threaten both our desires, and that’s when the running starts!

By |2009-02-02T15:29:00-05:002009-02-02|

Human resources management: what do you bring to the table?

I’ve been reading on HR management for my upcoming PMP exam. According to the PMI, HR management is about getting the right team for the right project, and developing that team so that the product of the project is delivered on time and on budget.

As the project manager, what do you bring to the table?

It’s is easy to know what the software developer brings to the project. It’s harder to know what the PM brings to the project. We’re usually the cat herders: we do our best to keep the project on track, the team happy, the stakeholders under control and the deliverables…delivered!

It doesn’t feel like a productive job. But without a project manager, how many projects would ever end, let alone on time?

That’s what project managers bring to the table: cohesion and coordination.

By |2009-01-26T19:24:00-05:002009-01-26|

AceProject Survey, what features you like best and least

The results from the survey are in. It was our first-ever survey here at Websystems. Here’s a summary:

Which feature do you use most?

  1. Task management
  2. Time Sheets
  3. Project management
  4. Gantt charts
  5. Task comments

Which feature do you like the most?

  1. Email notifications
  2. Task Management
  3. Time sheets
  4. Tracking task and project status
  5. Reports

Which feature do you like the least?

  1. Time sheets
  2. Email notifications
  3. Reports
  4. Task creation workflow (tabs)
  5. Search

What’s interesting is that then time sheet module, email notifications and task management are present in all three answers. It seems time sheets and email notifications are either loved or hated. Among the comments we received, being able to edit the time sheet for the whole week (like a grid) and being able to customize how email notifications work were the most frequent.

However, people told us they loved to receive those email notifications. We were also told that time sheets are very easy to use.

Overall, what you told us is that you think our reports and our task creation workflow should be a lot better.

We hear you. Your comments were very insightful and we will make sure to keep the good stuff and […]

By |2009-01-13T12:30:00-05:002009-01-13|

Eveyrone thinks about dealines, but what about effort?

When planning a project, we think about how long it will take to complete it. This is what we ask our team members: how long for you to code this module/wire this house/print these brochures?

We forget how hard it will be, how much effort we will have to put into the task to complete it.

  • It may take 3 days for paint to dry, but there is not much effort involved in this.
  • It may take 3 days to code a module, for a team of 3 developers who will have to rewrite part of the software core to make it work.

Same duration, different effort.

If something has a high level of difficulty and requires a lot of effort, the risk of delay is much greater, and you should plan for it in your schedule, that is, how long you allow for the task to be completed.

By |2008-10-27T14:53:00-04:002008-10-27|

Project management: share the burden with your team

Project management can sometimes feel like such a burden. But is doesn’t have to be this way.

When only Project Managers support the burden: desktop tools

In this situation, the project management tool is desktop-based and only accessible to the project manager. She needs to update the project, tasks and produce the reports on a regular basis.  In order to do the update, she relies on her team to give her the information in a timely manner. Then she must transcribe the information into the project management tool.

Once the reports are produced, she has to email them around. Team members and upper management cannot have up-to-the-minute updates when they want to, they depend on the Project Manager to provide the information. What happens when she’s on the road? Either she tries to squeeze in the updates somewhere between breakfast and her first meeting, or everybody waits.

This method begs the question, why can’t the team update their stuff in the project? Why can’t upper management click on a button and get the reports when it’s convenient for them?

The […]

By |2008-10-01T11:57:00-04:002008-10-01|
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