Friday, February 28, 2014

Planning meeting

Agile @impiger...day4 planning meeting in progress

A close shave with technology

I am travelling, and is in a guest house. To my surprise, there is no mirror here, and I need to shave. That's when I got a cue from the woman I saw at the airport, who was using her iPhone to apply lipstick. Today, was my turn to use my ipad as a shave. First I tried, Samsung tab3, that did not work due to poor visibility. Ipad did the job of a mirror reasonably well. How true it is, when someone said need is the mother of all innovations. Next time you want to see your face, and if there is no mirror around, use the front camera...:-)

Ways of the cross

Many used the cross to explain many things. The cross always creates quadrants. In other words it cuts the medium on which it is drawn into four squares. Stephen covey in his seven habits of highly effective people uses it to explain time management. He divides our activities into quadrants like urgent and not important, urgent and important, not urgent and not important, not urgent and important, in order to drive the point that it is thenot urgent and important stuff in our lives produces the maximum benefits.

The Boston consulting groups quadrants of the product life cycle; question mark, star, cash cow and dog explains the product life cycle very effectively. This can explain the stages of human life as well. When a child is born, she is the question mark. Everyone is anxious of her future. When the child starts performing well at school, a star is born. Once employed, all of us become cash cow, followed by end of life, which is the dog state. When in dog stage, we take care of the house, when all others go out. The book crossing the chasm, uses the cross to explain product launch strategies. If my memory is right, either Kotler or Drucker used the cross to explain marketing strategies like known product to known market, known product to new market, new product to known market, new product to new markets. Then I saw Robert Kayasaki using the four quadrants to explain the ESBI concept. He says that all of us are either employees, self employed, business men or investors, or we are all of these. He states that if eighty percent of our income is coming from employment and self employment, and if only twenty percent is coming from business and investment, then we will remain as poor, and when we reverse the equation, we get richer.

I use the cross or the four quadrants to explain career planning. The skill set which make you and me employable is the cash cow. Before the cash cow become a dog or end of life, we must groom newer skill sets through the question mark and the star categories to the cash cow quadrant. This calls for lot of proactive planning and commitment from our side.

The last but not the least is the cross as demonstrated by Jesus Christ, which is explaining love thy neighbor as the sole strategy to be successful. I am fascinated by the magical power of it, and  still an apprentice in my understanding of the tremendous possibilities and the hidden power of it. When I feel that I have understood it to a level where I can explain it without diluting it, I will attempt to write about it. Wish me good luck. Have a wonderful day.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Agile using Impiger day1

Manager&Photographer Management insights from mobile phone photography inside the hotel room

I clicked this photograph using my Samsung mobile...again proving that technique is as important as the tool. In order to apply techniques properly one need to understand the subject. Without the sound knowledge of project management good practices, no tool is going to help you. In the photography circles they  call it as making a photograph than taking a photograph.
Without the knowledge of critical path, fast tracking, crashing, earned  value management, no project management tool is going to give you better results.  It is more like some one using a camera without knowing aperture, shutter speed and iso.

Similar results using two different tools / gadgets. The first one using galaxy tab and the second one using galaxy grand at similar settings. 

At first i thought the photos are similar but a closer look reveals that one is sharper than the other. At this stage the capability of the tools used starts counting. Eighty percentage of the project management functions are available across all project management tools once that gets saturated then the capability of the tools matters and 90 percentage of the projects do not stretch the tools to that extent.

Monday, February 24, 2014

The true purpose of education is to teach a man to carry himself triumphant to the sunset. Liberty Hyde Bailey

The daily scrum meeting rules

The daily scrum meeting is time boxed to 15 minutes regardless of the number of team members.

  • Hold the daily scrum in the same place at the same time every work day. The daily scrum is best held first thing in the day so that the first thing team members do on arriving at work is think of what they did the day before and what they plan to do today.
  • All team members are required to attend. If for some reason a team member cannot attend in person, the absent member must either attend by phone or by having another team member report on the absent members status.
  • Team members must be prompt. The scrum master starts the meeting at the appointed time, ragrdless of who is present. Any member who is late pays Rupees 50 to the scrum master immediately.
  • The scrum master begins the meeting by starting with the person to his or her left and proceeding counter clockwise around the room until everyone has reported.
  • Each team member should respond to three questions only:

1) What have you done since the last daily scrum regarding this project?

2) What will you do between now and the next daily scrum meeting regarding this project?

3) What impedes you from performing your work as effectively as possible?

  • Team members should not digress beyond answering these three questions into issues, designs, discussion of problems, or gossip. The scrum master is responsible for moving the reporting along briskly, from person to person.
  • During the daily scrum, only one person talks at a time. That person is the one who is reporting his / her status. Everone else listens. There is no side conversations.
  • When a team member reports something that is of interest to other team members or needs the assistance of other team members, any team meber can immediately arrange for all interested parties to get together after the daily scrum to set up a meeting.
  • Chickens are not allowed to talk, make observations, make faces or otherwise make their presence in the daily scrum meeting obtrusive.
  • Chickens stand on the periphery of the team so as not to interfere with the meeting
  • If too many chickens attend the meeting, the scrum master can limit attendance so that the meeting can remain orderly and focused.
  • Chickens are not allowed to talk with team members after the meeting for clarification or to provide advice or instructions.
  • Pigs or chickens who cannot or will not conform to the above rules can be excluded from the meeting (chickens) or removed from the team (pigs)

Reference. Agile project management using scrum by Ken Schwaber

Sunday, February 23, 2014

A lesson or two from Velamkanni

Velamkanni is a migrant farm worker from Tamil Nadu, working at Kerala, who had work at our farm today. He was supposed to start at 8 a.m, and when I reached the farm at 7.45 am, he was ready, which was a big surprise for me, emanating from the fact that even top executives of fortune companies struggle with punctuality. They walk in late, meeting after meeting, saying sorry after sorry, without really understanding the meaning of sorry. In none of  the Indian languages, the equivalent word of sorry is said with pride and unfortunately these senior executives repeatedly uses it without any shame. They sometimes even take pride in making others wait for them, which is a true manifestation of  'I dont care for you and your time'.
To my delight,Velamkanny struck to the eight hour working day by really performing eight hours productive work with total commitment. I salute him for his professionalism, commitment and self esteem. He worked for eight hours perfectly and then stopped. No freebies to please the employer. I just loved that attitude of  'I respect you and myself' so give and take respect. 
In one organisation where I advovated eight hour working days as part of the agile training, many ended up spending eight hours at the workplace, which included four cigarette breaks, two tea breaks, one lunch break and a table tennis break, and the blame was for the coach who introduced the eight hour working days. To my surprise Velamkanni packed his bags after clocking eight hours of effective work. This was a great surprise for me. Definitely there is a lesson or two to learn from Velamkanni for our white and blue collared. I salute this humble and noble human being.
Agile frameworks are value based than rule based, and 'commitment' from everyone is the entry criteria to be part of an agile team. Only committed team members, those who are committed to the success of the product of the project are welcomed into the team. Is this a given?. When one takes home a decent salary, they have the moral responsibility to deliver by working whole heartedly eight hours per day, and then go home and relax, so that it becomes sustainable.

Effective application of 'theory U' in agile coaching

Right now I am in the middle of a consulting assignment of transitioning a large team from ‘scrum but’ to right scrum. When I say right scrum, I refer to the scrum guide by Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland which can be downloaded from

This team from this very large multi national product company came with the baggage of ‘I know scrum, and now you teach me scrum’ attitude, because they have been practising some sort of scrum. This attitude is not something new for me, as I have come across similar situations before as well.

Since agile is value based, like religions, a loss in faith is very difficult to be restored. No amount of talking would have convinced them. This is the biggest risk/challenge while dealing with teams with partial knowledge of s rum. At least that  is my judgment, based on my past experiences with teams with partial knowledge of scrum.

As a coincidence, this was the time I came across the theory ‘U’ which was advocating the postponement of the three fears of;

Fear of judgment
Fear of cynicism
Fear of change

for effective change management.

I decided to implement the concept of ‘postponement of these fears’ at every stakeholder level, me being the first one. All the coaching sessions started with the request to postpone these fears till the completion of the first sprint, and the results are very positive. After experiencing the right scrum, most of these fears are automatically addressed. So, make it explicit to postpone the fears of judgment, cynicism and change before implementing will give you a smooth start.

Your mind will answer most questions if you learn to relax and wait for the answer. William S Burroughs


Saturday, February 22, 2014

Dos and dont's of daily standups (scrum)

Start it on time and finish it on time.
Each person gets 2 minutes to update the status of his work to the rest of the team (what did I do yesterday, what am I doing today anx what are the issues I am facing.
Do not convert it into an issue resolution meeting
Very often the team members will talk to the senior most person in the group. In that case deliberately cut the eye contact with that person so that she will be forced to have eye contact with the rest of the team.
For issue resolution have separate meetings.
In case you are clubbing the scrum with the issue resolution meeting, formally divide the meeting into two and at the same time ensure that the scrum follows its rules.
Please remember that going for a meeting late or skipping an agreed upon meeting are not positive indicators of mutual respect.
If somebody violates the meeting norms anyone in the team can highlight it so that the correction happens then and there itself.
Every one must stand up during the stand up meeting.
Switch off mobiles
When a persontalks listen
Meeting must not take more than twenty minutes.
Stand up in a circle.
Donot stand with the boss on one side and others on the other side.  This creates a divide. Always stand in a circle.
Who will start the meeting?. The person standing on the right side or left side of the scrum master
Whenever someone requests help pls note it down.
Always have the scrum meeting near the tracking board.
Conclude the meeting by putting your hands together for the progress made. Celebrate even small achievements.

Trust this helps.

Friday, February 21, 2014

"They pushed me into this project..." Sounds familiar :-)

Sometime back, in a project management workshop in a very large product based company, a senior project manager made a comment 'They pushed me into this project', in the presence of his entire team!. This person is supposed to lead and inspire the team, but unfortunately this comment aired his attitude to the project, and in a broader sense to life itself. The attitude of the project manager is contagious and influences the team positively or negatively, depending on positive or negative attitudes of the project manager. The project manager fundamental responsibility is to make things happen as per the plan. If one is not inspired by the project at hand, it is better not to occupy the position of the project manager. As per PMBOK (Project management body of knowledge), and in reality, projects fail at the beginning. The fate of the project is decided during the early stages of the project. Either we start projects which do not have sound business case to support it, or the project manager do not have the skill sets to manage the project, or the team do not have the capability to deliver...the reasons could be many, and it is a fact that projects fail at the beginning, not at the middle or end. The failure become evident during the middle or at the end of the project, but the root causes leading to these failures happen at the beginning of the project life cycle. Optimism is the key to successful project management.

Project management is a critical strategic discipline and is the link between the strategy and the team. Let us take a closer look at the Competencies, roles and responsibilities of project managers;
  • Satisfy the needs; task needs, team needs and individual needs.
  • Project manager's role is a strategic role
  • Understanding and applying the project management good practices
  • Area specific skills
  • General management competencies related to knowledge, performance and personal
  • Leadership qualities
  • Team building skills
  • Motivation
  • Communication
  • Influencing
  • Decision making
  • Political and cultural awareness
  • Negotiation
  • Trust building
  • Conflict management
  • Coaching
Are you made for these things?. See, every body is not made for everything. Many societies associate lot of professional prestige to the term 'manager', and many gets into the managerial role due to this social compulsion, and ruin their career, just because it is not their cup of tea. Like projects, careers also fail, when we make wrong choices. So, think twice before taking a plunge into the project management profession, as a career option. If your strengths matches the requirements of the profession, then you are in the right path. Good luck.

Reference  PMBOK Version 5, pages 16,17,18

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Do your homework well, even before the pre-sales stage

Some days ago I had a meeting with a division head of a global giant, to roll out agile project management within the division. To be honest, I went for this meeting without taking any extra effort from my side to understand this particular organisation, like their geographic spread, business case behind this initiative, status of the previous agile implementations, lessons learned, risks, how they were addressed, nature of employees, organisational policies, structure, decision making process, established work flows etc. The discussions started, and due yo my past experience with similar organisations, I could be practical enough to identify the areas I could contribute, and those which I could not. Without prior experience and the formal knowledge of the terms 'Organizational process assets' and 'Enterprise environmental factors', I would have a cut a sorry face infront of this customer who is a global giant in it's field, by agreeing to provide solutions to all their problems, which include business process reengineering of a global giant. Can I do it as an individual?, Never. If I had agreed to that in that meeting, it would have undermined whatever credibility I have with this customer. A proper understanding of the business case, stakeholders involved, enterprise environmental factors and the organisational process assets prior to the meeting will help anyone to be realistic while dealing with customers (existing, probable). In this case, my prior experience came to my rescue, else I would have landed up in deep trouble. 

Let us take a closer look at 'Enterprise environmental factors' and 'Organisational process assets';

Enterprise environmental factors

All those factors around the enterprise, which may have an impact (positive/negative) on the project at hand will fall under the definition of enterprise environmental factors;

Goverment policies

Political climate

Labour laws

Visa processing norms

Availability of raw material 

Availability of manpower

Competitor's data 

Organisational process assets 

The intellectual property of the stakeholders of the project which can be leveraged during project initiation, planning, execution, monitoring & controlling and closing phases of a project comes under the definition of organisational process assets;





Lessons learned

Risk management measures from past projects 

Organisational metrics

Proprietory technology, procedures, components etc 

Knowledge of these have a great impact on project planning, and has even higher value during pre-sales stages to understand the customer's needs and propose the best practical solution possible, which will yield the best results within the operating environment of the organisation. 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The benefits of saying 'No'

In the year 2000, I prepared for a presentation for the senior management of an organisation on information strategy planning. In order to impress the audience, I stuffed the presentation with ‘cut and paste’ jargons which even me, the presenter did not understand well. It was the last hurdle, before signing a big contract and the audience included the senior most stakeholders from the customer’s side. I started the presentation well, could manage most of the questions from the audience, and when everything was going as per the script, i walked backward and hit the podium, and it fell down with a big noise, along with my self confidence. After that I could not utter a single word, and the rest of the presentation looked totally alien to me, under pressure. We lost the mega order because of me. That was a great and the most expensive lesson I learned ever in my life, ‘Never present anything which You have not experienced either positively or negatively’, and that great lesson helped me to sail through the corporate consulting world, in a successful manner during the past decade.
Temptations are the acid test of your convictions. Yesterday I had a meeting with a multi national customer, who wants me to teach them project risk management and project financing. It is very tempting to say ‘Yes’ to this assignment. Even if I know these concepts, I have not practised them extensively. The financial package is tempting, so is the temptation to prepare another ‘cut and paste’ presentation. Just manage one more show, thats it. If I say ‘Yes’ to it, I may be able to manage it, and at the same time I will never get a standing ovation from the audience at the end of the show. I do not want to start an assignment knowing that I will not be able to do well. So, I am saying ‘NO’ to it, and the benefits of that ‘NO’ are;
1) I know that I have a reputation to loose in the industry, and the risk of loosing that reputation is managed.
2) I will not be cheating myself by pretending enthusiasm about the concepts, I am not that enthusiastic.
3) Every failure pushes me into a bout of professional depression, and I take almost a month to get out it. Avoid it proactively.
4) That client may come back to me with another assignment in the area of my current strengths. A failure can shut the doors to that client forever.
5) It takes integrity for not repeating the mistakes..and I feel good about it.
6) My business partner feels bad about the lost business. He would have felt worser with a failed assignment.
7) I am walking my talk by advocating the power of failing fast, than failing at the last moment.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The value of well known certifications

Recently I had to interview a person over skype for a senior project manager's position in a country outside India. The fact that he is PMP certified was a matter of big comfort to me. We could easily strike a common vocabulary. My focus shifted from testing his knowledge about the project management good ptactices to his experience in using them,  and about his outlook theory x vs theory y. This is very true with a pmi acp, or scrum certified professional as well. I consider it as a hygiene factor when it comes to opportunities. Having just a certification will not get you a great opportunity, but definitely not having them can cost you great opportunities by way of missing the screening criteria or failing to strike rapport with the interviewer. Well known certifications have value, and they have even greater value if the certificate holder is passionate about demonstrating the knowledge gained at the work place.

Monday, February 17, 2014

PMI-ACP course structure

PMI-ACP Course structure

About Agile 

Agile project management consists of the family of iterative development frameworks like XP, SCRUM, RUP, TDD. Agile project management is ideal for projects, where requirements are highly volatile (evolving), or technology is very new to the team, or both. While it is a right fit for product development, it is not limited to that alone. It is beneficial for any creative work like web based application development, architecting phase of a civil, mechanical,electrical,plumbing project, research projects etc. Even world bank sponsored programs have successfully deployed agile project management, yielding them better results than water fall (big bang single releases).

About PMI-ACP Certification

Certification is offered by the Project Management Institute (PMI), USA.
Exam comprises of 120 multiple choice questions.
Exam time is 3 hours.
50% of the questions are from Agile tools and techniques.
50% of the questions are from Agile knowledge and skills.
Participants are required to undergo 21 contact hours of instructor led training based on agile project management, within 1 year of taking the exam.
Participants can take the exam for a maximum of three times, within the one year period after gaining the required 21 contact hours.

The Course Objectives

Prepare the participants for the PMI-ACP Certification.
To impart sufficient knowledge and skills to the participants so that they can start practising the agile project management methodology at their work place.
Provide 21 contact hours of instructor led training credits to the participants

The course outline 

Overview of agile project management 
Agile manifesto
Popular agile methodologies
Agile principles and practices
Scrum overview 
Quick overview of the agile practices using scrum 
Understanding the key roles and artifacts of scrum 
Scrum master (Agile project manager)
Product owner
Team members
Product backlog
Sprint planning meeting
Sprint backlog
Tracking board
Sprint demo
Understanding user stories 
The anatomy of a user story
User story development techniques
Story points
Ideal time
Wide band delphi
Playing poker
The sprint planning meeting 
The sprint planning meeting time box
Feature prioritization
The tracking board
Definition of done
Load balancing
Self organised teams
Work volunteering
Daily stand up meetings
Burn down chart updating
Sprint demo meetings Continuous improvement process
Sprint retrospectives
Scaling scrum
Co-located and distributed teams
Best practices and concepts 
Agile tooling
Osmotic communications for co-located and distributed teams
WIP limits
Cumulative flow diagram
Process tailoring
Affinity estimating
Product road map
Story maps
Wire frames
Frequent verification and validation
Test driven development / test first development
Continuous integration
Project charter for an agile project
Participatory decision models
Process analysis techniques
Self assessment
Value based assessment
Soft skills 
Emotional intelligence
Adaptive leadership
Conflict resolution
Servant leadership
Building high performance teams
Value based prioritization 
Return on investment (ROI)
Net present value (NPV)
Internal rate of return (IRR)
Customer valued prioritization
Minimally marketable feature (MMF)
Relative prioritization / ranking
Business case development
Agile implementation 
Agile contracting methods
Agile project accounting principles
Applying new agile practices
Compliance (Organisation)
Control limits for agile projects
Failure modes and alternatives
Globalisation, Culture and team diversity
Innovation games
Principles of systems thinking (complex, adaptive, chaoes)
Regulatory compliance
Variance and trend analysis
Vendor management

The course is delivered over gotomeeting in 4 weeks time
There will be one online meeting with the instructor / week, where the key concepts are discussed
Instructor is available till you clear the exam for doubt clarification 

Contact details 
skype 'pmricampus'

Course fee : USD 200

Thursday, February 13, 2014

If you want more power as a project manager, join a project based organisation

Once, one of my project management course participants was whining about the lack of professionalism within their organisation. She was feeling very powerless and miserable. To add to the misery, she had a boss who once in a while bypassed her and allocated work directly to the team members. She felt miserable, and told me that she is looking for a change of job. In fact, she was asking for advice. My reply was spontaneous. If you are looking for more power as a project manager, jump from the current functional organisation to a projectized organisation. Thanks to PMBOK (Project management body of knowledge by PMI, USA), which gave me the formal knowledge about the organisational structures and their impact on project management.

Functional organisation
Most of the manufacturing, services organisations fall into this category. Organisations are divided into key functions, headed by functional managers (VP sales, VP Production, VP Finance, VP HR etc). Project managers report to the functional managers. Projects do not bring in any direct revenue, hence project teams are considered as support teams. If you are the project manager to implement a production planning and control system, then most probably you will be reporting to the VP production. In functional organisations the project manager will have least authority, where as the functional managers will have maximum authority levels.

Projectized or Project based organisation (PBO)
In these organisations, everything is managed as a project. It is the projects which bring in the money for the organisation, hence project teams are considered as the bread winners of the organisation. Other functions support the projects. In project based organisations, the project manager has the maximum authority and the functional managers have least authority.

Matrix organisations
The moment you hear the term 'dotted line reporting', you can be rest assured that you are in a matrix organization. In matrix organisations, the project team members report to more than one person (project manager, functional manager). Matrix organisations are ideal for teams which calls for cross disciplinary  skills sets. Most of the product companies will have matrix organisational structures. Matrix organisations are further divided into;

  • Strong matrix
  • Weak matrix
  • Balanced matrix
  based on the power equations between the project manager and the functional manager.

  • In a strong matrix organisation, the project manager will have more authority than the functional manager.
  • In a weak matrix organisation, the functional manager will have more authority than the project manager.
  • In a balanced matrix, both the project manager and the functional manager shares the same kind of authority levels 
A closer look at the key decision making process within an organisation is the smartest way to understand the organisation's structure.
  • If all key decisions are taken by the functional manager, then it must be a functional organisation.
  • If all key decisions are taken by the project manager, then it must be a projectized organisation.
  • If all key decisions are taken by both the project manager and the functional manager together, then it must be a balanced matrix.
  • If all key decisions are taken by the functional manager, after collecting inputs from the project manager, then it must be a weak matrix.
  • If all key decisions are taken by the project manager, after collecting inputs from the functional manager, then it must be a strong matrix. 
Understanding the organisational structures and power equations will help us to manage the stakeholder expectations better.

Reference : PMBOK Version 5, Pages 14, 21,22,23,24,25,26

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Application of agility at the organizational level

Agile teams for organisational capability enhancements (senior management team) 

  • Maintenance of an organisational backlog of issues to be addressed
  • Project level agile transition goals as part of the organisational goals 
  • Decomposing the issue backlog into action items 
  • Daily updation of the tracking board and burn down chart 
  • Weekly stand up meetings 
  • Prioritizing them into sprints 
  • Volunteering 
  • Execution 
  • Demonstration 
  • Retrospectives 
Agile teams at the project's level 
  • Maintenance of product backlog 
  • Defining the road map of releases
  • Sprint planning meetings  
  • Sprinting
  • Daily scrum 
  • Update the tracking board 
  • Update the burn down chart 
  • Sprint review meetings 
  • Retrospective meetings 
  • Identification and prioritization of the organizational issues 
  • Identification of the teams for agile roll out

Project management office (PMO)

Is a management structure that standardizes project governance processes and facilitates the sharing of knowledge, resources, methodologies, tools and techniques.

Different types of PMOs
Supportive - Provides a consultative role
Controlling - Provide support and require compliance
Directive - Controls the projects

Primary functions of a PMO

  • Managing shared resources across all projects administered by the PMO
  • Developing project management methods 
  • Coaching, mentoring, training and oversight
  • Monitoring compliance 
  • Developing and maintaining project polices, procedures, templates
  • Coordinating communication across projects 
PMBOK reference pages 11,12

Reference video

Project portfolio management

Organizations have business goals to achieve, and these goals are supported by business strategies which in turn are supported by programs, projects, sub-projects and other work. The process of choosing the right projects which are in true alignment to the business strategy of the organisation, executing them, and maintaining the alignment to the ever changing market conditions is known as project portfolio management.


A program is a collection of interrelated projects which when done together gives more value than doing them one after the other. For example for very large software develepment programs muliple projects performed by multiple teams (engineering, architecture, coding, testing, documentation, marketing) will contribute to the program together and simultaneously, yielding better value than doing them one after the other. Programs are managed by program managers where as projects are managed by project managers.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Projects and operations

Upon going through this module you will be able to differentiate between projects and operations.

Projects are temporary in nature Are performed by people Projects deliver unique products or services as an output Are progressively elaborated. When we start a project we have very less information about the project. As we get into the project deeper, we gain more insight about the project. Projects are constrained by limited resources of time, cost and scope. Operations are ongoing (continuous) in nature Operations produces standard outputs Designing a car is a project, where as manufacturing cars are operations. Watch the video below.


The PMdistilled PMP Prep online course coverage

This course covers the complete PMBOK version 5, and is arranged process group wise, which is the natural flow of the project, hence easy to understand and recollect.

Basic definitions

  • Projects and operations
  • What is a project?
  • What is an operation?
  • What is a program?
  • What is portfolio management?
  • What is a PMO?
  • Project based organisations (PBO)
  • Predictive and adaptive styles of project management
  • Roles and responsibilities of a project manager
  • Professional ethics and social responsibility of a project manager
  • Skills required for a project manager 
  • Different organizational structures and the power equations
  • Organisational process assets
  • Enterprise environmental factors
  • Organisational structures 
  • Organisational process assets
The structure of PMBOK
  • Five process groups
    • Initiation
    • Planning
    • Execution
    • Monitoring and controlling
    • Closing
  • Ten knowledge areas 
    • Project integration management
    • Project scope management 
    • Project time management 
    • Project cost management
    • Project quality management 
    • Project human resource management
    • Project communications management
    • Project risk management 
    • Project procurement management
    • Project stakeholder management 
Project initiation
(the numbers prefixing the topics are the reference numbers of PMBOK V5, and are reproduced here for ease of reference and to ensure complete coverage) 

4.1 Develop project charter 
13.1 Identify stakeholders 

Project planning
4.2 Develop project management plan 
5.1 Plan scope management 
5.2 Collect requirements 
5.3 Define scope 
5.4 Create WBS
6.1 Plan schedule management
6.2 Define activities
6.3 Sequence activities
6.4 Estimate activity resources 
6.5 Estimate activity durations
6.6 Develop schedule 
7.1 Plan cost management
7.2 Estimate costs 
7.3 Determine budget 
8.1 Plan quality management 
9.1 Plan human resource management 
10.1 Plan communications management 
11.1 Plan risk management 
11.2 Identify risks 
11.3 Perform qualitative risk analysis 
11.4 Perform quantitative risk analysis 
11.5 Plan risk responses 
12.1 Plan procurement management 
13.2 Plan stakeholder management 

4.3 Direct and manage project work
8.2 Perform quality assurance 
9.2 Acquire project team 
9.3 Develop project team 
9.4 Manage project team 
10.2 Manage communications 
12.2 Conduct procurements 
13.3 Manage stakeholder engagement 

Monitoring and controlling
4.4 Monitor and control project work 
4.5 Perform integrated change control 
5.5 Validate scope 
5.6 Control scope 
6.7 Control schedule 
7.4 Control costs 
8.3 Control quality 
10.3 Control communications 
11.6 Control risks 
12.3 Control procurements 
13.4 Control stakeholder engagement 

4.6 Close project or phase 
12.4 Close procurements

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Which certification to pursue?

Which certification to pursue?..that is a million dollar question which every professional face, at some point in time of their career. This discussion is based on which certifications one should pursue, after making a concrete decision to tread the project management route. Within project management, we have two major schools;
  • The agile project management
  • Traditional project management
  • The industry to which you belong to
  • The industry where you want to spend your future
  • The country where you will be working
  • Project Management Professional (PMI, USA)
  • Projects in controlled environment (UK)
  • Certified Scrum Master (CSM), by Scrumalliance
  • Professional Scrum Master (PSM) by
  • Agile Certified Practitioner (ACP) by PMI-USA
  • Complete understanding of  SCRUM
  • Some key concepts like earned value management, risk management, communications management from the project management body of knowledge (PMBOK)
  • Integration management
  • Scope management
  • Time management
  • Cost management
  • Quality management
  • Communications management
  • Human resource management
  • Risk management
  • Procurement management

Both are valuable, and complementary.  Which one will give you the fastest return on investment depends on;
The globally well known certifications for project managers
If you are from the information technology domain, it is better to with any one of the agile certifications straightaway. The certified Scrum Master (CSM) by Scrumalliance is expensive and has the early starter advantage, where as PSM is not that expensive, and at the same time it is very authentic, because it is coming from Ken Schwaber’s For those of you who do not know Ken Schwaber, he founded scrum along with Jeff Sutherland, and both of them together developed the scrum guide, which is the most authentic documentation on scrum, becuase it is coming from the founders. The syllabus for these two certifications (CSM and PSM) are the ScrumGuide, and upon completion of the certification process, one will have the proficiency to play the role of a scrum master (project manager, in the traditional forms).
Then we have the PMI-ACP certification. The syllabus for this certification is a cocktail of all the frameworks available out there and calls for;
After getting anyone of the agile certifications, then try for PMP credential. Without a proper understanding of the nine knowledge areas of PMBOK;
one will fail, when it comes to real life project management. More than that, while the future holds good for the Agile, many customers insist on PMP’s to manage their projects. If you are from the I.T background, these two certifications are mandatory. Start with agile, and then graduate into PMBOK. Both complements.
If you are from any other domain, other than I.T, then the options are either PMP or PRINCE2. Since the origins of PRINCE2 are from U.K, it is appreciated there, and the rest of the world is with PMP. So, based on where you are, and where your customers are, you have to decide.
Please post all your additional queries as comments to this page, and I will reply.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

About the pmdistilled course

The pmdistilled project management courses are evolved over a period of almost ten years and are focused to impart the right project management knowledge to the participants with least effort from the participants. The short cut to success is mastering the concepts from a practitioner's perspective which will give you  better dividends in the longer run than just having a certification. In the past we have had students who tried to mug up the concepts without understanding them properly, and went blank during the exam. So, the easiest way to succeed is to understand the concepts first, and then later focus on the exam practice.

The PMdistilled pmp preparatory online, instructor led course
This course is for the busy excecutive in mind, who wants to learn from anywhere at his own pace, yet do not want to go for a record and play back course. When you join for this course, your pmp journey is considered as a project, and the instructor will work along with you till you pass the exam. For ease of grasping and recollection, we have designed the course process group wise (initiation, planning, execution, monitoring&contdolling and closing), which gives the natural flow of a project, which is easy to recollect as it reflects the natural flow of a project.

The course outline