31 mayo 2010

Identify risks

As PMI's Practice Standard for Project Risk Management precisely states, "a risk cannot be managed unless it is first identifed" and that means this must be the first to be executed. This risk identification activity will go on during the whole project and the risk register has to be considered a live document.

The risk identification tries to detect risks as early as possible but, at the same time, it must be implemented as an iterative process which allows the incorporation of additional risks at any point of the project.

A risk can have either a positive or a negative impact in the project, the first is called opportunity while the latter, a threat. Goal of risk management is to maximize the impact and likelihood of opportunities while the threats impact must be mitigated.

To avoid misunderstandings and misinterpretations on the identified risks, it is recommended to assign a risk owner since the time the risk is initially registered.

Notes taken during my study of "Practice standard for Project Risk Management" from PMI

Project risk management processes

Projects take place in real life and, as we all know, uncertainty is the only constant in life.

Project management is a try to control the uncertainty around the project, note that control does not mean avoid risks and uncertainty, which is not possible, the only chance is to understand, assess and manage them through Project Risk Management discipline.

This approach is something (almost) all project managers already apply to their projects, adding buffer to schedule, cost and resources as well as being cautious when reporting to senior management.

The Project Risk Management is an approach to structure to above explained while improving results and making it more predictable.

According to PMI's Practice Standard for Project Risk Management, there are
six processes involved:

- Plan risk management
Identify risks
- Perform qualitative risk analysis
- Perform quantitative risk analysis
- Plan risk responses
- Monitor and control risks

which will be covered in this blog shortly

Notes taken during my study of "Practice standard for Project Risk Management" from PMI

28 mayo 2010

Projectized vs. Functional organization structure

PMBok from PMI defines a projectized organization as any organizational structure in which the project manager has full authority to assign priorities, apply resources, and direct the work of persons assigned to the project. While functional organization is defined as a hierarchical organization where each employee has one clear superior, and staff are grouped by areas of specialization and managed by a person with expertise in that area.

Which of the two should be used depends heavily on the organization's type activity and also will influence importantly the performance and deliverables.
A project oriented business managed by a functional organization structure will be slow, heavy and not flexible.
A functional oriented business managed by a projectized organization structure will be confusing, over managed and unclear.

Matrix organization is the most usual with its three flavours: weak, balanced and strong, depending on where the project coordination takes place.

In principle, there is none better than other but it is critical that the organization structure matches the business activity.

21 mayo 2010

Do professional social networks work ?

I have used the social networks since 2004 (or so) when I received a first invite to join Plaxo, they were claiming to avoid keeping track of your contacts' moves among companies, email and phone number changes and so on.
Later, around 2005, I signed up in Linkedin where I am quite active with more 500 contacts after five years as a user and every now and then, somebody asks me "what is the point of these professional social networks? Do they work?" Well, here is my answer.
To me, business is most of it, about contacts, a good product is only the first step, then you need to build a trusting relationship between the seller and the buyer.
Same applies to professional opportunities, you count first on the people that have worked with you or near you or from whom you have references through a common friend or (ex) colleague.
Professional social networks widen the connection line of sight, there you have real contacts, people you really have met face to face at some point as well as online contacts from whom you know their activity, their experience, skills, contacts, travelling activity and some others.
The further a reference is the less trust it creates but all connections are useful, at least to keep track of where they are working...

17 mayo 2010

She is mine again

Those of you who know me have most probably realized I talk about a book, the car but I usually say my blackberry, I am indeed a power user of the blackberry and I have it at hand at all times, yes, all times.

In order to make my job easier, I connected it to the BES (Blackberry Enterprise Server) of the company I work for and, this way, I can read my business related emails anywhere and at anytime and it worked fine quite some time.
I learned what "IT policy" means and how it blocks the access of your device to some applications and services but I got round of it in different and always creative ways but slowly, slowly, the restrictions were too much. I could not read my Gmail, I could not check Facebook and I could not report on Foursquare, suddenly, I realized the blackberry was not mine anymore and I decided to get her back to me at the expense, if necessary, to stop reading my business related emails on it.

How? Let me show you:

1) Backup your device using Desktop Manager

2) Download and install JL_Cmdr from here http://www.blackberryfreaks.com/JL_Cmder.html  select the option 5) "resettofactory" of the JL_Cmdr menu and follow instructions, it will require remove the battery to reset the device completely.

3) Download and reinstall Desktop Manager from here http://na.blackberry.com/eng/services/desktop/  and make sure you select you want to use your private email and not your business / work email. This option happens to be selectable only at installation time, which is why you must reinstall it.

4) Restore your device from the backup of step 1)

5) Now, the blackberry should be all yours and...
... you should be able to disable the firewall in Options > Security Options > Firewall.
....you could make sure your APN is set in Options > Advanced Options > TCP. If you are uncertain about your APN, username and password, check here http://forum.nimbuzz.com/index.php?topic=545.0;wap2
... you could download latest version of Foursquare http://appworld.blackberry.com/webstore/content/6921
... you could download Google Mobile App in http://www.google.com/mobile/
 and through it, the latest version of GMail for Blackberry.
... you could use your Facebook for Blackberry client from ... somewhere ;-)
You will need to remove (and put it back) the device battery after setting are changed, do not be shy on that and, most importantly, be patient, it will work.

I suggest you to read some of this f...ing IT policy in http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&source=hp&q=remove+it+policy+blackberry

 And you do not let the IT guys take control of YOUR blackberry, take her back to you ... as I did. 

13 mayo 2010

Creating internal project management communities: experiences from government and private sectors.

The experience from the European Commission was very interesting, the management does not fund the project management community although agree and support that some volunteers organize meetings, presentations and conferences to spread and discuss the PM subject.
They arrange the conferences and debates for lunch time and the European Commission project managers, most of them located in Brussels and only a few in Luxembourg, listen to the speaker while eat their sandwich. With such weak support, the community is growing and maintaining their activity, actually, it is really a community as it is always optional for the members to join or not every event. If at some point, there is not enough attendees, the community will be discontinued but, from Robert Maclaren's words it is far from happening as their colleagues are contributing more and more to the community of practice

The second speaker, Michael Söderberg, told us how Siemens in USA has created a community, PM@Siemens with a completely different approach. In this case, as the company is project oriented, being part of the community is not an option for the project managers, they have to. On the other hand, they are geographically distributed and meeting all of them together is almost impossible. They created a website, using sharepoint to share best practices, methodologies, share experiences and so on. They also have periodic video and audio conferences. So far, they are also doing well.

Notes from the PMI Global Congress EMEA Milano - 2010.
Presentation given by Robert Maclaren and Michael Söderberg

PMI Global Congress EMEA - Milano May 2010

I attended the PMI Global Congress EMEA in Milano, 10th, 11th and 12th of May.

Here it is the list of conferences I selected from the program:
- Benefits of Risk Analysis. Speaker: Wesley Gillette. My post on it.
- Creating internal project management communities: experiences from government and private sectors. Speakers: Robert Maclaren, Michael Söderberg. My post on it.
- Managing virtual project teams by using technology. Speaker: Thomas J. Mattus
- Too many cookd spoil the broth, or maybe not ? Speakers: Konstantinous A. Kirytopoulos, Dimitra Voulgaridou
- The PMO as a centre of excellence: virtual community or physical unit ? Speakers: Maria Cristina Barbero, Giuseppina Copetti.
- Project complexity: the stakholders' world. Speakers: Walter Ginevri, Maria Moresco
- Extreme project management in Telco industry. Speakers: Francesco Ludovico, Francesco Petrarca
- Pros and cons of Agile project management methods, from an experienced project manager's viewpoint. Speakers: Mattias Georgson Petren, Bjorn Granvik
- Project modular risk-based closure process. Speaker: Olivier Lazar.

More than 800 people from 57 countries attended the congress and the countries with higher participation were Italy, USA, Germany, Switzerland and France.

I also participated for two days in the Translation Verification of some PMI questionnaires from English to Spanish.

11 mayo 2010

Fuzzy project schedule ... but realistic

Risk Management is one of the main process of the Project Management discipline and consists of a number of activities, Risk Planning, Risk Identification, Risk Analysis, Risk Response and Risk Monitoring amongst others.

In a usual or deterministic schedule, each activity starts and finishes on specifics dates, for instance, design activity starts on 3rd June and finishes 30 of June.
What happens in the real world? The contractors might have monthly contracts and they might be available on 1st June and the design can start earlier than schedule or, the project manager only get resources starting on Mondays so that means the team will start either on 31st May or 7th June. With regards to the design completion, other stuff might happen that makes it to be completed earlier or later than scheduled.

What all that means is that whenever project milestones are set to a specific date it means that the project manager states that date as the most likely to happen and it will happen, in reality, some days before or after that date. Actually, it is more realistic to plan in terms of optimistic, pessimistic and most likely date of every milestone and calculating those in terms of the risks related to each one.

When risk management is applied to project schedule preparation, the usual deterministic schedule becomes fuzzy but more realistic at the same time.

One interesting side effects of this fuzzy project schedule is that the critical path happens to be multiple and depending on which risks finally occurs. The activities to watch are not the ones on the critical path any more but those that are most often in the critical path and that is detected running simulations of the occurrence of the various risks identified.

This post consists of a few takeaways from the presentation of Wesley Gillette at the PMI Global Congress – EMEA in Milano on 10th May … awesome presenter, by the way.