Saturday, May 21, 2016

Confronting changing technologies in a PM’s career.

I know a certain Project Manager (PM) who we’ll refer to as “Bob.” 

Bob is an Information Technology (IT) PM and has seen a myriad of new technologies, many of which that he ended up implementing. Also, he has been involved in several organizations that have sold services related to new technologies. You can say that Bob has stayed ahead of the curve, or at least kept up with changing technologies. What has Bob done that is different from his colleagues in the PM community? When you think about it, Bob has not done anything special or outstanding in terms of the actual technology, but has done 3 specific things that have kept him current.

Listen to the noise

Bob is an active PM and is PMP certified. He reads PMI periodicals and attends some of his local chapters meetings. Bob also speaks to others outside of the PM circle that may have insight into evolving technologies. What Bob does not do is wait so long that he is not aware of new technologies and how they will affect his organization, and more specifically, what type of project he may have to implement. We hear the new term “disruptive” technology. This basically means that the new technology is different from the current technology Bob’s organization may be using. It also means that business operations may change with the implementation of this new technology. Bob makes sure he keeps current by paying attention to periodicals that keep current with technologies. Bob also speaks to the management team in his organization to listen to their input on the new technology. By taking these steps, Bob can prepare himself if the new technology is a new project for implementation in his organization.

Speak to the “experts” in the new technology

Bob also goes to events and speaks to the new “experts” in the new technology. You may want to call them “guru’s” or subject matter experts (SMEs). No matter what the title, they may have valuable information on how the technology affects organizations, especially Bob’s. You see, Bob can now visualize how this technology will be used in his organization, which also means he can visualize how this technology should be implemented in his organization. After Bob speaks to the management team in his organization and hears some interest in this new technology, Bob can now address that specific manager with valuable information on how the technology affects operations, financials, and even HR. Bob now becomes the “expert” in his organization and will be called upon to implement the new technology in his organization.

Be an active participant

Even though Bob has not implemented or worked with this new technology, he can become part of the conversation on the new technology and its effects, both positive and negative, on organizations. He can blog about this new organization and can even volunteer on a study group that is conducting research on this technology publishing a white paper on it.
All of this effort isn’t only to boost Bob’s career. That is a side benefit. The main reason why Bob does this is so he is not blind-sided when this new technology is now a new project in his organization and he is told that this is his new project. Otherwise, Bob would have to catch up on the new technology, and may not be in a position of strength as the PM on the project.

All in all, Bob ensures that he is a sought-after PM on new technology projects because he makes an effort to keep current on new technologies.

I am open to discussion at any time on these blogs or anything else related to project management you would like to explore. If you would like to comment about this blog, please do so by posting on this blog or by responding in an email at Benny A. Recine. You may inspire a blog article. I look forward to your comments.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

How does a PM react to changing resources in a PSO?

In a Professional Services Organization (PSO), resources aren’t just hard to attain— sometimes they are hard to retain. The reason that pops into everyone’s head is that are source may leave the company. However, in PSOs, sometimes are source is needed on a new project, and as a Project Manager (PM) you may not have the power to hold onto to that resource for your project. So, how does a PM react, or the better question is, how does a PM negotiate with management to leave are source on his or her project? Here are some scenarios that may be familiar to you.

Don’t panic and have logical reasons to keep the resource

As soon as you start your project, your resources become familiar with the project and the client. Take notes on successes that the resource has provided to the client. These will be excellent examples of why this resource is part of the success of your project. Also, if the resource has been with the project since the kickoff, that resource knows where everything is, and not just files. They have become familiar with the client’s structure and sometimes know the client better than the client knows themselves. Also make note of the fact that this resource has been your go-to resource for the duration of the project, and give specific reasons why.

The resource has a valued skill needed for your specific project

Skills are especially valuable if are source is a technical one. If the project requires a resource to have experience with Java, for example, and that project cannot be successful without that resource on the project from the beginning to the end, is a valuable reason for keeping the resource on the project. If the resource has worked with the client before and the client specifically asks for that resource, it is because the resource has knowledge of the client’s structure, particularly the client’s management structure. With this experience, there is some leverage you should be using.

Use the client card, but not often

If the client has used your organization’s services in the past and has had a revolving door of resources, the client may react negatively to changing a resource mid-project. This is a very tricky reason and you cannot use it often. One of the reasons a PSO is in existence is to bring in revenue for services. If a resource is used for the beginning of any project, your management may expect you to expect short services for any resource. This is a hard pill to swallow, but in my experiences with PSOs, this is usually the case.

In the end, it is how you react to the inevitable possibility of changing resources. Your management will judge you the PM on how you react to their decision and how you explain this to the client and manage their reaction. Saying that this is part of a PM’s job does not make this reality easier. Being prepared for it will.

I am open to discussion at any time on these blogs or anything else related to project management you would like to explore. If you would like to comment about this blog, please do so by posting on this blog or by responding in an email at Benny A. Recine. You may inspire a blog article. I look forward to your comments.