Wednesday, April 27, 2011

What are Agile Methodologies

Todd Burton writes for PM Hut that, the first step to examine what has to be done to launch a lean startup. One of my colleagues noted that “lean startups are all about using project methodologies (agile) to increase agility & flexibility and to fully utilize open-source platforms to lower costs” [Jeong, 2011]. With the goal of launching a startup using offshore development, the question remained how do we develop a lean startup, yet with offshore (not opensource) development teams?

A logical beginning for me was to examine what exactly is an agile methodology? Understanding this will allow clarification and direction moving forward. This piece will outline common agile methodologies and their potential for launching a lean startup.

In order to better understand agile, I examined popular agile methodologies in today’s marketplace. This following section will outline the following methodologies; SCRUM, XP, RUP & RAD.
  • SCRUM SCRUM utilizes small teams to deliver increments of software using “sprints”. These sprints may last for 14-30 days, during which all parties strive to achieve a specific goal. Each day begins with a kick-off meeting to assure quality control. Martin Kearns, from IT firm Renewtek states “SCRUM enables developers to prioritize work based on actual business value…which then leads to regular returns on investment and improved communication channels to management and product owners” [Baltzan et al, 2010].

  • XP
    XP (eXtreme Programming) utilizes small project phases that act as tollgates for a developer to proceed (i.e. phase X must be completed before phase Y). Its central focus is on the facilitation of planning, designing, coding and testing, and integrating these throughout each small project. XP stresses customer satisfaction and empowers project staff to change requirements instantly to accommodate customer demand. As XP relies on many parts making up a whole, successful teamwork is inherent in this methodology [Baltzan et al, 2010].

  • RUP
    RUP (rational unified process) is a framework that breaks software development into four gates; inception, elaboration, construction and transition. Each gate has a list of deliverables that must be accepted by stakeholders before advancing to the next stage. Its focus is quickly adding or removing large chunks of reusable software to solve common problems [Baltzan et al, 2010].

  • RAD
    Rapid Application Development, or RAD, is a methodology based on broad user involvement in prototype development to hasten the software development process. It utilizes iteration to collect changing business requirements while proactively involving software users in analysis, design and development. This methodology is often known for prototypes turning into final solutions [Baltzan et al, 2010].
Read the full article at:

Struggling to Define your Project Approach?

It doesn’t seem that hard to define a project’s approach. It’s just a description of the project strategies for achieving the project objectives. Simply stated it’s the path the project team will take to get to the desired end result. Simple as it may be it still drives many project managers nuts, causing them to stare at a blank page, unable to articulate anything of value.
Three types of project managers struggle with defining their project’s approach:
  • Type 1: those who have always worked on projects of the kind.
  • Type 2: those who have worked on similar projects but the conditions of the current project are not at all the same.
  • Type 3: those who have never taken on a project of the kind, nor has their organization.
Read full article by Ben Snyder:

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Agile - The new buzzword in Project Management

Agile is popping up everywhere and taking prominence on many Project Management Blog's, websites, etc. Is Agile an extension of current project management principles, and/or a scientific approach to address how projects need to be performed?

According to Michael Hugos, "Given the demands of the real-time global economy, the future of both IT and business is clearly going to be a future where agility is central to success. And the kind of agility that delivers success is going to be composed of something new and something old. It will be a hybrid agility that delivers practical and pragmatic solutions to ever changing business needs."

Read the full article by Michael Hugos for CIO:

Monday, April 18, 2011

20 Best Practices for Project Managers

  1. Hire the best, most experienced people you can.
  2. Encourage team members to speak up and make themselves heard when they see something’s going wrong.
  3. Do any menial work that’s needed to keep your team moving.
  4. Know your project life cycle cold.
  5. Continually sell the value of your project’s systematic, iterative life cycle to sponsors and stakeholders.
  6. Don’t let your sponsors get out of making the tough decisions.
  7. Always create some sort of blueprint, design, flowchart, system specifications, outline, or other detailed “on paper” description of your finished product before you build the real thing.
  8. Make sure your sponsors provide or, at the very least, approve all the experts on the team.
  9. Protect your project team members.
  10. Fight for enough time to do things right.
  11. Know when to give in.
  12. Understand that the brain is a physical mechanism that needs to be rested to work properly.
  13. Stay humble about your PM. And accept this in your heart: PM is overhead.
  14. Step into the fear.
  15. Be on the lookout for team members who are in pain and help them find ways to eliminate it.
  16. Think of yourself as a switchboard.
  17. Fight for what’s right.
  18. Insist that the sponsor (customer) sign off and approve deliverables as they are evolving.
  19. Develop a sense of humor and a “willful suspension of disbelief.”
  20. Plan, plan, and re-plan.
By Michael Greer

The Product Champion, the Chief Engineer, and the Project Manager

I enjoyed this article by Olve Maudal for PM Hut.

It's certainly good to have role clarification before a project takes off. The involvement of the three parties, mentioned in this article, are crucial in the initial project stages in setting up the project statement and project scope, determining the direction the project should take. In my opinion the role of Product Champion is high in the initiating and closing stages of the project. The role of Chief Engineer would be high in the initiating stage of the project and medium in the rest of project. Both the aforementioned roles will act in advisory capacity to the project. The role of Project Manager will be high throughout the project as to secure project success.

Read the full article at:

Saturday, April 16, 2011 to become OpenSource in every sense of the word

This bold move by Oracle is music to the ears of the OpenSource community. The move will attract some of the brightest minds in the free software community and we may see some welcome additions to the OpenOffice software and/or, probably more than likely, the packaging of OpenOffice with other free software packages.

Steven Finch writes in Crenk:

Oracle has just announced that they intend to move to a purely community based open source project and no longer offer a commercial version.
“Given the breadth of interest in free personal productivity applications and the rapid evolution of personal computing technologies, we believe the project would be best managed by an organization focused on serving that broad constituency on a non-commercial basis,” said Edward Screven, Oracle’s Chief Corporate Architect. ”We intend to begin working immediately with community members to further the continued success of Open Office. Oracle will continue to strongly support the adoption of open standards-based document formats, such as the Open Document Format (ODF).”
Oracle has been a very closed company for some time, but they have also invested heavily in Linux and MySQL. It will be interesting to see if the community really jumps onto the OpenOffice bandwagon.

Friday, April 15, 2011

New trends in Project Management

Is Agile and Scrum moving the barriers for projects updates , or is it an unnecessary inconvenience? The Project Management Institute is developing an Agile Certification.

According to the PMI website:

"Practitioners who are using Agile practices in their projects, or whose organizations are adopting Agile
approaches to project management, are good candidates for the PMI Agile Certification. By earning the
Agile certification, practitioners can:
  • Demonstrate to employers their level of professionalism in Agile practices of project management
  • Increase their professional versatility in both project management tools and techniques
  • Show they have the capacity to lead basic Agile project teams by holding a certification that is more credible than existing training-only or exam-only based offerings"
See discussion on Agile and Scrum:

Thursday, April 14, 2011

7 Basic Principles of Effective Project Management

Each Project Manager has his/her own idea of what is perceived is the most important skill in the project management profession. These may include leadership, communication, adaptability, people skills, patience, transparency, etc. These are all very important, but there should be a set or sets of principles that forms the basis for operating projects.

Hauke Borow lists and explains some of these principles in an article for PM Hut:
  1. Project structure
  2. Definition phase
  3. Clear goals
  4. Transparency about project status
  5. Risk recognition
  6. Managing project disturbances
  7. Responsibility of the project manager
Read the full article at:

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Project Status Reporting

Steve Hart concludes in PM Hut that a project status report should not be created with the view that it satisfies a requirement mandated by management, but rather a best practice that creates significant value for you, as the project manager, the core project team, and other stakeholders. Effective use of the project status report is one of the clear indicators that the project is “under control” during the execution phase of the project. On top of that, there will be no need for this conversation: “Hi, Peter. What’s happening? We need to talk about your TPS reports.”

Read full article at:


Paypal is about to get a Bruising from Facebook and Square

Paypal just cannot compete with Facebook and Square. Both Facebook and Square outsizes Paypal by far, and the latter will not be able to weather the storms in the payment market. Facebook's mere size is beyond belief which can do huge damage to Paypal's market share, once Facebook decides to vigorously pursue the online payment market. Facebook is a household phenomenon and with well thought through strategy to enter the payment market, and a public relations stint to back it up, will easily catch on to FB users because of the nature and position FB has taken in our lives. Well, unless by some strike of genius and luck, Paypal joins forces with Paypal, an unforeseen merger in my opinion.

Square's service offering of secure payment via credit card through mobile phones, amongst others, is in the right market with exponential growth potential to their existing 1 000 000(million) credit card processing payments per day. Like I said, it can only grow.

Ohad Samet writes an interesting article for Tech Crunch, discussing this topic:

Monday, April 11, 2011

Six of the biggest Cloud Computing Myths

1. It’s insecure.
People are afraid of losing control,” says Leandro Balbinot, CIO of Brazilian retailer Lojas Renner. But “just because your data is somewhere else, doesn’t mean it’s less—or more—secure,” says Accenture CIO Frank Modruson. Test, monitor and review. That’s the only way to mitigate risk in or out of the cloud.
2. It’s simple.
Vendors will always tell you it’s a turnkey implementation,” says Carmen Malangone, global director of information management for Coty. “But moving customized systems to the cloud takes time—eight months or more to standardize and test in the new environment.” And modify cloud systems with care. “Configuration can quickly become customization and each upgrade will be a major headache,” says Malangone.
3. CFOs love it.
Here’s the pitch: The cloud turns sunk capital expenditure (capex) into flexible operational expenditure (opex). But your company may not want that. “The assumption is that there’s an economic preference for opex over capex,” says Mark White, CTO of Deloitte Consulting’s technology practice. “But not every business wants opex; some want capex.” The years of friendly capex tax depreciation left on a data center may be most important.
The fact that it isn’t done much doesn’t mean that it can’t be done at all. Balbinot, for example, is running a billion dollar business’ core retail systems in the cloud.
Malangone was looking at a cloud-based single-sign-on tool, but with each additional application and user, the bill rose. “[The tool] was a great idea,” he says. “But you have to negotiate the right price based on your expected growth.”
4. Only the business benefits.
Most CIOs funnel cloud savings to the business. But there’s no law against reinvesting in IT. “I take some of my cost savings and put it into team building,” says David Riley, senior director of information systems for Synaptics. “We need to keep morale high.”
5. It can’t be used for core systems
The fact that it isn’t done much doesn’t mean that it can’t be done at all. Balbinot, for example, is running a billion dollar business’ core retail systems in the cloud.
6. It’s always cheaper. 
Article by CIO.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Multi-tasking in Unity

Ubuntu added some cool features through Unity. Moving between applications can be done with the utmost ease. 

Click to see the video.

(ogg / mp4 )

Executive Involvement in Project Portfolio Management

Good article by Brian Egan for PM Hut.

Portfolio management is a tool that supports decision making by senior executives. The portfolio manager serves as a conduit for vital information about project capabilities, conflicts, and opportunities and provides senior management with the necessary information to make effective resource allocation decisions.


Senior management is expected to know what they want. They’re expected to analyze the marketplace, competition, and corporate capabilities and to make decisions about overall corporate strategy. The project portfolio is the tool that implements corporate strategy.

Can’t Do Everything

Of course there are never enough resources to complete every proposed project; that is, to get everything done that people would like.
The portfolio manager is responsible for keeping senior management informed about what the organization is capable of – to track project capacity and help decide which projects contribute the most to corporate objectives. The portfolio manager assesses how many projects can be accomplished at a given time and their relative contribution to the big picture based on an agreed upon formula. Projects are then ranked in terms of priority by the governance board.

Transparent System of Valuation

In choosing between projects, it’s necessary to have a fair and reasonable basis for setting priorities. All projects must be compared and judged using the same scale.
In order to ensure cooperation from functional managers, it’s necessary for the valuation system to be understood and accepted by everyone. This means that the valuation system doesn’t reward one department over another. It must be neutral.

Great Project Managers can manage anything

Reading this article I could not help but wonder that no mention is made on the challenges faced by Project Manager's to guarantee project success. But then, challenges in managing projects is a given because of the tangible nature of the unknown. Notwithstanding, it is good to look into suggestions to become a better project manager, and to find ways to become more successful. Projects may be similar in nature, but the environment where these projects are executed may change the ball game entirely.

Michael L. Young looks into 4 areas of skill to stay in touch with PM trends. His article also suggests personal reflection on the part of the project manager, to continuously engage and communicate.

Read the full article at:

Project Success or Project Failure

Do all organizations acknowledge when a project was a failure or do they beat around bush and spin stories to sham project success? Not all projects are a success with or without project management intervention. The responsibility lies with the executives to give a true reflection on the status of projects. Shortcomings in projects, if documented, are a perfect learning curve, increasing success for future projects.

Martin Webster writes in PM Hut, "Invariably though, projects will deliver shades of success and failure for each of these attributes. But things happen and plans need to change. That’s life. Therefore I suggest that success should also become a measure of keeping things under control and learning (and doing) something about the mistakes.
Accordingly I’d recommend that project management takes a positive stance when reviewing performance. Blow your own trumpet – collude with the executive if that’s beneficial – and learn from your shortcomings and continually improve. It’s much better to have your glass half full rather than half empty!"

Read Webster's full article:

Thursday, April 7, 2011

A Checklist for choosing Project Management Software

I found this article by Anita Simmonds very interesting because it challenged my perception of what I believed was the perfect project management software. But then I thought, I'll be using it for myself, just to realize that no work is done in isolation. The questions posted by Simmonds puts real perspective into making a choice for suitable PM software. We often want to have the biggest, best and more expensive option, comfortably neglecting the fact that so much project information can be accumulated in a spreadsheet.

Questions to ask:
  1. What will be culturally acceptable?
  2. Are people expecting a system?
  3. Are u using it as a change lever?
  4. Can it be offline or do you need web based software?
  5. Does it need to be familiar?
  6. Does it need to be compatible with other systems and software?
  7. How much money have you got?
  8. How simple is it to use?
  9. How flexible is it for your needs?
  10. Will you need training?
  11. What do you want it for/what do you want it to do?

Each of these question will probably bring you to a different answer, or it will help to make a choice to choose a software option that will take care of everything, or at least most of it!

Read this interesting article at:

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The increasing complexities of projects

Kerry Wills writes for PM Hut that, "projects are more complex than ever…

This is good news and bad news. The good news is that this complexity is driving the need and criticality of the Project Management profession to manage all of the moving parts. It is not uncommon for a mid sized project to have 5+ PMs to manage the different components. The bad news is that the complexity makes it really hard to deliver projects. Projects require so much coordination and integration now that one slip up can ripple through the entire project.

I wonder how far this trend will continue and if there are enough strong project managers who can actually deliver in this environment. My prediction is that companies will start to use vendor products and hosting more because the complexity to manage internally is just too high. Then, the Project Management profession will become more about vendor management and integration of components than pure delivery".

As with change that is taking place in the workplace on a daily basis I can agree that a shift may take place from pure delivery to vendor management. The vendor management and integration approach may allow a project to save labor cost as well. Having one or two project manager's instead of five project manager's to achieve the same desired goal, does exactly that. Save cost!

Read full article at:

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Using Twitter for Project Management

There are a couple of services to set up a private group for sensitive information and to provide Twitter access that you, as the project manager, can administrate. Here are 3 steps to start managing projects with Twitter:
  1. Create a Twitter account for your private group and have your team create Twitter accounts or assign Twitter accounts with privacy features for your project team;
  2. To add private message and group management functionality choose either of these current Twitter add-ons:
    • Tweetworks,
    • GroupTweet,
    • TweetKnot, or
    • Twitter4Groups
    • You can also get Twitter-like microblogging services if you, your sponsor, or your team insist on even more privacy with one of these services:
      • Yammer,
      • Twhirl,
      •, or
      • Twingr
  3. Create a account to shorten file names and hyperlinks as well as track when your files are clicked on and how many people clicked on your file (ever wonder if your customer really said he did not get your attachment? If you use you’ll at least see if he opened it).

Read full article by Toby Elwin:


Monday, April 4, 2011

The Project Management Survival Toolkit

What comprises the essential needs for each project is the project team’s decision, using the framework /body of knowledge at your disposal to design your project’s “toolkit.” While every project is different and has different needs, the following are the items we recommend you seriously consider packing in your PM survival Toolkit.

Article by Gary Hamilton, Gareth Byatt, and Jeff Hodgkinson:

Don't Start a Project with Scarcity

This article by Johanna Rothman highlights an occurrence which is very common and prevalent than most of us want to recognize or admit in functional organizational structures. The point is for any Project Manager to be honest about scarcity of project resources and to make it clear to stakeholders that it may result it prolonged project completion. This may however not be the case in a matrix structure where the Project Manager takes on higher responsibility and authority for project success.

Read article:

Combating the Challenges of a Matrix Organization

When project teams are built in preparation for an upcoming assignment, the structure of the surrounding enterprise organization can greatly affect how easy it is to gather resources and how a project is managed from start to finish. While tradition has it that businesses are usually organized around functional groups – i.e., the sales team is managed by a sales manager, the finance team is managed by a finance manager, etc. – most organizations have transitioned into matrix organizational structures. What exactly does that mean and what sort of problems did it solve?

Matrix Organization

Read full article by Kathlika Thomas: