Friday, December 26, 2008

Seasons Greetings !

Seasons greetings to all known and unknown blog readers and wish you all the best from my heart!
Thanks to projectized blog for connecting you with me from every corner of the world and thank Dilbert who keep me laughing and giggling all year long… :)

So this is one of my favorites this year which may bring a smile to you today…(Hopefully :-) ) and waiting to see so many good stuff in 2009.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Project Communication in Outsourced Project Management

We all know that, in average a project manager spend more or less 90% of his or her project management time for communication. Proper and effective communication is one of the most challenging areas in project management.. How about communication in outsourced project management..? that is any PM’s nightmare unless they manage it properly from day one.
This issue is not about language, either you do nearsoursing or outsourcing, nowadays most the professionals will speak good English. But poorly managed remote communication may increase the risk of project failures drastically. All aspects of remote communication should be carefully quality managed by a project manager who is in to outsourced project management. Unfortunately this needs quite lot of experience.
Over the years I’ve seen most the PM methodologies have matured, and processes has been introduced for project management.. New tools have come to the market., but still the challenge of remote communication remains the same.. How do we overcome it ?
Recently I had a chat with one of my project managers. He told me a story about a project he has managed while working in his previous company. It’s a very small sized project developed for one of the European countries. So him being the project manager sitting in the development company in Sri Lanka has communicated with customer via 600 emails. It gave me a fright.. Are we really doing something right here?
Have you heard about “Mad email Syndrome” which is very common in outsourcing operation. These are the symptoms;.
Project Manger from Venders company writes a mail to the customer about his questions regarding some requirement.. A nice email. Customer reads the mail., thinking why these people can’t even guess some simple thing like that …then he writes a reply in Blue color as comments for each question. ( yes we need to clearly separate the answer from the question)
Now that the Vendor's project manager who waited impatiently till he get all the answers to his questions receives the mail and he goes through the blue color comments made by the customer.. after reading that he find its disapointing and the customer has not answered half the things as he expected., most the points are not elaborated., so it creates much more questions for him now. Then what he does.. ? he uses another color., mostly seen is green , write comments in green color again under each blue color comments.. send this to the customer and CC to his whole hierarchy to save his back :-) and show them that he has still not got the answers right.
Customer receives the long email which is flashing in many color comments now.. He get really worked up.. certain symbols can give him a totally a different tone to the email. He write the comments in red color now.. and send it to the vendors PM again..

This doesn’t stop here… Is this situation new to you ? Im sure if you are in to outsourcing business you may have gone through this situation many times. This chain of email communication is a very strong risk trigger of project and relationship failure between outsourcer and outsourcee.. Why such a useful tool such as email can create this much of damage?
1. When communicating through emails , the other party doesn’t see your body language. They read exactly the meaning of word to word which may sound totally different to what you meant.
2. The other party don’t hear your tone of the voice. or your giggling . Recently I saw a customer commenting something like “Remove this field! “ with “!” what is that additional “!” is for ? these may create some unnecessary issues
3. Its very common that both parties think the other party is the idiot. They put less effort to understand each other. This may totally be different if you had a face to face discussion.

So how do you quality manage this remote communication? My advice for project managers are as follows;

1. Do not have email communication over 2 loops., if it goes over always try to use Voice via skype or telephone line. Or even use some tools such as Webex. Which is really good.(video con would be the best but unfortunately most of us do not have that facility )… Hmm How about Cisco TelePresence.???. I love to experience that !! :-)
2. Always read and re read your emails before sending.. do they mean something wrong to the reader.. make sure you communicate very clearly
3. Do not send too many emails. Try to summarize possible information in one email. Have your subject lines very clear.
4. If you need only 1 question mark have one .. But not three.. When you ask “can I have these replies by before end of business today? “ has a major difference between “can I have these replied before end of business today???????????”
5. Be very clear and elaborate on required points.. try to use tables as much as possible
6. Be warned when communication is not going right.. always ask help from your supervisors before it becomes too late.
7. Have the right attitude to respect the other party . if you read the mail in negative mind., you will end up with negative results.
8. Send customer status reports frequently., leave very little room for questions. Reports should be completed.
9. Always have project budgets to meet the customer face to face at least once in your project life. That will make your project communication much easier.
10. Understand that the time customer can spend for you is limited. That’s one reason why he or she outsource the project to you. Respect the fact and always think twice before you raising the question .Because you need to get the question right at the first time .

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Team Work.. Again.. :-)


Who said geeks are boring ?? :-D

Saturday, December 06, 2008

All work and no play ???

few readers recently asked me the question.. "Why do you make such noise about planning Poker..We have been doing this all the time even long before SCRUM became popular.. we have been discussing with all our teams when estimating Instead having poker cards and playing poker.. …”.. Yeah.. Ok I will answer..
1. When you discuss with the teams about estimation at the meeting without poker.. Fine.. But will everybody’s opinions be highlighted? Or is it still the voice of few people in the team? Think about the last discussion you had with your team.
2. Sometimes work is uninteresting.. Have you heard that before? (Specially the estimation Yaiiik.. to me that’s not a very interesting part of PM J ) But that depends on exactly how you engage with those activities..Playing poker can help in this a lot. It’s fun!
3. When you just discuss with the team about the estimation for a functional point or for the user story, they just answer.. But there is no way that you can visualize their thinking with some relative weight at the time of the discussion.. This is where your Poker card set helps. And the each individual try to reason out their decision with lots of valuable points as they are exposed with the card they play every time.
4. Further this can eliminate chaos which happens in most the planning meetings. Can think lot more.. But these are the main reasons why I encourage my teams to play poker at the product backlog and the sprint backlog planning meetings.
I read an interesting paper by Jason Yip today about Project release planning with Poker..But this is not with our card set.. This is with real tokens.. J Interesting … you can find the paper here…

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Ok.. its kinda sad thing.. This time Im very unlucky with Amazon.. I ordered the book., Agile Estimating and Planning (Robert C. Martin Series)
by Mike Cohn. A book which I really wanted to have with me after going through many of his blog posts and the book reviews..
But it was never delivered to me. So I made the complain to Amazon.. they sent it again.. Didn’t receive yet.. its over one month now :( ....disappointing … Not a problem with Amazon.. but Im sure its something to do with our internal postal process.. As I checked with one of my colleagues and he said that they dont deliver the books to our doorsteps now . we have to go to a central post office and collect it .. ...:-( whyyyyy ????????????..............But I didnt get a letter like that either... So I dont know......

Do I raise the issue again.. hmmmm..

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Team Work :-)

Good Luck Guys !!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Good Bye..

Michael Crichton had died ??? No I dont think he will die ever....What can I say.. Cant find any words..

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

SCRUM practitioners in Sri Lanka ?

Today I heard some good news.. We are building some SCRUM community in Sri Lanka ? I heard that one company has already sent 2 IT professionals for Certified SCRUM master training to India and there is another company who has got some professionals down for training their whole team..Its very happy to see that SL IT industry is spending on PM profession more and more nowadays..I still can remember how hard it was for me to learn SCRUM when I practiced it first in 2005 with my very first SCRUM team..(Thanks to Dina Scott who gave me all the help at that time :) ).It has changed now to the positive side.. Its never too late. Recently another group of people in one reputed company went to Philippines for a very good SCRUM training too..
Not Only SCRUM I see lots of professionals get enrolled with PMI too.. The Only problem with PMP certification is that one needs to have minimum of 5 years Experience by managing farley good projects to face the exam well and lengthy study cycles. But for Scrum Master training its just 2 days course most the time.
Ok., for a newbie who is confused on for what to spend time and money its like this…
PMP certification is offered by PMI institute USA and it’s the largest Project Management institute in the world at the moment.
PMP exam covers almost all the aspects of Project Management, Starting from Ethics, soft skills PM technical skills etc …. And the framework is industry independent.
But SCRUM training covers only How you practice SCRUM. The basic guidelines. So you cannot expect to be a certified Project Manager by learning only SCRUM.. I think both these certifications together comes very handy for any good Project Manager in Software Industry.. Its matter of how you find time for all these :) Anyway I wish if we have enough SCRUM professionals in SL to build a SCRUM community.. Most the countries has that. Yes We have a PMI Colombo chapter already..

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

SCRUM ... Issues.. ?

I had an interesting SCRUM discussion lately.. With one of the visitors who came to office. We had some point to discuss the PM frameworks and then we were discussing SCRUM in detail. He came up with some interesting point …
Will SCRUM kill the creativity of the development teams… ?
Developers produce piece of code.. in SCRUM we go up to the atomic level this specific task can be done in X number of hours.. true.. But if there is no such time boxes can they be much more creative…….I mean if we don’t look at the daily velocity of the graph… what would it be?
HmmmmmHmmmm….. Hm…. I was stuck…. Yeah there is a point..
While going home I was thinking about this...
I think its like this .. In SCRUM we discuss what the customer wants in detail and in more detail at the Product backlog meeting as well as in Sprint planning meetings.. So we understand what our customers expectations are to a greater extend. So what we all do is producing what customer wants.
No matter what the methodology or framework we use, we design the architecture and we develop the code..With long planned frameworks what I see is that the developers have more time for creativity.. true.. But it enables more risk of over engineering.. Which result much more risk of sacrificing quality or delivery times at the latter stage of the project which results the project failures. May be soem most important part of the project ... who knows...Especially those long planed methodologies commit on specific strict deadlines.
In this case I think by using SCRUM one can eliminate those over engineering and risk of schedule overruns at the latter stage..In the same time it enables the “Defined creativity” :-)

if somebody needs to be much creative about a features or a piece of code, they can even discuss this at the daily scrum meeting.. making it transparent.. adjusting the calories of the sprint backlog. “Yeah I hear you techies.. That’s not the tech thingies work right ...LOL...!!! But unfortunately that’s the way the “bottom line” works :-) there are tradeoffs
Now that I wrote about this, I need to explain few problems I see in SCRUM.. I see some of the practitioners believe scrum like a religion.. But thats not right.,.. As I say in my own words. SCRUM is not god given.. Its still evolving as a framework and still we see many issues.. Following are some of the issues I saw when practicing scrum.
Agile doesn’t fit for everybody . we have few left alone people when we introduce Agile Practice to corporate
The customer needs to be well educated.. Yeah .. they say “Think Agile” but never works that way.. need proper discussions and the understanding with the product owner before providing that much of transparency. Otherwise this will make your project and life miserable.
In the same time it’s a stress to commit to 8 hour work tasks everyday.. I know few guys who plan their sprints with 6, 7 hour tasks. May be that’s a solution.. but teams need to mature a bit to work with that.
Sometimes introducing gaps between sprints also helps and teams needs to be cared more when practicing scrum.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Dealing with difficult people...


Today I got a very good opportunity to go through one of Margarat Meloni's online lectures about dealing with difficult people.

Im not so bad when it comes to dealing with difficult people..:-) been there done that !

But this lecture of Margarat is absolutely useful not only for project managers .. but for every corporate worker. She explains how someone shoul deal with "difficult Mammals" very professionally.

As project managers we work with different types of people every day.. People with different attitudes, different levels of knowledge, different level of maturity, different nationalities etc.. So working with all the people is not same every day. We find some jerks some times.. But she explains how we shouldn't be another jerk in such situations.

Some times we think people are difficult.. but may be we are difficult too.. But if you want to know how you get away with all these corporate difficult situations as professionals without loosing the focus on our goals and work.. I recommend you to go through the lecture.

Specially in Sri Lanka we dont find such PM soft skills improvement lectures easily.. So this may be an alternative to improve your PM skills... Just check that out...

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Implimenting SCRUM in my new company

I changed the job.. So what ?????
Changing the job was sort of a nerve breaking decision
But ….I did it again !..
not too bad .. for the 3rd time of my career:-)
With this decision I had to let go many things what I had.. Instead I got very interesting challenges and another new bunch of cool guys to work with....!..
Ok So I started at the new company.. I’m lucky enough it’s a startup so the start was not that hard. Lots of things to do at once… understanding the team members, skills, Projects, conflicts, risks, problems , issues…way forward , new processes (and more than anything getting used to some HR processes which I have never got used to J ) you name it !
I really appreciate the project centric culture which we are trying to build at the new company. But this needs little time to mature… No matter what.. Healthy corporate culture is very important for the people to be focused on their projects and not on other unnecessary facts and politics which I have”0” tolerance level...
Did you ask what I like the most about my new company?? Its my Note book bag.. :D Kind a cute…
Anyway that’s a different story..
What I thought to write here is that the experience of introducing SCRUM as the PM Framework to a totally new organization.
Its really a good experience. I started with one small team.. Who was quite corporative to adopt to a new way of doing things.. We created a very simple product backlog with all the user stories which need them to go through their research work. The PM (New SCRUM master )was very corporative and he found few cards which we could number as the Planning Poker card set. We started to play.. it was bit harder at first time.. But when it comes to 4th or 5th User story level the team was progressing so well. I was so thrilled to see all the silent team members talking in the planning poker session to back their idea about the user story weight.
Once we finished measuring the product backlog team created the Sprint back log. This project has only one sprint and that’s also 10 days.. Im happy that we started with a very small product backlog.
At the time of Sprint back log planning I could see some instant improvements from the team members. They worked so hard and actively as a team to get the sprint backlog planned. They decided to have the scrum meeting at 9 AM every morning..
Ok the very first Scrum day came … I was waiting… to observe their daily scrum meeting..few guys came .. they were having BF.. it was around 9.45AM still some guys are missing.. I thought.. I made a BIIG MISTAKE… Forget about scrum !! It doesn’t work…
I waited patiently till all the team members get together.. Had a very straight forward discussion.. To my surprise every team member accepted the importance of daily meeting at a specific time.. and they decided to have the everyday stand up meeting at 9.30 AM..
Ok lets see..
The next day the situation was so much better.. Almost all the team members were at office on time ready to have the meeting.. I got a skype message from the SCRUM master to come and observe the meeting.. It was a great start.. From that day onward the team progressed very well.. Understood the value of SCRUM, and value of their own team members.. Working on time boxes etc.. Currently they are about to complete the burn down of the sprint and seems they had a very good sprint.
Ok .. I think 10% of things I wanted to do was done with it.. the next task is to standardized the templates, artifacts and document the process and add them to the company process library..
The Next team situation was so much different. The Project was already initiated and that’s bit of a complicated case which I will study more and write in my next post…

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Planning Poker - the problem continues…

Sorry guys still I didn't find sufficient answers to post here for the previous post I posted about problems when playing Planning poker.. I will provide answers once I find some good and logical explanations..
Now I have a new problem…. There you go… :
When Playing planning poker the team express ideas in front of the product owner to come in to a conclusion about the weight of user stories, clarifications, etc.
We do not have programmed robots in our teams to have same level of knowledge and skills. Though SCRUM is for good for good developers, ( Or even Software development is good for good developers according to Ken Schwaber - SCRUMforTEAMSYSTEM) in reality we get a mix to our teams..
So after observing the discussions going on …there is a product owner who says… Look I don't want guy X and Y in this team.. I need another like guy Z instead of X and Y . then we can burn down the back log more faster in sprints.. You guys agree to burn down only this amount in this sprint because your guys are not experienced. In traditional Project management what we do is we colour all our user front ending with really experienced and good guys and get the project delivered some way or the other. In SCRUM as we produce this much of transparency, Anybody who faced this issue and could you please explain how to overcome this issue..?

Saturday, September 20, 2008

101 post

Oh I really cant believe this .. Today Im writing my 101 post and its about something really cool..

Its hard to believe that I have earned some money from the blog.. And I received a gift card from Amazon :-).. So I can look forward to own some very good books..

Thanks to all you readers for reading my posts..Clicking the adds, Purchasing the Podcast.

More than anything Im so grateful for having patience with me for all my never delivered promises.. and specially reading not perfect language..

This blog helped me to network with most the known professionals around the world.. Im so happy about that. The knowledge we share is so valuable.

Thank you blog! Kiss kiss.. :-) Hug too... !! you are 100 posts rich.. ! ( some of them must be crap though ;-)

Friday, September 19, 2008

Problem I faced with Planning Poker


I copied this cartoon from Im a cartoon freek.. and thrilled to see SCRUM in cartoons...:-)

We played planning Poker for the 1st time and following are the problems I faced.. I will find the answers for these questions from experts and post them here later..

1. When Moderator reads 1 story we kept playing Poker and came out of an estimation to that specific story., But when we went through the PB more and more., team wanted to revise the previous story estimates again as its a comparative thing., How do you handle this situation?
Do you get the team to analyze the PB before coming to Planning poker so they will be more or less accurate with their comparative guess with other user stories in the rest of the product backlog?

2.There was one user story which we had to purchase some device for that. Scrum master ask where do we do the procurement management, planning , Cost estimation etc, Will SCRUM has some guidelines for procurement management for the project.

3. Customer who acted as the product owner didnt have answers for some of the questions.. there were situations such as I need to check with my infrastructure guys.. I need to ask my BI manager etc. How do you tackle that situation?

4. for certain stories we felt that we need the use cases or further analysis before thinking of their weight. ..

5. Looking at from the Project Office I saw many team for many projects they had different type of assessments. As an Example., same story "User needs to log in to the site and fill the registration form" was rated by the Team A as 5 and Team B as 20.. so how do I compare and see each team performance from the top when I look at my teams product burn down charts?

Comparison of SCRUM Vs PMBOK

Comparison Of Pmbok And Scrum
View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: backlog scrum)
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Thursday, September 18, 2008

How to play Planning Poker

Planning Poker is a game which help us to do planning in Scrum. We can use it for adding the weight to the user stories.
Ok this is how it is played..
1. Scrum master get ready with the Planning Poker card pack for each member of the team who participate this session
a. Those cards should have numbers such as 0,1/2 ,1,2,3,5,8,13,20,40,100. (Why these numbers ? Let me find out and tell you .. : )
b. Write the Numbers large so it is visible when needed.
2. Appoint a moderator (Can be anybody)
3. Ask the Product Owner to come to the Session ( He doesn't play Poker)
4. Moderate Read out the 1st User story
5. Team members question the Product Owner about the story and Product owner answer them
6. After all questions are answered, each estimator privately selects a card representing his or her estimate.
7. When everybody is ready all the members put selected card to the table.
8. There can be major variations., one member may have selected 2 while the other person has selected 5
9. Then they give reasons for selecting those numbers. One may think there is some additional research needed to perform the task., another may have thought much more easier way to do that task
10. Once all these points are discussed and asked the questions from the product owner, again the team play the Poker - This time its expected it to be more similar numbers
11. Of the numbers are not quite satisfactory it goes through another round. In normally you play the game for 2 rounds per story point. But there is no rule for that.
12. In last round if everybody comes with 3 and only one person comes with 5., we ask him or her whether she is agreeable to estimate the weight points as 3. If she agrees , we have no issue., if she doesn't agree we need to listen to the reasons.
i. Planning Poker brings Multiple experts opinion to the table
ii. It has the team buy in for the final decision
iii. Averaging Individual estimates lead to better results
iv. Its more fun than just traditional project estimation by Project Managers and few senior members of the team

- This idea is extracted from Mike Cohn's Agile estimation and planning.

Planning Poker for distant team members

This is a great Idea.. How do you play planing poker if some or all the team members have a problem of getting to one location physically.. Which is always the situation in my case

I found this online Planning Poker game.. .. :-)

WOW !! will it really work.. ? I think soo...

Problems when playing Planning Poker.

We played Planning Poker for the 1st time and I experienced the following situations.
But It was really great. I think that does the purpose. I will try to find the answers for the following problems I faced and post them in the blog..

1. When Moderator reads 1 story we kept playing Poker and came out of an estimation to that specific story., But when we went through the PB more and more., team wanted to revise the previous story estimates again as its a comparative thing., How do you handle this situation?
Do you get the team to analyze the PB before coming to Planning poker so they will be more or less accurate with their comparative guess with other user stories in the rest of the product backlog?

2.There was one user story which we had to purchase some device for that. Scrum master ask where do we do the procurement management planning, Cost estimation etc, Will SCRUM has some guidelines for
procurement management for the project.

3. Customer who acted as the product owner didnt have answers for some of the questions.. there were situations such as I need to check with my infrastructure guys.. I need to ask my BI manager etc. How do you tackle that situation?

4. for certain stories we felt that we need the use cases or further analysis before thinking of their weight. ..

5. Looking at from the Project Office I saw many team for many projects they had different type of assessments. As an Example., same story "User needs to log in to the site and fill the registration
form" was rated by the Team A as 5 and Team B as 20.. so how do I compare and see each team performance from the top when I look at my teams product burn down charts?

Monday, September 15, 2008



Im sure you are one of them... Just like me.. Just lost in between SCRUM and PMBOK ways.Which way to go.. Both are good .. Both have its - points too. This is a great article which I found and I'm sure this will help most of you readers up to an extend..

"Many organizations wish to standardize their software engineering practices as well as their project management (PM) practices, and two well-known processes are available to help in both these areas, respectively. The IBM® Rational® Unified Process,® or RUP®, offers a prescriptive approach for standardizing on software engineering best practices, and the Project Management Institute® (PMI®) Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge® (PMBOK®) offers a descriptive approach for standardizing on project management best practices. With both these approaches available to organizations, the question becomes: Are they compatible? The simple answer is, "Yes."

But have you seen RUP is practiced as RUP anywhere.. I haven't seen..Because RUP does not cover all the aspects of Project management as a whole. There are many specific agile PM methodologies which are elaborated from RUP which is practiced successfully in the industry.. SCRUM is almost every agile lovers favorite toy at the moment...

I will post a presentation about the comparison between both methodologies in near future.. ( Yeah I hear you I promise a lot and never deliver .. Bad Me!!! ) But this is something which Im working on right I will keep up to my word :-)

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Explanation about Chrome

From the start of this week, the talk of the town is Google Chrome ! :-) Chrome ..Chrome..... I can hardly find a blog which doesnt talk about it..

Im using it right at the moment.. Its beta....Cool..! I like it.. Bye byeee Mozila.. IE.. Had a good time with you :-) he he just kidding.. some times I need all of them..

BTW I love their presenation/explanation about Chrome.. Did you see that ?

See how clearly and simply they explain techie things to normal web browsing people.. We can learn from that ..

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

The Program Management Office: Establishing, Managing And Growing the Value of a PMO

I always love the excitement of ordering books from amazon and waiting impatiently till they arrive at my door steps.. So I experienced it again . This time I bought the book "The Program Management Office: Establishing, Managing And Growing the Value of a PMO " Just glanced through the book and seems its interesting. Now the biggest challenge is to find the time to read it.. ! I will keep posting some of the important factors I learn from it..

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Gold Plating.. Dos or Don'ts


I can remember in some of the articles I have read said that Gold plating is something which you should avoid in projects. (This is one of the PMP Exam question too I suppose). .. Whats gold plating ??? No its not painting your accessories in gold color… Its about adding something to the deliveries which is out of the agreed project scope. May be some nice to have or fancy feature you are excited about. .. ..

Why is it so bad?? Coz that addition can create so much of burden and it creates most the project problems at the time of project acceptance.. Believe me I have experienced that. Once when we got to develop a developer guideline., we thought… ah ..Adding a starter kit is really fine to this Then the developers (The customer in this project ) can start the project much more easily..(We PMs love to impress customers : ). Though I knew its called gold plating.. I agreed to have that feature as a value addition.. as it didn’t show much impact to my timelines and budgets. (Smart Idea by my techlead J )..

But proving the theory at last, delivering that addition added more burden to us as it kept on giving some problems with the development environment. But the customer didn’t want to loose it either after seen the thing and highly taken up with the thing..So we had to put some more effort to solve the issues and provide a working starter kit with project deliveries.

But I noticed the following article at

“Fumi Kondo, managing director of NYC-based consultancy Intellilink Solutions, once observed an exchange between a software developer and a project manager where the developer told the project manager that he could add extra features to an application with no additional effort. The project manager told the developer not to add the extra features because users hadn't asked for them. "My response would have been,'Go to the users and see if those features are useful,'" says Kondo. "I see nothing wrong with over-delivering if it doesn't impact the budget or the schedule."

Don’t you think PM is right in this case.. He or she must have seen some risk of adding this additional work out of the scope.. One of my other PM friend explained an incident how a simple “Export to Excel” feature added to his reporting module ( which customer has not asked in the scope ., but they have given the feature as they thought its useful) made so much of trouble to him at the time of project acceptance..

In general Customers are pleased when you do your delivery right.. Adding those extra thingies here and there can really kill the success of your project records.. but you may never know those will have a long time pay back.. However I see the truth of avoiding such gold plating…

Monday, July 28, 2008

I wonder where they are...


I don’t know whether to write this post or not. Whether to publish this in the blog or not. But Its quite sad situation about the Project Management resource problem in SL IT industry...

Lately I started hunting a very good Project manager from the industry. We thought the best way is to recruit somebody through recommendations. So with lots of enthusiasm we sent the message across. Within few days I got about 5 CVs. 2 CVs looked promising and called them for an interview immediately.

First candidate: A guy who has been working as a project manager for company “X” for years. He has been working for the same project over a period and most of his experience was related to handling maintenance work. Never practiced or heard of any PM methodologies but seems he is handling the current scope of work with no much issue. Never got exposed to Development projects and all the projects have been customization projects of 3rd party product. When I threw few tricky questions about estimates…… I lost all my moral as he didn’t have a clue of project estimates. Always the estimates were done by somebody else and passed to him. Or estimates were never done. He didn’t even know how to defend himself from an unrealistic estimate. Overseas Projects – Never done..OK fine.. “over 7 years of Experience as a Project Manager” The expected salary hit the sealing…

Results –“OUT” -Who cares… Many more to interview and see..

Another– A Guy who has handled projects over 3 years.. Seems very enthusiastic.. Communication - Lot more to improve in order to do a project management role..He has been handling some outdated projects and he has got fed up of his work.. I asked a question..

Me : “How do you time estimate a project when you don’t know the technical side of the development work.. “

Interviewee : (was in deep thinking process… after few min…).” I ask the developers”

Me : Ok fine.. But they will think.. this guy don’t know anything about our work.. we will give him some false estimates and see.. Then what do you do? Do you just pass me the same estimate that you get from them?

Interviewee: NO I always take 80% of an estimate what developers give me.

Me : :-D (thinking….Hern protects the developers)

Results : Out !!!

Ok.. Cant wait anymore.. Called a reputed recruitment Agency.. Got 5 CVs.. All of them with MBAs, many years experience ….Works!! Very promising.. I called all..

1st one.. Nerd.. No PM experience.. He has handled a team of 5 developers over 6 years.. He is not PM material Period!! He was talking about why SL IT is not moving towards Open source.. I was counting each min I spent.. still I couldn’t end the discussion. Then I told him.. Look., Your profile doesn’t match with the current opportunity I have ., when I have another I will call you.. Then he was telling me that he has a project in hand which he can give to the company if we recruit him.. It was hard for me to send him out…..Finally I said.. I have another meeting…

Next . Currently working as an IT manager.. No experience as a PM.. I don’t know how it was there in the CV. He has got exposed to the AS400 Development and gone overseas as an IT manager.. Not updated with technology or managing projects. He himself accepted the situation.

Next was a guy who is a developer.. Working as a team leader.. Like to move in to Project Management career .. It didn’t take much time for me to realize why he needs to move in to PM from development.. Oh boy he thought the PMs are paid well.. J When I first asked he said his passion is Project Management ., next time when I said we have 2 opportunities 1 is for PM and another is a Senior SE and we pay the same salary for both positions.. He asked me “In that case can I apply as a SSE in this company ..? “ Shew ….

Ok another.. Worked in a Gov Dept. Who handle some projects.. But not fit in to the Private sector Project management.. He told me that he thought the vacancy was for a BA. THANK YOU..

The Next .. Good guy.. Looks good .. Good PR.. good communication we go

Me: Have you experienced any project failures

Interviewee: No I never fail I don’t like to fail

Me: Very good. So let me ask you this question.. Have you had any tight budgets for any projects?

Interviewee: Yes Once I had only 1 Million Budget and my detailed estimate gave me a project cost of 1.5 Million

Me: Interesting.. So what did you do?

Interviewee: Its not a problem to me.. I don’t plan any 8 hour schedules. I always plan 10 – 12 hour schedules. Then we can finish additional work with no cost. I think a developer can work till 11 PM with no issue.. Its an acceptable time for a software developer to work. Always my teams do that with no questions. Therefore I managed to finish the projects within the budgets allocated to me.

Grow up baby !!!

I dont know where those good PMs are gone.. Have they migrated..? Ofcourse few good PMs I knew have already migrated.. I think we are talking about very few PMs who are already working in few companies..

Whats next?.. Calling another recruitment agency…

PS: I thought of adding this line after receiving some comments about this post. This post doesnt mean to say there are no good Project Managers in Sri Lanka. When you look at Software industry, Some of the world's largest project such as huge stock exchange projects, Telco projects are outsourced to Sri Lanka and there are really good PMs managing those projects. What I see is currently there is a big vacuum in the market and this is only the interview experience

Monday, July 21, 2008


Have you ever got involved with documenting your development framework? or architectural framework of a system? I did.. Recently I got involved with a project and the project was all about documenting the development and architectural framework of a specific system.. Thanks to the consultant I worked with for that project, I learned ABC of Microsoft word :-)

Iterations and Iterations of reviews ..finally nice set of documentation came out!..

However I read this article today (sent to me by one of my colleagues ) it discuss why you should write a framework and why not.. Its quite interesting.. You can read the article here..

Why you should write frameworks

Why you shouldn’t write frameworks

My personal opinion is that spending time and writing a framework is important,

If you are a multinational company (or a company with many IT departments who produce their own applications) and if you need every entity to develop applications on certain terms and standards So that the whole organization can have one standard by standardizing the framework to be used. It assures easy maintenance of each system as anybody who learn the framework can attend to the system and find issues fix etc. with lesser time.

Or if you are producing a product to the market and if you plan many sales of this product and if it needs many people to do the enhancements and maintenance work, its very important that you have a framework written for the project.

Further if you are a Software Development company who develop many applications concurrently also can be benefited out of a framework.

But as far as this second article is concerned I totally agree that you need not to write a framework for a specific application to be delivered to a customer unless its really a deliverable of the project. I think the problem is with the project manager of this project. ( Fire the PM !! :-))) )

Friday, June 20, 2008

Effective Communication on Project Management


Project Management Institute – Colombo Chapter

Member Forum

PMI takes great pleasure in inviting you

for a presentation on

“Effective Communication

on Project Management


Dr. Madhu Fernando


Hotel Holiday Inn, Colombo

Persian Room


Thursday : 26st June 2008


5.30pm – 7.30pm

Entrance fee for non PMICC members : Rs.1,000

Friday, June 13, 2008

OOOps .. If you know how much I love this saree

Do you think that Indian women gone mad? or Geeky... :-) ???

This is a pick from my favorite Satya Paul Designer collection.. I love this saree.. Hehe...

Material Looks fabulous.. and the color combination and the finishing looks great too.. Search result is everywhere :-)

Ok.. weeks after Im editing this post today.. Coz I saw the following...
Girls Love Google !!! :-)

Thursday, May 22, 2008

'A Leader Should Know How to Manage Failure'

'A Leader Should Know How to Manage Failure'
(Former President of India APJ Abdul Kalam at Wharton India Economic forum , Philadelphia , March 22,2008 )

Question: Could you give an example, from your own experience, of how leaders should manage failure?
Kalam: Let me tell you about my experience. In 1973 I became the project director of India 's satellite launch vehicle program, commonly called the SLV-3. Our goal was to put India 's 'Rohini' satellite into orbit by 1980. I was given funds and human resources -- but was told clearly that by 1980 we had to launch the satellite into space. Thousands of people worked together in scientific and technical teams towards that goal.
By 1979 -- I think the month was August -- we thought we were ready. As the project director, I went to the control center for the launch. At four minutes before the satellite launch, the computer began to go through the checklist of items that needed to be checked. One minute later, the computer program put the launch on hold; the display showed that some control components were not in order. My experts -- I had four or five of them with me -- told me not to worry; they had done their calculations and there was enough reserve fuel. So I bypassed the computer, switched to manual mode, and launched the rocket. In the first stage, everything worked fine.. In the second stage, a problem developed. Instead of the satellite going into orbit, the whole rocket system plunged into the Bay of Bengal . It was a big failure.
That day, the chairman of the Indian Space Research Organization, Prof. Satish Dhawan, had called a press conference. The launch was at 7:00 am , and the press conference -- where journalists from around the world were present -- was at 7:45 am at ISRO's satellite launch range in Sriharikota [in Andhra Pradesh in southern India ]. Prof. Dhawan, the leader of the organization, conducted the press conference himself. He took responsibility for the failure -- he said that the team had worked very hard, but that it needed more technological support. He assured the media that in another year, the team would definitely succeed. Now, I was the project director, and it was my failure, but instead, he took responsibility for the failure as chairman of the organization.
The next year, in July 1980, we tried again to launch the satellite -- and this time we succeeded.. The whole nation was jubilant. Again, there was a press conference. Prof. Dhawan called me aside and told me, 'You conduct the press conference today.'
I learned a very important lesson that day. When failure occurred, the leader of the organization owned that failure. When success came, he gave it to his team.

The best management lesson I have learned did not come to me from reading a book; it came from that experience.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Programmer Competency Matrix

This is a great matrix which you can use to evaluate a development team member., It has taken all the related angles in to consideration., Thanks Pushpaka for sending this to me,

Monday, March 17, 2008

Project Managers Forum – PMI chapter Colombo


Oh yeah.. High time to collect some PDUS.. Seems everybody has realized it.. At last PMI chapter SL is trying to conduct some events for Project Managers. A very big “thank you” to them who initiated it.

The Chapter conducted its Forum meeting session on last Friday (14th March) at Taj. The event was scheduled from 5.30 to 7.30.PM I reached there around 6PM and to my luck it has not been started at 5.30 may be due to heavy rain and bad weather.

I saw Madhu (most of us should be thankful to her for initiating PMI chapter in SL as well as all the good teaching she did when we were doing the 30 hour preparation classes) and I was very happy to see her after long time.. I saw only 2 friends who did PMP with me and seems most of the people either given up on PMP certification or they have already collected enough PDUs and didn’t care to attend to the forum meeting..

But still I can’t be too sure.. I heard that Colombo chapter has had 3 sessions before but this is the very 1st invitation I have received.. May be they have missed the others... No idea...

Ok back to the session..

One director of the board conducted the starting session with some insight on how to collect PDUs from various Medias. I think that was a good eye opener for most of us who are too lazy to log in to the web site and claim for PDUs.. Now I have I added it to my priority tasks.. Thanks for that..

The main session was the Risk Management lecture conducted by the guest Speaker Mr. Ravi Shankar – CEO of VSNL Lanka (TATA indicom – SL ) . He seems very knowledgeable and experienced....But it was very hard for me to understand his heavy Indian accent.

I made all the effort to follow it seriously and I love the example he made of himself when explaining the fact that “Unawareness makes people more confident of taking risks” J.. He seems very right. However that doesn’t mean that we don’t take risks when we are aware of them.. but the awareness allow us to quantify the risks and have better fall back plans .. In professional life as well as in personal life..He explained it nicely.

He stressed the point that risk management is always an investment.. Which is absolutely important..But unfortunately most the companies (Specially the SME level Software companies) do not think that way.. that may be one reason why this type of companies always falling to hard times. If a company won’t take risk., that will drastically affect the growth of the company, and the company will not grow., but at the same time, if a company takes risky decisions without being well aware of risk situation and without having proper strategies to eliminate them, then again the companies will fall in to major disasters unless the owners have some “lucky starts”.. However he said loud and (clear?).. You should never be successful by chance.. You should be successful by strategy..

Most the other points which he discussed at the session are the normal risk management theories which helped to refresh our memory about what we have learned on Risk Management.

Any way thanks to the chapter for organizing the event.. I’m sure there will be much more participants and some useful discussions for the next sessions..

If any PMI member or any other project manager is interested, the next events are scheduled as follows;

22nd May

21st August

20th November

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Have you ever found difficult to manage yor Geeky team?

Here is the answer..

What a great article !!!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Top 10 Worst Project Management Excuses..

I found this interesting blog post today..

I think he is spot on..

Thursday, January 17, 2008

PMs .. Be aware of.....

Whats new :-)) ???

If you join a new employer to manage an already started project.. Be aware of this situation :-)

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