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European Smart Grid Cyber Security on March 9-10, 2015 in London, UK

Wearables TechCon on March 9-11, 2014 in Santa Clara, California

Infosec World 2015 on March 23-23, 2015 at Disney's Contemporary Resort, Orlando, Florida

8th Oil & Gas Telecommunications conference on March 25-26, 2015 in London

Mobile Dev + Test Conference on April 12-17, 2015 in San Diego, California

Big Data TechCon on April 26-28, 2015 in Boston

Software Testing Conference on May 3–8, 2015 in Orlando

The Women In Technology International (WITI) Summit on May 31-June 2, 2015 in San Jose, California

Cyber Security for Financial Services Exchange on June 14-16, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina

SPaMCAST 330 features an interview with Anthony Mersino, author of Emotional Intelligence for Project Managers and the newly published Agile Project Management. Mersino talked about agile, coaching and organizational change.

SPaMCAST 325 features an essay on product owners. It also features a new column from the Software Sensei, Kim Pries. It concludes with Jo Ann Sweeney’s column Explaining Communication.

SPaMCAST 322 features an interview with Clareice and Clyneice Chaney. Clareice and Clyneice provide insights and practical advice into how Agile and contracting work together. The focus of the interview is on contracting and acquisition of Agile testing, however the concepts they discussed can be applied to contracting for any type of service using Agile techniques.

SPaMCAST 320 features our interview with Alfonso Bucero. We discussed his book, Today Is A Good Day. Attitude is an important tool for a project manager, team member or executive. In his book Alfonso provides a plan for honing your attitude.

SPaMCAST 315 features an essay on Scrum Masters. Scrum Masters are the voice of the process at the team level. Scrum Masters are a critical member of every Agile team. The team's need for a Scrum Master is not transitory because they evolve together as a team.

Blogs We're Reading

Jack Ferraro. My Project Advisor. Guidance for Project Leaders and Managers

Jamal Moustafaev. Think Tank Consulting. Musings on Requirements and Scope Management

Samir Penkar. The Future of Project Management. People, Trends, and Ideas on Project Management

Anthony Rhem. The Knowledge Management Depot. Active thought leadership in knowledge management.

Jon Quigley. Value Transformations. Taming processes that have gone wild.

Greg Schulz. Greg's StorageIO Blog. Covering the latest trends the storage industry.

J. LeRoy Ward. WardWired. Project management excellence, as well as a business travelog.

Richard Maltzman and David Shirley. Earth PM. At the intersection of green and project management.

Preston de Guise. The NetWorker Blogger. Commentary by a long-term networking consultant and back-up theorist.


Interested in submitting an article? Want to comment about an article?

Contact John Wyzalek editor of IT Performance Improvement.


Featured New Articles

A Reality Check for Project Managers

Lynda Bourne

The approach of Phillips (2014) implies that the project manager must assume the "heroic" role of driving performance within the project through communication design and observations of behavior that can then be used to drive greater efficiency. This is not entirely in accord with the underlying principle of the perfect communication ecosystem that project success is everybody's business, but it does reflect the philosophy of modern (traditional project) management.

Bergstrand (2009) offered a different view of the effect of project and communication design on project outcomes. He stated that projects are designed to fail when traditional processes of training, selection, and assignment of project team members (and presumably project managers) are used. Much of the training and project processes that are described in the traditional project management BOKs still owe their origins to methods designed by Frederick Taylor in the early 1900s that were developed for the industrial age. These methods with their focus on development and updating project artifacts, numbers, and static plans may have been useful for building bridges or operating an assembly line but ignore the complexity of relationships with people, who have always been the major causes of uncertainty (Phillips, 2014) and the main factors of risk (Bourne, 2012) in any organization or project.

What Is Project Management Maturity?

J. Kent Crawford

Until recently, the concept of "maturity" was seldom used to describe the state of an organization's effectiveness at performing certain tasks. Today, we find this maturity concept used increasingly to map logical ways to improve an organization's services—particularly across the software industry. Why has this concept evolved in this industry and why not in other areas? And why is it of interest to the project management profession? The answer to both of these questions rests in the underlying complexities that go into the successful completion of a project—software development or otherwise.

Looking at the software engineering industry where the existing maturity models originated, it is easy to see that there are many ways to approach the resolution of any single software problem. Software development efforts typically include many more variables, unknowns, and intangibles than we would consider "normal" for projects in many other industries. Because of this complexity, the expected result of a particular software project may be more dependent on the "star" developer in a company than anything else. Unfortunately, star developers go away, and when they do or when projects get so large and complex that the developer's influence on them is no longer dominant, the variation in project results becomes great and leads to inevitable frustration and disappointment.

The Scope of Project Scope Management

Jamal Moustafaev

The field of project scope management seems to be one of the most neglected domains in project management. Until recently, most of the project management textbooks stated something to the effort of, "Once the project manager gets the product scope definition from the technical experts, she can embark on the creation of the project work breakdown structure (WBS) with the assistance of her team."

How exactly this product scope definition is arrived at and what steps should be undertaken to get from the point when the customer walks into the room and states that she needs a custom desk for her office to the point in time where both the blueprints and the bill of materials for said desk are finalized remained unclear.

Two Weeks in Fire-Fighting Mode

M. Kemal Atesman

I was the project manager of a large project to design, build, and install an automated positioning system on a new offshore oil platform. The design and construction of the system were completed in the United States. The system components were shipped to Norway for installation. I had to send an application engineer to Norway to see the installation of the positioning system on the new oil platform and train the responsible people from our customer's team for its operation and maintenance.

I had a young and very inquisitive engineer on my team who was trained for six months during the construction and testing of the system in our facilities. He knew all the intricate details of the automated system. He was also well versed in troubleshooting the system components. I decided to send him to Norway for three months to oversee the installation of the system and to train the customer's team members. I discussed his mission with him. He was very excited and elated that he was going to represent our company by himself in such a detailed project.

Articles from Past Issues
Click here for the complete archive of articles.

IT Infrastructure

Systems Availability: The View from 30,000 Feet

Why Should the IT Helpdesk be Responsible for Authorizations?

Application Selection Dictates Hardware Selection

Maintenance in the Digital World

The Importance of Data and Storage

The Disk Drive: The Fundamental Building Block of Enterprise Storage

Evolving Open Source License Management Processes

Reducing Resource Use

Equipment Energy Consumption: Commonsense Items to Consider

Project Management

A Highly Creative, Process-Focused Project: A Case Study

Ten Keys of Influence

Why Corporate Governance?

Discovering the New Project Leader in You

Reducing Change on Projects

Creativity and Project Management

Project Management Methodology in the Smaller PMO

The Power of Project Team Members

Cultural Communication Issues and Project E-Leadership

Program Management Processes and the PMO


Electric Energy and Applicable Metrics

A Guide to Sizing and Estimating Projects

Understanding Your Organization's Best Software Development Practices

Achieving Business Objectives: Building a Software Metrics Support Structure

Connecting Improvement with Business Objectives: Objective-Driven Process Improvement

Process Improvement

Too Many Metrics and Not Enough Data

A Framework for Measuring the Value of Software Development

Using Measurement to Identify Improved IT Performance

IT Management

How to Measure and Improve the Business Value of IT Service

Oracle's Agile Product Lifecycle Management (PLM)

Big Data Analytics Architectures, Frameworks, and Tools

Using Balanced Scorecard To Measure BYOD Effectiveness

BYOD: Mobile Devices Threats and Vulnerabilities

Big Data and Business Analytics

Introduction to the Big Data Era

Big Data Building Blocks to Decision Support

Mining and Analytics in E-Commerce

Healthcare BYOD: What Can Go Wrong?

Process and Productivity

Measuring the Effects of Process Improvement on Performance

How to Manage Performance: Kaplan and Norton's Balanced Scorecard

Lean Thinking

What Are Lean, a Lean and Agile Organization, and Lean and Agile IT?

IT Value Streams and Cultural Silos

Lean IT in a Hospital

Learn What to Improve and Why

IT's All about Processes

Defining Processes

Scrum and Social Networking


Improving IT Performance with
Books from Auerbach

Save 50% when you order these books at CRC Press.com. Use promo code 081MA at checkout.

Have an idea for a book?

Contact ITPI editor John Wyzalek to discuss topics and book publishing.


March 19, 2015. Bob Galen. The 3 Pillars Approach to Agile Testing Strategy.

March 24, 2015. Beth Layman. Process Improvement Tar Pits and How to Avoid Them.

March 25, 2015. Guenther Ruhe. Real-time Product Release Management and its Tool Support.

March 26, 2015. Don Shafer. Embracing the Cloud—How's Your POS system Doing?

March 31, 2015. Brian Lucas. Agile Business Analysis: The Role of a BSA—Nothing or Everything?

April 1, 2015. Gary Cokins. Driver-Based Budgeting and Rolling Financial Forecasts.

April 2, 2015. Laura Barnard. The Building Blocks of an Effective and Sustainable PMO.

April 7, 2015. Carl Pritchard. Loving Your Job, and Getting Others to do Likewise!

April 8, 2014. Maria Matarelli. Motivating and Engaging Teams.

April 9, 2015. Daniel Sharp. IT Threat Response: What You Need to Know.

April 14, 2015. Don Kim. A Radically New Project Management Framework.

April 15, 2015. Liam Dillon. The NEW Hidden Skills of a Project Program Manager.

April 16, 2015. Michael Dobson. Good, Fast, or Cheap? Using the Triple Constraints To Define Project Parameters.



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Improving Your Own IT Performance
Articles by Nancy Settle-Murphy

How to Create a 12-Month Plan in Just Two Hours

Getting your group together and laying down plans for the next 12 months sounds like a good idea in theory, but it can be near impossible to persuade people to hunker down in a meeting room for a couple of days when their “day jobs” are so demanding. With the “The Magic Wall,” a group process, you just need to gather people in one room for about two hours to get the equivalent of a couple of days’ worth of planning work done. The Magic Wall process can be used in a variety of situations where people need to come together to brainstorm ideas, map out activities, or agree on priorities, all in a compressed period of time. More...

Making Virtual Meetings Come Alive: It’s Everyone’s Job!

Why do so many people see virtual meetings as a time they can catch up on email? Why are participants often so ill-prepared to jump into a productive conversation? We suspect that many people simply don’t see virtual meetings as real meetings. To them, the phrase “virtual meetings” means not only that people are conversing from a distance. It also means that the meeting is just not real. More...

Seven Ways to Keep Stakeholders Close in a Virtual World

Most stakeholders often work in other locations and oftentimes, in other time zones. So, what’s so different about engaging stakeholders from engaging other virtual team members? Our conclusion: Even though our intentions may be similar when working face-to-face and virtually, how we go about initiating and cultivating stakeholder relationships can be very different. Here are a few tips we came up with for engaging stakeholders virtually, for projects that really matter. More...

How to Tilt the Work-Life Balance in Your Favor in a 24x7 World
Is achieving "work-life balance" really possible in an always-on, constantly connected world? When telecommuting and flextime were introduced, the thinking was that busy professionals could adjust their working hours to accommodate other important aspects of their lives. ("It's great—I can coach my kids' soccer games and then hop onto my late-night con calls.") More...

Successful Virtual Collaboration Takes a Lot More Than Just the Right Tools

This article explores what it takes for people to use virtual collaboration tools to their fullest advantage, and conditions need to be in place to foster smarter adoption. Spoiler alert: the technology is the least relevant aspect in the mix. More...

Making Complex Decisions Virtually Without (Much) Pain
Let's face it. We've all made some pretty poor decisions. Sometimes it's because we feel we have to keep moving, in any direction. Other times we just don't want to have to think too hard, so we make the choice that requires the least scrutiny. More...

Virtual Meetings: Design for Worst-Case Scenarios for Best Outcomes
Normally, I ascribe to the 80/20 rule when it comes to planning meetings or designing training. That is, I know I can't possibly predict every single situation that might arise, so I do my best to anticipate what I think will happen 80% of the time for 80% of the participants. More...

For High Impact Global Communications, One Size Never Fits All
This article examines steps that any change leader needs to take in creating and implementing a global communications plan designed to resonate with those most affected by the change. More...

Building Trust Within Virtual Teams: Small Steps Add Up

When we ask clients to name the toughest challenge associated with leading virtual teams, there is one answer that always pops to the top of the list: Building trust. Or in some cases, it's re-building trust. More...

How To Design a Distraction-Proof Meeting
We try to pay more attention during virtual meetings. We really do! But then something diverts our attention (it doesn't take much!) and we find ourselves tuning out, despite our best intentions. More...

Speed Up Time to Successful Transitions by Engaging Your Real Influencers
Let's face it. If you want people to adopt something new, an email from a C-level executive won't do the trick. Neither will a snazzy project web site or a company-wide meeting. More...

Navigating Through the Invisible Tripwires that Cross Up Global Virtual Teams
Some aspects of teamwork tend to suffer more due to cultural differences that are ignored or dismissed. In this article, I highlight some of those aspects which, if successfully addressed, can catapult a global virtual team forward surprisingly fast, once they get through the tough but necessary conversations. More...

Holding Back: A Counter-Intuitive Approach for Virtual Leaders
When they first join a new team, members tend to be energized, motivated, and eager to learn the ropes. Many take pride in finding the information and resources they need to tackle their new assignments and may need just a bit of guidance to keep moving in the right direction. More...

Building Virtual Relationships, One Conversation at a Time
Can you build a trusting relationship when you've never had an actual conversation? (And no, IM, email, text, Twitter and blog "conversations" don't count!) While it may be possible, it's pretty unlikely. More...

Leading vs. Managing Remote Teams
As more organizations work virtually, managers of traditional work teams are tapped to lead geographically dispersed teams. When thrust into this unfamiliar territory, many managers flounder, especially those who rely on command-and-control tactics to get work done across locations, functions, cultures and time zones.

Cultivating Trust from Afar
Today's astonishing economic situation affects virtually every working individual around the globe. As organizations are forced to make drastic cuts and other difficult changes to remain viable, the need for competent, credible, trustworthy leaders has never been greater. More...

How “24x7 Connectivity” Prevents Real Connections
I see more people—colleagues, family and friend—abandon in-person interaction in favor of electronic communications. While it might be more efficient, expedient and less “messy” at times, I am concerned about what this trend will mean to our inclination and ability to have the kind of conversations that foster deep connections. More...

About the Author

Nancy Settle-Murphy, Guided Insights founder and principal consultant, draws on an eclectic and varied combination of skills and expertise. She wears many hats—depending on the challenges she is helping clients to solve. She acts as meeting facilitator, virtual collaboration coach, change management leader, workshop designer, cross-cultural trainer, communications strategist and organizational development consultant.