New PM Articles for the Week of January 19 – 25

Balloon BeyondNew project management articles published on the web during the week of January 19 – 25. We give you a high-level view so you can read what interests you. Recommended:

Must read!

  • Seth Godin notes that professionals don’t add emotion to their communications to signify urgency.
  • H.O. Maycotte argues that the challenge in getting actionable information out of Big Data is being sure you’ve asked the right question.
  • Tim Wasserman identifies ten strategic trends in project execution that will define success in 2015.

PM Best Practices

  • Harry Hall lists ten ways in which the alignment between the customers and project team is gradually lost.
  • Dave Wakeman looks to Seattle and finds that the problem of a failed tunnel-boring machine has expanded well beyond the tunnel itself.
  • Rich Maltzman finds a colossal example of a failure to engage project stakeholders, right in his home town of Boston.
  • Nick Pisano references Borges’ “Library of Babel” in pointing out the challenges inherent in extracting meaning from collections of data with no underlying common design.
  • John Carroll asks, “If the stakeholders don’t actually care about the project or take any responsibility or interest in it, then why is the project being carried out?”
  • Mike Cohn explains why we should focus on benefits, rather than features.
  • Mike Donoghue argues for benefits management, as the key to keeping your project on track.
  • Ryan Ogilvie recommends a dozen ITSM blogs, for those of us with service management responsibilities.

Agile Methods

  • Neil Killick describes the role of Scrum Master in terms of responsibilities, behavior, and goals. An excellent, brief, but actionable explanation of a complex topic.
  • Niranjan Nerlige describes the role of Product Owner, as a list of interactions with the team and with the business.
  • John Goodpasture deconstructs Mike Cohn’s recently published definition of done.
  • Johanna Rothman considers alternatives to estimation, in the form of planning and re-planning.
  • Mike Griffiths reviews a few misconceptions about teamwork and collaboration.
  • Joanne Wortman talks about blending Agile methods in with the traditional.

Podcasts and Videos

  • Cornelius Fichtner interviews Pam Welty and Joy Gumz on the use of Building Information Models for construction projects. Just 17 minutes, safe for work.
  • Elizabeth Harrin shares five quick tips for managing communications during a crisis. Just three minutes, safe for work.
  • Mark Phillipy talks about the importance of networking in developing your career. Just 26 minutes, safe for work.

Pot Pouri

  • Steven Levy extracts three lessons learned from the scandal surrounding under-inflated footballs in last weekend’s game between the Patriots and the Colts.
  • András Baneth gets to the essence of Reality Television Executive Chef Gordon Ramsay’s coaching method.
  • Don Kim points out that there are times when SMART goals can be dumb. Or at least, counter-productive.
  • Emanuele Passera considers the question: do we really need to be number one in our industry?
  • Lynda Bourne reflects on taking the time to reflect and think. And yes, that’s an example of recursion.


Faux Compliance

Crappy BumperOne of the nice things about living on a golf course is that there’s plenty of well-maintained scenery. Since we don’t play golf, we’re able to take nice, long walks unencumbered by clubs, balls, bags, and the need to keep score. While on our walk this morning, we passed by a car had apparently encountered an inattentive driver. Bumpers are legally required here in Nevada, so the owner removed the outer portions of the smashed rear bumper and used a hank of clothesline to support the inner plastic core, now in two pieces. I’m not sure whether the Metro Police Department will object to his handiwork or simply chuckle and drive on, but it plainly isn’t going to absorb the impact of his next collision.

True Compliance

Most of my projects over the last thirty years or so required compliance with some regulation, standard, or guidelines published by some external authority. In many cases, it was administrative rules interpreting some legislation; in others, it was standards like GAAP. In all cases, compliance was one of our critical success factors. In many cases, we were self-auditing; in others, we had inspectors or auditors review our work. But compliance testing was a part of every plan. To that end, we tried to understand the nature of the regulation – what is it trying to accomplish, or prevent? It isn’t enough to just go through the motions of compliance. Your subject matter expert has to think like the inspector, and ensure that you are truly in compliance with both the letter and the spirit of the regulation.

Mitigating Bad Outcomes

The impact of a finding of non-compliance in an inspection or audit is a business risk in itself. In some cases, the bad outcomes that the regulations were designed to prevent or mitigate are also an operational risk. This is especially true when safety or privacy is at issue: the organization has a stake in preventing bad outcomes during the project and in operation. Consequently, compliance should be part of your project risk analysis. Think of the regulation or standard as a proven risk response; your goal should be to make it effective, so the organization doesn’t have to assume additional risk.

Like risk management, compliance management is part of a practicing IT project manager’s professional tool kit. You don’t have to be the subject matter expert on the regulations; you simply have to manage the efforts taken to comply, and ensure that compliance is effective, rather than merely cosmetic. Like that trussed-up bumper, for example.

New PM Articles for the Week of July 14 – 20

Garden picksNew project management articles published on the web during the week of July 14 – 20. We gather all of this stuff so you don’t have to search for it! Recommended:

PM Best Practices

  • Oleksandr Drozd shares a graphic on increasingly distributed teams, and some best practices for managing geographically distributed project teams.
  • Gina Abudi addresses the things we can do to facilitate decision making by members of our project team.
  • Elizabeth Harrin reports from the Gartner PPM & IT Governance Summit, on a case study of a rollout of Microsoft solutions presented by Gérald Morin and a panel discussion on PPM.
  • Cecily Dennis and Dan Meers outline their process to develop data quality metrics, rapidly and repeatably.
  • Johanna Rothman has an article published in a new, on-line quarterly called “Women Testers.” It looks like it will be an excellent resource.
  • Nick Pisano gives us the benefit of his long experience with contract negotiations, in the form of critical success factors and an illustrative anecdote.
  • Bassam Zarkout gives an excellent overview of the relationship between reactive e-discovery and proactive information governance.
  • Calen Legaspi explores the productivity impact of accumulating technical debt.
  • Andreas Eisele looks at technical debt with a project manager’s eye, and sees four viable approaches to preserving maintainability.
  • John Reiling asks the rhetorical question, why is a PMO needed?

Agile Methods

  • Neil Killick shares his heuristic for “slicing” work into granular chunks, to facilitate collection of empirical data to support forecasting.
  • Mike Cohn suggests we simplify ordering our backlog with just two priorities: “now” and “not now.”
  • Andrea Brockmeier advocates for the daily standup, from a project manager’s perspective.

The Limits of Agility

  • Glen Alleman points out the problem with incremental delivery, when the customer can’t derive value from the interim releases.
  • Shim Marom sees a potential down side to the embrace of late changes inherent in Agile methods.
  • Tushar Patel notes that Agile development presents problems for project managers, who still have responsibilities to stakeholders outside the team.

Professional Development

  • Cheri Baker proposes a structure for ethical behavior in leaders and managers.
  • Mariel Norton explores the impact of body language in meetings.
  • Lindsay Scott explains how “impression management” applies in job interviews. Note that interviewers are trying to manage their impression of you, too!
  • Jen Skrabak sees the increasingly common chief strategy officer as a potential career opportunity for portfolio managers.

Podcasts and Videos

  • Cesar Abeid interviews Liz Pearce, CEO of project management software house LiquidPlanner. Just 22 minutes, safe for work.
  • Cornelius Fichtner interviews Wayne Turmel, who says we need to meet like we mean it. Just 36 minutes, safe for work.
  • Rich Maltzman and Dave Shirley share a Green IT webinar. Just over an hour, safe for work.
  • Dave Prior interviews Melanie Franklin on her new book, presenting an Agile framework for planning and implementing change. Just 24 minutes, safe for work.
  • Margaret Meloni provides some techniques for procrastinators. If you don’t click on this link right away, I’m sure she’ll understand.