Changepoint and PPM

Last week I completed Compuware Changepoint training. I had read earlier that Changepoint is in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant (leaders) for PPM tools.

Changepoint is a web based tool for project and portfolio management.  The tool enables leadership make right decisions based on dynamic metrics of various initiatives and what value these initiatives add; and realignment of IT efforts with business strategy and vision.  Tool is very intuitive and scalable. 

In Project and Portfolio management, complexity is the key factor that makes changes difficult and time consuming. Just imagine multiple projects going on in  your organization with resources scattered around the teams (or Globe) and you are tracking the progress and reporting the metrics to the upper management.  Management wants to see  report on  status of all the projects underway, return on investment for each project, supply and demand, resource utilization, change management, issues and risks to the projects, etc. to make informed decision on project priorities, strategic planning and funding.

Changepoint makes all the aspect of program management easier by effectively managing your projects and applications, resources and client relationships.  You can find out more at Compuware website.

Disclaimer – I am a Compuware employee and opinions expressed here are my own.

3-Rs for Leaders

  1. Read more
  2. Reflect more
  3. Risk more

Leaders ought to read a lot to stay ahead.  Each day is blessed with new discoveries and useful information.  Using the 80/20 rule, find out what is out there that you need to know.  Co-relate how changes in the world going to shape your world. Read more = Plan

Leaders take tough decisions all the time, they are the face of the organization.  Leaders chalk out the course of action in the midst of challenges.  Reflecting on the decesions taken and the one you are about to take is going to determine if you are an authentic leader – who knows where his True North is.  Reflect more = Check

Taking new risks, coming up with new ideas and having the drive to materialize them, thinking out of the box, leading organization into a totally new direction are the key qualities leader has.  Listen more and observe more.  Taking calculated and smart risk is also creativity. Risk more= Do and Act.

These 3 Rs fit into Deming’s Plan > Do > Check > Act; a continous improvement loop.  Thanks for reading and have a wonderful day.

Project Management – Useful Links

We learn a lot from the Internet these days and rely on up-to-date information.  Personally, I’ve learned a lot from my fellow bloggers and other websites on Project Management to stay ahead of the curve. 

There are many other on-line resources but  I would like to share following list of blogs/websites that I frequently visit and would like to thank for their time and energy for sharing knowledge and doing the great service to on-line community.  Thank you and keep up the good job!

  1. http://www.betterprojects.net
  2. http://www.pmhut.com
  3.  http://www.thepmpodcast.com  
  4. http://herdingcats.typepad.com
  5. http://www.ravensbrain.com
  6. http://pmcrunch.com
  7. http://www.allpm.com
  8. http://www.amakar.com
  9.  http://leadinganswers.typepad.com

I hope you will also bookmark these sites and learn about the profession. 

Thanks for visiting and have a great day!

Capture Planning Assumptions

Your boss approaches you and tells that workplan is very good but customer wants to know how can we deliver the project sooner than promised?  Now you have to come up with a new workplan or make some adjustments based on new findings.  You put your thoughts together and go on to make changes/update and deliver the final document with required changes. 

And then your boss asks, why this task is due this particular day and why are we taking this long to complete, etc., etc…

You might have answers for most of the questions your boss has asked but it is of prime importance that you document all the assumptions you made while planning, does not matter how small or evident those assumptions are.

I would capture following –

  • why are you making these changes or what is the objective and if these objectives are aligned with customer expectations;
  • what are high-level or global assumptions for the plan being put in place (standardized assumptions);
  • why making change to time/scope/cost;
  • what are risks that can derail the work;
  • what are the opportunities that you are counting on;
  • who are the critical resources you have based your work on;
  • what exceptions from standard process did you make;
  • what compromises are built into the plan;
  • what is the impact on existing process (if any);
  • for budget tail of it : dollars spent per month; and
  • what are the key milestones.

I hope these are the basic questions that we should be able to answer from a Project Management perspective when talking about assumptions.  Let me know what your thoughts are and what else could be added to the list?

Thanks for reading it, appreaciate your feedback.

Choosing Team Lead

“People acting together as a group can accomplish things that no individual acting alone could ever hope  to bring about.” – FD Roosevelt

Each team members has unique work style, personal goals, skills, background and experience.  Each team member’s unique qualities and different attributes make a team complex unit where conflict, confusion, criticism will grow and finally bring the project to failure  if team is not led the proper way. 

In many I.T. projects,  Project Manager (PM) has a team leader who assists him or her in coordination of work, driving the team effort, listening and resolving team issues, guiding in making the appropriate tactical decisions, and above all providing expert advice on subject matter, among others.  Synergy and cooperation among team members are the key things for success of the project and for that,  a good team lead should be in place.  If you got a weak team leader, team will not perform and you will be spending all of energy in team issue management.  As a PM, you need to understand that your team leader should –

  1. understand the whole project along with project objectives and goals;
  2. be expert of the overall process who can guide team members;
  3. be able to handle pressure and conflict situations;
  4. understands the team dynamics and works to promote productive working conditions;
  5.  be a good team player and can get status of work from team members;
  6. be capable of resolving minor issues without your involvement;
  7. be able to negotiate and communicate with technical as well non-technical people involved;
  8. be proactive with qualities of a mentor and a coach and
  9. able to provide realistic and accurate feedback on time.

Hope this helps in making you decide whom to choose to lead your team.  Let me know what else can be added to the list.  Thanks for reading and have a good day.

Life is bigger than that!

2008 is nearing the completion of business work days and it was one of the eventful year.  We have seen all from US election to Canadian elections, Wall-street meltdown to Automotive bailout, Saturday Night Live comedy to economic worries.  All the stuff, never thought of. 

But when it comes to our professional life, one needs to make sure there are no unexpected surprises.  I have mentored and provided guidance to few people over the year and have also asked for advice from my peers.  Some people either make small issues into big problems or do not even have clue what is wrong.  Here are some of the points to consider-

  1. Get feedback from your boss; have 1 on 1 regularly (weekly or monthly) to align objectives.
  2. Grow your professional network by volunteering at work, in community or join any organization.
  3. Understand that everyone is different; workplaces are diverse.
  4. Totally messed up? If you are honest, you’ll get another chance.   Life is bigger than that!
  5. Do not just focus on getting credit of everything you do or say.  Give credit where deserved.
  6. Be careful about sarcastic sense of humor.  It may be wise to stay quiet.
  7. If you do extraordinary job you get promotion as a result. Its not the other way.
  8. Help others grow and learn.  Don’t be afraid that someone will steal your idea.
  9. Take vacation or take time out.  Its must to revitalize your energies and focus.
  10. Try to listen.  Pay attention to your superiors and peers.
  11. Dress according to your job profile, at least.
  12. Do not make ‘difference of opinions’ at work your personal issue.

I firmly believe if we are serious to improve ourselves, we can start afresh anytime.  Its never too late and Life is bigger than that! 

Thanks for reading and let me know what you think.

Communication Skills for Managers – Learning From Barak Obama

I was looking into posts on Mr. Barak Obama’s communication style and how it contributed towards Obama’s victory.  Did Obama address people in all 4 categories of DiSC Model?  These categories are Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Conscientiousness

Each person in his/her category wants to hear in a specific manner.  Some people need direct answer while others need some encouragement and hope and so on.  Please see the table at the end of the post and read more about DiSC Model

While doing so, I found very interesting Wall Street Journal video on the topic titled  “Learning From Obama’s Effective Communication Skills“.
 

To summarize, what project manager can do –

  1. giving good positive message
  2. clear and compelling tone
  3. giving substance along with style
  4. speaking with confidence and authority
  5. not in hurry to speak- patience
  6. pause between sentences: at least 3-4 seconds
  7. stress the right words
  8. relate to people and places
  9. make it simple to comprehend
  10. identify what is not right with other approach

Here is the table what people mainly like to hear/communicate around- 

Major Category

Like to hear words and actions around

Dominance

challenge, power, direct answer, authority, assertive, active

Influence

empathetic, people focused, receptiveness, accepting

Steadiness

stability, methodical, calm response, careful approach, thoughtful

Conscientiousness

logic focused, skeptical, clarity and quality, questioning

What are your findings?  What did you learn? Lets share.

Thanks for reading and have a wonderful day.