Can You Keep Up?

When faced with a project there are many ways to get it done. Here we have two types of strategies to approaching projects: agile and waterfall. Agile is quick paced and is likely to have more short-term goals that “keeps the teams at a constant high pace and productivity” ( Agile projects are not necessarily all short term but the iterations within the project are completed in short periods of time.
The article goes on to explain one of the principles of agile project management, which is time boxing. It “establishes cadence and, after two or three iterations, the team learns how much output they can produce.” Time boxing is not as flexible as other project management techniques. There is a set time frame for each aspect of the project and “it doesn’t matter if you can’t do them to perfection. Completing the task is the goal” (
We can also use cadence in waterfall projects as well. Waterfall is a more traditional approach. Some may say that it’s not as effective as other approaches or to avoid this technique, and others find it is efficient. It follows a stricter schedule, and includes very important details; even the smallest detail is an important one.
Using cadence for waterfall projects can help move the team to being as high energy as the teams in the agile projects. The first point of cadence is keeping a weekly schedule with milestones being completed. The first week should be the week that everyone gathers his or her information. When they meet again at the end of the week the project manager adjusts the schedule to fit the conditions of the information. Which brings us to the second point of cadence: “is the next milestone still on track?” ( The PM adjusts the schedule at the meeting and they settle the next steps there so that the team knows what is happening. To me this seems kind of similar to crashing. The team and project manager adjust the schedule if need be on a weekly basis whereas crashing would most often occur as one point and would adjust each critical path to crash it down to the desired time frame.
The author of the article also provides some suggests as to planning milestones. One of which was timing between milestones should not be too far apart not too close together. I feel that with everything we learned in class, timing is the most flexible yet most critical part of managing the project. You can crash a project down from 14 weeks down to 10 weeks and if you don’t do it right you may be incurring more cost than you should be. If something doesn’t go as planned then you need to be sure you allowed yourself that extra time to adjust anything you need.

So now I turn it over to you:

How do you like to approach projects?
Do you have another strategy to approaching projects?

Why project management fails?

Project failure
Project failure

In an interesting article that I have read called “ why does project management fail?”, the author tries to bring his own experience and theories into play. He starts talking about how many companies question themselves and that they think that project management is just just a mixture of tools and techniques that should guarantee their success.
As we learned in class, project management consists of two parts, the first one is dependent on science which are tools and techniques. The second is that its also an art, it is important to put in our mind that even with the best planing techniques possible, even if we put a contingency for every event, things still go wrong. It is in the art of project management that we learn how to adapt and move on to make something work.
The author goes on explaining that there are some factors which lead to the failure of project management in organisations such as the” Lack of knowledge, lack of organisational policy, lack of enforcement of policy and procedures, lack of consideration for the magnitude and complexities of project management”. It is true that project management tools are only as good as the people who use them and it is a philosophy that would work only if everyone in the organisation or at least the specific project is onboard.
Some times it is better to outsource, if a certain company doesn’t have enough knowledge/resources and doesn’t feel it has the discipline to adopt project management methodology. There are some companies whom specialize in consultancy and project management, in fact outsourcing could save those companies a lot of money and energy as well as add proficiency.
It is also important to look at the role of the project manager himself, we spoke in class about Active and reactive managers. I think that the article focuses on the benefits of active managers and dismisses reactive managers. It is true that being active means that you should be ready for different scenarios and prepare all contingencies in advance, but that is the science part. Reactive management is more like the art part where you would have to work with whats introit of you. A balance of the two is always needed, you don’t want to start a project without any plan, in the same same time you don’t want someone whom wouldn’t know how to respond when something goes wrong and he had no way of putting a contingency plan for it.
Some think that project failure is only due to not being able to deliver to costs or expected quality or even missing the deadline. Those are all valid reasons, but leadership and organisation philosophy is what could be put as the thin line between project success and project failure.


7 Common Project Management Problems


Weather you manage projects as a profession or not, we all find ourselves involved in many different projects, be that our own personal or participating in someone else’s as a stakeholder or contributor. Here below are the most common types of problems project managers face while managing projects to internal or external customers.

1. Your Client Gives You Vague, Ever-changing Requirements.

The client doesn’t know what they want until a certain stage is complete.

2. Your Client is Slow with Communication.

It’s tough to move forward on a project if one can never get answers from the person you’re working with.

3. The Project Doesn’t Start On Time.

The client says today this project is top priority but tomorrow a different project becomes more important.

4. You Try to Manage Every Project the Same Way.

Situations, people, and goals change over time.

5. The Client Doesn’t Like What You Created.

Make sure it is understood not just the technical requirements of a project, but also the underlying rationale of the clients.

6. Your Point of Contact Doesn’t Seem to Care About Your Project.

The project’s final product will have no direct effect on the person’s job and they provide minimal guidance.

7. Too Much Time is Spent Solving Problems After Projects Are “Live”.

This problem is caused by focusing too much on production, and not enough on testing.

Of course nobody can take a cookie-cutter approach when managing a project and project managers face daily many different situations that require quick, balanced and smart approach to problems balanced with very powerful and structure communication plan but it is still very interesting and important to pay attention to each of the points discussed above and keep these points always handy since they most likely will be part of your project.

Another key issue and consideration regarded to project management is the fact that project managers have to deal with people and only those who have managed people know how rewarding or stressful it can be. Because people have their own interests, moods and personal problems, project dynamics can change daily and the same project that is running flawlessly today can get derailed or to a screeching halt due to the “work” of few very quickly and without any major signals or announcements. This is why conflict management and communication plan are very powerful tools that allow the project manager to maintain sanity and keep their projects running the best way possible. Very hardly a project manager can really manage a project from the distance without checking the pulse of its team dynamics by living, feeling and experiencing how the team is performing on its most basic levels. Project manager cannot become detached from their projects and try to run it bureaucratically instead of participatively, at least not without major consequences to the project results and success.

 Have you experienced any or all of the 7 common project management problems listed above? If so, how have you handled the situation and what was the result?

Netflix Keeps Focus on Expansion

The key issues that we have discussed in class have primarily focused on business development with the implementation of project management and the key factors of being successful as a company. For Netflix, the online streaming provider, has been facing a downfall in its subscribers after the subscription price increase and removal of its DVD by mail services. However, recently CEO, Reed Hastings, has been trying to improve Netflix by not only creating deals with its partner,CW Network and Weinstein Co, but he has also decided to expand their network with over 51 markets. Many of these ethical issues such as the cancelled subscriptions of many customers, have put pressure on Hastings and created a rising competition with other streaming services. Hastings is now trying to find a way to win more customers after the huge loss of over 800,000 subscribers. Hastings is also using the technique of forecasting by predicting the success of the company after the new projects have landed.

Hastings believes that by expanding over different markets and waiting for the fourth season of “Arrested Development” to come out, will help boost the companies overall success rate. However, I think that many other ideas need to be put in place. As being a Netflix subscriber myself, Netflix has many other things to take under consideration such as the quality of the videos or the selection of TV shows or movies available. Simply waiting and hoping for the new season of “Arrested Development” to become available to hopefully boost up the amount of subscribers is not a strong enough technique to have effective project management decisions. However, expanding Netflix to different countries was a very smart idea for Hastings to do. Hastings went out and broke down the structure of where Netflix was lacking based on customer expectations and is implementing different strategies to help increase revenue and bring back old subscribers. This is a very important part of understanding the correct procedures needed to be a successful project manager. Lets just hope that these decisions will help Netflix’s success in the future and continue to beat out the over priced video providers such as “red box”.

Real World Project Management

Have any of you ever heard of a little thursday party called, “Recess?”

For those of you who have not, I will quickly give you an idea of what this party is.  Recess takes place at a small venue known as Barn & Company (on the corner of Sheffield and Wrightwood).  It is labeled simply as, “the party,” because that is what is it is – a party.  Myself along with a few other young gentlemen began Recess just a few short weeks ago; however, it has been growing and growing each and every week.  This particular event is no where near the size of a nation wide music festival, yet it requires just as rigorous planning.

Every thursday night there is a standard that needs to be met.  This standard would fall apart if proper planning was not set into motion during the weeks prior.  Planning, scheduling, and controlling are three crucial aspects in this process.  When I sit down with my partners and discuss each week, we first begin by planning.  This included assigning specifics roles to each individual involved,  and setting goals (such as how many people we aim to have come out to the event).  After this takes place, we then schedule.  We write out a list of deadlines that we hold ourselves and each other accountable for meeting each week.  For example, this past week we decided to bring confetti cannons to the bar – something to add a little extra kick.  My partner, Max, was assigned the task of getting the confetti cannons.  He was given a specific amount of money, of which we budgeted throughout the planning process, and was to purchase the confetti canons by a designated date.  He carried this task out successfully (if you were wondering).  Following all of this, we began the controlling phase.  This also included monitoring budgets.  Money was initially allocated to each individual for supplies, and the supplies purchased by that individual had to fit within the budgetary restrictions.

This process does not always go smoothly though.  There are times where we in fact fall behind, or a wrench gets thrown into the system.  In these cases we need to restructure our original plans and deadlines.  In these cases, project management techniques help tremendously.  When we initially sit down and write out our list of tasks we note each task that can be done before any other task starts.  For example, when we go to purchase supplies, we set a specific deadline.  However, something such as this has a lot of slack because we just need to ensure that the supplies are purchased before 9:00 pm on a thursday evening (the whole point being though, that we do not wait until the last minute to run around and get supplies).

This event, Recess, has proven to be a prime example of project planning and management.  The phases and techniques will surely help in future ventures as well.