Posted by: kerrywills | July 3, 2015

Picking weeds

Well it’s the summer again and that means landscaping fun. I spend lots of time on my yard and therefore it does not have any big weeds in it. But many of my neighbors do have them and so I thought about why this was the case. Those who know me know that I am pretty obsessive-compulsive and it is the same with picking weeds from my landscaping which I do weekly and whenever I am outside with the kids. I realized that this is very similar to how projects get out of control.

If you are diligent and are constantly picking weeds when you see them, then they never grow to be big weeds. It is the same thing on projects as risks and issues arise – if you stay diligent on recognizing them and closing them, then they don’t turn into big problems. If you just let them grow on their own, they will continue to grow and even multiply.

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Picking weeds, in the context of managing projects, means doing the following items…

  • Know to look for them – if you don’t think to look for risks and issues (weeds) then they will creep up on you so you must always be looking for them
  • Know how to address them – figure out how to eliminate them (chemicals or pick them by hand)
  • Figure out how to prevent them – even better than addressing them is to avoid them (e.g. weed fabric)

So my advice to my PM brethren is to get on your hands and knees and start weeding your projects!

Posted by: kerrywills | June 27, 2015

Camping project

Last weekend the kids and I went camping which was a project of itself. Like any project we had to do the right amount of planning which for us included…

  • Making sure we had the tent ready
  • Packing equipment such as sleeping bags, bug spray, lights, and fans for the tent
  • Having food for the weekend for all of us
  • Directions to the campsite

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And like any project we needed to do risk planning just in case something unexpected happened which it did. In this case that meant thunderstorms at midnight which luckily my mitigation of having a rainproof tent worked. But, all in all, our project turned out great and the kids got some good experiences and memories.

Posted by: kerrywills | June 19, 2015

So…what’s the recommendation?

Work can be at times…..well….work. It can be overwhelming to kepe up with work and then there are all of the people and their personalities. As a result, many co-workers will complain about the process, the people, the vision, the structure, the culture or anything else that comes to mind. Everyone seems to know what is wrong but yet I very rarely hear recommendations.

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When I see problems I tend to describe them in a PowerPoint (because I ‘think’ in Microsoft applications) and draw some pictures to explain the problem with the implications. But, hold on, I don’t just stop there. I document a set of recommendations which could be used to mitigate the problems or improve the situation. Then I schedule some time with stakeholders who have opinions or care about the matter to validate my context and recommendations and finally bring it to someone who should care about fixing the problem.

Now that I am in the ‘management’ part of my career I completely understand how managers get frustrated when people just bring them problems without recommendations. That is the difference between complaining about work or trying to improve it. Ok enough complaining about complaining.

Posted by: kerrywills | June 12, 2015

The Triple Crown

This week American Pharaoh won the triple crown of horse racing for the first time in 37 years. This means that the horse won all three of the big races. In Project Management, the Triple Crown is managing Scope, Schedule and Budget so that they all meet the project commitments. In this respect, we are the horses that senior management is betting on to win these races. And it is not enough to win one or two of them; we need all three to be successful.

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To be successful at all three elements of the triple crown we need the right people, level of diligence and transparency in our projects so that we can measure our progress against the goals. Therefore our pace setters become very important to see if we are tracking against the right pace to finish the race on time.

So get on your colorful jockey uniforms and get ready to race!

 

 

Posted by: kerrywills | June 5, 2015

A simple approach for managing programs

I find that on many large programs, a tremendous amount of time is spent on compiling status reports. The “activity” on the program is about creating the status. I adamantly believe that the primary “activity” should be managing the program and then the output of that activity is the status.  The flow below represents what I believe to be the approach for properly managing a program.

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The approach starts with determining the sources of program content (milestones, scope, financials) and then ensuring that the owners of that content knows where it is and is updating it regularly. For example, if milestones and progress should be managed in a standard plan tool then that is what should be expected of the PMs. Sounds basic but I am consistently underwhelmed by the ability to do this (see prior post).

Then the program office should be aggregating this content from the authoritative sources and proving several views. To continue with the plan example, this could be sorting the plan by release date, business function, milestones, etc.

Next the program office should generate insight into progress and early indicators based on the aggregation. This could include generating status reports, milestone updates or RAID logs. This is why step 1 and maintaining content is so important in that this structure will be useless unless the information is relevant and current.

Lastly, now that the program information is aggregated and transparent it can be used to identify and manage any risks or issues. The more diligent this process is, the earlier risks are identified and therefore the higher the chances of being to take course-correcting action.

 

 

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