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