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We live in exciting times, taken over by technological dominance. Just imagine fuel delivered at your doorstep. Possible? Well, one may find it hard to accept, let alone believe but that’s exactly mission to achieve – beat all the odds. Man to mars – not as a cosmonaut but a commoner. Incredible, and mind-blowing.
Are you aware how many photos gets posted, messages tweeted, videos made and posted? The social media is busy and gets busier by the day. And it does impact your business. If you care to look at the data accumulated, don’t panic if it looks like a deluge. What happens to this data? Think about it, as its growing every day.
There can be data pile-up in your workplace. Imagine having multiple folders with hundreds of documents and completely clueless. Processed data becomes information. But who will process the data? Data Scientist. Something unheard a decade ago, is fast becoming the most sought after profile, and rightly so, given the data produced in a day.
To give you a glimpse, “According to computer giant IBM, 2.5 exabytes - that's 2.5 billion gigabytes (GB) - of data was generated every day in 2012”.
The total amount of data in the world was 4.4 zettabytes in 2013.
So, how much data is produced per day? 2.5 Exabytes. That’s a whopping number. A colossal one.
And to deal with data, you need someone adept and hands-on in weeding out the unwanted and clean out the clutter. You need a Data Scientist.
Data scientists are big data professionals who wrestle with enormous data that can be structured or unstructured , and bringing to the fore their exceptional statistical skills , Data Scientists can assess, evaluate and organize them. On top of that, they apply their analytics prowess to bring out solutions for challenges crippling the business.
Typically defined, ‘” data scientist is someone who is better at statistics than any software engineer and better at software engineering than any statistician.” And they are placed in a prominent slot as a formidable force. Just check out the pay of a Data Scientist.
Image Courtesy: https://www.payscale.com
There seems to be early burn-out in IT professionals. Doctors are appalled at the heart-risks and related ailments that when wheeled a young person into the emergency ward, the first question invariably is “are you working in IT?” why is too so? Job pressure, peer pressure, management pressure – the stress is too much. a number of factors collide and contribute to this havoc wreaked on youngsters. Heart attack in the forties or fifties doesn’t shock or surprise but in late twenties and early thirties psyches the physicians, who are perplexed dealing with the predicament. Such is the severity, and cut-throat the companies, work force either by choice or force end up staying late at their desk ‘burning the midnight oil’.
Does the number of hours clocked or the contributions made in fewer count. The misconception in the market is one who spends long hours in the office is deemed ‘hard working’. Anything less and your talent is questionable or the workload is not just enough to justify your paycheck. So some just pretend to stretch or ‘kill’ time by indulging in other activity instead of freeing up bandwidth to take up additional tasks. “If I do this task or accommodate more chores in addition, will the amount in the salary credited change?” this reflects not just the individual lack of commitment, but reflects poorly on the leadership as well.
Devotion to work should be willful lest its leaves one dissatisfied and disgruntled. Once resourceful, now turned rebels are primarily due to poor people management. Hours makes one hardworking? Then at what cost? Tradeoff at the cost of health? Everything ought to be balanced – including work.
A project manager, whom I used to report, will sit beside me and plan the ‘tasks for the week’ taking my inputs for the ‘hours allocated’ and sometimes let me estimate the ‘number of hours’. Effort estimation is both critical and crucial. Bagging the project by heck or crook, and later slogging the days, night and weekend are typical signs of burnout. It’s like cutting the foot to match the boot. That’s not project management. Weekends usually act as buffer and my manager maxim of “if you can’t get the work done in eight hour, either you are inefficient or incompetent.’ People also tend to procrastinate – another malaise with no medicine in sight. Hence there is blaming the managers. There has to be a middle ground.
The 40 hour week
Any project manager with appreciable knowledge and experience will not estimate more than 8-hours as man day in the project plan. How many hours do the team work is another question but for the record its hours, and usually the weekends are not factored – and mostly serve as buffers. Remember time is money and hence any inflation in your estimation will have an adverse implication on your cost estimation. The budget balloons and the project just slipped out of your hands. It’s a typical trapeze act or skating on thin ice. So balancing the 40-hour and keeping the project within cost calls for a skilled and smart time management.
Performance and Productivity
No matter how many hours you clock, its 4 hours spread across 8. The body might be willing but the mind simply is not up to it. Exhaustion, fatigue leads to failure. Your ability to concentrate ebb s with passage of time. There should be a reason why Henry For came out with the brilliant strategy of ‘weekend’ so as to boost morale, improve productivity and increase time spent with family. Sources from public domain cite that working fewer hours increase productivity and thereafter tend to wane.
“I am too busy at work” is the usual refrain. You start before the kids awake and return after the fast asleep. Many professionals itinerary falls in to this pattern. Genuine cases of work chewing and even gobbling time is a possibility but that can’t become the norm. Its not family first or work at any cost. One has to strike a balance to do justice to both – stakeholder management. Your internal and external client included family too is part of stakeholders. And its important to attend on everyone, and if possible content.
A gallup study revealed that we work 47 hours – which is 7 hours more. What will all the dollars, incentive, promotions and perks amount when the people you value the most – your family aren’t there to share your moment to happiness and bask in glory.
Continuing with our previous blog post about the changes in the PRINCE 2017 Release, this posting covers the exam details for both Foundation Exam and Practitioner exam.
The details are provided from the Axelos site to preserve integrity of the data, and also avoid unnecessary ambiguity
Foundation Examination Design
• Number of questions reduced to 60 (previously 75 with trial questions), and no trial questions
• Exam duration unchanged (1 hour)
• (Pass mark may be adjusted following standard setting)
• Negative questions removed, except where it is part of the learning outcome to know that something shouldn’t occur (e.g. NOT, FALSE, INCORRECT)
• Number of list and missing word questions reduced, i.e. more standard questions
Foundation Exam Structure
• 5 Questions on key concepts
• 8 questions on principles
• 28 questions on themes
• 3-5 questions on each theme
• 19 questions on processes
• 2-3 questions on each process.
Practitioner Examination Design
Exam Design - Questions
• Number of questions (marks) reduced to 75 (previously 80)
• Exam duration unchanged (2.5 hours)
• (Pass mark may be adjusted following standard setting)
• Question styles removed:
• Multiple response
• Assertion reason
• Question styles retained:
• Matching (for BL3) – max 3 marks with 5-6 tokens
• Classic (for BL4) e.g. Yes, because…..
Practitioner Examination Design
Exam Design – Scenario/Information
Candidates will only need to refer to:
• A one-page project scenario
• One page of additional information for the organization theme (person profiles)
• Approx. 4 lines of information before the question stem to provide the context (especially BL4 questions).
In other words:
• No separate lengthy additional information (except for organization theme)
• No ‘delete entry 1’, ‘amend entry 1’ questions’!!
please watch this space for more update. We will keep you posted more about the developments about PRINCE 2-2017 release.
Wishing you good lucl in your endevaors.
image courtesy: goo.gl/XrGZEt
PRINCE2 – Managing Projects in a Controlled Environment, is one of the well-known, widely acclaimed, and globally recognized certification in Project Management.
Those familiar with Axelos-PRINCE2 (2009) don’t need any introduction. By Mid-2017, Axelos decided to roll out an enhanced edition, which they named as PRINCE-2017.
Recently PRINCE2 has evolved further with changes incorporated in its syllabus, Examinations for both Foundation and Practitioners. The changes reflected are only in English language and for other language supported by Axelos, the release is expected in 2018.
Now you may ask, why Axelos got this change done? What is so different in this new edition?
AXELOS regularly seeks feedback from the international community about the standard and usage of its Certification programs in enhancing the ability of the PRINCE2 certified professionals to manage and deliver projects successfully. The feedback over a period of consultation from 75% of Accredited Organizations (AOs) concurred the need and agreed for an update of the program syllabus and exams. Not only the AOs, but Industry experts and stakeholders were consulted in improving the content to align with the work-environment that’s fast-paced and ever-growing to reap more benefits for the practitioners, customers and other associated benefactors.
Answering the second part of the question, as to what is so different in this new edition, the themes chapters have been restructured to enhance flow and readability and to accommodate important new material on how to tailor projects.
Besides, The update is characterized by an emphasis on:
● tailoring PRINCE2 to the needs of organizations and project environments
● the principles that underpin PRINCE2
● greater clarity on the link between the themes and principles
● the restructuring of the themes guidance to accommodate specific examples of tailoring
Now the next question expected would be, ‘why so much stress on Tailoring’?
As you know, PRINCE2 is extremely flexible, versatile and completely scalable., which have always been a key factors in the success of PRINCE2: the method is readily tailored to the needs of any organization. The philosophy and practice of tailoring is a thread that now runs throughout the guidance and the training programme. In fact, it permeates the entire thinking of the PRINCE2 2017 update.
Summary of the changes in PRINCE 2017
With regards to the syllabi:
In the Foundation level, Addition of chapter 2, 4 and 21;
• Chapter 2: Project Management with PRINCE2
• Chapter 4: Tailoring and adopting PRINCE2
• Chapter 21: Practical considerations for organizational adoption (Tailoring & Embedding)
Notably the old Chapter 19 (PRINCE2®: TAILORING PRINCE2® TO PROJECT ENVIRONMENT) removed.
Now, there is much emphasis about Tailoring.
In terms of Exam, the changes include:
– Focus is clearly on the core of PRINCE2
- Elements of the exam that are not part of the core have been removed
- Assessment criteria around tailoring have been added
- The emphasis on different parts of the syllabus has been readjusted
The Practitioner exam
The major changes include:
● The Practitioner exam will now test candidates on all parts of the PRINCE2 method
● The emphasis on different parts of the syllabus has been readjusted
● The candidate is now tested on the general application of the core of each theme and process and on their practical ability to assess, in a particular context, whether an approach to project management is effective and fit for purpose
● Improvements to the exam design have been made.
The most powerful mode of marketing is the word of mouth.
Is Digital marketing same as word-of-mouth marketing? Yes or no? Well, what do you call ‘thing going viral on the social media’. The word spreads faster than a forest fire. We bank on referrals and trust the testimonies of our contacts before deciding on a service provider or business provider.
Today, it’s too expensive to try out the trial and error, and hence we follow footprints to be better safe and sure. Check and double-check. And that’s the reason why the online reviews are attached too much importance because you can’t collect all the information from your known sources, and hence, need to rely on unknown sources as well. Be it a travel or hotel booking or buying a car, we need to arm ourselves with facts, figures and Opinions. It matters more these days on others’ experience to get a perspective of ‘how it will be’, before doing it on our own for the ‘self-experience.’ Isn’t it? How many times have you checked a restaurant‘s reputation online before booking a table? And scrolled down all the way to sniff out foul smell? Yes, that one star rating which makes your face frown. Yes!
Word of mouth is more personalized. But in this digital era, where time is money, it’s impossible to knock on every door to get first-hand feedback. Technology has advanced. We speak of being ahead or behind the curve in technology. So the best way to pool in people’s views in one place would be the internet. And if that be, what’s stopping you from marketing using internet as a channel.
This could be the genesis of digital marketing. People prefer both brick and mortar shops and online shopping too. There exists a market share for both, and if you consider convenience, comfort, choice, online shopping is head over shoulder.
Times have changed and it’s wise to turn along the tide. So hoardings which do exist have shrunk in number and instead the online banners have risen exponentially in numbers. The medium of sale has shifted. Online transactions have spiked in numbers. Marketing of products and services using technologies through internet is otherwise known as Digital marketing, wherein the online space is used to provide the user experience to the best extent possible in promotions and pushing sales.
‘data is the new oil’
Why? Because that’s the most valuable resource. What moves the needle? Sales. And sales to happen, you need data. Refined. There, indeed, is an information overload. Looks like there is a data dump, and that’s why refined.
Transparency is the key. Be it a website or a product/service promoted in a website. ‘how many users? how many likes? how many new users? And that leads to the next poser ‘do you have the resource to refine?’
People are crunching the numbers and scrambling for data to dissect the demography in order to study and better understand the market conditions and customer behavior. Anything that cannot be backed up with data becomes merely an opinion. Credibility is the cornerstone. Data integrity. Everything centers on it.
Know your customer.
When a customer shops for a book, or a perfume or a laptop, or holiday vacation or anything for that matter, it gives a glimpse of the customer in terms of taste and take. Next time when the same customer visits the page, there will be “you might also like” with several allied products or services listed. If that can bring a smile on customer’s face, then its good user experience.
Now this can be made possible only we have credible data. Don’t let data sound so technical. It is information. How much you know about your customer to serve better and thereby improve your relationship. Relationship building is the ultimate key because that's how you earn the customer’s confidence.
Data is the decisive factor.
Image credit: goo.gl/WmYFDt
We will discuss more about this subject in the week to come. Stay tuned.
Quick rundown on what are key skills & expertise that helps to manage the programs successfully. First and the most important aspect is how well we connect with our customer and how soon we speak the language of our customer, which really helps to get the connect with customer and their stakeholders.
Broader View/Vision: Scope of the program is much larger than the project and in most of the cases program contains more than one project stream in it. Hence it’s inevitable for the program manager to have the broader vision of the program that would help to streamline the projects in it.
Antedate Customer Needs/Solutions: We need to provide solution upfront before even customer identify the problem. Fierce market condition deprives the luxury of attention. Customers are not interested to wait anymore for wireframe. They instead ask for prototype for which they might prepare their business specifications.
Effective Communication: What do we mean by effective communication? Everyone communicates and people who communicate effectively influence the people with less time. Communication is not only speaking/presenting but also formal and informal mail communications and how effectively facilitates the meetings etc.
Stakeholder Management: Stakeholders are groups, organizations or individuals who can affect, get affected, or perceive themselves to be affected by a programme. The stakeholder response is critical as some may oppose and some support. So the threat can come from within and hence it’s important to have the buy-in of the stakeholders as some may stand to gain or lose, some may see the program as a threat or some will support. It cannot be a mixed bag. What about the human resources? They too can become stakeholders Resources given their competency and skill.
Wish to know more about this MSP – Managing Successful Program? Please click here or call +1 (713)-287-1252
The Sixth Edition of PMBOK® Guide Will Be Soon Out | Project Management
PMI (Project Management Institute) is expected to roll out the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) – Sixth Edition by the third quarter of 2017. It is expected that the draft version of the Sixth Edition is ready by the first or second quarter, and the final version of the Sixth Edition should be available by mid-2017, if things go as planned.
What are the changes expected in the Sixth Edition?
>> The size of the book. Presently, the fifth edition PMBOK® Guide, has 13 chapters that spans 415 pages. The sixth edition is expected to be quarter the size of the 5th edition, which means it should be close to 84 pages and the number of chapters too have come down to 10. So, sixth edition should be 10 chapters with 84 pages in the draft version. By the time sixth edition gets published, PMI possibly will add more pages. The final number of pages for now is unknown.
>> Inputs, Tools & Techniques, Outputs (ITTOs) – the sixth edition will not dwell deep into ITTOs, rather it will be covered at a high level.
>> The first version of the PMBOK 6th edition is ¼ the size of the PMBOK 5th edition. The 6th editions currently has 10 chapters and 84 pages, while the 5th edition had 13 chapters and 415 pages.
>> Alignment with Process Groups: the sixth edition will be divided based on the 5 process groups, and not the 10 knowledge areas. This is considered a major change as the Role Delineation Study (RDS) conducted by PMI has presented its findings and proposed the changed to be aligned with process groups.
>> Combination of first three chapters. In the sixth edition, the first three chapters will be combined as one – the interpersonal skills of the project manager and organizational skills will be merged in to one.
>>Two processes are expected to be deleted. The Close Procurements process and Estimate Activities Resources are more likely to be deleted.
>>Two knowledge areas to be renamed; Time Management and Human Resource Management to be renamed. Time management will be renamed Schedule management, while human resource management becomes Resource Management
>> Knowledge Areas to feature four section. Every knowledge areas will have four new sections, namely, Key Concepts, Trends and Emerging Practices, Tailoring Considerations and Considerations for Agile/Adaptive Environments.
>> An exclusive chapter on role of Project manager. This chapter on Project Manager will cover the key concepts about core competencies, expertise, leadership skills expected in leading a project.
>> Approaches for Agile : every knowledge area will be inclusive of a section with a the title Approaches for Agile, Iterative and Adaptive Environments’. This will , detail the integration of agile practices in project backgrounds.
>> PMI Talent Triangle™: PMI spells the details about the technical skills, business intelligence , and leadership considered the key skills for success. It is also known as Talent triangle.
Reference source: http://www.examspm.com/2016/07/16/pmbok-6th-edition-release-date-changes/
The biggest challenge in any corporate or company [big or small] is conflict management. Most of the professionals as part of the human capital are admittedly millennials and the most worrisome aspect is their psyche. This generation is simply intolerant or less tolerant. However talent they might, being a bigot is the last thing a Project Manager want in the team, the delivery is not going to happen. No project has ever delivered by one person. It’s a team effort. The team has to be open to each other and are to criticize the ideas but criticize the person. That’s a very line as differentiating a person from their thought isn’t easy as put. Many tend to take it personal.
Another challenge is that most of the people don’t have common objective. Or the vision is not the same for everybody. The same thought can be perceived differently – just like half full and half empty. We tend to see things differently looking at the same object. So this lack of sync in project members adds to the conflict. Hence people at different layers in a project need to be in the same and understand one another. This, of course, is easier said than done because there is something called residual anger that becomes a huge bottleneck. There could be a bitter rub in the past project or some engagement and human by nature are egoist. Hence, in a professional environment, we have to conduct professionally setting aside personal differences.
How to fix when we have multiple stakeholders [internal stakeholders]?
People should know their boundaries. [It is already mentioned that they must have common objectives,]. There might be a QA manager in the development team. Though the QA Manager identified some issues in the development, it will not in in the person’ premise to fix as part of the common objective. Rather, the QA manager must escalate to the Dev Manager who must attend on the fix. The conflict arises when the QA Manager tries to solve the Dev manager’ problem out of enthusiasm or interest or urgency or reason conceivable. But this is unacceptable. This will cause chaos and conflict in the system. Unless they are the owner of the problem, they should not solve the problem. In a professional environment, if every profession tries to solve every other problem, that itself will create conflict because different people will different strategies to deal with problems and manage project. The need of the hour then is people at al layers must be organized – they should their mission, vision, boundaries and roles & responsibilities.
In a complex project, conflicts are common, and this where the project plan plays a critical role. The project plan helps in communication plan – as how as stakeholders – must communicate with each other and the frequency of communication and manner in which information can flow back and forth. The moment people start to respect their project plan, then there is less chances for conflict. Sometimes we may need to set back and view what the plan states. T There might be moments when you may have to listen to your instincts. Before the project started, you might have agreed to do, and by now looking the project plan, you may not be on track and even lag. Whether you are over boarding or under. Whether there burn rate is more as compared to the efforts or within control. Going by experience, the burn will be more. That’s why you may have to sit back and look back at the rule of engagement drafted at the start of project initiation for greater clarity.
The boundaries for the stakeholders too must identified, well documented, and respected. Thus will avoid inference, intrusion and encroachment. Thus when there is greater collaboration and cooperation within the team is paramount to keep the stakeholders satisfied.
image courtesy: http://www.pmi-ksa.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Stakeholder-Management-and-Conflict-Resolution-Course-Brochure-3.png
Authoritative Style: In this style project Manager gives the direction to the team however team has space to come up with the solution and implement the same. Project Manager has complete vision of the project and helps the project team to understand the vision and let them to execute the same. In this style project team gets assistance and guidance. In this case project Manager needs to have very good functional and some technical expertise to exercise this type of management style
Affiliate Style: In this style project manager is more friendly with the project team and also takes care of they needs including the career goals and personal needs. In most cases when the team has right set if technical and functional skills where the team needs very less guidance from the manager on the project delivery this style will fit aptly.
Democratic Style: In this style everyone in the team has a say in the project execution and planning. In this case to arrive at the proper project plan, it takes longer time as everyone in the team involves in the planning and at times its very hard to come to a conclusion when more than one people have different opinion.
Coaching Style: Any project Manager is required to play the role of coaching at some point in time of the project execution. This too comes along with democratic style where project manager encourages the project team even in their times of failure. This skill/style is more required when the project team is inexperienced and needs more hand holding.
We have gone through the different styles of project management, and its clearly visible that we may need to exercise different styles at different phases or times of projects. Depends on the complexity, maturity of the team, stakeholders we have to decide what type of style we should exercise..
Here I would like to share some of the project management styles that would be effective in certain environments. We can consider some of the common project environments and what type of project management style will go well with those situations
1. Customer is well organized (Clear Scope, fixed time line & Efficient project Teams)
This is very ideal scenario however this may not the case in most cases but there is some challenge if the project team is not engaged well, there is high chance they will lose the interest which will damage the work. So in this type of environment Project Manager needs to be more organized and more people -centric to manager for the project to be successful as the focus needs to be there on the people more (in terms of engaging them well)
2. Difficult Customer (Scope changes, Demand fixed timeline & Efficient Project Teams)
This is most common scenario which we can see in most of cases. Here challenging part is stakeholder management and clear communication mechanism should be in place. In this case Project Manager needs to be commanding and have control over all the stakeholder to ensure that all commitments from different stakeholders are honored on time. All communications to be strictly followed and any deviation to be communicated and rebaseline accordingly upon the approval of the respective stakeholders
3. Difficult Customer (Scope changes, Demand fixed timeline & Unorganized Project Teams)When both Customer and Project Teams are not as expected, then project manager’s role become even critical and Project Manager needs to implement almost all the project management principles strictly in all phases of project execution so that he/she can bring the predictability of the project to the stakeholders. So in this case for sure Project Manager needs to be trained in Project Management thoroughly to reduce the risk to the project.
img source: http://www.projectmanage.com/