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Welcome to my blog! My intention is to offer an interactive experience for you, the visitor, where you will get the opportunity to read and comment on the project management experience. I will post on the attributes of project management, as defined by the Project Management Institute and applying my professional experience to it. I strongly encourage robust comments! That means, you can strongly disagree with me, how I perceive things and how I present them. I just ask that we all be respectful. Some of the areas that I will cover are the triple constraint Scope Schedule Budget Just to make it annoying...I mean interesting... I will also cover Quality Risk Resources To make it more fun, I will post articles, thoughts and documents that may not be easily categorized as one of the six constraints mentioned above. The end game is that we can all edify each other's knowledge in project management. Thank you for stopping in... stay a while ... and come back soon!
A Project Manager's Perspective on Ethics and Tools
Introduction The 2020 global impact caused by the novel corona virus, known as COVID-19, is seen in the economy, mental health as well as physical health. More specifically, it has resulted in the loss of jobs, businesses being shut down, social activities (such as sporting events and entertainment) being curtailed and various other things. This is not a complete list as I am certain you can think of many more. Did you ever think that ethics and morality would take a hit during this pandemic? I'm not talking about conspiracy theories replacing legitimate journalism. As a Project Manager, trained and experienced, in both Agile and Waterfall methodologies, there are a number of processes/tools that are used for cost effectiveness and higher throughput. The use of any of these processes and tools used during the project Management practice must be used with a code of ethics. Various organizations who issue certifications in any form of Project Management have some sort of Code of Ethics that must be followed. For this blog post, I will be examining the unethical behavior of a supplier of COVID-19 Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and compare it to the ethical behavior of another supplier of the same products. These behaviors are captured in a CBS News 60 Minutes feature story that appeared on December 6, 2020. Functional Requirement The best way to look at this story is to look at it from a Project Manager's perspective as if this is a real project where there is a time based delivery of goods and services to various stakeholders. In this case, the key stakeholders are the recipients of these PPEs, mainly front line health care workers, the facilities where they work and government officials. The ask is to provide these PPEs immediately to meet the demands of hospital workers so that they can safely provide health care services to their patients (primarily the general public) as the COVID-19 caseload curve was rapidly ascending. To do this a supply chain had to be created that was highly functional, resistant to slowdown, resilient and agile to unexpected change and cost effective. Tools/Methodologies Used Just in Time (JIT) Inventory is one of the tools that was used. This is also known as Lean Manufacturing and provides a method of eliminating one of the wastes of Lean (high inventory). For this to work well, the demand and supply must be near the same level. In other words, there is no stockpile of product with a low demand OR there is no deficit of product with a high demand. The imbalance between supply and demand is an identifiable risk. The degree or impact of that risk is uncertain. On the Ground (OTG) inventory is the other tool that was used. This is a more expensive method, but presents little risk when the demand curve sharply increases as the inventory is already stockpiled. The risk presented here is that when the demand finally decreases to zero, you could be stuck with inventory that you can't return to a manufacturer. This is also an identifiable risk when looking at the supply and demand relationship, but if controlled and monitored properly will have a smaller impact than JIT. Actors and Their Preferred Tools Blue Flame Medical is the first PPE supplier in this story. They used the JIT tool and, in their first month of business engaged consumers, specifically health care facilities and (state) governments, by committing them to contracts to the tune of about $630 million. They also marketed themselves as delivering products between seven and twelve days. Magic Ice Cube is the second PPE supplier in this story. They used the OTG tool and were able to finance the initial inventories via profits made from previous investments in crypto-currency, clubs and cars. They bought the inventory from suppliers before they had clients The Ethics Issue If you think about the owners of both companies as Project Managers, you would have to hold them to the standards of the organizations that issue certifications in Project Management. Whether it be the Project Management Institute , the Scrum Alliance , Scrum.Org , the Agile Alliance or Lean Kanban University , to name a few, you can identify which of these two Actors was unethical. The Project Management Institute offers this eight page Code of Ethics where the following five chapters go into detail: Vision and Applicability Responsibility Respect Fairness Honesty The Agile Manifesto offers these four values, which emphasize transparency and accountability (emphasis added): Individuals and interactions over processes and tools. Working software over comprehensive documentation . Customer collaboration over contract negotiation. Responding to change over following a plan. This list is purposefully incomplete, however one can see that the matter of ethics in business is important. Determining if a business or venture is ethical can be determined using various project management tools, such as asking "The Five Why's". This simple form of analysis can reveal a lot more when getting to the root cause of a problem. Conclusion This specific blog post is more of an engagement for my audience. Watch the video, which includes a transcript. Read some of the references that I've linked to for Lean Manufacturing and PMI. Compare the report to the references that I've shared in the links. Then do the following: Identify the Bad Actor Identify your first indication that this was the Bad Actor Count the number of unethical behaviors the Bad Actor displayed even after being called out How would you have done things differently if you were about to engage with the Bad Actor? ©2020 Tufaro Information Systems ©2020 Nicholas Tufaro PMP
A Project Manager's Perspective on Procrastination & Time Management
Introduction Writing about time management is a difficult thing. Actually, it isn't. It's WHEN you write about it that is difficult. One of the biggest challenges to successfully managing your time effectively is this behavioral demon called "Procrastination". I have been inspired to write this blog by my friend and fellow PMP, Andy Kaufman, who's podcast on procrastination can be heard here: https://PeopleAndProjectsPodcast.com/123 . The LinkedIn post that promoted the podcast can be seen here: https://www.linkedin.com/posts/buildleaders_projectmanagement-leadership-management-activity-6734100567251054592-iDIq In this Podcast Andy's guest says that, in some cases, it is fashionable to say that you are procrastinating. I was shocked when I heard this as I think of procrastination as a bad behavior. I do remember people not getting things done, or not getting my things done, because they are "too busy" or "swamped". This, I found common in the type of procrastination that I define as "Occupational or Trade Procrastination". I find this to be somewhat histrionic. Procrastination Types Identified There are many reasons why things are not done in a timely manner and when they are done, why they are not done correctly or with the highest level of quality. In today's world, we get things done by executing multiple tasks or steps. Sometimes those tasks or steps are not controlled by us and have dependencies. When we experience this we end up with delays of execution and not getting the desired results leaving a high level of dissatisfaction. Procrastination, according to Merriam-Webster is "to put off intentionally and habitually". This definition puts the responsibility on one person or entity. While it doesn't say what the root cause of procrastination is, it may imply "laziness" or lack of focus. It's not that at all, as a matter of fact, in today's world, there are different types of Procrastination that I hinted upon as a comment to Andy's LinkedIn post. I've identified three different types of procrastination. They are: Personal Procrastination Delaying an event, such as taking an exam, changing jobs, getting married (once you and your intended are in agreement with being married to each other) are examples of things that we have total control over. So why the delay? What is the root cause? I've noticed for this type of procrastination that the root cause is primarily fear of failure. This makes sense as no one wants to fail. As project managers, we know that failure is a real risk and that risk needs to be identified, analyzed and managed to the point that if the risk does become an incident it will be of low impact and recovery will be relatively easy. Failure, to some extent, is a reality that can never be eliminated 100%. Perhaps the reason for this type of procrastinating is because we feel we don't have enough information or wisdom to make an informed decision. Remedy: Don't be Kermit the Frog! Institutional Procrastination The root cause of this is the "process" that MUST be followed. (We've heard "Trust the process" quite often recently!) Often times an institution, (corporation or government) can't get things done in a timely fashion because of too many entities involved in the final result that take advantage of their SLA to deliver later than sooner. The process of overcomplicating a simple task is known as a Rube Goldberg Machine . This takes the focus of delivering of Minimal Viable Product and puts the focus on following process and procedures, which may not add value or guarantee quality or safety of the deliverable. For example, I saw a job opportunity one Sunday and applied online immediately. Eight days later, I received the "Thanks but no thanks" e-mail. Often times, within an organization, these policies and procedures MUST be followed otherwise anyone that breaks them is subject to disciplinary action. Once again, FEAR is a demotivator. In addition, the SLA "gives permission" to not expedite a process that can easily result in an early completion of a task. When you have an estimate that works in the Rough Order of Magnitude, your estimate can be -25% to +75% of the actual completion. An SLA written to this allows a delivery date of 100 days out to be as late as 75 days beyond that with no penalty to the provider. The problem is that this 75 days delay can impact your project's completion by 75 days. In literature and the arts, we've seen Institutional Procrastination normalized. The 1985 Terry Gilliam movie " Brazil " was based on George Orwell's " Nineteen Eighty-Four ". The result of a Institutional Procrastination can certainly contribute to Personal Procrastination. It can also result in perceived "illegal" activities -- click on the meme to see a clip from the movie "Brazil". Remedy: Don't be like Central Services creating a Rube Goldberg Machine which creates unnecessary delays. Occupational or Trade Procrastination I've noticed this in certain occupations where advocacy is their main service and they will often tell you that they are too busy once they get your business. These occupations, as part of their livelihood, may require that the practitioner get signed commitments from their clients/customers for exclusive engagement, under statutory or legal penalty. We've seen this in occupations that are licensed by certain government jurisdictions who provide legal protection to the practitioner, not to the consumer. How many of these can you identify? Many of these Occupational Procrastinators measure their success in terms of quantity of engagements, projects started or clients signed on. Their success may be recognized through financial rewards as in bonuses, commissions or increases in lines of credit. But they don't finish what they start, resulting in lost money and dissatisfied clients who have lost opportunities because of them. It's important to recognize this sort of procrastination as it can contribute to personal procrastination. Remedy: If you are in one of these occupations, consider that the measure of your success is in delivering to your clients what you promised them and that repeat business and referrals from that client is your true measure of success! Where are we now? Have you ever been asked this question from a supervisor, client, family member or friend regarding a promise you made to them? It's possible that you don't know the answer, perhaps because you've been distracted by other things. One of the biggest distractors that I've seen comes from the Occupational or Trade Procrastination space. These folks are so busy engaging commitments of new clients/customers and ask you to do their job of marketing, legal research, etc of your request. Not only do you run the risk of doing their job incorrectly, you also run the risk of losing time doing your job of honing your skills or preparing your product. This is often referred to as Scope Creep . For example you want to sell your house. You become engaged with a professional who has the ability to bring several financially qualified buyers to you. The professional should "inspect" your house, get the market comps and market it to their inventory of qualified buyers. They should not ask you to do any of their work simply because you are busy in buying a new house and preparing the move to that new house. You are also preparing/repairing your current home to make it sellable.
As a result of this distraction, you may not have a new place to call home and you have a contract or closing date on your current home. Now, you are in the unfortunate position to renegotiate the closing date on your current home, which may result in the mortgage rate changing, which can cancel the deal. Reducing or Eliminating Procrastination In conclusion, consider the following: Tips in Procrastination Reduction (1) Take charge of your tasks, projects and life. Look at things from the perspective of a Project Manager. Start simply by using a Kanban board. It's more than just a board with columns and sticky notes. Each of those columns must have a WIP (Work In Progress) Limit. This is especially good for those where Occupational or Trade Procrastination is common practice. If you are in any of these advocacy occupations or trades, you cannot have a large active "Work in Progress" log and provide 100% customer satisfaction. It's about quality of work, not quantity of work. (2) Before you start to execute your plan, use the tool of "Critical Path Method" analysis to determine how you will get from Start to Finish. While Murphy's Law does enter into many plans, with the Critical Path Method analysis, you are able to layout various paths from Start to Finish, just make sure that you are able to be agile enough to go from the current path that you are on, that unexpectedly gets interrupted, to another path that you've laid out. A simple real life example is driving from home to work. In the event traffic slows down or stops on your preferred route, make sure that you've got easy access to get onto your alternate route. Final Steps Never, at any time, stop the motion of moving forward. Never, stop and wait, for someone else to complete their tasks of which you are dependent on. After introducing the concept of Rough Order of Magnitude to them, introduce and enforce, a Definite Estimate, which would reduce the estimating time of that 100 day task from 75 days to 175 days down to an estimation time of 95 days to 110 days. While anyone would prefer getting something completed in 75 days over 95 days, keep in mind that there are unexpected events, so the top range of 110 days worst case is favorable over the 175 days worst case. Always track your progress Always reward yourself upon completion of major tasks and projects. Always identify and learn from the experience Always incorporate this new knowledge from the experience into best practices. ©2020 Tufaro Information Systems ©2020 Nicholas Tufaro PMP
A Project Manager's Perspective on "Value"
Introduction Recently, at a weekly Zoom Meeting with the "Heart of Agile" folks, I was graced with offering the topic of discussion for that meeting occurrence. I chose "Value". More specifically, I didn't establish conversation criteria, I just asked what is meant by value as in "Delivering value early". The responses and ensuing discussion was marvelous, truly a stream of consciousness discussion. In a separate conversation with a friend of mine, who was my supervisor in the past, I told her what the job market was like and that a common question by an interviewer is "What value do you bring to our organization? " I told her that the preferred response of a mutual colleague is "I don't know that I bring any value at all to your organization!" She laughed and warned that the interview would end right there. I agreed and suggested that our mutual colleague might ask a clarifying question, with possibly choices. Perhaps, even then, the interview would end there as well, only a bit more graciously. Background The challenge that I see with the use of the word value as it pertains to projects is that it's got to be in the proper context. A project team that is delivering a service or a tangible product, must know what type of value the sponsor is expecting. The project team must also know what type of value the key stakeholders are looking for as well. This holds true in both Agile and Waterfall environments. Scrum Masters, Product Owners, Project Managers, Program Managers and Portfolio Managers MUST know what type of value they are expected to create and they must work towards delivering that type of value . This is a good time for a dictionary description of the word value . According to Lexico, which is powered by Oxford, value can be either a noun or a verb ( https://www.lexico.com/en/definition/value ). For the purpose of this article, we are looking at the noun, since the statement "Delivering value early" has "Delivering" as the verb and "value" as the object being delivered… and objects are nouns. In the business world and certainly in project management, we are looking at different types of value . In order to have a productive discussion with sponsors, key stakeholders and other stakeholders the noun value has to have a modifier, or adjective, before it. If not, the adjective needs to be implied in the discussion. The chart below attempts to identify, at a high level, the adjective for value based on the audience or stakeholder type and an example value statement. A recent source of inspiration for this blog post comes from Maurice "Mo" Hagar, who recently posted an article that addresses this. From that article: "The risk in over-homonymization is that words begin to mean anything and everything until they mean nothing. This is a psychological phenomenon known as “semantic satiation.” Coined by psychologist Leon James, “semantic satiation” is a form of mental fatigue . " For many, this has happened to the word value , and Mo's article is an excellent read and can be found here -> https://www.infoq.com/articles/agile-agile-blah-blah/? More Granular Discussion on Value This post was over a year ago and I responded in a respectful way, challenging the message of this post. At the time, many agreed with me and even challenged me. My response was a hypothetical situation of a restaurant where you have to pay for utensils. The scenario that I set up was as follows; you order a bowl of soup and you are given the option of purchasing a utensil. The knife, fork and spoon are priced differently, but only one will work. That would be the Utility Value . The one that would work, the spoon, was at the highest price. A number of folks had humorous responses ("I'd bring my own utensils" or "I'd make soup at home and not have to deal with this."), while a noticeable amount were critical, telling me that I completely missed the point. I then responded to those who said that I completely missed the point, generically, with a link to website where the definition and relationship between "cost", "price" and "value" were defined. Here is one of the websites that I referred: https://keydifferences.com/difference-between-price-cost-and-value.html . My point, then, as it is now, is that the discussion of value MUST be considered in the context of the overall discussion including the roles of the discussion's participants. Another example, to further clarify, when interviewing for a job with a Human Resources Officer (Recruiter) where the job has no direct reports the value that you bring to the job may be "Technical Value", whereas the Human Resources Officer may be looking for "Social Value". To make this even more complicated, the Hiring Manager may be looking more for "Visionary Value". If value is such an important qualification, doesn't it make sense that the "Value Seeker", which is the Hiring Manager, be clear in terms of the specific "value type" they are seeking and why? Isn't it also important that the Hiring Manager make it clear what the priority of the value type is to the Human Resources Officer? This strategy can also be used as a Project Manager when proposing a Project Solution to the Business Need of the Sponsor or the Key Stakeholders. Identify the audience and speak to their specific values showing how your proposed solution lives up to their values . By doing this the process of delivering value results are positive for all involved. Call to Action This is such an important topic that very rarely goes beyond a Tweet like statement and an emoticon 👆👇🧡 response. This is neither a discussion nor engagement. In order to bring the topic of values into a more evolved conversation: Think about what you are going to do to make that happen in all of your projects and efforts and DO THEM . Think about what clarifying questions you will ask when seeking qualification of the value sought and ASK THEM . Think where you will ask these clarifying questions to get the answers (kickoff meetings, Sprint planning, Sprint review and GET THEM . Think about how and where you will include these detailed values and DOCUMENT THEM . Finally, share your thoughts in the comments below! ©2020 Tufaro Information Systems
©2020 Nicholas Tufaro, PMP
A Project Manager's Reflection on Labor Day and Agile
O n this Labor Day, I am reminded of my roots as well as where my career is currently. Growing up in a blue collar family, I learned the importance of an honest day's work. The importance addressed the needs of physical growth, mental growth, social growth and skills growth. There was also something else that goes a lot deeper. That is the sense of collaboration and safety. A team of laborers, whether they be truck drivers, longshoremen, carpenters or electricians (to name a few) must always share the same vision, working together towards the same goal and watching for each other's safety. When you see construction workers on a site, you may notice that some of those workers may not look like they're working as they are standing at the work location, just holding a tool. However, when you look closely, you'll notice that they have a sharp eye on their coworkers and the immediate surroundings ready to alert the active worker of sudden danger. These workers are the risk managers of this construction project, ready to jump into action executing the risk management plan and ensuring the safety of their coworkers.
Until organizations realized the importance of looking out for the safety of their workers, many lives were either permanently changed, perhaps through loss of limb, or they were lost. It wasn't until Labor Unions were formed in the United States, that American workers were ensured of safe working conditions. In addition, these same workers were guaranteed livable wages and skills training. By giving back to the workers, organizations were able to raise the skill levels and competencies of their workers. This resulted in higher quality products being built and higher quality services being provided. As consumers of motor vehicles, homes, office buildings, clothing and restaurant meals this raises our standard of living. While some may think that this has caused a division in economic classes, it has done the opposite. By encouraging skills growth, collaboration and worker safety, this has actually resulted in delivering of value early. The early delivery of value is a variation of the principle #3 of the Agile Manifesto, which says "Frequent delivery of working software". This, of course, is evidenced in principle #5; "Support, trust, and motivate the people involved." The implementation of Principle #5 not only applies to Producer and Consumer; it also applies to labor and management within the Producer organization. (See http://agilemanifesto.org/ to find the Agile Manifesto and its principles.)
As an emerging Agile Practitioner, I am frequently reminded of the works and values of my father, grandfathers and son, each at one time or another members of the Teamsters, Longshoreman's or IBEW Labor Unions. I can't help but think of the strong sense of community within these union "families" and how so many things that we experience in day to day living was the result of the labors of the first Agilists. Today, we celebrate the labor of skilled workers and what they have provided for us to raise our standard of living. In years to come, we will include Agile Teams in this celebration for providing us with various online tools, software and services, and processes that raise our standard of living. All because management cared about the safety of its workers. Specially dedicated to my favorite Agilist, my Dad, who turns 84 on this Labor Day. By Nicholas Tufaro, PMP on September 07, 2020 © Nicholas Tufaro,2020
A Project Manager's Musical View on Branding Statements
O n this #MusicalMonday, we explore Branding from the perspective of a Project Manager. For the past several years, many of us have heard the terms Personal Brand or Branding Statement . These terms are commonly used in the job market space, to be used by job seekers as a means of setting themselves ahead of the competition. This is done to lock in the focus of the company they wish to work for. This makes sense. Nothing new here. This is probably one of the best tools of a marketing campaign. Whether that campaign is to gain majority market share for a tangible product (automobiles), a service (tax preparation service) or a job (computer programmer), the campaign is a project and projects must have a detailed plan to ensure that risks are limited and opportunities are boundless. A good project manager will help see this through...identifying risks and managing them properly, while always keeping a close eye on the project schedule, the project budget and the project's scope.
In the world of job seeking, many job seekers are asked by career counselors " What is your brand? " or " What is your branding statement? ". It's the second one that I am concerned with. My brand is me. Just like Ajax Powdered Cleanser is the brand of the company, Colgate-Polmolive. The brand, Ajax Powdered Cleanser is the brand of the company's product line of household cleansers. The Branding Statement is nothing more than a slogan. A slogan IS a form of intellectual property that, if the creator does their due diligence, they will protect that slogan through their government's patent and trademark office . In the United States, there is the United States Patent and Trademark Office ( https://www.uspto.gov/trademark ), where you can find enough information regarding registration procedures, fees and renewal steps and costs.
Now, we take a look at, or take a listen to, Ajax's Branding Statement, " Stronger Than Dirt ". On January 3, 1964, this Branding Statement was registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office ( http://tmsearch.uspto.gov/bin/showfield?f=doc&state=4806:3zhtje.2.2 ). In their radio and television advertisements, we can hear it being used ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ToNNpP6DVsw ). The comments in this YouTube video allude to The Doors' "Touch Me", which was heard a few years later ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iPTBd6fJuso ). There are enough similarities between to two "Stronger Than Dirt" musical properties (melody and arrangement) that it could have been subject to copyright infringement.
Whether The Doors were taken to court for this, I don't know, but in 1987, Nike, Inc. found themselves in a precarious position. Perhaps if they had a Project Management Professional managing their marketing campaign, they would have not violated the intellectual property rights that were owned by the Beatles and their heirs. In 1987, Nike, Inc. used the original recording of the Beatles' "Revolution" in their television advertisements. This resulted in the Beatles' filing a lawsuit against them for a sum of $15,000,000.00. As George Harrison said " the spot opened the door for the band's songs to be used to advertise everything from women's underwear to sausages ". (https://www.rollingstone.com/culture/culture-sports/story-behind-nikes-controversial-1987-revolution-commercial-192421/). By doing this, the Beatles' protected their brand and their reputation. This is an important lesson for all of us, as we need to protect our reputation in the marketplace. Your career, whether you are looking for new opportunities or living off of your legacy of proven work, requires that you protect it.
Let's not forget the name "Apple" for a company. Who do you think of when someone asks about Apple? John, Paul, George and Ringo? Or Steve? Apple Corp, was founded by the Beatles in 1968, with their first single being "Hey Jude". In 1976, Apple Computers was founded by Steve Jobs. There was an ongoing case for years ( https://sites.udel.edu/cisc356/2014/04/21/apple-corps-v-apple-computer-1978-2006/ ) which left the principals of Apple Corps vulnerable to other infringements of intellectual property.
Whether your Branding Statement is simple and benign, something to fill up a line on your LinkedIn profile, business card or resume, OR it is a clever, little sound bite that will capture the hearts and minds of generations to come, think like a Project Manager by understanding the risks and how to manage them. According to the United States Patent and Trademark Office's YouTube page ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qHDRV2NTSEk ), a company can take any intellectual property that you may not have registered and register it, as their own, with the USPTO and have legal rights to any product and marketing materials with that branding statement.
Through music, we as Project Managers can gain from the #lessonslearned about #risks, #riskmanagement, #scope, #compliance, #productdevelopment and #costmanagement by examining the things that went right and the things that went wrong. Hopefully, we'll save our clients' years, and perhaps decades, of unwanted legal entanglement.
By Nicholas Tufaro, PMP at August 30, 2020 © Nicholas Tufaro,2020
The Need for Agile in Corporate Finance
As I continue to study, learn, understand and share my lessons on the value of the Agile framework, I realize that the journey's destination is a lot further away than I had expected. Well, that's Agile for you!
I recently had the experience of managing an infrastructure move project for a large financial services corporation. It was an experience that I won't soon forget as I realized that all of the tools that I've mastered in both the Waterfall and Agile methodologies don't really matter if the culture of the company, or any of its departments, are not ready to adapt them. This particular project was dormant for eight months before my arrival. Let me put it another way...the project was in a coma for eight months. I was the third project manager assigned to it and the project was still in the brain storming or concept phase, with no clear scope, schedule or budget agreed on by the stakeholders and the sponsors.
That's fine for me. This was my opportunity to apply skills, experience and insight to get this project out of its coma. I was able to do that within a three-month period but not without a major realization of the topic of this post. We frequently hear of cultural transformations in departments, divisions and companies from Waterfall to Agile. When we drill down to the functional departments we hear about Agile methods or the Agile framework in software development, product development and process improvement delivering value early on. [What does that mean "...delivering value early on"? To put it simply, the concept of Minimal Viable Product is something that can be put to use and reap a return on investment as soon as it's put to use. This helps keep project costs down and also allows for the project to fund itself. The best example is the construction of a multi-tenant building which will have rentable/leasable units before the total construction is complete. In other words, complete one of six units and lease it immediately, which will help in recovering the investment and help finance the rest of the project. Each completion and renting/leasing of the six units can be considered as a Sprint and has the added benefits of a lower Internal Rate of Return and Minimizing Financial Risk.]
The project that I worked on was no different than most projects in that I had to be mindful of the triple constraint (Scope, Schedule and Budget). What I soon came to realize was that it was the Budget leg of that triangle which had the least agility. For this project, the Corporate Finance department, which feeds the project financially, was also its biggest threat by not "feeding" the project and starving it out of existence. To this day, there are many companies that have finance departments that are predictable and monolithic, meaning their budgeting practices are mapped to the fiscal year at the enterprise level. If a project's budget cannot meet the deadlines required of estimation, execution and management within a certain timeframe, then the funds are withdrawn and the project management team MUST go through the entire process to secure project funding again.
When I asked some of my Agile colleagues about this, they introduced me to the concept of "Beyond Budgeting" ( https://www.toolshero.com/financial-management/beyond-budgeting/ ) There are twelve principles of Beyond Budgeting and Four Benefits. Two of those benefits are Shorter Response Time and Lower Costs . These two benefits would have also minimized an unforeseen risk, that became an issue having negatively impacted the Project Schedule as well as the Project Health/Performance. This unforeseen risk is the current pandemic that we are experiencing right now - COVID-19.
In conclusion, had the Corporate Finance department of this organization adapted the principals and practices of Beyond Budgeting when the rest of the organization went through their Agile Transformation in 2016, then it is reasonable to say that this infrastructure move project could have been completed in the eight months before my arrival and the organization would have reduced their exposure of financial loss once COVID-19 came upon us.
By Nicholas Tufaro, PMP at August 12, 2020 © Nicholas Tufaro,2020
Why We Need a PMP To Be President
In late 1969, the Project Management Institute (PMI) was formed after two men, Jim Snyder and Gordon Davis, came up with the idea in Philadelphia, PA. Through years of growth, research and education, PMI has set the global standard for Project Management worldwide. in various disciplines in the business world and academia, in both public and private sectors. The first certification for Project Managers occurred in October of 1984 when 43 candidates of 56 passed the exam and received the much-coveted Project Management Professional (PMP) certification. (Webster, F.M. (1994). Project management certification: the history. PM Network, 8 (11), 24-25). Since 1969, we've had nine Presidents of the United States. Since 1984, when we saw the first PMP, we've had six Presidents of the United States.
What do both timelines have in common? Not one PMP was elected President of the United States. Interestingly, not one PMP was a party nominee for President of the United States! Still, since 1969 of the nine Presidents of the United States, four of them were attorneys and since 1984, two of the six were attorneys. While that might not seem a strong enough case for a PMP to run a successful campaign and be elected President, it should be noted that since 1776, the breakdown of previous experience for Presidents of the United States shows that an overwhelming percentage have been attorneys! According to the Wikipedia article ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_presidents_of_the_United_States_by_previous_experience#By_the_numbers ), twenty six Presidents were previously attorneys, four taught at universities, twenty two had previous military experience (with nine being Generals in the U.S. Army) and all but five held some form of public office.
It almost seems like it is a requirement to either be an attorney or be a Veteran. While both previous experiences and occupations are honorable, the skills and continuous training of PMPs must be considered. As a point of interest, you can look at the memberships of many PMI Chapters and see a significant number of Veterans that are PMPs or in the process of attaining PMP certifications. Lawyers, while their training and testing is rigorous, are often limited by the scope of the jurisdiction of the state where they practice, even if it's within the same industry.
In order to strengthen the argument of why a PMP should be the President of the United States, we should analyze some of the Knowledge Areas as defined by PMI's "Project Management Book of Knowledge" or PMBOK. Before we do that, we should look at the definition of a Project. As per PMI, a Project is an endeavor that is temporary with the expectation of creating a unique product, service or result. This addresses two of the ten Knowledge Areas; "Schedule Management" and "Scope Management". Since the Presidency is defined by the U.S. Constitution of consisting of no more than two terms, with each term being four years, we've addressed "Schedule Management". Keep in mind, that a second term is something that is approved by the "Sponsors", specifically the voters, provided that the first term's performance indicators shows positive value to the citizens, or "Stakeholders". A campaign promise by a candidate is the equivalent of the "Scope"; answering the question "What will the President do for the nation during their time in office?"
These two Knowledge Areas require one more Knowledge Area to make up the "Triple Constraint" and that is "Cost Management". This is an area that can be a deal maker or deal breaker for a Project Manager, especially if that Project is being the President. In order to get elected, or re-elected, a candidate for the Presidency MUST identify the Scope and a high-level estimation of the Schedule. In many campaign promises the candidate may say " As your President, I will increase the funding for education! " Really? How? And how long before we see the results? (Raising taxes, fees and budget cuts to programs may be ways to fund such promises.) Something similar is also said during the State of the Union address - the Annual Status Report . Once the candidate is elected, they may say something like " I've got a five-year plan to increase funding for education! " The problem with that is the end of the term is the end of the project . Is the President forcing the voters to re-elect them so that the President can follow through on their campaign promise? This is similar to pushing out the project's deadline and increasing the budget as a result of poor Project Management.
A PMP would pay close attention to campaign promises (Scope), the plan to complete the promise on time (Schedule) and how that campaign promise is funded including managing the financials (Cost) through Earned Value Management. A PMP, as President, would also effectively manage two other Knowledge Areas that encapsulate the Triple Constraint; "Risk Management" and "Quality Management". Using the campaign promise of funding education, there needs to be a comprehensive Risk Management Plan around that campaign promise. How is the risk of funds going to the several states and counties managed so that the campaign promise isn't a failure? In 1975, President Gerald Ford identified the risk of federal funds being " ...used to support administrative paperwork and not educational programs " when he signed Senate Bill 6- "Education for All Handicapped Children Act of 1975". The entire speech can be read here: https://www.fordlibrarymuseum.gov/library/speeches/750707.htm . A PMP, would have identified the risk and managed the risk by working with the legislature on mitigating that risk. (This of course, would be two other Knowledge Areas; "Stakeholder Management" and "Communications Management".) To reiterate, there is "Quality Management" which works with "Risk Management". A President, who is a PMP, will understand that the campaign promises must be followed as closely to their plan as possible and will ensure that it is managed appropriately to ensure quality.
There are other Knowledge Areas that a PMP will address as well if they are the President. I've not addressed them here, but I would like to know what your thoughts are on "Resource Management", "Procurement Management" and "Integration Management". I'd also be interested in knowing your thoughts on what I've discussed here...until next time!
By Nicholas Tufaro, PMP at January 26, 2020
© Nicholas Tufaro,2020
Conflict: Confidentiality and the Collaborative Work Environment
🅸 have been an Information Technology Professional for more than 30 years and I’ve noticed a significant change in the last 5 years that seems to be conflicting with the status quo that has developed during my entire career. That significant change is the change in office design, which has removed cubicles in place of workstations and lowered the walls separating these work stations from the cubicle height of at least 5 feet from the floor to 6 inches from the top of the desk. This, of course, comes at a time, when confidentiality needs are at its peak. With federal regulation regarding custodians of consumer information requiring that these custodians (major corporations being an example of such a custodian) have mandatory employee training on how to protect a customer’s private information, it amazes me that the collaborative work space has not become a violation of these mandates. Allow me to be more specific. There are a number of corporations in both the financial services industries and health care industries who process large amounts of personal data which belong to their customers. This data contains identifying information such as the customer’s name, home address, phone numbers, account numbers and account balances. These corporations offer mandatory computer based training webinars for their staff (both employee and contract) that educates the staff on “clean desk policy” and how to discern if a fellow staff member has a justified “business need to know” personal information of a customer of yours. (This “offering” is mandated by federal law.) For instance, if you are in the Loan Processing department and are working on John Doe’s loan application, you are not allowed to share John Doe’s personal information with your fellow staff member from the Sales Department, so that your fellow staff member can upsell or cross sell some of their products to John Doe. That’s easy enough to protect, but now with no cubicles and no walls, your fellow staff member can easily over hear your conversation on the phone with John Doe (“Let me repeat that back to you Mr. Doe, your account number is…”). High walls in a cubicle setting would act as a sound barrier, muffling your voice so that your fellow staff member could not get that information. In addition, regarding the “clean desk policy”, the Collaborative Work Environment is set up in such a way to maximize the seating capacity of the floor, thereby creating an arrangement of rows of work stations, where the staff member cannot see people walking behind them and… staring at their screen, where all of John Doe’s confidential information is displayed. In the health care industry, we’ve got the 1996 law known as H.I.P.A.A. which “Requires the protection and confidential handling of protected health information” ( http://www.dhcs.ca.gov/formsandpubs/laws/hipaa/Pages/1.00WhatisHIPAA.aspx ), and in the financial services industry there are a variety of laws and industry regulations that also protect privacy, These laws and regulations stem, in part, from 2001’s P.A.T.R.I.O.T. Act. While the P.A.T.R.I.O.T. Act doesn’t really protect a customer’s confidential information, if the customer John Doe, is up to “no good”, and you are collecting and verifying critical information that may lead authorities to his money laundering activities, that fellow staff member lurking behind you may have a personal relationship with John Doe and tip him off, just by reading that information off of your computer screen. Confidentiality in the work environment is not limited to the unauthorized attainment of an individual customer’s information. It also includes unauthorized attainment of processing steps and/or algorithms. This is how hacking into major financial networks occur. Think back a few years when there was hacking into a major retailer’s credit and debit card system, which compromised the financial accounts of several of its card paying customers. There were a number of financial institutions who were negatively impacted by this as well. In conclusion, I would like to offer up the discussion for your thoughts and opinions. I still can’t come up with a reasonable answer to this question: “In this day and age of heightened awareness of the need to protect the confidential information of customers, is the collaborative work environment a good thing?” Can you? This article was originally published on my LinkedIn profile on April 13, 2017. © Nicholas Tufaro, April 13, 2017