Intro to Value Stream Mapping

The Critical Path

The Critical PathI’m in the process of doing a Current State Value Stream Mapping (VSM) for the PMO. The big questions are, based on the current state, are there areas we can improve? Can we eliminate any waste (or increase efficiencies) from our current processes? The answer to both questions is YES.  Everyone should be reviewing there processes on a regular basis, giving themselves opportunities to become more profitable.  Though I’m advising a Federal Government project, the American people still deserve the most bangs for their bucks.

Today is the last day for one of my projects.  It is done.  Now is the time to see what worked and what did not.  We now need to do a retrospective and see if we learned any lessons from the last go-around. I will give the vendor credit on this particular project. This small cross-functional team did a better job than others, in part, because we had a daily 15 minute status meeting. (otNay allowedway otay entionmay Agileway). One of the other program teams wastes so much time because they only communicate once a week in a 3 hour meeting.  I hope my VSM will change that.

For those new to Value Stream Mapping, I included a 5 minute video that does a pretty good job of explaining its value.  See how a process that took 140+ days to complete was shortened down to just 30 days.

If you don’t have your current process documented, you need to do it!  As the saying goes, “What cannot be measured cannot be improved”.  Don’t be complacent and accept the waste.  Times are tough and we need to think lean!

Like the drawing? Get it free at Pictofigo

What is in a Name


Hello my name is Derek HuetherThis weekend, I took the first step of rebranding myself. Some know me as Derek Huether the “PMP”; some as Derek Huether the “CSM”; some even refer to me as The Critical Path blogger or Zombie PM.

With the real risk of the Federal Government shutting down this next week, I’d be an idiot if I didn’t eat my own dogfood and have some kind of Risk Management strategy.  Though I may have to “accept” the risk, I will do what I can to mitigate it.

Because I am NOT a government employee, if there is a shutdown, I will NOT get paid.  When I heard about a possible shutdown, I remembered the similarities between grief and risk.  So, what needs to get done?  I need to get my resume and social links updated.  Wherever my name is, I need to make sure the message I’m sending reflects my current frame of mind.

When I look at LinkedIn profiles, it appears some people really love adding initials after their names.  I saw one fellow had no less than 6 acronyms after his name.  Though people in the industry may understand this alphabet soup, I think many are just annoyed by it.  I did a search on him and he really had nothing to say (publicly).  So, who is this guy?  What I see happening is he’ll be loaded into a database with everyone else and he’ll become nothing more than a keyword search.

Though I admit, that could happen to me as well.  I’ll do what I can not to pander to it.  I think people should be hired because of their personalities or because they are good culture fits.  I wouldn’t want to be hired because a hiring manager needed a body with a PMP or CSM.

I’m not going to turn my back on what I’ve learned over the years.  I will still champion the baseline information the pursuit of these certifications or accreditations exposed me to.  But, I’m not going to continue using them in my name.  It’s just not who I am.

Categories: Agile, Project Management Tags: Tags: , , ,

PMI Agile Project Professional Survey


The Project Management Institute (PMI) finally made the public announcement that they intend to have an Agile Project Professional “APP” certification.

Surprisingly, I have heard very little negative feedback. My questions? Do you think this new certification will be good or bad for either the Agile Community or the Traditional Project Management Community?

I created a survey form in Google Docs. After you enter your choices, you will have a chance to see what others selected. I thank you so very much for participating!


Thank you for your interest. This survey is now closed.  Here are the results.

Like the drawing? Get it free at Pictofigo

End Of The World As We Know It

Agile Project Professional

Agile Project ProfessionalAfter the public announcement last night, that PMI intends to create an agile project management certification,  I heard REM playing in the back of my head.  It’s the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine.  Though I will admit I was a bit nervous when I learned PMI was going to do an Agile certification, back in October (2010), I made my peace with it.  I came into the picture toward the tail end of the PMI Agile Project Professional (APP) process.  As Mike Cottmeyer stated on his blog,

We’ve had a ton of really smart people involved, people you’d know and respect in the agile community.

Those people worked really heard and I applaud them for their efforts.  As an independent reviewer of the competencies, techniques/tools, knowledge and skills, I can personally assure members of the Agile community that PMI is not trying to rewrite Agile as they know it.  It’s not perfect, but it’s a pretty damn good version 1.0!

For those who were not at the PMI North American Congress back in October (2010), there was strong representation by the Agile Community of Practice and a lot of curiosity, and might I add ignorance, by the average Congress attendee.  I didn’t find it surprising, considering there is a complete omission of the word “Agile” in PMI’s Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK®) version 4.0.

It is my hope that this new certification will provide that baseline understanding of Agile for many.  I do believe this is a step in the right direction.

Like the drawing? Get it free at Pictofigo

Categories: Agile, Project Management Tags: Tags: , , ,

Meetings: Get To The Point

No Comments
Free Meeting Minutes Template Trend Data

Upon a brief review of my site analytics, I noticed something striking. For the month of February, almost nine percent (9%) of my page views are for one thing:  Free Meeting Minutes Template

Back in March 2009, I wrote a post about helpful tips for running a meeting.  With it was a free copy of my meeting minutes template.  So, I think it’s time for a brief refresher with a few updates.

Free Meeting Minutes Template Trend Data

When Hosting a Meeting:

[1] Write out the purpose of the meeting with actionable events in mind.
e.g. “Provide an updated status, identifying risks and opportunities, and identify new action items.”

[2] Identify your attendee list but only keep those you can map to the actionable events listed in step 1.  There is a difference between an attendee list and a communications distribution list.

[3] Create an agenda.  Never schedule a meeting without a written agenda.
A meeting without an agenda is inefficient and a waste of time.

[4] Identify who will run the meeting and who will take notes.
It should not be the same person.  Both people should know their roles before the meeting begins.

[5] Ensure discussion points align to the agenda.
If the conversation drifts off topic, recommend taking the discussion to another forum.

[6] End the meeting by having the note taker read back discussion points and the action items.
Make sure there is a consensus before the meeting ends.

[7] Send out the meeting minutes within one to two days.
Consult your distribution list to ensure all necessary people get a copy.

As a disclaimer, I hate meetings.  Many are unnecessary.  But, when meetings are necessary, get them done as quickly as possible.  Get in, get to the point, get out, get back to work.

Bonus Recommendations:

[1] Start on time.
If you don’t start on time, you can’t finish on time.

[2] Do not schedule your meeting to end at the top or bottom of the hour.
I’m a fan of the 22 minute meeting.  Have meetings end a little early.  Some people need to get to other meeting and this will help prevent them from being late.

Team-Based or Value-Based

Profit Loss
Profit LossI’m currently reading a book about Systems Analysis and Design.  In a chapter discussing Agile Methods, one of the statements really rubbed me the wrong way.
The Agile Manifesto is a set of team-based principles…
For the last 6 or so years, I’ve assumed the Manifesto was a set of “value-based” principles.  That is, at its core, Agile is about delivering value or eliminating waste.  What I like about the Manifesto is it leaves a lot to interpretation.  It doesn’t spell thing out to the Nth degree.  But, I’m very curious what the community thinks.  How would you describe the principles?

Please leave a comment.  Tell me what you think.

Categories: Agile, Project Management Tags: Tags: , , , ,