Project Management

Never Forget to Tell Your Family You Love Them

These two songs bring tears to my eyes. A mother loves her kids so much and when they leave the house both pain and joy are felt for her kids. You want your kids to be independent and yet you miss them so much. I want to share these songs to you all! Always tell your kids you love them. You never know when it’s too late.

Kenny Chesney

“Don’t Blink”

I turned on the evening news
Saw an old man being interviewed
Turning a hundred and two today
Asked him what’s the secret to life
He looked up from his old pipe
Laughed and said “All I can say is.”

Don’t blink
Just like that you’re six years old and you take a nap and you
Wake up and you’re twenty-five and your high school sweetheart becomes your wife
Don’t blink
You just might miss your babies growing like mine did
Turning into moms and dads next thing you know your “better half”
Of fifty years is there in bed
And you’re praying God takes you instead
Trust me friend a hundred years goes faster than you think
So don’t blink

I was glued to my TV when it looked like he looked at me and said
“Best start putting first things first.”
Cause when your hourglass runs out of sand
You can’t flip it over and start again
Take every breathe God gives you for what it’s worth

Don’t Blink
Just like that you’re six years old and you take a nap and you
Wake up and you’re twenty-five and your high school sweetheart becomes your wife
Don’t blink
You just might miss your babies growing like mine did
Turning into moms and dads next thing you know your “better half”
Of fifty years is there in bed
And you’re praying God takes you instead
Trust me friend a hundred years goes faster than you think
So don’t blink

So I’ve been tryin’ ta slow it down
I’ve been tryin’ ta take it in
In this here today, gone tomorrow world we’re livin’ in

Don’t blink
Just like that you’re six years old and you take a nap and you
Wake up and you’re twenty-five and your high school sweetheart becomes your wife
Don’t blink
You just might miss your babies growing like mine did
Turning into moms and dads next thing you know your “better half”
Of fifty years is there in bed
And you’re praying God takes you instead
Trust me friend a hundred years goes faster than you think
So Don’t blink

Naw, don’t blink
Life Goes Faster Than You Think

 

Alan Jackson

“Remember When”

Remember when I was young and so were you
and time stood still and love was all we knew
You were the first, so was I
We made love and then you cried
Remember when

Remember when we vowed the vows
and walked the walk
Gave our hearts, made the start, it was hard
We lived and learned, life threw curves
There was joy, there was hurt
Remember when

Remember when old ones died and new were born
And life was changed, disassembled, rearranged
We came together, fell apart
And broke each other’s hearts
Remember when

Remember when the sound of little feet
was the music
We danced to week to week
Brought back the love, we found trust
Vowed we’d never give it up
Remember when

Remember when thirty seemed so old
Now lookn’ back it’s just a steppin’ stone
To where we are,
Where we’ve been
Said we’d do it all again
Remember when
Remember when we said when we turned gray
When the children grow up and move away
We won’t be sad, we’ll be glad
For all the life we’ve had
And we’ll remember when

 

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December 31, 2008 Posted by | Family, friends | , , | Leave a comment

Good Friends are like Good Wine. They only improve with age!

I had always dreamed of walking down the aisle at graduation with my Dad in his Harvard robes. When I was a senior in college, He was coming back from giving a paper and had a heart attack on the airplane. Even though they emergency landed the plane in Atlanta, he died. That night I had double dated with my sister to see a “Yes” concert, but went home earlier than she did since I had an 8:00 am Calculus class.

I was a senior in college when my Mom called me up (after a very late night at a YES concert) and asked me to come over since my Dad was “sick”. I told her I needed to sleep and would be there after my class in the morning. My parents were divorced by then, so I thought it was a bit weird, but went back to sleep. Then she called back and told me I was dead. I rushed to her house at 3 in the morning n tears. My Dad was my best friend. My Mom wanted me to find my sister but I had no idea where she was and there were no cell phones back then. She gave me a stiff drink (which was the last thing I needed – but I took it anyway). We waited for my sister Barby to show up and when she did, we both broke down in tears again. My Mom asked me to go to my Dad’s apartment to look for a will (he was only 45) and she didn’t feel comfortable doing it. I was a basket case. Luckily my roommate was there to drive me.

Seeing my Dad’s most personal things was horrible to me. I found what I could and brought it back to my Mom.

I stayed there, but went to school because at the beginning of the semester, my professor had said there would be no exceptions to missing exams. I must have looked a mess, because one of my friends came up as I was waiting and said”what happened to you, did someone die or something”? When he heard my story, he walked into the classroom and explained my situation to the professor and she was so nice, and told me of course I could make it up. Maybe it helped that my Dad was the Dean of the Graduate School – but he led me out of school to the next door college bar. Now this was about 8:30 am. My best friend said “Let’s have a few beers and celebrate his life”. We did and we laughed and cried at the same time. One old drunk came over and asked us what was going on. When we told him, he cried too! We all started laughing which sounds weird, but it was what I needed most.

It was then that I found out who your real friends are. Some that I thought were my friends looked the other way when I was coming. Some sat with me and let me talk, cry and cried with me. It was like my Dad’s death was contagious and some of my so called friends didn’t want to catch the “germ”.  That’s when I learned the value of true friends. They are with you through the good and bad, the ugly, the horrible and the tragedy. Some of those people I can call today (and I’m 53) and it’s like we never stopped talking.

Then the next shoe hit the floor. My Mom wanted me to decide where my Dad should be buried! His Dad was on vacation, but I refused to make any decisions until I could talk to my Grandfather. No parent should survive their children. I had never had death touch me, and I couldn’t handle it. I was floored that my Mom couldn’t see that.

We ended up sending the police after my grandfather. Thank God he took care of everything. We all flew up to Massachusetts were my first Grandmother was buried. My Dad was cremated and buried next to her. My Grandfather sent me the pictures he developed that my Dad had taken on that trip; they were of the same place where he was buried. It was fall, so I’m sure he was taking pictures of the changing leaves – but is was still creepy. My sister and I didn’t have much money, but we went to a florist and bought roses to lie on his grave.

When we got home, the money he had was to be left to any minor children (of which I was not) but there was an insurance policy with me as the beneficiary. I felt said because he had always wanted a boat. I think you should always make sure you experience your dreams.

My Mom said she and Barby would take me to court to get that money – so I gave it to them. Not worth fighting for. I almost quit college at the suggestion of my Mom, but my Dad’s professor friends rallied around me and got me through it (thank goodness for those wonderful men).

I gave up the idea of graduate school and got a job in the computer industry where I have been for 30 years. My Mom and Scott moved up to New York before I graduated and no one I was related to came to the ceremony. Not even my sister.

My husband and I have an iron clad will so hopefully none of this business will happen. I grew up very fast during those years and still hear my Dad in my prayers. I made peace with my Mom before she died (at 72) and I am very glad I did. Family is what is most important and should never be taken for granted. Nor should goof friends – they are worth gold and they endure much longer than teenage crushes or small arguments. Nurture them with love and they will serve you for your whole life.

You never know when your time will be up so always tell your loved ones how much you love and appreciate them. Never go to bed with any anger in your heart. I have a sign over our bed that says “Never forget to kiss me Goodnight” so my husband and I remember how important it is. Forgive no matter what and live so you have no regrets on your deathbed. Older people will tell you that the only thing they worry about are regrets from a missed time to tell someone they loved them or a missed time to spend more time with their kids. Don’t let that happen to you. Life goes by in a blink! Live, Laugh and Love everyone! You never know when the last day will come – so no regrets!

December 27, 2008 Posted by | Family, friends | , , , , | Leave a comment

Using Earned Value to Predict Your Project’s Success

This Post examines how the data points of Planned Value (PV), Earned Value (EV), and Actual Cost (AC) can be used to analyze the current status of a project and forecast its likely future. EVM looks at project performance for the current period and at cumulative performance to date. EVM is described and illustrated here in terms of cumulative data, using the Project data.

This post introduces a fourth data point, Budget at Completion (BAC), which is the final data point on the performance measurement baseline (PMB). Budget at Completion represents the total Planned Value for the project. For Project EZ, the BAC is 150.

This is a goof rule of thumb:

• If your SV >0 and your SPI > 1.0, you are ahead of schedule and under budget. If your SV = 0 and your SPI > 1.0, you are on budget and ahead of schedule. If your SV < 0 and your SPI 0 and your SPI > 1.0, you are ahead of schedule and under budget. If your SV = 0 and your SPI > 1.0, you are on budget and ahead of schedule. If your SV < 0 and your SPI < 1.0 you are behind in budget and schedule.
• Indices: Schedule Performance Index (SPI); Cost Performance Index (CPI); and To-Complete Performance Index (TCPI)
• Forecasts: Time Estimate at Completion (EACt); Estimate at Completion (EAC); and Estimate to Complete (ETC)

These variances, indices, and forecasts can be used to answer the key project management questions. It lets us show the relationship between those project management questions and the EVM performance measures.

Schedule Variance (Are we ahead or behind schedule?)
The Schedule Variance (SV) determines whether a project is ahead of or behind schedule. It is calculated by subtracting the Planned Value (PV) from the Earned Value (EV). A positive value indicates a favorable condition and a negative value indicates an unfavorable condition.

The Schedule Variance can be expressed as a percentage by dividing the Schedule Variance (SV) by the Planned Value (PV). In other words, the project is 33 percent behind schedule, meaning that 33 percent of the planned work has not been accomplished.

Schedule Performance Index (How efficiently are we using time?)
The Schedule Performance Index (SPI) indicates how efficiently the project team is using its time. SPI is calculated by dividing the Earned Value (EV) by the Planned Value (PV). The Schedule Performance Index indicates that—on average—for each 8-hour day worked on the project, only 5 hours and 20 minutes worth of the planned work is being performed; that is, work is being accomplished at 67 percent efficiency. This is a very useful statistic to use in resource allocation.

Time Estimate at Completion (When are we likely to finish work?)

Using the Schedule Performance Index (SPI) and the average Planned Value (PV) per unit of time, the project team can generate a rough estimate of when the project will be completed, if current trends continue, compared to when it was originally supposed to be completed.

The originally estimated completion time for the project was 12 months, so the project manager now knows that if work continues at the current rate the project will take six months longer than originally planned. It is important to note that this method generates a fairly rough estimate and must always be compared with the status reflected by a time-based schedule method such as critical path method. It is possible that an earned value analysis could show no schedule variance and yet the project is still behind schedule; for example, when tasks that are planned to be completed in the future are performed ahead of tasks on the critical path.

One trick I always use is to have the engineers update their time on the project daily. This is quite normal. But I also have them update the remaining time that task will take. If the original estimate was 40 hours, and the engineer spent 20 hours on it, that does not mean he is 50% done. Software is very hard to predict and new things are learned as one gets deeper in the project. So if the culture allows the engineers to update their remaining work every day, I can run Project scenarios to see if the critical path has changed. I can also have a discussion with the engineer to see if we can work smarter to pull in the estimate. Most of the time, we don’t spend enough time estimating a project and just jump in and write code. This mode usually bites you in the end.

Next I will show an example I found using the techniques I’ve written about in this post.

earned-value1

December 27, 2008 Posted by | earned value | , , , , , | 8 Comments

Developing a Project Scope Document

 

 

                        Developing a Project Scope Statement

 

The project scope statement is the definition of the project—what needs to be accomplished. The Develop Preliminary Project Scope Statement process addresses and documents the characteristics and boundaries of the project and its associated products and services, as well as the methods of acceptance and scope control. A project scope statement includes:

 

·         Project and product objectives

·         Product or service requirements and characteristics

·         Product acceptance criteria

·         Project boundaries

·         Project requirements and deliverables

·         Project constraints

·         Project assumptions

·         Initial project organization

·         Initial defined risks

·         Schedule milestones

·         Initial WBS

·         Order of magnitude cost estimate

·         Project configuration management requirements

·         Approval requirements

 

The preliminary project scope statement is developed from information provided by the initiator or sponsor. The project management team in the Scope Definition process further refines the preliminary project scope statement into the project scope statement. The project scope statement content will vary depending upon the application area and complexity of the project and can include some or all of the components identified above. During subsequent phases of multi-phase projects, the Develop Preliminary Project Scope Statement process validates and refines, if required, the project scope defined for that phase.

 

Project Scope Development Tools and Techniques

1 – Project Management Methodology

The project management methodology defines a process that aids a project  management team in developing and controlling changes to the preliminary project scope statement.

 

2 – Project Management Information System

The project management information system, an automated system, is used by the project management team to support generation of a preliminary project scope statement, facilitate feedback as the document is refined, control changes to the project scope statement, and release the approved document.

 

3 – Expert Judgment

Expert judgment is applied to any technical and management details to be included in the preliminary project scope statement.

         

Develop Project Plan

 

The Develop Project Management Plan process includes the actions necessary to define, integrate, and coordinate all subsidiary plans into a project management plan. The project management plan content will vary depending upon the application area and complexity of the project. This process results in a project management plan that is updated and revised through the Integrated Change Control process. The project management plan defines how the project is executed, monitored and controlled, and closed. The project management plan documents the collection of outputs of the planning processes of the Planning Process Group and includes:

 

·         The project management processes selected by the project management team

·         The level of implementation of each selected process

·         The descriptions of the tools and techniques to be used for accomplishing those processes

·         How the selected processes will be used to manage the specific project, including the dependencies and interactions among those processes, and the essential inputs and outputs

·         How work will be executed to accomplish the project objectives

·         How changes will be monitored and controlled

·         How configuration management will be performed

·         How integrity of the performance measurement baselines will be maintained and used

·         The need and techniques for communication among stakeholders

·         The selected project life cycle and, for multi-phase projects, the associated project phases

·         Key management reviews for content, extent, and timing to facilitate addressing open issues and pending decisions.

 

The project management plan can be either summary level or detailed, and can be composed of one or more subsidiary plans and other components. Each of the subsidiary plans and components is detailed to the extent required by the specific project. These subsidiary plans include, but are not limited to:

 

·         Project scope management plan

·         Schedule management plan

·         Cost management plan

·         Quality management plan

·         Process improvement plan

·         Staffing management plan

·         Communication management plan

·         Risk management plan

·         Procurement management plan

 

These other components include, but are not limited to:

 

·         Milestone list

·         Resource calendar

·         Schedule baseline

·         Cost baseline

·         Quality baseline

·         Risk register

 

          Project Plan Tools and Techniques

Project Management Methodology

The project management methodology defines a process, which aids a project management team in developing and controlling changes to the project management plan.

 

Project Management Information System

The project management information system, an automated system, is used by the project management team to support generation of the project management plan, facilitate feedback as the document is developed, control changes to the project management plan, and release the approved document.

 

·         Configuration Management System The configuration management system is a subsystem of the overall project management information system. The system includes the process for submitting proposed changes, tracking systems for reviewing and approving proposed changes, defining approval levels for authorizing changes, and providing a method to validate approved changes. In most application areas, the configuration management system includes the change control system. The configuration management system is also a collection of formal documented procedures used to apply technical and administrative direction and surveillance to:

o   Identify and document the functional and physical characteristics of a product or component

o   Control any changes to such characteristics

o   Record and report each change and its implementation status

o   Support the audit of the products or components to verify conformance to requirements.

 

·         Change Control System The change control system is a collection of formal documented procedures that define how project deliverables and documentation are controlled, changed, and approved. The change control system is a subsystem of the configuration management system. For example, for information technology systems, a change control system can include the specifications (scripts, source code, data definition language, etc.) for each software component.

 

·         Expert Judgment Expert judgment is applied to develop technical and management details to be included in the project management plan.

 

 

December 23, 2008 Posted by | PMP, Scope Management | 1 Comment

The True Meaning of Christmas

When I was a teenager, I confused true friendship with casual friends (mostly boys). The thing is the casual friends come and go and true friends never leave. This especially became apparent to me when as a senior in college my Father (who was a professor at the University I went to) had a heart attack on an airplane on the way home from giving a paper. I was completely astounded at how many of my “true” friends ignored me as if death was somehow catching. They avoided me like the plague. My true friends stuck with me through the crying, the remembering, the shock and the drunken nights at the local pub. I had gone to school the night after my Dad died, even though I was up all night, because my teacher had said no excuses could be made to make up a test. One very good friend walked in with me and explained the situation and she excused me. My Dad was my best friend, so I took it very hard. I felt as though God had taken him away when he was finally getting over the divorce with my mother and starting to live the life he deserved. It took me a good 20 years before I sought out God again (and thank God I did, He is a very big part of my life now).
During the Christmas season I get a little sentimental. We have had some great times together with many great friends. Good friends are very hard to come by and you should never let them go. I firmly believe (by my own experience) that people are sent by God to be with us when we need them most. I believe they may be angels (or at least God’s messengers). I have some that I may not hear from for years, but when the need comes and I call them or they call me it’s like we never stopped talking. I hope you find someone like there to be one of those people who you can count on to always be there.

I believe this is one of the reasons God put us on earth – to cheer and hold up others who are in excruciating pain, or even the simple pains of life on this earth because we have all felt the same way at times and can relate. I tried to explain to my son that even though he was grateful that God gave His son to save him, he would never understand the gravity of that sacrifice. As a parent you realize that putting your child in danger that you can’t save them from must be the greatest gift you could give someone (and also the hardest thing you could ever do). Don’t forget that the simplest thing you can do for someone may be exactly what they need. You may be their angel doing God’s work!

Please don’t forget your friendships and know that people love you, even if you don’t see each other as much as you’d like to. Take the time to call or send a note. Casual friends come and go but true friends never leave your heart. That’s something teenagers need to learn through experience. I was taught very early that if a boyfriend wanted me to give up one of my girlfriends, he was very mistaken about my feelings towards life. I think losing my Dad at an early age helped me to realize that.

So, let’s all try to get together with the ones we love more often and while we are not together please remember you are always in their hearts and they are in yours. Don’t wait until it’s too late to express your love. Life is very short (even though it seems like it goes on forever!).

No one cares about what they’ve accomplished in life when they are dying; they care about who they loved and who loved them back. Any act of kindness you show to someone is an act of kindness you show our Lord Jesus.

Merry Christmas to you all and God bless you, your family and your friends!

Love always, your angel Donna

December 22, 2008 Posted by | Living Your Best Life | , , , | Leave a comment

Prepare for 2009!

 

Preparing for the New Year – Welcome to 2009!

 

 

New Year’s is a time to reflect on the past year, look forward to the New Year and reflect on the changes you want to make. One of the most important things to remember is not to set you up for failure. Most people have a list of New Year’s resolutions. If you have too many resolutions, you will become overwhelmed by trying to do too many things at once. It takes 4-6 weeks for a person to integrate a new habit into their lives. A better solution is to pick your top 3-4 resolutions and plans. If you take them one at a time, you can get gratification for succeeding in implementing one before going on to the next.

The top 10 on most people’s list includes the following:

·         Spend more time with your family: No one (if they think about it before it’s too late) would want people to remember them as the person who was always at work, the person who had the most toys, or the person who once they retired, could not figure out what to do with their time! Hello! I would love to be in a situation where I could relax, travel, spend time with friends and family whenever I wanted. This is the time to rethink your priorities. When was the last time you took the family out for a hike in the woods or out for dinner?

·         Lose weight: This especially hits folks after gorging themselves during the holidays. Losing weight is a life style change and diets are the wrong approach to losing weight. The best thing to do is to eat small portions more frequently during the day to keep your blood sugar at a consistent level. Keep this up all throughout the year and you won’t need to add this to the list of resolutions next year!

·         Exercise: Look at the parking lot of any gym in January. You’ll find they are very crowded. Everyone knows that they feel better if they are exercising, but most people go overboard and then get frustrated when they don’t keep up with their plans. Keeping fit can be done anywhere! You don’t need to join a gym. Walking is free and one of the best ways to exercise. To start, take short walks during breaks and at lunch. Build up to have a total of 30-35 minutes a day walking at a pace where you pass most people up but can still keep a conversation going without huffing and puffing. After you get to this point, add some weight training. You can buy 5-10 lb weights and use them in a light to medium workout 10-15 minutes a day for a total of 50-60 minutes a week. Do this slowly so it becomes an enjoyable break, not a chore. Play some music. And remember; stretch before and after any workout. This makes all the difference in the world. You don’t want to be laid up with a pulled muscle!

·         Stop Smoking: I know how bad smoking is for you. I lost too many people to diseases caused by smoking, but since I’ve never smoked, I can’t say how hard this is from experience. I suggest consulting your doctor. It’s never too late to stop!

·         Relax and smell the roses: This is something I have to constantly remember. Relaxing isn’t something that comes naturally to me. Life is too short to ignore this one though. One thing that helps me is to meditate.

·         Stop drinking: This is something that you can’t do cold turkey. Taper off slowly or moderate your drinking.

·         Get out of debt: The economy is on everyone’s mind these days. Start by keeping track of what you spend during the day. It’s amazing how much money you can go through and not be able to say where it went at the end of the month. Once you have control over your day to day spending, start looking for ways to cut your budget. There are a lot of great blogs around that help with finances. One of my favorites is http://getrichslowly.org/blog/. They have advice on everything about money.

·         Learn something new: this is one I have no problems with. I love to learn. I read constantly. There are many avenues to treating yourself to a new learning experience. Look at your local community colleges. Lots of them have free or inexpensive classes on things from bird watching to photography.

·         Give back to the community: There are so many people out there that are less fortunate than you. Find out what you can do. If you don’t have extra money hanging around, give your time. It’s so valuable and you will come away from it with a good feeling.

·         Get organized: Go to the Container store or something similar and get those papers organized. You don’t have to keep receipts for years (unless it was a major purchase and you may need it for warranty or tax purposes). I keep my receipts in a folder with a section for each month. Same for bills. As you come to a month that is filled, empty the contents and throw them out. Scan receipts for major purchases and save them on your computer. You need to keep tax records for 7 years, but most of the paper we all save can be thrown out. Don’t let your magazines pile up. One of my problems is with books since I read so much. I heard a professional organizer say that if your bookshelf is full you can’t buy a new book unless you get rid of another book. Take them to Goodwill or to a used book store.

Have a Happy New Year!!

December 13, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment