Project Management, Technology, Life.
RSS icon Email icon Home icon
  • The 8 Rules of Lean Project Management

    Posted on July 28th, 2009 Nelson Bodnarchuk No comments

    The eight rules of Lean Project Management (LPM), re-posted from the Project Times, Summarizing the Rules of Lean Project Management by Claude Emond. A great set of  rules for any PM to follow:

    Rule # 1: the “Last Planner” Rule. The one who executes the work is the one who plans the work. This saves time, money and resources due to reduced waste.

    Rule # 2: the “Tracking Percent Promises Complete (PPC)” Rule. Do not track time (effort) or cost; track small promises that you can see over time.

    Rule # 3: the “Expanded Project Team” Rule. Expand the project team to include and integrate all significant stakeholders, as part of the team as early as possible.

    Rule # 4: the “Humans, humans, humans” Rule. Humans execute projects, and project deliverables materialize through humans and for them. So be considerate to humans as, without them, no project can be a success.

    Humans from CK-Blog.com

    Rule # 5: the “Rolling the Waves” Rule. Roll the waves. Make your choices and commitments (promises) at the last responsible moment. Make them in the form of work packages that will deliver the desired results anticipated with a high degree of certainty. Plan the work, execute the work, learn and adapt, plan the work, execute the work, learn and adapt, plan the work, execute the work…succeed!

    Rule # 6: the “Opening, Adapting and Closing Often” rule. Open-Adapt-Close, Open-Adapt-Close, Open-Adapt-Close… all the time. The IPECC (Initiate, Plan, Execute, Control, Close) cycle is a recurring process; this recurrence is the true key to successful projects, lean-influenced or not. In order to close a project, you have to open-adapt-close formally at the phase level, to open-adapt-close formally at the work package level, to open-adapt-close for each required deliverable (small concrete promises), to open-adapt-close each required activity undertaken.

    Rule # 7: the “Executing Your Small Promises on Single-tasking Mode” Rule. Execute your small promises on single-tasking mode. Once your deliverables are cut into smaller pieces, deliver them one after the other, as much as possible. By cutting your project work in smaller pieces/promises, you will save on set-up time each time you are interrupted, thus accelerating delivery. This accelerating effect can be increased furthermore, if you also try to execute these promises, one after the other, this saving an additional amount of set-up time. In a multi-project/multi-tasking environment, the most productive strategy is to single-task, doing these multiple tasks in series, when possible.

    Rule # 8: the “Using LPM Principles to Implement and Adopt LPM” Rule. Live and use what you preach to implement LPM; by “walking the talk”, you will succeed in increasing the speed and extend of LPM adoption and ensure a lasting and fruitful change.

  • The Myth of Multi-Tasking & the 80/20 Rule

    Posted on July 9th, 2009 Nelson Bodnarchuk No comments

    Every Morning on my way back to the office from the gym I drive South on HWY 400 for approximately 5 min, sometimes 15 if there is a problem on the main roads. The one thing that I notice are the amount of people that use mobile devices, eat bowls of cereal or are smoking while trying to update their play-list on their i-Pod. This post isn’t about the obvious dangers of attempting to operate a motor vehicle at approx. 120km/hr on a busy road while focusing on other less critical tasks, nor is it meant to offend anyone who regularly practices this type of multi-tasking. What this post is about is the myth and dangers that go hand-in-hand with multi-tasking during your working hours. Here’s MSNBC’s take on The Myth of Multi-Tasking.

    I believe that the less interruptions one has, the more focused they are, the more they’ll complete and the quality of what they complete will be higher. As a rule I only have one meeting at the beginning of the day with my team, and let them call others if required. Also just because one has several windows open on their screen doesn’t mean they are focused or getting the job done. As for multi-tasking I can only do one thing at a time, call me old fashioned.

    There’s two parts to this equation though, the first part is focusing on one thing at a time with little to no interruptions and the second is actually doing only value added activities.

    I once had a great manager that said to me: “Probably 80% of what you do during your work day is unnecessary, so if you can focus on that critical 20% you’ll have more time to get more done.” At the time I didn’t fully understand what he meant as all of the things I had on my To Do List were there for a reason. On closer inspection of my list I found that most of what I was doing was non-value added work that cost allot of time for little benefit, or in finance lingo these activities had a low ROI. So from then on I’ve reviewed my To Do List daily, sometime more, to ensure that only the priorities are on it. So what to do with the other less critical items, well you’ve got options:

    • Don’t write them down, and if they’re important enough then they’ll come up again. (37 Signals does this and it seems to be working out for them so far)
    • Create a separate “Parking Lot List”, just in case. (the Six Sigma Methodology uses this tool, I like it for when you’ve got a large group in a room and you don’t want to focus, and spend time, on non-priority issues)
    • Prioritize the list (A, B, C or 1, 2, 3 or !, *, #) and focus on the most critical first.
    • Create an ice berg line to distinguish what you’re going to focus on first (usually you move the most critical items to the top so they’re above the line).

    You can also use a combination of these (this is my personal preference) but the key is to review the list and be objective. Remember focus on that 20% that will generate value for your team, project or whatever the case may be.

    Another key is where possible, or required, get others involved in the process. You’ll gain a different perspective, most likely improve the quality of the list and build morale with out doing something like a company roast. Do this and your To Do list will quickly become a To Done List or even better a To Don’t List.

    If you’re not sure of what I mean by company roast, reference this clip from The Office.

  • Paws and Tales Games New MMOG Website Launched

    Posted on June 4th, 2009 Nelson Bodnarchuk No comments

    I’ve been quite busy lately with my current project, developing the Paws and Tales Games MMOG Website. Based on Paws and Tales The Animated Series®, Paws and Tales Games aims to provide a fun, safe and educational place online for children and families.

    I’ve become more of a Product Manager at this stage in the game, no pun intended. With a new look and improved features such as; streaming video of the animated episodes, educational worksheets that parents and educators can go through with their kids, and easier access to some of the games within the MMOG. The team is also working to complete the new selection of in game avatars that users can choose from.

    With the new branding and a new marketing campaign in place I’m looking forward to spending more time focused on the product marketing side of the fence for a while.

    If you’re interested go check it out and let me know what you think of the site. I’m always interested in learning more about the overall user experience, game-play, and value that users would see in the site.

    The team that I worked with deserves credit for all of their hard work and help in the development of this product, which made my task managing the development of the product both easy and fun.

    Team Credits:

    NuLayer Inc., led by Mr. J. Brenner and Mr. P. Kieltyka, performed as the Back-End Team and did outstanding work in a short time frame.

    Cieo Creative Inc., led by Mr. J. Goodman and Ms. M. Plasterer, performed as the Flash Games Developer and played a key role in the Creative design of the over all game.

    IWD Canada Inc., led by Mr. K. White and Mr. B. Kumarasamy, provided the manpower for the new website design and blog for the site.

    “Paws and Tales Games” is currently online at: www.pawsandtalesgames.com

    “Paws and Tales The Animated Series®” is currently airing on:

    CTS TV
    (Ontario, Calgary, Edmonton) at 7:30 AM

    The Miracle Channel CJIL
    (Canada) at 10:00 AM

    UCB TV
    (United Kingdom)

    Please check your local listings for more information.

  • Updated Services & Resume Page, New Release Version of Paws and Tales Games Website

    Posted on May 26th, 2009 Nelson Bodnarchuk No comments

    Just did some clean up on the Services and Resume pages while taking a quick break from the final prepping for a new release version of the current product that I’m managing. Look for a new design, branding and features at pawsandtalesgames.com, starting June 1st, 2009. Be ready for a drastic improvement in the look and feel of the site, while expecting the same great level of functionality. From the testing feedback that I’ve been receiving over the last few weeks it’s like night and day compared to the exiting Beta version of the site. Some of the new features in the Paws and Tales Games World include:

    • Updated artwork for both the website and MMOG.
    • Free Games page.
    • Streaming Episodes of the Paws & Tales Animated Series.
    • A What’s New” Blog.
    • “Questions for Cubs” worksheets that complement each episode.
  • Leading Strategic Change

    Posted on May 15th, 2009 Nelson Bodnarchuk No comments

    Here are a few resources that I found very useful when leading projects that involve a great deal of change management, of the people variety, which is about 80% of all the projects that I’ve ever worked on.

    Leading-Strategic-Change is an excellent e-book that I was given during my Six Sigm Black Belt Training from one of my favourite mentors Norm Rudd, who in my opinion is the Six Sigma equivalent to a Rockstar. If you don’t get what I’m talking about check out this intel commercial.

    The book takes the reader through the three “brain barriers” that teams must overcome to accomplish a task successfully, as well as the solutions to help teams break through the brain barriers. With out giving too muchaway, here are the three brain barriers that the book outlines:

    • Failure to See
    • Failure to Move
    • Failure to Finish

    Also, if you’re really interested in this kind of thing, check out the Change Management Blog. It’s an interesting read.

  • Re-posted from Global Knowledge

    Posted on April 23rd, 2009 Nelson Bodnarchuk No comments

    Interesting article, that I wanted to re-post, from Global Knowledge, to keep for my own records.

    10 Hot Skills for 2009

    By Linda Leung

    Whether we are in a down economy, seeing jobs go offshore, or witnessing jobs being cut altogether, there are certain IT skills that will never go out of style. With spending on cost-saving technologies such as virtualization rising, and the maintenance of networking and enterprise Microsoft software keeping IT professionals constantly in demand, here’s our top 10 hot skills that will take us from a down economy and beyond.

    1. Virtualization: Virtualization is hot. Vendors are jostling for lead position in the virtualization stakes and user organizations are seeing virtualization benefits through increased efficiency, lower costs, quick return on investment, and a more flexible computing model. But virtualization is complex; it encompasses the entire IT infrastructure, from the desktop to servers and storage systems. That’s why IT professionals with virtualization experience are much in demand.

    According to a recent article in Virtualization Review, jobs Web site Dice.com reported that the number of jobs advertised from January 2008 through the first week of November increased by 43% and 37% for VMware and general virtualization skills, respectively. That compares with a total job count that was down 12% during the same period.

    Virtualization skills was cited by 35% of the 1,400 CIOs surveyed for the Robert Half Technology IT Hiring Index and Skills Report for the second quarter of 2009, up from 30% in the Q1 report. Virtualization as a skill first appeared in the Q208 survey when it was cited by 26% of respondents.

    2. Web 2.0: Organizations have moved beyond establishing Web sites for their brands. Now they are embracing social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook, where you can find such household names as Ford Motor Company and AT&T. CIOs in a wide range of organizations are demanding IT professionals who can keep them up to speed with the fast-moving Web 2.0 world. Web development and Web site design first appeared as a sought-after skill in Robert Half Technology’s Q408 report, when 42% of CIOs surveyed said they were in needs of such expertise. In Q209, 39% of respondents had a demand for Web skills.

    According to PayScale.com, the typical salary for a Web designer in the U.S. range from $37,285 to $59,070. This compares to $60,000 for a Web developer, $40,000 for a graphic designer, and $60,000 for a programmer, according to Simply Hired a search engine for jobs.

    3. Networking/Windows Administration: Proving that networking and Microsoft Windows administration skills will likely never go out of style, these two skills consistently appear as either the first, second, or third most sought after skill in Robert Half Technology’s quarterly skills surveys. A full 65% (the second highest number) of CIOs surveyed for the Q209 report said they required network administration skills, while 64% (the third highest) of executives said they needed Windows admin experts. The skill most in demand in Q209 is desktop support, according to the survey.

    Networking/systems admin jobs were cited in the Top 20 Most Recession-Proof Professions report by Jobfox from data collected during November 2007 to July 2008. The report noted that there is a limited supply of qualified workers in that profession, and reported that the median salary in the U.S. for such roles is between $65,000 and $75,000.

    4. ITIL: The Information Technology Infrastructure Library is a business framework that was developed by the U.K.’s Office of Government Commerce. It is the subject of much buzz on this side of the pond, with firms such as DHL and General Motors adopting the IT services efficiency framework. A quick search of the Indeed job search aggregator site netted 6,266 jobs, with salaries ranging from $50,000 to $130,000. ITIL is cited by Foote Partners‘ IT Skills and Certification Pay Index report, for the last three months of 2008 as a skill that is seeing a sharp increase in pay and demand.

    Foote Partners notes a “sharp increases in pay and demand for ITIL, CoBIT and similar expertise” in 2009, and that “while valuable in short range cost reduction initiatives, these are also core enterprise skills with high re-use value long term.”

    5. IT Architect/Project Management: The same Foote Partners report also notes that “nothing has been hotter” than IT architect and project management skills and that “they will still be hot commodities long after the economy improves.” Certified folks in that category reported pay increases of 10% in the last 12 months to January 2009, according to the Foote Partners report.

    The Open Group’s IT Certified Architect and the Project Management Institute’s Project Management Professional designations were the certifications that commanded the highest pay premiums, according to the report.

    6. IT Security: This skill was called out by Foote Partners as one of three certification groups that saw significant gains in pay. A total of 18 different security certifications, including Check Point Certified Master Architect and Cisco Certified Security Professional, were listed among the IT certifications that earned the highest pay premiums in Foote Partners’ 2009 IT Skills and Certifications Pay Index.

    Security will never go out of style, even during a recession, as businesses are required to comply with regulatory controls and data protection requirements. Meanwhile, hackers continue their assaults no matter what the economy is doing. A survey by the SANS Institute showed that through the end of November 2009, 79% of respondents saw no cuts to their security staffing levels.

    7. Wireless: Cisco generated buzz in its training community late last year when it launched the expert-level CCIE certification in wireless networking. As part of the launch, it commissioned a study conducted by Forrester Consulting, which found that 36% of global companies surveyed predicted that the number of dedicated wireless specialists on their IT staff would almost double in the next five years.

    “In our research we found a pervasive need for wireless skills, and not just in North America,” says Sanjay Mehta, Cisco product marketing manager for wireless and mobility. “The need for experts to design, deploy, manage and troubleshoot is growing exponentially.” He says the wireless certification is particularly popular in emerging markets, such as Brazil, India, and China, where new wireless infrastructures are being built from the ground up.

    8. Telecommunications: The government’s $7.2 billion broadband stimulus initiative to extend broadband to rural and unserved communities will mean jobs for pros with telecom skills. Telecom providers operate in a very competitive market, and while operators cut costs in stagnant areas of their markets, they’re still investing in others. For instance, AT&T this year cut its capital expenditure by $3 billion but it is investing in 3,000 new jobs for its mobility, broadband, and video initiatives, reports Unstrung.

    Telecoms knowledge is also sought by CIOs. In Robert Half Technology’s Q209 report, telecoms support was the fifth-highest skill sought by respondents, up from the sixth highest in the previous quarter.

    9. Programming Languages (C, C++, C#): Forget about programming jobs being outsourced, experts with C, C++ and C# skills “have emerged as a highly desired skill set, being cited as ‘in demand’ just as often as Business Intelligence and Enterprise Solutions skills,” according to the Veritude 2009 IT Outlook Report. Demand for software engineers increased from 27% to 32%, according Veritude’s survey of IT hiring managers.

    Those programming languages are also consistently the top most wanted programming skills in Dice reports. In February and March, Dice posted 9,881 and 10,465 Cx jobs, respectively.

    Software engineering topped Money Magazine and Salary.com’s list of Best Jobs in America in 2007, noting that the number of programming jobs would balloon from 800,050 in 2004, to 1.2 million in 2014. The profession, with an average annual salary of $80,427, beat college professor and financial advisor in the list.

    10. Business Skills: Employment surveys have been telling us for a number of years that IT pros must possess business skills as well as technical expertise, and in a down economy IT folks who understand the business could be considered more valuable than those who don’t. A survey by CompTIA of 215,085 IT pros found that employers valued “interpersonal and communication” skills in addition to ‘strategic thinking” and “project management” know-how. The survey, which was conducted in 2007, found that 73% of respondents said they planned to upgrade their business skills within two years, with the majority studying for project management skills.

    The IT pro who can understand how his employer’s business works and can articulate how technology can be used to meet and exceed the company’s goals is a true gem.

  • Less is More & Simplicity Rules.

    Posted on April 22nd, 2009 Nelson Bodnarchuk No comments

    Here’s a great company with great products, 37 Signals. Why are they so great, well their style is no nonsense, they get straight to the point and simplicity rules their product design philosophy. Oh, and they extracted Ruby on Rails from one of their projects. I’m not a hardcore developer, coder or hacker (or at all really), but I’ve worked with RoR in the past and it’s presently being used with the current project that I’m managing, and it’s definitely one of those tools that makes the life of the people doing the work easier, therefore making them happier and producing a better product (80% of the time).

    In a sentence, what it comes down to is “Less is More”. They do less than the competition on purpose, and it’s paid off for them in a positive way. I’ve had the pleasure of using Base Camp for a few of my projects and it great for Agile Software Development. You only get what you need, the rest of the usual gravy features one finds in software don’t exist so there’s little to no learning curve when adopting it as your PM tool.

    I’m also a big fan of the Agile Software Manefesto and it’s 12 Principles. It may not apply to certain safety related projects where one would be required to document and follow a process and plan for regulated purposes, however it has it’s place as a way to lower development costs and bring better software to market sooner.

  • IT Efficiency + Your Business = Beat the Competition

    Posted on April 14th, 2009 Nelson Bodnarchuk No comments

    To keep pace in an increasingly competitive world, a business needs to run as efficiently as possible. Efficiency is even more important for a small or medium-sized business, because their resources are limited. I say this from experience serving in both in a large, global, mining company and a small IT start-up.

    Here are 10 tips that I’ve summarized from the IT Business Edge, sans the sales pitch from Cisco at the end, for using network technology to help a business work more efficiently, cut costs, improve customer satisfaction, and ultimately stay ahead of the competition.

    Quoted from a free online White Paper by IT Business Edge titled 10 tips to make your business more efficient.

    1. Give employees secure, consistent access to information. You have an advantage over larger competitors because you can react quickly to business changes. But you can quickly lose this edge if your company network is frequently down, sluggish, or unsecured. A secure, reliable network based on intelligent routers and switches lets your employees access the information and tools they need to keep ahead of competitors.
    2. Deliver anytime, anywhere access to employees on the go. To stay productive on the move, your employees need to be able to reach the people and information they need—anywhere, anytime. With tools like virtual private networks (VPNs), your employees can work outside the office and still enjoy safe access to the business network.
    3. Create effective business processes with partners. Some large companies make efficient, secure business processes a prerequisite for doing business with them. To meet the business needs of your partners, you need a secure, reliable network.
    4. Make it easy to work together. Smooth collaboration between employees, partners, suppliers, and customers is a sure-fire way to boost efficiency while also reducing costs. An intelligent network lets your business take advantage of interactive calendaring, videoconferencing, unified communications, and other technologies for easy collaboration.
    5. Enable employees to take their phone systems wherever they go. Missed calls create project delays, wasted opportunities, and lost revenues. With a networked voice and data solution, your employees can have one phone number that rings simultaneously on multiple devices, so customers reach the right person the first time. Your staff can access all their communications from anywhere, checking for e-mail, voicemail, and faxes from just one inbox.
    6. Streamline customer communications. Delivering fast, knowledgeable service is the best way to keep customers satisfied. Linking your network phone system to a customer relationship management (CRM) solution is a great way to enhance customer communications. When a customer calls, a pop-up window with their records appears on an employee’s IP phone screen, computer screen, or both.
    7. Reduce unproductive travel time. All too often, time spent on the road is time lost. A networked phone solution that offers video calls and Web conferencing can help reduce the time and expense of traveling to offsite meetings and training sessions. Instead of spending time traveling, you can use the time to get work done with technology.
    8. Employ a managed service provider. Is managing a network the best use of your employees’ time? In some situations, it is advantageous to hire a managed service provider for network administration. Working with a managed service provider can free your IT staff to focus on other IT tasks and use their time more effectively.
    9. Improve employee satisfaction. Aging phone systems and slow networks can frustrate your employees and annoy your customers. In some cases, an employee might become burned out and decide to move on. To help ensure that employees are productive and satisfied, your business needs a secure, reliable, and fast network.
    10. Develop a long-term technology plan. The process of replacing obsolete hardware can interrupt your employees and bring the office to a standstill. You can minimize such disruptions by carefully determining short- and long-term business objectives and working with your network vendor to deploy technology that matches them.

    I personally like this list as a starting point when planing how to improve things from an IT perspective. However, take it with a grain of salt and consider the source if and when planning your own solution as there are several paths one can take to arrive at the desired outcome.

  • Risk Managment & Project Management

    Posted on April 7th, 2009 Nelson Bodnarchuk No comments

    Risk management within project management go hand in hand. However, usually risk management isn’t applied very well to project management. Risk affects our attitude towards a project, at least it does for me.

    Since risk is all around us, I break it down into two categories, controlled risk and uncontrolled risk. For me, controlled risk is choosing to play ice hockey with the Chiefs once a week, because I believe that I have a level of control over what I’m doing on the ice (although sometime it’s debatable), so I feel that I am controlling the level of risk that I’m exposing myself to. Honestly though, once I step in the ice and the puck drops there’s not much that I can do to control what the other 11 skaters are going to do on the ice, hence my use of a full cage…gotta protect that money maker. Another more common example would be wearing a seat belt while driving. Really what we’re doing, when we perform these activities with the safe guards that I mention above, is mitigating the risk within the activity so we feel more comfortable while performing that activity.

    Usually when risk and the probabilities of negative events occurring are reviewed, people choose their behavior based on the way the scenario is framed and not on an actual evaluation of the risk. A good example of this is the fear of flying versus driving, I won’t go into the details, but when comparing transportation accidents, stats show that flying is in the 6 Sigma range of defects, while driving is much lower (Defects being fatal accidents). So statistically speaking there are probably more people afraid of flying than driving, while more people every year are injured, or worse, in car accidents compared to plane crashes. However, most of us see the situation framed as driving being much more safe because car travel is more common.

    People have been dealing, as well as attempting to mitigate risk, for centuries. Daniel Bernoulli suggested, in a 1738 article, that that when you have a choice of bets or investments you should choose that with the highest geometric mean of outcomes, or more widely know as the “best bet” calculation. The “best bet” calculation allows one to make a more informed decision when risk is involved, even though it’s impossible to make the best decision in a risky situation.

    Frequency is another factor that affects our ability to properly assess project risk. More frequent events are usually overlooked, to an extent, compared to catastrophic events. A good example of this from my experience would be the VFD that kicks out every night (for 14 months) during the graveyard shift, usually after the maintenance crew has clocked out for the night, versus the one-time catastrophic failure of the waste water pump. Both cost roughly the same in plant down time, but because one shut the plant down for an entire shift it got all of the attention versus the one that chipped away at plant up-time like water on a stone. It’s almost as if we sometimes eliminate the common parts of the risk from our consideration because it seems insignificant, or we fail to see them altogether because “it’s always been that way since I’ve worked here”. My point here is that both situations should be evaluated and the risk mitigated, as correcting them both are necessary for the success of the plant situation.

    Many times we fail to identify all risks involved in a situation because we find the alternative we like or have found three or four risks, however this can lead to incomplete or biased risk identification. I speak from personal experience and am guilty of this many times over. So be sure to always investigate all possibilities, doing this may allow you to avoid your project(s) from sufferring greater consequences from risk events in the future.

    It all comes down to the good old carpenters saying “measure twice, cut once“.

  • Career Credentials

    Posted on March 30th, 2009 Nelson Bodnarchuk No comments

    Two goals of mine this year are to obtain the final bit of electrical design experience required to obtain my P.Eng and write the PMI PMP exam to obtain my PMP designation.

    I figure since my career has afforded me the opportunity to get this close to both of these “resume builders”, I may as well make an effort to add them to my portfolio of qualifications. Or more eloquently put “I should walk the walk if I’m going to talk the talk.

    Prediction: I see the next few months being dedicated to achieving these goals in my off hours.