Monday, December 21, 2009

Review on pmPoint

Many PMO's have turned to SharePoint to help manage their projects, but in order to have a fully functioning SharePoint environment lots of customization is necessary to work with ones project management process within their organization. To help reduce the development time it may be prudent to see if there are off the shelf applications that will plug into SharePoint to help you down this road of a PMO managed within SharePoint. Currently my organization is doing just that. We are evaluating some of these plug-ins and the first one we reviewed was pmPoint by Brightworks.

What we are looking for:
1. ~4 templates for 4 different types of projects (SDLC, smaller software projects, clinical trials, R&D projects)

2. Pull information from the templates into a dashboard for organization and executives review

3. Must be able to view and pull data from Microsoft Project documents within SharePoint

I started reviewing pmPoint which is an application created by BrightWork which is a SharePoint plug-in. pmPoint includes a set of project management templates, web parts, dashboards, tools and lists that mimics the project management process found in most organizations.


You can start your free trail at:
http://www.brightwork.com/pmpoint/evaluate.asp

Enter your information and it immediately sends an email with your username and password.

There is a guide to help you with the basics:
http://www.brightwork.com/UA/PDF/v8/pmPoint_v8_TrialZone_Sandbox_Guide.pdf

Within the guide the 1st step is to setup the PMO (basically you are just installing a template); then under that you insert your various projects (they offer over 15 different templates including one on Agile for capturing the phases, bugs requirements, documents . They also have other templates (with videos about them) listed on their website). http://www.brightwork.com/templates/
Within the PMO view you can customize the views if you like and install other SharePoint features (alerts, discuss boards, doc libraries ...).

I installed 3 projects and then made a couple of changes to the PMO reports. The PMO reports pull from the timeline or task information to give you graphs and charts of all of the project metrics at once.
Within the projects there is a link named “Project Statement” that has some of the info that will be pulled into the PMO dashboard. They also offer links to roles, team members, issues, risks and all of the other normal SharePoint items you can build in like: wiki’s, discussion boards, document library, build your own data capture form, email alerts and so on.

For each project there is a dashboard to look at planned cost, current cost, actual cost, planned worked actual work, resource charts, issues, risks, and so on (In the PMO view it shows all the projects at once). It pulls data from your timeline to populate the dashboard.

To build a timeline you have 2 options. One, enter in tasks (these are the normal SharePoint type of tasks). Or two, upload your Microsoft Project timeline. I uploaded one of my Microsoft Project timelines into a project (~500 tasks). It was able to import it (as an XML file) and you can view it but there are some cons:

1. If you have longer task names it doesn’t wrap the text, and you cannot resize the columns (it may be a trial version issue or I was not able to make it work)

2. You cannot just upload a Project document it needs to be an XML file; so that means if you update your project document that lives within SharePoint via Project, you have to save as a XML file and upload into SharePoint every time you change the timeline (this is a big negative)After a bit of research I found out that SharePoint 2010 will offer synchronization that will solve this problem.

3. Tasks have no numbers (which I’m use to)

4. If you tie in one task to multiple tasks there is just the text of the task, not the task number of the predecessor

5. If you have more than 50 tasks it is just too clunky to think about editing it within SharePoint

6. When editing within SharePoint if you open one task to edit there is no budget information for the task (I bet you can turn this on)

7. Doesn’t import calendar settings, but it will pick up a custom SharePoint calendar

Pros:
1. Allows users without Project the ability to view the project and filter for their tasks, or tasks coming up in the next 7 days

2. If you don’t have Project you can just create tasks (which is fine for a small project with less than 50 tasks)

3. Within the PMO view, with the projects under it, you can view all of your tasks for just your projects you are associated with

4. If you use SharePoint making changes to reports within pmPoint will feel familiar

Conclusions: I think that pmPoint will work very well for smaller organizations with smaller projects. For larger organizations there may be a few hurdles to jump:

1. If you have multiple PMO’s then you would need the folks at pmPoint to do some customization to allow you to have, let’s say, 4 tabs for 4 PMO’s and 1 tab to bring in all of the PMO’s information into one dashboard

2. Getting PM’s use to uploading the XML file into their projects when they make a change to their Project documents (non-issue if you have SharePoint 2010)

The key to make this more user friendly would be a flash based Project editor within SharePoint (are you listening Microsoft?). This will allow the PMs that have been using Project for +10 years the ability to edit and save it in one place, and will allow the users to have the same look and feel that we have seen from Project.

Links:
Other reviews on pmPoint:
http://windowsitpro.com/article/articleid/102052/review-pmpoint-70.html
http://www.gantthead.com/discussions/discussionsTopicContainer.cfm?ID=13605
http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=172947071049

Monday, December 14, 2009

What type of Leader are you?

This past week I gave a talk on Leadership titled: What type of Leader are you?

Prior to the talk I sent out a link to an online survey which was meant to determine who in history you would be matched up to with their leadership styles. I received some positive and negative feed-back on the survey. Try it and see what you think.

During the presentation I talked about the traits of leaders, mixed in some video's from youtube on leadership, and ended with a little CHARCOAL.

(if you want to embed youtube videos into your powerpoint presentations visit AuthorStream for their free app; you will need a live internet connection to make the videos play while you are presenting. If you do not have a live internet connection then try Media Converter. Their app will download the video file from youtube, which you can then link to or embed into your presentation)

Link to the Presentation (links to the youtube videos are embedded into the slides; view it in presentation mode)


video

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Facebook Ads for your job search

In a recent tweet from Dan Schawbel he included a link to a blog post about using Facebook Ads to promote yourself to try to find a job. It sounded like an interesting idea so I tried it out for 4 weeks.


Setting up the ad was easy to do. I set my limit at spending $1.00 a day (this was research after all) and would pay $0.50 every time a person clicked on my ad. Then I selected 9 companies in my area to target and limited it to within 25 miles of my city, which gave me 2780 Facebook users who may see my ad. If you want to, you can further filter for keywords in Facebook users accounts.


I linked it to my personal webpage (alternatives could be your Linkedin page, blog or your resume online). In the first 2 weeks I had over 13,000 impressions; yet this only yielded 5 clicks.


The next 2 weeks I changed my ad to include the header: UW Health, and then only selected Facebook users who work at UW Health (270 users possible) within 10 miles of my city. Here is my second ad:

During this 2 week period I had over 12,000 impressions; yet this only yielded 5 clicks.


So out of the 10 clicks, I didn’t receive any emails or phone calls, but it does seem like an excellent cheap way (my test cost me 5 bucks for the month) to market oneself.


For local companies this may be an excellent way to try to select just the right Facebook users who may be interested in your product, website, event or restaurant. Give it a try and see what happens!


A link to another blogger who tried this out







Thursday, November 19, 2009

Get my files into SharePoint!

This past week I attended the Madison PMO Managers Forum where two members showed their live project SharePoint sites. It was great to see a behind the scenes look at others SharePoint sites. One member of the group vented his frustration about moving existing files into a document library within SharePoint. I too had issues with this since it seems you can only upload 1 file at a time, but there is a solution to this!

Open your file library and click on Actions, select "open with Windows Explorer" and like magic you have a file browser that looks like the one you are use to using in Windows. Now you can create folders or drag and drop (or copy and paste) files from the old location to the new location.



The advantages to using the document library in SharePoint 2007 are:
1. You can turn on versioning; so every time you update a document the old one is still accessible.

2. Easy editable permissions. No more asking IS to lock down folders when you can do it yourself!

3. It treats it as a database that you can add columns of data to it, like a description (that is searchable).

4. Document checkout; you can have a team work on a document, by having one person “checkout” the document to work on it.

5. Email notification if someone adds or edits a document.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Process Improvement Video

This past week I gave talk on Process Improvement at my Company. We walked through the DMAIC of the Six Sigma process. Even though time was short I was able to get my point across to the attendees on the importance of Six Sigma using a real life example within our organization.

video

Watch the video and open the PowerPoint and click along.


Link to the PowerPoint file


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Celebrate project success

After you formally closeout your projects don’t forget to celebrate! This is an important final step for all projects to thank your team for all their hard work. If possible include some funding for the celebration within your project budget.


Here are some possible ways to celebrate:

  1. Bonuses
  2. Head to a go-cart track or mini golf for some youthful fun
  3. Get together for cocktails and dinner
  4. Cake in the conference room
  5. For on the cheap you can print off certificates of thanks for your team members

Don’t forget to publicly thank each of your team members and summarize the project for the organization. Finally, if possible due to the number of team members, take some time to stop by each person’s desk or give them a call to thank them (don’t forget the softskills)

Links:

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Should I put PMP after my name?

Once one obtains their PMP, also known as Project Management Professional status, the question is how do I let others know I now have this status? The 4 main places are:

1. Your business card. Once you obtain your PMP status order up some new business cards

2. The signature line in your email address. I would also recommend including an embedded hyperlink to your linkedin page:

Ryan Endres, PMP
Lead Program Manager
Fundus Photograph Reading Center
406 Science Drive, Suite 400
Madison WI, 53711
Phone: 608.263.4074
Fax: 608.263.0525
rendres@rc.ophth.wisc.edu
http://eyephoto.ophth.wisc.edu

3. The signature line or username on various websites you visit (message boards, linkedin, Facebook, Twitter….):  How to add PMP to your Linkedin profile

4. In your resume after your name, and within the education section.

PMP status not only means you passed a test, it means you have been managing (or working as a team member) projects for several years and that you are willing to continue with continuing education to keep that status. This is also part of branding yourself. If you were looking to hire a Project Manager or are working with one, wouldn’t it be nice to know that they have PMP status?

Notable Quote:
“Organizations will not be able to compete globally without putting in place project management processes and continuing to develop their project managers to become leaders within the organization.”
Gina Westcott

I'm certified now what?

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Lessons Learned, where to document it?

Part of the Project Management process is to document lessons learned throughout the life of the project. Sometimes it means having formal meetings to discuss them and other times things just happen that should be documented (remember not all lessons learned are negative). Link to Lesson Learned Questions

So where should you document the lessons learned? A Word document? A custom built database? How about a wiki or even a blog? The concept of a blog may be new tool to document the lessons learned that happen and if it is open it will allow others to document their own findings. You can group them with meta tags to make it easier to group like posts, and include links to lessons learned surveys conducted on your PM process.

Times are changing within Project Management and web 2.0 phenomenon is starting to creep into our project management processes….

Notable Quote:

"The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn."
Alvin Toffler

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

How to Deal with Difficult People

As a Project Manager you will run into difficult people to work with on your projects and to be an effective PM you need to master the ability to work with these people since they are part of your Project Team.

Typically these situations are best dealt with effective communication skills. I like to do the following:

1. Listen the person and their problem.
2. Restate what you heard from the other person.
3. If you are asking them a question frame the question, if they still do not understand re-frame the question.

As a last resort if the person is toxic to your project(using candor in your project), ask to have them replaced (the sooner you can do this the better).

Below is a 9 minute video on How to Deal with Difficult People at Work



More blogs about this topic:

http://www.confidencecenter.com/art12.htm

http://stress.about.com/od/relationships/ht/difficult.htm

http://www.how2dealwithdifficultpeople.com/coping-with-difficult-people

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Project Management 2.0 ...

I love technology, but many times my project teams do not! So how do we try out these new web 2.0 concepts like Mind Mapping, Twitter, Blogging, Wiki's or even using Facebook to help manage our projects? Baby steps.

Over the years I have found out that you need the right team of people on a project to try out these new concepts to see if they are effect at communicating your project details.

The 2.0 phenomenon for project management may be common project management practice in the next 10 to 20 years and now is the time to try out some of the basic tools that are out there now.

Currently, my favorite Web 2.0 tool is SharePoint. It offers many out of the box tools that are customizable and allows other off the shelf application to plug into it to play nicely. I like SharePoint because it is easy to share documents with and has a great project communication tracker built in so you can keep track of your project emails within your project SharePoint site (or use it to Tweet your project updates, and set up user profiles for your staff to add details and photos of themselves; or send a photo from your blackberry from your construction project to an email address that is tied into your project and your team).

Times are a changing and the new social networking on the web will give us a taste of where this technology may be adapted for project management.

Podcast on Project Management 2.0


Podcast on social media and project management

Blog on Project Management 2.0

Project Shrink

Monday, June 15, 2009

Six Sigma... the root cause

Several weeks ago I took a class at UW Madison at the Fluno Center titled Accelerated Six Sigma (a 3 day class that ends with a test and if you pass you receive your Yellow belt; no worries, I passed). The Fluno Center offers many Executive Education classes, including many on Project Management and many come with breakfast, lunch and dinner (and they offer an on site hotel too).

I knew a few of the basics including that Six Sigma is typically used to improve processes. The abbreviation they use for the process is DMAIC (pronounced Da-mayic):

Define: Define the process you want to improve (this includes a charter which is similar to one, one would create for a standard project)

Measure: This is where you draw out a flow chart of your process and then pick what you want to measure (time, number of errors...) and how you want to plot these items out. Then walk the process and make your measurements (gather data).

Analyze: Here we look at the data and the flow chart again to determine the root causes for delays, errors or whatever you were measuring and come up with a value for if it happens how does it effect the process (i.e.: it may delay the process by 3 days). Then create a pareto diagram to determine which root causes you will focus on. Why focus on something that will only have a small return.

Improve: This is where you review the root causes and then brainstorm possible solutions. Don't forget to include those wild and crazy ideas to fix the problems! Then flow chart the new process. My personal favorite type of brainstorming I learned from Darin Eich of BrainReactions. His method has the person with the question or issue sit in the middle of a circle of people. The person in the center states their problem or issue and then the folks around the circle go around with suggestions, but no questions to the person in the middle (that is the key part).

Control: We Measure the new process and identify opportunities for further improvement in the process.

The typical pitfalls of Six Sigma happen when people only do the D and I steps so they have no measurements or no root causes (which typically means the project will DIe).

Overall, I enjoyed the 3 day class and it was nice to see some standard project management mixed into Six Sigma.

Notable Quotable:

"Six Sigma is the most important initiative GE has ever undertaken." -Jack Welch CEO General Electric

Monday, May 25, 2009

Green, Yellow, Red, Blue project status?

Link to another post on green, yellow, red project status

Several weeks ago I was asked if I could attend a meeting with Program Managers where we would discuss what a Program Manager was in our organizations.

We all had a slight twist to how we defined a Program Manager and we had an excellent discussion about our individual tools and methodologies.

One item I found interesting was one group had status updates included the color blue (the normal is green, yellow and red). Blue meant the project needed to be resuscitate to get it back on track. Creative ideas like this helps to add a new twist to status updates.

Sometimes we need to move away from textbook Project Management methodologies and try something different that may (or may not) work for our organizations.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

PMI Madison Professional Development Day 2009

Recently I attended the Madison PMI Professional Development Day at the Monona Terrace. I attended many excellent talks but a few really hit home for me.

Kathryn Jeffers gave a talk on using candor in your projects. One of her examples included an unruly team member that would talk on his cell phone, work on his laptop and would not participate during team meetings.

The team members felt that this was disruptive so she spoke with the person (Mr. Unruly). She asked him if he wasn't going to be part of the project she would find a new team member. Mr. Unruly said that he couldn't leave, because his boss (the CEO) wanted him on the project to be his eyes and ears. So she went to the CEO to ask him to speak with Mr. Unruly about cleaning up his act.

Several weeks went by and several more team meetings and Mr. Unruly was still unruly (the CEO didn't have time to speak with him). Shortly after that Mr. Unruly tried his meeting tactics at a meeting involving several Executives. After that he was fired.....

Lesson
: don't be afraid to speak up if you see a problem.

Craig Plain gave a talk on process improvement within the Air Force. One of his examples was improving the time it took to change the oil on a military plane. Using their dated old methods they determine the team that changed the oil spent ~19hrs and walked 17,000 feet to complete the task. They were able to improve the process to under 4 hrs and ~3000 feet traveled.

Lesson
: even something as simple as an oil change can be done more efficiently.

The keynote speaker Gene Kranz (a retired NASA flight director and is best known for his role in directing the successful Mission Control team efforts to save the crew of Apollo 13) walked us through the Apollo 13 mission (which included dozens of photos from ground control during the mission).


During this mission he was given 2 options to get the astronauts home, fire the thrusters to turn the ship around before the moon (taking 1.5 days to get home) or sling shot around the moon (5 days to get home). Option 1 they didn't have enough fuel to do. And option 2 their batteries would run out if they didn't cut off one day from their timeline. So the engineers came up with a plan to cut off 1 day. After they sling shot the moon they would fire the thrusters for 5 minutes which would increase their speed by 1000ft/sec.

So the plan was a go. Fire the thrusters for 5 minutes and then off. Their calculations after this indicated that they would make up the time! But their splash down zone changed by several thousand miles. What happened? When they made the calculation they thought that 2 men would be in the rear of the craft and 1 in the front. That wasn't the case. All 3 were in the rear.

Lesson: from that point forward they would not make any more assumptions.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Make Linkedin Work for you!

Over the last few years Linkedin has been growing so I thought I would post my ideas on what I did to help my profile.

Make sure you have as much as you can within your profile filled out, such as:

1. Add a head shot
2. Summary (this can be your elevator speech)
3. Change your Public Profile link to something different
4. Add your Specialties (typically this is where the search engines look)
5. Under Experience you can list your jobs. At the very least always include a short statement of what the organization does and a bit on your accomplishments
6. Education
7. Join a few groups that interests you; you have 50 you can join (the more you join the more connections you will have)
8. Add any awards you have received
9. Add links to your blog or personal website
10. Get recommendations (if your references are on Linkedin contact them to ask them to write up a recommendation!)
11. You can also install different Widgets like what events you are attending, your travel schedule, books you are reading or even details on your recent blog posts, or install a widget to post the Word copy of your resume.
12. Add a keywords section to each of your jobs (this will help drive traffic to your profile).

Making Connections

1. Open up that contacts book or contacts in Outlook or Facebook and start to search to see if they are on Linkedin
2. If you go to networking events or meeting new clients and receive a business card, again, see if they are on Linkedin (also, in the invite write a personal message)
3. If you belong to smaller organizations review their member lists and see if they are on Linkedin
4. Do NOT post on group message boards that you are looking to make connections!

Driving traffic to your profile

1. Make sure you have all of the items listed in the first section above completed. This will help the search engines within Linkedin find you.
2. Search for yourself within linkedin using words you would think people may search on (select the town you are in currently to help narrow the search).  If you show up in the first couple of pages you should start to see more hits.  If not, it is time to add some more keywords to your profile.
3. If you visit message forums (on Linkedin or elsewhere) add a link to your Linkedin profile in your signature line
4. Add a link to your Linkedin profile to your email signature line
5. After you join some groups review some of their messages and if you find some interesting ones comment on it
6. Once you have some connections you can use the “What are you working on” section to help your connections know what you are up to or post a link to your latest blog post

Notable Quote:
Dan Schawbel
“In order to succeed in the new world of work you MUST become the commander of your career.”

Other useful links on this topic:
http://webworkerdaily.com/2007/06/15/20-ways-to-use-linkedin-productively/
http://blog.guykawasaki.com/2007/01/ten_ways_to_use.html
http://chris.pirillo.com/top-reasons-to-use-linkedin/
http://www.secretsofthejobhunt.com/video/how-to-use-linkedin-to-find
http://www.wordtracker.com/academy/guy-kawasaki-linkedin
http://www.katescoptur.com/katherine_scoptur/Blog/Entries/2009/2/23_My_Guide_to_LinkedIn,_Part_One.html

Monday, April 20, 2009

SDLC humor

Over the years I have worked on or with many software development projects. Some have been smooth and some seem like they never wanted to end. Recently I Googled SDLC (software development life cycle) and one of the top links was a funny video on YouTube:


After this I found Timothy Trimble's Blog post on the SDLC process where he lays out what he thinks are some of the inital client questions to ask:

* Is this a new application need or a migration from an old application?
* What are the target platforms? (Mac, Win, Web, etc.)
* Will it be single or multi-user?
* Does it require a server based application/database?
* Is it to be a local or enterprise wide application? (Local site or multiple sites.)
* How soon does the client need the application delivered?
* Do you realistically have the resources for providing the application in the desired time frame?
* Does the application need to interface with other systems? (AS/400, Unix, etc.)
* Is there legacy data that has to be migrated to the new application, and what format is it in?
* Is the client interested in being involved with the testing of the application?
* Is training needed?
* Is documentation needed?
* Does the client require on-site development?


As with all projects, gathering the requirements is the most important thing, because we use this information to help set the timeline, budget and scope. Add more requirements later on and it may effect the timeline, budget and scope of the project.

Quote from
Edward V. Berard:
"Walking on water and developing software from a specification are easy if both are frozen."

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Personal Branding…

Personal branding seems like it is the latest web phenomenon. As communication changes more are moving to personal branding because they realize that when applying for jobs, web content will give them the step up than just a simple cover letter and resume and it also can work as a networking tool.

My personal branding story started back in 1996 when I was in college looking for a summer internship. At that time I built a 1 page website on geocities (hey! it was free) with a head-shot, 4 paragraphs about me, a link to my resume, a link to my email address and a link to some photos. At the time I always included my web address on the top of my resume. I registered the site on Yahoo! and monitored the search on my name to make sure my site was always towards the top of the first page.

Now about a year ago, I went to the next step. I created a normal multiple page website, purchased ryanendres.com; started a blog on Project Management; joined Linkedin (I think I joined that about 5 yrs ago) and have come up with some creative ways to try to drive traffic to my blog (like add a link to it in my signature line on message forums).

Since I have created this I was found (by way of The Google) by a group setting up a talk on PMOs (Project Management Offices) and they asked me to come give a presentation on setting up a PMO that makes sense for your organization.

My next step was to add some press articles that I have been featured in. My first one came out this past month (I was selected for Madison's WI top 40 under the age of 40 for 2009 by InBusiness magazine).

The days of the paper resume are numbered....

Tips on How to create your own personal brand:

1. Create a Linkedin account (and join other social networking sites; twitter, facebook…); and then build your network of “friends”.
2. Create a webpage about yourself
3. Create a blog. This is the most important one. If you keep your blog to 1 topic you will show the world that you are passionate about what you do! Also, by adding more info to it you will increase your chance to be seen. Companies like alice.com are jumping on the company blogging idea too. Alice.com has 1 full time person dedicated to the social media aspect of their website.
4. Read and comment on other blogs and message forums and have a signature line to promote yourself.
5. Set up an alert on your name (assuming your name is not a common one) so you know when something about you has been added to the web: http://www.google.com/alerts
6. Use your status updates in facebook, twitter, linkedin to let your followers know you have a new blog post (shorten the link with: http://tr.im), or that you are keeping your eyes open for new opportunities (... is looking for new opportunities at a PMO in Madison).

Notable Quote:

Dan Schwabel

“Life is one big pitch, so you better start practicing.”



Links:
http://personalbrandingblog.com/you-dont-need-to-be-an-expert-to-build-your-personal-brand/

http://www.brazencareerist.com/career-blogging/Career_Blogging_Ryan_Healy_Brazen_Careerist.pdf

Great new book on Personal Branding:
http://www.amazon.com/Me-2-0-Powerful-Achieve-Success/dp/1427798206

http://everything.typepad.com/blog/2009/03/how-a-blog-can-help-your-job-search.html

http://mashable.com/2009/02/05/personal-branding-101/

http://www.collectiblescornertv.com/7-ways-to-convince-people-youre-an-expert-even-your-mother-should-know/


http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/28/your-money/28shortcuts.html?_r=3&ref=business


http://www.jer979.com/igniting-the-revolution/brandintro/

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Lesson Learned Questions

Question. When do you complete lessons learned during your project? At the end right? Well, yes that is part of it, but there may be some other logical time points to consider too.


If your project is set up with phases, it may be a good idea to have a lessons learned meeting at the end of each phase (why wait until the end of a 3 year project, when there are some valuable lessons at the end of phase 1). Also, if there is a major event that occurs (good or bad) it is important to get the info out so other PMs know that it may affect them.


So what questions do you ask at a lessons learned meeting? There are some classic ones that I will cover below, but there are always some questions that are project or organization specific.

Questions:


  1. How was the communication of project details? Any suggestions for improvement? (remember 90% of being a PM is communication! If communication is lacking in your projects you need to fix it).
  2. What issues occurred and how did we fix them? (if you keep an issues table for the life of your project this will be easy to review at the meeting)
  3. Recommendations for future projects like this one.
  4. Input from the team on the Project Management process.
  5. Did we have enough resources? Remember we planned that timeline at the beginning and resource managers signed off on the project...
  6. What workarounds did you use? Did they work? This is important to document, since you may need to use this workaround on a future project.
  7. What went well? We want to document this so we make sure we do this again, or review it to do it even better next time!
  8. Did the scope change during this period, if so why? Remember if you change the scope it may affect other things (like time, budget, resources)

If you have issues with team members opening up I suggest creating a survey (see my post on lesson learned surveys).


Finally, you need a common location for your lessons learned findings. In my organization, we send the lessons learned document around for review to the Executives and the PMs. And then these are stored in a common location for future review. Without lessons learned your PMO or PM process will never have a chance to improve.


Notable quotable from the movie Animal House (from the blog: uncoachable.com):

Bluto: Over? Did you say “over”? Nothing is over until we decide it is! Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell no!
Otter: Germans?
Boon: Forget it, he’s rolling.
Bluto: And it ain’t over now. ‘Cause when the goin’ gets tough…
[thinks hard]
Bluto: the tough get goin’! Who’s with me? Let’s go!
[runs out, alone; then returns]
Bluto: What the **** happened to the Delta I used to know? Where’s the spirit? Where’s the guts, huh? This could be the greatest night of our lives, but you’re gonna let it be the worst. “Ooh, we’re afraid to go with you Bluto, we might get in trouble.” Well just kiss my ass from now on! Not me! I’m not gonna take this. Wormer, he’s a dead man! Marmalard, dead! Niedermeyer…
Otter: Dead! Bluto’s right. Psychotic, but absolutely right. We gotta take these bastards. Now we could do it with conventional weapons that could take years and cost millions of lives. No, I think we have to go all out. I think that this situation absolutely requires a really futile and stupid gesture be done on somebody’s part.
Bluto: We’re just the guys to do it.
D-Day: Let’s do it.
Bluto: *Let’s do it*!

Lesson Learned: Don’t ever give up

Friday, February 13, 2009

Awareness of Cultural Differences


Several years ago I traveled to Nagoya Japan for a start-up meeting. I was fortunate on this trip because 2 other co-workers were also allowed to attend.


Prior to my travels I consulted my co-workers, who have traveled to Japan before, about any cultural differences I should be aware of so I didn’t offend our clients with my “American Ways”.


  1. When you receive a business card, hold onto it with 2 hands and really inspect it.
  2. Prior to the gathering exchange gifts (with your counterpart), but do not do it in front of everyone.
  3. If giving a presentation do not have jokes, because they may not translate well.
  4. At the end of your presentation, typically they will not have any questions, but they will confront you later on, one on one (so make sure you offer one on one time).
  5. Talk with them about their country's history and if you have some free time ask them for suggestions on historic places to visit.


"I note the obvious differences between each sort and type, but we are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike."
~Maya Angelou


Osu Kannon Temple, Nagoya, Japan


Thursday, January 29, 2009

Project Management Manual…

I have received several emails requests about my PMO talk that I gave in November. You can find a pdf here of the presentation. I’ll write about page #15 below:


As your organization grows and learns to accept that projects need to be structured you need to make sure your staff understands what that structure is when they are running their projects.

Many organizations that reach this level have 2 types of projects. Small ones and big ones. What is small and what is big? It depends on your organization. You may choose a dollar amount to define them, or a project ranking system or some other means that fits your organization.


So what is in this manual?


The manual should detail the steps of the project from the beginning (like a method to review and accept new projects, so it stops the projects coming in the back door) to the end (how about a standard project close-out check list) and the forms and templates the PM must use to run the project. These forms and templates typically are specific to your organization.


Why standardize this process? Well, it will allow your PMs and team members to see one consistent way of managing projects. Also, your staff will spend less time fighting fires and it will limit things from slipping through the cracks.


Once you have this in place you can move on to the next phase which is auditing your PMs to make sure they are using your predefined methodology.


Notable Quotable:

“Successful firms have mastered the art of melding the power of human will and organization. But the key to their vitality is their world class capabilities in selecting, guiding, and completing development projects, which are the building blocks of renewal and change. The companies that can repeat this process again and again have discovered the manufacturer’s perpetual motion machine”


Bowen, H. Kent, Clark, Kim B., Holloway, Charles A., Wheelwright, Steven C., The Perpetual Enterprise Machine, page 14 Oxford University Press, Inc. New York, NY., 1994.