Thursday, 20 December 2012
Wednesday, 19 December 2012
Tuesday, 18 December 2012
Monday, 17 December 2012
The Project Management Office is an organizational structure that standardizes the project–related governance processes and facilitates the sharing of resources, methodology's, tools and techniques. The idea is that the PMO support the Project Managers and Programme Managers and are an integral stakeholder and decision maker for the organisation's projects.
The primary function of the PMO is to support the projects in a number of ways, include Resourcing, Defining the Project Management Methodology, Monitoring Project Progress, Ensuring Project Compliance and help with Communication across Projects. This is not a definitive list, but these are the highlights, as stated within the PMBoK guide.
I have worked in several companies with a PMO, but the most visible has been at my current client. We currently have a PMO team with experienced personnel, who are able to guide and support the many Project Managers. When I first started at this client, I was unsure of the support that they would offer and did not fully understand the vital role that the PMO can play.
When I started work for the client, I helped the PMO to redefine the Project methodology. The methodology in place here is based on the Prince2 methods and practises, but has been modified to suit our environment. The projects follow a strict process and the PMO are here to help the Project Managers follow the methodology and deliver our projects. As the project methodology is based on Prince2, each project can tailor the process to suit the project requirements.
One of the key roles that is performed within the PMO is to determine the project and programme priorities. They have full visibility of all of the projects and understand the business strategy and goals. It is the role of the PMO to ensure that we deliver the right projects at the right time to ensure that the business strategy goals are reached. The PMO will track the projects, track the budgets and track the risks to ensure that the projects are successfully delivered, ensuring the business benefits are realised.
The PMO will ensure the projects are resourced, from a Project Management point of view, to ensure the correct skills are in place to deliver a successful project with an appropriate Project Manager.
PMO usually report on all of the projects to the organisation's Senior Management. They will take each project and be able to give an overall picture of all related and unrelated projects. They will highlight the key successes and failures and issue reports to indicate who many projects are being worked on, delivered and if any have been stopped. An important function of the PMO is to understand the business benefit of all of the projects and understand when to close projects early, if there is little business benefit or they do not align to the overall business strategy.
The PMO has much to offer a corporation and should be aligning the projects with the strategic direction of the business. In addition, the PMO should improve the communication to the stakeholders and should improve the quality of all project deliverables.
Tuesday, 11 December 2012
Wednesday, 5 December 2012
Saturday, 1 December 2012
Wednesday, 28 November 2012
The golden triangle covers the Time, Cost and Scope of the project , which all lead to the quality delivery of a project. If you change one, you will affect the other two in one way or another. For example, if my technical analyst on the project changes the server architecture from Physical to Virtual, this could effect both the Price and the Time for installation. If this component is on my critical path, then it could effect the time to completion, in either a positive or negative way. The Price may increase or decrease and will impact the project budget in a positive or negative way.
Friday, 23 November 2012
Thursday, 22 November 2012
Wednesday, 21 November 2012
I would recommend that you have at least two or three years Project Management experience before attempting to take this exam. You need to have completed a few projects before you attempt to even read the PMBoK guide, otherwise you may find it very confusing. Some people advise that you start with other books before attempting to read and fully understand the PMBoK Guide, but I did it the hard way. I had a few years of experience as a Project Manager and had obtained my Prince2 Practitioner Certification, so I already knew a considerable amount of Project Management Theory.
Tuesday, 20 November 2012
Just to let you know.....
I have created a link to a site with many Project Management blogs, listed as a simple news feed.
It is nothing fancy, but it is very useful in between tasks at work or at home, when I get a minute to scan various blogs. Instead of going to each blog one by one, I am able to scan through the blog post titles and see which one catches my eye.
Monday, 19 November 2012
Thursday, 15 November 2012
- Who is the PMI and what is PMP?
- PMP in a nutshell
- The PMP Exam
- What does PMP mean to me
- 3 years of continual learning
Prince2 is overseen by the Office of Government Commerce and is used in many companies including the government in the UK to manage projects in a controlled environment. The PMI (Project Management Institute) has several categories and levels of examination, however, I will only focus on the PMP (Project Management Professional) exam. I currently have both of these accreditations.
I hope to give a simple overview and some useful tips for the exam (Quick hint: study, study and more study).
Monday, 12 November 2012
I have three simple rules when using MS Project.
Sunday, 11 November 2012
I am looking for a service to be able to create mindmaps on my Android tablet, as well as enable me to view and edit these on the web.
The maps should sync with the tablet when I load it, or allow me to edit them offline. Does anyone know of such an app?
Thursday, 8 November 2012
Wednesday, 18 July 2012
Many people backup in one way or another. Some people on a regular basis create a CD or DVD of their important files, some people have a NAS drive stored away in a cupboard or in the garage and others save their files on multiple computers. There are many ways for the home user to back up.
In recent times, it is not uncommon for insurance companies to send your certificates to you online, or to stop all of your paper bills from the utilities companies coming to you through the paper post. These are some of the important files people keep on the their home computer.
In addition, people download all their photos of weddings, children and events to their computer for "safe" keeping, as the memory card from the camera might get lost, stolen or damaged. I know that I lost a memory card full of 200 photos from a family trip to Euro Disney and was devastated that it corrupt, within the camera itself.
With the use of media at home, people can now download music through the big resellers as well as videos. It might be a surprise over time, that some people have approximately 100 music albums stored on their computer, which probably cost in excess of £500.
At the end of the day, because people cannot see the media and files stored on the computer and cannot touch them, they seem to take a back seat when thinking about security and safety.
Ignoring the fact that there are bad people in the world creating viruses, ignoring that computer disks fail or corrupt, the following are reasons to make sure you backup your files.
1. Natural disaster - In recent weeks in the UK, we have experienced our wettest summer since records began. Many thousands of properties have been flooded, caused millions of pounds of damage. If people have a computer, the chances are that they are placed on the floor and not on a desk. Imagine if your house was under 4 foot of water. Would your computer be safe?
2. House fire - Imagine the worst scenario possible. You come home from work to find your house smouldering from a domestic fire. Inside all of your possessions have been lost, never to be seen again. Awful. But, once you go to the insurance company and try to find out details of insurance, your possessions, bills, utility companies etc... where is the information? Burned within your computer.
3. Power surge - This is quite rare in recent times, but if there is adverse weather, we can experience a power surge from time to time. If a computer is switched on and a power surge happens, the disk drive inside can become corrupt, or worse it would be rendered completely unreadable.
4. Loss / Theft - A situation where you have your laptop stolen, or your house burgled, is a sad event. Imagine you have your photos, documents and other media on the computer and all of your data is lost. You will never get this back and will have lost many hours of work, precious photos and your film collection.
5. Children - If, like me, you have children, they tend to play on the computer. Mine will search the internet, play games, use powerpoint and paint to draw pictures, or even complete their homework. I used to try to tell the teacher that my dog ate my homework, but what would they say? Children tend to eat and drink by the computer. Imagine that a glass of orange juice goes all over the laptop, into the keyboard and through to the workings of your laptop. No more data.
All of these scenarios above point to computers at home, usually positioned on the floor, or a laptop, where it is susceptible to damaged and more importantly data loss.
I looked for a solution to this problem and came across an online backup solution to take all of these worries away. I found a very good solution and have become a reseller myself. Take a look at http://www.empachalweb.com for a solution to backup an unlimited amount of data over an unlimited amount of machines. For an extra cost, you can backup a NAS and even create a shared, secure, drive for all of your machines to stay synchronized.
Take a look. Be safe. Backup online.
Friday, 13 July 2012
30 minutes adds up to 2.5 hour per working week. This amount of time is small enough to not make an impact to your working productivity. However, the golden rule is that if you do not take 30 minutes today, you cannot take 1 hour tomorrow. If you miss a 30 minute time slot in one day, you cannot ever make it up, as this could impact your productivity.
Further to this, I also believe in education. People may be an expert in a particular area, but in the current world, progression never stops. If you were an expert in Exchange 2007, well you are now out of date as Exchange 2010 is the latest version, with Exchange 2015 just around the corner.
It is up to each individual to learn and continuously learn and keep up, especially in the IT world. As a Lotus Notes developer I would make sure that I took at least one exam a year. I think in total, I have taken more than 10 exams related to Lotus over the years. Since moving from my technical background into the Project Management arena, I have already taken 3 exams and am now studying for the next.
I feel it is important to learn from a broad range of sources, including books, blogs and related websites. 30 minutes a day is not too much to ask and it pays dividends in your knowledge and overall breadth of knowledge in your chosen area.
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Thursday, 26 April 2012
I have been a PM for a number of years and I am often told that my budgets are either too high or too low. At the beginning of a project, this often concerns me and I always wonder what I have missed, or what the other person knows... that they have not told me.
I have the disadvantage, in one way, of a being a contractor, but also the clear advantage of being a contractor in another.
For the disadvantage, I do not know the project history or "norm" within the specific company. I do not know if projects historically tend to run to time and budget. I do not know if suppliers are particularly difficult, or is procurement can hold the ordering and payment processing up. I do speak to the other project managers and build relationships with all parties involved, from procurement, finance, technical teams and testers etc and I do find if there are any lessons learned from previous projects, from either the project managers or the PMO department.
The advantage I have is that I know different companies work in different ways. To mitigate this, I build the relationships between the key teams and make sure that they can accurately estimate their timescales, costs and highlight any risks and issues for me. I of-course build in a certain percentage of time and additional cost to enable any overrun.
What are you best tips for dealing with forecasting within an unknown company?
I looked at it in a little more details today and realized there was very little detail within the CV. It made me wonder what level of detail we should go into on a CV. My thoughts are that there should be enough information for each work placement to give an outline of what you have been working on, but leaving out enough detail to be a feeder for a discussion in the interview.
As a PM, I would suggest you explain the basics of any project you have managed, along with the timescales, budgets, project team size and any technology used, replaced or removed. Again, I would suggest this is at a high level as to not give away any confidentiality and to keep enough information back for interview questions.
In addition, I would highlight any particular issues or risks that were dealt with successfully along with any management reporting levels, SLAs, third party vendor communications etc... All of this I would see as secondary to the actual project details listed in the paragraph above.
The CV in question only came with the secondary information. I understand it was from an investment banking background, but there is still a certain amount of detail you can add to a CV without it breaking any confidentiality agreements... or am I wrong?
Tuesday, 27 March 2012
However, I attended a Bring Your Own Device event last week which discussed the security implications. One main point that came across was how insecure Android is, for example there was recently an application for a touch (flash light for my friends in the US), which would maliciously send a text message for an extortionate rate. McAfee were one of the presenters and showed a frightening slide that told us...
57% of Android users have no security on their phone
Only 5% have anti virus or anti malware
19% have some form of encryption
17% have a password, or keypad lock
Some of the above is quite frightening, especially as another slide showed that there were almost 400 new malware Apps found in Q4 of 2011, compared to just over 100 in Q3 of the same year.
The reason the hackers are targeting Android is due to that it is easy to publish an application on the Google Play site. Anyone can simply create an application and publish it. With the rising market share of Android, it seems that this is the easiest way to hit as many people. This is why Windows is always a target of many viruses and malware. I read last week that 90% of the smart phone purchased recently are either Android or iOS, with 53.8% of that figure being Android.
Another reason for the easy access for malware is that people do not keep their phone up to date with various patches from Google. This is for three main reasons.
The phone is "Rooted" and therefore the updates have to come from an independent developer.
The manufacturer does not update their version of the OS.
The mobile operator does not allow the OS to be updated by Google or the manufacturer and does not update the OS themselves.
All of these issues above are beyond the control of both the user and the corporation, when considering BYOD. Try to think of the number of applications that are downloaded each day. There was a game released 6 weeks ago, which has already been downloaded 35 million times. Hackers and writers of malware and viruses will target these popular applications in hope that just 1% of users run their malicious code.
How do you combat the threats?
The threats can be combated in a number of ways.
Malware / Viruses - Firstly, the OS could be kept up to date which would remove some of the loopholes that viruses and malware exploit. In addition to this, many of the virus protection software companies provide a mobile phone version, for example I use AVG at home, as it is free, and they provide a mobile version - also for free.
Device lock - On top of this we can add a simple screen lock, which would keep the average thief from stealing our data.
Encryption - In addition we should encrypt our phones, which would mean that without a key, the data would be unreadable. This means that as a company, you can send a command to delete the encryption key from the device and this in turn would make the data unreadable.
Firewall - For corporate customers, you can ensure that the web browsing on the device is all filtered through your company firewall, which will include the safe browser and proxy settings you use within the desktop browsers.
What to protect?
There are three parts to securing the mobile device.
Device - First, what would happen if the device was lost or stolen. A good Mobile Device Management (MDM) policy is required, which would either track the phone, or could even disable it to the point that it could never be used again. It would be good to add screen locks and password protection.
Data - The most expensive part of the loss of the device would not be the replacement value, but would be issues around the data loss. To prevent this the MDM should be able to Lock / Wipe or Delete the data on the device. The corporate data must remain encrypted on the device and therefore a tool would be able to remove the encryption key, to ensure the data remains secure. An issue here is
Applications - Some companies would choose to only allow certain Apps on their devices, but what would happen in a truly BYOD environment? If I was to use my own device for reading my work email, i would still want the choice to play games and use Apps that i want to use outside of work. In response to this, McAfee and other suppliers have created their own Application Store, which contain all of the Apps which have been scanned for any virus or malware, which could be used by the device owner. In addition to the supply of the applications, the Application Store would be able to remove applications from the device immediately, if a threat is detected.
The on-line world is a world where many unscrupulous people reside. They target the vulnerable and the target them in numbers. The new on-line experience is growing rapidly via the mobile browser and the number of Apps downloaded from various Application Stores is incredible, for example a new drawing game has had 35 million downloads within 6 weeks. With the combination of both the application downloads and the web browsing, the sample is large for people to exploit.
I only have a simple screen pattern lock on my phone, but will be adding the AVG free version of the anti virus / malware to my collection of applications today !
Wednesday, 22 February 2012
It is the project managers role to produce the PID and pass it on to the project board for authorisation. In reality the stakeholders, users and business analysts will need to be involved in producing much of the documentation.
The PID is a constantly evolving document and remains important throughout the project life cycle. The PID contains many documents/sections including the project plan, exception plans, risks/issues and therefore is updated throughout the project. It remains a reference point to who is doing "what, when, how, why".
Spend time keeping the PID updated and authorised.
Tuesday, 21 February 2012
Monday, 20 February 2012
In terms of Prince2, the definition of a project refers to a temporary organisation and therefore the Project Stakeholders are the people, groups, systems that are directly affected by the delivery of the business products of the project. From the early stages of a project, the Project Manager must identify the key stakeholders and understand the influence they will have on the product delivery.
Stakeholders may be internal or external, such as Trade Unions, or external support. The stakeholders may benefit from the project, however, to some the project may deliver a negative effect, such as reducing team sizes.
Identifying and working with the stakeholders is a key task in the early stages of your projects. As I am from a Prince2 background, i follow the standard 6 step approach to stakeholder engagement and interaction.
1. Who - Identify the key stakeholders
2. What - Understand what the project will mean to the stakeholders. They may gain or loose as products are delivered and therefore their commitment and influence will need to be managed.
3. How - This is the defining of the method of communication to the stakeholder. This will set out the frequency and content of the information that needs to be communicated.
4. When - This will define when the communications and the engagement of the different stakeholders will be required.
5. Do - This is a simple reminder - You must engage with the stakeholders. Make sure you do. You cannot deliver a product without their help, as it may not be fit for purpose.
6. Results - Check that the engagement and communication has been successful. Learn from feedback.
I actually think the 6 step process is a little over the top and will tailor the steps to suite my requirements. The key point is to make sure your stakeholders are engaged early within the project. Be careful, the stakeholder may influence the business in a positive or negative way, so choose your stakeholders wisely. Stakeholders generally include people from the Project Team, Senior Management, the Customer, Resource Managers, User groups, Trade Unions.
Define the stakeholder, Engage the stakeholder and Deliver a successful project !
Thursday, 16 February 2012
Scope Creep is one of the projects worst enemies and is something that all Project Managers work to avoid. If a change is to be made, then all the stakeholders must understand the impact to the project in terms of Risk and Cost in terms of financial or schedule.
A change to the project should be formal and may result in additional risks to the project, for example some of the resources may not be available for an extended period, or the change may impact other projects within the organisation.
There are several causes of Scope Creep, but the most common cause is that the requirements were poorly defined. This can be combated by spending a little more time on the PID and making sure that all the users and stakeholders are involved in this early stage within the project. A PID is the Project Initiation Document, which is a Prince2 term and is created to "...define the project’s scope and direction and use it as the basis for its authorisation, management and assessing its success. The document details all the foreseeable areas of the project, such as goals, scope, risks, controls and budget.". I will discuss the PID in a further article.
To manage the project scope, you need to make sure you are aware of the end game. You need to know the purpose of the project and how are you going to get there? For this the fundamental rule for my projects is to get the project defined, break it into steps and make sure these are delivered in the correct order. I always add a sentence to my Project Definition to the effect that says "Anything that is not disclosed within this Project Definition and PID, is outside of the scope of this project.". This tells the stakeholders within the project, that if is not in the document, it is not going to be delivered.
In summary, make sure you have the project scope written down and signed off. When changes to the scope arise, make sure a project change document is created and authorised by the stakeholders, before you consider changing the scope. This change of scope will require the Project Change Document as well as a budget review and a Project Plan review. In larger organisations the Programme Manager will need to be involved as this change in a single project may impact other projects in their portfolio.
Beware of Project Scope Creep !
Tuesday, 14 February 2012
I am planning to present my current thoughts on the project approach, initial architecture design and implementation phases to my management. I was going to create a mind map in Powerpoint, but discovered that Visio has a mind mapping template. I have successfully created two linked mind map pages within one Visio file, which is really useful. this was achieved by using the double-click behaviour of the shape within Visio.
I may break down my project onto separate pages within the single file, which is much easier than using my usual mind mapping software with many files. Does anyone else use this approach?
One question I do have.... Can you attach some text to a box within the mind map and then print all of the text out as a document, rather than a mind map? That would be really useful.
Here are some simplified instructions for those how would like to try.
1. Open Visio and from the menu select "File -> New -> Choose Drawing Type..."
2. (Using Visio2003) Select Category -> "Brainstorming" and Template -> "Brainstorming Diagram"
3. Drag a Main Topic into the centre of your page and rename the text caption
4. Make sure you have the "Brainstorming" tool bar and then start adding sub tasks by highlighting the Main Topic and then clicking on the "Sub task" button in the tool bar.
5. Continue to add sub tasks to the Main topic, or even to the Sub-Tasks to make a hierarchical mind map.
Monday, 13 February 2012
I have used a site called Planet Lotus for many years, keeping up with all of the blog articles relating to Lotus Notes. This site is a valuable tool in today's busy world as it provides a collection, in date/time order, of all of the blog entries created by people in the Lotus Community. It is a fantastic resource.
I am moving more into the Project Management world, I was looking for a similar resource. It does not exist. I am now trying (for free) to get a PM Community together and a collection of feeds to provide for all.
Here is the link.
I'd appreciate a mention to your PM's and hopefully I can grow this into a similar useful community site, just like Planet Lotus.
Well, this project plan was obviously created by an advanced user, as it had many constraints and dependencies. I did not understand the concept of some of the dependancies, for example SS (Start-to-Start) and Start-to-Finish (SF). Some even had extra days after then, such as "28FS + 5 Days".
I came across a simplified article on the Microsoft website, which explains the concepts of all four (SS, SF, FS, FF) dependancies in the form of a small project to deliver a Wedding Cake. Here is the link.
Thursday, 9 February 2012
"How do you keep track easily?"
I keep a note in my notepad of the tasks I need to, or have performed within the day and next to them, I write down a numeric figure to represent the number of hours that I have worked on that particular task / project. I keep it simple and round the figures to the nearest 15 minutes.
I have seen that some people keep their electronic timesheets open all day. I think this take discipline and most people do not seem to be able to do this on a day to day basis.
I find that if you do not complete the timesheets on a day to day basis, it is very easy for it to become a very difficult task and often people make up times and tasks just to fill their 8 hours of the day. This of-course has the knock on effect to our project budgets.
So, I pose the question to you.... "How do you keep track of your day to day timesheet?"