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

Personal Qualities for These Challenging Times

by Mark Davison October 6. 2011 09:41

Get along with others

Do more than expected; go above and beyond

Be thrifty with company resources

Keep others informed

Drive for results

Thank others for their contributions

Be thoughtful and considerate



Effective Listening ...

by Mark Davison October 5. 2011 18:05

… Is a valuable tool.

Pay attention when others are talking

Avoid distractions

Close the door

Hold of on responding to calls, emails and text messages

Don’t pre-judge

Avoid formulating a response while other are talking

Remain open to new ideas


Project Tip of the Day:

by Mark Davison October 4. 2011 15:22

When wrapping up at the end of a day, do this to keep the project’s work moving forward:  make a few notes about today’s accomplishments, issues and the next steps, i.e., where the project needs to go next.  Then, when you return tomorrow, you can pick exactly where you left off.  No guessing about what to do next.


Controversy Can Be Beneficial For Teams!

by Mark Davison October 3. 2011 15:51

We often work in multi- or cross-functional teams.  Team members come to the team with different backgrounds, experiences, perspectives and opinions.  Those differences can bring value and benefits to the team’s work and results.  We encourage team leaders to keep in mind some of these guidelines:

  • The team experience would be very boring if we were all the same, with the same thoughts, all the time
  • Encourage the team to seek out and listen to each person’s point of view
  • Solicit ideas about problems and issues to address
  • Collaborate on solutions and recommendations
  • Don't force agreement, but look and listen for indications of disagreement
  • To address the disagreement, seek controversy by not asking for consensus, but for anyone who disagrees
  • Let those who disagrees with an idea or opinion have the opportunity to express his/her thoughts, and ask others to listen carefully
  • Facilitate an open, honest discussion amongst the team that considers the best possibilities, pros/cons, etc.
  • Acknowledge the controversy, reinforce that all the best possibilities have been considered
  • Seek consensus from the team to move forward.


Tips For Upgrading Applications Software

by Mark Davison April 2. 2011 17:16

  • Be sure you know exactly what is changing, and why.
  • Understand how the application to be upgraded is used to support the business
  • Understand the application’s functions, features, data, reports, interfaces, etc. – how it works!
  • Understand the application’s problems and open issues
  • Spend time with the uses to understand exactly how they use the application
  • Read and clearly understand the release notes and/or other documentation for the upgrade
  • Figure out how the upgrade with impact how the application supports the business, the users, open problems/issues etc.
  • Plan the upgrade process
  • Meet with the users and other stakeholders to explain what you’ve learned and to review the plan
  • Establish excellent communications with all parties and stakeholders
  • Insist on the right resources available at the right time and in the right place to successfully execute the upgrade plan


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.


About Mark Davison

Mark Davison

After 25+ years of working on and leading projects primarily in IT, I'm establishing this blog to share knowledge, ideas, tips and techniques regarding how to turnaround and fix troubled and failed projects

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