New PM Articles for the Week of July 18 – 24

New project management articles published on the web during the week of July 18 – 24. And this week’s video: the maiden flight of Aquila, Facebook’s solar-powered unmanned aircraft, designed to bring internet connectivity to the rest of the world. Just three minutes, safe for work.

Must read!

  • Harry Hall describes several responses that project managers might make to respond to stakeholder conflict – not all of them good.
  • Paul Culmsee and his kids prepared a four-minute video they call “A TEDdy Talk,” explaining his new book with Kailash Awati, “The Heretic’s Guide to Management.” Safe for work.
  • PMI announced that the PMBOK Guide-Sixth Edition, with extended coverage of Agile methods, and a practice guide focused on Agile will be released during the third quarter of 2017.

Established Methods

  • Elizabeth Harrin makes the argument that contributions to organizational strategic goals are a more useful project metric than alignment with those strategic goals.
  • Stuart Easton describes the annual project budgeting process as a “beauty parade,” and challenges the PMO to define value.
  • Priyanka Chakraborty reports that IT project failure rates are essentially unchanged from three years ago. If we can’t be good, let’s at least be predictable?
  • John Goodpasture expands on a quote from Tony Hoare to explore the inductive nature of software testing.
  • PMI has made their Pulse of the Profession 2016 report available for download. Title: “Delivering Value: Focus on benefits during project execution.”
  • Mike Griffiths models the business case for when software development outsourcing makes sense.
  • Glen Alleman shares his reading list of systems engineering textbooks.
  • Keith Foote gives us a primer on Big Data and cloud security.

Agile Methods

  • Johanna Rothman posted a two-part series on how to get to a frictionless release. Here’s part 2.
  • Dave Prior interviews Liana Dore, Agile Governance lead for eVestment, on the Agile PMO. Just 26 minutes, safe for work.
  • Mike Cohn addresses the question posed by the #NoProjects folks.
  • Lance Knight recounts a tale of two Scrum teams: one with a ScrumMaster who understood team dynamics, and one … well, you get the idea.
  • Natalie Warnert notes that even software teams grieve at the end of their projects.

Applied Leadership

  • David Robins offers some thoughts on managing remote workers, from processes and tools to characteristics of people who can and cannot work well remotely.
  • Kathleen O’Connor interviews former HR executive Larry Solomon on his new book, “Translate, Motivate, Activate: A Leader’s Guide to Mobilizing Change.”
  • Michael Lopp announces coming release of the third edition of “Managing Humans.”
  • Bas de Baat lists the actions needed to get a team “in the zone.”

Working and the Workplace

  • Microsoft announced the Microsoft Professional Degree program, “A university caliber curriculum for professionals at any stage in their career.”
  • Kristin Hillery collected ideas on maintaining work-life balance from a number of folks who work from offices in their home.
  • Elise Stevens interviews Jane Anderson on using LinkedIn to build your personal brand. Just 24 minutes, safe for work.
  • Suzanne Lucas briefs us on compliance with the new overtime regulations here in the US.
  • Steven Pressfield lists ten classic books on productivity, old and new.


Everything as a Service

Service StationI spend a lot of my time as a contract project manager mediating disputes between users of technology, such as the HR and finance departments, and the information technology folks. Now, you might think that these disputes have their roots in the different terminology and buzz words each group uses, but generally, they understand each other well enough. The problems arise from a difference in values: the functional experts want capabilities, and the IT folks want control. Functional leaders are focused on their business goals, while IT management wants to talk about process, tools, methods, and a lot of other non-revenue generating stuff.

Note that this misunderstanding is not because either group is at fault. They simply have different values. A lot of us IT geeks subscribe to the values in the Agile Manifesto, and we think they are so self-evident that everyone should embrace them, too. But the people responsible for repeating business-critical activities on a calendar schedule, like paying employees and creditors and reporting to governmental agencies, while absorbing the most recent acquisition or expansion, have other values.

Individuals and interactions over processes and tools

I work with a lot of global firms, constructed from mergers and acquisitions, and they all have a maze of solutions, cobbled together with a range of tools and technologies. And while the IT folks want to buy better tools, the business folks just want to be able to get back to work. Integrate the merged workforce, share information, pursue opportunities, manage risks, and comply with all of those governmental and contractual requirements. Usually in just about that order of importance.

Working software over comprehensive documentation

Business users don’t want tools, or even software – they want services. They want to consume functionality the same way they do electricity, paying a monthly invoice based on utilization. They want it to work every time, although it’s certainly nice if the service improves over time, and even better if they have a voice in how it evolves. But they generally don’t want to participate in the hard work of design, development, and testing. They don’t want to buy a wood shop; they want furniture delivered to their door. Meanwhile, the IT geeks want to talk about product owners and features and delivering in increments.

Customer collaboration over contract negotiation

As I write this, Workday is upgrading everyone – all 900 or so corporate customers – to release 25. All the users logged out on Friday, and on Monday morning, they will log back in again. No IT departments will have to work all weekend. It will all just work, because it’s not software; it’s a service. And while the IT folks might have to make some tweaks to their integrations with other systems, or adjust a few custom reports with complex calculated fields, they’ve had at least six weeks to regression test and sort it out. And they’ll have six months to plan for the next non-event.

Responding to change over following a plan

Software-as-a-service, platforms-as-a-service, EMail-as-a-service, even identity management and single-sign-on-as-a-service. I’m not going to tell you that premises-based ERP is dead, or even in danger, but unless the IT department can figure out how to deliver services, rather than features, it will be difficult to get the funds to do the next major upgrade. The business folks will likely push for replacing that highly-customized, out of date software with a service. Before you try to argue with them, try to understand their values. To do anything less would be to do them a disservice.

New PM Articles for the Week of August 31 – September 6

SightseersNew project management articles published on the web during the week of August 31 – September 6. We give you a high-level view so you can read what interests you. Recommended:

Must read!

  • Julie Bort summarizes the myths and science of lies, liars, and a few ways to identify when someone is hiding something.
  • Scott Adams lists some of the “tells,” or involuntary actions, for cognitive dissonance, the human reaction to facts that conflict with one’s beliefs. Be careful, because you won’t be able to un-read this.
  • Coert Visser describes a 2 by 2 matrix, modest /arrogant and ignorant / knowledgeable, and suggests some strategies for dealing with the arrogant-yet-ignorant state of mind.

Established Methods

  • Moira Alexander shares her strategic alignment checklist for project managers, because it’s not just about being on schedule, on budget, and on the quality target.
  • Gary Nelson uses a woodworking metaphor for getting a project completed without cutting corners (or sanding them off).
  • Phil Weinzimer reflects on his interviews of Proctor and Gamble’s CIO, Filippo Passerini, who was so impressive that he rates an entire chapter in Phil’s new book.
  • Glen Alleman makes the case for using source lines of code as a measure of system and project performance.
  • And in response, Nick Pisano argues the case against using SLOC as a measure of performance. I agree with Nick on this one.
  • Matthew Squair looks at technical debt through his safety engineering and risk management lens.
  • BrenDt imagines the perfect project management tool; it’s just not commercially available, yet.
  • Kathleen O’Connor interviews Brian Manning, co-founder of Centric Digital, on the balance between project management and creativity.
  • Parag Tipnis finds the intersection of scope management and stakeholder management, where diplomacy is required to keep perfection from preventing progress.
  • Neel Patel reports on what the AI and security communities say about the prospect of software beating hackers in the near term: not likely.

Agile Methods

  • Pawel Brodzinski explains the effect that the Zeigarnik Effect has on context switching – one more reason to limit work in progress.
  • John Goodpasture notes with approval the role of the enterprise architect in Disciplined Agile Delivery.
  • Mike Cohn makes the case for budgeting, as an alternative for teams that don’t feel capable of estimating well.
  • Neil Killick argues for product management, as a long-term replacement for project, program, and portfolio management. He didn’t convince me, but it’s worth a read.

Work Isn’t a Place You Go

  • Alia Crum and Thomas Crum describe a three-step process for leveraging stress.
  • Michael Lopp wakes up in a panic at 4:00 AM to review his deadlines, work in progress, and commitments. Time to delegate! Well, after everyone else is in the office…
  • Bruce Harpham interviews podcaster Jeff Sanders, who focuses on early mornings, productivity, healthy habits, and personal development.
  • Elizabeth Harrin reviews “Growing Software: Proven Strategies for Managing Software Engineers,” by Louis Testa.