Friday, September 06, 2013

Case studies are not enough for experience based learning in project management

You are in a class to learn how to create a fantastic project plan. And you are handed a case study. You work with a team and you produce results. You walked away from the class. Did you walk with a bag of tricks to combat real world situations?

Probably some.

At De Anza we take Project Management coaching to a whole new level. You are working on a case study actively in a class room, you are in the middle and not your coach. Your coach has your back. Your fail or run into a road block, you get an answer. Your are taught how to work with people to create good plans because plans are for people. It is not just creating a plan, it is building a team when planning as you are working with people.

As a project manager:

  • What should you do if your team members are not motivated?
  • How do you inspire the super producers?
  • How do you create an environment of healthy competition?
  • How do you learn human persona and intentions quickly?
  • How to use under skilled individuals and grow them?
  • How to identify leaders from an early stage? and how to create a balanced environment where strategic goals are met and you are not ignoring the human aspect of work?

We help you answer these questions.

As a project manager, you have to know your goals, project goals, goals for your team members and you have to constantly watch the goals and without confrontation use techniques to keep your "project car" in the lane, at the right speed so you can get to your destination. You have to watch your speed, not go too fast or too slow otherwise quality of what you produce with your teams is not going to be so good.

My personal goal is to help Project Managers create value through their work and outside of their work. Come take a taste of what we have to offer.

To learn more about our program visit
To enroll go to

If you have questions you can reach me

About me:
I am a faculty and created project management program at De Anza College. I have taught at De Anza since 1997, Carnegie Mellon University since 2004 and am founder of

Monday, August 19, 2013

Course offerings starting Winter 2014

Project Management Practitioner

De Anza College's offers a Certificate of Achievement called Project Management Practitioner  which provides "hands-on" experience for individuals who want to take on responsibilities of a project manager.

At De Anza we feel that the role of a Project Manager is not merely to initiate, plan and execute projects but to be the heart and soul of aligning strategic initiatives with tactical actions to ensure that companies and group can grow as a result of successful project execution. 
De Anza's CIS department is a community college with a distinctive mix of programs in engineering, computer information systems, programming and computer science. In 2005, the CIS department taught its first course in project management to help local corporations and government institutions in helping develop the skills of their employees in project management. To date over 700 students have taken our courses with enrollment in the program growing every year.  
Long known for its leadership in vocational courses in computer science, De Anza College CIS department views project management as a natural extension of its programs in the Silicon Valley. 
We welcome you to explore our program on this site or in person! Learn what its like to be a student in our program

About our program

De Anza College's Certificate for Project Management Practitioner is designed for individuals who want to become project managers in their respective industries. The program uses a "hands-on" approach to enhance your teamwork, communication and managerial skills.  
Consider the following questions to determine if this program is for you:
Are you seeking greater responsibility?
Do you picture yourself in a leadership role in your organization?
Do you need a better understanding of how projects are initiated, planned, executed and risks managed?
Are you looking to improve your communication, teamwork, project management skills or managerial skills?
If so, then you should explore the Certificate of Achievement in Project Management called "Project Management Practitioner"  
Our practicum based approach provides you a context that enables you to:
Apply the Project Management Book of Knowledge (PMBOK ) theory in a real world like environment
Jumpstart your ability to seeing things through to completion
Become a self-starter
Succeed in a team environment
Empower others to work on projects

De Anza College's Certificate of Achievement called Project Management Practitioner provides "hands-on" experience for individuals who want to become project managers. Certificate of Achievement is composed of the following courses:    

Required courses
CIS 95A         Project Management – A Practicum – 5 units
Foundation course - focusing on your role as a Project Manager; selecting a project; selecting a team; documentation and tracking of a project using Project Manager Book of Knowledge (PMBOK) Theory.

CIS 95B         Project Planning and Control – A Practicum – 4 units
Create a project scope statement that will act as a basis for creating a project plan. Build a project plan that integrates time, resources and communication with cost and quality of work. Plan controls to proactively mitigate risks

CIS 95C         Risk Assessment and Mitigation – 4 units
Focus on responding to uncertain events or conditions for a positive or negative effect on project objectives. Implement techniques for planning for risks and learn to change project plans to reduce the probability and/or impact of the risk.

CIS 95D        Managing Outsourcing – 3 units
Learn to acquire goods and services from an outer organization using procurement and solicitation processes. Perform contract administration till completion and settlement of contract.

Optional courses
CIS 79/BUS 88         Managing Technology Projects – 5 units
Introduction to the theory and practice of the design and management of technology projects, including planning, performing, and monitoring of projects. Subjects explored are estimating costs and schedules, analyzing client expectations, guiding diverse groups of people toward a common goal, while earning a profit. Use of common software packages for project management.

CIS 95E         CAPM/PMP Prep Exam – 4 units
Prepares the student for attempting the Project Management Professional (PMP) or Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) examination provided by Project Management Institute (PMI). Topics include management of integration, scope, time, cost, quality, human resources, communications, risk and procurement.

Detailed course outlines can be found at– Select Computer Information Science department and look for the course # listed above.

Tentative Schedule 2014
CIS 95A Project Management - A Practicum - WINTER 2014
Sat and Sun - starting Jan 11th, 12th, 18th, 19th, 25th, 26th  2014 from 8:30am to 6pm

CIS 95B Project Planning and Control - A Practicum - - WINTER 2014 
Sat and Sun - starting Feb. 1st, 2nd, 8th, 9th, 15th and 16th 2014 from 9am to 5pm

CIS 95C Risk Assessment and Mitigation - SPRING 2014
April 12th, 13th, 26th, 27th, May 3rd and 4th 2014 from 9am to 5pm

CIS 95D Managing Outsourcing - - SPRING 2014 
May 10th, 11th, 17th, 18th, 24th and 24th from 9:30am to 3pm.

CIS 79 Managing Technology Projects - Spring 2014
Spring Quarter for 12 weeks - M/W from 6pm to 7:50pm

How to apply?
Please visit and fill out an application using instructions on the site.

For more information about the project management profession:
Department of Labor
Project Management Institute
Careers in Project Management
Is Project Management for you?

According to
“Annualized median salary (US) by years worked in project management*
3 years or less . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $65,000
6 to 10 years. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .85,000
21 years and over . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 100,000”
*Information from PMI® Project Management Salary Survey-Third Edition

            “Exciting career options in project management
• Aerospace and Defense
• Information Technology
• Automation
• Systems Manufacturing
• Design, Procurement and Construction
• New Product Development
• Education and Training
• Risk Management
• Environmental Management
• Urban Development
• Financial Services”

For more information contact
Sukhjit Singh 
( or 408 864 5566

To learn more about what our students saying about the program visit

De Anza College 
21250 Stevens Creek Boulevard
Cupertino, CA 95014 *


Program Cost
You will end up taking 21 total units for the entire certificate
California Residents pay $31.00 per unit.
For detailed fee schedule please visit:

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Role of a project manager

So what is the role of a project manager?

In general, I think it is to create an environment that allows people to collaborate and execute to common goals. Project Manager has to be strategic in their ability to lead people to delivery of the planned outcomes in a way that desired outcomes are planned by the team (collaboratively)and not the project manager. Project Manager should lead the team stepwise to the goal in a collaborative way - without telling the team what to do. Projects are often successful if the end goal is team's idea and not the manager's - but starts off as a manager's idea.

A project manager should have the ability to ask questions but may not answer them all. Utilizing Subject Matter Experts to get the questions answered helps with collaboration and ultimately with project success.

A project manager should provide headlight visibility of task assigned to an individual - without giving constant reminder to team members. Most people would appreciate a reminder but too many of such reminders may give a feeling of being oppressed (and stressed as a result).

Last but not least, a project manager has to be innovative in their ability to manage situations and make decision that help align strategic initiatives to tactical actions - align budget, scope, quality and schedule to achieving goals in a good team environment. Easier said then done - but is possible.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Managing Technical Projects

Managing Technical Projects is a challenging adventure as it requires many insights. Most technical projects can be thought of as experiments in motions. A product can be considered stable only after a few iterations (for some companies). For this reason we can start most projects as an experiment.

This kind of structuring can help us keep an open mind about:
1. Client requirements
2. Stakeholders interest
3. Delivery schedules
4. Product strategy and its variance
5. Quality

Experimentation (according to Stefan Thomke) can help organize, structure and lead the development activities of most projects. With experimentation as a common denominator the importance of value creation is the most importance peace (of course with quality, company goals and innovation are other factors often considered). Success with experimentation is to make an unknown/known and develop a process for innovation that is reusable and repeatable. Experimentation also transforms new technology (i.e. its creation and making it better).

In the course "Managing Technology Projects" at De Anza College, students take on a challenge of experimentation by working on a new idea in teams of 4 to 5. They learn about the following in three modules:

1. What is experimentation, factor involved in managing experimentation to success, how to do market research, develop a plan and strategy for initiating projects ... all to help with Technology evolution awareness and its impact of value creation.

2. Next module helps improve product design process by involving customers from the prototyping stage. Validating product iterations can save cost of development by getting feedback early and often from customer.

3. In the third module (best for last) students learn how to develop a product road map and its dependency on partnerships, stakeholder, technology, organizational structure and processes.

In the end students present the developed prototypes and answer question in context of their respective projects to illustrate application of what they have learnt in three modules.

A very interesting class to get "real-world" perspective on what it takes to manage/develop/create technology.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

CIS 95D - Managing Outsourcing - A Practicum

For the first time in Spring 2009 we have introduced short courses to respond to the market requirements. Managing Outsourcing is being taught over two weekends - starting June 6th and ending June 14th.

Teaching methodology
Individuals are getting "hands-on" experience in working for C-Bay Inc (a ficticious company) used in our in-class fiction. Director of IT is busy working on keeping the system running and has a new project that needs attention. Students help the Director of IT create a Procurement Plan by first understanding reasoning behind why C-Bay should outsource and how their decision making process should align with stategic initiatives of C-Bay.

Students build a Request for Proposal considering;
1. What part of projects should be outsourced?
2. SWOT analysis technique to develop the reasoning for outsourcing
3. Contract type to be used for the given project at hand
4. How a supplier should be selected?
5. Risks associated with outsourcing

Student also prepare a statement of work that can be utilized to manage the vendor being mindful of tasks to be performed by vendor, deliverables, project duration, payments, vendor requirments and other contractual elements.

Students also learn to manage the vendor through several hard situations to bring a project to completion considering the five pillars of project management - Scope, Quality, Budget, Schedule and Team. Student learn how to manage hard situations by comparing/contrasting solution in class discussion and get a perspective of others on the problem they are solving in class.

Student are required to work in teams and get to experience framework, tools and techniques utilized for integrating the outcomes in realtime (A skill much needed for the real world) - at the same time dealing with politics in team, gain ing consensus and making the project successful.

Following elements contributed to student grade:

1. Individual performance assessment:
Based on Q and A in class (Verbal and Written)
Class participation
Contribution to teamwork for group tasks

2. Group work
Score assigned for each task
Group synergy

3. 360 Evaluation
Each member grades their team members
Instructor observations

Overall these classes are engaging - there is lot of interaction among class members and facilitator with students gaining experience - which help in long-term retention of the material.

Course offering for Spring 2009 at De Anza

Just a quick reminder of course offerings for Project Management at De Anza College.

Enrollment for Summer opens today so pl. plan to register quickly. Considering the state budget issues classes below size of 20 would be canceled. Also note that CIS 95D is being taught in Spring starting tomorrow and will not be offered again until Winter 2010 (in case you are trying to finish your certificate)

Project Management courses at De Anza for remainder of the year:
Spring 2009
CIS 95D: Managing Outsourcing - A Practicum (Lecture)
CIS -095D-55L: Class meets for 2 weekends beginning June 6th and ending June 14th.
Time 9:00AM-4:40PM on Saturday and Sunday in Room AT311

Summer 2009
CIS 95A: Project Management - A Practicum (Lecture)
Class meets Mon/Wed from 6:00pm to 10:40pm for six weeks starting June 29th to August 8thin AT202

CIS 95B: Project Planning and Control - A Practicum
Class meets Tues/Thurs from 6:00pm to 9:40pm for six weeks starting June 29th to August 8th in ADM103

CIS 95E: CAPM and PMP Exam Preparation (Lecture)
Class meets Saturday from 9:00AM-4:40PM for six weeks starting June 29th to August 8th in L74

To learn more about De Anza's Certificate of Achievement in Project Management please visit

Offerings planned for Fall 2009

CIS 95A Project Management - A Practicum
CIS 95B Project Planning and Control - A Practicum
CIS 95C Risk Assessment and Mitigation
CIS 79/BUS 88 Managing Technology Projects
CIS 95E CAPM and PMP Exam Preparation

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Seeing things through completion

Greg Doherty, a tenacious senior manager from Oracle had hired me to work in Onebox during the .com boom. On my first day at work I did see a very chaotic atmosphere (this was my first startup experience). No welcome letter, No desk, No computer, People busy doing things and profanity flying around like there as no other words. After about 1.5 days of this I had it. Times were good and job offers were dime a dozen. So I left, only to later find out that Onebox was acquired by for 800 million dollars. And later that year I had managers from Onebox taking First course in Java from me in UC Berkeley extension.

Before I left Onebox, I did talk with Greg Doherty about the situation. He told me outright that I did not fit into the genetics of Onebox. I did ask Greg what are two things that shape his goals. He said:
1. I take on a lot of things (that why he was always busy).
2. I never let the ball drop on anyone of those things.
3. When the going gets tough, the tough get going.

This lesson from 1999 would later shape my career. I did join a startup and found two companies (that are all successful). I now make sure that what I start, I finish - bring it to a closure. It is important to weigh the consequences of what you take on and accomplish the set out of objectives. This is a key for success of any project execution.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Transaction Management and Project Management

What does Transaction Management and Project Management have in common?
Yes I am talking about Transaction Management with Databases and Distributed Systems.
They are both a unit of work in which all participating operation should either succeed or fail and recover together. How many times have you thought about your projects in this context?

Of'course things become a little more complicated when you are working on several projects together that may have dependencies on each other. You have to coordinate tasks to manage such dependencies and synchronize the effort of several tasks. The other element is of thinking of risk mitigation and preparing for failures to ensure that project timeline and budget don't suffer. And if they do how do you proactively communicate so you can have a safe landing versus a hard landing.

The solution lies in knowing a project management theory such as PMBOK which amplifies the characteristics of planning, risk mitigation, execution, control and closing. Once you know this theory, contrasting it with Transaction Management theory reinforces the concept.