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Newsletter - Aug 2012

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PM Essence
Raghavan S. S. V. , PMP

In keeping with our resolve to be of service to ALL sections of the Project Management community, we have pleasure in introducing this column. This section is intended to serve as the sounding board for the PMP / CAPM aspirants, as well as those doing other courses in Project Management, to interact with one another and get their doubts cleared. It is therefore expected to be run by the students themselves. Now and then members of the Faculty might chip in with some observations, but by and large it would be a column of the students, by the students and for the students of Project Management. We would now set the ball rolling with a few tips, as also touch upon aspects not exactly covered in the PMBOK. We would ask the student community to take it from there and go further forward. DID YOU KNOW?

1. A BURST is the case of one predecessor activity in an activity network diagram giving rise to more than one successor.

2. A SINK, or MERGE, on the other hand is the reverse, i.e., multiple predecessors culminating in one successor.

3. A HAMMOCK is a Group of activities which can be summarized as a set.

4. A HANGER is an intermediate activity with a loose, i.e., unconnected, end.


1. Three BASIC features in an Integrated Change Control are : Paperwork, Tracking Systems and Approving Authority. These signify that every change has to be DOCUMENTED, TRACEABLE and be made only on APPROVAL BY A COMPETENT AUTHORITY. In other words, there is an element of FORMALITY associated with it.

2. Always associate EARLY Start and Finish, as well as FREE FLOAT with FORWARD Pass (F goes with F), and LATE Start and Finish, together with TOTAL FLOAT with BACKWARD Pass.

Q. Developed by the U.S. Navy in the 1950s, this project management tool clearly illustrates task dependencies. What is it?
A. A PERT chart is a project management tool used to schedule, organize, and coordinate tasks within a project. PERT stands for Program Evaluation Review Technique, a methodology developed by the U.S. Navy in the 1950s to manage the Polaris submarine missile program. A similar methodology, the Critical Path Method (CPM) was developed for project management in the private sector at about the same time.

[source – Internet & SSV]
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PM Essence

AB......CD......of a project gone wrong

By - Abhishek RVRK Sharma, Member, PMI
About the most overused, abused, purchased, talked about, seen-oncomputer- screens project management tool is Microsoft Project. Funnily enough, while many other alternatives exist in the market now (some free) that do the exact same things, this Project lives on! Relying on MS Project (As it is more popularly known) can have its pitfalls, as you’ll see from the following incident. There was a time when Microsoft used to distribute a CD for a trial version of Project.

Back then, an entire team of peers would use the trial version for the duration of the project, uninstall the trial once done, and repeat for the next project. On one of these projects, a strange situation emerged. Inevitably, this project timeline ran longer than the duration of the trial period for MS Project. So now, the team had a whole bunch of constantly modified Project files, with no application to open them. Not only could they not update the schedules, but they couldn’t even open the file. Everyone eventually ended up referring to one printed sheet of the plan, with so many edits made over in various ink colours that at the end, it looked more like a web than a plan. Every once in a while, some contingency would end up making a change in the schedule necessary – but there is only so much white space in a project plan printout, only so much room for changing timelines. Also, folks had to recognize who changed what. So everyone decided to pick an ink colour, and make edits in those – a brilliant plan in theory, not so much in execution. The final project plan sheet ended up becoming a tattered, unreadable relic.

At the end of the project, the team had missed every single deadline, overshot resources and not delivered on 50% of the project scope. The lesson here was well learnt – making sure the tools you use are available throughout the lifecycle of the project, not just for a fixed period, because quick fix solutions during project execution hardly ever work out well. Hope your project goes off better than this one.

The Lighter Side of PM
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PM Essence

Agile Methodology & Sports – Event Management in FIFA World Cup-2010

By - Shikha Vaidh, PMP
What/ Why is AGILE? Agile is an iterative and incremental mode of development wherein the entire development life cycle is broken down into small iterations. It involves continuous participation of the customer during the development phase. This approach allows the development team to moderate the effects of any kind of requirements or design refinement while the code evolves.

While Waterfall model has a plan driven philosophy, the Agile model is vision driven philosophy at its core as shown in given figure. While you do not get to do much research in Agile, what you do get is to see your work in action sooner.

Interaction Model

Mahindra Satyam provided IT services for the duration of the FIFA World Cup Football in 2010, and was the first Indian company to do so. Mahindra and the host country (South Africa) actively interacted with with the product owner. Product owner was the ‘body’ responsible for providing services to FIFA.The different modules that formed the deliverables were

• EMS - Event Management System
• ACR - Accreditation System
• SMP - Space and Material Planning
• VSM - Volunteers & Staff Management System
• GTS - Ground Transportation System

The system was used in its first major event Prelim-Draw on 25th Nov 2007 with EMS Core and ACR module, followed by FIFA confederation cup in Jun 2009 in Johannesburg, drawing of match fixture in Dec 2009 and the final world cup event in Jun-Jul 2010. The criticality of the system was in the fact that the events dates were rigidly fixed. Hence ‘ACR’ had to be delivered for Prelim draw, ‘VSM had to be delivered for Confederation cup and ‘GTS had to be delivered for the final draw and complete system had to be delivered for the final event. The 3 years of development period saw the planning for 50 Iterations which included 3000+ user stories. Sprint (Release) Duration was 1 month 15 days, ‘Release’ ends with ‘Gap week’ and scoping for the next release starts during the ‘Gap week’.

Iteration Duration: 2 weeks per Iteration

• Release Estimation done based on shirt sizing
• Shirt sizing parameters include (S, M, L, XL)
• Estimate reviews with customer for scoping a release.

Communication Model
• Module-wise daily scrums for tracking progress of work between offshore application leads and onsite customer application leads.
• Common scrums included status updates on open production support issues.
• Weekly status meetings with customer project manager and relevant stake holders.
• Monthly Steering Committee meetings with all stake holders.

Lessons Learnt
• Agile is better suited for Projects of this nature with a multiyear span
• Regression Testing in Agile projects has to be planned carefully.
• Effective planning, team motivation, proactive identification and mitigation of potential risks enable the team to deliver the modules effectively.

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PM Essence

What it takes to become a Seasoned Project Manager

By - Marty Case, PMP

“Since my focus was always to make improvements and add value I never worried about making sure my boss knew everything I was doing, I counted on word of mouth bubbling up to my leadership.”.

Ok, You are the project manager, now where do you start? There are so many tools and techniques to choose from. The answer, regardless of the project, is that you start with understanding the passion of the people involved and what they feel are the important aspects of the project you are charged with, which affect their day to day activities.
Without a total understanding of the work flow and full support of all the people involved , a project manager has a continuous uphill battle to meet the project deliverables for a quality, on time and within the budget.

I have been learning the skills of project management my whole life. Starting with school to college I have always tried to focus on what the teacher really wanted. I learned, it was not about the quantity of work or the hours of study, it was about my ability to show an understanding the material. Consequently some subjects took more work and hours of study to understand. Take Calculus for example, I must have solved a thousand problems or more in the 4 years of study and in the end I became proficient at analytical thinking – the actual result, which is quite different from the ability to solve an integral or derivative on the spot. To develop expertise to solve a real world problem should be the goal, but to develop that it was imperative to do the exercises. It is the same with Project Management. To be a successful project manager you need to actually do the work or have intimate knowledge of how the work is done. This gets you the respect you need to lead the project through completion.

In the beginning of my work career I was managing my daily tasks to meet deliverables set forth by my supervisor. I have worked as a gas station attendant, Janitor, Fast Food Associate, Grocery Store Packer, Test Engineer and Electronics Instructor before joining a large automobile company based in US. In all of these roles I continued to improve my project management skills by understanding people in the work place. Within a large corporation such as mine, I learned early on that if I did not fully understand what my supervisor wanted or how my work affected other people, customers, fellow employees, leaders, and others, I would most likely not meet my supervisor’s expectations. To gain that understanding I made friends. Not necessarily close personal friends, but friends that you can count on when you need help. How do you make friends at work?

That is easy, take an interest in the problems they see around the work place and help them solve those issues. I made sure whatever work I was doing, and any resultant derivative therefrom, was actually making other peoples work easier and less distracting. Eventually I created a large network of people with a vast set of skills in many different areas. Since my focus was always to make improvements and add value I never worried about making sure my boss knew everything I was doing, I counted on word of mouth bubbling up to my leadership.

I have been very successful in my career, I have solved many problems over the years using project management techniques; understanding the scope of the issues, establishing the plan of action, implementing according to the plan, monitoring and terminating when appropriate. I also teach project management at a local university which helps me stay on track with the basics. As we all know the documentation and reporting of current status is the most arduous task of project management, but the most critical work for the project manager is the total understanding of the work elements involved and the passion of the people involved in the project, as well as those impacted by the results. Never lose sight of where you add value as a project manager; maintain focus, eliminate unnecessary work/distractions and help everyone on the project team. Keeping leadership updated on the project status is critical as well, but not at the cost of increasing work on the team - these are the people getting the job done as outlined in the plan, within budget and on time!
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PM Essence

BGJayaram B.G. Jayaram, PMP
Associate Vice President & Head Project Management Centre of Excellence , Infosys Ltd. Jayaram has over 35 years of work experience in varied fields that includes Defence Forces, Product Development company and IT consulting and services. Jayaram served over two decades in Indian Navy, and over 15 years in IT industry. Currently he leads the Project Management Centre of excellence. He has been associated with PMI Team India and other PMI forums for advancement of Project Management. He is presently the President, PMI Bangalore India Chapter.

Where do you get your inspiration from ?
I believe energy is god’s gift and I don’t know where I get inspired. I am happy to be in that state of mind and be positive always.

Technical skills or project management skills. Which is important and why ?
Eyes or ears, which is important? I suppose both are important and a right mix to meet the context is most appropriate. One without the other is not the best.

What is your description of an effective team work ?
Outcome is achieved with or without leader present, no supervision required but clarity on plan finalized is great.

PMI Volunteering, Professional commitment, Personal commitment - How do you balance the three?
I have the time divided and based on the situation one of the three will be in the forefront. All stakeholders gets a chance to be delighted.

A good manager has to be a also a good leader - your thoughts?
A good leader has to be a good manager and other way may not be true.

The greatest project management lesson you have learnt ?
What you plan need to be accomplished and it will not happen on its own.

An accomplishment, professional or personal that you cherish and like to share with us ?
Too many to share. Having got individual respect of colleagues in Navy. Qualifying PMP at age of 50 with minimal effort, Seeing PMCOE grow to meet the objectives, Team India effort seeing accomplished.

Tell us your hobbies, or things you are passionate about?
Lawn Tennis Player – Love to continue regularly. Long walks/ Pranayam and now attempting to learn veda.

B.G. Jayaram, PMP