waking up + project management

was starting to make morning notes when Dylan showed up, and then Russ from Red Canoe found me. and now I’m sneaking into the project mgmt session right as it starts.

scope, time, cost.

gotta like a presenter who swears like a sailor.

human make things more complicated, and it just comes down to those three things.

why project management? to not waste time & money. this is geared towards freelancers & small studios, so I’ll need to be internally translating. (and thinking about my freelancing, too.) the problem of worrying about when you’re going to be done, and people breathing down your neck. (oh, crud I need to work on the weird stuff that Nathan found in his project. would be nice to finish before he goes to Aus.)

confirms work ethics. (?) we value working with you, not making this shit up as we go along. (I will say that having a promo schedule seems to make M & P happier.) makes for repeat customers.

failure! (“I must have been half-drunk when I did this slide.” ?!) problems with end dates, and it just keeps going on and on and on.

defining team roles. ah, but then again, there is the one-man-band. otoh, I know that our DEPARTMENT has gone from one-man-band to an actual team, and I’m not sure if as a team we’ve worked out the roles. other than the obvious.

scope creep. everybody’s favorite. “can we do one more….” and then not knowing the objectives of the project. goal: get more guys to buy deoderant: and does a new website meet that goal.

unstable funding. (this is where it’s kinda nice to be an open-source nut…and naturally a cheap bastard.)

4 D’s (hey, that’s the name of the computer store down the hill!)

Discovery: what is this thing? who’s working on it?

Design: starting to make the thing. reviewing.

Develop: making. (not sure of the difference.)

Deploy: launching the thing.

Discovery can include: kick-off meeting, a set date to start. hm. I don’t think I’ve ever had one of those. which sort of comes from my predeliction for the stealth project. but maybe I should have my own personal kick-off meetings.

(I have intranet thoughts rattling around in my head, and how to get a project started to improve it.)

project scope worksheet. fairly involved, series of questions. this reminds me of something…a file I used occasionally with college subsites. oooh, though: asking if the mission and the objectives match. kewl. I like this sheet a lot, it articulates things I often ask. (I’m really big right now on over-articulating.)

stakeholders. (on my last project, that was M, C, and P. and then after it launched, I actually found out about a stakeholder I hadn’t even known about! that was weird.)

he’s really going into agency stuff. interesting to think about this from the D-B point of view, though.

(oh, hey, it’s supposed to be really nice Sunday on. can’t wait to get back on my bike. sorta kinda wishing I had my bike here.)

the quality triangle! heh. cheap, fast, good: pick 2. fast + cheap = low quality. good + fast = expensive. cheap + good = long time. (the “spare” project. sounds like Paula, much as I love doing stuff for her.) he actually draws the triangle.

scheduling worksheet…can’t be found on this server. line-by-line tasks, etc. vs. big charts & graph. (gantt-a-licious!) as a way to determine who’s doing what and what else people can take on.

Q: how can you give an estimate before you actually know time requirements? he’s going on, but it sounds like guesstimating. previous projects and all that. plus the old classic of take the first guess and double or triple it.

Design: oh, he’s talking about “design” as the conceptual work. and project mgmt apps. MS Project makes sense in working with clients who also use Project. vs Basecamp as slimmed down & simple; easy for the client to see everything that’s going on. (I did enjoy it a lot with this last ENA newsletter.) clients & profits is designed for ad agencies & similar, and comes as either application or web version. studiometry, new, for running an entire studio. he loves OmniPlan, which is only Mac. ::sigh:: (is that from the omni outliner people? I really like that program.)

(my experience with things he doesn’t mention: I really enjoyed using Tasks Pro. I miss it a lot. I’ve also used…oh, I can’t remember the name of the top of my head…like Basecamp…oh, hey, it just came up: ActiveCollab. which is pretty nice; he uses it for personal stuff. somebody mentioned Copper and DotProject. I use numara footprints for work, which…yeah.)

Develop: he brings in testing here, which sort of contradicts yesterday’s sessions. this is the place where the schedule often goes off the rails. yeah, that’s been my experience too.

ah, technical difficulties. project timesheet. sooper-basic. like the way I’ve used slimtimer. (sorta kinda.) the power of paper. I’m fascinated by the development of a culture of paper amidst the computer people.

Deploy: like the resolution phase of a novel: critical, but kinda short. (my analogy, not his.)

keep a playbook. I like this idea. it fits with my own impulse towards journaling. something to come back to later to figure out what to do better. got the idea for a comic, who kept a book of his jokes and how long people laughed at each one. nice. (cognitive behavioral psychology: it shows up everywhere!)

re: question: he doesn’t do usability testing in his project. his commentary on this topic is craptacular. IMHO: throughout. another comment is that it should happen with use cases & wireframes. okay, here’s the deal: he’s an ad agency guy; I need to filter everything he says through that.

checkins, assign tasks. hoverers make people nervous. on a physical level, I’m really happy to be moving to a cubicle where I can see the entrance head-on.

let people screw up. the worst thing to say: “you shouldn’t code it that way”

preach time management. show by example. GTD. I like GTD, although I’m not terribly thorough about it.

weekly status meetings, the whole team. I have an instinctive loathing, but that comes from the freakishly dysfunctional staff meetings I have been at elsewhere. but it’s probably a good idea.

managing a meeting worksheet. hey, I was hoping he’d spend some time on that! (for the peanut gallery: Death by Meeting was corny, but useful.)

the client: assign THEM tasks. consistent communication. (this is where my dysfunctional thinking often gets in the way. hiding out because of fear of criticism. hm, maybe something for the log. because this has been very problematic with personal projects.)

one channel of communication. hm. dunno. I like being able to get materials directly from the DB designer. but otoh, is that the most effective thing?

Q: mismatch of communication preferences. you like email, they like phone. what to do? find the happy medium. for him it works well. and also double-cover in many instances: a phone conference, then with minutes by email.

Q: when decision-makers aren’t the single channel of communication. conference call. put that onto the client, to make sure the decision maker is in the right conversations. “this is what we need to do to give you a good product.” I’ve used that one with getting content from people, in combo with the not-psychic thing.

be honest.

and the classic: under-promise & over-deliver. I could get better at that!

staying organized. papers & files. this is where the GTD filing thing seems to help me a lot. I love the department labeler, too. interesting looking project folders, with a spiffy tab with all the info you need. a little bit overkill.

standardize file structure. stuff in the same spot for every project, naming conventions, etc. I’ve noticed that all of us have our own version of that. a worksheet for that, too.

tasks, this is where project mgmt apps come in. getting a hierarchy. another worksheet! list about GTD, DIY planners, Franklin Covey, etc.

retaining ideas. when do ideas arrive? car, bathroom, cooking…not at the computer. find some way to keep them! worksheet: his faves are index cards, sticky notes, moleskine, voice recorder. I like having a pad of paper handy, sticky notes, the MDA (I use Mobile Word way more than I would’ve expected).

“when shit goes wrong” (nice.)

stay “focued” lovely. that would be focused. talking about the cognitive issues, good self-talk. like leaving a burning building?!

don’t act too quickly. (as Hank used to say, count backward from 10 and focus on yr breathing.)

rely on staff, get them involved in fixing things, and keep them all informed.

don’t play blame game. creating a confrontational situation, which doesn’t help anybody. (tips in the anger chapter of book I’m reading.)

realize that something will have to be sacrificed, because something was miscalculated. no deus ex machina here!

then making a calculated decision, which flows out of all the rest of that.

“change order” which I think is an exceptionally dorky name.

make it official, get it in writing. only in serious situations effecting the big three: cost, time, scope. include details of change, cost, time needed on yr end & theirs, and then sigs all ’round, plus a date. (today’s date? yep.)

“projects can be as easy as you want to make them!” hrm.


Q: controlling scope creep from the art director to the production people? that’s where the buffer comes in.

he relies on the programs to keep track of whether stuff is overlapping. I could really stand for a project *calendar*. email folder per project. I do a bit of that.

Q: thinks traditional project mgmt hasn’t caught up to the interactive studio. digression about PMI…things they were teaching were way over what he needed to be doing. construction of a building, gov’t grants lasting months or years, when his projects can be as short as a week. focus on the basics!

I want to triangulate these notes with re-reading Art of PM.

more of a back & forth between speaker and this particular IA.