Monday, 20 January 2014

My year in 2013

2013 has been a successful year.  It has been a good year in both my personal life and my working life.  I worked for two large corporate banking clients, had the biggest turnover for my consulting company, I passed the PMP-RMP exam and have seen both my children continue to grow into pleasant little creatures and are both excelling at school and extra-curricular activities.

I started the year working for a very large Japanese bank.  An immediate concern came to light in January, as a second Project Manager was assigned to my project.  To begin with this was a concern, however, we broke the project into work streams and managed to separate our workload, each reporting to each other on a daily basis.  I took on the challenge of the technical side of the project, including the building of infrastructure and the purchase of the equipment.  In addition, my role was to control the overall project plan, including the communications to the business and training for the technical teams and the business.  The second project manager to on the ownership of the RAID and the laborious reporting to the senior management and stakeholders.  This breakdown of responsibilities worked well for the project and it was very successful.

In addition to the daily project work, I took on the personal challenge to become a PMP-RMP, taking the Risk Management Professional exam from the PMI in March.  I passed this after many hours of self-study.  I have mentioned in an earlier blog article, that I like to take one exam each year, so this was an achievement that I had planned.

In March, while working for the large Japanese bank, I lost faith in my PMO.  I could not understand why there were particular processes in place to perform work and create documents, for the sake of creating documents.  In most cases, these were new procedures and we had to create many new documents, without templates, in various formats.  Some reports were requested in Word, but then re-requested in both PowerPoint and Excel, to then revert back to the original version in Word, which wasted days of time, not just hours.  It seemed as if we were creating reports, for very little reason, which was frustrating and time consuming on a large £6m+ project.

The battle with PMO lasted until the end of April, when I left the company.  It was upsetting to leave, but the management was in transition and the organisation lost focus on the important aspects of the project.  I had already been in talks with another Japanese Bank, so decided to move on.  One of the main reasons for being a consultant, rather than an employee of a corporation, is the fact that I can choose where to work and when to move on.  I had become quite stressed and it had started to come with me and affect my family life, so after some discussions with my Wife, I put a plan into action to move on.

I started my new role, just 3 days after leaving the Japanese Bank.  I took a long weekend away with the children by the sea to relax, clear my head and prepare to take on my new challenge.  The new role was to migrate 3 data centers to 2 new data centers and to outsource all of the data center hands-on activity.  This was to be a challenging role, which is what I thrive for - again, another reason for being a consultant.

As a contractor over the last 10+ years, I have been in a comfortable situation, having detailed knowledge within my field of expertise (Lotus Notes/Domino) and I have been at the top of my tree, totally within my comfort zone.  This new role led me into the world of Consulting.   It started off with supplier negotiations, due diligence and contract creation, none of which  I had performed previously to a great extent.  My previous role at the large Japanese bank had introduced working on the negotiations with suppliers, but not to the extent that I have been recently.  This was a very exciting and challenging time, sometimes felling a little out of my depth, but knowing that I had the backing on an excellent consulting partner and seeing the products of the weekly work.  I soon became confident and comfortable with the role, which has been very rewarding.

The project is now in full swing, with a further three project managers reporting to me.  I have taken on the role as the Programme Manager for the client, ensuring that we integrate all of the other IT projects, the vendor management, the infrastructure build and the interactions with PMO, Compliance and Risk.  I am well suited to this role, with many years of experience at this level.  This is an exciting project and one that will keep me engaged for the coming year.

Overall, 2013 started as a challenge and continued to be a challenge throughout the year.  The challenge in the early part of the year was purely down to politics, which was resolved by moving on.  The challenge for the rest of the year was down to being involved with working at the limit of my knowledge and experience.  This was a challenge I have enjoyed and have prospered with. 

Moving into 2014, I need to decide which exam I will take this year.  I have decided to keep with the PMI track, but need to decide between the Agile or the Programme Management exams.  I have been working within an Agile environment for many years, as a developer, so this seems to be the preference at the moment.  In addition, my current client works to a DSDM Atern Project Methodology, however, my project is being run along the waterfall standard, but reporting as an Agile Project - work that out !!

Happy New Year to you all. 

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