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

Dealing With Challenging People - Some Tips

by Mark Davison February 3. 2011 13:30
  • Remain positive
  • Pay close attention to their style, how they behave
  • Don't just hear what they are saying, listen
  • Think in terms of opportunities, not problems
  • Know how to leverage them to get the results we want and need
  • Be patient and understanding, flexible and tolerant, but don't loose your focus on deliverables and results
  • Be appreciative, say thank you


Example "Charge" To A Project Team

by Mark Davison February 3. 2011 13:29
  • Excellence - not mediocrity - in everything you do 
  • Meet and exceed the client's needs and expectations
  • Relentlessly provide the highest quality deliverables and results
  • Positive, cooperative attitude - don't be negative, condescending, or patronizing 
  • Do what it takes to get the job done
  • Be responsible and accountable
  • Don't be a know it all, listen and learn
  • Don't say one thing and do another, say what you will do and do what you say you will do
  • Leverage the credibility you have, the knowledge, experience, expertise that got you here
  • Be early for meetings and other events
  • Keep others informed - communicate
  • When you have team meetings or events, invite the “team” - don't leave members of the team out
  • Make sure the information and/or documents you pass to others and prepare for signoff are clear, accurate, thorough and complete - and keep documents and deliverables in sync
  • Teamwork - it's us, not “you“ and “them“
  • Practical, no nonsense, earn your stripes everyday
  • Produce deliverables and results within the project timeframes and budget, and at the appropriate quality and performance levels
  • Compliment and thank others, don't whine and complain
  • Make it happen!


Example Fields for an Issues List

by Mark Davison February 3. 2011 13:24
Action #
Sub Group
Date Logged
Logged By
Date Assigned
Assigned To
Target Date
Follow Up/Closing Comments
Date Completed


Example Contents for a Production Readiness and Backout Plan

by Mark Davison February 3. 2011 13:22
1.0 Product Overview/Goals/Objectives
  1.1 Project Summary
  1.2 Assumptions
2.0 Contact List (Business, IT)
3.0 Customer / Business Units Impacted
4.0 Escalation Chain and Process Flow
  4.1 Technical Escalation
    4.1.1 Support Contact Escalation
    4.1.2 Technical Management Escalation
    4.1.3    Business Management Escalation
5.0 Summary of Installation
6.0 Installation / Validation Schedule
7.0 Risks and Backout Plan
  7.1 Problem Reporting
    7.1.1 Network Issues
8.0 Checkpoint Schedule
9.0 Issue Tracking


Some Guiding Principles for the ERP Project Manager

by Mark Davison February 2. 2011 19:52
  1. Accept that some of ERP implementation is art, and some is science, and manage both
  2. Email is a great tool for communication but not a substitute for face-to-face and phone conversations that are often more effective
  3. Make sure the project team, end uses, stakeholders, and others are engaged to ensure buy-in and forward movement
  4. Do what it takes to keep enthusiasm and interest - it can be a long road - we've seen everything from picnics and parties, to redecorating the office, providing music and snacks, to contests and marching bands! 
  5. Ask for status and updates from everybody, frequently and in a curious way, to find out what's happening
  6. You're the PM - be the leader, spread the vision, embrace and promote the plan, come with an agenda, think ahead, encourage, support, guide, direct, set the example, make sure people get it, and lead the way forward
  7. Think about the relationships you'll need to succeed, build them early so that when you need to ask for help the foundation is there
  8. When it comes to a choice between technology and process don't forget that processes leads, technology is supposed to provide the tools
  9. The corollary is that sometimes it's great to apply technology and sophisticated solutions, but functional, technical, time and money requirements might be better satisfied by low-tech, quick-and-dirty solutions that can be just as good
  10. Recognize accomplishments - both big and small
  11. Thank others for their work and commitment



by Mark Davison February 2. 2011 19:28
10.  Has the operating system been updated?
9.  I can't test everything!
8.  THIS program can't do THAT
7.  I haven't touched that module
6.  Didn't I fix that yesterday?
5.  It worked yesterday
4.  The test data is wrong
3.  It must the wrong executable
2.  Somebody must have changed my code
1.  It must be user  error!


Don't Let Change Stop You

by Mark Davison February 2. 2011 15:37
- Understand it.  Learn the reasons why change is taking place, and change what you're doing to contribute.
- Think about what you can control.  Don't let the stress obscure your view of what you can control, and what you can't - then focus on what you can.
- Remember the consequences - they may not be pretty.


Example Generic Risk List

by Mark Davison February 2. 2011 14:59
Risk of taking action
Risk of not taking action
Benefits may not become reality
Costs of the project or technology are underestimated
Resources (internal, external) cannot perform
Technology cannot perform
Processes immature/cannot meet requirements
Security inadequate
Backup difficult/expensive
Insufficient utilities (electric, gas, etc.)
Privacy issues
Possible business downturn
Insufficient capital/funding
Lack clear definition of roles/responsibilities/decision making authority
Lack standards


Example Generic Constraint List

by Mark Davison February 2. 2011 14:55
Existing people, processes, technologies, equipment and facilities
Resistance to change (culture)
Lack of technology and process integration
Lack of meaningful measurements
Limited work space
Lack of previous project successes
Lack of management awareness/involvement
Lack strategic focus


PM Lessons Learned - A List

by Mark Davison February 2. 2011 14:52
Important to maintain standards
Keep users involved and informed
Follow/use the methodology for SDLC and PM
Follow/use workplans to manage schedules, resources and deliverables
Select vendors carefully - not your best friend, but the best qualified
Define success criteria
Get user ownership via sign offs, walk throughs and status meetings
Use all media to facilitate communications:  personal, electronic, etc.
Adapt to ongoing change
Measure what's important (what gets measured gets done)
Pause to share lessons learned, and incorporate them next time
Up front requirements defined well are essential
Have the "right" people on board to meet goals and objectives


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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