As I have said before, tools are important part of project management because it helps project managers in their tasks and generally makes the job easier. If you need further convincing regarding the benefits of these tools, you could click here.
My blog post for today and my next four blog posts would feature the different project management software that five IT executives have found to be helpful in their jobs as expressed in their own words. This is part of the special report found in NetworkWorld.com.
The first project mangement software that I would share with you is Primavera Systems’ Primavera which was chosen by Ron Rose.
Ron Rose, the CIO of Norwalk-based Priceline has been in the networking industry for the past 30 years. According to the CIO, one of the biggest problem that he have encountered in project management is the problem of estimating which could result to the target date tardiness, insufficient resources, and other similar problems. To prevent these problems from materializing, he utilizes Primavera Systems’ [Primavera] project-management tool in order to record and forecast the necessary manpower and resources needed for each project. Through using Primavera, they are able to deliver more than 95% of the tasks assigned on time.Aside from that, the CIO also mentioned other things which they could do with the help of Primara.
Other Tasks done with Primavera:
- Archive details regarding technology projects (both past and present)
- Precision planing and keeping their resources adequate with their business needs
- Logging of hours spent working in the project and the skills required during that period
- Look at history of past projects
The CIO also mentioned that with the help of this project management software, they would be able to monitor the individual contribution of each project member as well as to look at the history of past projects that would help them in determining if the upcoming project would also yield similar result.
Thoughts and Insights
This is part of my five-part report regarding the different project management software that IT ecxecutives consider as effective tools in proper project management. The review and opinions expressed to each project management software are based on their personal experience as someone who could be considered as experts in their fields. In this case, their views and opinions are really important because they are always exposed to this kind of work which means that they have first-hand knowledge of the different things that they need in a project management software. The articles that I would post in the following days could be considered as a guide in choosing a project management software that project managers and firms could use in their own business operations.
This is the second part of my special blog post in regards to the favored Project management software which was selected by people who are considered “experts” in their own industries. In the first part of my blog post, I presented the Primavera Systems’ Primavera which was Ron Rose’s choice. (click here for more)
In the second part of Tool Talk, Michael Vertefeuille, IT director for the University of Connecticut School of Business would share his experience with Nortel’s Enterprise Policy Manager. The IT director has been in the industry for 15 years and remarked that this software really helped him in his work as an IT director.
One of the advantages mentioned by the IT director in using Nortel’s Enterprise Policy Manager (EPM) is that it could manage the networks in the classrooms from the instructor station. He also gave a situation wherein the software tool was considered effective:
If I’m teaching a class, for instance, I can use the instructor’s workstation in the room to choose what traffic I want to block and those packets are filtered from the edge switches within 5 seconds.
Aside from that, the software allows each instructor to use workstations according to their preference. For example, instructors who are giving exams online over the student laptops during class could ensure that they won’t be able to surf other sites aside from test that they are anwering. Through the use of EPM, one could prevent viruses and hacking out on the edge. If ever there is an outbreak, one could stop the spreading of the virus using the user port instead of bringing down the core of the network. EPM also saves time because everything is managed from a single server and it contains a great number of switches which gives a person an option to handle it remotely.
Thoughts and Insights
One of the benefits of this kind of software is that it enables a person to customize their software but still have one controlling network. I think that in this case, customization is one of the advandatage of EPM over other software. Not everyone wants to have a personalized way of handling a project but if you are one of the persons who wants to do, this is the software for you. Aside from its ability to customize, the software also allows a project manager the chance to work in an area that is far from the location but at the same time still maintain some kind of surveillance over the process. This is extremely useful if your job requires you to go from one place to another.
This is the third part of my 5-part report regarding the project management softwares used by selected people in the IT industry from different settings.
For the first part, I wrote about Ron Rose’s choice which is the Primavera Systems’ Primavera
For the second part, I tackled Nortel’s Enterprise Policy Manager which wasMichael Vertefeuille’s best bet.
For the third part, I would talk about the features of BMC Software’s Remedy Help Desk.
Kevin Clark, IT Director of Lucasfilm Entertainment has been in the industry for the past 15 years. He explains that in a Linux work environment, there are limited choices but with the emergence of Remedy Help Desk application, this problem is instantly solved.The original purpose of the said tool before was to properly monitor and manage issues in IT from end users up to internal ones. Nowadays, the tool is much more than that because it helped the firm in adopting a stronger change-management philosophy
One of the features of this tool is that it could grant customers access to this tool. This means that a customer could open a trouble ticket on their own enabling them to track it down. If there is a critical issue present which has not been addressed for the past 15 months, the team responsible for it would be automotically notified. The tool also helps people in tracking relevant information more effectively like the tasks done by people and other things that needs more attention.
Aside from that, the tool also has a feature of recognizing if someone is already working on a similar project. This helps people from avoiding accusations of stealing other projects. If the tool cannot solve the problem by itself, it immediately notifies the manager to do something about it.
Thoughts and Insights
In solving problems, it is better to get all the help that you can get in order to solve it. In this case, the Remedy Help Desk seems like a perfect solution to such dilemma. If the tool/computer software would help the manager or even guide them towards solving the proble, I would personally recommend such tool as an effective one because software tools like this are rare. Most of the time, these tools are even considered as the problem itself and to aid in solving such is a big accomplishment in itself. For Kevin Clark, this seems to be the reason why he is satisfied with the Remedy Help Desk.
This is the fourth part in my 5-part special regarding project management software which IT executives have found useful in their work and daily tasks. To give you a brief review, here are the choices made by the following people:
Ron Rose = Primavera Systems’ Primavera
Michael Vertefeuille = Nortel’s Enterprise Policy Manager (EPM)
Kevin Clark = BMC Software’s Remedy Help Desk
Today’s article would tackle about Mimosa Systems’ NearPoint Server and how it had helped IT director Steve Perry.
Steve Perry, the IT director of Costello & Sons Insurance and has been in the networking industry for 22 years. The IT director explained that he works in a paper-less environment meaning that they rely mostly on e-mail messages being sent and received through their three California branch locations: San Rafael, Irvine and Santa Barbara. Transactions are ususally conducted through e-mail and with a digital back-up. Due to this, the company needs a software that would ensure protection in their e-mail process.This is where Mimosa Systems’ NearPoint Server takes over. According to the IT director, there are three primary tasks done by the said software. These primary tasks are considered critical in their business operations and helps the firm in having smooth business transactions.
Three Primary Tasks:
- backs up Exchange in real time
- provides continuous data protection for the e-mail system
- provides failover for the exchange server
Aside from that, the software easily fixes crashes. If ever a person experiences exchange server crashes, all they have to do is to go to the NearPoint Server and click the restore button and after 30 minutes, the system is up and running. E-mail attachments are also taken care of the software through configuration of the NearPoint Server to extract attachments from Exchange thus deliver it from the NearPoint Server.
Thoughts and Insights
E-mail is extremely important for an organization because most of the transactions conucted by firms are through e-mails. It is also the most convenient way to communcate with other people in the organization eliminating the need to take the elevator and climb up to the whatever floor you need to go. The IT director who mentioned the importance of e-mail is wise in choosing the NearPoint server because based on his description, it really protects their e-mail system effectively. One of the good points mentioned by the IT director is the restore option whenever the exchange server crashes. Crashes are considered as normal part of today’s modern world because of the heavy bulk it handles everyday therefore softwares should find a a way to restore the operations once this incident happens and fortunately, IT director Steve Perry found this in Mimosa Systems’ NearPoint Server.
Finally! We have reached the last part of my special 5-part posting regarding the different software tools which are hand-picked by selected experts in the IT industry. The tools mentioned and the reviews about it are based from the personal experiences by the people featured in this special.
- So far, we have covered the following software tools:
- Primavera Systems’ Primavera recommended by Ron Rose
- Enterprise Policy Manager (EPM) by Michael Vertefeuille
- BMC Software’s Remedy Help Desk recommended by Kevin Clark
- Mimosa Systems’ NearPoint Server recommended by Steve Perry
For the last part of this special, I would talk about SPI Dynamics’ WebInspect.
Paul Samadani, the Director of corporate technology services Pentair has been in the networking industry for 23 years. In his line of work, they are tasked to monitor the development in-house and externally on their intranet and extranet sites. The director also mentioned that they have a global network of sites which covers all countries and he wants to make sure that the said portals are secure. This is where SPI Dynamics’ WebInspect comes in handy.The difference of WebInspect with other vulnerability tools is its capability to provide answers alongside the problem that it had discovered upon operation. As compared with other vulenrability tools, the only thing that they do is to point out the problem and does not provide any kind of alternative to solve the said problem. In the case of WebInspect, it points out the code and gives references on how to fix that code. This makes a job easier because any developer would be able to read the report and find a way to solve the problem with the given codes as guide.
WebInspect also has the ability to determine how an application service provider (ASP) would be able to handle data. The director mentioned that they run the the WebInspect tool against the ASP thus performing periodic checks with the use of the software tool. In this way, the vulnerabilities in a system would be thoroughly checked thus allowing the firm to save themself from possible failure partnership deals. Through the use of WebInspect, vulnerabilities would never go undiscovered and unsolved.
Thoughts and Insights
WebInspect is the choice of Director Paul Samadani because of its ability to discover the vulnerabilities in the system and it also gives direction on how to solve these vulnerabilities. With this kind of tool in handy, the firm would be able to save lots of money first, from the repair and damage cost as well as consultation fee because there is no need to see. The firm would also be able to save money from the possibility of having failed transactions because the vulnerability was discovered earlier. The ability of WebInspect is a very special one because a usual tool only checks if something is wrong and does not provide any kind of solution to the said problem. Through the use of this tool, the chance of not discovering a vulnerability would be somehow minimized.
Question: Do you think that a techno-genius should be promoted when he/she has people skills and know how to make a proper appearance?
If your answer to this question is yes, you better think about your decision for more than 100 times. According to the article entitled Great IT Leaders Have To Be Made, Execs Say, being an effective project manager is more than just having the basic skills needed for the job. Kay Palmer, CIO of J.B. Hunt Transport Inc. remarked that if a person pursued this kind of decision over the matter, there is a chance that you could find yourself having a “so-so” manager rather than an effective one.
The best way to find out if a person has the qualities of being an effective project manager is by training them. The training done to these people would include commitment from the part of the participants. One example of these training programs available is the one used by Jerry Bartlett, CIO of TD Ameritrade Holding Corporation. The CIO mentioned that there are three programs included in his kind of training and these are:
- evaluation of personal characteristics
- assigning industrial psychologist that is not situated in the firm
- educating and tutoring by mentors
The CIO believed that with these three aspects in his training program, a person could develop into an effective and worthy project manager in their firm.
On the other hand, survey results from the survey conducted by Computerworld in response to this question (How are you working to develop the next generation of IT leaders?) yielded the following results:
- 56% – mentoring the expected replacement
- 45% – implementation of an in-house leadership development program
- 43% – rotating promising IT leaders through different tasks
- 24% – putting a formal succession plan in place
- 23% – collaborating with universities in order to directly recruit graduates
Thoughts and Insights
Being a Project Manager is more than just the glory-there is also the hardwork associated with it. I believe that every person have the skills needed to be an effective project manager, it just depends on how a person is going to use it and how one could go about it. Of course, there is no harm in further enhancing these skills for the betterment of that person. By being a project manager, a person is expected to have the basic “techie” skills, communication skills, and management skills that would help a person shift from being effective to being an expert PM.
I recently posted a 5-part special focusing on the different software tools chosen by different IT directors. (read here for more). In line with this, I also stumbled upon a news article expressing another sentiment regarding technological gadgets.
The article entitled Complexity causes 50% of product returns: scientistrevealed that almost half of the supposed malfunctioning products returned by customers are actually in good working condtion. This means that the problem lies on the customer themselves. Most of these people could not easily figure out how these new technological gadgets work thus opting to return these gadgets rather than figure out a way on how it would work.
For the past years, there have been a lot of technological gadgets in the market like mp3s, wireless audio systems, software programs, among others. Instead of making things easier, consumers often feel that operating these things are more complicated. One interesting finding of the study shows that:the average consumer in the United States will struggle for 20 minutes to get a device working before giving up. So much for tenacity huh?
On the other hand, I recently discovered Stephen Seay’s blog which contains relevant and useful information for project management. In his blog, he posted several sayings about project management. Some are humurous while some are indeed true. Here are some of the sayings:
Good estimators aren’t modest: if it’s huge they say so.
The sooner you begin coding the later you finish.A verbal contract isn’t worth the paper it’s written on.
What is not on paper has not been said.
If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.
If you fail to plan you are planning to fail.
If you don’t attack the risks, the risks will attack you.
A little risk management saves a lot of fan cleaning.
The sooner you get behind schedule, the more time you have to make it up.
Thoughts and Insights
My blog posting for today aims to focus on the funny side of project management. Remember that project management is more than having the specific skills required for the job, it also entails people and communication skills. I think that the article showing ignorance in technological gadgets show how much work firms should focus on informing consumers in the operation of such things. On the other hand, the sayings that I shared with you explains a different side of project management. Though most of the sayings are laced with humor-the thought and message of proper management is carried through and through.
Innovation is a term that is not only applicable to technology but to almost every aspect in life. In the article entitled Reading, Writing, and Creativity, it shows the interview done with Education guru Sir Ken Robinson that points out the importance of innovation and creativity in every aspect of our lives-either in school or in the corporate world.
When asked about his definition of creativity, Sir Ken Robinson mentioned this:
Ultimately it’s the process of having original ideas, but there are several steps. The first step is imagination, the capacity that we all have to see something in the mind’s eye. Creativity is then using that imagination to solve problems — call it applied imagination. Then innovation is putting that creativity into practice as applied creativity.
Sounds encouraging isn’t it? That is precisely what the education guru is pointing at. Each and everyone of us has the capability of being creative which blurs the notion that only artists have the right to be creative. The main ingredient needed to be creative is the motivation to do so and in order for people to take the creative approach, they have to incorporate it through the shool curriculum. The education guru pointed out that today’s curriculum is more concentrated on science and math subjects which are considered as theory-based ones. Though this kind of approach is not bad, he suggests incorporating more creative-based ones which could help young students to be in tune with their creative side thus fueling their imagination.
In terms of the corporate world, Sir Robinson points out that most firms are making a wrong approach in this situation. Instead of focusing on the outside creative human resources, firms should utilize the human resources that they have because all people have a creative minds and stimulating their creation through the firm’s environment or company activities. The firm should be an active part in stimulating a creative work environment for their employees. Sir Robinson also added that firms should know how to enhance the firm’s strengths and abilities for the betterment of their firm and their employees.
Thoughts and Insights
Creativity in a person is often taken for granted because of the misconception that only artistic people have the ability to channel their creativity. Through this article, people-firm leaders or not could recognize the truth that each and everyone of us have the potential to be more in terms of thinking creatively. Innovation and creativity should not start in the corporate setting. In fact, it would be best if it would start in the school setting which could help young people grow into a creative environment thus prompting them to hone their skills. Through creativity, people would be more bold in approaching things and the word redundant would cease to exist.
Culture is something that should come naturally in a group or an organization and not everyone could adapt with certain kind of culture. In project management, there is a term in the tune of “project management culture” which pertains to the norms and ways of people in a project.
In order to adapt with this culture, there should be steps that should be taken in order to ensure that this would run smoothly. Stephen Seay’s blog offers some steps which should be considered whenever such subject is encountered in the course of Project management.
First Steps in PM Culture
- clear definition of roles and responsibilities of Project managers and team members
- forming a basic training plan for project management
- leaders and other supervisors should have advanced training in PM
- establish project management office (PMO) to provide guidance to the progress of PM
- estabish a standard in PM methodology
Additional Project Management Quotes
Here are some of additional PM quotes that could enlighten people in a PM-related work:
Quantitative project management is for predicting cost and schedule overruns well in advance.Good project managers know when not to manage a project.
Metrics are learned men’s excuses.
For a project manager overruns are as certain as death and taxes.
If there were no problem people there’d be no need for people who solve problems.
Some projects finish on time in spite of project management best practices.
Good project managers admit mistakes: that’s why you so rarely meet a good project manager.
Fast – cheap – good: you can have any two.
There is such a thing as an unrealistic timescale.
The more ridiculous the deadline the more money will be wasted trying to meet it.
The first 90% of a project takes 90% of the time the last 10% takes the other 90%.
Thoughts and Insights
The culture of a project usually determines how a team would go about their work. This is the reason why some team usually incorporate important values in their working habit. For example, if a team happens to practice a well-planned and organized culture, the chances of a project being done on time and on schedule would be high. Through practicing these steps mentioned in the article, teams would be more or less inclined to give their all whenever doing something that is work-related.
Pardon my cluttered mind but it seems like I can’t have a direct focus on what topic to zoom in today’s blog post. Due to that, I decided to have a second part of my random thoughts. All of which are related to project management.
Changes in PM
I recently discovered Stephen Seay’s blog which provides useful information regarding project management. Being a project manager himself, I am sure that he would be able to give you a different view of project management because of his knowledge and experience in the industry.
In his blog, I stumbled upon his entry entitled Eight Stage Process of Creating Major Change which shows the step-by-step process of incorporating change in a project. This was taken from the book “Leading Change” by John P. Kotter. These stages are supposed to be followed whenever there are major changes to be implemented.
The Eight Stage Process of Creating Major Change
- Establishing a Sense of Urgency
- Creating the Guiding Coalition
- Developing a Vision and Strategy
- Communicating the Change Vision
- Empowering Broad-Based Action
- Generating Short-Term Wins
- Consolidating Gains and Producing More Change
- Anchoring New Approaches in the Culture
Thoughts and Insights
The steps that were shared through the book is a very helpful one to all project managers out there. Why? Well, as we all know, nothing is permanent in this world except change therefore the least that we could do is to make sure that we are ready for the changes that are going to happen someday. These steps could be considered as the guidelines on how to manage the changes that are supposed to happen as well as the basis on how to act in certain situations. I believe that these steps would help a project manager in the adjustment process because adjusting is a difficult process and a little help would be more than appreciated at this situation.
Addtional Quotes on Project Management
I just have to share these wonderful quotes with you because of its witty and wise-crack humor. Of course, I got these quotes from the same blog. So read on and enjoy the humor but keep in mind the lessons!
A badly planned project will take three times longer than expected – a well-planned project only twice as long as expected.
If you can keep your head while all about you are losing theirs, you haven’t understood the plan.
When all’s said and done a lot more is said than done.
If at first you don’t succeed, remove all evidence you ever tried.
Feather and down are padding – changes and contingencies will be real events.
There are no good project managers – only lucky ones.
The more you plan the luckier you get.
A project is one small step for the project sponsor, one giant leap for the project manager.
Good project management is not so much knowing what to do and when, as knowing what excuses to give and when.
If everything is going exactly to plan, something somewhere is going massively wrong.
Everyone asks for a strong project manager – when they get him they don’t want him.
Overtime is a figment of the naïve project manager’s imagination.