Tagged: Windows Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Dean Waye 5:21 pm on September 26, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: brian wansink, , Business and Finance, Business model, Cialdini, clay shirky, , , , , , Windows   

    Is Project Management Peaking? 

    Arthur Rudolph

    Image via Wikipedia

    After catching up on Brian’s progress, I started wondering if my own job was easy to outsource to the other side of the world, and decided it wasn’t. Well, it is, though not really. But I started doing a little thought experiment on what might make it obsolete altogether.

    The Thought Experiment: What could make most software project managers obsolete?

    Project managers, in the best cases, can add a lot of value. The best (paid) ones manage undertakings that are either:

    (1) complex, and would surely never happen without someone experienced in the challenges and tools to manage them

    (2) necessary, but hard to make a profit on, without someone who knows how to do that

    (3) fraught with risk, where the PM’s main contribution is to manage the project in a way that avoids loss or ‘failure’

    The above are general enough to suggest that PMs will always be with us. But can a case be made that 10 years from now, most won’t?

    There are a lot of project managers in the world today. There are nearly half a million PMP-certified ones, and most people in a project management role today are not PMP-certified.

    For #1 above, what if complexity gave way to smaller sized efforts? The inefficiency of communications between departments, teams, individuals, or countries yields once the complexity subsides.

    Likewise for #2 and #3, more and more software profits are based on services and other add-ons, where ‘regular’ managers with some project management knowledge could become the norm.

    #1 The March Toward Less Complexity

    These are the questions that are on my mind. Because I read a Wired magazine article a few weeks ago that showed how it is traffic from smartphone apps, not web surfing, that cellular networks are groaning under. And because of an article a few weeks ago about how more and more software development is being based on the iPhone/Android model of strictly defined frameworks (the smartphone/tablet operating systems) instead of more general frameworks like Windows, and that this is being done to protect users from malware as well as handset/tablet/iPad manufacturers from the general bugginess Windows users face. The same security model will, I think, become popular across all software, not just phones and tablets, and while it’s good overall, there are implications.

    Also, apps are less complex in general that other software. They tend to be single purpose, and the definition of a successful one isn’t that it does everything, but that it does something well that you find useful. As those companies (or more often individual coders) try to add in more features, they quickly run up against limits on the device itself. In most cases, they create additional apps, instead of bloating their latest success.

    What could this mean for high-end project managers? Maybe very little for the very best of them, because there will always be some complex projects needed, somewhere. Even if it is primarily to care for the current complex systems. After all, there are still people making a living with buggy whips.

    For the lower-end project managers, it might even be a boon, and these are often the types of location-independent project management jobs that can indeed be sent to a different country.

    But for those in the middle it could mean their ranks will be thinned out. As usual, the middle is the most dangerous place to be. Take out complexity, and you’re left with depending on inefficiency for your job’s value. Since much of the inefficiency is due to the size of the community or bureaucracy those PMs deal with, when it is reduced, so is their value.

    If I was in the middle right now, I’d make a 5 year plan to move up the value chain, move down (by relocating to a cheaper place), or move out.

    #2 The Project Manager Yields to the Profit Manager

    Making a profit is hard. Most project managers whom I know never have to think about doing it. Staying within budget, yes. Adding profit, no.

    Staying within budget is like being on the cost of side an enterprise, instead of the revenue side. In every enterprise, there are the people who focus on cost containment/reduction, and the ones who focus on revenue generation. Some management people have to do both, but generally it’s one or the other. The head of HR isn’t thinking about revenue creation, the head of Sales doesn’t care what paperclips cost. No matter who you are, you are one side of this split.

    If your interest, as a project manager, is on cost containment, then the (merely possible, granted) reduction in complexity as a general trend means this role is less necessary than before. Another reality of our modern life lately, the freemium, means the pressure to find additional ways to create a profit will grow.

    Personally, this is where I contribute most of my value as a project manager*, whichever company I am working for, and it’s tricky. At the last company I worked, I eventually had an entire system fashioned for myself, never shared**, that had me bringing in extra revenue for my employer amounting to 10x my salary. I have been sitting on the article I wrote about how to do it for a while now, because I am sure it would kill my career. It was 100% ethically conducted, but why even let the topic come up in conversation with a customer?

    #3 If I Wasn’t Here, You’d Be Screwed

    This where most of the project managers I know live. Their ultimate role is to manage or protect the project against loss, financial, time, or otherwise, by keeping things moving in the right direction. It’s hard work. It’s time consuming, maybe even life consuming. And it’s thankless. It really is a thankless job. But somebody’s got to do it.

    But what is that somebody isn’t you?

    What if the general trend really is toward smaller, less complex, inside tighter frameworks? Or what if the general business model is moving away from high priced services and toward offshore project managers where the first taste is free? If I lived in this space, I’d be the most concerned. Not only could the general trending be against my favor, but most of the project managers in my world are in the same boat, so there’s going to be price competition for the jobs I want. Price competition is bad.

    If either or both of #1 and #2 come true, depending on #3 for your value to the enterprise becomes risky. I could even argue that we see this already… how many project managers now run multiple smaller projects, where neither is big enough to justify their salary?  Specifically, how many of us have seen this become more common over the past few years? I know I have.

    Relax, Maybe I’m Wrong

    I could be completely off base, by the way. Maybe projects will become more complex. Maybe profits will become easier to create (okay, I’m being facetious about that one). Maybe the PM role won’t change much over the next decade.

    Maybe. But I still feel better having thought about the what-if.


    * Interesting note: percentage of project management job listings online that mention the word profit anywhere? Zero.

    (** If you are interested in the basics, you can contact me, but you can’t publish it anywhere. It’s a blending of lessons from this book, and this one, and this one. Oh, and what triggered this post’s creation was the first 3 chapters of “Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations, by Clay Shirky. It wasn’t new stuff, it just triggered the other memories. But maybe it would be new stuff to you…)

     
  • Dean Waye 12:02 am on September 13, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Business Services, Company, , Kronos Incorporated, , , , , , , Windows   

    Dear LinkedIn.com, How Should I Write Recommendations? 

    Image representing LinkedIn as depicted in Cru...

    Image via CrunchBase

    Dear LinkedIn Colleagues,

    I wrote my first personal recommendation on linkedin.com 7 years ago, in October 2003. Since then, I have written at least 35.

    My early ones were lousy.  Over time they improved,  when I re-thought the audience. At first I was writing for you. Later, I started writing for your prospective hiring managers, in a friendlier tone, highlighting fewer things about you, but hopefully doing a better job overall.

    I think I have gotten better over time. But practice makes perfect. I’ll rewrite yours, if you are one of the early ones 🙂

    * A short note. People are, in general, bad at requesting these recommendations. Virtually no one knows what they want highlighted. Instead, it’s left up to me. In those cases, you have to take what you get. So please take a moment to consider what you want someone to say to your next boss on your behalf. Also, unfortunately, LinkedIn.com recommendations have zero feedback available. So we never know if anyone reads them, likes them, hates them, or even notices them. Maybe LinkedIn can address that in a future release.

    Here are some examples of what I have written for others, in chronological order.

    1. October 2003, for Raj Vennam at Darden: Raj has the tenacity and sunny personality that make for a great coder.

    [sorry Raj, you deserved better]

    Same day, for Uday Shivaswamy at Microsoft: Uday is one of the best programmers I have ever worked with. Very cerebral, with quick insights. [This one had a typo, that I fixed today, after 7 years!]

    2. February, 2004, a little better, this time for Roy Crippen at Digital Fusion: Roy really set the model for me on what a CEO is and does… broad strokes, vision, incredible people skills, and integrity. I’ve measured every other boss against him, and most can’t measure up.

    3. December, 2005, for Rich Bergmann, programmer extraordinaire: When I needed answers about solving a tough software problem, Rich’s answers were the only ones I trusted. He was the only person we all trusted. If Rich said it was possible, you went back to your desk and worked harder. If you still couldn’t figure it out, Rich was always there to help you. If I had ever been as good a programmer as Rich, I probably wouldn’t have moved into management.

    4. February, 2007, for Nader Hooshmand at Kronos: For me, Nader defines conscientiousness and tirelessness. He cares about every aspect of his job. I’m not sure how he does it. He throws himself into it, I’m not sure he ever sleeps, and he’s one of the smartest people I have ever met. Promoting him to be a practice manager was probably the easiest decision his boss made that year.

    5. May, 2007, for Aaron Fausz at Kronos: Change Management is such a difficult field to excel in… blending the science and art of it takes a certain kind of person, and a certain kind of approach. When I choose people to wade into my customer’s organization, I’m very picky. I have to be. I want someone who has perfected the art of “think fast, but talk slow”. That’s Aaron. He’s the only one I know who expertly does both, so all types of businesspeople feel they are in good hands.

    6. December, 2008, for Uta Grzanna, a former client: None of the multinationals (GE, Honeywell, etc.), governments, or tech clients I ever had at Kronos knew as much about, found as many flaws with, or offered as many solutions to our software’s architecture as Ute. She’s ‘that’ client… the one that keeps pushing you to be better: better designed, better implemented, better supported. If I had my time back I would chosen her as my FIRST Kronos client…  having done the work required to make her happy, I could have cruised through my remaining years at Kronos 🙂

    7. August, 2009, for Sudhamen Chandrasekaran at InfoSys/Time Warner CableWhen Sudhaman QAs your product, you end up treating him like he’s the actual customer… a true pain in the ass customer. He treats your product like he’s the one buying it, and picks at it from end to end. He shines a light on every nook and cranny, and writes you up for every little deviation from the spec. And he doesn’t back down.

    If he wasn’t such a super nice guy, you’d wish he would fall in front of a bus. But somehow he manages to be tough and picky and pleasant, all at the same time.

    8. Last month, for Charlie Shaw, PMP:  Charlie is the project manager I always think of when I think about the PMI, and my own PMP certification.  For me he has always been the PM’s PM. The standard bearer of the PMI Way.  And the project manager you look to when you need the job The Right Way.

    9. Yesterday, for Usman Bashir at Time Warner Cable: Someday, Usman needs to do my job for a day. And I need to do his. Someday, Usman will have to give up that fabled deep-focus thing he does, and handle all the trivia and minutiae and cheerleading and threatening I do, and I will get to focus solely and deeply on that day’s problem until I emerge on the other side with the simplest, most elegant answer ever seen. And manage to know the latest cricket scores at the same time.

    Someday… but likely not.


    So.. the later ones are better than the early ones, right? I hope so. Later, I will tell you the secret behind the recommendations others have posted for me.

    *Something occurred to me. This blog is indexed by Google within an hour after the article posts… if your name is mentioned above, this post will soon show up whenever someone Googles you. Try it.

     
  • Dean Waye 12:00 am on September 3, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , iPod Touch, iTunes, ITunes Store, , Operating system, Patch (computing), Windows   

    Dear Apple, Why Does iTunes Need 90MB Downloads to ‘Update’? 

    Ipod Touch at Apple Store

    Image via Wikipedia

    Dear Apple,

    Nice work on the iPod Touch, it’s a great device. I have the 64MB version, and it’s been very handy while traveling. My Evo has made my Touch mostly obsolete, but nice work nonetheless.

    I confess, I rarely buy music from you. I don’t mean that I steal it instead, I just prefer to use subscription services.

    But I do use iTunes a lot, for podcasts. And I don’t understand this quirk about the software: why, when it needs to upgrade, do I have to download such a huge file?

    Seriously, that’s not an upgrade, it’s a re-installation of a whole program. I update my iPod Touch apps all the time, and that’s a small effort. I update Windows every month, and that’s a small update (usually). Even when Windows needs to restart, it’s the operating system, so an occasional restart is fine.

    I’ve worked in the software industry my entire adult life, and I can’t understand this one. You really can’t just issue a patch that replaces the files or libraries that need it, and leave it at that? It has to be a 90MB+ download?

    I bet this is a way to ensure no one calls you after a failed update , or maybe you don’t trust customers not to mess it up somehow. But really, if even Microsoft can do this well, surely you can, too. Yeah, I said Microsoft…seriously, have you no pride?

    Related Articles

     
c
Compose new post
j
Next post/Next comment
k
Previous post/Previous comment
r
Reply
e
Edit
o
Show/Hide comments
t
Go to top
l
Go to login
h
Show/Hide help
shift + esc
Cancel
%d bloggers like this: