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Dave Gordon

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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Defining Status Metrics: RAG, Trends, and Transitions

A former colleague of mine, Rob Young, recently lamented the lack of rigor in governance by new project managers. This is especially evident in red / amber / green (RAG) summaries in status reports, where a failing project can still be reported as green. “Clearly, there needs to be a common understanding of the status metric that is being reported against and the rationale for moving between statuses.” Rob is absolutely correct: You can’t manage what …

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Managing Risks That Evolve over Time: 3 Cases

Most project managers are used to making a qualitative risk analysis in two dimensions: the likelihood that an event will occur, and the impact of the event. And most risk management plans include some sort of “T-shirt” sizing scale to facilitate classification of probability and impact as small, medium, large, and so on. While not particularly rigorous, this approach does have the benefit of getting SME participation without making great demands on their time or …

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The Way You Describe a Risk Is What Makes It Manageable

Project managers know that risk management is an ongoing process, and risk identification happens throughout the project life cycle. In many projects, the team is empowered to draft risk log entries. Of course, one of the basic requirements in identifying project risks is describing each risk in such a way that it is meaningful to management and other stakeholders who aren’t part of the project team. If you’ve ever seen a risk log entry like …

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