When Asked a Simple Question, Give a Simple Answer

How much rigor does any decision really need? One clue might be to look at the number of significant digits you will be presenting. Say you are asked to present the cost impact of IT systems on a major acquisition or merger. Based on the context of the conversation - the macro-financials, the pay-back models, and the YOY growth plan for the next five years, you will probably be delivering a single slide that shows $20M in cost and/or benefits…

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Successful Projects Start with Good Discussions

How often does this ten-minute conversation happen ... Problem - DefinedSolution - TheorizedOwner - Identified Expectations - SetProject - Go! If we're talking about a small amount of effort - perfect; I'm a great fan of focused action in manageable amounts. The challenge often comes when the Problem - Defined part goes too quickly - people may assume a challenge easily identified is just as easily solved. Hopefully, the team can pause during the Solution - Theorized bit, and realize that this Problem could be bigger than…

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“Lean” meets “Demand Management” in IT – Managing the Constraints

It has been a few months since I've posted, but I haven't been idle - two significant projects (aside from working very hard at the full-time job), only one of which I can talk a bit about at this time. Tomorrow (Thursday, 16 Feb 2012) , I am presenting at a conference on IT Portfolio Management in Rosemont, IL - a case study on how we use ideas from Lean Manufacturing and Demand Forecasting to solve a fairly common problem…

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Help for the Newly Minted Project Manager

Congratulations! Due to the recent [acquisition / divestiture, market expansion / contraction, organizational realignments, other] you have been identified as a Critical Resource for this particular bit of business process change. And, to help us implement these changes, you have been named the Project Manager for this effort. So now you are a Project Manager (PM, for short); what does that mean? You may be vaguely aware that people get certifications for this sort of thing, or that Microsoft sells…

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Idle Time is a Good Thing for IT

Lots of good conversations recently about managing IT, Finance, and other constrained resources for projects. We have implemented tools to model available time; when trying to understand what new work can get added to the pile, it helps immeasurably when you understand how much time you have available, plus what else has been committed. This has become a powerful process for managing chronically constrained resources - but one side effect is that other folks on the team can find themselves…

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Estimating Bird-Dogging Time for Project Tasks

New year, new projects, and new adventures in getting folks to think in project management terms. I've written before about Calendar time vs. Effort time, but this past week we came up with a new distinction that is worthwhile to call out. When working with the business and getting folks to estimate how much time it will take to complete a task, there are actually three different things that most people will talk about - and folks need to be…

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