High performing project management orgs are more agile — PMI

The Project Management Institute’s latest “Pulse of the Profession” report just came out, and it’s full of provoking findings. It clarifies the benefits of high-performing project management, and it highlights what the top organizations do differently. By the way, the “PMI Pulse” is a nice complement to the McKinsey report on building capabilities I wrote on last week.

So what does it mean to your organization if it’s a project management top performer? It means that you deliver more value and waste fewer resources:

…these organizations meet original goals and business intent two-and-a-half times more often than those in low performing organizations (90 percent vs. 36 percent). High-performing organizations also waste about 13 times less money than low performers. — PMI Pulse, page 6

Did you know that these top performers used agile techniques more often than other organizations? This use of agile, iterative, and incremental methods drove better organizational agility. In turn, this better agility allows for faster and more effective responses to competitive, technological, regulatory, or other external challenges. PMI found that the most agile delivered against business, cost, and schedule goals between 20 to 50 percent better than the least agile. Agile also means better top and bottom lines: the PMI Pulse report references a MIT study that found agile firms grew revenue 37 percent faster than non-agile firms, while generating 30 percent better profitability.

To that end, PM College has greatly expanded it’s agile curriculum, from the basics, to an Agile Bootcamp, to negotiating Agile vs. Waterfall, to PMI Agile and ScrumMaster certification prep.

Agile principles have a been a lifesaver on a number of my projects and programs. If nothing else, an agile education gets you and your organization thinking and working the agile way…even before you implement any methodology at all.

Interview: Common obstacles PMs introduce

This question — about problems project managers impose on their projects — wraps up my interview with Stephen Ritchie (@ruthlesshelp, blog here). author of Pro .NET Best Practices (Amazon paperback & Kindle, Barnes & Noble).    Remember that Stephen describes a promotion to get 40-percent-off his book at his blog here.     I hope you all found it as interesting as I did:

What are common obstacles that project managers introduce into projects?

Haste. I like to say, “schedule pressure is the enemy of good design.” During project retrospectives, all too often, I find the primary technical design driver was haste. Not maintainability, not extensibility, not correctness, not performance … haste.  This common obstacle is a silent killer. It is the Sword of Damocles that … when push comes to shove … drives so many important design objectives underground or out the window.
Ironically, the haste is driven by an imagined or arbitrary deadline. I like to remind project managers and developers that for quick and dirty solutions … the dirty remains long after the quick is forgotten. Continue reading

Interview: Ruthlessly helpful project management

Continuing my interview with Stephen Ritchie (@ruthlesshelp, blog here). author of Pro .NET Best Practices (Amazon paperback & Kindle, Barnes & Noble).   Also, Stephen describes a promotion to get 40-percent-off his book at his blog here.    We turn to the project manager’s role:

Q: Can you give an example or three of how project managers can be “ruthlessly helpful” to their development teams?

A: Here are a few:
1) Insist that programmers, engineers and other technical folks go to the whiteboard. Have them draw out and diagram their thinking. “‘Can you draw it up for everyone to see?” Force them to share their mental image and understanding. You will find that others were making bad assumptions and inferences. Never assume that your development team is on the same page without literally forcing them to be on the same page.

2) Verify that every member of our development team is 100% confident that Continue reading

Interview: Why PM matters to developers

Continuing my interview with Stephen Ritchie (@ruthlesshelp, blog here). author of Pro .NET Best Practices (Amazon paperback & Kindle, Barnes & Noble).   Also, Stephen describes a promotion to get 40-percent-off his book at his blog here.  Here we focus on why he spent so much time on PM-relevant topics:

One of the pleasant surprises in the book was the early attention you paid to strategy, value, scope, deliverables and other project management touchstones. Why so much PM?

I find that adopting a new and different practice — in the hope that it’ll be ruthlessly helpful one — is an initiative, kinda like a micro-project. This can happen at so many levels … an individual developer, a technical leader, the project manager, the organization. Continue reading

Interview: Project Mgmt and Software Dev Best Practice

Continuing my interview with Stephen Ritchie (@ruthlesshelp, blog here). author of Pro .NET Best Practices (Amazon paperback & Kindle, Barnes & Noble).   Also, Stephen describes a promotion to get 40-percent-off his book at his blog here.  

If you’re a regular reader, you’ll know I’m wary of the term best practices.  Stephen is as well, and here’s his take:

Q: Your book’s title notwithstanding, you’re keen to move people away from the term “best practices.”  What is wrong with “best practices”?

A: My technical reviewer, Paul Apostolescu, asked me the same question. Paul often prompted me to really think things through.

I routinely avoid superlatives, like “best”, when dealing with programmers, engineers, and other left-brain dominant people. Far too often, a word like that becomes a huge diversion with heated discussions centering on the topic of what is the singularly best practice. It’s like that old saying, the enemy of the good is the best. Too much time is wasted searching for the best practice when there is clearly a better practice right in front of you.

A “ruthlessly helpful” practice is my pragmatist’s way of saying, let’s pick a new or different practice today because we know it pays dividends. Continue reading

Quench your thirst for .NET best practices

If you and your development team want to take the next step re: .NET best practices, I can think of no better place to start than Pro .NET Best Practices. The author’s a Caltech engineering grad with many large-scale, mission-critical, “if I tell you I’ll have to kill you” projects under his belt. However, he’s also had to deliver in lean, mean startup environments. What you’ll get is a no-nonsense and actionable reference. Oh, and yes, he knows a bit about project management.

Just don’t hold the fact that he’s my brother against him! Congrats, Stephen!

Like all Gaul, all change comes in threes…

Hugh at Gaping Void identifies three types of people: Changers, Contributors, and Coasters (here).  While I like the sentiment — and the chance to riff on Caesar’s opening to The Gallic Wars — this next quote was what struck me most. 

To talk about “Change”, doesn’t necessarily imply that there’s anything abnormal or wrong going on.  As I’m fond of saying, all business models are wrong. Whatever system you’ve got in place, it’s yesterday’s model.  Whatever process you’ve got installed, the world has since moved on- all you can do is try to play catch-up, to greater or lesser degrees of success.

That’s Hugh’s emphasis, and it echoes a recurring rant of mine.  I often deploy said rant when I hear the phrase “best practices” — call them “good practices” please!  My take is by the time they’ve been writted, edited, re-edited, packaged, marketed, etc., they’re no longer best practices.  Best practices aren’t created back in the home office.  They’re in the head and heart of the tired, traveling line consultant who gets inspired when he or she is confronted with something that those best practices didn’t anticipate and don’t fix.

Changers, Contributors and Coasters
From Gaping Void post: The Three C’s: Changers, Contributors and Coasters

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