Sunday, January 24, 2010

Metrics that Matter!

To me, data rules all!  In any situation, I need to define a metric to measure, measure it, and then utilize the data to make my point.  I was recently working with a client and we wanted to define a metric that would help prove the value of their project management efforts.  Like many clients, they have over 100 defined projects and 5 project managers.  To combat this, they have created several project lead positions to try to fix the project to manager ratio.  However, that just takes more time away from the project managers.  The problem is, how do you represent this?

We decided that there should be four "buckets" of time the project managers should use to track their time on each project that they work on.  They are:

-  Planning - Any time performing true planning activities
-  Communication - Any time in meetings, typing e-mails, handling phone calls, etc.
-  Administrative - Any time filling out project management systems, creating meeting minutes, etc.
-  Mentoring - Time spent helping the "project leads".

This should give us a total percentage of productive time the project managers used.  We should then be able to correlate project progress and status to the percentage of time in each category.

I will post back in a couple of months the results that we found, but felt that may help others out there trying to find the same information.

No day but today,


Saturday, January 16, 2010

A Lesson in Class....

I look everywhere for lessons, quotes, and motivational snippets to share with my followers.  Many of you also know that I am a big University of Tennessee fan.  I just watched the University go through it's own bit of recession.  I do not mean to harp on sports or Tennessee, but when it comes to communications in times of crisis, I couldn't resist sharing this quote.

Tennessee had taken a huge risk in hiring Lane Kiffin as their head coach.  When Lane came in, he immediately started making high profile remarks against solid programs such as Florida, South Carolina, and Alabama.  He made accusations and tabloid type rumors as sensationalism.  We all wrote that off as a young and cocky coach making a splash.  He later stated that it was a strategy to land high profile recruits which paid off when some of the top recruits chose Tennessee at the last minute.  I defended these actions to friends (and really to myself) because of the results.  I would tell people who would ask me that he had to get in the national spotlight to make up for time lost in recruiting.  I always had that uneasy feeling about the antics, yet I would try to reason them away.  For those of you have read my book, Kiffin was no doubt firing Scud missiles!  He continued his antics until finally, he shocked the entire Tennessee family by abruptly leaving Tennessee for his dream job of USC.

As tough as that was to hear, my wife and I had several discussions about what Tennessee players must feel like.  Many of them decided to come to Tennessee because of him and then he just left.  As many of these players who are learning to become men, the sense of abandonment must be overwhelming.  Less than 3 days later, Tennessee hired Derek Dooley as their new head coach.

Of course the press has had a field day with this story.  There are many young men out there searching for which program will suit them and the media loves controversial stories.  There are reports that Kiffin and his staff are telling Tennessee recruits not to attend class so they can get around some rules and enroll to USC with them.  Many of the same antics he did when he came to Tennessee, so nobody should be surprised that he is doing that now that he left Tennessee.  Among all of the controversy and widespread speculation, Tennessee hires Coach Dooley.  Roughly four hours from taking the job, Coach Dooley is standing at the podium for a press conference.  As reported by

A radio reporter asked Dooley if he would call any Southern California recruits and ask them not to go to class, making reference to reports that previous staff members had done the same to some of the Vols' mid-term enrollees when leaving UT.

Dooley just waved his right hand.

"Look guys, if you're going to look for sound bites and things from me that's going to attack other programs and disparage people, that's just not how I am," Dooley said. "I'm worried about Tennessee. I'm worried about what we need to get our program going, and I'm going to always keep my focus on that.

"I think when you're worrying about somebody else, what other people are doing, then you're not taking care of your own house. We got plenty to be feeling good about in this program, and that's what we should keep our focus on. The times of worrying about what happened are over."

There was a round of applause from a shocked community praying for comfort.  It would have been so easy to make a remark against Kiffin or to make a joke to try to get a quick win from the fanbase.  It would have been understandable to try to say something funny to hopefully win some favor from a hurt Tennessee program.  Instead, with dignity and respect, he made a commitment to focus on what we can do and to leave the grandstanding and headline grabbing remarks for other coaches.  To me, that was a lesson in class.  Welcome Coach Dooley.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

What about my capacity?

I work with many organizations that really want to understand the capacity of their IT organization.  Rarely do the ask about the capacity of their project managers.  Building on the theme that not everyone can do project management, then maybe capacity to do projects starts at that level.  What if the organization limited the number of projects they can truly accomplish by the capacity of their project management staff?

I had a chance to build a PMO based on a very valid model.  They had a consultant perform a study about the type and length of projects and the demand that is required to handle what the organization wanted to complete.  It was determined that roughly 35 projects per year was the maximum for the company and a PM could run up to 5 of those projects during the year.  Therefore, the staffing model was set to 7 project managers.  We ended up completing 47 projects in the first year, but the expectation was set and the management of the company recognized the value that true project management can deliver.  So how do you determine the capacity or number of projects?

The best way to determine the capacity of your project management practice is to first establish tiers.  Projects should be classified in 3-4 tiers.  Tier 1 being the most strategic projects or the projects with the most risk.  Tier 2 is still a highly strategic project, but it is shorter in duration or is not as risky.  Tier 3 can be single unit or department initiatives and tier 4 can be internal initiatives or projects that can be run by team leads.  Based on the governance models of the organization, an estimate of a percentage of a PM's time can be assigned to each tier.  For instance, a tier one may take up 50% of a project managers time where a tier two may take 35%.  Once this has been established, then the capacity can be determined.  As an example:

If Tier 1 = 50%, Tier 2 = 35%, Tier 3 = 15% and I have 5 project managers, then the project capacity could be:

10 Tier 1 projects (500%)


5 Tier 1 (250%)
5 Tier 2 (175%)
5 Tier 3 (75%)


Any makeup that equals 500%.

This allows you to determine the real capacity of project management.