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Last week we learned about PM Simplicity from Sean Henriques. We talked about the basic building block of his approach to managing projects. Now it's time to look at how he uses and implements this approach on his projects. We begin with project initiation and end... you guessed it... with project closing.
The PM Simplicity Guide is available for free at www.pmsimplicity.com.
PM Podcast Episode 142 Premium Transcript
Below are the first few pages of the transcript. The complete transcript is available to Premium subscribers only.
Cornelius Fichtner: Hello and welcome to this Premium Episode #142. I am Cornelius Fichtner.
This is The Project Management Podcast™ for the 26th of February 2010, nice to have you with us.
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Last week, we learned about PM Simplicity from Sean Henriques. We talked about the basic building blocks of his approach to managing projects in a more simple way. Now, it's time to look at how he uses and implements this approach on his actual projects. We begin with project initiation and then we end with, yeah, you guessed it: Project closing
Here we go.
Female voice: The Project Management Podcast’s feature Interview: Today with Sean Henriques, author of the PM Simplicity method.
Cornelius Fichtner: Hello Sean and welcome back to The Project Management Podcast™.
Sean Henriques: Thanks for having me, Cornelius.
Cornelius Fichtner: In our first interview, we did an overview of PM Simplicity and just as a reminder for everyone, www.pmsimplicity.com is the website where you can find Sean’s document and interview. Sean, you mentioned that one large project that you have been working on if I remember right, it was something with silos and communication problems, et cetera.
So we want to take a look at that project. Because in the first interview, we pretty much just said – what is PM simplicity. And now we want to see where the rubber meets the road. We want to take a look at how do you, the creator of PM Simplicity, in your daily work apply your principles? So tell us a little bit about this project that you mentioned earlier. Give us the 10,000-foot overview of what we’re talking about?
Sean Henriques: Sure, Cornelius. Basically, it was a large project and it was one of those projects that should have happened yesterday and it had to deal with basically a gap. There was a whole list of in-house developed applications and there was no common ID system or access to these applications. So we had a list of about, I don’t know if memory serves, 25, 30 applications where each one had their own database of users and security levels per user.
So the mandate from high and up was Sarbanes-Oxley, personal information. This can’t continue this way. We need all of the access to applications terminated when an employee is no longer at the company and it sounds like a relatively straightforward problem.
But unfortunately, because it was the applications that had to do with personally identifying information, we had to bring in the other silos, HR. We had to bring in Finance. We had to bring in Legal, in addition to IT. So that was really the bump in the project that increased the complexity a thousand-fold let’s say.
Cornelius Fichtner: Okay. This is really interesting for me because the three years of my last job that I had, I was the Product/Project Manager of an internal software that we used to do exactly what you said. So I have personal experience and you can still see the knives in my back of managing a project that does exactly, exactly what you have described.
So let’s do this. What we agreed upon is that we would go through the PMBOK style process. We begin with initiation and we finished with the closing process group there and take a look at what it was that you did by applying the PM Simplicity principles to your project and I try to stay out of it as much as I possibly can and not bring my project into this as well. So let’s start out with Initiation.
You mentioned that there were silos. I supposed that much of what you did in the initiation was try to bring these silos on board as early as possible, right?
Sean Henriques: Absolutely! One of the benefits to this particular type of project was it was a mandate so participation was not optional.
Cornelius Fichtner: So was it nice?
Sean Henriques: It’s nice and it doesn’t guarantee cooperation but participation’s guaranteed.
So basically during the definition of the project, we identified the problem. We identified the extent to which we’ve had to go through and track which applications would be affected by this and what was really crucial was the stakeholder analysis. It would have been very easy to just make assumptions about who was going to be impacted by this but really one of the key things that I brought during the initiation phase was spending quite a bit of time identifying all of the stakeholders and making sure they are brought in on the front end and not blindsided later on with a daunting task being asked to them at the last minute.
Cornelius Fichtner: Let me challenge you right here because what I have just heard is something that I could just as well read up in the PMBOK® Guide. Now, why is this PM simplicity?
Sean Henriques: Well basically the reason I call it as part of this methodology was that they part of stakeholder analysis was spending time with groups and making sure that they were accounted for.
The PMBOK® doesn’t really talk about, how do we say it, prioritizing the groups. They really talk about more about the actual deliverable but there’s a human aspect to this in making sure that the different stakeholder groups feel like they’re being heard and that even though they might be different statuses in the organization, different levels, you’ve got to try to equalize that so that was really a key factor. It’s almost being diplomatic in a way.
Cornelius Fichtner: Yeah, I agree. The PMBOK® Guide while it gives you everything plus the kitchen sink that you may need for your project, it’s very dry. It’s a textbook and yes, the human factor, the gut feeling that you need as a project manager, that’s not addressed at all in the PMBOK® Guide obviously.
Sean Henriques: It may even be larger than...
Cornelius Fichtner: Yes. Okay, so that’s initiation there. Are there any specific milestones that you are focused on or any particular output that you in PM Simplicity say this is what we definitely must have?
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