Google has recently released new or updated applications for the iOS ecosystem. Maps, YouTube, Gmail and more recently YouTube capture.
This is a clear commitment to the iOS platform:
- those Apps are well made, some even say they look better than their Android counterpart,
- those Apps are released promptly, and in the case of YouTube capture, before it was even released on Android.
Of the two drastic options Google could have taken about iOS, one being ignore the platform and the other one being full commitment, it seems to me that Google made a clear choice.
It also seems that they made the opposite choice with regards to Windows 8 (mobile). They are not very keen in developing for this platform.
Google is committing itself to iOS for two reasons:
- iOS represent a large user base, those users are actively using the internet and so Google is making money reselling their data to advertisers. Probably way more money than with the Android user base.
- By having iOS users using Google products, the transition from iOS to Android for those users is much easier. Using google services makes the switch very easy (email, address book, maps, …).
I have recently moved from a loosely controlled food regimen to a fairly establish set of rules about what I should eat and what I should not. I have been contemplating writing this post for a while, just for fun, and use dieting as a way to introduce the difference between a project and a business as usual endeavour.
What are we trying to do here?
As usual this question is a great helper. What’s your goal in dieting? Is it to lose a specified number of kilos before next beach holiday? Is it to be healthier and in that case what is a measure of health?
If your goal is to reach a specific weight for your next beach holidays then that’s a pretty clear deliverable with a timed based objective. It’s a project.
You’ll design an approach to get to that objective – i.e. chose your dieting method – stick to this approach and control progress (weight scale every so often). If progress are not inline with the expectations then you’ll make changes to your diet. Eat less of this, exercise more. That’d be change and quality management.
The project completes when the holiday comes. No slippage allowed here. No tolerance on timing. In a way you’ll have to accept the deliverables as they are (you!) and be happy with it or not. Weight loss might be the key measure of success.
If your objective is to achieve long term health and weight control as part of it then you are not only embarking in delivering specific results for a specific date. You are also going to put in place a new system to be used on an ongoing, business as usual, basis to build and maintain a ‘health’ level. This not really a project anymore as there is no ‘end’ date to it. This is a process management activity whereby you’ll monitor specific KPIs (weight, blood tests results, blood pressure, body fat % and so on). This is not a project as there are no time based deliverables. However you’ll still need to monitor the diet outcome and make adjustment to perfect the results. It’s more a process improvement exercise.
This said we can nuance this a little. As you start your diet with the aim to reach a long term goal of weight control and health, most diet usually includes an intervention stage to start with. This stage could be seen as a project: it’s time based and very controlled. Once this stage has completed you’ll switch to a maintenance mode – which is really the business as usual process.
Does this comparison makes sense to you?
Communication is important. If you don’t handle it correctly on your project then you’ll get into all sorts of problems very soon, and the number of problems goes exponentially high as the number of people on your project increases. Communication is a large area in project management, and you’ll use many tools and techniques to communicate. Email is one of them.
Lifehacker has a nice article on how to email busy people when you need to ask them for something. A project manager will need from time to time to ask sponsors, stakeholders or his own manager for help – though I prefer to use verbal communication, sometime email is necessary.
It’s called the 3-B Plan and I like it. You can read the original at Sparringmind.
…is “Agreed all customer facing textual and visual elements of our product”.
Even worse: estimating is hard but sticking to an agreed timeline is even harder. Obviously the more the people having a say the bigger the nightmare.
So the technique might well be:
1. You guys think about those elements, maybe brainstorm a bit or a lot, do this regularly.
2. Here is the deadline.
3. x days before the deadline: start a sprint to get everything agreed. War room it. (x depends on the project).
4. Deadline is reached. End of story.
What do you think?
Last week I took my about 6 years old son to the local Rugby club and see if he’d like to start playing. He was very much against it even before we arrived at the club. He did not like it. At all.
So instead of forcing him or give up I told him that we would say there and watch the other kids playing. That’s what we did last week – we sat for more than an hour and watch.
At the end of the training session I told him if we could come back next week so he could play. He said yes.
So last Sunday we turned up. This time my wife bought him stud shoes which he liked. As soon as the session started he was really much into playing, I did not have to motivate him much. And he really liked the 2 hours training session. He even got the player of the week award.
My son is like this. When he is unsure about something he will say no as a first answer. Refusal. But with a little patience and when showing him, explaining to him new things, getting him involved he will finally embrace change.
The lesson I learned here is: it’s far more efficient to roll-out changes when you involved those impacted by it. Make them part of the game.
Apple just released iOS6 with a bunch of new features, including a new Maps application powered by Apple + partners itself and not by Google anymore. Just like Siri released last year Maps is a beta product. However there are some differences, first of all Apple never said- to my knowledge – that Maps was a beta product when they introduced it whereas they made it clear Siri was; second, Maps really does not work well [well, I am in France right now and the data looks OK to me so far, maybe because Apple partnered with IGN in France which has a good database].
This is surprising because Apple removed the old Maps application that was Google powered (or Google did not want to licence it anymore) and they should have come up with a decent alternative. The new Maps is not a decent alternative. Period.
What’s surprising with all that is that Apple is now FIREFIGHTING on this issue, reportedly hiring loads of developers to fix Maps, this is worrying because a company like Apple should have in its DNA to release impeccable software. More worrying is that’s it is not a the first time, they had this issue with Mobile Me in the past, iCloud mail is at times not available, and Siri still not working as expected by many.
So, did Apple lost it’s way on building software?
…the tyranny of Gantt Charts, a nice piece about the challenges of “% complete” – typical tracking KPI used by Gantt Chart Tools:
In conclusion, ‘percent (%) complete’ is one of several health factors used for a program, a project or its sub-elements. Your communication of this metric (or KPI) should be based on the sum of several areas or project/program metrics such as schedule compliance (SPI), cost compliance (CPI), risk overall average, scope compliance (no planned changes with respect to the schedule), and team and a PM’s overall trending assessment.
That’s it. Gantt Chart is not your only tracking and reporting tool, it’s not your plan.
Gantt Charts are an essential tools and outputs in project management. If you are in the profession you’ll know that when management asks for a plan they expect to see a Gantt Chart with an end date [that matches what they want]. So project managers do feel the pressure to get one done and agreed. It’s a tyranny.
Gantt charting tools are widespread (and sometimes free) – so it’s very easy to get started and build one for your project so you can quickly build dependencies between tasks, calculate critical path, assign resources to tasks and so on. You’ll use the Gantt chart as a communication tool first then as a monitoring and control tool. It’s great.
Project managers should however not jump straight into producing a Gantt Chart but first concentrate on agreeing a scope of work with a set of deliverables and decide on an approach to producing those deliverables. Only when this is clear [clarity would generally comes with an iteration of the planning activities] you can start building a Gantt Chart that will detail the tasks to be done in order to build those agreed deliverables.
Gantt Chart being a task driven tool it is easy to get carried away and forget the deliverables to build and the driving approach to deliver them. The risk is to end up with a plan that will forget some deliverables or use the wrong approach for this particular project.
I recommend to spend time with your team and stakeholders to clarify the deliverables, decide on the best approach for the project (including iterative approach for all or some of the deliverables) and then get going with Gantt Charting…if needed.
For those curious about or working with php, I suggest you check out Yii Framework. It’s a MVC framework that’s pretty fast and neat as far as I can tell.
Reaching excellence in project management goes through building predictable-repeatable processes in your organisation. This applies to most industries running projects that often are very similar in nature. If you don’t have repeatable processes you’ll end with both increased costs (through unoptimised processes) and un-consistent deliverables. Ultimately project failures.
When a project or programme is about launching a new product to market – such as a Smartphone or a Tablet – then it should not stop at building the product itself but also cover the now-so-popular product launches keynote. A keynote now appears to be so crucial to a product that it has to be perfect and so organisation should learn to productise them and get repeatable and consistent outcomes.
Recently we have seen a few examples of companies with different fortunes in product launches:
One that learned from the best on how to launch a product: Amazon. Amazon learned from Apple how to run a Keynote. Running flawless presentation of the product, with extensive demo and with price and availability announcement. Furthermore, hiding the announced project from leaks and the press.
One that is not learning: Nokia. Despite revealing a what looks like a good product, the keynote failed to deliver on half of the expectations: what’s the price and when will it be available. Nokia is not learning from the best, still not learning despite being one of the oldest phone manufacturers. This is puzzling.
One that is unlearning: Apple. Indeed, even though the keynote is next week, we all know that the iPhone 5 is coming and we’ve seen countless pictures of it through leaks of parts and components – we even know about the new headset and power cable. Apple has unlearned how to hide unannounced products from the press. Well…unless we are all surprised next week.
To further demonstrate this: Apple can’t even prevent leaks from its on website.