Is your company doing the right projects? Senior Project Manager at The Project Foundry takes a look at this question, and the solution – Portfolio Management!
Is your company doing the right projects? Senior Project Manager at The Project Foundry takes a look at this question, and the solution – Portfolio Management!
Contracting is now common in nearly all business sectors and provides many benefits. In this guide we will share expert advice about project contracting.
Our Cloud Consultancy team are here to help enable remote working without the need for large investment or upscaling your infrastructure.
Our Senior Solutions Consultant, Mark Carragher, takes a look at the Top 10 Cyber Threats & Concerns for the coming year. Check them out here!
Here are some of the product announcements alone:
Aiming at Consistent Hybrid Cloud Operations
VMware Hybrid Cloud Operations simplify the way customers manage systems and applications through automation, cost management, compliance, resource governance, security and visibility. New advancements in VMware Hybrid Cloud Operations include:
And look at some of their acquisitions
Pivotal, digital transformation technology and services provider and sister company under the Dell EMC umbrella, (Aug. 22 for $2.7 billion);
Carbon Black, new-gen security provider (Aug. 22 for $2.1 billion);
Intrinsic, application security startup (Aug. 20, no acquisition price announced);
Veriflow, continuous network verification provider (Aug. 16, no acquisition price announced);
Uhana, application and network optimiser (July 25, no acquisition price announced);
Bitfusion.io, hardware acceleration provider (July 16, no acquisition price announced);
Avi Networks, automation intelligence provider (June 14, no acquisition price announced);
Bitnami, web application optimiser (May 15, no acquisition price announced); and
AetherPal, smart remote control maker (Feb. 5, no acquisition price announced).
And so you can see the trend; it really is all about hybrid cloud and multi cloud management. It is what they see as the future, and I agree. Each vendor has their own tools, and there are some solutions out there that work, such as Terraform – although in a limited way and for certain cloud solutions. But this is the gap that VMware seem eager to address, they want to be everything to everyone, and while that is great it is also risky. My hope for them after my trip to VMWorld is that it will it pay off, and if anyone can manage this I do think it could be them. And with that, we (the industry) need these solutions, and fast.
In short: VMware wants to be the full-service shop for anything to do with enterprise hybrid-cloud infrastructure—and on any cloud you can name. To do this, it’s incorporating its own versions of new-gen IT that include containers, microservices, Kubernetes orchestration and some new home-grown and acquired platforms to manage the job.
But this isn’t what VMworld is about, it’s not just about products or vendor promotions, although that’s all you may see, but looking beyond this, you start to see the trends that are developing, the direction the industry is going, and the next “big thing”. This for me is why it’s a unique event. Being able to get a glimpse into that ever-developing future that always makes it worth the trip.
As always feel free to reach out with any questions or comments.
Mark Carragher, Senior Solutions Consultant
Zen, as a practice, emphasises rigorous self-control, insight into the self and environment around you, and the personal expression of insight, especially for the benefit of others. Zen is not a goal, but a way to experience the journey.
So how do you run a project with a Zen-like comfort and assurance in both the process, and the outcome?
We take all of the stress and uncertainty out of managing projects, from the most complex enterprise-level portfolios, to the most straightforward business projects. We have the expertise, experience and the right people to deliver top-class results every time. Managing projects is what we do and what we know. We repeatedly and consistently deliver outstanding results, and in only two years, we have already amassed an enviable roster of satisfied clients, such as Applegreen, Tesco Mobile, Corvil, Dixon’s Carphone, Virgin Media, Datalex, SMBC, Goshawk Aircraft Leasing, and Bank of Ireland, to name just a few.
Our promise to you is the guarantee of project success. And that isn’t an idle catch-phrase. When you engage a project manager from The Project Foundry, you don’t get a single resource, who also becomes a single point-of-failure. You gain the insight and deep knowledge of our extensive team of hugely experienced project and programme managers, who are ready to help in any situation. They have seen it before, and no situation is new for them.
What we excel at is the maintenance of a bird’s eye view of the project landscape, never getting bogged down in the weeds. And when an issue arises, one of our team is guaranteed to have dealt with it before, immediately taking the worry and uncertainty out of your hands, and ensuring the quickest and most efficient route past even the most awkward project road-blocks.
The Project Foundry stands for quality, and integrity in the execution of projects, every time. We only hire the most qualified and competent project resources in Ireland, and we provide flexible and pragmatic solutions for every business we engage with. Do you want to sleep well at night, feel better about yourself and your business, and ensure that your projects are delivered on-time, on-budget, and executed in the most professional manner possible?
You need The Project Foundry.
‘Strength of character’- It’s an overused phrase, but for a project manager to succeed, it’s an absolute must. This article serves to remind you of those situations where project managers have struggled to say no, to the detriment of themselves and their projects.
Most projects are genuinely valuable, and begin with the best of intentions. In fact, most projects will provide long-term value if they are properly chosen, and executed correctly. However, project managers must use their knowledge and experience to flag red lights early in a project, when they first see them. Sometimes this will mean pulling the plug altogether. It’s a tough call to make, but which is worse: saying ‘no’ and forfeiting a contract, or failing so badly that your long-term reputation is damaged?
It is always easy to say ‘yes’ to a project that seems straightforward, easy to complete and resource-light. However, beware the poisoned apple! These ‘’no-brainer’ projects often end up running way over time and cost, simply because they look easy, and get the least attention. Complacency is a huge danger. It is always better to complete one project successfully, than struggle to finish two projects late and over-budget.
Projects that seem quick and easy on the surface are most often the ones that are the exact opposite.
Projects that seem quick and easy on the surface are most often the ones that are the exact opposite. When it comes to execution, too often you will under-estimate the time and resources needed. Project work almost inevitably leads to more project work, and it’s too late to say ‘no’ when the scope has crept to a dangerous point. Evaluate every project with an independent eye, and as an independent entity. Say no, and keep your blood pressure low!
Projects also tend to have a certain air of inertia surrounding them, where they take up more and more time, but less and less is really being achieved. Often, projects managers allow themselves to get wrapped up in particularly non-constructive work-flows. It takes enormous strength of character to stick your head above the parapet, and stop the inertia there. This is particularly hard when a project is a key part of an overall programme, and particularly in a bigger project which is growing and growing, but it is always better to be brave than meek.
When we surveyed a group of project managers recently, most initially said they were always (or nearly always) able to see the ‘big picture’ on a project, and avoid getting stuck in the weeds. However, this confidence was not borne out with greater inspection of the facts. Project managers are too often inherently obsessed with inputs and outputs, correct methodologies and the pursuit of efficiency, and unable to see how all of the above fit into the overall grand plan. Sometimes, it can be hard for them to see the wood for the Gantt chart.
Saying ‘no’ at a time where it might cause problems is a brave thing to do, but with hindsight, it can often save huge project lag, avoid a squeeze on resources, and save damage to the reputation of the project manager in the long-term.
But what if you didn’t even know it exists? Up until last year I would be lying if I said otherwise. A successful project manager, I was busily working away with my PMP in one hand and my copy of Microsoft Project in the other. Projects were on time and within budget and the people did not seem to be the problem.
Or were they? Or was I?
I had a friend return from the U.S and mention his level of EI. I thought he had applied to Enterprise Ireland and my first question was “How much did you get?”! I soon realised the error of my ways and did my homework.
Essentially, emotional intelligence (EI) is about knowing oneself and possessing good social skills. But what exactly are these skills and pre-requisites for a high EI? Some people are lucky enough to be born with them, gifted in true ‘sleeping-beauty’ style, enveloped by their family’s support and structure.
You know the type. You step inside their lives and instantly feel at ease. They are the Jedis, leaders; in control of themselves and others around them. They get stuff done or even better, empower others to do it and they don’t even want the credit.
But those blessed with emotional intelligence go beyond good manners and extend to kind words, thoughtful gestures and heart-felt enquiries. They possess that ‘likability’ factor and breed success wherever they go.
Daniel Goleman wrote a book in 1995 which broke new ground, from psychologists to businesses, everyone listened and realised there was something to it. High in demand and now held with a higher regard than IQ, Emotional Intelligence is not just expected but evaluated, searched for and cultivated in employees, potential partners and offspring.
But what’s most intriguing about this intelligence is that it’s free to all. Readily accessible, within one’s reach and of real value to each and every one of us. There is no need for extra grinds, private tuition fees, high points or any of the above to secure high attainment rates. It’s not who you know but what you know about yourself and others.
All the same it was a highly-paid consultant who introduced me to the themes and concepts. Or at least they charged a half-day rate and recommended the reading list, and I have taken it from there. But this possibly just confirms how important and beneficial it is to businesses and society at large. Schools are beginning to recognise its value and trying to raise awareness and status within education policy and through teaching methodologies.
EI is broken into many areas but the ones which spoke directly to me were
Ultimately, emotional intelligence is about self-regard for oneself and others. How well you treat yourself and others is paramount. It is not a once-off, self-indulgent, exhibitionist display of one’s better self. Instead, it is a slow, steady, silent and consistent pattern of equality in terms of the respect, treatment, time and attention given to oneself and others which defines this virtue.
These are basic human qualities held in high esteem but sometimes forgotten and taken for granted, emotional intelligence is not only difficult to attain but also retain. It cannot be checked off a list or crammed into a late-night study session. Moreover, once achieved and recognised, it is through practise and living with ourselves and others that it is found and where it should always remain.
The seven wastes of lean are well known, but on paper they appear to apply to manufacturing processes. With a little helpful translation, however, they adapt beautifully to the process of software development, and can be a very useful framework from which to examine the project management of software development, as outlined below:
1) ‘In-process inventory’ translates to ‘Partially done work’
This is often seen as the most damaging of all wastes, which can de-rail any software project quickly. It includes finished, but un-checked code, undocumented code, untested code, code which is not yet in production, and code which is commented out.
2) ‘Over-Production’ – translates to ‘Extra Features’
It is a broadly accepted statistic that almost two thirds of the functionality and features in any software application are rarely (or never) used. When you think about this, it means that two thirds of the effort put into building and maintaining software is largely a wasted effort. There are both direct and in-direct wastes here also – the time taken to build the unused software features is a direct waste, but the indirect waste is the maintenance of that code and functionality over time, into the future.
3) ‘Extra Processing’ translates to ‘Re-learning’
Continuous learning, or the avoidance of re-learning the same information, is one of the key facets of good project management methodology. Re-learning is particularly wasteful in a software development environment. Failing to learn from mistakes is uniformly costly, and somewhat unforgivable. Within software development, this includes poor quality and weak planning, switching tasks, bad communications within and without the software development team, and the dangers of undocumented code.
4) ‘Transportation’ translates to ‘Handoffs’
Instead of the transportation of physical material, in software development this waste is virtual, but equally important to avoid. It can include the transfer of code from one developer to another, the handoff of software from developer to tester, and the movement from development to deployment. Strong, documented communications between all of the above are critical to avoid serious waste in time and resources.
5) ‘Motion’ translates to ‘Task Switching’
This is where a software development team member transfers from one specific task to another, without completing the first one, thereby interrupting the on-going flow. It also applies to a shared team is working on more than one project at a time, and often occurs when there is a lack of proper coordination between the product owner and the development team.
6) ‘Waiting’ translates to ‘Delays’
This refers to anything which delays time in the delivery of a component of the software in question. This could be anything from a lack of capable resources, a myriad of items in-progress, external and uncontrollable dependencies, a lack of understanding of what really adds ‘value’, or any number of unwanted and unnecessary processes that should be called out.
7) ‘Over-Production’ translates to ‘Defects’
In manufacturing, over-production can be a safety net from faulty or unreliable manufacturing processes. In software development, this can be distilled down to software defects. These can have a broad range of causes, but all can be avoided. Defects often arise from a lack of understanding of the story, a lack of efficient engineering processes, missing acceptance criteria, a lack of technical skill among team members, or the late involvement of testers in the process, with inattention to automated testing.
The Art of War, a 13-chapter masterwork written in the fifth century BC, is referred to even now, two-and-a-half millennia later, as one of the definitive texts on military tactics and strategy. Some things never change…. Sun Tzu, its author, may not even have existed, or may be a composite of different strategic geniuses, but ‘he’ remains an exalted figure, and reading it today, as a project manager, it’s easy to see why.
You may think that this is a strange book to reference in the pursuit of better project management. But what project manager can honestly say that at times, getting to the goal of a completed project doesn’t sometimes feel like a battle at best, if not at times like a war.
Countless books have been written on the parallels that can be drawn between this work and business management, but none have examined project management specifically. To save you reading 200 pages, we have narrowed the key points down to the six below. Sun Tzu says: read on.
How to win over everybody, without even fighting? Happy stakeholders mean a happy project, and in turn make you look better. Equally, leading by force, and alienating people in the process may lead to a positive outcome, but the damage done to yourself and the project in the mean-time is destructive. Leadership takes many forms, but project managers need to focus on the non-hierarchical leadership needed to win people over, without them realising they’ve been led. Let’s distil this down to the timeless adage: ‘more carrot, less stick’.
Too often, project managers pay too much attention to the project and problems facing them, and too little time taking a long, hard look at themselves. Self-understanding, and an appreciation of their own emotional intelligence (or blind spots therein) are what sets great project managers apart from average ones. If you understand yourself, you understand how people will react to you, and you’re already one step ahead of the game.
Stakeholders, anyone? It’s not just about impressing the senior ones. Often, it’s the guys on the front lines who need the most encouragement, and you need them to trust you. Don’t focus on impressing your paymasters. You may not get paid if you alienate the troops!
Risk – ignore it at your peril! Know what’s coming down the track and be prepared for every eventuality. If you know intimately every risk you face, then you can deal with them before they arise, or at least be the first to deal with them, before you lose control.
Change is difficult, and when tasked with implementing huge change, you must leave just enough room for manoeuvre. When you box people in completely, they are much more likely to take the ‘nuclear’ option, and you are more likely to fail, or at least end up with egg on your face. Change is inevitable, but always give people the room to take the right path by their own volition.
Leadership – how to run a project when you can’t pull rank over anyone? Understanding, trust and graciousness are the answers. The better you treat people, the better they will treat you, and the more they will want to work with and for you. Never, ever, stop listening. Sometimes, letting people have their say is more valuable to you than talking. You may not agree with them, but once you’ve given them the chance to talk while you listen, your currency rises.