Project management has changed!

"Project management has changed" is what I was informed.

As a result, this head-hunter refused to consider me for a PjM job; since I've been doing 1,000 other things for the past 7 years.

The fact that I've been sharpening my technical skills and updating my knowledge of the Software Development world is irrelevant.

So, my questions are:
Has PjM changed, and how?I don't recall noticing any new fads, even though I frequent sites like almost daily, and I am ranked in the top 12% of 23,000+ users.Does it really matter that I haven't done any active PjM work for a while?Keep in mind that I never formally learned PjM, it's a skill I'm born with.Shouldn't it be advantageous that I have hands-on experience with state-of-the-art technology?Or do they prefer PjMs who haven't had a chance to keep up with the latest technologies?
Your thoughts are appreciated. My thoughts on the subject were written 6 years ago at the post titled Why a…

Do projects ever end early?

For a while I was an active participant in the StackExchange Project Management betasite.

One of the 6 questions I asked was Do projects ever end early?

The fascinating part of this was that it has been viewed about 6,400 times and generated 14 answers! 
(That's a lot of traffic for a site that has been in beta for almost 6 years because it averages a mere 1.5 questions per day. It needs 10 new questions per day to get out of beta.)

It seems that a lot of people are wondering the same thing: Do projects ever end early?

The question I posed was:
When scheduling, I tend to add a lot of reality into the guesstimates I am provided with. I always add in generous amounts of probable sick days for manpower and extra time for integration and bug fixing. (All this based on decades of experience.) As a result, my projects tend to deliver on schedule. But they never finish earlier than expected. Now I'm wondering if the projects would deliver earlier if I didn't pad the schedule as much. W…

Managing without management

For the past 6 weeks I have been working at a new company - hence the lack of updates on this blog.

My previous employer - - was big into management and SEO.

My current employer - Hyperlync - does not believe in either.

Their site is all but non-existant - and most pages are carefully spider-proofed. They generate revenue by creating products that people actually use, and they have no need to be in Google's index. Those people who need their products know where to find them.

This means that we never hear - and really don't care - about Google events and other tragedies that affect SEO-driven companies. What a relief.

They also don't believe in management. The 3 founders all work for a living; 2 of them write code the 3rd does the sales & marketing.

There are no status reports and nobody looking over your shoulder. As soon as a product is sold, the relevant employees are informed and each does his part to make it ship.

Since there are no teams, you cannot rely (or …

Bottlenecks: Never assume the experts know better

As the saying goes: "Experts built the TitanicAmateurs built the Ark."

It seems to be human nature to rely on experts and not question their decisions. After all, if they are so clever, who are we to question them?

But sometimes it seems that they are self declared experts and/or it is us who declare them as experts and then believe our own prophecies.

Jerusalem has 2 new fast transport systems: A light rail and express buses. The aim is to eventually replace the latter with another line or 2 of trams.

I always wondered what was the advantage of transport-by-rail - especially intra-city where speed is not an issue.

Light rails are great when they work; the idea is that cars and pedestrians have to keep out of their way, as the trams are inflexible. They are quiet and don't need to tank up as they are electric.

Two weeks ago I saw that anything travelling on rails suffers from the typical bottleneck problem, as to be expected.

First I saw a train that had started pulling out t…

Are all changes really improvements?

I can just imagine it: The yearly review at Egged; the Jerusalem bus cooperative. The major request for change must have been to get rid of the need to punch those paper bus tickets.

It was slow, it meant interacting with each passenger. it meant that the person driving a million-dollar bus spent a good part of his day punching holes into paper; paper handled by other people and he had no way to wash his hands.

So, many years ago they created the monthly bus pass. Now the bulk of travelers simply flash their passes and walk by. What a major improvement.

In parallel they decided to upgrade to the 21st century and computerize the system.

Welcome to CityPass. Each passenger has a debit card - this should really improve things.

But, as often happens, this was not thought through carefully. Now every single passenger needs to insert their bus card into the machine; the driver punches a button and - after the light on the machine turns from red to green - you can remove your card and the line be…

Spec review: Airbags?

One of the many skills a Project Manager needs, is the ability to review functional specifications.

A Project Manager needs to be able to run a spec-review meeting and follow up the action items and document the changes resulting from the meeting.

Another required skill is the ability to persuade people that everything needs a spec and a review.

Why is that? Let's take a non-programming example, for a change; since I've been getting complaints that my blog is very programming oriented.

In 1971 GM added airbags to the driver's side. Since the airbag worked well for the driver, why not install it on the passenger's side also. Source: Wikipedia: Airbags.

Sounds simple enough: Here's what the MRD (Marketing Requirement Document) may have said: "Take existing design of airbag and add it to the passenger side."

Hardly needs a design, functional spec and review, does it? Seems that implementing it will be trivial; what could possibly go wrong?

If anything, it's way…

The End Game: Jerusalem Light Rail

The Jerusalem Light Rail is once again in the news: The drivers all had temporary licenses - all of them expired 3 days ago. Only 12 of them have been renewed. Somebody forgot to take care of renewing all of them...

So now we have the train running once every 30 minutes; even at once every 4 minutes it was crowded...

The Jerusalem Light Rail project is a fascinating one to study; it was running way behind schedule and budget until the current mayor Nir Barkat took charge.

His first question :Where's the schedule and the Project Manager? Yes, he comes from the world of software. :-)

The answer? Well, hum, there were a lot of people in charge; one for the infrastructure, one for the electricity, one for the actually trains, one for the software, one for the traffic lights and the list goes on. But there was nobody in charge of everything.

Result: Everybody could blame everybody else for delaying the project. (The initial launch date was January 2009!)

Nir changed that, and the project sta…

Broken Telephone

A Project Manager spends a lot of time finding out what people are doing and what is preventing them from progressing.

Removing impediments is one of the undocumented roles of a Project Manager; maybe it's time to change that.

Impediments come in a variety of flavors:

Sometimes it's a missing piece from a 3rd party. If the Project Manager can follow up with the 3rd party, then the engineer can  continue doing what she does best, while the Project Manager "wastes his time" chasing the culprit.

Sometimes a lot of non-engineering work needs to be done, like entering a lot of data or editing a lot of existing data. Once again, if the Project Manager can take care of it, the engineer can go back to doing real work. The Project Manager can either do the work or outsource it to somebody who is available; a visiting child or a bored QA member waiting for the project to progress.

Sometimes the Project Manager will discover that the engineer is waiting for a component or informatio…

PMO: Not the prime Minister's office

So, if PMO is not the Prime Minister's Office, what is it?

The Project Management Office (PMO) in a business or professional enterprise is the department or group that defines and maintains the standards of process, generally related to project management, within the organization. The PMO strives to standardize and introduce economies of repetition in the execution of projects. The PMO is the source of documentation, guidance and metrics on the practice of project management and execution. In some organisations this is known as the Program Management Office (sometimes abbreviated to PgMO to differentiate); the subtle difference is that program management relates to governing the management of several related projects.PMOs may take other functions beyond standards and methodology, and participate in Strategic Project Management either as faciliator or actively as owner of the Portfolio Management process. Tasks may include Monitoring and Reporting on active projects …

Internal Competition

Competition is healthy because it's human nature to want to be the winner. Competition is the incentive to work harder - or smarter, and to come out ahead of the other competitors.

That's useful in many areas of life. For example, in schools it drives the serious students to study a little harder, and in business it helps drive prices down and improve service.

When team work is needed, then competition between team members is almost always destructive.

This is true for families; a guaranteed recipe for a disastrous marriage is to have husband and wife compete with one another instead of working together as a team.

In the workplace, the same applies. It's counterproductive when employees see each other as people to compete against. I've worked at many places, and the less internal competition, the more efficient the business will be and more fun it is to work there.

People who are having fun at work are happy to come to work every day and to do a full day's work.

Teams me…