Thursday, 20 December 2012

Now the hard work begins

As mentioned in a post yesterday, I had applied to the PMI to be accepted to take the Risk Management Professional certification.  Today I received confirmation that my application has been accepted and that I can now embark on the long journey of preparing for the exam.

I have read a few blog posts about the exam and it seems that I "should" be in a good position to take the exam, as I have only recently obtained the Project Management Professional qualification.  People have been saying that all the hard work in preparing for the PMP certification should put me in a good position to take the Risk Management exam.

New contract extension

As a contractor I usually start the negotiations for my contract, 4 weeks prior to the end of a contract.  Very few potential clients would even entertain my CV if I was not immediately available.  This is the game of being a contractor.

My contract finishes in two days time. 

I am pleased to say that my contract has finally been extended, with just hours remaining.  I know I am working for a large client, with many contractors and I report into a very busy Project Management Office, but this is cutting it fine.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Being Lazy

I am a fairly lazy Project Manager - and yes, I read the blog and have read the book. I have been this way since the early days as a developer and it was encouraged by my mentor. A good example of this laziness is that I used to write code that enabled the user to configure systems rather than them coming back to me for changing settings and configuring keywords.

This laziness has followed throughout my career and is now working for me in the world of Project Management, for example, I use the tools available to me to automate as much as possible. At my current client site, I have a standard corporate weekly project report to complete each week which contains many figures taken from various systems. In each system I have written a mini-report to provide me with a set of figures ready for me to plug-in to the weekly report. In turn, all of these figures are then calculated automatically, giving totals and graphs, without me having to re-input figures in various worksheets. The weekly report used to take about an hour to write, now it takes 15 minutes. This is what I mean by lazy.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Next Exam - Here we go again

If you having been reading this blog, you will know I am keen on the PMP principle of Continuous Learning.  I like to take an exam or two every year and have done this since my university days.  I am currently working on the Project Management theme, after many years as a software developer and passing many of the Lotus and IBM Certified Developer Certifications.  I achieved the Prince2 Foundation and Practitioner Certifications in 2011 and then completed the PMI Project Management Professional exam in 2012.  In addition, I passed the ITIL Foundation exam towards the end of 2011, but I have chosen not to pursue this stream of qualification any further as I just wanted an understanding of the methodology.

I have been trying to decide on the exam choice for 2013.  Being a Project Manager, I like to have things organised and planned, both at work and at home.  I like to learn and therefore I have been trying to decide what I will achieve next.

Monday, 17 December 2012

What do the PMO do?

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

What is in a Project Management Plan

A Project Management Plan (PMP) is an ever evolving document throughout life cycle of the project.  It lays the foundations of the project purpose, scope, structure and actions to complete the required product.  The PMP will start as a shell, containing high level information, but will be completed in more detail as the project progresses.  The estimates, risks, strategies and plans contained in the PMP will become more specific as the information becomes available to the Project Manager.

The PMBoK guide defines the PMP as " the process of documenting the actions necessary to define, prepare, integrate and coordinate all subsidiary plans.  The Project Management Plan defines how the project is executed, monitored and controlled, and closed".

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Building The team

Building a team is one of the most important aspects of being a good of a Project Manager. When the project is under pressure to deliver, you have to rely on your team to put in the extra effort in a short amount of time, under constraints and under a close eye of your Project Board and Sponsor.

Just this week, I have had to deliver the Project Plan and budgets to the company PMO to gain authorisation to continue with the project.  I am at the end of the Planning phase and this means that the conceptual design, plan for the project, migration, strategy and operations, along with many other documents, have had to be delivered.  Most of these have been discussed in detail, but not put to paper, so I needed my team to deliver.

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Project Initiation in a Japanese Corporation - Part 1

I am in the final week of the planning phase, within our Corporate Project Life-cycle   The life cycle is based on the Prince2 methodology, seeing as I wrote it soon after completing my Prince2 Practioner exam.  This is the time that the RACI matrix of the phase deliverables is being checked and the components are being completed.  There are many authorisations to seek and complete, of which each document could have between 1 and 6 signatures.  The final Project "bundle" of documents has a header sheet, where approximately 10-12 will eventually sign it off. 

I work for a Japanese Corporation, which follow a strict protocol in terms of project control and budgets.  It is actually quite a refreshing change to work for a company that expects you will spend a serious amount of time in the planning phases, proving your concepts and gaining sign-off from all parties concerned.  It means that each department and management level, understand your project, authorise your project and have buy-in to your deliverables.