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What are the three most important qualities of a Project Manager?

June 13, 2011 Leave a comment

Project Management is a collection of many qualities but there are those that are more important than others. The following explains the three most important qualities a Project Manager should have related to the single most important approach a software development project must have today – agility.

Process Agility

Project Management’s methodologies have changed in last few years. For many years, project management was considered a well-defined set of steps and deliverables that all projects completed. These project management deliverables helped ensure the project was completed on schedule, on budget and all requirements were implemented. A good example of this is the Project Management Institute’s Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMI’s PMBOK)

Today’s customers are expecting more functionality to be delivered in less time. The time needed to produce these project management deliverables can start to create their own risk to the project schedule. Although these processes are still important in assuring a successful project, Project Managers must adjust their processes to adapt to these new expectations while ensuring the keys of project management processes are still delivered.

The Project Manager must be able to understand the proper formalization of the Project Management deliverables. For example, some projects may have a high probability for risks; this may warrant a very formal risk management process. While at the same time the project is implementing a well-defined solution, project plan documentation can be less formal, saving time to the schedule and allowing delivery of the solution sooner.

Communication Agility

Due to these Process Agility needs, a Project Manager must ensure they are communicating at a high level of effectiveness. The ability to communicate to all stakeholders is the most important quality a Project Manager can have. Without proper communication between the project team and the stakeholders, there can be breakdown in processes which can have a negative impact on the project. If a Project Manager is implementing Process Agility, the team may not initially be familiar with such adjustments and may not perform the updated Project Management methodology correctly.

Proper communication of the updated methodology is the responsibility of the Project Manager and he/she must ensure the team is fully aware and understands any new changes to the process before it can be implemented in the current project. Without proper communication of these changes, the team may risk missing key project planning steps in lieu of simplifying the process, missing any gains an agile process provides.

Project teams can consist of members that are remote to each other. This can include members in different cities to members in different countries. The ability to communicate by a Project Manager in these environments is even more important.

The agility of communication for a Project Manager is directly related to the Project Manger’s knowledge of the various communication methods. Knowing the most effective and most efficient way to communicate the given information to a specific group of stakeholders separates successful Project Managers from the rest. Methods can be as formal as a PMBOK communication plan to as simple as an email.

Consistent Diligence

One of the most underappreciated qualities a Project Manager must have is consistent diligence. The ability to stay focused on the project management process will ensure a successful project. As a projects methodology becomes more agile, the Project Manager must stay that much more diligent in the assurance that the process is being completed by the team. Agile processes are designed to be less formal but this does not mean less rigid. Some team members may not understand the difference and mistakenly treat agile processes as less rigid of a process. It is the responsibility of the Project Manager to ensure consistent implementation of the agile methodology to ensure the project remains successful.

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What is a CIO vs VP of Technology vs ….

February 24, 2011 Leave a comment

When people ask me what is my ideal job, I have a hard time telling them since it consists of a few different sets of responsibilities. I found these definitions of a CIO, a VP Of Technology and Director of Product Management. Thought it was a good differentiation.

So now I can say, based on these definitions, my ideal job is right in the 20% VP of Technology, 20% CIO,  20% Product Development, 20% Lead Developer, and 20% BA/Tester/Trainer.

CIO

The CIO contributes to the organization through vision, strategy definition, communication, and implementation. S/he conducts strategic workforce planning, creating and communicating consistent standards of performance, and creating a high performance culture. The CIO will be expected to grow future leaders by giving them accountability and opportunities for growth…

VP of Technology

Establishes current and long-range technology strategy for key products and solutions for efficient and effective solution delivery. Provides technical solutions expertise, and industry knowledge base to support sales and marketing efforts including pre-sales support, job costing and management of customer engagements. Oversees management of software development teams responsible for new system development. Ensuring…

Directory of Product Development

Lead cross-functional teams to translate customer needs and technology directions into product definitions. Design and establish overall product features based on customer feedback. Establish processes for management of the product requirements throughout their lifecycle. Create and manage processes for product releases. Research and analyze competitive products…

Using MS Project And Agile

January 27, 2011 Leave a comment

We are using a Feature based Agile approach where stories are grouped by Features. We meet with the customers and decide which priority to put on each feature based on its deliverable need.

Since I have a team that is focused on different features and various times, I have to prioritize and identify predecessors at the same time. (This is very useful when a customer wants to know when a specific “simple” feature will be done. But the feature has a major predecessor that will take time to complete).

SETUP THE PROJECT

To keep this trackable for all parties, I create a Microsoft Project 2010. Add the Priority to each item (higher priority gets done first). Then set the proper predecessors. This will give me a WBS but at a high level.

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LEVEL THE RESOURCES

To level the resources, you have to change the default settings.  By default MS Project will level based on predecessors first then by Priority. To change this:

1. Click on ‘Leveling Options’ on the Resource Ribbon
2. Change the Leveling Order to ‘Priority, Standard’
3. Remove the checkboxes to get the cleanest leveling (breaking tasks will kill any clear approach to this).

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The extreme IT personalities and how to lead around them.

June 28, 2009 Leave a comment

 

Everyone has heard of the COWBOY Programmer, the personality of someone does what they want even though they are working on a team. Sometimes it is difficult to see if this person is a COWBOY Programmer – one with an overloaded ego, vs. one with high self-esteem. Kent Beck said in his XP Explained book you should avoid this type of personality.   There are a few other types of people that are not as easy to spot but can impact your project just a much.

THE DOORMAT & THE MARTYR

THE DOORMAT

doormat2

Description of personality:
Lack of self-esteem, lack of ego. Person may appear to be very humble but without self-esteem, it’s not humility, it’s a person who needs to be externally liked and will allow others to step on them without complaint.

Signs of a doormat personality:

  • Can not say no to anyone. Leads to a sense of being overwhelmed
  • Tend to think that asking for help from others will burden others – so the person waste time trying to find the answers yourself with potential risks to your schedule.

What to do if your the leader of the team:

Since this person tends to feel horrible if they can not help anyone that asks for help, you have to place expectations on that person yourself. Keep an eye on the persons tasks and make sure they are getting things done. Help the person stick to his/her priorities. You will have to make more decisions with this type of personality then you may want, if you want them to stay on track. Since they struggle with getting things done (for everyone) you will have to decide what comes first-second-third-ect.     Having this person work in paired programming can be very productive, especially  if teamed with an Organizer.

Opposite of a Doormat: THE MARTYR

THE MARTYR

ben 

Description of personality:

Person tends to have a nepotism style personality. The way I summarize this is: “Everything is about me… the world is against me”.  The person does what ever they can to make sure the customer understands they are taking care of them, even if the person has to sacrifice for the customer,  but if the person does not get the credit/props for the effort, they will get resentful and make sure everyone knows about it. 

Signs of a martyr personality:

  • Accepts tasks only if they can get public credit for the work
  • Gets resentful if their effort are not recognized or when other users get more credit for the work done.

What to do if your the leader of the team:.

This personality can ruin a positive team very quickly. This personality tends to be best used in a business analyst role and testing. I always ask my developers to always say ‘Thank you’ to their testers. This satisfies the martyrs need to be the hero but ensures that they do not bring that resentful negative personality to the customer.

Opposite of a Martyr: THE DOORMAT

More to come…

THE BUTTERFLY &  THE HOBBIT

THE MONK & THE SLOB

THE SCARECROW & THE JOKER

Categories: Team Leadership