TUG Buzz!
Dec. 13, 2010

 

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The Toronto Users Group  
 for Power Systems (TUG) is a user group/forum for the exchange  
 of ideas, and specializes  
 in providing affordable 
  education relating to the  
 IBM iSeries, AS/400,  
 System i, and Power Systems platforms.  

 TUG is in its 26th year of operation.

 
 

Welcome to TUG's eNewsletter: "TUG Buzz!"

IN THIS ISSUE:

  1. TUG Night School - Fall 2010 Testimonials
  2. TUG Night School - Winter/Spring 2011 Schedule
  3. Book Summary by Debbie Gallagher:
    Identifying and Managing Project Risk by Tom Kendrick

TUG Night School "Fall 2010" was a Huge Success!

As our Fall Session winds up, here are some comments from attendees...


Tom Mavroidis: The classes just intensify and reinforce the belief that we lived in a vacuum on the i for many years. Ultimately, if as a community of programmers we do not take the time to understand today’s newest technology, we are both doing ourselves and the companies we work for a tremendous disservice. We always thought everything was just about the i, but the world has moved on. The tools are out there and freely available and we really need to commit ourselves to understanding web technologies. What a watershed these classes have been!

Marly Campbell:  The classes provides an opportunity to see what it’s all about and how all the pieces related to one another, such as PHP, HTML, SQL, and security. After the third class already I was able to go back to the office and participate confidently in discussions with the various web teams. I thought: “I get it now!!”. I recommend this class not just to programmers but to anyone who may need to manage interfaces between System I and web development teams.

Ken Sadler: Vic Metcalfe is a remarkable instructor. The class was excellent but I have never quite seen an instructor so able to answer every question from any person and any background. Vic is a web and PHP guru, yet a newcomer to IBM i. This, in fact, is a benefit to the class because we finally get the right perspective. Very Impressive. TUG is very fortunate to have an active community member of this caliber.

Hashim Raza. I was new to TUG and this is my first experience. I felt very lucky and fortunate that I took the class. I found something new every day. The materials were very clear and creative. I recommend the class for people who want to use PHP especially for everyday iSeries people.

Read what System i Network is saying about TUG Night School.



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TUG Night School "Winter/Spring 2011" - Schedule

(Seneca@York. Start time 7:00pm)

TUG is again offering non-profit, high-value, instructor-led, hands-on training. It is designed for minimal conflict with your day-to-day operations because it is conducted on weekday evenings. You can select one or more offerings. This program is only possible because of the relationship between TUG and Seneca@York. Attendees have access to IBM Systems and software which are part of the Academic Computing Systems at Seneca and York University.

Winter/Spring 2011 Calendar

January
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9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31          
February
S M T W T F S
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6 7 8 9 10 11 12
13 14 15 16 17 18 19
20 21 22 23 24 25 26
27 28          
March
S M T W T F S
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6 7 8 9 10 11 12
13 14 15 16 17 18 19
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27 28 29 30 31    
April
S M T W T F S
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10 11 12 13 14 15 16
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          Course# Descriptor Day
Week
Start End Classes Instructor Tuition
Mbr / Non-Mbr
  Linux   LIN101 Intro Linux Mon 10-Jan 24-Jan 3 Mark Buchner $150 / $200
  HTML   WEB101 HTML/CSS Wed 12-Jan 26-Jan 3 Vic Metcalfe $300 / $400
  PHP   PHP101 PHP Mon 7-Feb 21-Mar 6 Vic Metcalfe $600 / $750
  Rational   RDP101 Rational Dev Wed 9-Feb 9-Mar 5 Claus Weiss $350 / $450
  Web Dev   RWS201 RPG Web Srv Wed 23-Mar 20-Apr 5 Claus Weiss $650 / $800
  OOP   OOP201 Object Oriented Mon 4-Apr 25-Apr 4 Garry Kipfer $650 / $800

 

Detailed course abstracts at http://tug.ca/TNS/
Register at http://www.tug.ca/tns/TNSReg.html

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Book Summary by Debbie Gallagher:
Identifying and Managing Project Risk

by Tom Kendrick

I recently read Tom Kendrick’s book, Identifying and Managing Project Risk: Essential Tools for Failure-Proofing Your Project, second edition. It was a compelling read and thought I’d share my views with you.

The premise of Kendrick’s book is that the experiences from previous projects, specifically the historical data of project problems and their impacts can help us in identifying risk and managing those risks on our own projects.

PERIL database

Over a period of more than ten years, Kendrick collected data on project problems from hundreds of project managers. He assembled this data in his Project Experience Risk Information Library (PERIL) database. The database provides information on what types of things go wrong on projects, and attributes each to root causes. In addition, the database captures estimates of the impact of the problems that occurred. The PERIL data is mainly based on projects having a dependence on new or relatively new technology; includes mostly projects that had a planned duration between six and twelve months; and twenty or fewer project team members.

Kendrick analyzed over six hundred projects, and has come up with an interesting approach to allow comparison. For each project, whatever the actual impact of the project issues, he has converted the impact to a time impact. For example, if scope was reduced to meet the scheduled completion date, the timeline impact has been determined by calculating how late the project would have been if it had delivered its original scope. Kendrick’s approach may not stand up to rigorous scientific scrutiny (and he is open about the bias in the data), but in my opinion, it still provides a very useful way to compare project risks. From these risks come clear risk management strategies.

Kendrick’s findings

Kendrick’s first analysis is high level and compares the total timeline impact in the PERIL database for eight root causes. These include, for example, scope changes during the project, failure to meet deliverable requirements, schedule delays, internal staffing.

In later chapters, Kendrick then breaks down the categories of risk/impact into sub-categories. For example, the impact of scope changes during the project is broken down into non-mandatory scope changes, legitimate requirements gaps, and so on.

In the chapters covering sub-categories, the descriptions of issues from the project managers are included along with the frequency and impact figures. For example, end user not involved enough in requirements, supplier not meeting deadlines, system architect not available. In reading these issues from other project managers, some triggered project flashbacks!

The Panama Canal

Throughout the book Kendrick weaves stories of the Panama Canal building projects. The first project, which ran from 1879 to 1889, was a failure. Ten years after the start of the project, it was cancelled, thousands of workers were dead, the costs had spiraled out of control, and there was no canal. A failure indeed!

The second Panama Canal project started in 1902, started re-planning in 1905, and the canal opened in 1914. This project finished under budget and ahead of schedule, and was useable for its intended purpose. Although workers also died on the second project, the death and disease rates were significantly reduced due to improved insect control, housing and other practices implemented on the project.

Although Kendrick placed the Panama Canal segments to tie each to a specific risk or approach being discussed in the book, for me they were very interesting, not just as project management solutions, but also as an interesting historical sidebar.

Lessons from the book

Although Kendrick makes project management recommendations regarding each sub-category, he does not make recommendations about which are the most critical practices for project managers to adopt overall. He leaves this to the discretion of each project manager, to be determined based on their own specific projects and environments.

In examining the breakdowns in the book, each project manager can determine what the biggest-impact problems are likely to be, either in general or on their own project, and then decide what to do about them. Every reader will likely take something different from the book depending on whether they are looking for general guidance or for insights for their own project.

An Example

For purposes of this article, I decided to look at the data from the perspective of “If I wanted to improve my project risk management in just one area, where should I focus to address the project risks that occur most frequently and have the greatest impact?” So, I started by looking for the category that has the greatest number of issues and the greatest impact. As described above, the greatest impact is from scope changes that occur during the project. It is also the issue that occurs with the greatest frequency.

Then, within the scope change category, the two sub-categories that have the greatest frequency and impact are non-mandatory changes and legitimate requirements gaps. My conclusion is that to improve my project risk management practices, I should start by improving scope management. By looking at the sub-categories, I see that the ways to improve scope management the most are: (a) eliminate the non-mandatory changes; and (b) reduce legitimate requirements gaps by either spending more time on requirements or by making a provision in the schedule right from the outset.

Summary

If I was looking at the data before starting a new project, I would be looking to see what might apply to my own project. The value in Kendrick’s book is the analysis of many technical projects and the comparability of the various causes of problems. This comparability allows each project manager to assess for themselves what recommendations can be quickly implemented for the highest improvement in their projects.

The Panama Canal highlights provide interesting examples of the differences in project management techniques and capabilities. Overall, I found the book a very interesting read and recommend it.

Debbie Gallagher is a project manager and business analyst. She previously worked as a systems implementation consultant, and as an IT project auditor. She can be reached by email at debbie@gallaghers.ca

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