Project Governance and Gate Reviews

Thought this may be helpful for those looking at a Governance Process and Gate Reviews for project management. 


This aligns the Capital Planning and Investment Controls (CPIC) process of select, control, and evaluate phases with the Systems Development Life Cycle (SDLC). 


There are 5 notional gate reviews with associated documentation for project conception, initiation, planning, execution, and launch.


Of course, this can be modified as needed based on the project threshold and governance stringency required and seeks to create strategic alignment with the goals of the organization. 


(Credit Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)

Birthing An IT System

Managing IT projects is no easy task.


You’ve got to get the requirements right. 


Technical issues need to be resolved. 


Dependencies have to be lined up. 


Integrations need to work. 


Design should be user-friendly and intuitive. 


Change management takes real leadership. 


And so much more. 


A lot needs to go right for the project to be a success. 


While of course, just one or two bad apples in the project equation can quickly make for a failure if not controlled for. 


But you can’t let it…the show must go on, progress is waiting to be made, and the systems need to be delivered for the benefit of the organization. 


This is where real strength and determination by so many good people come in. 


Keep moving things forward–one step at a time–don’t stop!!!—another step and another–heave ho, heave, ho–until one day soon a beautiful and efficient IT system is born. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Project Management – The Best Day

So a colleague said something interesting to me about project management:

The best day of project management is usually the first day, but I want to show you that the best day is really the last day of the project.

And as I thought about this, I sort of starting laughing to myself and thinking, you know what, I think this guy has something here. 


– Day 1 of a project, everyone is usually all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. 


We’re embarking on an adventure together to build something new for the organization and our customers. 


We’re going to team up and everyone will contribute.


And out of the project sausage maker–poof!–like magic comes a new system or product. 


– But as we all know, things don’t always go so smoothly.


With some projects, the pretty smiley faces of day 1 may quickly turn to ugly frown faces.


There is analysis paralysis, scope creep, conflicting or changing priorities, resource issues, technical challenges, or the sausage just doesn’t come our right–oh sh*t!


Thus, many  projects end up going bust in terms of cost, schedule, or performance. 


That is, they end up costing too much, being delivered behind schedule, or just not meeting the performance requirements. 


You have some projects that never even truly get off the ground, have multiple resets, or get dumbed-down or even cancelled altogether along the way. 


So by the time you reach the last day of the project, many people seem like they’ve been through the project ringer. 


I’m sure that I’ve heard more than one project manager say:

Just take me out back and shoot me!


So when this colleague said that he wants the best day of the project to be the last–in terms of satisfaction with the project (not that that pain was finally over!)–I really appreciated this as an awesome goal. 


We should all look to the last day of our projects as the best–one where we can look back and say: 

Wow, great job everyone!  We really got something great done here–and we did it right!  😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Terrible TV

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So we bought a new big screen television. 


That’s exciting, right?


We brought it home from Costco. 


And we gave our prior model away to a family member. 


It was a shlep to move that $2,000 Panasonic behemoth from 2007!


By the time we got back home and connected our new LG TV, oy vey what a disappointment. 


It had this brilliant display in “test mode” that when hooked up to the cable box looked dark and worse than lackluster. 


Even when fidgeting with the settings to offset the dark screen, the gorgeous test display mode still came out looking like crap in actual tv mode. 


But the worst part was that there was a black line down the middle right of the screen. 


When we looked it up on the Internet, it was a known error. 


The instructions said to call LG and make a service appointment. 


WTF!  To heck with this sh*tty TV–it’s supposed to be brand new and actually work–so it’s going back to Costco where this crappy product came from. 


I dragged this widescreen TV back to the store and put it on one of their flat wide carts. 


The problem was that the wheels on one side of the cart were busted, and it kept turning into the fence, store shelves, and wall.


When the lady behind the returns desk called me for my turn, I tried to push the cart and it wouldn’t move. 


Not being able to budge this thing,  I gave it shove forward and the TV went flying from upright to horizontal–SMASH!


The lady behind the returns counter goes to me sarcastically:


“So what was wrong with it BEFORE you just knocked it over???”


Well to make a long story short, I returned the lousy LG television and got a refund. 


And instead ordered a new Samsung curved TV from Amazon–hope this one works!


As for the horrible quality control of today’s electronics–it’s a shame that they can’t seem to make them without problems–they’ve only been making televisions for like 100 years or so. 


In fact, we recently bought a Dell laptop and within like 5-6 weeks, the motherboard died.  


As you can see, the vendors are wringing profits from the products they are making at the customer’s expense. 


There is no quality control to speak of–instead be ready to return the junk electronics to the garbage vendors that make them. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Project Manager – The DIRECT(or)

So I learned this cool acronym for the roles of a project manager:


DIRECT


The project manager directs the project (similar to a director who is the project manager of a movie).


Here is how the project manager DIRECTs the project:


Define – Identify the opportunity or issue that the project will address including, the vision, scope, resources, and measures of success. (i.e. the “Charter”).


Investigate – Explore options and pros/cons for each (i.e. an “Analysis of Alternatives”).


Resolve – Solve and resolve (i.e. commit to) the course of action that will be pursued (i.e. “Project Plan”).


Execute -Do the project and track/manage cost, schedule, scope, quality, risks, and actions items (i.e. “Scorecard”).


Change – Identify process and technology techniology changes, test these, fix outstanding items, and make the cutover (i.e. “User Acceptance Testing,” “Punch List,” and “Go Live Plan”).


Transition – Migrate people to the new solution, communicate the changes, overcome resistance, and conclude the project (i.e. “Communications Plan” and “Lessons Learned”).


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Inspector Inspects Starbucks

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This was the first time that I have ever seen an inspector in Starbucks…


See the lady in the white lab coat with hair cap and gloves…


Ah, she stands out like a saw thumb in contrast to the other staff person in the traditional green Starbucks apron. 


So I would imagine that she’s not a doctor moonlighting as a barista!


She was checking here, there, and everywhere. 


At this point, she was taking out the milk and looked like she had some thermometer like device to make sure it was cold enough and not spoiled. 


Honestly, I was impressed that they have this level of quality control in the stores. 


We need more of this to ensure quality standards as wPhotoell as customer service — here and everywhere in industry and government. 


There is way too much dysfunction, inefficiencies, politics, power plays, turf battles, backstabbing, bullying, lack of accountability, unprofessionalism, fraud, waste, and abuse, and mucho organizational culture issues that need to be–must be–addressed and fast!


Can the inspector that inspects do it?


Of course, that’s probably not enough–it just uncovers the defects–we still have the hard work of leadership to make things right–and not just to checklist them and say we did it.


I wonder if the Starbucks inspector will also address the annoying long lines on the other side of the counter as well? 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Overqualified And Underwhelming

Better Job
Ok, so this sign is sarcastic for the question I received the other day.



A colleague, who is a supervisor, asked me :



“How do you take a group that doesn’t know how to do the work (literally does not know how) and get them going, then teach them to do it on their own instead of doing nothing, waiting, blaming?”



My response was:



You can’t do everyone’s job for them…you will fail that way (and they will fail that way). 



You have to learn to work effectively with others…you have to delegate and let them do their jobs. 



As a manager, you should review, edit, comment, question, suggest, recommend, and quality assure (not micromanage).



Send staff to training, mentor, and guide them, but don’t do the job for them. 



What do you think?



(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)