Monthly Archives: October 2014

Tempo Timesheets introductory webinar video

Last thursday, 23rd of October 2014, we started hosting a new webinar series demoing our Tempo add-ons for JIRA. The series kicked off with an introductory Tempo Timesheets webinar. The agenda included a quick overview of Tempo, short demo for Tempo Timesheets, a talk from our Timesheets product owner on upcoming releases, and finally an open Q&A session.

In case you weren’t able to attend the Tempo Timesheets webinars, no worries! We’ve got you covered. Below is a recording of the event and some additional links to deep dive into our Tempo products.

All Q&A from the webinar and older webinar recordings can be found in our Tempo webinars space here.

Tempo Timesheets is available for JIRA Server and Cloud (monthly and subscription pricing is available for Cloud).

Free evaluations are available through the Atlassian Marketplace. What are you waiting for? Get started today!

SEE FOR YOURSELF

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The Tempo Blog

Video firm Kaltura achieves faster project turnaround with Clarizen V6

Read how open source video firm Kaltura’s upgrade to Clarizen V6 resulted in more efficient project communication, centralized document-based discussions, and faster project turnaround for clients.

project-management.jpg

Yehiam Shinder leads the Professional Services organization at the open source video firm Kaltura. With 50 dedicated staff members around the world, his group plays the crucial role of onboarding new customers and making sure their customized video solutions work, which demands effective and on-time project management.

“With thousands of customers, at any given point we are managing about 200 projects,” said Shinder. “This requires a lot of collaboration inside Professional Services, and also with other departments, like product development, R&D, IT, Customer Success, and the sales team.”

“Our Professional Services organization is actually one of the things that differentiates Kaltura from other online video platforms,” added Shinder. “We are experts at providing tailored solutions on top of the platforms that serve the customers.”

Kaltura’s primary challenges: allocating resources and collaborating effectively

“Our first major challenge,” said Shinder, “is to provide visibility and transparency for project resource utilization, to allow us to prioritize projects correctly, and to make sure that we deliver according to the customer’s needs.”

Kaltura Professional Services needed a “centralized project management solution for wide transparency and for all the stakeholders in the company,” according to Shinder. “At any given point, people need to understand where we are with a project.”

“In case we have to re-prioritize resources,” added Shinder, the organization needs to be “flexible and agile in order to move quickly to serve customers. So we require a tool that provides us with a clear status of where we are, and what our capabilities are, in terms of turnaround for customers.”

“Our second challenge is internal communication around projects,” said Shinder. “As you can imagine, every project involves extensive collaboration, starting from sales and sales engineers, to solution architects, developers, IT engineers, and product managers.”

“In order to manage this process and communicate between all the stakeholders,” explained Shinder, “we need a tool that allows people to collaborate, share ideas, and eventually decide upon action plans and move things forward.”

A solution to these challenges: upgrading to Clarizen V6

“We started with Clarizen Version 5 in 2011,” said Shinder. “Last year, when Clarizen V6 was introduced, we found it extremely helpful for managing internal communication.” Clarizen is a cloud-based, enterprise-level work collaboration and project management solutions provider based in San Mateo, California.

“In an organization like Kaltura,” explained Shinder, “in which we consult with professionals all over the world, Clarizen is crucial to our success. The discussion feature in Clarizen V6 actually allows us to overcome the challenge of collaborating efficiently.”

“I would emphasize,” added Shinder, “that this is a key feature in Clarizen, which makes it easier to manage an organization like ours.”

Shinder described the upgrade to Clarizen V6. “We worked with our customers and our account manager at Clarizen to define the upgrade plan. Actually, I was very impressed with the process.”

“Clarizen introduced the V6 Training Box (PDF),” said Shinder, “which actually allowed us to configure all of our specific workflows. We now have many customized workflows that we built on top of Clarizen, including configurations with other platforms like Salesforce. During a period of around a month, we worked closely with Clarizen to implement all of our customizations on the Training Box.”

“We created a working group,” added Shinder, “of Kaltura project managers, developers, solution architects, and others to take part in Clarizen’s ‘friendly beta’ program and contribute feedback about how they would like to see V6.”

“The beta program allowed our people to provide feedback prior to the actual upgrade,” explained Shinder. “This helped us improve our Clarizen experience in the shift to V6.”

“We had a very smooth transition,” said Shinder, “because people actually knew how to use Clarizen V6 the day we launched. I must say, as the responsible person at Kaltura, this was a very risky move, and I was very concerned that we would have struggles and problems after the shift.”

“I have to say,” added Shinder, “that we’ve had very few issues after the upgrade, because of all the preparation and the attention that we got from Clarizen during the operation.”

Results of the Clarizen V6 upgrade

Social collaboration: faster turnaround time

“The main benefit of Clarizen V6,” said Shinder, “is the social module, the discussion module, which is great.”

“Instead of using several tools,” explained Shinder, “we actually moved everything to be managed through Clarizen’s discussion module, which allows us to define and devise action items. This is a major improvement in Clarizen V6. This allows us to streamline the way we work, to reduce turnaround time, and come out with quick solutions for the customers.

“With the collaboration feature in Clarizen,” said Shinder, “you can follow up on discussions and take actions. It also allows everyone during business hours to quickly get up to speed on actions taken, sometimes in different time zones, and take further actions. So it is really useful to see all this information stored in one place for one project.”

Document collaboration: annotations with a single tool

“There is also a strong improvement around editing documents in V6,” added Shinder. “It has improved annotations, and we can actually collaborate on top of the documents. So if it’s a solution document or a business requirement document, we can actually manage all the discussions and back and forth. Instead of emails we actually use the annotation function in Clarizen. That’s a powerful feature.”

New V6 user interface: personalized views based on role

“Another benefit is the user interface (UI) uplift in Clarizen V6,” said Shinder. “This allows people to tailor their views to specific roles and needs so that everyone can consult on that view and personalize it. We got amazing feedback from our users about the improved UI, compared to Version 5.”

Excel Add-in: simpler data queries

“With Clarizen we are moving into data-driven management,” explained Shinder. “We tend to make decisions based on where the data is.

“Clarizen’s feature, the Excel Add-in,” said Shinder, “allows us to easily query and search data around the projects, project budgets, and team utilization. So we actually use Clarizen as the infrastructure for many of our KPIs in Kaltura Professional Services. This is another key feature driving our organization.”

Also read

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Project Management on TechRepublic

Project Server 2013 September 2014 CU Released and webcast news

News from the “makers” of Project
Great PSI samples and programmabilty discussion
Christophe brings great field knowledge to the Project blog space
Real Life Tales of Project Server
The Project Partner Blog from Jan Kalis!
Microsoft Enterprise Project & Portfolio Management Solution (Project Server, Project Portfolio Server and SharePoint) – Blog by PJ Mistry
Blog from the team that bring you Office SPs and CUs
Advision
Spanish Project Support Blog
French Project Support Blog
German Project Support Blog
Microsoft Project Server, SharePoint, Security and other cool things
All About Enterprise Project Management (EPM)
About MS Project – Life after the Installation
Sam Huffman (MVP)’s Blog
Andrew Lavinsky (MVP)’s Blog
Alex Burton (MVP)’s Blog
Jim Aksel (MVP)’s Blog
Jack Dahlgren (MVP)’s Blog
Nenad Trajkovski (MVP)’s Blog
Michael Wharton (MVP) Blog
Paul Mather MVP Blog
Peter Charquero Kestenholz’s Blog

The release post for the Project 2013, Project Server 2013, Project 2010 and Project Server 2010 September 2014 Cumulative Update (CU) is posted over at Microsoft Project Server 2010 and 2013 September 2014 CU Announcement.

Also for those who missed it, we did a webcast earlier this week where Adrian talked about fixes in this release and also the August and July CU’s too – and I talked about some changes in Project Online.  I’ll attach the ppt here shortly, and the recording is available at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VZTgYXwu0GE&feature=youtu.be&list=PL_BmUqQrmneZHJoQ3Lfll77nfG09g8Cp9.  Look out too for some upcoming Microsoft Virtual Academy sessions for Project Online.

Support Webcast, What's New with Project Online and Project Server 2013

The next webcast date has been changed from that announced on the call – and will not be December 9th rather than the 16th – and that should be the day the December CU is released.  On that call we will again talk about new stuff in Project Online as well as the fixes released in October, November and December for Project and Project Server 2013.

Enjoy!

Hi Brian, great webcast, keep up the good work! Just one question: this page (support.office.com/…/where-did-the-bi-center-site-go-in-project-online–4b71a920-d603-4ffd-b2ab-654e398c73d5) was there yesterday, but now it seems to no longer exist. Where can we find this info? Thanks!

Hi Hester, might have been a temporary glitch – it appears to be working now – let me know if it continues to be an issue.

Best regards,

Brian.

Hi Brian,

Thanks for the update with latest CU and Project Online, good things coming!

However, few points I would like to ask in more detail:

1. CU fix for resource plans left as checked-out with IE 1 or 11. Have you noticed similar behavior with Project Online? We have customers in Project Online who use IE 10 or 11 and they seem to have the same issue.

2. Some of our customers (including our own demo environment) have faced issue where the Resource Plan is sort of “inactive” meaning that the page is light-grey colored and all the ribbon features are inactive. This also checkes Resource Plan out, but naturally can’t check it in, since Close button is inactive. Any thoughts on this. This has been occuring both with IE 11 and Google Chrome.

BR,

Mikko

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Brian Smith’s Microsoft Project Support Blog

Robots for PM

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-bMAGsLEtkLk/S-BU6kIkGhI/AAAAAAAAAHg/rK8QOjQy83o/s72-c/dilbert

Should we laugh?

 


Robot to Dilbert: “I have come to micromanage you.

But only until I replace you with a robot and turn you into furniture”

Dilbert to Boss: “On the plus side, he has a plan and communicates well”

 

Dilbert by Scott Adams


Bookmark this on Delicious

Read in the library at Square Peg Consulting about these books I’ve written

Buy them at any online book retailer!
http://www.sqpegconsulting.com
Read my contribution to the Flashblog

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Musings on project management

SEP Project Management Blog: Getting even more value from your daily standup…

Many teams around here are familiar with the “famous 3″ standup questions…

  1. What did you do yesterday?
  2. What will you do today?
  3. What impediments do you have?

This is a good way to get the team in the habit of communicating each day.

A few of my teams have gotten even more value out of our standup by changing the “famous 3″. I have seen this wonderful shift in the team’s intention of a standup when the questions have changed slightly…

  1. What did you learn yesterday?
  2. How are you contributing to our (sprint/iteration/release/etc.) goal?
  3. Is there anything we should swarm on?

So what is the difference, why does the second set of questions improve the standup?

Instead of talking about the status (which should be visible on your Kanban board or ALM tool), the discussions are about the goals and about learning. Now that the intention of the standup is a focus on goals and learning, we have an environment where people are propelling each other in the same direction.

Looking a little deeper…

  • We want to know what you learned because you are certainly learning something new each day about your code/tools/team/etc….and we could all benefit from sharing that.
  • We want to focus on our upcoming goals because we need to stay focused on our vision.
  • And we want to know what the team should swarm on because together we can make more happen with less effort.

I’m certain there are other ways to achieve similar results…but by changing your daily standup questions, the team grows together, swarms on issues together, and achieves their goals together.

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Software Project Management Planet aggregator

What can we do with a “mispointed” story in Scrum?

TL;DR

Mis-estimates happen. Small variations in the accuracy of your estimates should be expected, and can be absorbed by your process if you aren’t over-committing. However, large variations in accuracy or wildly inaccurate estimates are a process problem that should be addressed by the whole Scrum Team, including the Product Owner.

In addition, you may not have a well-articulated Sprint Goal. Managing estimates and backlog items in the absence of a defined Sprint Goal for each Sprint is an exercise in futility. Don’t do that.

Identifying Invalid Estimates

A single Sprint Backlog item should never be sized larger than about 2-3 business days. The rule of thumb is that each task on the backlog should be “done” or “not-done” in 1/2 day to 2 days, so you should have a good idea within a couple of days whether a story is on track or not.

During the daily stand-up, stories that are slipping should be identified. In addition, your Sprint Backlog or Kanban board should clearly identify stories in progress that are stuck so that the team can address any impediments.

Scrum, like other methodologies, expects a certain amount of slack in your process to keep flow smooth. A slightly mis-estimated story can usually be absorbed without fuss, but wild miscalculations require more disruptive techniques to manage them.

As an informal rule of thumb, if your Sprint burn-down is out of whack by more than 30%, or if you have a single critical-path story that’s more than 50% over estimate, then it’s probably worth escalating the matter. Even if the team recovers from the miscalculations during the current Sprint, it should be grist for the mill at your next Sprint Retrospective.

Handling Invalid Estimates

An improperly-estimated story should be identified within 2-6 business days. Allowing a task to slip 200% without triggering some action or awareness within the team would just be silly.

At that point, you should:

  1. Determine whether the story is essential to the Sprint Goal.

    If not, discuss pulling it from the current Sprint with the Product Owner. You can do this together so long as it doesn’t compromise the Sprint Goal.

  2. Re-estimate the task.

    If the story is essential to the Sprint Goal, you should take 10-15 minutes with the team to re-estimate the story to determine if the story can fit within the current Sprint, with or without changes to the Sprint Backlog.

  3. Add capacity by trimming other scope.

    If your story is essential, but you have other stories that aren’t, the Product Owner can eject the non-essential stories to trim scope. In addition, you may be able to trim scope from a variety of Sprint Backlog items without compromising the Sprint Goal.

  4. Request an early termination of the current Sprint.

    If the story is essential to the Sprint Goal, and sufficient scope can’t be trimmed to finish the story within the current Sprint, then you should request that the Product Owner call an Early Termination to the Sprint, followed by a Sprint Retrospective and a return to Sprint Planning.

Formally Re-Estimating Unfinished Stories

Any story that is not done by the end of a Sprint is returned to the Product Backlog for disposition by the Product Owner. The Product Owner may de-prioritize or re-scope the story, remove it from the backlog, or may choose to put it back at the top of the Product Backlog for inclusion in the next Sprint.

If the story remains in scope for your next Sprint, then it should be re-estimated and decomposed again during the Spring Planning process, just like any other story. Hopefully, the Scrum Team will have a better handle on it the second time around, and the estimates and decomposed tasks should be more reliable.

If a story makes the rounds a third time, then you have a bigger process problem than a single mis-estimated story. Fix that.

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Active questions tagged scrum – Project Management Stack Exchange

Resource Management in Microsoft Project Server 2010

http://i.ytimg.com/vi/4Rvb1PLYVv8/default

This video provides a high level overview of Microsoft Project Server 2010 and focuses in on Resource Management. This area is a major pain point for many or…
Video Rating: 4 / 5

More videos available at http://www.sharepoint-videos.com In today’s project-centric work environment, the ability to coordinate multiple projects with distr…

ShowMeNow: 06 – Project and Portfolio Management

Video Rating: 5 / 5

Meta-Debate at Work


by

Workplace discussions sometimes take the form of informal debate, in which parties who initially have different perspectives try to arrive at a shared perspective. Meta-debate is one way things can go wrong.

The signing of the Paris Peace Accords

The signing of the Paris Peace Accords on January 27, 1973, ending the Vietnam War. The talks spanned a period of almost five years. There were serious difficulties from the outset, as the parties could not even agree on the shape of the conference table. It is this episode that gave rise to the phrase: “We’re arguing over the shape of the table.”

Certainly discussing the shape of the table is an example of meta-debate. But in the case of these peace talks, it might also have served a strategic function for both parties. They were engaged in a war of attrition, and probably each hoped to wear down the other. Meta-debates often serve strategic functions.

Photo courtesy U.S. National Archives and Records Administration.

At work, many discussions — especially discussions in meetings — are actually informal debates. They’re informal because they lack specified structure. We exchange views, usually seeking resolutions that satisfy everyone. There are rules governing the exchange, but they’re rarely explicit, and even when they are explicit, we usually regard them as common sense and social custom.

Sometimes a participant comments about the propriety of a contribution. For example, Malcolm might object to Teresa’s assertion by saying, “How does that square with what you said about this last month?” Malcolm is demanding that Teresa’s current position be consistent with a prior position. In his attempt to prevail in the current informal debate, Malcolm is invoking a previously unstated “rule” regarding positional consistency. He has entered the meta-debate: the debate about the rules of debate.

Certainly it’s reasonable to wonder about positional inconsistencies. Inquiring about them must be permissible if we want to achieve clarity and enhance understanding. However, we often make such inquiries not in pursuit of understanding, but in pursuit of debate victories — to “score points.” It’s the intention to score points that distinguishes honest inquiry from meta-debate.

Other patterns of meta-debate include calling out one’s debate partner for these unfair tactics:

  • Using rhetorical fallacies
  • Using abusive, insulting, or inappropriate language
  • Characterizing or labeling a debate partner, instead of directly addressing the issue
  • Raising issues that defocus the discussion
  • Raising one’s voice
  • Using intimidation tactics
  • Citing powerful people as “proof” of an assertion’s validity

Such tactics are often destructive, whether employed intentionally, or out of ignorance or negligence. But calling out one’s debate partners for using these tactics is probably counterproductive. Calling out one’s debate partners
for using these tactics is
probably counterproductive
To anyone who used these tactics out of ignorance or negligence, identifying the tactic can feel like an accusation or personal criticism. Some might respond defensively. The person who uses these tactics intentionally is even more likely to respond defensively.

Prevention, in the form of general education about informal debate, is usually more constructive. Include guidelines for fair debate in communications training, or in a team’s behavioral norms. Or recruit a neutral facilitator who knows how to keep a group discussion respectful.

But what if someone uses unfair tactics? If you’re a bystander or facilitator — not directly involved in the exchange — you’re in the best position to act. For bystanders or facilitators, identifying unfair tactics isn’t really meta-debate, because they aren’t participating. They can intervene, saying that they believe that someone has used unfair tactics, and describing what they saw or heard. They can ask that the parties to agree to debate fairly, to ensure that they arrive at a conclusion that has a sound foundation. If you’re directly engaged in the debate yourself, ask a bystander for help.

Caution: if the person using unfair tactics has organizational power superior to your own, objecting to unfair tactics might be unwise. Use discretion. Go to top  Top  Next issue: Rationalizing Creativity at Work: Part I  Next Issue
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Some of the questions we ask each other aren’t intended to elicit information from the respondent. Rather, they’re poorly disguised attacks intended to harm the respondent politically, and advance the questioner’s political agenda. Here’s part one a catalog of some favorite tactics.


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See also Conflict Management and Effective Meetings for more related articles.

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The Race to the South Pole: Ten Lessons for Project Managers
On 14The Race to the Pole: Ten Lessons for Project Managers December 1911, four men led by Roald Amundsen reached the South Pole. Thirty-five days later, Robert F. Scott and four others followed. Amundsen had won the race to the pole. Amundsen’s party returned to base on 26 January 1912. Scott’s party perished. As historical drama, why this happened is interesting enough, but to project managers, the story is fascinating. Lessons abound. Read more about this program. Here’s an upcoming date for this program:
The Politics of Meetings for People Who Hate Politics
ThereThe Politics of Meetings for People Who Hate Politics‘s a lot more to running an effective meeting than having the right room, the right equipment, and the right people. With meetings, the whole really is more than the sum of its parts. How the parts interact with each other and with external elements is as important as the parts themselves. And those interactions are the essence of politics for meetings. This program explores techniques for leading meetings that are based on understanding political interactions, and using that knowledge effectively to meet organizational goals. Read more about this program. Here’s an upcoming date for this program:

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Life at Work: People, Projects, Politics and Pressure

Four end user types that are IT project productivity killers

Skillful IT projects managers learn to recognize wasteful user patterns that can quickly derail or undo IT projects. Get tips on managing these difficult users.

agile_projectmanagement_091913.jpg

IT should always respect its internal customers, and produce applications that meet their business needs. Nevertheless, there are end user “sand traps” that skilled IT project managers learn to recognize and preempt. These end users can become productivity threats and even risks to IT projects.

Who are these difficult users, what behaviors do they engage in, and how do you manage them? Here’s what you need to know.

1: The Perpetual Enhancer

When projects first go live, there is a cleanup period of typically 60-90 days when bugs are uncovered by users and must be resolved by IT. “Analysis paralysis” users don’t accept the project is in a bug fixing maintenance mode; instead, they want to further “perfect” the project by introducing new enhancements. This is known as enhancement creep, and it can destroy project accomplishments, as well as the IT manager’s ability to control the project. This negatively impacts IT productivity, and it can be bad for business because the end stakeholders are not taking ownership of their system.

Tip: You should pencil in absolute cutover dates for projects and get signed end user agreements to these dates up front.

2: The Non-Participator

Non-participators are so busy with their daily work that they don’t devote quality time to review new applications. This is an IT productivity risk at the start of projects, because if the user doesn’t come to the table with a list of specific business requirements that he needs from the system before it’s purchased or built, IT is in the precarious position of having to figure out something that will work. Sooner or later, this user makes his opinions heard, though it’s usually after the system has been implemented, and he’s telling IT the system doesn’t meet his needs.

Tip: You should demand collaborative leadership for the project up front, and refuse to advance to the next project step until after input and signoff from the user.

3: The Over-Participator

This is typically the frustrated business manager who formerly consulted on PCs when he was in college, and can’t resist getting hands-on in IT. He will have suggestions about technology, and may even try to micro-manage.

Tip: You should carefully orchestrate meetings and project events so these users stay on task. Whatever you do, don’t be arrogant and disregard their suggestions without listening to them. This may not always be the kind of user help that you need, but sometimes these individuals come up with great ideas.

4: The Poor Communicator

This IT user or non-IT user has critical information for the project but either fails to convey it or explains it very poorly, exposing the IT project team to failure. While there are people who are just poor communicators, most poor communications result from individuals being careless or feeling that, deep down, they aren’t in favor of the project.

Tip: You should insist on clear communications and signoffs before moving projects forward.

What other end user types would you add to my list of IT project productivity killers? Let us know in the discussion.

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Project Management on TechRepublic