Monday, October 22, 2007

PMI Talk @ PMPC 2007 Bangalore

I recently happened to be part of PMI's Bangalore chapter sponsored PMPC 2007 conference. PMPC stands for Project Management Professional Conference. Ever since i earned the PMP credentials earlier this year in May, I have started looking in the outside world for more best practices being adopted at various workplaces. As a mandatory requirement to CCR - Continuing Certification Requirements for PMP, i decided to join this conference. Having a tight schedule at work, i had to "struggle" a little to make myself join this conference. Before i joined this conference, i had absolutely no idea of attending any of such practitioner's conference. This conference proved to be a real eye opener to me.

In this 3 day long conference, two things came to my observation which i think gave a new dimension to my think process -
  1. The amount of project management we do in a software organization
  2. Smallest things we always overlook during project execution
I work for the software company where the average project team is never more than 20! I remember the time when i handled a maximum of 18 people team in Jan 2005 for one of our UK client. During the conference i happen to attend the presentations given by various organizations like ISRO (India Space Reasearch Organization), BIAL (bangalore international Airport Limited) and many others in construction and research industries. I was amazed with the kind of project management they do for their projects. We in the software industry are only focused on our projects and our teams and moreover our problems! I just cannot stop myself thinking that software industry is all hype! Yes it is more than what it should have been! We make a lot of publicity of our projects that hardly somewhere near to what space/ construction and reasearch projects in size, scope and risk.

In the space shuttle projects, the amount of communication, coordination and effort a project manager puts in is way ahead of any projects that a software industry does. Of course i am only talking about the IT projects done in various product/ project based software companies. Its often seen that any public-private projects like airport construction or indegenious launch vehicle designs have inherent complexities in implementation as it involves large number of stakeholders - almost all of them major! For such projects, a project manager needs lot of effort on planning and almost equal or more time on its execution. In constrast to the software project managers, these construction/ reasearch project managers are less equipped with tools and techniques. They probably do have minimal formal education but have huge experience and right skills. And thats the differentiating factor i believe. And still, software industry is very highly paid industry inspite of having least complications in the business!

The second observation that was highy eminent in the entire conference was quality awareness. Many of the presenters made it a point how we overlook the minute details. We always talk about various QA processes and standards right from ISO to CMMI to Six Sigma and what not! And still practically most of the software organizations strive for even fullfil the basic standards they claim to have. One of the presenter in the conference demonstrated a very simple defect analysis tool his organizatioin built. It was a very simple one screen-window tool but did amazing things which we always overlooked during the project execution. It simply use to take the basic inputs from the QA stages like nummber of test cases written, executed, passed, failed, reviewed etc. Using this data it generates nice graphs that would show you the various trends. These trends can easily forecast the reliability of the application we are developing. I have been building that type of reports for many years but i do not understand why it did not click me to build a nice little software that could do this in an automated fashion! I think now is the time i should make the resolution to do such handy tools myself - that will give me two advantages - i will get the tools that i need and hands on experience on the code that i will be writing. it has been long time i coded an application end to end :)

It is glad to see that PMI initiatives we took in our organization is really helping us understand and prepare ourselves to take on the challenging projects - deliver them successfully. I now believe PMI has really presented the best practices to the project management community.

Apart from the observations i made above, there were many small things that we noticed in the conference. May it be the projects performed by not for profit organizations like EMRI or Arvind eye hospital, or the projects undertaken by the real estate construction industry, the project management is really a challenge. It not only tests our skills, patience and capabilities but also helps grow ourselves as more refined individual personalities.

Though i have mentioned lot of good things i observed in the conference, i am disappointed with the way IT people get carried away with latest buzz words and so called trends. Most of speakers as well as audience in the conference were found talking about the PMO - a project management office and agile project management methodologies! To my surprise most of them were totally directionless. Someday i plan to write a detailed post for PMO but for the time being i redirect you to this link -

http://www.pmi.org/Pages/PMO-Growing-Pains.aspx
http://www.pmi.org/PDF/PMO%20Whitepaper.pdf

Before i conclude this post, i must reiterate - this conference was great to attend and i look forward for more such events to attend and spread the knowledge among my team endeavour and fellow practioners!