In anticipation of my upcoming iPhone application release, I figured it was time to stand up a new website with the purpose of distributing my own brand of tools, templates, and talk. The Critical Path will remain as my blog. But, selling products requires branding. By following me on Twitter or reading this blog, I think people will enjoy the HueCubed brand.
At my last assignment, I was asked to compare 3 vendors and make a commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) product recommendation to the client. The client knew their budget and products they wanted evaluated. They didn’t know if the product capabilities were all marketing hype or if the products would indeed meet their needs.
When doing a product evaluation, I tell the customer they must help me do the following  List the specific business requirement(s) that must be satisfied by the COTS package. List the specific business data or information requirement(s) that the COTS package will need to support.  List the strategic and performance plans that must be met by the COTS package.  List the practices and processes the COTS package will compliment.
By detailing the information above, it demonstrates the requester thoroughly understands their needs.
The customer must then answer 2 critical questions that will impact the total cost of the implementation: Does the COTS package need to be modified to work with current practices and processes?  Do practices and processes have to be modified to work with the COTS package?
Some companies believe if you throw enough money at something, you can fix a problem. Spending a lot of money on a product to “fix” a bad business process just means you spent a lot of money and still have a bad business process.
The last thing you do is create a capability matrix to do a side-by-side comparison of products. Don’t paint yourself into a corner! Make sure you complete the Package Evaluation first so the details are available for others to review later. Give your stakeholders the facts.
Enjoy this free copy of my COTS Package Evaluation Template.
As I study the collection and reporting of metrics and project statuses, I find many reports just do not deliver what they should. I believe there should be a stand-alone deliverable that a project manager is able to provide to a stakeholder at any time, illustrating the total project status. I created a report and used the name “TPS Report” from the movie Office Space. I try to interject a little humor into a project, where I can, without raising too many eyebrows. Because I do not think I should keep all of the good stuff for myself, I hope others will download my free template. It captures everything from overall project status to schedule, budget, scope, and quality, including a RAG (Red, Amber or Green) status. What milestones were planned and accomplished? What is planned for the next period? Though I believe a subjective narrative does have its place in project reporting, I like the more objective approach. Give your stakeholders the facts!
Please enjoy this free copy of my Total Project Status Report Template.
I participated in a Communication Working Group session for the PMO today. Imagine a dozen people sitting around a table laughing for 10 minutes, when they realized I had shaved off my goatee. After the excitement subsided, we rolled up our sleeves and got to work. It was really quite refreshing to see how excited everyone was to be there. (We only had 4 people for the prior meeting) Ishikawa diagrams littered the walls and the smell of Scripto markers filled the air.
I can’t stress enough how important it is to have a Communications Management Plan. Feel free to download my template. If not, I recommend following the next 7 steps to write your own.
- List the project stakeholders and their associated roles and responsibilities
- Specify contact information for each stakeholder
- For each stakeholder identified, specify the information required to keep stakeholders informed and enable them to fulfill their project roles and responsibilities. Also, specify the timeframe, frequency, or trigger for distribution of the information.
- List the information that must be collected, summarized, and reported in order to produce the communication outputs that fulfill the stakeholder information requirements. Specify the associated collection and reporting details.
- List each report or document to be produced and distributed as a communication output to fulfill the stakeholder information requirements. Specify the associated distribution, storage, and disposition details.
- List and describe the distribution groups that will be used to distribute project information.
- Last, define all terms and acronyms required to interpret the Communication Management Plan properly.