More kudos for Pro.NET Best Practices (RT @ruthlesshelp)

Pro .NET Best Practices gets a great review from Tad Anderson in the .NET Developer’s Journal http://t.co/I0W5P4lL
I loved the reviewer’s lede:

I personally do not find software development an art form. It is not an unpredictable activity driven by crazy business users that come to work every day inventing a new way to operate their businesses just to savagely changing your requirements. Project teams that use changing requirements as an excuse for their dates constantly slipping and bugs being pushed to production are simply not good development teams and they are poorly managed.

Interview: Common obstacles PMs introduce

This question — about problems project managers impose on their projects — wraps up my interview with Stephen Ritchie (@ruthlesshelp, blog here). author of Pro .NET Best Practices (Amazon paperback & Kindle, Barnes & Noble).    Remember that Stephen describes a promotion to get 40-percent-off his book at his blog here.     I hope you all found it as interesting as I did:

What are common obstacles that project managers introduce into projects?

Haste. I like to say, “schedule pressure is the enemy of good design.” During project retrospectives, all too often, I find the primary technical design driver was haste. Not maintainability, not extensibility, not correctness, not performance … haste.  This common obstacle is a silent killer. It is the Sword of Damocles that … when push comes to shove … drives so many important design objectives underground or out the window.
 
Ironically, the haste is driven by an imagined or arbitrary deadline. I like to remind project managers and developers that for quick and dirty solutions … the dirty remains long after the quick is forgotten. Continue reading

Interview: Ruthlessly helpful project management

Continuing my interview with Stephen Ritchie (@ruthlesshelp, blog here). author of Pro .NET Best Practices (Amazon paperback & Kindle, Barnes & Noble).   Also, Stephen describes a promotion to get 40-percent-off his book at his blog here.    We turn to the project manager’s role:

Q: Can you give an example or three of how project managers can be “ruthlessly helpful” to their development teams?

A: Here are a few:
1) Insist that programmers, engineers and other technical folks go to the whiteboard. Have them draw out and diagram their thinking. “‘Can you draw it up for everyone to see?” Force them to share their mental image and understanding. You will find that others were making bad assumptions and inferences. Never assume that your development team is on the same page without literally forcing them to be on the same page.

2) Verify that every member of our development team is 100% confident that Continue reading

Interview: Why PM matters to developers

Continuing my interview with Stephen Ritchie (@ruthlesshelp, blog here). author of Pro .NET Best Practices (Amazon paperback & Kindle, Barnes & Noble).   Also, Stephen describes a promotion to get 40-percent-off his book at his blog here.  Here we focus on why he spent so much time on PM-relevant topics:

One of the pleasant surprises in the book was the early attention you paid to strategy, value, scope, deliverables and other project management touchstones. Why so much PM?

I find that adopting a new and different practice — in the hope that it’ll be ruthlessly helpful one — is an initiative, kinda like a micro-project. This can happen at so many levels … an individual developer, a technical leader, the project manager, the organization. Continue reading

Interview: Project Mgmt and Software Dev Best Practice

Continuing my interview with Stephen Ritchie (@ruthlesshelp, blog here). author of Pro .NET Best Practices (Amazon paperback & Kindle, Barnes & Noble).   Also, Stephen describes a promotion to get 40-percent-off his book at his blog here.  

If you’re a regular reader, you’ll know I’m wary of the term best practices.  Stephen is as well, and here’s his take:

Q: Your book’s title notwithstanding, you’re keen to move people away from the term “best practices.”  What is wrong with “best practices”?

A: My technical reviewer, Paul Apostolescu, asked me the same question. Paul often prompted me to really think things through.

I routinely avoid superlatives, like “best”, when dealing with programmers, engineers, and other left-brain dominant people. Far too often, a word like that becomes a huge diversion with heated discussions centering on the topic of what is the singularly best practice. It’s like that old saying, the enemy of the good is the best. Too much time is wasted searching for the best practice when there is clearly a better practice right in front of you.

A “ruthlessly helpful” practice is my pragmatist’s way of saying, let’s pick a new or different practice today because we know it pays dividends. Continue reading

Estimate rejection can be a good thing

Rui Silva has a short but sweet post on estimate rejection here.   I love his point that estimates must be “honest” because:

 When technical staff low-balls a project estimate, it denies the executives important information they need to make effective decisions, effectively undermining the executive’s decision-making authority. This results in diverting company resources from projects that are cost-justified to projects that aren’t cost-justified.

Own your project’s story (HT @MelanieDuzyj and @mkrigsman)

We all should know how critical project communication is to project success.   A compelling story can build strong sponsorship and sustain stakeholder commitment, even in the most challenging of circumstances (also see Michael Krigsman’s project success checklist) .  However, many project managers assume that their audiences — or even worse, key influencers and “re-communicators” — understand the story as well as they do.

The group blog at BlissPR has a useful post by Julie Johnson on “Getting the Details Right“.  I’ve often suggested that project managers leverage what their PR professionals more.  IMO, the ability to influence is an essential behavior for an initiative leader.  Why not listen and learn from people who know?

In this case, the lessons for driving accurate press coverage apply well to any project that needs to own and drive its story.  Simply substitute “project” for “company” or “industry”, and “stakeholders” for “media”. 

  • It’s more important than ever for a company to take control of its reputation – after all, you either control your reputation or someone else will
  • Educating media about a company or an industry can be even more important than garnering coverage
  • The story you tell must be simple – especially when the truth is complicated
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