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Dave Gordon

Risk Response Strategies: Transfer or Avoid the Danger

As I’ve noted in other articles, a risk is an uncertainty that matters. Some event has a significant probability of occurring, and there will be a significant consequence if it does. A risk represents a threat, and a wise project team endeavors to identify project threats and analyze them for effective strategies, so that the probability of occurrence can be reduced or the consequences reduced. Or both. Of Mice and Risk Management Consider the following …

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Agile at Scale Enables Your Grilled Cheese Sandwich

I had sharp cheddar cheese and butter in the fridge, but no bread. So, I opened Amazon Prime Now (also known as “assisted living for Millennials” in San Francisco) and ordered a loaf of dark rye, Greek yogurt with blueberries, a huge bag of Fritos, and a few other groceries to breach the $25 minimum. Then I got back into the Word document I’d been struggling with. Got an email confirming the order, and another …

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Agile Is an Ingredient, Not a Recipe

Picture a scrum team: seven developers, plus or minus two, rigorously following the ceremonies in the Scrum Guide. They maintain a product backlog prioritized by business value, with estimates of effort created by the team. They generate a burndown chart for each sprint, and they know their velocity. They limit the daily scrum to 15 minutes, conduct a retrospective at the end of each sprint, and have a checklist for their definition of done. They …

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Simplicity: What’s Left When You Ignore Everything Else

Have you ever stopped at the supermarket to reflect on the constantly improving state of the art in maximizing grain yield per acre? Of course not. You simply grab a loaf of bread, glance at the “Sell by” date, and put it in your cart. You don’t feel a sense of gratitude that you and your family probably won’t die of starvation, as was so common for earlier generations. You don’t feel a sense of …

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Why Staffing Your Projects Will Get Harder

In addition to all of the other constraints you will have to operate under in the coming years, you will have to face one crucial fact: The pool of highly skilled workers is not expanding as fast as the demand. There are several reasons for this, and a practicing IT project manager, as a “consumer” of skilled labor, needs to understand them. Unemployment Will Soon Be about Inadequate Skills Since the employment recovery began in …

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An Interview with Dave Gordon on His Book, The Data Conversion Cycle

Businesses approach data conversion projects with apprehension, and perhaps rightfully so. But the Practicing IT Project Manager, Dave Gordon, has written a new book aimed at demystifying data conversion for all roles involved. We interviewed Dave about his book and his reliable, repeatable process for data conversion. Here’s what he had to say. AITS: Your book, The Data Conversion Cycle, describes a generalized approach to data conversion that can be applied by nearly anyone involved …

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Managing Transitions between Outsourcing Vendors

With apologies to Sir Walter Scott: Oh, what a tangled contract we write, when first we practice to outsource. Having managed outsourcing projects on behalf of both the customer and the third-party administrator, and managed transitions from one outsourcing firm to another on behalf of several clients, I have a lot of anecdotal evidence that outsourcing generally works best on a spreadsheet—in practice, results tend to be rather variable. But because most business decisions are …

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Decision-Making under the Influence: SME, HiPPO, and BOGSAT

The most significant driver of cost and schedule risk in any project is indecision. While most projects can absorb a few bad decisions or even course-correct without a hitch, delaying a decision almost invariably creates damage. Agile practitioners will typically defer decisions until required to move forward so that the Decider has as much information as possible, but a lack of information isn’t always—or even usually—the problem. Sometimes the Decider just doesn’t feel empowered, and …

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On Being Intrepid as a Project Manager

In an earlier age, someone might have been approvingly described as “intrepid,” from the Latin for “not alarmed.” Some naval vessels, including at least one aircraft carrier, have borne the name Intrepid. In the modern age, usage has deteriorated to the ironic or even humorous. Of course, that doesn’t make intrepid behavior—the ability to perform effectively under conditions of uncertainty in complex environments and difficult circumstances—any less valuable. Conditions of Uncertainty (Risk Management) The purpose …

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Redundancy: You Can Say That Again!

On Monday, August 8, the Atlanta headquarters of Delta Airlines suffered an “electrical problem” at about 2:30 a.m. Technicians from Georgia Power quickly determined that it was a failed switchgear, a high-capacity circuit breaker box that routes power from two or more sources to the various systems that use it. It allows the orderly disconnect of power for service—until it fails, of course. This particular failure was important because the switchgear provided power to Delta’s …

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