Thursday, December 24, 2009

Project management template for FREE download KOSTENLOSER Download: Projektmanagement Vorlage

Projects by the book or by the trenches?

The PRINCE2 project management standard by the OGC is a very practical piece of work. There is no obligation to do it by the book while you meet certain criteria. And it is supposed to be helpful, not an obstacle. I believe it is indeed helpful, and that is exactly why I based upon it the design of some quite central piece of paper document for some projects I work on, the Project Identification Document (German: Projektleitdokument).

I wanted to fulfill the following requirements:
• Mustn‘t be lengthy.
• Mustn‘t become shelf-ware.
• Must be easy to maintain.
• Must be interesting for the steering committee, the project manager and the project team.
• Must include everything relevant to guide projects of 5 - 20 week‘s duration.
• Mustn‘t shut off readers who are not familiar with PRINCE 2.
• Must facilitate checking defect density, i. e. number of defects per page.
• Must combine the PRINCE 2 Project Identification Document, Business Case, Project Mandate and Project Brief into one (1) manageable document (huh!).

I decided to design a standard document structure for one of my clients, along with guiding descriptions of every document section and a checklist for each section. As you might suspect from my background, my former work and my friends, I not only rewrote the respective PRINCE 2 product, but included my 12+ years experience with projects and some relevant pieces of good engineering, as taught by honorable Tom and Kai Gilb.

Out came the RTF template you can download for free from PlanetProject. Be aware that RIGHT NOW IT IS IN GERMAN only. If you would like to have it in English, please contact me and provide me with a good reason to work on the translation :-) (or maybe YOU translate it and provide it on Planet Project, too?)

Let me know what you think, please!

German Planguage Concept Glossary

I published a German Version of the Gilb's Planguage Concept Glossary on Google Docs. It comprises the 178 core terms of systems engineering and RealQA concepts that are part of the Competitive Engineering book. In the future I plan to translate the rest of the over 500 carefully defined terms.

The German words have been chosen to form a body of terms that is similar to the English original version, similar in coherence and completeness. Therefore, it is not a simple word to word dictionary translation. To the German reader, some of the words may seem to be translated badly. However, if you study the original glossary carefully, you will see that they make sense.

Furthermore, the terms have been tested in corporate practice and professional German conversation over a period of about a year. Most of them can be intuitively understood by Germans or German-speaking people; others need a quick look into the glossary definitions (which is something that is restricted to English-speaking readers ;-).

I'm happy to take your comments, critique and encouragement!

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Who is your hero systems engineer?

These days, I‘m inquiring about engineering. I‘d like to know who your hero systems engineer was or is (or will be?). Please comment, or send me a twitter message. Thank you!

Thank you again for making it past the first paragraph. ;-) It all started when a couple of weeks ago I again was confronted with a colleague‘s opinion which said that I am a theorist. I refuse this opinion vehemently; quite the contrary, I believe my work, especially my work for the company, is a paragon of pragmatism. ;-)
So my argument against the opinion usually is ,no, I‘m not a theorist!', in a more or less agitated voice. Obviously, I need a better basis for making that point. Kurt Lewin said:
Nothing is a s practical as a good theory.
I used this sentence for a while as a footer for email that I suspected to raise the ,theorist‘ criticism again.
After all this sentence is only a claim as well, just like my stubborn phrase above. It may be stronger because it carries Lewin‘s weight. Unfortunately very few people instantly know who Kurt Lewin was, and that he most of all used experience - not theory - to advance humankind.

Then a friend of mine, a U. S. citizen who at some point in time chose to live in Norway (which is a very practical move in my eyes :-), pointed me to the work of Billy V. Koen, Professor for Mechanical Engineering at the University of Texas. You should watch this 1 hour movie if you are least interested in engineering, philosophy and art. Or in more mundane things like best practices, methods, techniques, recipes, and checklists, many of which concerning business analysis and project management can be found at Planet Project in case you don‘t know.

Here is Prof. Koen‘s definition of engineering from the movie:
The Engineering Method (Design) is the use of heuristics to cause the best change in an uncertain situation within the available resources.
Causing change in an uncertain situation within the available resources sounds a lot like project management to me. Like program or portfolio management, too. Maybe like management in general.

It is always when an improbable connection opens up between two different fields of my thinking when I find there is useful truth in it. Next, I want to learn about engineering and me, and one way to approach this is to find out who I admire for his or her engineering skills. I tried thinking of a couple of candidate names and found surprisingly few. I‘ve already identified Leonardo Da Vinci (who is not a Dan Brown invention like my nephew once suggested. :-) A quick request to the twitterverse offered nothing, no new name.

So this is my next take: I‘d like to know who your hero systems engineer was or is (or will be?), and why. Please comment, or send me a (twitter) message. Thank you!