Archive for December, 2014

Secure the Team Talent Your Project Requires

Posted on: December 30th, 2014 by admin No Comments

Project Manager and Talent

A project’s success ultimately is with the talent of the team and the project manager.  There are more team members, only one project manager, and the team carries the bulk of the work even if the project manager is responsible.  The composition of the team is the very important.  Talent constraints are very real; many companies have gone through “right-sizing” many times and are operating with lean resources.  Successfully fighting for the appropriate talent on behalf of the project is fundamental to project success.  We are not only talking about the appropriate skill set but also in the correct proportion or amount.  That does not mean large amount of multitasking on key personnel and that does not mean booking that key talent greater than 80% capacity without considering the consequences.

Talent Availability does Not Always Mean Available

Chances for success are not improved just because you are informed the talent is available to you.  In fact, you may find out the hard way that the talent is available to you — and several other simultaneous projects.  Meaning, the talent you relied upon may not really be secured for your project work.  Question what available means to understand if the project really has what it needs for success.

Talent Planning and Growth

If an organization has training and succession plans, it is possible there are human talents being groomed to bolster any short supply of a specific talent.  These may not be quite up for the challenge, but can be augmented with existing talents.  However, experience suggests that many organizations do not have effective plans or execute well to grow these other talents.

 

Effective training improves the capability of your organization.

Effective training improves the capability of your organization.

 

Talent and Outsource

We may be able to find the talent our project needs via outsourcing hiring contractors either internal to the company or external to our company, for example XDIN-USA.  For internal staff are embedded directly into your company and project. For external, the talent will reside offsite but will still be connected directly to the project team. Both can be an appropriate solution to talent shortage.

Summary

Getting the right talent and hours for your project is important.  If you can not convince the sponsor to support your talent needs, help them evaluate their priorities.  Perhaps this project should be delayed until talent is available or outright terminated.

Risk Management Class

Posted on: December 29th, 2014 by admin 1 Comment

Risk Management Class

 

The course will train managers how to use assessment and prioritization techniques in creating a risk management plan. The course will also cover ways to evoke the potential risks from a team, and how to objectively assess the impact.

 

 

Common Tools Can Improve Performance

Posted on: December 22nd, 2014 by admin 2 Comments

Tools and Improvement

I have seen companies go through great gyrations to improve the efficiency and effectively of their projects and as a result their organization. For large distributed companies or company subsidiaries, the ability to easily share information and details can save considerable time and trauma. One example is recounted in a story about the Airbus A380 but if that is not enough, I will share another recent example.

Connect the Team via Tools

Consider a vertically integrated company that is a company that has the supply chain integrated into one company. One part of the company provides sub assemblies to another part of the company that produces a final product for the customer. Think about how the configuration management or change management would be coordinated if the fundamental tools were the same – for example the requirements management information. If these different but connected parts of the company used a common requirement and change management tool. The decomposition and mapping of the requirements as well as any change to those over time are more readily found. With disparate systems or an ad hoc approach regarding requirements management, experience suggests, is who you know or about access to specific tool and data storage areas. Finding this out requires time and changes in one of the subsystems not articulated to the depending systems can cost plenty as we try to make this work.

Conclusion of Tools

We are not saying that tools solve all problems, but disparate collection of tools among team players is less helpful and coordinated an effort.  You need not take complicated measures to improve your company’s efficiency and effectively.  Start by getting past “we do it our way here” approach.  Converge on a product life cycle management tool in which the entire team, developers, testing, manufacturing and sales support can access.  Everybody can see how the parts will go together and changes that are coming.  Doing this manually takes time and invariably, experience suggests, will result in a mistake.

Project Management of Complex and Embedded Systems

Posted on: December 22nd, 2014 by admin No Comments

Our book Project Management of Complex and Embedded Systems

 

Scrum (Agile) Project Management book review

Posted on: December 21st, 2014 by admin No Comments

Scrum Project Management book reviews

 

Configuration Management Book on the way!

Posted on: December 20th, 2014 by admin 1 Comment

The early testimonials for our Configuration Management book out early next year.

 

Hope is not a project management method

Posted on: December 20th, 2014 by admin 1 Comment

PRESS RELEASE
For Immediate Release

Hope is not a project management strategy or method

We all need a little hope now and then. However, does it seem like hoping is becoming more of an “influence” on project than the planning, controlling and adapting?  Constant inundation and distractions make paying attention to all of the details difficult.  Reduced headcount, distributed responsibility and executive demands are all trials to effective project management.  This creates an environment where our teams may rely more upon hope than appropriate measures to deliver.

Value Transformation LLC founder, speaker and author, Mr. Jon M. Quigley, will present Project Management and HOPE at Hollins University for the Southwest Virginia Chapter of The Project Management Institute (PMI) in Roanoke, Virginia.  This presentation will entertain and enlighten on how we may put too many of our eggs into the random chance or hope basket, expecting things to go simply according to plan instead of constant vigilance and adapting to the circumstances as they arise.

The presentation is January 13th 2015 from 6:00pm to 8:00pm at Hollins University. Details and online registration for the event can be found at:
http://www.pmi-swva.org/article.html?aid=434.

Value Transformation is a business training company focused on product development from intellectual property generation through to manufacturing and end of life.  This includes project management and the quality securing and cost improving activities associated with that development. We have decades of experience in product development much of which is embedded and software as well as automotive focused.

For more information on project management or product development from intellectual property generation to end of life for the product please call or email below. The sooner you call, the sooner you see the improvement you need.

Contact:
Jon M Quigley
Mr.
Value Transformation LLC
Telephone: (336) 484-1528
Jon.Quigley@valuetransform.com

http://www.linkedin.com/in/jonmquigley
http://www.valuetransform.com

Twitter:  @JonMQuigley

Levels of Wants, Needs and Motivation

Posted on: December 17th, 2014 by admin 2 Comments

By Shawn P. Quigley

Needs and Motivation – Organization and the Individual

In our article “Needs, wants, and motivation” we discussed the correlation between the needs of an organization and that of the individuals who comprise it. This would be an example of “The Macro fit” or job fit as commonly stated in the Human Resources Department. This is a good a start, but must be followed by “The Micro Fit”, which we will discuss later. First we must define the Macro-fit better. The Macro-fit can be considered the long term goal or goals of the individual and the overall goal(s) of the organization. While this is good for determining the long term applicability of an individual it does little for the short term maintenance of the employee’s motivation. We must note that in this instance long term and short term are not actually determined by time, but employee motivation, goal setting, and perception of progress towards either or both. This is to infer that these terms will be different for each individual and can only be properly assessed by the interaction of supervision and management with the individual.

Macro-fit and Motivation

The Macro-fit (Job-fit) has been well defined and calculated in the Human Resources field, but the lower Micro-fit has been left to the management and supervisory personnel. Most supervisors and managers think that a good day’s wage and sense of accomplishment for completing the task should be enough for employee motivation (wants and needs). This thinking and approach is most likely true for new employees when their motivation (commitment) is high and their skills are low. However as their skills improve and their motivational drivers change it may not so certainly apply. Enter the Micro-fit to fulfilling the employee’s wants and needs. What is the relationship between the employee’s current task assignment and their motivational drivers? How does the department or project show the individual the relationship between the department goals and that of the individual? If the answer is that this does not occur and the individual is selected for the task based solely on the department or project’s needs it may only produce a negative experience for the individual. This will in the long term likely produce negative experience for the individual.

Micro-fit and Motivation

Another way to look at Macro and Micro fits is with Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, Herzberg’s Theory of Hygiene and Motivation, and Theory “Y” and “X” by Douglas McGregor. Where the Marco-fit would be the base need of the individual (pay, food, house, etc…) and the Micro-fit would be the blocks that come after that (belonging, accomplishment, self-actualization, etc.). It seems many organizations are good at determining the initial fit of a potential employee, but assume that is where the story ends or worse yet assume that the organization’s plan for the individual does not require tending as the individual develops. Again if we apply human developmental theory we can see that wants and needs (motivators) change as the individual develops. Therefore, constant interaction is required to maintain the alignment between the wants, needs, and goals of the individual, project, department, and organization must occur. This is an example of the application of all the theories pertaining to motivation and the changes that occur with individual development.

Environmental Factors and Motivation

We would be remiss if we did not also discuss that there are environmental factors that affect an individual’s motivation. By this we mean the manner in which the main motivator changes when an individual is assessing their position as an organizational member, a departmental member, a team member, and as an individual. What one sees as their wants and/or needs can be reordered by the group or activity they are employed with. This is not to say that the initial want or need is no longer applicable, but with the situational change may take a different place in its’ ranking. This reordering may or may not require attention to maintain the individual’s motivation and can only be determined through positive interaction by supervisory and management personnel. We will delve into the dynamics that affect wants and needs in another article.

We will end this discussion with the question, “How many levels does your organization see as affecting individual motivators, why, and what actions are done at these levels to ensure motivation is maintained as high as possible?”

Qualitative Testing and Root Cause Analysis

Posted on: December 12th, 2014 by admin No Comments

Qualitative Testing

Qualitative tests look for a change in a quality; for example, a color might change. Qualitative tests always involve the use of attributes rather than variables values (e.g., temperature). Consider the Kastle-Meyer test for the presence of blood–an archetype for qualitative forensic testing. The test is impressively quick and functions as a decision support tool by letting us know whether we move on to the much more involved, time-consuming, and expensive testing in a full-featured laboratory. What we see here is exactly what we want out of a good qualitative test![1]

Applied to Root Cause Analysis

This testing approach can help us understand probable areas of concern for additional investigation. Consider a poly-carbonate part that fails in a particular real world application.  A review of failed parts shows cracking or surface crazing.  In the field, the part develops fractures along mounting locations. It might be obvious to assume that the over torque of the screws may compromise the material.  It is also possible the mechanical stresses such as vibration contribute to the parts shortened life.  However, there can be other reasons for this same cracking.

Root Cause Analysis Exploration

The material data sheet shows a particular vulnerability to alcohols.  Not tequila or rum to which I am occasionally vulnerable, but the sort used in antifreeze and solvents for cleaning.  These sorts of materials can easily be found in the environment in which the product resides.  To understand the possibility this sort of chemical agent is contributory, a quick experiment is devised to expose the material to a consistent concentration for a brief time via vapor not immersion .  This amounts to some measure of accelerated testing as the material would not typically be exposed to this chemical for long periods of time.  Upon removing the part similar surface crazing is noticed similar to that of the failed field parts.  A hairline fracture on one of the mounting locations is also noticed very similar to the field failures.

With this simple quick test we have found another clue to further explore on our way to understanding the mechanisms of the failure. We show and more examples of testing in our book Testing of Complex and Embedded Systems.

 


[1] Pries, K., & Quigley, J. (2011). Overview. In Testing Complex and Embedded Systems (p. 18). Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.

Needs, Wants and Motivation

Posted on: December 10th, 2014 by admin 1 Comment

by: Shawn P. Quigley and Jon M. Quigley

Connection to Motivation            

We have previously discussed Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and touched on Herzberg’s motivators and hygiene.  Now, let us take the two theories to the next level and apply them to the learning organization. If you are like me when you first hear this you say, “How can a want or need be related to a learning organization?” To get there we must remember that to get an individual or even a group involved in an activity you must first show them how it will benefit them. This is not trickery or manipulation if done honestly; it is motivation.  To that end, I will share a story of a time when I played online games (Roblox) with my son. We played a zombie game where the objective was to stay alive for as long as you can.  You were in a building with barriers that you could keep built to slow the zombie horde from overwhelming you and your team.  The group of people we were playing with, would not keep the barriers built, leaving us to the tender mercies of the zombies.  Constant entreating of our team to rebuild the barriers produced little in the way of progress.  However, if you built the barriers, you got money.  That money enabled you to purchase benefits that would help you against the zombies (for example a ray gun).  After informing the team that repairing the barriers gave them money for purchase of health and weapon rewards, the barriers were managed – that is, constantly rebuilt when the zombies knocked it down.  Asking to build barriers did little to improve our lives in the game, informing them of the monetary and rewards they could get, seemed to ensure the barriers remained intact, well as much as can be against a zombie horde.  The lesson, it is better to show how people benefit from an action than to expect compliance with a demand without them understand underlying need or relation for the activity.  We must also account for the fact that people act differently in as individuals, in a group setting and different in different groups.

When Need becomes Hygiene

Maslow setup the hierarchy of needs to show the progression he thought a worker would go through knowing that when one need was satisfied the next would logically become a priority.  He did not discount the first need, but merely insinuated the priority shifted from one to the other. We all know that a need can be a good tool for motivation, but what commonly gets lost is when the need shifts to a lower priority it is merely a hygiene item. This was what Herzberg was pointing out with his theory of motivation and hygiene. Where hygiene is something done not for improvement or motivation, but done to maintain an established standard or minimum. An example of this could be wages. Initially the wage provided to an individual can be a great motivational tool. However, over time, when the individual becomes or feels secure in their financial status and that need is satisfied by their wages (food, house, and other base needs) it shifts to a lower priority.

Needs and Organizational Learning

Back to the relationship between this and organizational learning. Let us start with shared vision. Most people when they look at this discipline of organizational learning they think of the company’s vision. I think it is not just that, but is the individuals’ vision as well. How do the two aspects work to complement each other? If the vision of the company does not support the vision of the individual then there is no real long-term goal with that company for the individual. It is merely a starting point for the individual and thus buy-in from the individual will not occur. When I think of this, it reminds me of Zig Ziglar and his approach to sales. He pointed out that you must determine the goals of the individual and then shows them how they can be met by what you have to offer. In this case, it would be the goals of the organization and the alignment to the goals of the employees. It must be realized is that; as with any company, the goals are constantly changing and to obtain these new objectives, the relationship to employee needs must be demonstrated.  This would be an example of systems thinking, how a change can have numerous depending impacts that should be addressed.

Now that I have started our discussion, I would like to stop and know your perspective on how this topic relates to the mental model. 

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