Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Some People....

Normally I will discuss items that happened career wise, but I had to share this story.  For a Christmas present, I flew up to Norfolk, VA and picked up the sweetest little 9 week old Pappion puppy for my family.  This little guy is so much fun that we take him with us everywhere we go.  Today, we had some last minute items to take care of for Christmas and as a family we ran several errands.  One of the errands was to the pet store in which we to Zeus (that is his name) in to the store with us.  We then continued into a grocery store.

Now Zeus is about 1/2 a pound at the most and had a sweater on.  My wife was carrying him as we picked up a couple of groceries.  Technically, there are no dogs allowed in the grocery store unless they are seeing eye dogs.  However, our puppy is so little that we did not want to leave him in the car and we didn't think anyone would mind.  Additionally, our trainer said to let Zeus meet as many people as possible to socialize the puppy as much as possible.

We barely made it down the first aisle when a lady ran up to my wife and tapped her on the shoulder.  She informed us of the rule and told us that Management was on the way to kick us out of the store.  We were confused.  About one minute later, a young kid apologized and asked us to take the puppy out.  He told me in confidence that nobody really minded and that many people loved to see the puppy, however, the lady that approached my wife had complained and he had to carry out the complaint.

This made me wonder about this lady.  Maybe she was allergic.  Maybe she has a fear that a 1/2 pound puppy would break free and severely injure her.  I do not want to judge why she did it, but I was truly apalled by her demeanor.  As I analyzed the scene, it was as if she wanted to make sure that we knew it was her that brought this to the stores attention.  She could have complained and management would have removed us and we would be none the wiser.  We wouldn't have even questioned it.  It was the fact that she confronted us that confused me.  Maybe she could brag to her girlfriends at the bridge club about how she evicted a Christmas puppy out of the store today.  Whatever her reason, she did that in front of my children!

After it is all said and done, we were not supposed to have the little man in there.  I just didn't understand the motivation behind the whole thing.  Some people.........

In an case, in our typical fashion, we laughed it off and chalked it up to another experience.  I thought I would just share ;)

Have a great holiday and remember, a great injustice was solved today by some random lady in the grocery store.  Film at 11.


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Determining Business Value for Projects

I wrote this for a client today and thought maybe others would find value in this.  Hope it helps!

The key to understanding the business value of projects is to look beyond our standard metrics. Additionally, we will want to create measurements or metrics that will score projects in an objective versus subjective way while still allowing subjectivity to play a role. Sound confusing? It is! Our role as the Portfolio Management Committee is to break down the projects and create selection criteria to do our best to ensure that we are working on the right projects at the right time. However, the scoring and selection should be a guideline as to which projects should be completed instead of the hard and fast rule. The first thing we need to throw out is the generic definition of a project. It can't be as widely scoped as "anything over 40 hours" or "2 or more departments should be involved." It needs to be flexible enough that it encompasses many factors, but not so simple that every initiative becomes a project.

So how do we define what the measurement criteria should be? This is an iterative process that will take some time, but here are the first few questions we all should answer:

Overall Value for Entire Organization - What metrics can we create that would show the overall value to the entire organization? What is something today that crosses the whole organization and what does it do?

Overall Value for Department - Internally, there should be a measurement of how it fits the goals, directives, and compliance/regulatory initiatives for the department

Overall Value for Customer - How will this affect our customer base? What could we ask to track this?

Financial - What is the cost of the entire project? What is the cost of the alternatives? Return on Investment? Net Present Value? Internal Rate of Return? Payback Period?

Department Ranking - What is the rank of this project if they had to pick the most important to the least important? This is a subjective measurement.

Overall Ranking - What is the rank of this project if they had to pick the most important to the least important over the entire organization? This is a subjective measurement.

Risk - What risk factors should we track?

Organizational Capacity - Do we have the capacity to do this project? When would we be able to pick the project up?

Overall Scoring Methodology - How do we classify and score all the above criteria to pick which projects we should do?

Override - If we pick one project with a lower score than another, what type of override policy should we require?

The above items should be discussed, agreed upon and scored.  Then the scoring should help determine the apples to apples business value

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Valuing People

You will often hear me speak about the value of people.  The fact that I hate the term "Human Resources" is a dead giveaway.  I talk quite a bit about making sure that you are achieving the work/life balance and that people and their families are your greatest asset.

Another great asset to remember is your network and your friends.  You truly have no idea when or if you will need someone else's help and where that help will eminate.  I hear story after story about what a small world it is and how this person is tied to this person.  Have you ever tried to play "Six Degrees of Separation?"

Whenever I am asked for a favor or a recommendation, I try my best to lend my help.  You never know what it could lead to.  I have had huge contracts landed by simply replying to a question on a social networking site.  I have had many friends land positions at companies just because they asked someone for assistance.

This leads me to another conversation.  Those that close themselves off from this behavior.  Around the holidays, I am always nostalgic.  I have had a great deal of fantastic people drift in and out of my life.  Some relationships ended well, some did not.  However, every relationship was important to me.  I have learned something from just about everyone that I have ever met.  I overheard a conversation today about someone reaching out to a past relationship, only to be rebuffed.  The rebuttal was, "There is no need, it has been 20 years."

I am sure there are reasons and I am sure there is much more to the story.  However, it still made me think about the value of the people in my life.  Right, wrong, or indifferent, I am thankful for each of you that have ever taught me a lesson, shared an experience, or have given me the honor to call you a friend.  I value people, not our greatest resource, rather, our greatest asset.

No Day But Today,


Monday, December 7, 2009

The First Grade Lesson for the PMO Manager Search

I have had several conversations over the past week and a half with clients on the creation of a PMO.  I see this happen all of the time.  Companies want to have a PMO, but they are really not sure what they want the PMO to do.  Additionally, I get asked the question of whether to promote from within or hire externally for the PMO Manager.  I generally have two responses to this question:

1)  I think it is a cultural decision whether to promote from within or hire externally.  For the most part, the expertise can be found externally, but they have to learn the cultural and political land mines to navigate.  Internally, however, can sometimes just promote more of the same.  It may not bring the change companies are looking to make.

2)  To find a great PMO Manager, they are not necissarily your best project manager.  To breed change and to make an impact on the company culture, you need someone who is willing to color outside of the lines.  However, project managers have been taught to color inside the lines and ask for permission to let the color stray.  It becomes the age old debate of creativity versus functionality.

I do not think there are any right or wrong answers to this puzzle, except to say that companies must understand what they want the PMO to accomplish before embarking on this journey.  I will post much more on this topic in the coming weeks.


Friday, December 4, 2009

Date Compliance Check - Microsoft Project Formula

Here is a quick little formula that I developed that can help you keep an eye on your project's status.  I have some general rules for my project plans:

1) No manually typed dates
2) All tasks should have a predecessor
3) No past due start dates
4) No past due finish dates

To help with numbers 3 and 4, I have written the following formula:

IIf([% Complete]<100,Switch(([% Complete]=0 And (DateValue([Current Date])-DateValue([Start]))>0),1,((DateValue([Current Date])-DateValue([Finish]))<-5),3,(DateValue([Current Date])-DateValue([Finish]))>=-5 And (DateValue([Current Date])-DateValue([Finish]))<0,2,(DateValue([Current Date])-DateValue([Finish]))>=0,1),3)

If you open up Microsoft Project, insert a number field, and then right click the field and choose "Customize Fields," you will be able to select the "Formula" button and paste the formula in.  After you accept the entry, you can setup "Graphical Indicators" to show a Red "X" for the result of a 1, and a Green Flag for the result of a 2.

The results are as follows:

1 - The task has a past due start date and the task has not started or has a past due finish date and the % complete is not marked at 100.
2 - This task will be completing within the next 5 days.
3 - Does not meet conditions 1 or 2.

Anything with a red "X" should be dealt with.  Did the task start?  If so, then update the % complete.  If it did not start, then move the date to the anticipated start date.  If the task is in progress then the finish date may have been missed.  Has the task finished?  If so, mark the task 100% complete, if not, then move the finish date to the anticipated finish date.

Hope this helps!


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Time Out: Part 2

I wrote an earlier post on this blog wishing that I could call a time out.  I just came back from 12 days in Italy with my family.  It was truly an amazing time.  There was something that I witnessed while I was out there that piqued my interest.  We were walking down the street in Florence and we saw many kids coming down the street, entering shops, and then the shops closing up.  This was odd because it was 1:30 in the afternoon.  On closer inspection, we saw two sets of times for each day in the shop windows.  It read:

Aperto: 9 AM - 1:30 PM, 3:30 PM - 7:30 PM

We befriended a shopkeeper and asked about the hours.  We learned from him that in Italy, the kids generally get out of school at 1:30.  The parents will leave work and go home at 1:30 to have lunch as a family and then return afterwards.  The family unit is extremely important to Italian culture.  This is evident by watching them close their businesses to spend time with the family and then re-opening them later.  I found this very interesting.

My first management job was managing restaurants.  I remember being the only restaurant open on Thanksgiving.  Corporate thought it would be a good idea and mandated that we be open.  I had to schedule an entire staff to be there just in case people wanted to eat out.  We had two tables all day.  I looked around and saw how miserable my staff was.  I thought then what we sacrifice for profit.  I saw firsthand what appears to look good on paper can be devistating to your employees.  When I speak in my seminars, I bring up the fact that we need to take care of our people.  That your staff should be the most important thing to you and that achieving the right work/life balance is crucial.  I then saw this principle taken up a notch in Italy.  I think that they have it right.

We thanked the shopkeeper and let him get back to his family.  I turned and then looked at mine.  One of the greatest things I have done this year is take the time with them.  Many of you know that I bring them with me as much as possible when I travel, but this time was different.  This time it was just us.  There were no schedules or meetings or things that needed to get done.  Just us.  Just my family.  It was the time out that I needed.

Hope you had the time with your family as well during Thanksgiving.  Remember, there is no day but today.