all right historical information. One of our greatest tools for being successful. Project managers learning from our mistakes. One of my favorite quotes is, um, I'm paraphrasing, probably badly, but the quote is something to the effect of the past teaches us nothing.
It's only introspection on the past where we have the opportunity to learn and grow. And I think that's so important because so many times we see the same thing happening again and again and again. And you just want to say, Did you learn nothing from the past? And sometimes we don't if you go back and you look at the damage with Hurricane Katrina
just wide spent spread, tragic loss of life, loss of
function, loss of business, loss of, you know, just loss, loss, loss. And then you see the same thing going on when we have losses with the floods in Nashville, the catastrophic flooding in Vermont in Hurricane Sandy and on and on and on,
and you see company after company go out of business because they don't have a well developed and established
business continuity plan. When you think, didn't you learn anything from watching this event or from that event and sometimes the answer is no.
All right, so we're gonna look at our historical information. We're gonna benefit from it so that we don't keep making the same mistakes again and again. Probably all heard. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over. And we think things are gonna be different this time. It's gonna work this time. Not always, not often.
All right. So the most important tool one of the most important tools in your toolkit is historical information. So what does that look like? Where do we store it? What is it? First of all, we keep our projects in an archive, were able to go back and say, You know what? Yet last year I worked for this customer. Let me go back and see how the project work.
How would the requirements to the customer give accurate requirements?
Were they accessible? Were they difficult to work with?
If we did not document that, and if we didn't document it? Well, we have no historical information off which to base our decisions and our efforts on we have to be forward thinking
our goal is to continue to work with the same customer and have them come back to us again and again and again. Anything that I can document that I learned from working with. This customer needs to be documented. Needs to be archived. Needs to be collected in a lessons learned file so that we can use it
after every project. I need to debrief my staff
whether it's in a meeting, whether it's through a series of surveys or follow up e mails. Tell me about your experience. Right. You were out in the field. I was directing the work, But you were the one out in the field. Tell me what you saw. You know who did this situation Where our estimates correct.
How did it go working with this particular vendor? Was he on time?
Was he always late? What can we do to move forward and be a little bit better every time?
How did we meet our quality objectives? Was our process good? Because we're doing the same thing we did last week. What do you think? We could change in the realm of quality? How could we introduce? Um
more accuracy in our estimates?
What about risks? Do we do a good job identifying potential risks and responding to them or worry blindsided out in the field. And we spend all our time putting out fires rather than producing value. We gotta document this. Now, please understand that not every project management file
is distributed to everyone, right? Many of our project management documents are on a need to know basis. So when I collect information and I document doesn't mean that I'm gonna follow up and send that out as an email to my customer and my sponsor. You know what? If I've got a customer that's very difficult to work with,
I need to know that because I'm gonna work with him in the future.
And when I've found a way to successfully work with that customer
that gets documented because I don't have to relearn that process again.
Not to mention the fact that for the good of the organization, everyone should be replaceable.
I should be able. Maybe I'm needed on another project. I'm on pulled off Project Day to go to Project B.
My replacement ought to be able to step in, look at the documentation and hit the ground running. You know, when we talk about this this idea of having repeatable, well defined methods in place, I think that really is an essential issue. Is having the documentation to support us.
A cost and duration estimations, lots of ways. We come up with estimates. You know, we may go to our subject matter expert and say, How long do you think that's gonna happen? You know, how long will it take to complete this activity? But we've already said that people do tend to underestimate. So
when you see something like pert estimation,
um, pert estimation again takes a look at the optimistic and the pessimistic and the most realistic. You know, I always think about that with driving home. I live in the D C area and I work across town.
How long will it take me to get home? Today?
What is the best case scenario? The wind is blowing in my direction. It's a sunny day. Schools out government holiday. I could get home in 20 minutes.
What's the worst case
if it snows here? I might as well just set up camp and live where I am because I'm not getting home. But let's just say in a normal day traffic accident. Worst case is three hours.
I've got a 20 minute best case. Three. Our worst case. Realistic. One hour. I've got to find a way to take all of those into consideration. And unless I do that, my accurate, then my estimate probably is not going to be accurate. And the per testament there's a little formula for it. Google it. You can look it up, but I'll just mention
that the pert estimate is the optimistic plus pessimistic,
plus four times realistic
divided by six. Now again, that may be meaningful to you were not Google it, but basically what it does is it gives your optimistic estimate a weight of one. You're pessimistic. Estimate a weight of one
and then you're realistic. Estimate away to four
and then you divide it by six. So long story short, whether you know that or not, it's not all that important, but the ideas that evaluates and that allows for somebody undercutting or underselling underestimating. And it takes into account, and ultimately, what you'll find, you get a more realistic estimation.
There are all sorts of estimations, some more accurate than others.
Analogies. Estimates are sometimes called top down and analogies. Estimate is not particularly with the goal of accuracy. It's more about having a quick starting point. How much you gonna charge me? Thio remodeled my kitchen.
with that type of estimate allows me to do is figure out if that's generally within my budget or not. Uh, yeah, I can't afford that. Or Okay, let's move from there
now. From there, we might look a bottom up estimate that essentially says, Let's look at all the pieces of work that go into remodeling the kitchen,
Add up the cost for each, and that will give me a much more accurate estimate. Okay, so bottom up estimates usually are more accurate. Resource estimation. A lot of the cost of our project goes back to looking at. Our resource is John makes $5 an hour. He's gonna work five hours.
So from a budget standpoint, that might be one of the things that I do.
Parametric estimation is plugging values into a formula, so you could mow one yard in an hour. You could mow two yards in two hours again, just pulling something off the top of my head. So the idea is, if you're gonna charge me a dollar per foot, you'll charge me $10 for 10 feet, plugging those numbers in
check with the people that have the experience. Go to your subject matter experts. And let me tell you when you go to subject matter experts one of the things to consider if you have multiple subject matter experts at your disposal think about letting them submit information to you anonymously.
People are more likely to be on anonymous honest when they are anonymous. So if you really want an accurate estimate and you've got 10 subject matter experts, how long would it take you to complete 10,000 lines of code
with a reasonable amount of errors within this level of tolerance? Hey, take those review Then people would be more honest if you let them be anonymous. Risk identification and management manager risks Manager risks manager risks.
Get a risk register in place, identify your risks,
then move into getting a value. Really, When I talk about risk management, I look att. Three main areas. I look att. Identify your risks. What are they and when identify my risks, Think about your threats and vulnerabilities. Okay, because really, you only have a risk if there's a threat and then a weakness that could exploit right,
so threats and vulnerabilities will help me figure out what risks there are.
Then I want to organize them based on probability and impact.
we had Ah, earthquake here in the D C area a couple of years ago.
Being somebody from the East Coast earthquakes kind of out of my realm of expectations. But the fact that we had one it's a least on my radar.
However, I still feel like the probability of us having an earthquakes pretty low. And even if we do historically, for the few that we've had in the last century, they've been very small impact.
So that is gonna be a risk that, even though identify it's gonna be very low priority.
However, if I am the manager of a data center, I've got to think about things like viruses. I've gotta think about things like hardware failure. If anything about user error band with his shoes, all of those things. There's a very high priority. Okay, so identify my risks, prioritized them, and I'm prioritizing them
first high medium and low.
Then I move into getting a monetary value an E M P expected monetary value.
So 50% chance I'm gonna lose $10,000. That's a $5000 risk because that quantitative analysis is what's gonna allow me to justify how much money I spend on mitigation or how much money I put away in reserves. In case that risk event materializes.
I need a dollar value
to figure out how much money I'm gonna spend on mitigation.
It all comes down to cost benefit announce. So work on identifying your risks. Do I know everything? Absolutely not. Go back to your subject matter expert again. Consider anonymous solicitation for information because, honestly, one of the risks that may come in is
Project Manager doesn't have the experience to blah, blah, blah.
Honestly, nobody's going to say that the meeting right? Nobody's going to say when I say, What's the biggest risk? Nobody's going to say you
But if this is a concern for 10 out of a 12 person staff, I better look in a dress that let your people give you information anonymously because that information has a value
if no other value than to realize this one employee doesn't have faith in me,
and I need to show that I am competent and professional and dealing with them. I need to find a way to manage that employees to my best interest.