Monday, June 30, 2008

Project Management Tool Review - plans

I've been trying to review all the project management tools I could come across....and most recently I've been reviewing some open source ones (since I'm trying to get some ideas for my own open source project management tool:

Here's the list to date:

I've either signed up, reviewed demos or installed (when possible) the open source versions). If anyone has any they would like to add with a short description please send a note.

Friday, June 27, 2008

It's easy to predict the past

I recently had a conversation with a global-warming type person...where he described how scientist have developed climate models that can now accurately predicate weather patterns for the last 200+ years (a validation that the model will work for 200 years in the future) response....(not politically correct perhaps) was that it's easy to predict the past. Then I started to think that this is the same thinking used for project planning...we use tools to predict the future based on the tool's ability to accurately predict the past. MS Project, if used to track past task, resource allocations, etc. is a good example of a tool to accurately predict the past...but not a good one for future looking events...why? Chaos theory? Most likely.

As Mr Einstein said We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.

Looking in the past we ask 'why' did something happen - looking in the future we should be asking 'how' can we make it happen. Different questions require different thinking, tools, etc.

What's the answer....

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Agile: Is, Is Not, May Be - by Ron Jefferies

When Ron speaks (and he's speaking loud and clear here) - people need to listen:

Best part:
Agile Software Development has as its highest priority the early and continuous production of working software. This is Agile's primary measure of progress. - Ron Jefferies

It doesn't get any clearer then that.

Monday, June 23, 2008

PM Framework - CCC

According to Wikipedia - A framework is a basic conceptual structure used to solve or address complex issues.

Here's my first attempt at creating a project management framework: CCC
  • Constrain - stop any additional damage from occuring
  • Control - gain control over the situation
  • Correct - put corrective measures in place

Seems simple. When project issues arise a project manager first needs to 'stop the bleeding', then gain control over the situation and then correct it. For example:
Issue: Scope Creep - a very typical occurance
  • Constrain via putting a stop to any changes to the plan or to what the developers are currently working on.
  • Control by communicating that all changes need to be communicated through you (the project manager)
  • Correct by putting proper Change Control in place (a weekly meeting where the project sponsors review the change requests and determine if the additional costs/time/etc. are justified.
I think good frameworks present the obvious in a simple way....the above is a set of steps often used by PM's during the course of any project, but at times forgotten when things are 'getting interesting'.

Sunday, June 22, 2008


I've been looking at various PHP frameworks (yes, I have time on my hands) - and finally found one I can really understand. It's the standard MVC (model/view/control) structure - has some helper apps and most of all GREAT TUTORIALS!. The frameworks I've looked at in some detail are:
  • Seagull
  • cakePHP
  • Symbol
  • Froop
  • CodeIgniter
My approach in review was to:
  • perform the basic google search - looking for reviews/comparisons
  • looking at wikipedia for any info
  • looking at each frameworks: intro, install, tutorials, forums and sites developed
I even downloaded them and gave them a test......end result was that within 45 minutes I had CodeIgniter downloaded, installed and tested with a small program....pretty amazing for a complex framework.

For a project manager, the selection of any technology - especially a critical project component - should be included in the planning. Don't rely on what has been done - focus on what could be done and what tools are best suited for the people performing the work. It's been stated by others that tools don't ensure success, but they help getting there.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Firefox 3

Download Day

You can't teach a pig to sing......

You can't teach a pig to sing. It's a waste of time and it annoys the pig. - source? unknown.

I was recently reminded of this old saying. A project manager's primary responsibility is not to provide singing lessons, but to evaluate if singing lessons were required, will have affect and will provide benefit....but sometimes you don't realize this prior to annoying the pig. Oink, oink little pig!

(image via

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Form follows function

I'm of the opinion that form follows function (aka - keep the fluffy site look away)'s some forms that tempt me to change my mind:

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Face Time

Communication...yes, communication. The most important ingredient in a successful project. I know I've been down this road before...but it never hurts to go down the right road again. I was just recently involved in a face-to-face, multi-team meeting which took place in the same room at the same time and the amount of progress made in those 2 hours far surpassed the prior 4 weeks of email and phone communication. Is it the fact that humans (yes us) require a high level of interaction to effectively work? Being close to someone reduces the instinct of focusing on something (anything) else? That people need proximity to realize and execute base nurturing instincts? Take it from the Duke:
  • you can't buy a person a beer over the phone
  • you can't easily shoot a person (or intimidate them) via email
  • you'll never realize how much riding a horse 12 hours a day makes you smelly and mean unless you're near someone (hopefully you'll realize then)
  • and you can't have a good knockdown bar fight looking and typing at a computer (time to go have some fun)

Monday, June 9, 2008

Work with people you trust OR work with people you trust

There is no truer statement in software development then: it's the people who make the project successful...not the process. A major issue arises when you work with people that you can not trust...I'm not talking about concern over lending them a dollar for a soda..I'm talking about trusting them to do the right thing, get the job done, provide truthful information that can be acted on, etc. The worst position a project manager can be in is where the pm can not trust the people on the team. If this occurs it's time to change the team or change teams.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Inspirational words from Teddy R.

It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat. - Theodore Roosevelt

Get your motor running.........

I first heard about Yubico - Yubikey on SecurityNow!...every time I look at the thing I think of a ignition key...plug it in and start your work type of thing. It's basically a plug in keyboard with intelligence if hooked into an OpenID provider. Multi-point authentication:
  • Something you have (Yubikey)
  • Something you know (user ID/password)

Simplicity and perfection...I highly recommend you listen to the SecurityNow podcast discussion this solution with one of the Yubico owners:

Monday, June 2, 2008

Yes - I'm famous

When I sent an email around about setting up the pm took in SourceForge, someone (not to be named) asked if it meant I was famous....well, I guess it does mean that (in a way).

All I need to do now is figure out subversion and how to use with NuSphere.........

another desktop replacement - Adobe

I tried it and I LIKE IT! It's still has some rough usability issues, but it's more then another nail in the coffin of desktop applications.....

Sunday, June 1, 2008