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More Project Management Best Practice Tips

The Importance of Confidence and Estimates

As a project leader, it's critically important to be earnest - have an intense conviction and confidence in the plan. Staying calm and confident is reassuring to the team, sponsor,  and stakeholders alike.  The team will take their cues from you, follow your lead, and rise to meet any challenges or setbacks in a positive way.  Whether you are looking at the Inc. list, the Forbes list, or anyone's list of leadership traits, confidence is usually on the short list of important leadership traits (or a part of the description of another trait).

So given its importance, how can you build this confidence in the plan?  It comes from having a solid, believable plan that stakeholders, including you and the project team, buy into.  And how do you get that solid, believable plan stakeholders will buy into? It comes from having solid steps and estimates for completing the project.  This puts planning and estimating, in particular, in the "hot seat".  Better...

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"PLAN" is not a Four Letter Word (Part II)

Moving forward ten years, I found myself as a program manager responsible for several projects related to a $10M+ Unix rollout. A colleague was responsible for the procurement and hardware side of the operations while I was tasked with getting a workstation into the hands of 400 developers in 16 locations. Each had to be trained on the basic operations of their workstation, they had to receive specialized training for their area of expertise, and I had to manage the support of the systems going forward.

Things were all well until I found myself in the middle of an emergency meeting called by senior management. It seems like their initial decision to exclude any form of internal network wasn’t going to fly. What’s more, other company divisions were approached for assistance, but their charges proved to be several times management expectations, especially since there was nothing budgeted. I was quickly introduced to a consultant since the workstations were due to start...

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"PLAN" is not a Four Letter Word (Part I)

Back in the early 80s when corporations like IBM and Univac were mainframe giants, it took the typical systems team 3-5 years to produce a new compiler. It was during that time I took on a project to finish where some R&D; left off. The goal: produce a compiler, assembler, and linkage editor for a family of computers in use in the world’s largest private computer network. This was critical because the only tool in existence was a non-relocatable assembler (a throwback to the 60s). Development builds of code were running for more than eight hours and productivity was low. Introducing the notion of relocatable code would drop the time to minutes, allowing the development team to be more productive. More productivity would allow faster development of key network-related products and services.

The R&D; phase had obtained the portable Pascal-P4 compiler and implemented it on a lab mainframe. With this proof of concept out of the way (elapsed time around four-to-six months),...

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