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Unconventional tools and tecniques for project managers

Presentation at Better Software 2010, Firenze. Web Project management shall not be bored by classic pm tools and techniques.

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Unconventional tools and tecniques for project managers

  1. 1. Unconventional tools and tecniques for project managers Francesco Ciriaci - Better Software 2010 - Firenze
  2. 2. A little about me • Managing Director and co-founder of Reflab • Core contributor to Plone CMS development • Designs web solutions and tools for international organizations • Working for Medecins Sans Frontieres, World Food Programme, UNDESA, ... • Working on MioMood (a crazy web startup) twitter: @fciriaci
  3. 3. About this talk • Continues “The fun of a Program Manager” talk (Better Software 2009) • Requires only some agile development knowledge • Aimed to project managers, mainly
  4. 4. Web projects • Short timeframes • High number of involved people (wide team) • Usually (too) many stakeholders • Complex
  5. 5. “The successful completion of specific project goals and objectives” Constraints (classic): • Scope • Time • Budget Planning, organizing, managing resources
  6. 6. and we have tools for: • planning • resource allocation • time-tracking • tasks and todos • communication (some)
  7. 7. One tool to rule them all... and in the darkness bind them.
  8. 8. Management and reality “We lose touch with reality as we estimate, negotiate, track progress, ...” The tools we are given to help our management can bind us and blind us.
  9. 9. But don’t get me wrong... • those are foundamental tools to have • I use quite a lot of them • some are particularly good to support agile
  10. 10. Project management is also: • identifing problems • solving problem (creating the conditions) • communication • motivate and get consensus In other words: “ good plan is only the a beginning of • manage expectations management” • ...
  11. 11. Projects #FAIL • Unrealistic estimates, schedules, staffing • Unmanaged change Agile development / agile design help to adress • Unclear scope and requirements many of those. • Unmanaged risks • Lack of executive commitment/involvement • Poor communication
  12. 12. Agile Manifesto #1: Individuals and interactions over processes and tools So why are we talking about tools and techniques here?
  13. 13. Agile principle #1 does not mean tools and techniques are not important... it might mean that they have to be flexibly chosen, adapted, even “created”. Stick to reality and be more creative!
  14. 14. Creativity within a framework • Corporate standards • Language • Distance • Simplicity • Availability of resources
  15. 15. Here is a pattern that man has used since the beginning of time to develop tools and techniques... applied to management. 1. Identify the challenges 2. Look for a tool or technique 3. Implement, evaluate 4. Iterate for every project
  16. 16. Let’s look at a few critical challenges we all face. Challenges
  17. 17. Challenge 1: Identify pitfalls asap
  18. 18. Project Tracking (Metrics) Tracking: Communication quality Risks Project Mood ... Tracking tools: Whiteboard Paper Webapps Excel ... Source:Visualizing Agile Projects using Kanban Boards by Kenji Haranabe (
  19. 19. Learning from failure • We identified a common communication & mood pattern (a.k.a. Pre-live Panic) • improved preparation and communication pre-live
  20. 20. Challenge 2: tasks fragmentation
  21. 21. Big visible tasks charts & visualization An eXtreme Programming technique too often underrated, imho.
  22. 22. Kanban Board Shared with customer... why not with all stakeholders in just a cleaner format? HINT: use visuals and the help of the designer to provide the project over view; stakeholders will understand a lot better Source: Visualizing Agile Projects using Kanban Boards than a report that often by Kenji Haranabe ( few reads.
  23. 23. Challenge 3: UX is everywhere vision over features
  24. 24. Informative Workspace Again coming from eXtrame Programming. Informative workspace can work great to put together not only developers but designers, information, architects, ...
  25. 25. Post-it
  26. 26. Whiteboards
  27. 27. Posters and illustrations
  28. 28. and whatever serves your goals Twitter for example...
  29. 29. Challenge 4: Stakeholders in web project = caos Project sponsor Marketing Sales Content Managers Editors User ...
  30. 30. What a tough meeting! Video
  31. 31. At lower scale: metaphors and the Theatre ability to create “visual” representations of the project. Everything that can help reduce the abstraction of our difficult domain.
  32. 32. Screenshots and photos
  33. 33. and again... whatever serves your goals
  34. 34. our model, our understanding
  35. 35. reality if we are very very good and lucky this is what we will have, right?
  36. 36. One tip I particularly like: “spend more time on the software you’re helping to build than on your PM tools.”
  37. 37. Thanks! Francesco Ciriaci Twitter: @fciriaci
  38. 38. Credits and resources • The agile manifesto ( • Why Web Projects Fail by Graham Oakes • Visualizing Agile Projects using Kanban Boards by Kenji Haranabe • Prediction Markets (Project Risk Management) by Inkling • Build Status Using Lava Lamps by Ken Nichols
  39. 39. *bonus tool, just for fun Lego planning