8 posts categorized "project management"

Friday, 13 November 2009

Good Reads Oct 19 - Nov 13

“Just add an egg” – Usability, User Experience and Dramaturgy
It's not just about ease of use and speed, it's also about the experience and even enabling the user to play a social role.

Jesse James Garrett | UX Week 2009 | Adaptive Path
"The user experience mindset is an acquired condition for which there is no cure."

The Myth of Usability Testing
The results are only as good as the tests. Use the right tool and design the test properly for the context and goals of the site.

A Plea to All Creatives: Stop Going to Work
"Balance = happy = creative = productive. Repeat."

go outside

Design - Exploring Options and Making Decisions
Jared Spool's summary of various workshops at User Interface 14.

How to Recover From Project Failures
Good ideas for recognizing, discussing, and resolving issues during a project.


Wednesday, 21 April 2004

before you build it . . .

new ala article: The Problem, the Balloon, and the Four Bedroom House that nicely sums up a best practice in pm.

75% of the work of every successful project is completed in the initial stage. In other words, every project has a balloon phase. And if it doesn’t happen at the beginning of the project, then you may get into some serious trouble.

great anecdote:

On 13 March, 1999, Habitat for Humanity in New Zealand made the Guinness Book of Records. They constructed a four-bedroom house from scratch. It took a mere 3 hours, 44 minutes and 59 seconds. (I’m sure there’s a reality TV show in there somewhere, but I don’t believe we need another one of those.) An incredible feat. The significant fact is that it took 14 months of planning to achieve.

this also reminds me of a quote I've seen in Ziya's signature:

Design is the art of gradually applying constraints until only one solution remains.


(via dave boyer)

Monday, 08 December 2003

tips for exec summaries

via bBlog:

Crafting a Powerful Executive Summary

Thus the executive summary demands a whole different approach to writing than the rest of the proposal, one that balances efficient delivery of key information with a persuasive, well-substantiated pitch. Above all, the executive summary must demonstrate a clear understanding of the potential client's needs. A good way to do this is to include in it the ROI your services will deliver. "You need to describe outcomes," Sant says. "Describe the impact on performance—ideally a measurable impact."
  1. Establish the need or problem.
  2. Recommend the solution and explain its value.
  3. Provide substantiation.

Tuesday, 22 July 2003

project architect - client side

continuing a previous post on project architects - not only does the development team need this role but also the client team. The client needs one person who knows the big picture and can "see" the impact the project will have on their business processes and models. Someone to champion the project, get answers & information, help staff transition through the changes in processes that will occur for the project to be successful.

Derek R from sigia-l had this to say:

What I think business still needs is someone (an actual person) who knows-it-all to stand in there and champion business processes so that everybody understands. (This isn't about living on the bridge, but walking over it.) You need a coordinator for projects -- an actual living person who can respond and relate to changes.

Unlike modeling languages or processes (UML, RUP) or
deliverables/prototypes which rely on *reference* (language, process,
proto -- although these things all have their places), you need someone
who can *present* (responsiveness) and is able to deal with, and handle,
whatever communication needs to be made, or not made (clarity), and can
pull things generally together.

The CEO-of-old used to do this I think. Then they got too board-room to
deal with the vernacular. Then the Director was supposed to take care of
this, but then they got too fixated on the executive-track to deal with
the vernacular, so things today, I think, have ended up somewhat
splintered, so that groups of Manager-level people are supposed to
handle coordination but there are so may people at the Manager-level
that no clear direction, or communication, can be made (no authority).


Thursday, 17 July 2003

project architect

jjg's 9 pillars stirred up lots of discussion on the listserves. several threads brought up the idea of a project owner - someone who ensures the vision of the project is realized. much more than the pm tasks of managing scope, timeline & budget.

from a thread on the experience design list:

The idea is simply this: you need someone on your projects to be responsible for the behavior of your software towards it's users and to shepherd this expected behavior thru the development process. Not the technical underpinnings, not the database design, not the language used, but the behavior of the software. And this person needs to be involved from the beginning right thru `til the end. Just like a "real" architect.

So what does a "real" architect do anyway? Most fundamentally, they
design something that meets the needs and expectations of their
customer and then they communicate this design to a team which will
build something that meets the needs and expectations of their
customer.

As they work with the customer they use sketches, elevations,
studies, material swatches and other artifacts to ensure that the
customer understands and agrees with exactly how what is being built
will "behave" towards them. Then, they work with engineers and
drafters to turn that understanding into plans that the builders can
understand. Lastly, they continue to be involved during construction
so that any changes that must be made don't disrupt the conceptual
integrity of the design. They make sure that the changes won't make
the structure behave in a way the customer won't accept.

To the customer they speak in language the customer understands. To
the builders they speak another language (blueprints, engineering
drawings,etc) that the customer may not understand. The most
important function they provide is that of communicating the
expectations from the product clearly to both the customer and the
builder. Sure, they add a lot of value by designing, but the design
artifacts serve primarily to make it clear to all parties what is
expected of the finished structure.

You need someone doing this on your software projects. Your best
projects have always had that person.

Thursday, 10 July 2003

9 pillars

jesse james garrett releases another diagram to help put some perspective on web design projects:
The Nine Pillars of Successful Web Teams

definitely stirred up discussion on the listserves. like some point brought up on the experience design list:

when i have seen the categories strategic and tactical, or planning and implementation, even thinkers and doers (shudder), a chasm between groups has been created that impedes successful development

also that project management is as much strategic as it is tactical; someon sigia-l brought up the same point that pm should encompass the entire diagram.

and a suggestion for an additional pillar - communication strategy:

no matter what we’re developing there has to be an owner who generates the buzz, educates and gathers support behind the product.

Tuesday, 08 July 2003

when to email, when to phone, when to blog

not sure when to email, call or set up a video conference? check out the Communication media decision tree:

Friday, 13 June 2003

your inner innovator

Unleashing the Inner Innovator (pdf)

the author describes 4 "thinking lenses" - ways of thinking to spark new ideas and innovations:


  • Pack Rat - collect experiences, be as diverse as possible. 3 techniques for thinking like a pack rat:

    • Filters - look at the world from different perspectives, pretend you a detective, an artist, a mechanic etc. and view the world from that perspecive.

    • Try Something New - read magazines you've never read, meet new people, etc.

    • Rip & Rap - in a brainstorming session hand out different magazines and have team members rip out images that speak to them. then put all the images together and look for connections between them.


  • Matchmaker - once you have collected new experiences as a pack rat look at them and find matches "what is this like?". look for unlikely combinations.

    Try and find analogies,
    metaphors, and associations that fit the problem you are
    looking to solve. Recombine ideas in new ways. If you
    are redesigning a business process, borrow a best practice
    from a different industry. South West Airlines did this when
    it benchmarked an Indianapolis 500 pit crew. Or when
    hospitals benchmarked Marriott Hotels for the check-in
    processes. But take it a step further and look to nonbusiness
    analogies and metaphors. Look at nature. Model
    your business after an evolutionary process, an ecosystem,
    jazz music, or whatever tickles your fancy.

  • Kid - look at everything with a fresh pair of eyes. Play the "yes, and" game.

    Have one person throw out the first idea, and then continue
    with, �Yes, and...�, building on the previous idea. The key is
    to answer quickly and avoid thinking too much. Top-ofhead
    answers tend to tap into a part of the brain we don�t
    use during our normal thinking process. And be sure that
    your answer is a contribution. It should build on what the
    previous person said rather than invalidate it.

  • Contrarian - turn everything upside, reverse assumptions, come up with the worst ideas

    Sometimes the best ideas seem like the worst ideas. The
    California Dancing Raisins advertisement came from
    asking the question, �What is the worst way we could sell
    raisins?� Think about the world prior to vaccines. What
    would be the stupidest way to prevent an outbreak of polio?
    Inject everyone with the virus. But of course that is exactly
    how it is done. Breakthrough answers are often hiding in
    illogical solutions.

the author also emphasizes putting together a "whole-brained team":


When everyone thinks
the same way there is little opportunity for something new.
Creativity comes from tension. Differing viewpoints.
Differing ways of solving problems. So, on your team,
surround yourself with people who think differently than
you. Choose people with different analytical, creative, and
personality styles. Welcome the creative tension that is
inevitable. Relish not always getting your way. New ideas
are bound to emerge, and as long as you are open to them,
your whole brained team will create new ideas never
previously conceived.

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