Modern Middle Manager
Primarily my musings on the practical application of technology and management principles at a financial services company.
Project Management Skills

Saturday, January 11, 2003  

All managers should learn good project management skills. Knowing how to apply resources, hit milestones and what critical steps will cause untold delay are vital in many aspects of life. Consider this one: I am trying to arrange a limo, dinner reservations and this evening's entertainment for a friend's birthday. However, I have procrastinated until this morning. Hence there are some milestones I may miss (like dinner reservations) which will require a Plan B. I almost always have a plan B prepared (tonight is no exception -- come to think of it, I have a Plan C if I totally make a mess of things. Happy Meals, anyone?).

This reminds me of the Windows 2000 server conversion project my department performed earlier last year. We drew up the plan and began to execute, except that some of the assumptions made in the plan based on our test network didn't work out on the production network. Identifying those points of risk and having a backup plan is essential when you have a strictly-defined window (in this case, 72 hours available over a three-day weekend). By taking too much time trying to research small issues on the test network they bumped up against the milestone to actually deploy the conversion, causing them to work out those issues in production and pushing the project out longer than they should have. This caused a chain reaction that pushed off testing some parts of the implementation -- parts that came back to bite my staff on Tuesday, because they didn't work ("what you don't test won't work"). Those issues were part of the critical path, just as testing was -- so any delay along it wound up pushing the whole project completion time further out. When you try to execute a project, make certain you know where those critical paths are and what your Plan B is. Your company (pun intended) will thank you for it.

posted by Henry Jenkins | 1/11/2003 09:18:00 AM

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