My First Project Portfolio

PM ChangeAgent Commentary by Stacy Goff.
Many years ago (1973), in a Data Processing group in a local government organization we had several large projects. And, we also had a huge backlog of maintenance, support, and “quick fix” projects. For this backlog of projects, the priorities continually changed. The changes were so frequent that we could plan our week’s work on Monday, but by Friday, little of that work was complete. Why? Because of many new, “even more urgent” projects, and because of priority changes in our backlog.

We addressed this challenge by prototyping a solution: Keeping track of our “backlog” in (of all things) a box of punched cards. That was the primary input to many computer systems in those days. After we perfected the information we needed to track, we began to use an online version. In that era, online often meant a simple listing of card images on an 80-character screen. Unfortunately, our solution did little more than depress us—the backlog kept growing.

Lakein’s Inspiration

And then, several new books on Time Management emerged. We especially liked Alan Lakein’s How to Get Control of Your Time and Your Life. His insights, including better methods of prioritization, were inspiring. We added Urgency and Importance fields to our backlog list, with entries limited to 1, 2 and 3. 1 was most important or most urgent, and so on. Note that Alan Lakein used A, B and C for the three choices, we used 1, 2 and 3, because they could be more easily averaged. And, we required that all the entries must average 2, to force a sense of high, medium and low Urgency and Importance. Otherwise, everything would soon become Priority 1, destroying the value of the system.

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The Wonders of the Emperor Qin Project Portfolio

PM Commentary by Stacy Goff.
This article continues impressions from our recent trip to China. This time, we were there to honor PMRC, the Project Management Research Committee, and to celebrate their 20th Anniversary. We earlier mentioned the TerraCotta Warriors, a must-see adventure for any visitor to this part of China. And, there is much more to know about the founder of Xi’an, the heart of China’s governance for 2000 years.

The Rise Of Emperor Qin

We did our research before our visit, not wanting to be ignorant about this important part of China. Books in English about Xi’an are not as common as those covering Beijing, Shanghai, and other parts of this fascinating nation. Among the books we read, we found a very useful book, Xi’an, Shaanxi and the Terracotta Army. Written by Mooney, Maudsley and Hatherly, it is published by Odyssey Books and Guides, 2009. We liked this book because of its great blend of geology, geography, art, history, politics, and intrigue. Its description was absolutely great, covering the culture, tourist attractions, foods, and other facets unique to the area.

But the most interesting part was the story of Ying Zheng’s ascendance to his father’s throne as King Qin Shi Huangdi. By the way, Qin is pronounced Chin. He came to the throne in the year 246 BCE, and created a portfolio of projects that set the stage for unifying China as a nation. He began this at the age of 13. At that age, he would not yet even qualify for IPMA Young Crew. Over the next 25 years, he brought together (in battle) the Seven Warring States, and became China’s first Emperor.

Before proceeding, let’s clear up a bit about Emperor Qin’s name. Ling was his family name. Qin was the name of the state. Huang came from legends of three saintly sovereigns; Di came from legends of five saintly emperors. Shi? That means, the first. Such branding! Emperor Qin’s lasting impact was only partly based on his strong military power. His Dynasty was relatively short in duration—it expired quickly after he did. It is his wondrous portfolio of project results that has endured–such that still today, over 2000 years later, China benefits from his peoples’ achievements.

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A Rainbow of Different Purposes for Your PMO

PM Commentary by Stacy Goff.
In our previous post about PMOs, Program or Project Management Offices, we discussed the different flavors of PMOs. We made an assertion that everyone has one, but some are informal, rather than formal. And, the informal ones can be at least as effective as the formal ones. In this post, we discuss the different purposes of your PMO.

PMO Purposes

This summary list of purposes and services for your Program or Project Management Office (PMO) is from our customer services. I usually offer it as a coaching session for organizations that wish to establish or extend the effectiveness of their PMO.

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