Get Organized and See Results

I’m often criticized for being too organized.  I’ll blame it on my PMP!  Since I get so much grief about it in the office – I thought that I’d share why I feel that organization is important.  Most people get it.  And, most people appreciate having at least one team member that is organized.  Ok – wait a second!  My closet doesn’t look like this…so don’t run away yet!  Although, wouldn’t it be nice if my closet looked like this!

This post is not just about being Type A.  It’s about the productivity that can be gained by being organized – and maybe a few tools that will help you.  These tools can help if you are organized (like me) or trying to become more organized.

As a starting point, here are some quick thoughts about the benefits of organization in every day business:

  • Meeting time is well spent and productive
  • Timeline expectations can be realistically set and negotiated with C-Level executives
  • Team members are held accountable for their responsibilities
  • Communication is improved
  • Metrics can be defined to determine if a project is on track as compared to its original baseline
  • Scope creep can be identified, mitigated, and managed

In this brief post, I found myself wanting to add more to this list.  There are many more benefits to being organized, but the above list is a starting point.

I use a few tools which I thought may be helpful to highlight for others too.  If you haven’t run into Levenger already – I find them an incredibly helpful resource for these types of things.

  1. Levenger Circa Notebook – Neat notebook from Levenger that allows you to add, move, and subtract pages which utilize their circa system.  As your notebook grows, you can buy larger discs so that it holds additional pages.  They even have nifty dividers if you’d like to separate out different projects.
  2. Action Method Sheets – These sheets have changed the way that I take notes in meetings.  They are  great for capturing next steps.
  3. Project Planner Sheets – These sheets are great for when you are initiating a project and brainstorming about the potential project activities and next steps.  As you work with the team, you can jot down your prelim project plan in these sheets before you spend more time on transposing it electronically later.
  4. Microsoft OneNote – If you prefer to work on your computer, Microsoft OneNote is a great tool to capture meeting notes, organize your thoughts, and document action items.  You can setup different pages for different projects or different meetings.  It also integrates with Microsoft Office and has a built-in screen capture tool.  If you are an Outlook user, Microsoft OneNote integrates with Outlook meeting requests.  This can be handy if you want to quickly insert the name of the meeting and the meeting attendees into your notes.  If you are the meeting organizer, this can also help you to quickly take attendance as individuals come into the meeting room.

Of course, these are just a few of many tools that could jump-start your organizational efforts.  What do you use?  Please share!

Contain DW/BI Scope Creep and Avoid Scope Theft by Bob Becker @ Kimball Group

I just read a great article by Bob Becker at the Kimball Group.  It addresses some of the key issues of scope creep in BI projects.  I find the Kimball Group a great resource for anyone implementing or maintaining a BI system.

Read the entire article titled, “Design Tip #154 Contain DW/BI Scope Creep and Avoid Scope Theft” below:

Project Management in Technical Projects: Isn’t this a line item that I can remove?

Project Management

In numerous engagements, and working both in the position of the client and the consultant, I have been continually asked about the value of project management.  I often hear questions like this:

  • My budget has been reduced.  Do we really need project management services on this project?
  • We have an FTE that will be responsible for this project.  Why do I need to hire a vendor project manager also?
  • Project management is expensive.  Is it necessary?
  • I don’t understand project management.  Seems like just another “fee” to me.  Does the project manager just provide status reports?  Surely, we can pull together our own status reports.

Let’s start to address these questions by reviewing a few of the statistics provided by a PMSolutions report titled, “The State of the PMO 2010“.  This study found the following value benchmarks:

PMO Value Benchmarks

Another study was completed in 2007 by PricewaterhouseCoopers, titled, “Insights and Trends: Current Program and Project Management Practices.”  This study found the following:

  • 80 percent of higher performing projects used a certified project manager
  • 50 percent of project failure was traceable to poor (or no) project management (Bad estimates/deadlines, Scope changes, Poor resource planning).
Certification Versus Project Performance

Certification Versus Project Performance

Reasons for Project Failure

Reasons for Project Failure

Outside of these facts, I have personally found project management to be of extreme value on technical projects.  You commonly hear the value proposition explained as:

  • Better expectation-setting through up-front estimating, planning, and project definition.
  • Faster execution through the reuse of common processes and templates.
  • Fewer project problems encountered when utilizing proactive project management processes.
  • Better organizational decision making through more effective project communication.
  • Higher client satisfaction and less rework by building a higher quality product the first time.

For technical projects, project managers become even more valuable.  They generally grow within an organization into a project management role.  This infuses a lot of great technical knowledge into the project and can help tremendously to ensure that the right architecture is being put in place and the minimal rework is being done.  This equates to cost savings and efficiency.

If you are considering the proposition of hiring a vendor project manager, the vendor project manager will not only have this technical knowledge, but they will also be invaluable when securing vendor resources for the project and managing through their own organization.  Many BI organizations are a combination of M&As that have taken place.  You will need help in navigating their corporate structure and avoiding pitfalls in their technology!

I’ll leave you with what I felt was a good representation of the project management process.  My question to the skeptics is:  why wouldn’t you want this structure and value as an integral part of your project?  I would.

Project Management Cycle

Project Management Cycle

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