Monday, 25 August 2014 00:00

The Power of Now

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Time isn’t precious at all, because it is an illusion. What you perceive as precious is not time but the one point that is out of time: the Now. That is precious indeed. The more you are focused on time—past and future—the more you miss the Now, the most precious thing there is.
Eckhart Tolle

Project teams are often tasked with predicting the future in terms of delivering the project within the classic triple constraint: Time. Cost. Quality. Teams are tasked with doing this utilizing various software tools and also in the midst of the sea of technology that we all carry with us along with the latest and greatest social media apps. As a result of all these mental threads, we often attend our project team meetings pulling this entire cognitive load into the meeting room.

gallagherAug26The result is a room full of people, all of whom are multitasking and moving between the past (what happened yesterday) and the future (what will happen tomorrow) often missing the most important information (which was the point of coming together to the meeting in the first place). I have laughed out loud viewing online parodies of the types of meetings we all attend all the time. The reason they are so funny is because they are so true. It is very easy to become the parody, especially as technology enables this pattern and the speed that comes from the technology creates a social expectation that encourages it.

Monday, 25 August 2014 00:00

Planning is Not a Solo Activity

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Planning is something I have a love/hate relationship with. Done properly it is a thing of beauty: The team working together to plot a common path through a thicket of issues. An initially vigorous debate that eventually settles down as objections are countered and agreement is reached. Done badly it’s a dreadful sight. A Project Manager sitting alone at a computer cursing Microsoft Project.

Related concepts

It’s important to clearly distinguish a number of related concepts:

  • Planning is an activity in which the actions to be taken are developed in advance;
  • A Plan is some form of documentation that communicates the result of the planning activity;
  • Microsoft Project is a useful tool for producing some of the components expected in a plan, such as a Gantt[1] chart.

It should be clear from these descriptions that planning must come before a plan, and that entering scheduling information into Microsoft Project does not substitute for having an actual plan.

One of the critical roles of the Business Analyst (BA), or Enterprise Analyst (EA), in the area of Enterprise Analysis is to identify business need. Many business professionals make the mistake of thinking that since it is named Enterprise Analysis, that identifying business need can happen only at the enterprise level. Nothing could be further from the truth; Enterprise Analysis and identifying business need, can happen at the enterprise level, involve multiple lines of business within the organization but not the entire enterprise, and at the business unit level.

There are many factors, or many ways that the business analyst can identify business needs. It can be a result of market research or an identified new opportunity brought about by actions of a vendor or competitor. It could be derived from a strategic goal or initiative of the organization. It could have come from a business user complaint about a current system issue and/or the subsequent Root Cause Analysis. It could also be derived from an Enterprise Analysis activity that the BA performed, such as Capability Gap Analysis, SWOT Analysis or Product Feasibility Analysis.