FedGov Archive

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Goodbye PMO Email

Today was my last day with the PMO.  I couldn’t help but send an email to everyone before the SysAdmin locked all of my accounts.

I’ve already gone to security and turned in my badges.  I’ve already talked to everyone I could find.  It is Friday, ya know.  You can’t expect everyone to be in the office.

As I went from office to office, people were telling me how much they liked what I wrote.  So, rather than having is die on a Government email server, I figured I would just publish it here.

Today is the day.

I’m all packed up and ready to go.
Today I will be drinking your coffee, eating your free time, and rambling on about something unrelated to the original conservation.
Ya, sounds like a usual Friday.

Thank you everyone for the lunch yesterday.
You all need to do that more often!

Over time, I’ve realized that project management is a lot less about trying to control things like schedule, budget, and scope and more about building relationships and helping others reach their goals.  After I leave, if there is anything you think I can help you with, please let me know.

All my best,
Derek

Drawing by Pictofigo

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The Critical Path Week Ending February 13

January 28 through February 5This week we dealt with the great blizzard of 2010.  It provided me extra time to write.  Then again, it took that extra time I thought I was going to spend on vacation.  My wife thinks I live in a world where everything is related to project management.   I go on a little rant about treating your customers right and then also lend an ear to my colleagues.  Read how I handle being both the sponsor and the project manager on a project.

2/7/2010

Snow Removal From an Agile PM Perspective

With our home getting hit with over 30 inches of snow in one weekend, I compared our HOA and the snow removal team to an Agile team.  Read how they went from failure to success, in one customer’s eyes…

2/8/2010

My Big Fat Greek Project

My wife compares me to the father on My Big Fat Greek Wedding.  I’m no Gus Portokalos, but give me a word, any word, and I will show you that the root of that word is Greek.  Actually, show me a scenario, any scenario, and I will show you how it can be related back to Project Management.  If that doesn’t do it for you, just put some Windex on it…

2/9/2010

The FedGov Fail Day 3

Jhaymee (@TheGreenPM) Wilson inspired this post.  I was frustrated the Federal Government would be closed for 3 days in a row.  I believed we could all be working, at least in a limited capacity, from home.  If the Federal Government could have a plan in place for H1N1, why the hell couldn’t plan for snow?…

2/10/2010

MS Project Task Types – Fixed Work – Units – Duration

Upon reviewing a vendor’s Integrated Master Schedule, created in MS Project, I noticed something very peculiar. Where some tasks could clearly be marked as Fixed Duration, everything was Fixed Units.  In the post, I include a YouTube video to help you understand the difference between Fixed Work, Fixed Units, and Fixed Duration…

THE most important thing is the customer

…You’re welcome?  Did I say thank you? No, I didn’t.  I offered a pleasantry. Just have a nice day.  Goodbye, our business relationship has completed.  Have a nice life…Listen to them.  Be polite.  Deliver value.

2/11/2010

How Do You Know Your Metrics Are Worth It

So you want to create some metrics.  More importantly, someone has told you that you need to create some metrics.  How do you know if you’re just making work for yourself or if you’re just putting a spin on the same old data?…

2/12/2010

Sometimes It Is Best To Just Listen

It was the first day our team had been together in a week.  The DC FedGov closures have really rattled people.  As contractors and consultants, we are not Government employees.  We play by different rules.  Depending on your contract, if the FedGov is closed, you may not get paid…

2/13/2010

The Difficult Task of Managing My Logo Selection Project

Using 99Designs has allowed me to crowd source a design.  I listed the price I was willing to pay, the duration of the contest and provided as much background information as possible to enable designers to provide me with quality submissions.  We immediately entered a rapid prototyping stage…

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Sometimes It Is Best To Just Listen

The Doctor Is InToday was a very interesting day.  It was the first day our team had been together in a week.  The DC FedGov closures have really rattled people.  As contractors and consultants, we are not Government employees.  We play by different rules.  Depending on your contract, if the FedGov is closed, you may not get paid.

For those working under a corporate umbrella, where paid time off is offered as a benefit, this has left a lot of people very unhappy.  Without an opportunity to work from home, some were asked to take paid time off or leave without pay.  Either way, it hurts.

I can see both sides of the coin and empathize with both.  From a contract holder perspective, if they compensated each of their employees the 4 days the Federal offices were closed, it could do irreparable harm to the bottom line.

From the contractor and consultant side, there are feelings of desperation and abandonment.  I heard story after story about vacations being canceled or accepting a day without pay because they felt there was no other choice.  32 hours of the rainy day fund just left their accounts and there isn’t a damned thing anyone can do about it.  The lack of control has put many on tilt.

Listening to people speak their minds, some had real rancorous opinions of the situation.  I’d like to think there is a happy ending in all this and it will all work out in the end.  Unfortunately, there is snow in the forecast next week.

Image courtesy of ournameisblog.blogspot.com

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The FedGov Fail Day 3

As we enter the 3rd day of Washington DC being shut down, I ask myself why.  It’s 2010, for crying out loud!  You’d think they would find a way to keep things operational.  Just because government employees can’t report to physical locations, doesn’t mean they can’t work, right?  From the OPM.gov website, Federal agencies in the Washington, DC, area are CLOSED.

This means…

  • Federal agencies in the Washington, DC, area are closed. Nonemergency employees (including employees on pre-approved leave) will be granted excused absence for the number of hours they were scheduled to work. This does not apply to employees on leave without pay, leave without pay for military duty, workers’ compensation, suspension, or in another nonpay status.
  • Telework employees may be expected to work from their telework sites, as specified in their telework agreements.
  • Emergency employees are expected to report for work on time.
  • Employees on alternative work schedules are not entitled to another AWS day off in lieu of the workday on which the agency is closed.

Now, this post isn’t necessarily about government employees, a majority of whom will just stay at home and get paid.  Don’t get me wrong, I care a lot about my government counterparts.  Some of them work darn hard and are up late at night keeping things running.  This is about all of us who support the government.  In a day and age when the government needs to be nimble and innovative, I sit here knowing I’m not necessarily going to get to bill an hour of my time, while the Federal agencies in the Washington DC area sit idle.  No, I certainly can’t do 100% of what I was hired to do but I have things I could have caught up on.  I have a constant rotation of priority deliverables that arrive in my inbox, ready for my review and recommendations.  I don’t need to be on site to read a document about cost and schedule variance on CLIN 123, in order to deliver value.  But guess what, that’s exactly the case.  If I’m not physically on site, I have to get special approval to do any work and bill any time.

As Jhaymee (@TheGreenPM) Wilson tweeted today, the recent Snowmageddon in DC brings visibility to the Federal Government’s lack of a risk management policy, which includes teleworking.  I believe the policy should include contractors.  My FedGov PMO identified a strategy to keep us operational, in the event H1N1 hit the agency.  The strategy was a mandate from higher in the government.  So why then wouldn’t there be a plan to keep us operational in the event of inclement weather?  This just proves, in cases like this, the Federal Government doesn’t plan to fail; It just fails to plan.

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The Pain Of IE6 And Application Development

Yesterday, a vendor advised my client the new feature requested to be implemented doesn’t work quite right with Internet Explorer (IE)6.  The feature works fine with all “modern” browsers but IE6 is a major pain point.  You may ask yourself why we’re even having this conversation.  Well, because we’re talking about the Federal Government.  There are legacy applications out there that were built on IE6 and it’s not an easy migration.  There are some Agencies which ONLY use IE6 and the users don’t have permissions to install a new browser.  So, what do you do?  Do you embed a browser check in your code and advise the users they need to use a different browser?  Do you “fix” what would otherwise be a clean implementation by making it work with IE6?  I’ve seen issues with IE6 happen over and over again.  Even with my website(s), I pay attention to legacy Internet Explorer traffic.  I’m happy to report my IE6 traffic is 11% of my overall traffic, down from 21% a year ago.  Still, I will continue to test IE6 until it falls below 10%.

What lesson can we take away from this?  Do your homework!  The vendor should have done an analysis (or known stakeholder system requirements) before implementing the new feature.  Catching it in QA is too late.  A little due diligence or prototyping could have saved a lot of time and money.  Knowing the current customer base, the vendor should have known this feature would not be accessible by all and advised the customer.  What would you do?

I would love to read your comments or feedback.  Please post them below.

Regards,

Derek