With a record 61,848 new cases today our daily new cases in the US have basically tripled since opening up about a month ago. Not heading in the right direction.
Racism in Project Management. Is it an issue?
No one could have predicted what we've experienced as a nation in the US and around the world for the first half of 2020. And now racism is becoming a huge issue. Should it? Is it an issue in business? Is it an issue in Project Management? What are your thoughts?
Stay tuned for my upcoming article...
Something happened to my family a couple of years ago that made me think of this topic. It had nothing to do with project management…but it had everything to do with something that was far more important to me – my son. I was in the emergency room with my two year old son and the physician sent us home with a prescription for a lethal dosage of his medicine. Our pharmacist caught it and I would have caught it because I had been giving him this prescription all along…but what if another family member gave the dosage? What if a nurse in the ER had given the medication to him before we went home that night? I had a very serious phone discussion with the doctor who made the error about an hour after we got home. I think she nearly cried…which means I fell a little short of my goal.
Quality Work is Always Important
Things don’t often get this serious in the project management world, but quality work is definitely always important. When has quality been a huge issue on one of your projects and what have you done or what did you do to rectify the situation so similar issues can be avoided in the future?
For me, the first one that comes to mind is a project from about five years ago where my business analyst was producing the FDD (functional design document) deliverable on a technical solution and the document contained several punctuation and grammatical errors as well as formatting errors due to the PDF creator program he was using. He was overloaded on multiple projects and quality was not emphasized enough. Unfortunately, it went to the customer three times with errors like this before I implemented the proper corrective action. The result for us – and a common result in situations like this – was a decreased confidence and satisfaction level from the customer because they started to question every deliverable and every piece of work we produced from that point forward.
Keeping Customer Satisfaction High
My corrective measure was to start peer reviewing just about everything we produced on that project and future projects…because oversights like that can happen to anyone. With peer reviews like that, some extra time has to be built into the schedule, but the payback in eliminating rework while keeping customer satisfaction high is huge, if not priceless.
In the project management world quality won’t be a life and death issue very often, though projects involving the building of cars and airplanes and related parts would probably fall into that category. The key is to identify the quality needs and concerns at the beginning of the project and plan for proper quality reviews and oversight in the project schedule.
Involving a QA specialist in the project at key check points may be necessary. That individual – or the QA department in your organization may even need to perform quality audits – if necessary – to ensure that the solution is complying with requirements and to instill confidence in the customer that the delivery team is providing them with a quality product.
This is very common on larger projects and programs – especially on government projects.
How About You?
Do you have instances that you can share where you learned quality lessons and incorporated corrective measures or checks and balances so quality stays at the forefront?
Raise your hand if you were watching that hilarious moment on the TV show "Friends" when Phoebe talks about how much she likes that song that Elton John sings about the guy on the TV show "How's the Boss." They look at her very oddly and she says sings, "Hold me close young Tony Danza." One of the best moments ever from that show. Yes, Phoebe's character was often a bit strange and misguided. But it highlights the issue of good listening and accurate communication.
Of course the song is really called "Tiny Dancer" and it was a hit for Elton John in the early 1970's. But let's think if this in terms of requirements. What if someone specifically asked him to write a song about a Tiny Dancer, but heard "Tony Danza" because of poor listening and/or communication? What if he then went on to record that song about Tony Danza? It's not likely to have been the hit that Tiny Dancer was. In fact, Elton's career may have ended there rather than go on to sell millions of albums.
I’ve been part of organizations that allowed project managers to use whatever tools necessary to manage their projects. While that may work for a while, the problems it can cause as a roadblock to collaboration and shared project experiences and knowledge far outweigh the bit of good it may provide in cost savings and flexibility. A solid PM organization builds its reputation on repeatable practices and the use of templates. Project schedule shells and planning document layouts that can be utilized as a starting point on all projects by every project manager in the organization provide a sound basis for the types of project management successes that can be repeated on project after project.
Need a great project start? That's where Mindmapping leader MindGenius comes in. MindGenius 20 offers project templates for nearly every thing you can imagine in project management. Check out their template offerings and use the link for each to download...
Project Management Body of Knowledge
Project Management Planning
Project Integration Management
New Project Proposal
Project Initiation Instruction
Project Kick-Off Meeting
Project Scope Management
Project Scope Statement
Work Breakdown Structure
Project Schedule Management
Project Cost Management
Project Resource Management
Project Risk Checklist
Project Risk Red Flag Management
Project Change Request
Project Monitoring and Control
Project Quality Management
Project Stakeholder Management
Project Stakeholder Communication
Project Sprint Retrospective Meeting
Project Close Out
Status – Basic
Do your project meetings start with questions like this: "So what are you working on right now?" "What was it I should be doing next because I'm almost done with my current task?" "How soon before 'x' happens?" It doesn't have to be this way, but unfortunately many projects and programs have meetings that start with this confusion or lack of on the same paged-ness. There is another way... Kanban.
Kanban is a visual method for managing and processing work. Kanban is all about visualizing your work, limiting work in progress, and maximizing efficiency (or flow). Kanban teams focus on reducing the time it takes to take a project (or user story) from start to finish.
The kanban framework originated in a Toyota factory and was made popular by agile software development teams thanks to its flexibility and ability to allow teams to work faster and more efficiently.
The core principles of kanban are applicable to almost any industry, so it makes sense that the methodology is gaining popularity among all types of agile teams like marketing, sales, recruiting and even operations.
Kanban is a workflow management method designed to help you visualize your work, maximize efficiency and be agile. From Japanese, kanban is literally translated as billboard or signboard. Originating from manufacturing, it later became a territory claimed by agile software development teams. Recently, it started getting recognized by business units across various areas.
As more and more people hear about Kanban, there often are misinterpretations. So what is Kanban? Here are the most important things you need to know about it from its creation till today.
What Is Kanban? Brief Introduction...
Initially, it arose a scheduling system for lean manufacturing, originating from the Toyota Production System (TPS). In the late 1940s, Toyota introduced “just in time” manufacturing to their production. The approach represents a pull system. This means that production is based on customer demand, rather than the standard push practice to produce amounts of goods and pushing them to the market.
Their unique production system laid the foundation of Lean manufacturing or simply Lean. Its core purpose is minimizing waste activities without sacrificing productivity. The main goal is to create more value for the customer without generating more costs.
The Kanban Method
At the beginning of the 21st Century, key players within the software industry quickly realized how Kanban could be used to positively change the ways in which products and services were delivered.
With an increased focus on efficiency, and by harnessing advances in computing technology, Kanban left the realm of the automotive industry and was successfully applied to other complex commercial sectors such as IT, software development, marketing and so on.
Indeed, what we now recognize as the Kanban Method with all core elements emerged at the beginning of 2007.
The simplest Kanban board may start with three columns – “Requested”, “In Progress” and “Done”. When constructed, managed and functioning properly, it serves as a real-time information repository, highlighting bottlenecks within the system and anything else which might get in the way of smooth working practices.
But how does the Kanban methodology work?
The 4 Core Principles of Kanban
David J. Anderson (a pioneer in the field of Lean/ Kanban for knowledge work) has formulated the Kanban method as an approach to incremental, evolutionary process and systems change for knowledge work organizations. It is focused on getting things done and the most important principles can be broken down into four basic principles and six practices.
Principle 1: Start With What You Do Now
Kanban’s flexibility allows it to be overlaid on existing workflows, systems and processes without disrupting what is already successfully being done; it will, naturally, highlight issues that need to be addressed and help to assess and plan changes so their implementation is as non-disruptive as possible.
Kanban’s versatility allows it to be introduced incrementally, and sympathetically, to all types of organization without fear of over-commitment or ‘culture shock’. This makes Kanban easy to implement in any type of organization as there is no need for you to make sweeping changes right from the start.
Principle 2: Agree to Pursue Incremental, Evolutionary Change
The Kanban methodology is designed to meet minimal resistance and thus encourages continuous small incremental and evolutionary changes to the current process. In general, sweeping changes are discouraged because they usually encounter resistance due to fear or uncertainty.
Principle 3: Respect the Current Process, Roles & Responsibilities
Kanban recognizes that existing processes, roles, responsibilities, and titles have value and are, generally, worth preserving. The Kanban method does not prohibit change, but neither does it prescribe it as a ‘universal panacea’. It is designed to promote and encourage incremental, logical, changes without triggering a fear of change itself.
Principle 4: Encourage Acts of Leadership at All Levels
This is the newest Kanban principle. It reminds you that some of the best leadership comes from everyday acts of people on the front line of their teams. It is important that everyone fosters a mindset of continuous improvement (Kaizen) in order to reach optimal performance on a team/department/company level. This can’t be a management level activity.
Note: Much of this info came from the Kanbanize site and the Trello blog. Thanks!
I've decided we need to have a 101 type series published somewhere and here on my site and blog seems like a good place. Some of the info I will write or interpret and repurpose here and some I will use from another location here as a go to area to just get info on these strange terms and concepts that have to do with project management, technical projects, teams and product updates, processes and rollouts as well as software development practices on those projects and products.
Areas we will explore will include Kanban, Scrum, Agile, Waterfall, Best Practices, Gantt Charts, Requirements, PMP Certification, Risk Management, Task Management, Budget Management on Projects and Resource Management among others. Please let me know if you have other areas to suggest for coverage here or software and services that really work well for teams in these areas. Coming soon..... right here... stay tuned.
Whether you like it or not, the answer is undoubtedly YES. Have you looked in your cyber mirror lately? We see reports and information about cybersecurity and cybercrime in the news and on social media repeatedly, but are we doing anything about it back home?
We should, but we don’t always do it and even when we do we probably don’t spend as much time on risk planning as we should. I should know! I speak from 20+ years of experience leading IT projects and initiatives, and while I’ve thankfully been pretty successful and learned lessons along the way, I’m no angel.
It's happening all around us...
There have been quite a few incidents of data breaches, large-scale credit card info thefts from big box change stores and even breaches in government databases over the past few months. These have all received great press, but that doesn’t mean they go away.
In fact, I think that it just makes it that much more likely – given the publicity – for these same hackers and other hackers to go the extra distance to find new targets and industries to hack. Sometimes it is done for ransom or to prove a point, and sometimes it is just done for the hacker’s curiosity and enjoyment.
I fully believe that we need to make cybersecurity a major presence on all projects. It needs to be a consideration going forward on all tech projects and on the larger ones a CSO or lead security person should be assigned to each project. Project security will become a full-fledged presence in all high visibility large scale projects and any projects with any degree of data sensitivity...which will include most tech projects judging from the experiences I've had in my work history.
If we don't plan to avoid or react we will be sorry. Cyber crime is real and your project doesn't even need to be handling sensitive data to be at risk. It could be customer contact information that gets stolen. Anything – any security breach on the project – could stand in the way of customer confidence and customer satisfaction. Planning is our best tool – we must be doing it.
The project is going down the tubes...what do you do?
There are definitely steps you can take to improve performance on an existing project – things you can do tomorrow that may help right the tipping ship. But if you have tried a few or have determined the problem is the leadership, then changing out the project manager – and possible one or two other key positions on the project team depending on how bad the performance really is – may be your only option.
Only take this approach if it is absolutely necessary but if the project client is asking for the change you really have no other choice. The PM has to go. Remember, changes at top of a project... the leadership of the project... can cause major disruptions and can significantly impact customer satisfaction and confidence. But, if you are at the point of considering or needing to replace the project manager or especially if the customer is requesting this change, then that ship has already sailed and now you're just trying to salvage the project before it gets canceled and a lot of money gets left on the table, right? Not much to lose but possibly everything to gain if you do it right and do it efficiently.
From configurable lists to document management, search, and automated workflows, SharePoint is a one-stop tool for your projects.
If you decide to use SharePoint for project management, you’ll need to configure your site – or ask your IT team to do so.
Both options are time-consuming!
Using the five-step approach in this guide, you can quickly start managing projects on SharePoint 2019/2016/2013.
The guide includes a free SharePoint project management template. The template is free forever and can be used to manage as many projects as you like!
Read the guide to learn how to: