PM Applications :: Lesson 11 :: Change Sucks

For some of you (and sometimes ‘us’), change is daunting.  We’ve always done it this way and it works…why change it?!  Maybe you don’t need to change it, maybe you just need to document and prove why it works if you’re that confident.  See previous chapters on controls and reporting.

If ‘it’ doesn’t work all the time, then perhaps it’s time for a little shake-up.  Before using the blender, review your ingredients.  People.  (Ok, so ‘blending’ and ‘people’ is a bad analogy, but let’s go with this for a minute or so…)

Many places today are becoming more informal in dealing with the customers; removing the dry rhetoric with lively, personal dialogue.  With the onslaught of Social Media venues out there, it’s getting more and more important to change the old way of doing things.  Not only do you need phone service representatives (or if you’re really advanced and have the budget, Live Chats are awesome too), but you also need Social Media Representatives.  But I digress…

The Social Media spin is my part, not the KSU class.  The PM Applications class speaks more generally; let’s take a step up from specifics and just discuss team dynamics.

I DO

Innately, we all want to belong.  Team dynamics is no different. There are two general work groups: formal and informal.  Formal, being, well…I won’t say it…by the book.  It is the organizational structure approved and ordained by management.  Then there’s the informal group; the one you can’t control as a manager – and sometimes it’s better not to.  Informal groups speak to the individual’s inner child – finding common interest and goals with others.

Remove the Black Tie

Informal groups create norms for others to follow (like going for happy hour every Friday or avoiding team meetings…they could go positive or negative).  Think back to your teenage years…informal groups ruled your life.

Informal groups also enhance togetherness; it’s your job as a project manager to help foster that cohesiveness for the good of the company goal.  It doesn’t mean forcing the company norm down their throats; it means nurturing the group’s nature to do good.  If it’s not inherently good, you may have to bring out your negotiation (or firing) skills.

DodgeBall Team Selection

Ok, so the team has been selected but they haven’t had a chance yet to discover each other’s strengths.  Each team – no matter what industry, sport, knitting league or project – goes through stages.

Start :: What the heck have I gotten myself into?!

Oppose :: What the heck do I have to do and why?!

Advance :: Oh! NOW I get it!

Perform :: Dang, this is fun, why didn’t we do this sooner?!

SOAP … lol … abridged definitions for those tired of reading this blog.

Who Moved My Cheese?

Anyone who recognizes this title, may have already read this book on change management. It’s short and applicable.  Administering change is a big deal.  Project Managers need to effectively and collectively (with the team) identify and carry out change management.

There are so many barriers to change from fear of the unknown, to resentment to ego trips.  To overcome resistance, involve the team and listen to them; they’re resistance may be justified.  Allow for settling, thoroughly explain (NOT: ‘because I said so’) and be supportive.

Lastly, be prepared to let go of some responsibilities and empower your employees to take charge – be smart, don’t pick the employee who comes in late every day, surfs Facebook for 2hrs a day and invokes negativity in the company (unless you believe empowering will absolutely bring this person around – IF they have the skillset and desire)…

Resources:

Basic Context for Organizational Change– see paragraph on General Guidelines to Organizational-Wide Change

Stages of Team Development – Forming, Storming….etc

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PM Applications :: Lesson 10 :: Project Team Glue

Yes, glue.  How do you find the people you need and secondly, how do you keep them together.

This lesson was quite a bit more touchy-feely than the prior on Statistics.

It centered upon selecting the proper Project Manager and the best Project Team Members.  It’s common sense that, I guess, isn’t so common.

Select a PM early in the process before the project is underway.  They need to be personable and well-versed in reporting and stress-management but also have vision and foresight.

Recruit/Review Team Members that have the proper competencies based on the PM’s job description and specifications.

Find out each team member’s WIIFM quotient (what’s in it for me).  Review their background, talk to prior team members…be honest and open with each of them and in the long run you’ll have a more productive team.

There IS more, but instead, I’ll let you read up on it yourself:

Take Care!

No really….take…care…in the decisions you make as a PM.

PM Applications :: Lesson 9 :: Statistics

Cue the scary music – statistics and data analysis…a scary endeavor for most.  But with proper training, you can avoid the pitfalls before they happen, create a quality product, and have pretty charts to prove it.  Again I state that this is not a portal for teaching details, rather a gentle reminder of what Project Managers (should) do all day.  Eat (or is it crunch? I never can remember…) Numbers!

“Statistics describe physical conditions and situations by using two indicators: measures of location and measures of dispersion.”
–Lesson 9 :: KSU PM Applications :: Prof Swaim

Measures of Location

Huh?  You want me to measure my location?  There area three ways to measure this; by median, mode and mean.

Normal distributions are, well, normal.  Remember the bell curve? Standard Deviation or Bell Curve or Normal Distribution The highest point is the mean which is an average (don’t use this word among statisticians!) of all of the data which isn’t always the mode or the median for that matter.

Lots of data can be categorized using this curve.

Measures of Dispersion

Data cannot be purely measured by viewing, rather by doing.  ‘Doing’ means you must put some work into it.

LEGEND:
X = value
N = number of values

Range = largest X – smallest X

Mean = Sum(all X) / N = xBar

Mean Absolute Deviation (MAD) = Sum(X – xBar) / N

Variance = Sum((MAD)Squared) / (N-1)

Standard Deviation = Square Root of Variance = SD

Take another look at the Normal Distribution Curve; the SD is the next point on the horizontal line where the next distribution occurs.  So if you look at the percentages 34.13 % are in the SD+1 —– so if the mean is 50 (random even number I picked from the air) and 11 (also taken from the air) is the SD, then 34.13% of the distribution are between 50 and 61.   If we go to the left of mean at SD -1, then 34.13 % are (50-11) at 39.

It is just saying that the greater the SD, the greater the spread (or distance from mean).

Variation and Process Improvement

Instead of just being hit or miss, one theory we can follow is the Taguchi loss function to help with quality control or product variance. It identified improvement opportunities.

Statistical Process Control

To reduce variation and boost quality.  This requires a Project Managers dedication to measure results regularly and systematically.

Ask yourself:

  1. who – are the stakeholders
  2. what – do the stakeholders want and what do I want to achieve
  3. how – does the process get carried out and what is its output
  4. how – can it be better
  5. what – are the barriers

I’m really good at #5 – my husband calls it worrying; I call it thinking ahead and using risk assessment principles.

PM Applications :: Lesson 8 :: Software Implementation

Before you start reading this, I need to warn you that this lesson did not discuss which software packages to use, rather it provided a framework for selecting if/when as well as which software to implement.

Application of ERP

An ERP is a highly integrated to support global community functions from finance, operations and engineering to customer service and human resources.   It’s expensive, popular and powerful.  Should a mom n pop storefront in Acworth, GA use it to run their business? No.  And neither should you without proper business analysis and design (or reorganization).

As in all of the preceding lessons, we are taught to understand the current process first (with flow charts, meetings, systems analysis, DFDs and more) then you can define or work towards the desired work flow with the Pareto Principle in mind (working towards the vital few).

Application of PM Software

Do you need a sledgehammer for a finishing nail?  Or a shotgun for a flea?  Be realistic, do your research and find the right tool for the job.  [As stated earlier: products are not mentioned by name, the lesson purpose was to bring home the importance of selection.]

So…your task is to find the proper tool.  And use it. Planning and control are the two parts to the project management scissors.  Without one, the other one just won’t cut it.

Selection Notes:

  1. Create your team
  2. List your needs (using any of the methods we learned in earlier lessons – 4 methods to idea generation)
  3. Download some trials; use it on smaller projects
  4. Justify it

Truly determine if the product you’ve selected will work in the long run and identify the types of projects it would benefit and why.  ROI. ROI. ROI.

Evaluation

List of items taken from KSU’s PM Applications, Professor Swaim‘s online class:

  1. ease of installation
  2. different users, different views
  3. data security
  4. work breakdown structure support
  5. resource requirements
  6. task breakout
  7. capacity limitations
  8. schedule development variety
  9. different calendar and time frames
  10. critical path determination
  11. schedule updates
  12. track progress to plan
  13. reflect dependencies
  14. reporting flexibility
  15. charting capabilities
  16. view toggling
  17. data management/support
  18. integration w/other systems
  19. ease of use!!

One overlooked criteria often overlooked (though it’s one of the top things I look for when evaluating products) is supplier review and research.  You should know the background of the supplier, their history, their track records for support and bug fixes.  Get references within your industry, obtain trial software, look for documentation…..do they offer training, user groups, forums, future releases?

In conclusion, you’ve learned the basics of software selection and choosing the right tool for the job.  I encourage you to keep learning and have fun in the process.  After all, it’s we all live on the same Small Ball.

Reference Sites:

http://www.project-management-software.org

http://www.thesoftwarenetwork.com/Project-Management-Software

Domain Name Research

Had a friend today decide to do his own website.  Ok then…

Go here to research names quickly (read the directions; don’t put in the . extension):

Search for Domain Names Quickly

and you will see a listing of all of the domains/services that already have that domain registered.  OR you will hit the jackpot and you will see a listing of all of the .extensions available for that domain.

Then read this 2007 article (most items still apply – I disagree with the no hypens rule) and apply it with a grain of salt:

http://www.seomoz.org/blog/how-to-choose-the-right-domain-name

Then finally, purchase your available domain name at GoDaddy.com – I use this exclusively for domain purchasing because you don’t know what you’ll get (poor service, out of business in a year, etc) with a no-name company or smaller service.

Websites 101 :: Anatomy Lesson

Mission: to educate the general non-techies on web development

Lesson 1 :: There are 3 very basic parts to understand about general website creation.

1.  Domain name :: see post on Domain Name Research when you are ready to do this

This is the site name that someone will type into a web browser to access your business information via a web site.  You pay this yearly at approx $7-15/year depending on if you want to hide your phone number, name, address from the general public or not.

a.  Go to www.godaddy.com

b.  Type into its search box the name you would like for your website (more training on this later)

c.  Purchase it

2.  Hosting

This is where your website files (when you’re ready for one) will reside.  This is a yearly cost as well starting at $60/year.  There are many companies out there; I would recommend either HostGator.com, GoDaddy.com or ASmallOrange.com

a.  I wouldn’t attempt this without a professional because it’s going to be dependent upon the content of your website.

3.  Web Software

A product that assists the general non-techie (and usually techie as well) in the creation of the website on the hosting server.

a.  I wouldn’t attempt this without a professional unless you have all the time in the world to tinker.  Also dependent upon the content of your website.

Digital Strategy hosted by StartupChicks

StartupChicks hosted a Digital Strategy workshop/panel discussion with the following people/companies:

Moderator: Julie Cropp Gareleck of Junction Creative

Panelists:

Here is the general info that I (Kristina McInerny :: NotesFromKris) have interpreted from this panel discussion:

First and foremost this cannot be iterated enough: create your strategy on paper/digitally first.  You need to create a consistent customer experience across all channels.

Repeat the last paragraph 5 times slowly…

Breathe in.  Breathe out.  Continue.

Your focus is to create content that adds value.  Carve time out daily to blog, Tweet, Facebook, LinkIn, etc.  The more relevant content you have over time, the more you build your brand, your message, your deliverable.  Go back to that paragraph that you repeated 5 times (right?!).  Focus on your strategy and importantly, if you have employees, be sure that they are clearly clear on the message that they are portraying.  I personally would like to add that it’s still important in a digital world to have face to face meetings with your digital media group to discuss findings online, discuss what customers are saying online, discuss the clear message, brand and face you would like your company to portray.

From the very start, you should be clear on your target audience.  Find out first and foremost to whom you are delivering products or services.  Do your offerings target your market?  When you create promotions, think about your target.  Don’t send someone out in a purple monkey suit to hold photo shoots in the middle of the grocery store if your target audience doesn’t care about monkeys (purple?!), photo shoots or hanging out in the grocery store.

If you are a company that requires sales proposals, be sure that you have identified all direct and indirect stakeholders.  If you are a construction company, talk to your direct market who wants the building erected as well as the indirect stakeholder like the surrounding community.  Listen to the buzz, get out there on the pavement and talk to people (my examples).  If there is anyone that can affect a decision, you need to take them into consideration. [That part taken from my PM Certification courses.]

Don’t give up on the traditional forays out there.  Find out where your customers are buzzing.  Research all channels, do your demographic research and give it a try.  Maybe snail mailings aren’t so bad…maybe your customers are all on MySpace.  Keep your eyes and channels open and be aware of the one constant in consumerism; change.  Review your strategy over and over again.  Don’t let it collect dust.

There is one common thread; don’t give up on real relationships.  Your digital footprint resonates all throughout the digisphere (is that a term?), and sometimes the digital will precede the face-2-face.  Get out there and be social.  From NotesFromKris Advanced LinkedIn blog entry:  “9.  Be personable online, after all, it’s called Social Media, not Rude Media”

There were conflicting stories on which digital strategy each panelist chose.  The main thread was to create relevant and consistent content.

Tidbits:

  • focus on visuals from photos to video
  • create personal and professional pages on FB if you’re not fully comfortable combining the two aspects
  • don’t teach or blog at too high a level – again, know your audience – keep it simple
  • invest in brand when critical mass (my word) takes hold
  • don’t go for numbers, aim for quality targets
  • gain control over your content (own your server, maintain ability to copy/backup/retrieve your content)

StartupChicks Notes 2010:

  • Venture Atlanta Applications Due 8/20
  • September Event 9/13
  • October Event – Netowrking 10/20
  • Other Events
  • –StartupDrinks – 1st Tuesday of the Month
  • –FutureMedia Conference (10/4-7)
  • –Venture Atlanta (10/12-13)

After Party: Midcity Cafe 845 Spring Street, 30308 1/2 price martinis