Value Proposition for the Expensive Meeting


I got a lot of feedback from people after they read of my $17,902 meeting post.  I spoke to a few others in my office and they all agreed that the number sounded plausible. As I’m writing my proposal for corrective action, I will deliver it in the form of a value proposition.

A value proposition is an analysis and quantified review of the benefits, costs and value that “something” an organization can deliver to customers and other constituent groups within and outside of the organization. It is also a positioning of value, where Value = Benefits / Cost (cost includes risk).  (Thank you Wikipedia for basis of that definition)

But, it’s not as simple deliverable.

I use 7 stages of analysis.

  • Customer or market – Who am I creating the value proposition for?
  • Customer or market value – What do they say they value? (not what I say they value)
  • Offering – What is the product or service being proposed?
  • Benefits – What are the benefits? (Time, Money, Productivity,…)
  • Alternatives – What substitutes or alternatives are there? (like doing nothing)
  • Differentiation – How is my proposal different from anything else being offered?
  • Proof – What evidence do I have that I can do what you say?

In this case, I’m going to request a formal review of the Communications Plan, modifying it if necessary.  Because this is a status meeting (which is about reporting by one-way communication) not everyone needs to be there in person.  Before I go deep into my analysis, I’m going to bet I can apply the Pareto principle (80-20 rule) to get my point across.

If we do not devalue the benefit of the meeting, we can increase the overall value by decreasing cost.  That decreasing of cost, I would propose, would be asking 32 out of the 40 people to not attend the meeting in person.  By having 8 key linchpins (as defined by Seth Godin) attend this meeting, we could ensure the status is delivered and the message is not lost.

Other indirect communication methods could be used to ensure the information is distributed.  The slide deck and meeting minutes could be posted to a central location, allowing those who didn’t attend the meeting in person to know what happened.  Whatever the final outcome, there is a big opportunity for cost savings.

Graphic: Pictofigo

Free High Quality Hand Drawings


While trying to locate some graphics for a recent blog post, I received a notification from Twitter that an account called Pictofigo had followed me.  Curious about who they were, I checked out the Pictofigo website. This was exactly what I was looking for!  Pictofigo provides high quality freehand drawings for project managers, presenters, and web designers in an easy and efficient way. It is 100% free but I would recommend making a donation to keep them motivated.  If I was an adviser to their organization, I would recommend they establish a paid tier and start charging for their product.  With just 172 drawings (graphics) in their database, I would love to see their product offerings grow.

The graphics remind me a lot of a very cool tool called Balsamiq.  You can use Balsamiq to create mockups of websites or applications.  I haven’t personally used Balsamiq so maybe I’ll contact them to see if I can do a review of their product.  In the meantime, you can go to Pictofigo now and get some graphics.

Graphic: Pictofigo

Week of the Elephant


I’m not sure of the origin, but as I was watching an adventure race years ago, I heard an awesome quote.  One of the contestants was asked how he was able to trek a 300 mile course, navigating so many obstacles through so much adversity.  His reply was “even an elephant can be eaten, if you do it a bite at a time“.   Though I try not to whip that quote out every time one of my colleagues appears stuck on a project, I do like to bring it out for special occasions.  I think this may be one of them.

3 things happened this week, that rate the reference:  Work during the day, school, and work during the night.

By day, I’m an adviser to a Federal Project Management Office.  I’m not in a position to tell government employees what they should or should not do.  It’s my job to advise and support them in any way I can.  This week, they asked me to attend an invoice meeting.  This wasn’t a surprise.  Upon reviewing the vendor’s invoice from last month, I wasn’t satisfied the Billing of Materials (BOM).  There was a lot of stuff ordered and I am very particular about asset management.  I recommended a 7 figure short pay.  I don’t think it’s important to be specific about the amount.  My client decided to do a 6 figure short pay.  At the 2 hour meeting, we went line by line and the vendor offered corrective actions for items I recommended not be paid.  I accepted some of their proposed corrective actions but they still need to deliver on some promised if they want all of the invoice paid.  One month down, another to go.

Our son started Kindergarten this week. We weren’t sure how he was going to take to it.  Until Monday of this week, we were convinced he was going to be crying at the bus stop, wanting to say home with Mommy.  We figured he’d come around in time.  Monday arrive and so did the bus.  He ran aboard almost before we could give a hug and a kiss goodbye.  He returned some 8 hours later and ran off the bus with a big smile on his face.  The adventures that boy had!  Here it is Friday night and he’s fast asleep.  One week down, 16 years to go.

At night, I find myself reading the PMBOK® or project management blogs and writing PHP, CSS, and JavaScript. Back in March of 2009, I realized I wanted to create something to help project managers on a grand scale.  That’s when I started doing mockups and wireframes for what was to become the HueCubed engine and PMPrep Flashcards.  One year later we launched version 1.0.  This week I worked on 2 new jQuery elements and tonight deployed v1.2.12.  The web application has been progressing nicely and both customers and affiliates are signing up.  Though I never thought we’d get to v1.0, I now do an iterative build and deployment at least once a week.

For those interested, I still have plans for a PMPrep Exam Simulator web app and Prince2 Flashcard web app.  And yes, we’re going to be doing an iPhone application.

Graphic: South African Tours and Travel

Expense of Meetings


I just came from a monthly meeting, scheduled to last 2.5 hours.  I counted 40 people in the room, ranging from administrative assistants to top executives.  I wanted to do an unscientific estimate of the cost of the meeting.  I used Meetordie (meet or die) to arrive at my total.  (Thank you to Deanne Earle of Unlike Before for telling me of the site) I plugged in a few simple values and… the meeting had an estimated cost of $17,904.  The information provided by the vendor, from my perspective, was not worth nearly $18,000.  Please realize this is a required monthly meeting.

The slide deck was distributed to everyone on the project via email, allowing them to review the materials at their leisure.  They do need to be kept informed.  But, instead of going about their day, many who received the slide deck came to the meeting.  We all sat in a room as the vendor read from the slides.  Now, this was no Steve Jobs keynote address.  The vendor pretty much read word-for-word off the slides.

Just because the vendor may be contractually obligated to have this meeting, they should propose an alternative to what they’re doing.  There either needs to be more value or less cost associated with this meeting.

Thoughts or comments?

Graphic: Pictofigo

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Lawfulgood PMP Level 5


After reading a blog post by Dennis Stevens, I suddenly realized one of things about the family of PMI certifications that has been bothering me.  The family of credentials does not lend itself to the Dreyfus Model.  Dennis offered really compelling arguments about what does certification imply, about people who can’t or won’t earn certifications, and what he calls tilting at windmills.

The Dreyfus Skill Acquisition Model, which Dennis references, identifies five stages of competence:

Novice: Rigid adherence to taught rules or plans.  No exercise of discretionary judgment.

Advanced beginner: Limited situational perception. All aspects of work treated separately with equal importance.

Competent: Coping with crowdedness (multiple activities, accumulation of information). Some perception of actions in relation to goals. Deliberate planning. Formulates routines.

Proficient: Holistic view of situation. Prioritizes importance of aspects.  Perceives deviations from the normal pattern. Employs maxims for guidance, with meanings that adapt to the situation at hand.

Expert: Transcends reliance on rules, guidelines, and maxims. Intuitive grasp of situations based on deep, tacit understanding. Has vision of what is possible. Uses analytical approaches in new situations or in case of problems.

PMI currently has 5 certifications.  You don’t need to be an active PMI member (currently at 318,421) to hold one of these certification.  To get one of these credentials, you need to meet some educational and experience requirements and then pass a written exam.  Only the Program Management Professional requires a panel review.

Certification Total Active
Project Management Professional (PMP) 389,726
Certified Associate Project Manager (CAPM) 11,785
PMI Risk Management Professional (PMI-RPM) 393
PMI Scheduling Professional (PMI-SP) 327
Program Management Professional (PgMP) 436

What is missing here is some continuity between the credentials and something that indicates the level of expertise.  There is a difference between a PMP who met the minimum experience requirements and one who has been practicing in the profession for 20 years.  Would calling someone a Lawfulgood PMP level 5 with a 20 wisdom and 30 charisma help?  I’m not proposing we pull credential titles form Dungeon and Dragons, but rather something that will give the laymen an idea of experience.

Do I have an example?  I absolutely do!  Check out the International Consortium of Agile (ICAgile).  They are proposing a 3-phased, skill-based, certification.  If PMI borrowed from this model, the CAPM would be part of phase 1 (Associate), RPM, SP, and PMP would be part of phase 2 (Professional), and PgMP would be phase 3 (Expert).  PMI wouldn’t necessarily have to mimic this framework exactly, but do you see how it puts it all into context?  If there would be a mighty uproar by the PMP community, suddenly being demoted to associate level, you could identify them as a PMP-1 or PMP-2, depending on which knowledge area(s) they have been certified in.

Any thoughts or comments?

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Looking for clouds in a silver lining

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For all of the haters and nay-sayers out there in the world, not every silver lining has to have a cloud. Regardless of what you say, I will continue to have a blind optimism of the world.  I will do what I can, with the time and budget I have.

Here’s a quote for you.  I don’t plan on doing this every day.  So, just enjoy it and shut up.

“Around here, however, we don’t look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things… and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”

–Walt Disney

Graphic: Frog Design

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