(0 comments, 11 posts)
This user hasn't shared any profile information
Posts by Gerard Grafhorst
In your project, allocate time (and budget!) for research. I used to think that all activities should contribute directly and specifically to the end goal. I now tend more towards the view that you should plan for research. Of course the research should be targeted, but usually a project has a few subjects that will cause you and your team a headache. And generally you can name these areas in advance! Specific problems, let alone solutions, are unclear at the outset. In order to avoid problems down the line it is wise to start your project with research, proofs of concept, name it what you will, to clarify major stumbling blocks.
The most inspiring example of this approach I have been privy to, has been the implementation of Oracle Spatial at a Dutch government agency. A few years back they wanted to consolidate all geographical data from a dozen regional databases to one Oracle Spatial database, covering the Netherlands. This database was needed to allow the introduction of online services to the public. The database had to be completely refreshed every 24 hours, after which the new database would be put online. The most important questions put to this research project were: is More >
A few weeks ago I received a Request for Information for a substantial project. There was one question that struck me: â€œDescribe on which moments your organization communicates with the client organisation.â€ My first reaction was: when donâ€™t we!
To ensure that you deliver what your client expects, communication is an essential! So, describing when you communicate is easy: whenever it is needed . You need to communicate when: - You have a question you canâ€™t answer. - You make an assumption. - You acquire a new insight. - You got a nagging feeling that something is not right. - â€¦
Communication is not just meant to transfer information. Communication helps foster understanding, commitment and trust.
This all is of course easier said than done. You can increase the chance of effective communication by having a Project Kick-Off with all stakeholders (yes, thatâ€™s right, also including the Business Sponsor who does not have the time). Make sure you have regular personal contact on all levels (Director, Manager, Workforce) both formal and informal. And last but not least: give and ask for regular feedback. You never know what you might learn!
â€œTo follow, without halt, one aim: There’s the secret of success.â€ (Anna Pavlova, a famous ballerina). To repeat the quote from my last blog. The goal must be worth it, of course. What are the benefits, what are the costs. Rightâ€¦the Business Case. For this you should not hesitate to thing big and look far. The worst thing would be if your Business Case is invalidated in a year.
The first project I managed (from bid to production) was a substantial redesign and refactoring of an existing administrative system for a directorate of a ministry. We won the project, because (as I learned later) we had bid substantially lower than our competitor. They had built the initial system. During the project I soon found out why we had bid lower: I had omitted half the essential work from my estimates. In my defence I must say that this essential work was specified nowhere and could only be fathomed ifâ€¦you had built the original system!
What also became apparant at the start of the project was that new requirements were emerging from National and European legislation. These requirements were at odds with the system structure: it would be cheaper to do a complete redesign and build a new More >
Â â€œTo follow, without halt, one aim: There’s the secret of success.â€ (Anna Pavlova, a famous ballerina). Completely true of course. A project rarely fails due to one large incident or problem. More often they shift of course imperceptibly, in small steps. Each individual shift is of almost no consequence, the combination is a whole different story.
A few years ago I had the opportunity to experience that again for myself. I was a parttime project manager (â€œjust an additional few hours of work, you knowâ€), we implemented Microsoft Sharepoint (â€œwe are an Oracle and Java company, but this seems to be the best productâ€), we went with the Beta-release (â€œit has so many features we needâ€), we did not adhere to standard functionality (â€œadding this is very easy, donâ€™t worryâ€) and we did it iteratively (because we did not know where we were going .
It never ceases to amaze me that everything we do right in our projects for our clients, we instantly forget when doing an internal project. Looking back there were at least five moment where pulling the plug would have been the best possible decision, butâ€¦you know: â€œwe have come this farâ€. Our intra- and extranet our More >
Recently we were bidding on a major project for the rebuilding and enhancement of an extranet system for one of our prospects. Their current system was based on old technology and its architecture was an impediment for the planned growth of their business. Based on an extensive selection process, finally AMIS was selected as their party of choice for a renewed system, based on a new and future-proof architecture.
We won the selection process because of our ADF/Oracle know-how and experience, our project approach and overall â€œfeelâ€. All of this, of course, combined with a competitive price. The snag was that, while we all agreed on goals and approach, there just was not enough budget to actually do this. So the client had been looking to alternative approaches to achieve the same business value at less cost.
As part of this solution they proposed to hire only our best people and that they would do most of the handiwork themselves. That is when we explained that â€œWe are a Project Companyâ€. Some background.
At AMIS we, obviously, only employ the best people. But also among the best people, â€œsome are more equal than othersâ€ and I do mean that a lot more positive than More >
This week I attended our AMIS Query on â€œHow the Middle Tier is slowing the Database downâ€ by renowned performance â€œproblem solverâ€ Anjo Kolk. When I saw the announcement for this AMIS Query I had no doubts I wanted to be there. It may seem a highly technical subject, yet, as a project manager, performance is often an issue I encounter. I like to know whatâ€™s going on and understand, if only a little, what issues may be in play. So, while I did not understand everything Anjo said, I learned a few valuable lessons. I paraphrase them in my own words. Any errors are therefore errors of mine.
A SAN may be a very modern part of the technical architecture. Yet: why put the cache far away from the database as a SAN cache and not as a cache on the database server. The SAN vendor certainly likes it (it is expensive). The connection between the DB server and the SAN is often high in bandwidth. The weakest link however is latency: how many requests per second can the line process. This puts the bottleneck (more…)