Apex 3 Blog
A blog to offer ideas, suggestions and techniques to turn around or fix troubled or failed IT projects

Your On The Project Team – How To Get Off On the Right Foot

by Mark Davison March 21. 2011 11:40

Your first day as a member of your new project team is when you set the tone for your entire stay.  You’re tense, anxious and stressed – but don’t let that get in the way of setting the right tone.

  • Be punctual.  In fact, arrive early.
  • Dress and act like a competent, professional person
  • Respect the project team’s procedures, philosophies, values and beliefs (even if you don’t agree at first)
  • Understand your role(s) and responsibilities, goals and objectives
  • Be a good listener and observer (you may have to do more listening than talking)
  • Try to establish rapport with others, reach out to them, be positive, offer to help
  • Identify other team members who you can easily relate to, and who can make or influence decisions


New Apex3, LLC Video - Cool!

by Mark Davison March 19. 2011 11:39

Check this out on YouTube ... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uK88gKU5zL0&feature=youtu.be&hd=1


To Manage Time – Work At It Everyday

by Mark Davison March 14. 2011 18:03

Concentrate on priorities, focus on results and overcome procrastination.  Everyday.  There it is in a nutshell.  Now, why?  To get control over your time, of course, and meet commitments and expectations.

You may not need to spend excessive time reading time management books, keeping time logs, etc., as many standard time management techniques are not for everyone.  But one thing is:  if you are struggling to manage your time, you need to be willing to change what you do and how you do it to move in a different direction and get control back.

Time does fly by, but it doesn’t run out – only our ability to use it effectively slips away.  Decide what you want to do with time, and what you want to accomplish, then you can focus on priorities.

Take responsibility for how you allocate your time.  Manage it aggressively.  Don’t procrastinate by putting off until tomorrow what you should have done today. 

Say “no” to interruptions.  Don’t allow interruptions – no matter how urgent they may seem at the time – to get you off track.  While there may be times where you cannot refuse, in others simply say “no” to avoid taking responsibility for tasks that yield control of your time to others, and keep focused on what’s really important.  

Remember it often takes longer to complete work than initially planned.  So leave extra time in your day to accommodate overages.  

Those of us who are effective time managers put forth the effort and are diligent practitioners – we are patient, committed and willing to stay the course to get the big payoff – delivering on commitments and results.


You Can Be More Successful If You Make Others Feel Important

by Mark Davison March 7. 2011 21:48

PMs need to know how to do this in "all" directions, whether managing across a project team, directly with technical staff or business users, or “upward” with management, sponsors and executives.

  • Be a good listener as others talk about themselves and their experiences
  • Show interest in others by asking sincere questions about them, their concerns and their experiences
  • Avoid criticizing others and instead use other tactics to discuss problems and improvement opportunities
  • Respect others by meeting commitments you make to them 
  • Offer sincere compliments and recognition


Real World Agile Checklist

by Mark Davison March 4. 2011 14:23

More of our clients are interested in doing “agile” development.  Some succeed, others don’t.  Once you’ve made the decision to apply the agile methodology to your project, here are some things to keep in mind - lessons from the “real world”…

  • Overall Strategy – needs to be clear to all participants, and also translated into “actionable” work steps, so that everybody understands how the strategy will be implemented, roles/responsibilities, goals and milestones, and commits to make it happen
  • Release Planning – frames up what will be released when, based on functional priorities and any delivery commitments that may be in backlog
  • Iteration Planning – clarify the scope of each iteration (sprint), what’s included and what’s not, discuss details about the process of producing and testing each iteration to hit acceptance targets and assure project continuity needed to meet the plan
  • Daily Monitoring – one of the hardest parts – need to assure all moving pieces are well coordinated in a fast-moving agile project – through meetings, conversations, reviews, etc. – keep your fingers on daily problems/issues, changes to specifications or scope, resource availability, project participants/tasks not synchronized with each other, IT policy/standard adherence, criteria for testing and acceptance – know that there will likely be revisions and updates to strategies, releases, iterations, etc., over the lifecycle of the project.


What Makes A Good Meeting?

by Mark Davison March 3. 2011 17:16

  • Well attended
  • Time is reasonable for agenda and subject matter
  • Starts and ends on time
  • Has goals and an agenda
  • Provides handouts for review materials
  • Leader has good facilitation skills
  • Participation encouraged, attendees are engaged
  • Focused discussion, doesn’t wander off topic
  • Obtains closure
  • Clear next steps


Ways to Ensure IT Resources are Invested Wisely Through Governance

by Mark Davison March 2. 2011 22:25
  1. View each project as an investment and make sure the value and return meet minimum requirements
  2. Enforce the “rules” for good governance – follow the process, complete deliverables completely/accurately/thoroughly, obtain appropriate approvals, etc.
  3. Look to reuse assets – hardware, software, equipment, infrastructure – whenever possible
  4. Hold people accountable to implement decisions, whether to meet time deadlines or project milestones, or quality and performance requirements, and impose appropriate consequences – both good and bad – fairly and consistently
  5. Implement budget savings as projected – so if a project claims to save $500,000 next year, the area expecting the savings should have $500k less in their budget next year (thus requiring the organization to take the savings and investment in the project seriously)
  6. Conduct post implementation reviews and audits, ensuring that strengths and weaknesses, successes and problems, etc., are shared, and lessons learned are incorporated into projects going forward
  7. Set the right tone for managers and staff to treat these investments in a businesslike manner, to be guardians of time and resources, to be expeditious and efficient in their work, and to know that the business is serious about achieving the savings and benefits


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