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.

April 9, 2017

Knowledge Sharing Among PMO Members

Category: Agile, Management, PMO, Program Management, Project Management — David @ 2:38 pm

Dynamic discussion regarding PMO and pressing issues leads to practical knowledge sharing.

Below is a short snippet of items discussed at our past PMO 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.

  • PMO contribution to executive committee consists of strategic setting of capital/budget of programs, programs benefit definition, and mobilization plan and report (to upper management) REF1. PMO also shall plan/conduct rescue plans (for various scenarios) REF2.
  • PMO deals with business cases much more (and in higher level) than they oversee the requirements.
  • PMOs provide check list of healthy metrics, hidden problem corners, while they do not have ownership, they keep track of the health of projects and programs with guideline to move from “range” to “green” health lines. Online search of these issues would lead to hundreds of useful resources.
  • What brings people to PMO meetings? We talk about different projects/programs and their health.
  • PMO acts as a diplomat in real life, especially with respect to customer-facing programs.
  • PMOs do not have a fixed ID in different organizations (consult PMO member of i.e. PG&E, Kaiser, Salesforce and cross-reference their input!)
  • PMOs are more fit to waterfall method than Agile, as for instance, there is no start-end in scrum setting! However, one may argue that PMO can help to streamline other Agile driven methods (like Kanban or Lean Manufacturing).

REF1: More on this can be found on IBM’s developer Works

REF2: More on rescue plans of PMO are available on Top-10 PMO Tips and other resources such as “Business Driven PMO Setup” and “Rescuing the Problem Project

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

August 28, 2016

PMISV Symposium is around the corner

Category: Life, Management, News, Technologies — David @ 6:53 pm

Risk Management speakers at 2016 Symposium of PMISV Last week I received a newsletter from our local chapter, PMI Silicon Valley. The newsletter included highlights from one of the keynote speakers that got my attention: Risk Management in Environments of Constant Change!

All project managers try to keep matters simple while avoiding risks (in projects) anyway they can. However, for program managers, steering between projects with varied requirements and needs in an ever-changing environment and, yet controlling involved risks on each project is both the art and science of leadership!

I have found it easy to say “Keep It Simple Stupid (KISS)”. But when one is dealing with keeping a project dashboard as useful to all as possible, providing direction to a scrum team, communicating and keeping all involved subcontractors, vendors and customers aligned, and aligning organizational mission is not as easy as it sounds! Add the cultural and time variance in today’s virtual teams, one may become overwhelmed tracking and channeling information to avoid unplanned risks. I remember my supervisor at Santa Clara University used to say “you show me a well-planned project, and I will show you a few risks”.

As a technical manger, I think I am a student for life! Change management and risk management in our modern projects is part of every project that we engage. Learning from the leading project and program managers in some of the hottest sectors (such as IT, mobile tech, networking, virtualization, cloud-based SaaS, PMOs) have very high value for me. Hearing innovative remedies used by the leading experts may require a few technical courses from leading institutions. On top of that, networking with like-minded professionals, coupled with a couple of days of learning at a relaxed environment is my way of self-education!

I hope to see many attendees at 2016 Annual Symposium of PMI-SV. I will try to get more information about other speakers and subjects in my next short journal.

May 12, 2016

How PMO can help SMB to streamline their operation?

Category: Management, Technologies — David @ 1:09 pm

What are the basic building blocks of PMO that could help small businesses to grow in the Internet era? I think the lack of appropriate fund, clear objectives, basics of applicable Project/Program Management (PM), as well as the absence of knowledge-matter expert/coach, or even missing support from senior management/owners add to the distancing of PMO and SMB! I think timely analysis of pain factors, formulating realistic plans, creating compelling tasks, implementing measurable solutions, reviewing and improving success factors, documenting lessons learned and retrospectives, simplifying complexities, and devising reusable procedures will go a long way ahead.

Some (PMO) are strong drivers, like Steve Jobs and Elan Mask as technical drivers who push for design and functionalities while leading to the next vision of products and market place. But I wonder how PMO would fit into this picture where a single-or-two personalities drive! And then, how PMO can have any affect in this environment? Now the question is if senior executives have any belief to support PMO in their organization! PMO is doomed to fail if executive sponsors do not trust and enforce their functionalities. This is the same with “Agile” method of doing business- the method will not succeed if executive-agilest(s) not on-board! PMO may work better in a centralized or governmental structure. How about in a smaller structure like an IT consulting/engineering practice, an automotive servicing firm, or a mid-size pharmaceutical business?

Even though (I think) PM is a strong driver of innovation, organization, and fast delivery of clean products, it is fair to say that a few Small/Medium Business (SMB) owners may perceive a project manager as an expensive cost or even a sort of road blocking factor (a bureaucrat!)

I think any business regardless of their size needs to apply improved practices into their business procedures.  Lean Process and a strategy of continuous improvement will play an important role at the center of business activities (as well as change management and business transformation). Having a single point of contact and focal-point for all projects will ensure effective prioritization and coordination during projects lifecycle, as well as improving internal communications.

PMO and project governance is not just for IT departments and high tech industries (with urgency and needs for prioritization of tasks)! Greater visibility of projects across the organization will help to avoid duplication, to enhance communications, internal awareness of the quality work in a timely manner and within their projected cost scheme.

Any small business owner craves to add discipline and structure to their operation and embrace end-result (increase Profits & control Loss). Any relevant process that can be applied to business processes to increase quality of products/services, contain and learn from associated risks, bring excellence to operations, devise consistent use of resources, employ the best use of computing technology, and plan process monitoring scheme in order to increase profit and organizational size organically. And these all can be effortlessly modeled using quantifiable results applicable to many projects within the organization.

Keeping these in mind, I am in the process of creating a small PMO to one of my small business clients where we are creating and practicing processes and documenting know-hows as we are planning for rapid business growth. I am using Agile (Kanban) method of performing tasks with built-in quality, reduced cost, and increased productivity engineered into our plan.

I will report our progress in some detail in my later blogs. Please stay tuned!

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