September 5, 2017

PMO, Personality Types, Strategic/Tactical Agile; an Active Dialogue

Silicon Valley is the hub of innovative technologies and ideas to push boundaries. From novel technological advancement to collaborative production, San Francisco Bay Area incubates the forward-pushing human desires time-and-again!

I attend many professional gatherings and meet ups to meet and learn from experienced technical professionals whenever I have a chance. One of these small but highly thought-provoking is the PMO meetings of PMI-Silicon Valley chapter. Below are just a few points of interest among attendees of past couple of months:

- Based on Enneagram institute, considering nine (9) basic personality type people do not change from one basic personality type to another, even though not every description of the basic type applies to a person all the time. However, people do not accept or reject a behavioral model in its totality. Personality Types

- Agile way of accomplishing tasks is both strategic and tactical. From the planning of a software development lifecycle (strategic) to the alignment of cross functional team interacting to accomplish a set of tasks (tactical), Agile thinking and doing elevates both policies as well as methods. Applying Agile principles in our fast growing organizations is a testament of using the Agile models in both strategic planning as well tactical operations.

- Business Analysts analyze needs and define requirements (based on business needs). This set of activities help functional managers to align their (portfolio) needs. Project managers and scrum masters follow planned activities to motivate project team to execute and iteratively adapt to better creation of tools to overcome needs.

- Most hybrid method (with respect to PMOs) has been successful in many cases, especially when the C-level executives support them. This also may depend on the organizational structure (i.e. CIO & PMO inter-relations, etc.)

- The question is how to incorporate Agile into PMO? One may think that the PMO is whatever executives decide and dictate to execute! So their function is to respond to upper management needs.

Your comments and thoughts can help to better support our PMO community.

May 7, 2017

PMO Topics with Active Dialogue

Category: Agile, Management, PMO, Program Management, Project Management — David @ 2:58 pm

Last month we had another active dialogue concerning persistent (or otherwise urgent) issues with our projects and programs leads to best practices after a knowledge sharing conversation.

Below is a highlight of items we discussed at our April PMO meeting of PMI-Silicon Valley chapter. Contributors are senior expert matters sharing their best practices regarding (technical/functional/business) PMO and Program Management issues and success stories.

  • Understanding Agile processes as a guideline, and optimizing the golden triangle (of Scope, Schedule, and Cost) of project management to optimize outcome as value-add to our organization.
  • How PMO can add value to smaller organization where C-Suite and managers are working shoulder to shoulder?
  • Engage upper management to buy their influence, especially in a scrum (creating product backlog, backlog building/grooming, etc.) if possible. Create engagement and visibility.
  • Once executives are present and engaged, the processes would increase conversion factors = trust.
  • Concentrate on the results than methodology of doing how; action builds trust, that builds value-add.
  • Remember that in Agile method everyone shall see the process and org. based collaboration and creates value.
  • Involving C-level at project/program level makes that project/program a strategic value-add.
January 22, 2017

PMO Thoughts & Experiences (1)

Category: Agile, Management, PMO, Program Management, Project Management — David @ 2:41 pm

Following is a blog made from Discussion Topics of 01/11/2017 PMO meeting

PMO thoughts an dexperiences - 1
I attended PMO breakfast meeting of PMI-Silicon Valley chapter where participants shared their views and experience regarding PMO and (technical/functional/business) Program Management issues and success stories. Below are bulleted items of a few points made by attendees. I appreciate suggestions and comments by viewers to further enrich PMO topics.

  • How to create/promote PMO from the grass root? How to create it from foundation in any organization?
  • - Recently many have perceived the significance of project management principles. Apparently most team players realize that some projects are falling through cracks as the number of projects become overwhelming while well-equipped PMs stretched in schedule, cost, or scope of their endeavors!

  • How to change project management culture in a matrix organization?
    - The iron triangle (cost/time/scope) works fine, yet what about resource availability? Doing projects without qualified resources leads to disasters! The (main) success of the “iron triangle“ is to “focus” on for instance, one leg and accept proceeding of other legs! As an example, on January breakfast meeting of PMI-Silicon Valley chapter in Mountain View one member commented on the lack of qualified developers, causing lag of time/schedule/scope!
    - Another option is to create a manpower schedule and get management approval.
    - Support of leadership in necessary to a successful PMO & PMs in general.
    - For every successful project, there are 3-4 failures! How to change this trend is another task of PMO.
    - Another factor is being consistent in processes and follow-throughs.
    - Also, getting people to engage and participate requires “repeated” efforts! Especially when we are required to change course (change management!)
  • In small-to-Mid size organizations need-to-have PMO starts somewhat late, or only when the needs grow to necessity!
    - This may not be true when comparing to military units as their projects are usually well defined.
    - How about promoting PMO as cultural change-agent on the organization (to properly manage projects)? As in some establishments, mid-level managers resist implementation of proper Project Management processes (waterfall or agile) as deterrent to their established positions!
  • It’s suggested trying the PMO handbook (by PMI) as guideline, or at least as a reference point helps in many occasions.
    - The standards then can be expanded based on organizational needs and culture.
    - Following the standards (and building on top of it) is helpful base point regardless of PMO, Agile (Scrum, Kanban, etc.) or hybrid PM methodologies.
    - Creating a (color-coded) chart (of KPIs and metrics) as percentage of progress sharing with the team would help to streamline efforts. This (heat map) can also help in determining budget or resource allocation/shortage to communicate with upper management. This shows data and allows smart decision making and proper change (management).

Your comments and thoughts can help us all to better support our PMs.

August 4, 2015

How to Narrow Project Management (PM) Value-Add?

Category: Life, Management — David @ 7:07 pm

One of the challenges in today’s market is to show your value-add. Yet, how to bring all relevant work experience to the table? How to focus on specifics from past job-function and experience? How large the team was directed, and what other experience in team building would help a new program management role, and so forth!

When looking at the job posting, we all try matching our past experience to the requirements. Per involvement in many positions, experienced PMs need to narrow down and perhaps eliminate some of hands-on capabilities in order to draft a concise resume!  Also we all have had this feeling that trying to present ourselves as a renascence man is like shooting ourselves in foot! Companies would seem not to looking for people with broad experience, rather want people who can solve their problem now!

There are a few things that one can do such as selectively choosing what not to say (i.e. notes that are not relevant), which is not down-playing. There is so much to prove on what can be written in resume or said in a short time. This is not hiding qualification, rather just focusing on relevant ones. Another way would be choosing how to say and what to say. This is choosing the words (of your experience) along the lines that would focus on what (you) want to bring up. This can be viewed like focusing on project management aspect or team building and people management that is expressed by choosing the words choices in a limited space (of resume)! This would perhaps eliminate non-relevant experience of a jack-of-all-trades person with varied involvement.

One can clearly tailor the resume to make it very focused and relevant to the position. This approach can be applied in discussions as well. The question rises with respect to an experienced professional’s LinkedIn profile where it highlights all skills that are applied in many different fields of technical project management! This is to emphasize that the LinkedIn record (as professional profile) shall contain most experiences and accomplishments. However, a focused resume (as a concise list of achievements) shall highlight success. LinkedIn profile may be viewed as a good resume surrogate and an overall profile of achievements, while resume is fine tuned to a specific job addressing the requirements. Resume shall outline what impact the job seeker would have on the business with relevant accomplishment on their past positions.

One concern in current business environment is that technical professionals do not know how to present business values! They may be able to say how cool the technology is. The more you can emphasize business value and achieved productivity, the better you may position yourself for the position. A program manager is a change agent, not just controlling aligned projects to reach stated milestones. Also training may play a better role for a program manager as how programs are aligned to train junior team members to attain more business values during their career.

One thing to note that training is one of the first things to be cut in a downward economy and it is usually one of the last things to be added to the list of available positions. It is encouraging to see a number of training management positions available on job market that not all require a subject-matter expert in their stated requirements, yet understanding managing the training as best practices. In a PMI-Silicon Valley meeting John Choate (the National SIG Chair of America SAP User Group) said that “at SAP user group in national level we are required as chair to do one national webinar in a quarter. They have to be very content focused on user experience with 50 minutes of presentation and 10 minutes of Q & A”.

The above few paragraphs are based on conversation taken place at a few breakfast meeting of PMISV members and prospect. I have taken notes from our conversation and felt sharing thoughts of a few experienced leaders in program and portfolio management of Silicon Valley, California with our readers. Please feel free to comment, or otherwise suggest your idea to complement the topic and discussion.

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.

July 17, 2013

How to bring Agile to other departments; Marketing, Sales, Support, etc.

Category: Management — David @ 6:53 pm

It is a daunting task to convince other departmental executives to coordinate their departments’ projects with the rest of organization using Agile methodology! This was actually a question brought up by a colleague at one of our PMI-SV chapter meetings. Below are some of responses from the leading managers attending our meeting;

  • We shall think in Agile methodology before we buy-in to it! In other words, managers shall think in incremental changes by the team leading to the final product.
  • Expectations of executives must be tuned with Agile mindset.
  • Customers must also be communicated to accept Agile methodology; incremental updates, accepting increments, and proceed this iteration till the end of project / product.
  • Managers need to know that there is no UAT (User Acceptance Test) using Agile methodology.
  • All departments’ team members shall be familiar with Agile methodology.
  • Other departments’ managers and executives must accept that there would be no date commitment for intermediate processes. However, a tentative end-date can be set forth.
  • Drive priorities as set in requirements and proceed with “Stories”.
  • Only commit to what is visible to you (that can be delivered incrementally).
  • Agile is a value-driven process that depends on the value of what is set to be done. The value is known or set by the customers and stakeholders; usually using 20-80 rule (i.e. 20% of requirements will drive 80% of the bulk of the product). These are end user values that are set and delivered incrementally.
  • Agile will use “progressive elaboration” of products and end user results. However, how customers would have end results depends on progressive elaboration and incremental delivery of needs. This is the (Agile) process that shall be clearly communicated to all parties involved.
  • Other time-dependent actions and revenue-recognition event (such as Press Releases) can be addressed depend on the cut-off date set forth at the beginning of the process. However, delivery of requirements shall proceed incrementally till the set-date.
  • Important requirement (within the 20% set) shall be scheduled within the stories and delivered by the set date. All other requirements (within 80% set) are set to be delivered incrementally as the project advances.

More information regarding upcoming classes and trainings in San Jose area:
PMI-ACP Exam Prep Course (3 Days) at PMI – San Francisco Bay Area Chapter:
– Instructor: Anup Deshpande, August 3, 2013 @ 8:30 am – 5:00 pm

Anup also offers training for individuals as well as corporate teams.

Please visit PMI- Silicon Valley chapter website for more information about different activities of PMI - Silicon Valley chapter.

Up-ward and On-ward,
David