The expert

Written on 3 April 2014, 09:15am

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A short comedy movie where the main stakeholders in the engineering world are presented:
– the client with its unclear, unrealistic demands
– the top management with its superficial attitude
– the middle management with its poor understanding of the challenges and always trying to be on the right (top management) side
– and the poor engineer – the expert – who struggles to understand what the client really wants and to find creative solutions while coping with its superiors.

Project Management – aerial view

Written on 4 October 2013, 01:56pm

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What is a project?
– A temporary structure in the organization
– To create an unique product or service
– Under certain constraints (time, budget, scope, quality)

Why do we do projects?
To create a new and unique product or service, which will bring a benefit.
Turning ideas into reality.

What is Project Management?
The set of activities of planning, organizing, monitoring and managing the necessary resources and work to deliver specific project goals and objectives in an effective and efficient way.

What is the difference between effective and efficient?
Effective is doing the right thing. Efficient is doing it in the optimal way.

Why are we doing Project Management?
To maximize the chances that the project succeeds.

What is the role of the Project Manager?
To deliver; to make sure that the project succeeds.

What does it mean that the project succeeded?
The deliverables have been created under the time, budget, scope and quality constraints.
There is also the hapiness constraint, meaning that the project team is happy and will want to work again with the other team members and with the PM.

What’s the difference between Deliverables (Output) / Outcome / Benefit?
The outputs (deliverables) are products or services that introduce a change.
The change will result an outcome.
The benefits are the measurable improvements resulting from an outcome.

What happens after the projects ends?
Sometimes nothing (ex. when the project is about organising a team week-end party).
Some other times is goes in operational (maintenance) mode (example: after a software application is delivered, technical support and maintenance might be needed).

autumn trees

During my first half of the summer holidays, I took the opportunity to browse a few books in addition to reading my reader (which I am doing more or less daily). Doing this, I found a few things that influenced me and that I want to share.

1. Better than yesterday

The secret is to focus on making whatever it is you’re trying to improve
better today than it was yesterday. That’s it. It’s easy. And it’s possible
to be enthusiastic about taking real, tangible steps toward a distant goal.
book excerpt, PDF, 153KB

Where: The Passionate Programmer (2nd edition): Creating a Remarkable Career in Software Development by Chad Fowler.
Why: Because even if I have this principle embedded in my mind (see the first post of this blog: moving on to better things) and even if I used it successfully on multiple occasions – it’s always a good idea to highlight it.

2. Side projects

First, we love to complain about the type of work we get.
Whether assigned to us by a boss or work that we do for clients, we never
get to work on the cool stuff, the stuff that would inspire or excite us.
Second, we are full of bright ideas for the sites we work
on but are so often blocked by others on the project. We moan that they
don’t get it, that they don’t understand just how cool our ideas are.
I believe that side projects we do in our personal time
can be the answer to both of these issues.

Where: Side projects can cure our woes by Paul Boag.
Why: Because I agree with the importance of the side projects. In my free time, I am always working on at least one side project. Last example: the Ikea store locator

3. A long string of happy customers

The best thing for your career is a long string of happy customers
eager to recommend you because you did the right thing
by them and for the project. This goodwill will serve you orders
of magnitude better than the latest shiny object in the latest shiny
language or the latest shiny paradigm. While it is important, even
critical, to stay abreast of the latest trends and technologies this
should never happen at the cost of the customer.
-Chapter 1: Don’t Put Your Resume Ahead of the Requirements

Where: O’Reily’s 97 Things Every Software Architect Should Know – Collective Wisdom from the Experts by Richard Monson-Haefel
Why: Because I also see the importance of the happy customers.

4. Programmers have a lot on their minds

Programming languages, programming techniques, development
environments, coding style, tools, development process, deadlines,
meetings, software architecture, design patterns, team dynamics,
code, requirements, bugs, code quality. And more. A lot.

There is an art, craft, and science to programming that extends far
beyond the program. The act of programming marries the discrete world
of computers with the fluid world of human affairs. Programmers mediate
between the negotiated and uncertain truths of business and the crisp,
uncompromising domain of bits and bytes and higher constructed types.

Where: O’Reily’s 97 Things Every Programmer Should Know – Collective Wisdom from the Experts by Kevlin Henney (public wiki)
Why: Because the man is right 🙂 The programmers have indeed a lot on their minds…