Wrapping up October

Oct 29, 2012 | 0 comments |

Today is the last post for this month.

November will be a completely different ballgame as I want to come up with a plan for writing the blog. I did it once before and it went well.

So, I open an excel file and plan up the posts for my entire month and try to follow it.

And what it does is:
  • Helps me to sleep at night- And not worry about the next topic for the post.
  • Bad days are welcome- If I am down (sick or otherwise), I usually don’t feel like writing. The positive thing about committing to blogging is that you will tend to still write but in some cases the quality suffers. Better the blogger, lesser the emotional interference found in their blogging. Now, with my plan, I am ok if I have bad days because I will write my posts as planned and sometimes way ahead of time. Even when I don’t; I have the pointers done, so writing will be less of a chore.
  • More readers- Hopefully. People like routines, especially if you are a reader. At least that’s how I read the blogs I follow. I pretty much know when they post and how many times they do. Sometimes I will read them every week (very few). Some I will read on the weekend (the entire posts for the month). Others I will just skimp through (once in a while). Now that readers will find not only a routine but a story line running through November, I think it will be fun to come back to the blog.
  • Compartmentalize time - I am trying to experiment; how I respond to certain things and how I can do away with procrastination and where I am spending more time. Planning will help me just do that. I will stop thinking about the next post throughout the day and do it at the given time. Does it make me less creative at not being able to be impulsive with my ideas and write a post at mid night stressed over the deadline? Not sure, will find out.
  • Busy month- November will be super busy for me and I am hoping scheduling will help me focus better. Only tools I am going to use is excel, pomodoro app (downloaded in my desktop and phone) and my will power (ha!)
  • Stories- People like to relate to stories and that’s what I am hoping to bring in more in the blog. And yes you get timelines (not the same as Facebook!), same stories on Monday.
  • And travelling- I will be travelling for almost 10 days this month, that pretty much messes the schedule. Unless, it’s all planned.
  • That time of the year- Plans for new changes and I do have a list (2 months ahead of time), so instead of trying to follow them I am hoping to work more in bursts and less throughout the day.

What are you doing this November?

j   (Pic Courtesy: Google Images)

To read more about project management and know how to get into the domain, read my book Stepping into Project Management (Welcome to the #PMOT World).

 To connect with experienced Project Manager's from all over the world, get mentored or shadow for a day see the SIPM Community.

How I passed my CAPM in a month.

Oct 25, 2012 | | 1 comments |
Abhirup Bhattacharya prepares for a month and passes his CAPM exam. He talks about his routine, his preparation and how he juggled his MBA classes to prepare for the exam. He also blogs at Ideas Make Market and you can find him here @abhirupbh on twitter.

Why did you decide to take the CAPM? what is your background?
I am presently in my second year of MBA in finance from Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies. Prior to this, I graduated in Apparel Production from National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) and worked as a merchandiser in Egypt. I am also a Level II candidate for 2013 CFA Programme from CFA Institute USA.

Project management is an integral part of any process in any company. In fact, in my belief it is even more important for a finance manager to be a good project manager as one can directly impact and control costs in any project by managing it well. This was my main motivation for taking CAPM.

How long did you take to prepare for the exam?
I prepared for the exam for a total of around 1 month and on an average 3-4 hours a day. Sometimes I was unable to study for couple of days due to assignments and exams related to my MBA studies.

Did you follow a routine/schedule on how to study for the exam?
Yes, I had divided this period of 1 month into three distinct phases: For the first 2 weeks I completed the entire curriculum to have idea about the entire syllabus. In the third week, I focused on areas in which I had difficulty in understanding. The final week I kept exclusively for solving questions.

What books/guides/classes did you take?
I referred PMBOK and PMP Study Guide by Joseph Philips for my preparation. In addition to this I had the CAPM preparation slides for reference.

Would you like to share 3 most important things to be taken into consideration when preparing for the CAPM exam?
I think the three most important things to consider are : Time management- make sure you plan your strategy well , Practice: This will ensure you get confusing questions correct  and most importantly Clarity: This will imply your fundamental understanding of the topics is clear.

While taking the exam, were you nervous or did your preparation match with the exam pattern?
I must admit I was a bit nervous on the day of the exam. However the fact that I had solved enough problems, helped me remain calm and maintain my confidence level during the exam.

Post-implementation reviews are not the only way to measure success

This is a guest post by Elizabeth Harrin.
Most projects have a post-implementation review (PIR), also known as a project post-mortem or post-project review. This is often the only opportunity to assess success on a project, especially if your organization doesn't have a more robust method of benefits tracking over the long term.
Often the stakeholders are involved in a PIR. You may or may not choose to involve suppliers as well. Normally the whole project team will be asked to contribute, either in a big workshop-style meeting or in a series of smaller sessions.
PIRs mainly cover process things, like how we managed schedule changes as a team, or whether our monthly reporting schedule gave everyone the information they needed. Aside from the process topics during a PIR, it is also an opportunity to discuss statistics and metrics related to the project. These are normally backward-looking. What was the percentage of effort spent on testing? How many days did it take the quality team to audit the deliverables? These metrics and calculations can then be incorporated into future projects so that initiatives going forward have the benefit of experience and hindsight.
This is great, but this type of PIR doesn't help the project stakeholders. After all, for them, the project is over.
So why do we do post-implementation reviews?
Traditionally, a post-implementation review is the only way that project managers have to determine whether or not their project has been a success. You set success criteria at the beginning of the project and then at the end you pull them out of the drawer and have a meeting to decide if you hit them or not.
We do PIRs because it’s a way to assess performance and to gather data, and typically we look at retrospective measures.
We do them because we’re in the habit of doing them, and because our methodologies and standards say that we should.
What are the limitations of PIRs?
For me, there are two issues with PIRs: they only happen at the end of projects and they mainly focus on the project management principles and methods used. They don’t make the distinction between the success of the project and the success of the project management effort, and they mainly focus on the latter.
Sometimes customers will be asked to feed into the project evaluation process, but at that point it is too late to do anything practical about their comments. If they complain that they weren’t kept up to date, you cannot go back in time and provide more information on a regular basis. It is a case of, ‘How can I help you now it is too late?’ In fact, research from South Africa shows that project sponsors prefer a proactive approach to feedback over the post-implementation review process. They chose to work collaboratively with the project manager during the project to ensure that their expectations were met.
Of course, PIR discussions are immensely valuable for continuous process improvement, and I am not suggesting that you stop using this technique. Focusing on project management principles and methods used is essential to improve organizational project management processes. Could we have done better risk management? What scheduling lessons were learned? A good PIR meeting should discuss what went well and what did not go so well with this project, and this is great information for project managers and teams. If you don’t cover this stuff, you won’t learn how to do things better next time.
So, while PIRs have their limitations, don’t stop doing them! I suggest you start doing something else as well.
Continuous reviews are the future
I would advocate continuous reviews. Review project success on a monthly basis with the main stakeholder or key stakeholders. There’s a lot of talk about ‘engagement’ but not a lot of practical advice about how to actually do it – sitting down with your stakeholders and talking to them regularly is an easy (and cheap) way to build engagement.
It’s just about talking to people, so it doesn’t take up much time, but continuous structured reviews do give you data in the same way that PIRs do. On top of that, talking to them also gives you data you can actually act on, so you avoid this ‘how can I help you now it’s too late’ problem.
You can ask people to score how you are managing their projects on a scale from 1 to 10. You can ask them the same set of questions month-on-month so that you can see if you are doing better. You can monitor their feedback over the long term, tweaking your project management approach and the project deliverable themselves, so that at the end of the project the stakeholders actually get what they want, in the way that they want it.
That’s got to be better than saving all the feedback until the end, don’t you think?

Elizabeth Harrin is the co-author of Customer-Centric Project Management (Gower, 2012). She writes the award-winning blog, A Girl’s Guide to Project Management (www.GirlsGuideToPM.com) and is Director of project communications company The Otobos Group.

(Pic Courtesy: E. Harrin)

The Art of being Focused

“You’ll see I wear only gray or blue suits,” he said. “I’m trying to pare down decisions. I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make.”      – Obama 

Lesson learnt. Turns out we can all learn a lesson or two trying to find ways to focus more and get things done.

Everyone has their own way of being focused  however we can always learn and try out ways that others follow. Getting laser sharp focus is attainable .

You can choose to train your brain, to get more focused or continue with your life. Another way to focus, is to ensure your work area or environment.

To increase your focus remembers to:
Prioritize- This will allow you to focus on the work that needs to get done first. You can also use the Pomodoro technique to get it done.
Get it done- Focus on what need to get done and get on with it . Get off the internet, emails, phone calls and chit-chat and get working.
Keep your goal handy- Don’t get complacent while working on the list, keep a written list of your goal in a visible area and browse through it often. Are you among the 84% that don’t have goals? Figure out a way to be among the 3% 
•Take pride in your work- Be responsible, take ownership and be proud of what goes out with your signature in it. And you will focus automatically.
Be available for criticism- Being present for a positive or otherwise feedback will help you focus more on areas that need improvement. It can definitely turn you into a more focused professional and deal with your shortcomings better.

Focus is the ultimate art to reach your goals.

(Pic Courtesy: Google Images)

To read more about project management and know how to get into the domain, read my book Stepping into Project Management (Welcome to the #PMOT World)

 To connect with experienced Project Manager's from all over the world, get mentored or shadow for a day see the SIPM Community.

Is on sick leave

Oct 3, 2012 | 0 comments |
Is sick and I should be back with regular posts from October 12.

There is some good news as well- The book Stepping into Project Management is now available globally through Amazon as well. Or you can buy it directly from here.

The second book draft is on and I will be letting you know more about it as I try to finish off the chapters.

I have been spending my time, more on the new tablet playing games and listening to some great music  as it's been kinda tough sitting with the laptop for a stretch.

Till then, stay happy and healthy!!!