New PM Articles for the Week of January 26 – February 1

Grand CanyonNew project management articles published on the web during the week of January 26 – February 1. We give you a high-level view so you can read what interests you. Recommended:

Must read!

  • Elizabeth Harrin explains in detail how to determine project success criteria, how to communicate the criteria, measure, baseline, track, and report on progress.
  • Brian Jackson introduces us to Ross, a super-intelligent attorney powered by IBM’s Watson computing system. A cloud-based lawyer may review your next contract!
  • Jason Hiner sketches out three trends that are going to define the next decade, not just in technology but the way our societies work.

PM Best Practices

  • Bruce Harpham outlines the practice of risk management, for program managers.
  • Ron Rosenhead returns from delivering a course for project sponsors with some insight on the lack of unity in some organizations on who is a sponsor.
  • Harry Hall gives us a detailed view of what a risk management plan should contain.
  • Jennifer Lonoff Schiff identifies the biggest (or most common) problems that project managers can anticipate, avoid, or mitigate.
  • Glen Alleman dismantles one of the business cases for iterative development.
  • Kevin Coleman makes the case for telecommuting, and offers some guidelines for making it work.
  • Pawel Brodzinski explores the economic value of slack time. Maximizing utilization is not the way to maximize value – queuing theory applies!

Agile Methods

  • Neil Killick follows up last week’s analysis of the Scrum Master role’s responsibilities, behaviors, and goals with a similar look at the Product Owner role.
  • Mike Cohn strips Scrum down to three clear, elegant sentences, and warns us to add only those elements that actually work in our environment. Excellent advice!
  • Michael Barone subjects Agile to a little psychoanalysis.
  • Boon Nern Tan explains the case for and benefits of pair programming.
  • John Goodpasture contemplates Big Agile, and the limited benefits of additional process and structure.
  • Don Kim sees parallels between the Structured Agile Framework (SAFe) and the Bill Murray classic, “Groundhog Day.” You can say that again …
  • Johanna Rothman contemplates the roles of development manager and test manager in Agile organizations.
  • Seth Godin distinguishes between optimism and honesty, and our ability to commit and deliver.
  • Han van Loon proposes a replacement for the estimation Cone of Uncertainty. Check out his video on YouTube and try not to think of a snake swallowing its prey.

Podcasts and Videos

  • Cornelius Fichtner interviews Maria Kozlova on building and maintaining high-performing teams. Just 19 minutes, safe for work.
  • Dave Prior interviews Mike Vizdos and Peter Green, on the values and techniques of Nonviolent Communication. Just 24 minutes, safe for work.
  • Tony, Craig, and Renee interview a variety of attendees at the Scrum Australia conference in Sydney. Just 35 minutes, safe for work.

Pot Pouri

  • Jyothi Rangaiah has published the January edition of Women Testers magazine. If you haven’t discovered this wonderful resource yet, take this opportunity.
  • Ruairi O’Donnelan on wishes: “A software engineer, a hardware engineer, and a project manager find a magic lantern …”
  • Nick Heath reports on the growing call for IT to set aside some jobs for women. Not certain jobs, but a certain fraction of the positions.

Enjoy!

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.

Enjoy!

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.