October 7, 2018

Project and Program Management Insights that matter

I facilitate PMO breakfast meeting of PMI Silicon Valley chapter where a small group of PMO leaders get together to share their insights and success stories, and get advice for potential challenges. Below is extracts of our last conversation on September 12, 2018.

Please note that all relevant comments will be posted. We can only grow by each other’s help. I extend my invitation to share your expert knowledge within our community. I will then link your name (on comment) to you LinkedIn profile as appreciation – if you want so.

Meeting Notes:

  • How to manage International Projects with distributed teams:
    One of our attendees has experience managing projects with distributed team members (in Grenoble, Singapore and California). Due to the time-zone difference, each team used to do their tasks and pass to the next team. Tasks then distributed to the last team to deliver their committed milestone. The team was working round-the-clock for about a month and the milestone accomplished milestone. Hands-off to other teams done using available technologies (email, teleconferences, shared folders, etc.) Collaboration was mainly engineer-to-engineer. Performance was based on work-packages.

    As per International projects, other important considerations are the settings where teams are performing, their laws and regulation, tools and techniques, information / communication channels, and information containment that will affect the success of Centers of Excellence (AKA PMO)!

  • How people deal with dependencies:
    Recalling the materials of Managing International Projects course, many matters become dependencies, including regulatory laws (Export/Import, tariffs, Intellectual Property laws, etc.), communication barriers, time differences, cultural diversities, and so forth. Managing any International project or program involves numerous dependencies, each require specific resolution, mitigation, (risk) transfer, and more!At time this would be like dependencies from hell! (As an example, one was talking about a project when two-weeks before the release, government changed almost everything regulatory, causing disorders in release!)

    There are dependencies where PMOs (or a Center of Excellence) can have influential authority, such as requests delegations, approval (signature) procedure, reporting pyramid, etc. Having an in-country experts (as in-house or sub-contractors) is another way of settling dependencies. Local experts are particularly important in synchronizing actions among various in-bound entities that would help time, language, cultural disparities.

    Time and sensitive functional dependencies; especially when dealing with modular (hardware-software) product development, require higher degree of coordination to reduce task-delivery delays. Utilizing available coordination and team-based technologies helps resolving dependencies as well.

    Conflicting dependencies may result from hidden and / or incorrect assumptions (or agendas), both from the management as well as business needs (resource, objectives, etc.) These may be due to management style / variance, and organizational directions when the top-down resolution becomes the best remedy. Another conflict may arise due to technical or scientific differences that would be easier to be resolved by engineering team, especially if the team is collocated.

  • How to manage real time project status:
    Projects and programs status can be viewed using various tools, dashboards, and technologies like Jira, Confluence, Smartsheet, Trello, Sharepoint, Wiki, MS-Teams & Planners, etc. However, we shall know the capabilities and limitations of each tools used. At times, senior leaders may even create a summary if their dashboards for ease of communications. Frequency of delivery of reports on high level milestone, tasks (and their stages), dependencies, issues, and fixes can be achieved via several means. These are all based on the maturity of organization, tools used, communication channels, etc. Senior PMO leaders might have to anticipate status-reporting of various concurrent projects. The reports are usually in consolidated form for upper management use in timely manner; even if projects are being handled by other owners (Scrum, or any Agile variation).
Please share your remarks, or post your questions. Engage with our PPM community.
I would like to invite you to engage with us at our next meeting. Please check out PMI Silicon Valley chapter events for more information.
I also invite you to contact and post your topic of interest at www.SVProjectManagement.com.
September 10, 2018

Project-Program Management (PPM) Insights that matter

Below is highlights of a few topics conversed by a group of senior technical and professional PPM leaders gathered together at September meeting of PMI-Silicon Valley chapter.

Meeting Notes:

  • What are new trends and tools in program management:
    There are various (new) trends and tools on how we manage our projects; like using various techniques of Scrum daily stand-ups and retrospectives, creating a hybrid method of team management, etc. We do not want to use strict methods to follow a given framework (like Scrum)! There are many changes in work places and we ought to adapt to working in a cross functional team! Communication becomes important as in any-size team most changes require adaption (and diversion from set PM methods). Larger organizations use more structured approach, though. Project management requires organizational and leadership skills. Let us not forget that in many cases hybrid of different frameworks and methods may work better for a given professional environment. In general a PM’s job is to make sure “the job is done” regardless of what method or approach we use. At this juncture, an experienced PM would look at all possibilities that help the team to accomplish tasks in-hand effectively. Various tools are being constantly created or enhanced to help PMs to work smarter so their team and organization stay atop of their competitions. As an important skill of any PM, we emphasize on communication skills, especially with respect to multi-cultural / multi-lingual communication. Adding challenges of remote team / virtual teams affect interaction among our team members and milestone we create.

    What do you think about new trends and tools helping Program Managers?
    Please comment and engage in our conversation.

  • How to maintain Three-Letter Acronyms (TLA) related to PM topics?
    Even though we have used quite a few acronyms in the first 15-minutes of our today meeting, when looking for definition of any given acronyms list (on the Net), we sometimes get competing definition for a given 3-letter acronym! Even sometimes a given acronym may have different meaning to several people! Making it more complex is how the real meaning of a specific acronym may change when translated from English to another language! There are many examples like Infra; meaning “below” or “further on” in English, it means Infrastructure in IT world, infrared, supra vs. infra, etc.

    Would you add your comments on how to keep an active list of TLA?
    Please comment and engage in our conversation.

  • What are hot area in management, and leadership?
    What we see these days for instance on job descriptions is “soft skills” and “communications” because in many cased team works stumble because members cannot communicate and the PM or leadership cannot get them all rolling on the planned direction! Even though some technical members (i.e. engineers) hesitate when they hear words like teams, stay on track, project manager, Agile, etc.

    Please comment and engage in our conversation regarding hot area in management and leadership.

  • Regarding strategies for Project-Program Managers in transition, we are referred to attend Job Seekers’ Breakfast Meeting of PMI Silicon Valley chapter.
  • I also invite you to attend our next dynamic discussions regarding PMO challenges and best practices.

Please add your remarks, or post your questions and engage with our PPM community. I also would like to invite you to engage with us at our next meeting. Please check out PMI Silicon Valley chapter events for more information. You may also contact www.SVProjectManagement.com team to post your topic of interest.

September 22, 2016

PMI-way of maneuvering challenges of complex projects!

Category: Agile, Management, PMO, Program Management, Project Management — David @ 6:35 pm

We are getting close to 2016 Symposium of PMI in Silicon Valley. A closer look at the speakers and topics (available at PMISV website) portrays real benefits of attending the Symposium. Online search of professional gatherings indicates that PMI chapters hold a high number of symposiums, seminars and conferences with high number of attendees. That’s no surprise as you could see the evidence from the number and quality of speakers at 2016 Symposium of PMISV. 24 keynotes and speakers sharing their experience to overcome challenges and risks in projects; the collective knowledge that cannot be easily grouped together and would require a few graduate-level course to address the issues they resolved.

From risk leadership to addressing possible threats in the design phase, from KISS to dealing with uncertainty while keeping all manners cool, we will hear about selection of challenges with variable ambiguities posing daunting risks and causing projects failure! As the opening keynote, Nick will take an ironic look at risks and its various forms that we’ll face everywhere on our modern-days projects. Other speakers will share their first-hand encounters of challenges in their practices including defies of value-driven organizations, acting fast regarding risk and strategic risk management, dealing with changes and challenges of lean methods, risks of organizational agility, surprises ahead and managing uncertainties. First day’s folding keynote, Richard will share his unique skills of turning risks to values of a mega-project of California Bay Bridge project. Second day starts with Gavin’s KISS method of risk management, following with other speakers sharing their experience regarding QA/QC and critical risk management, schedule and process challenges, dealing with complex risks and the power of communications. Symposium closing keynote will explores the catalytic mechanism when delivering results in projects.

Looking at the quality of shared knowledge I wonder if there is any educational institution providing this wealth of information in such a short time! We have read and heard about risk management and how to identify, analyze, register, and apply appropriate control to “risks”. Yet, knowing first-hand application of risk control in complex projects are not easily found in publications. I personally have the pleasure of idea sharing with a few of the speakers via for instance, assisting Tom Kendrick with a variety of PMI-SV activities and communicating with Joel Bancroft-Connors regarding agile/scrum related topics in the past meetings and professional gatherings.

I am looking forward to seeing many of my colleagues at 2016 Symposium of PMI-Silicon Valley.

A few benefits of attending professional symposiums:

* Online search on benefits of attending professional symposiums/seminars results in:
* To expand skills, learn more about the work, discover industry specific trends and knowledge
* learn from the experiences of your peers, and about valuable resources
* Renew excitement about the work you do while applying new approaches
* Develop ideas that can be implement in your business or career
* Make (new) connections, meet thought-leaders within the industry, share and expand ideas
* Get out of Dodge, show commitment to your profession, find prospects to give back ,and just have fun
* Gain insights and ideas that you can use to establish/increase your credibility and expertise
* Visit interesting new locations where the conference is being held
* Connect with sponsors and other supporters of the conference
* See competitors, learn more about competitive edge, and discover professional strengths/weaknesses
* Meet with and market to potential customers/clients, and study various market needs

April 17, 2014

Career Development continues!

Category: Online Marketing — David @ 1:25 pm

Career development is a continuous process in our today’s era. For its sensitive nature, one of our senior managers had a successful “Career Management Seminar” workshop at PMI - Silicon Valley chapter. At our last breakfast meeting, our participating members exchanged thought provoking ideas based on a workshop presented by Dan Levin regarding the topic and related Behavioral Styles. Below are a few facts that I have extracted from our dialogue.

Most participants of Dan’s workshop were experienced project and program managers. However, at times there are some managers who employ just a few tactics of “structured management” rather than emphasizing on clear project development and management plans! It is not a surprise that majority of managers do not have adequate management training.

A careful career management plan would follow the same skills and techniques that projects and programs management would employ! Managing our career is much like developing a business plan with clear definition of where we want to head, and how we want to grow in our career. This is much like writing our resume based on what we want to do and not what we have done! Our experience is useful because of lessons we have learned to improve our next job.

Let’s not forget that our boss needs to know what we’re doing; what white space, grey space, good work, and other tasks we conduct, and how many different hats we’re wearing. Getting feedback from immediate supervisors as what would be a better approach for more positive impact on the task(s) may help the supervisor to support our next promotion! However, we shall also look for, and go after opportunities in the organization as most promotions are based on more responsibilities rather than routine performance!

One useful tactic is finding a mentor who is a couple of levels higher in the organization. Learning how the mentor operates and handles different projects, tasks, stakeholders, and communication with other executives will help us to ascend in our careers. Have you ever tried providing any presentation to a crowd? How is your presentation style? Providing different pitches to senior managers and executives is like an art that can be perfected through experience (or repetition as well!?)

Project and program management is like “Politics” as senior managers shall satisfy all their stakeholders. It is a good practice to search for, and learn about strategic behavioral management skills. Tactical approaches of senior managers and executives regarding sensitive issues would help to polish stakeholder management skills. Delicate control of complex environment and issues require knowing how the “behavioral management” is set or followed, and what the best practices of strategic leadership shall be!

Disclaimer: This is an extracts from PMI-Silicon Valley Chapter’s group meetings held regularly in Mountain View, California. Many thanks to our active members:

Dan Levin, Kevin Thompson, Anup Deshpande, Mathew Thankachan, T. Mallie BrathwaiteCarl Angotti, Matthew Hebb, Cynthia Lau, and David Bakhtnia

August 12, 2013

Cover Letters and their usefulness

Category: Management — David @ 2:38 pm

As I promised in our today’s breakfast meeting, below is the blog about “Cover Letters” that we talked in our last week’s meeting. I know that I am a week behind posting about our last meeting; quite frankly I have been working and networking about 15 hours a week lately - so I finished this short note last night.

This is another session of our “job search breakfast” group meeting of PMI Silicon Valley chapter. We explored the reason behind including cover letters when applying for a technical / management position.

In my opinion, I am wondering how good we could model “human nature” and behavior! Even when applying number-crunching and numerical analysis on human behavior, one cannot get an ample picture on how better approach to any particular action! Everyone is different. However, when applying for a professional position, the size of the company and how they have been posting jobs (online or otherwise), the rationale behind their processes (if we know about), positions’ requirements, HR policies, and many other factors will play roles with regards to sending a cover letter along with a resume, or not to send any! I think the best is responding to a given job opening based on our personal experience, and hoping to land an interview. After all, sending a resume and associated cover letter is to have an interview. One manager may not read a cover letter, yet be swift in responding to follow up emails!

Noting that cover letter is one of deliverables, it’s a good idea to introduce ourselves up front to the prospect employee and make the cover letter like a sales tool. It is helpful to including our sales pitch on top, and treat cover letters like a business communication letter; something like a short dashboard of our knowledge aligned with the requirements. Resumes include the most detailed aspects of our professional expertise, and it usually takes months to polish and fine-tune. On the other hand, cover letters are composed fast; probably a few hours before sending them to an available position. Another idea that was circulated among our attendees was to address 5-top requirements of the position in the cover letters. However, hand-carried cover letters and resumes to the hiring managers have the best results. Identifying an insider and making sure that hiring manager could have a copy of the resume makes the biggest impact.

Other considerations such as styling, font face-size, stationary choice, and such are less important, yet keeping them consistent with the style used in resume is a good approach. However, referencing the salary requirements or any political / faith related concerns, and non-relevant points are strongly discouraged. Make sure that cover letters do not have any spelling error, and keeping them below 3000 characters make them more appealing. Keeping track of the resumes and cover letters that are sent out are another important factor. After all, it is a good idea to have a reference point to requirements of a specific position for which an application is sent!

Online references regarding composition of effective cover letters are in Abundance. Yet our group suggested frequent visits to other networking activities for effective job hunting. Some of the most successful network building groups (at least in the San Francisco Bay Area) are:
PMI-Silicon Valley chapter, our chapter’s Workshops, and some meet up gatherings in your area (such as Agile meet up, Big Data Analytics, etc.) NOTE that by attending these meeting you would get familiar with different vocabularies of the marketplace, as well as expanding your network of professionals you know!

Rise and Shine,
David

This is an extract from PMI-Silicon Valley Chapter’s Job Seeking group meeting in Sunnyvale, California. Some of the participants below are technical managers and members of PMISV:

Azeez ChollampatChris MunsonDavid BakhtniaDavid GazaveGary A JohnsonMichael MellengerRay WilliamsScott E PetersenScott Spetter, and Terry Archuleta.

April 15, 2013

First Note on Management

Category: Management — admin @ 1:11 pm

This is my first writing about management (project, program, product, people, etc.)
Hopefully other professional friends, colleagues, and viewers will participate in a dynamic exchange of ideas regarding management issues.

I would like to start with a note from Michel Thiry’s presentation at PMI; The Future of PM in a Digital Economy. ( Members of PMI can log-in and listen to the recorded version.

With the expansion of digital technology that affects everyone’s daily life, and while the global economy is shifting and business context becoming complex and turbulent, how can we adapt our business procedures and projects progresses in this fast-paste digitized environment? Especially a micro business like my business, I need to proactively connect my project and program management, and product development processes to global digital technology, bringing my talents to my business partners’ table! These are translated into connecting the enterprise products demands to fast-growth talents (by younger economies*) who want a share of the prosperity as well. I am trying to use any possible means to connect different stakeholders of “A” project in my hand together; so that we all can respond to any change as fast as possible so that the project can produce based on its milestones – on time and within projected budget.

* BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) and other young and fast-growing digital minds (Singapore, Malaysia, Middle-easterners, Mexico, etc.)