Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Why don’t people listen

As a Project Manager, I believe a smooth project can be achieved with communication. We have to communicate to our project teams, our stakeholders and other teams that will interact to aid the progress of the project and the customer.

Warning: Moan coming.....

So why is it that we are rolling out a new desktop application to 100 people per night and 85% of people read the instructions AND FOLLOW THEM and the others do not. For those that do not follow the instructions, they wonder why their system does not work.  

The instructions do require patience, which a box on the screen counts (alphabetically) from A to H. The user just has to sit and wait for the count to complete and then a message to say "You may start using your computer." to be displayed on their screen.

It does frustrate when you put as much as possible in place to ensure a smooth roll out and automate as much as possible to make the customer experience of change as simple as possible and then they cannot read the information given to them.

.... rant over.

So, how as a Project Manager do you prevent this?

Monday, 28 November 2011

Lead by big brother

Recently I have taken over a project at a company, which is in Partnership with another company. The other company seems to be the big brother in the relationship and tends to enforce its policies and procedures down to little brother.

The project I am running was not suitable for little brother and so the project had been running for 6 months with little progress at my company, but had been almost completed at the other company. I came in to fix the project and get it going (my favourite type of project management role).

The main problem was the design of the solution. It worked for big brother, but it did not work in the company I was working in and would basically prevent 4200+ users from using not only their email/calendar, but also many of their business applications.

The design was completed and tested at the big brother company and was minimally tested at my company. This meant that the full extent of user types was unknown and more importantly, not tested. This resulted in many changes to the initial design and caused many political contentions and delays in the project proceeding.

The only way to deal with this was to stop the project from my end and to look at each problem to find a solution. This would then result in a 3 week delay to the schedule for a redesign and a new code to be written.

We are now just 4 months into the roll out of the project and have completed 80% of our target. The initial project was supposed to last 6 months to roll out to 4200 users, but we have rolled out to almost 3500 in 13 weeks.

Sometimes it is of greater benefit to stop a project to understand why it is failing. Fix the problems, design the new solution and start again. This has had a positive affect on the morale of the people in the project team and the acceptance of the business change to our customers.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Stuck in a Rut ?

As mentioned in earlier posts, I have a strong historic background in development, but recently I have been trying to be more Project Management focused.

I see Project Management as a broad topic which encompasses many aspects such as team/morale building, time/risk/issue management, stakeholder management, project progress, milestones, reporting etc... all which boil down to good communication.

Therefore, my "gripe" for today is... why does it matter what technology you are running a project for? 

Introducing me

I am from a development background. I gained my BSc (Hons) Computing for Real-Time Systems from the University of the West of England back in 1997. This was a tough, technical degree and only 30 of us passed of the original 150 (just 20%).

For the last 12 years I have been working in the Lotus Notes arena and have worked on a multitude of projects for various industrial sectors and in many countries. I have blogged within this technology and have enjoyed the life as a Lotus Notes consultant. There is not much that I do not know about notes, and if there is, I usually know someone who will know the answer.

In the last few years, I have been mentoring developers and leading projects. I have found that I enjoy this more than the actual development. Leading projects and teams gives me a buzz and is rewarding when things go from bad to good. I like to solve problems and enjoy joining companies with problems and leaving them in a better state.

I am keen to study. If there is ever an issue that I do not understand, or there is a technology that I have been using, I try to be the best. Examples of this are my qualifications as a Prince2 Practitioner, and IBM Advanced Application Developer and recently ITIL.

I try to study for 30 minutes per day. This means that I try to keep up with the latest industry news, technology and best practices. If I miss out on my 30 minutes, I do not carry it over to the next day as this could affect my workload, but feel guilty for missing an opportunity. 30 minutes a day does not impact your work, but it actually broadens your outlook.

Finally, I enjoy being a contractor because I have had the opportunity to work with various companies, with a variety of projects. I am always surprised at how many companies (big companies) fail to have simple procedures and workflow for the simple tasks. It also amazes me that some large companies do not have a complete handle on their full assets (hardware, software and people) to enable IT project to work with fluidity.... hopefully that is where I make the difference.

Friday, 4 November 2011

First Post - Ideas

Hello readers.

This is going to be a no holds barred blog about the day to day workings of a Project Manager.

My identity is not a secret, but I don't mind.  This is hopefully going to be an insight into my daily dealing (good and bad) as a PM.

I hope you enjoy and I hope to post on a regular basis.