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A Business Novel
This publication is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. It is sold with the understanding that the publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional service. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional person should be sought. This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are the product of the author‘s imagination or are used fictitously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. Library of Congress in Publication Data LCCN: 2010915603
Various names used by companies to distinguish their software and other products can be claimed as trademarks. The publisher uses such names throughout this book for editorial purposes only, with no intention of trademark violation. All such software or product names are in initial capitals or ALL CAPITAL letters. Individual companies should be contacted for complete information regarding their trademarks or registration. Copyright ©2010 by David Eubanks All rights reserved. Published in the Unites States by Creative Space, Inc. ISBN: 1453845151
This is dedicated to the ones I love.
........................................................................................... 25 BLUEPRINTING............. 77 GOOD INTENTIONS ON YOUR DIME ..................................... 14 POST TRAUMATIC SYNDROME NOW .................................................. 83 TRUMPING REALITY .......... 71 BREAKING BAD HABITS ................................................................................... 86 SPANKED ............................................................................................ 39 AN OFFER I COULDN’T REFUSE................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 50 QUANTUM PHYSICS AND IT ...............................................Table of Contents INTRODUCTION ...................... 63 RESEARCHING SILVERSTRUK ............ 3 THE FIRST DECISION .............. 16 DRIVING WITHOUT A LICENSE ................... 66 SILVERSTRUK THREATENS .......................................................................................................................... 93 .................................................................................................................................. 34 THE GREAT ESCAPE.................................................................. 36 THE GENTLEMAN’S BARGAIN .................................................................... 9 WHAT IS A PROJECT PLAN? ........................... 54 FINISHING THE BLUEPRINT.................................................................................................................... 73 WEASELING ............................. 88 ETHICS BY BRADLEY ................................................................................................................................... 44 THE DUEL BEGINS ................................................................... 75 TEST SCRIPTS ....................... 47 LUCKY STONES ................................................................................................................................................................ 58 GIVE ME A PROJECT PLAN ................................................................................................................ 19 A CRACKED FOUNDATION .. 29 JUDGING FROM APPEARANCES .................................................................. 81 HALF-BAKED SOFTWARE ........................... 61 RISK ................................................................................................... 1 CHAPTER 1 CHAPTER 2 CHAPTER 3 CHAPTER 4 CHAPTER 5 CHAPTER 6 CHAPTER 7 CHAPTER 8 CHAPTER 9 CHAPTER 10 CHAPTER 11 CHAPTER 12 CHAPTER 13 CHAPTER 14 CHAPTER 15 CHAPTER 16 CHAPTER 17 CHAPTER 18 CHAPTER 19 CHAPTER 20 CHAPTER 21 CHAPTER 22 CHAPTER 23 CHAPTER 24 CHAPTER 25 CHAPTER 26 CHAPTER 27 THE WAITING...............................................................................................................
................ 143 PLEASE RELEASE ME ........................ 120 DAILY STATUS MEETINGS...................................................................................................................................................... 111 COMING CLEAN .............................................................. 123 A LESSON IN FENCING ................................. 115 RESETTING ..................... 148 6 ..................................................................... 98 WHAT IS A PROJECT MANAGER SUPPOSED TO DO? ............................................................................................................................................................. 126 THE BALANCE OF POWER......................... 132 A FINGER ON THE TRIGGER . 141 GOING LIVE ......................................... 144 EPILOGUE........................................... 137 GHOST MANAGEMENT .......................... 135 FRIENDLY FIRE ................................................................................................................................................................... 130 LANDING ON A SHORT RUNWAY.............CHAPTER 28 CHAPTER 29 CHAPTER 30 CHAPTER 31 CHAPTER 32 CHAPTER 33 CHAPTER 34 CHAPTER 35 CHAPTER 36 CHAPTER 37 CHAPTER 38 CHAPTER 39 CHAPTER 40 CHAPTER 41 CHAPTER 42 CHAPTER 43 THE DEVIL’S WAKE UP CALL ......................... 108 CHARIOTS OF THE GODS ............................................................................................................................................................. 102 THE GARDEN PARTY ...................................................................................................................................
And have characters who have both noble traits and flaws. That‘s why I set out to write a book that is as involved in presenting engaging characters and relationships as it is business theory. the way real people do. I thought such a book could be called a good read based on its own entertainment value. Many good books have been written following their example. The Goal. I enjoy learning and I enjoy being entertained. and is one I hope you‘ll count among those you‘ve been entertained by and learned a little bit too. I thought that it could. This book is a business novel.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed Introduction I‘ve read a number of business books. and I‘ve appreciated very many of them. Eubanks Author. David A. suspense. things that have bearing on how they came to the job. So I hope you are entertained by my project manager‘s experiences in this book. has the genre done all it might? As I reflected. But I asked myself. I tried to write this book with this in mind because I think it‘s important that we remain aware of the complex context in which we work and live. He has an journey you can learn from. but I‘ve not kept count. I believe being entertained edges out the former. I also trust you will discover valuable project management principles in this tale. See what you think. What we mean by the term ―business novel‖ is evolving. Who have lives rooted in matters outside of the workplace too. I felt that the business novel has been light on the story side—in the aspects of fiction. I wondered if a business novel could capture the reader‘s attention the way a standard novel would—with a little intrigue. I suspect I‘ve logged well over fifty. and ambiguous circumstances. Many authors have copied the Eliyahu Goldratt and Jeff Cox template they discovered in reading their very successful book. and truth be told. And I think it makes for a more interesting story. How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed 1 .
How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed 2 .
My patio doors have turned into shiny black mirrors reflecting little specks of red. a digital phone. like the human heartbeat. I was excited about working home alone when I first set up my office. I‘ve got two computers—one desktop and one laptop. I‘ve liked living and working here in my electronic cottage.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed Chapter 1 The Waiting June – Nearing the project’s conclusion My phone is going to ring any time now. a color scanner. I‘ve put my feet up and I am watching them nervously wave back and forth like flags. one private. I am infinitely accessible. a wireless modem. And I‘ve been totally exposed to offices and associates around the globe. yet isolated in this room. my days have had no predictable beginning or end to them. a cellphone. I have no one here to turn to. I remember when it was imagined that the telecommuting worker would find greater control over the companion worlds of work and family this way—with a computer at home and a network connection to the office. blue. two for other esoteric requirements I don‘t understand. four email accounts. no sympathetic soul to keep me inspired. I‘m always working. SMS and VOIP communications. one business. I used to feel safe here. I‘m sitting in my upholstered recliner. Vishal is going to call tonight. and 3 . Kept company by inanimate objects only. Anyone could be watching me from the other side of the glass. As it turned out. WebEx conferencing. Microsoft Instant Messenger for those who don‘t use Skype. to use as a sounding board. Go jogging in the middle of the day if you wanted to. too. waiting. It‘s comforting. GoToMeeting conferencing. a digital modem. I‘m not asking them to do that. Set your own priorities and hours. trying to stay calm. TeamViewer—a free conferencing service to use when the others fail. The soft hum of the computer is the only sound in the stillness. It‘s dark out now. What he says could get me killed. Didn‘t that sound good? Flexibly arrange your day to meet the needs of your personal life. and orange lights from the desk behind me. Skype service with phone. and I wouldn‘t know. I get my own coffee.
How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed two 22‖ flat screen monitors so I can operate multiple conference sessions simultaneously. He is the most experienced executive in the company. He knows things. The desk phone rings with one tone. tunes and chimes have become as intimately familiar to me as my own breath. Richard. That is sheer calamity. be it good or bad. I trusted him. All this trouble started in this penetrable cocoon when one of those devices brought me to a challenge that I took up. the Skype phone another. the cellphone another. I know you can do this. The room is silent most of the time. just call. cascading to the floor is a web of wires magically capable of braiding themselves into a tangle that would have drowned Houdini before he got out of them. Is this the right one for a guy‘s maiden voyage?‖ ―We can‘t wait any longer. I know projects. Just leave your cellphone on. really. ―I‘ve been asked to approach you on this matter. It‘s got a lot of moving parts. But it looks impressive. the way things really work. Vincent said to me.‖ ―I expect we‘ll be having a running conversation. I‘ve been in a lot of them. and I know instantly which one to answer when it sounds. I got used to it quickly. Anytime. the total silence after a day or two. I‘ve always responded to challenge like a bull to the waving red cape. ―Okay—okay. except for the variety of tones I‘ve selected that alert me to the encroachment of humanity into my space.‖ Vincent is the vice-president of Rest-of-World operations—the one who managed everything outside of North America and India. for the company‘s survival. ―But me? Look. Anything you need.‖ 4 . I‘ll do it.‖ ―But this Best Bargain project. You don‘t notice the lack of noise. It‘s never been difficult to attract me with a challenge. Every one of them has an open balance—months overdue. Just call me any time you need to talk. We‘re losing money. and we simply must turn this around. They believe there is no one else they could trust with this project. but I haven‘t sat in the project manager‘s seat before.‖ ―And you can call me anytime you need help. we aren‘t completing our projects. but this time I truly felt reluctant to accept the assignment when Vincent presented it. Behind all this. These pings. the email yet another.‖ ―Richard. The challenge to project manage the Best Bargain deal. They announce there‘s news. Vincent. the bull facing better odds as it turns out. You need to do this.‖ I didn‘t give it but a few moments thought after he said that.
That has been the most surprising thing to me—how much pivoted on the intangibles of the heart. and perhaps no one foolish enough to endure the anguish. I have learned project management. in Bangalore. the grave patient‘s organs misfiring. the audio dropping out on one end of the call or the other. Vishal.‖ ―Vishal will call you to make this a formal assignment. I have found methodology to be as much an antidote as a best practice in this fevered company of mine. dot…code for ‗your ass is grass.‘ There is only slim hope. Sorry for troubling you so late. I suppose it should have been no surprise that I had not anticipated the intricacies of the role. not to mention the threats. It was his email‘s subject line that gave away the subtle clue. we have pursued the long-distance promise of the ―offshore model. Rather early for Vishal to be in the office. Even in this absurd circumstance as I find myself.‖ ―No problem. I can truly say I tried my best to follow a professional methodology in the Best Bargain project. I expect I will be an alumnus of Super Software Solutions. Triple-S. ―Good evening. like me. Richard. To take this new role as the project manager.‖ its economies—brilliance at half the price. I think many.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed luck. no one could have forecast those.m. It‘s about half past ten. I‘ve been expecting your call. Drafted into the position. Still. dot. get him to change his mind. It might have been true that no one else in the company had the competency to handle its complexity. That makes it about 9 a. but I will try to stop this. Good That was almost seven months ago now. technical sense. the unsuspecting speaker delivering a whole monologue that‘s gone unheard. and the turn-around 5 . failing to perform their functions. The phone is ringing. But of course. we call it. Strangely. I have learned much. After this call. but in the midst of the human condition. Vishal may as well have rented a blimp and trailing banner and flown it over my house to announce it last week. especially these international calls that seem to work no better than a short wave radio much of the time— crackling transmissions. are ―accidental project managers‖ this way. not just in the mere abstract. I could imagine that it has been a lot like working in an ICU. I am pleased I took up the challenge.‖ It was a remarkably good connection given the pathetically flawed state of internet phone service. ―We need to talk…‖ Dot. even though I had been a part of dozens of projects in different capacities.
on the other hand. my friend. and…‖ His voice trails off leaving the sentence unfinished. I‘m sure you wouldn‘t put the project at risk without—careful consideration. if you have an appetite for self delusion. Vishal uses his warm baritone voice to reach right through the phone and wrap his empathy around me with a hug. don‘t we? Nonetheless. You know the financial difficulties we‘ve been having. appearing in abstract conversation and vanishing when the work begins. ―I understand.‖ 6 . ―Richard. ―Admittedly so.‖ Vishal continued. I have struggled to maintain his support—and lost.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed service—they’re working while you sleep. I won‘t plead for my life. Ha. Gregg believes you are threatening the flow of revenues. is an evanescent concept in Vishal‘s project lexicon. Finished. It‘s time to move on. no one hopes so more than me. I can be reasonable. ―What do you mean?‖ ―Finish it right and get paid in full for a change. ―The project is almost done anyway. not-a-damn-thing-left-to-do done. ― ‗Almost done‘ is an alarming phrase to a project manager. It all works quite well. I‘ll get straight to the point. Even though he is the Vice-President of Global Implementations.‖ Vishal‘s tone of voice suggests the two of us have been set adrift together—two comrades on a raft. ―We could try for success. That‘s the anesthetic he uses.‖ Gregg is the Vice-President of North American Operations. but I‘d really like to shout it. I agree that the project is reasonably well set up and could be completed successfully. I believed he called it. We do have some history there. but even as panicked as I am. sharing rations under an unforgiving tropical sun. ―Is changing out the team generally advisable at the last hour?‖ I‘m proud of myself now—like the guy who refuses the blindfold and faces the rifle barrels wide-eyed and bold. He has never heard of or from Charles Silverstruk. Vishal.‖ I say this in the calmest of tones. Vishal. I‘m afraid so. I know these things are not done until they‘re done—tombstone-on-the-grave done. But Vishal wouldn‘t really quite grasp where things stand. and voila. he doesn‘t know what those ominous last steps might hold for me. ―Richard. A tragic assumption most of the time. There‘s too much bad blood stirring.‖ Of course. a veteran in the company and one whose opinion carried real weight. in this case. you have seen this through to the penultimate steps. fresh-baked code for breakfast.‖ I said. causing the project to be delayed with your—dogmatism. I‘m afraid it has been decided that we shall ask you to turn in your papers. I certainly hope so.
This conversation was as hopeless as I thought it would be. complex project too. a software system Best Bargain would use to run their entire company. but I can‘t take that chance. and Gregg is a checkmate to the third power. And so it is. This Best Bargain project had been swallowing me into a black hole—a black hole of what. The mindless activity of packing gives me time to think. the guillotine has fallen. Am I excused of an execution by this one Vishal has delivered? I could hope so. the delivery of an ERP system. do about this.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed ―Sorry. Unfortunately. How could this have happened? Was it just coincidence—my encountering Charles Silverstruk. I need to be moving quickly now. What I know now about the effects of the human heart—with its frailties. well I suppose I have always known some of that in some oblique way. Richard. I don‘t like thinking that. This project must be finished.‖ The consensus between Rajan. I know this project got very real for me when I got the notice. I have turned on all the lamps and my bedroom seems too bright. Richard. Charles Silverstruk will have to say or. don‘t they? Two welded projectiles fall to earth in the face of an unwitting soldier splayed on the ground. And there laid the notice an inch from his nose that this battle was a very real one and the consequences severe. I‘m not guessing whether Charles Silverstruk had heard the bad news right along with me. and I had not been so vigilant about it as I am now. But I better finish packing now. I tell myself that regardless of this turn of events. scared. My suitcase is lying wide-mouthed on the bed. I asked myself? Of professional and moral compromise. It was the consequence of my own cowardice that provoked that beast. I have proven myself in the trade. I have managed a big project. I have to see to that—to save myself. It was a wounded. But now I have been reawakened to it all. Neither Best Bargain nor Triple-S can tolerate the possibility of more delays. 7 . CEO of Triple-S. Now I have to find a way to finish the project and finally escape the jeopardy I have faced for so many months. more importantly. What a learning experience. Then to find my resuscitation coming from this dark heart‘s ominous challenge to me. surgeon-ready. I am terrified at what Mr. the grasping hopes. life threatening. my head lopped off and dropped into the dark collection of the Triple-S chronicles. Wisdom awakened by an evil taunt. the malevolence. Rajan shares Gregg‘s concerns. What an implausible circumstance to encounter in my life. It‘s been decided. Strange things happen in the fog of war. like two bullets colliding in thin air. I am arching underclothes into the case.
You better get out of there. I let it ring through. This would probably be Sebastian. That‘s odd. it says.D. 8 . The phone is ringing again. The caller I. But who? Nevermind. I go to my desk. Forget it. ―Richard. turn off all the lights and draw the curtains closed. Whoever it was is leaving no voice mail message. It gets quiet again. Charles Silverstruk‘s man. Or maybe Charles himself. reads ―Eastern Caskets. Inc.‖ I should have expected that. A voice begins speaking. I am telling myself.‖ It wasn‘t Sebastian‘s or Charles‘ voice. I am probably forgetting something important I should do. I set my bag down in the hallway and locked the condo door behind me. calling from their home office. I should be running for the door. The phone is ringing yet again. Unknown caller. he‘s on his way.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed My bag is almost full. Before I go I tell myself that I‘ll turn the thermostat down. I quick-step to the bedroom to get my bag. I‘m not answering. I stand frozen in place until it stops ringing. But I am compelled by its threat to check the caller ID.
Paul is swamped. Nonetheless. Gregg was overloaded managing all operations in the U. had gotten things out of order—building software solutions before he knew how he would compete with the current market. I enjoyed taking a shower in my own bathroom and the taste of my own coffee. processing it all seemingly simultaneously. ―Hello. he knew that. He was deluding himself thinking he could do that. he could not co-process communications. he was eager to be wealthy. how‘s it going?‖ Gregg intoned in that lilting New Hampshire accent. At first I had been amazed at his intellectual dexterity. sitting at my own desk. the CEO and founder. texting in other windows. But. The Skype icon displayed on my computer screen signifying my call was in process. talking on one line. but Gregg was known for his multi-tasking habits. He lost the communication‘s thread and missed a lot that went on. I left wondering how any of us could help him build a successful company when he had such disregard for business fundamentals. A similar icon would appear on Gregg‘s computer notifying him of the incoming call. not a skill.‖ 9 . I found Rajan.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed Chapter 2 The First Decision Seven Months Earlier I was glad to be back from India. but later saw that though he alternated between discussions rapidly. As harried as he surely was.S.‖ ―I‘ll get the kick-off meeting scheduled ASAP. The experience there had been enlightening in a troubling way. He seemed oblivious to the research that went into a business plan. Richard. Gregg always conveyed a calm reassurance. I got down to business. Later I saw his multi-tasking as a symptom. ―You know Vishal has appointed me the Best Bargain project manager?‖ ―And we need you. and shared a company-wide malady—trying to focus on more than one subject at a time. and Canada and trying to squeeze too many tasks into too little time. He commonly handled more than one call at a time. It rang more times than I usually allowed.
and tried to talk over the piercing sounds of a casino‘s incessant bell-ringing.‖ ―That‘s unfortunate. I had been witness to kick-off meetings in the past. Donald Moore is Operations Manager. and what documentation would be available and where. I hope he set expectations right. then on to executive positions negotiating contracts with strategic partners for a small division of a Fortune 100 firm. I needed Best Bargain to understand how this project was going to be run. Paul has already held the kick-off meeting. 10 . Great idea. there‘s baggage there that can‘t be taken lightly.‖ ―What should I know about them?‖ ―They‘re a little tense. It was very difficult if the members don‘t understand how it would be conducted. It was meeting where team members were identified.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed ―No need. and target certain vertical markets. horn-blasting triumph over their gambling guests. Like a lover on the rebound. But you‘ll do fine with them. responsibilities were made clear and communication protocols were set.‖ A wounded client I figured was not going to give us the benefit of the doubt when things didn‘t go well. Had a bad experience once before. so that‘s one less thing on your list of things to do. an ERP solution from a world leader in ERP solutions. the same vendor the industry giants had chosen. He told me he had begun his career as a programmer and progressed up the ladder to product manager. I saw the challenge of keeping the effort coordinated like directing an orchestra. half the size of a tennis court. Customer and consultant need to start off on the same page. I first met Gregg at a Las Vegas trade show long before we both joined Triple-S. Now it was likely that I‘d have to do some remedial education which could feel like changing the rules after the game had started.1 ―Who are my company contacts?‖ I asked. like knowing who to talk to and when. We sat together at the a huge rectangular bar. The idea was to integrate a combination of various other software vendors‘ solutions.‖ This was not welcome news. now made available to the small to medium- 1 See Kick-Off Meeting in the Quick Reference section for more information. They paid a handsome entry fee hoping to get in on the ground floor of a plan to launch a software solution set based on the Giant Software Business First ERP. ―Alex Silverstruck is CEO. It was a clumsy beginning. That‘s a critical meeting—the rules of engagement and all that. There he had played a key role in a program that solicited partnerships with small IT consulting firms.
We‘ve got one independent software vendor. or the sheer number of blank cells in the task and resources grid would have jumped off the page at them. but as I listened to him I thought how all such ventures are more attractive when using other people‘s money. He said the thing might have worked except his company lacked the competencies to accomplish it. That‘s in a little more than ninety days. he broke into a slight smile of an inscrutable sort—maybe amused.‖ ―So far.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed sized company. or words to that effect. not in a toast to the sacrificed. But what was he to do? I asked myself. Didn‘t utter one word of complaint. murky puddle. he did not protest the injustice of the act.‖ ―Desperate times. comes around. Survival. Giant Software. I might have walked away from this one. Depending on their capacity for self-delusion. and a stay-at-home wife. I guess what goes around. When it all submerged into a hopeless. didn‘t offer one pained expression. Gregg left the company for another firm who hired him then a month later declared bankruptcy and let him go. He seemed not to be bothered with the recklessness of their venture. Gregg delivered his observations as dispassionately as a medical examiner over a corpse. desperate measures. Gregg continued. all the while sensing that this was ―an idea ahead of its time. ―This Best Bargain project is very complicated. Seems no one got around to fleshing out a project plan for the effort. Security. I couldn‘t tell. all young. They were conscience-shaping motivations.‖ ―Ninety days? Have we ever completed any full-scale project in ninety days?‖ 11 . If we didn‘t need the cash as badly as we do.‖ as he said. it should have stopped them in their tracks. Was the venture a gamble or a calculated business risk? It‘s hard to define the difference sometimes. It was all summed up in a great mission statement. two of our own solutions and probably several custom developments. Maybe Gregg was resigned to it. They want to go live May 1. Gregg had four children. Again. How much did they put down?‖ I asked. maybe embarrassed.‖ ―And there‘s something else. Gregg went along with it—he was well paid—and I guessed he did his best. That was apparently about as far as they got. And so a lot of small consulting firms felt very screwed when it failed miserably. but as just another swallow of life. so good. It made me pause to think of the old saying. At the end of his story. ―We took a ninety thousand dollar retainer. He casually raised his glass of wine to his lips.
This is an all-new challenge. what kind of communication—emails. I‘ll try not to amputate the wrong leg. ―Well.‖ ―That‘s kinda like wondering if the landing gear works. we‘re flying off into uncharted territory. and they‘ll want you to replicate it. I‘m talking about who is involved. sure. Sometimes their current practice will be utter nonsense.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed ―You can make history. the decision points within the transaction. ―Yeah. me and Amelia Earhart. This is going to sound so obvious.‖ I hung up with Gregg and placed a call to Vincent. Be out there Monday.‖ ―Everyone says that. when. Gregg. Ask you to build them a replica and put a ribbon on it like it was all new. my friend.‖ ―You‘ll be surprised. ―No. but it would help to develop a better view of what I might expect. Christ.‖ ―They‘ve already said their current system is too manual. we are in trouble. ―One more thing.‖ I don’t want to. It has to.‖ ―So tell me what I should do in a situation like this?‖ I‘d experienced enough to know that first-times at anything necessarily means trouble. Or you might end up solving the wrong problem. 12 . In other cases. I thought. the right hand won‘t know what the left hand is doing. You‘ve got to get the details documented in a business process blueprint. You‘d be amazed how many projects start off with as many differing views of the problem as there are stakeholders. That‘s why you must get the problem clearly defined before you propose a solution blueprint. Vincent. Shouldn‘t be too hard to do. I‘ve got that. ―You‘ll have to get a test system up as soon as possible.‖ ―Not good news.‖ ―I‘ll make plans as soon as I hang up here. Have we ever implemented all these solutions together in a single project?‖ I asked.‖ I wanted to hear any initial input Vincent might offer to get this project off on the right foot. You‘ve got to know where. why and how is it too manual. See if this thing can work at all. These solutions have never been implemented together. no.‖ ―The most important thing in any project occurs at the very beginning. and the outputs. but you‘ve got to define the problem you‘re trying to solve first.‖ ―You can learn to thrive on danger.‖ ―Be very sure you understand the inputs that feed each transaction. never have.‖ I sensed a snicker in his voice. And that‘s too vague. ―Good afternoon.‖ ―Okay.‖ ―All untested then.
Make assumptions. ‗I thought you meant that. People get tired.‘ Or ‗I just assumed you would do this or that.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed phone calls. I hoped it wouldn‘t get more difficult than this. Take the time it takes. Find out how they fix a transaction that went badly. ―It‘s very easy to let these details slip by in a long meeting. 13 . and what determines what action happens next and what the next guy in the process gets in the handoff. I was looking at a project with a software system that I couldn‘t be sure would work and with a smarting customer who had already been burnt by another consulting firm.‖ ―Yes sir.‖ ―Don‘t be hurried. Richard. Tell you later.‖ ―I gotcha.‖ ―All right. faxes.‖ ―Your favorite question will be ―What else?‖ Dig and dig some more. so get things clear.‖ ―Boxers or briefs? —that sort of thing.‖ I wasn‘t feeling so good after the call. and as important as all that is. Don‘t leave room for misunderstandings. right?‖ Vincent didn‘t laugh.‖ ―Naturally. find out what happens when things go wrong.
How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed
What is a Project Plan?
I had worked alone for some time, but this assignment made me feel more alone than usual. It was new territory for me, and I thought I was going to spend a lot of time consulting with myself. I wondered how that would go. They say it takes as little as two weeks alone in a room before you feel the onset of psychosis. I‘m alone a lot. I had to wonder about this. Some days I found myself seated at my desk, staring at my big screen TV. It‘s 52 inches wide, or tall, or diagonally, I don‘t remember, but it‘s big and it stands there on a matching black glass table, like an altar, dominating the room. Calling to me. Kneel. I sometimes wanted to turn it on first thing in the morning, to have some company. I knew I couldn‘t. If I did I‘d find myself still watching it moronically at noon. It leeches energy from its victims, people like me, and wastes more time than the DMV. My circumstance made me think of life marooned on a desert island. Hallucinating in a hot stupor. Staring at a coconut tree until it begins to look like Marylin Monroe. She winks at me. I kiss her passionately. Her lips are terribly chapped. I hug her jagged waist and try to lay her down. But she won‘t budge. I awake. She‘s a tree. I release her, and go sit down again on a log. I stare at a giant sea turtle basking on the beach. I am afraid to look at it too long. I dismissed the reverie and got to work. I thought I could show progress by getting a project plan in their hands, even a minimal one, and by sending them software licenses, too. I called Paul and left a message asking that he send a pro forma project plan to Donald right away. I‘d flesh it out later. Sending the licenses was an easy task that I could check off quickly. We‘ve already had Best Bargain‘s money for two months. They were going to start asking about the licenses any day. I called the home office to check on them. ―Ravi, have you cut the purchase orders for the Best Bargain licenses?‖ ―Yes, Richard. I just sent payment to Giant yesterday.‖
How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed
―Yesterday? And the others?‖ ―Not yet.‖ ―Why not?‖ ―I‘ll get to it soon.‖ ―Soon? Why not now?‖ ―No worries, Richard. I get the licenses.‖ ―Ravi, what‘s up? Why haven‘t you already ordered the other licenses? Tell me.‖ ―We have a cash flow situation. Just a temporary thing.‖ ―Temporary? We‘ve had the retainer for two months.‖ ―It‘s just a temporary cash flow situation.‖ ―Ravi, stop repeating yourself. What you‘re saying is we‘ve spent their money, aren‘t you? We don‘t have the funds, do we?‖ ―I‘m sorry, Richard. We don‘t.‖ ―And when will we have the money?‖ ―Probably next week.‖ ―From where?‖ ―It will come in.‖ ―From who?‖ ―Richard, please, it‘s just a temporary situation. Give me until Friday.‖ ―Okay, Ravi. I think I get it.‖ We didn‘t have the money, and we had no idea when we would. Maybe Friday would be a magic day.
How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed
Post Traumatic Syndrome Now
One of the blessings about working at home is you can wear your pajamas all day. I didn‘t wear pajamas, but if I had, I‘d only change clothes on the weekends. As it was, I wore flannel gym pants and a teeshirt every day, no socks. I started this day like almost all the rest. I turned on the computer and let it boot unattended. I made a fresh pot of coffee, eight cups, not ten. A pot of ten cups left me only mouth puckering dregs to drink by two in the afternoon. Better to make a fresh pot then. I popped two slices of whole wheat bread in the toaster, my personal mockery of a healthy diet, and each day I consider and reject pouring a glass of fruit juice; coffee will have tainted my taste buds before I could consider swallowing something that sweet. I threw out a lot of juice. I opened the patio drapes to let in a beaming suggestion that there lies a connection to me and the natural world. Business will consume my consciousness the rest of the day and into the night. The light of day can barely compete with a computer monitor. The Windows melody sang, and my screen came alive. I quickly checked emails. It was time to get things rolling for this project. I‘d have a chat with Paul first thing to take the temperature of the situation. Being introduced in the role of project manager so late in the process—the deal was closed some two months prior—demanded some prompt execution before Triple-S was exposed for ineptness from the very outset. To move things along I asked Paul to send a preliminary project plan to Best Bargain with the note explaining that it would be refined soon. This was inadequate given that two months had already passed. At 47 years old, Paul had been around the world doing implementations for a variety of companies in Ghana, in France, Hawaii and elsewhere. He was well exposed to the vagaries of these things, and no amount of calamity shook him. He was an intrepid, though beleaguered consultant, who had single-handedly led all of those North American projects, those almost-all-unfinished projects, with negligible help from his two other colleagues.
How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed
I reached Paul on Skype to discuss the approach to the Best Bargain implementation. ―Paul, I hope you don‘t take offense with my being asked to be the project manager on this one.‖ ―Why should it bother me?‖ ―I realize you‘ve been asked to do about everything over the past years. Seems like it‘s an overload situation. Maybe another hand can help bring some order to these implementations?‖ ―Maybe. The fact is we‘ve truly completed only a couple implementations. When they get complicated, we get into trouble.‖ I sat up in my office chair and rested my chin in the palm of my hand, considering the bad news. Paul lived in a technological Ponzi scheme, the newest deal providing life sustaining cash and new hope for the company, while the obligations of the new deal only compounded the pressures to assuage the open demands of the previous. He acknowledged that there were over two dozen projects in North America still unfinished, hanging in an eternal limbo. He was doomed, and like doomed men, his manner had compressed into a robotic acceptance of his fate. And it was all bad. Paul told me about the calls that were burying him, but as I listened to him recount the issues I saw that these calls were not simply support calls. They were the consequences of incomplete blueprinting, if there had been any at all, and incomplete training. Paul was belatedly learning the client‘s business processes, a grievous transposition in the sequence of an implementation. ―Well, Paul, call me a dreamer, but I would like to see us follow a methodology on this one—sign-offs, documentation, status calls—the whole thing. Let‘s try to wrap this project up completely.‖ Suddenly there was a chime ringing on Paul‘s end of the line. ―What‘s that?‖ I asked. ―Richard, I‘m sorry but I‘m going to have to cut you off. I‘ve got a support call scheduled right now, you know how it is.‖ ―Will you call me when you‘re done?‖ The Skype tone bleeped signaling the end of the call without another word from Paul. He didn‘t call back. As I reflected on our conversation, I could see that many of those support calls were really about remedial training, which surprised me not a bit since Paul had told me months earlier that he did not have even a training outline to work from when ―training‖ the client. Training was inevitably improvised producing a hailstorm of questions from trainees in the sessions that ricocheted from one topic to another incoherently. They never did get properly prepared this way. And so after the go-live was complete and Triple-S left the premises, the questions were lobbed at
never ending and never making enough sense to the callers as they tried to piece it all together. 18 . I sent three successive emails and left three voice mail messages asking Paul to send the preliminary project plan. Whether Paul could not or maybe would not comply wasn‘t clear. support call after call. I got no response and nothing happened. He had been unreachable.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed Paul endlessly. and we were already noticeably late. I was stranded.
I toss post-its. maybe.‖ ―What do we tell Best Bargain?‖ ―Don‘t tell them anything. You know at best this is going to delay the go-live. The licenses remained unordered. I made a dozen shots then I turned my chair around to face my filing cabinet to grab a notepad.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed Chapter 5 Driving without a License Magic Friday came and went without any positive news from Ravi.‖ ―We can only do that for so long. It was hard to understand how Ravi might have led me on with blind hope alone. Monday morning I called Gregg. It‘s pretty dry out there. they‘ll tell them they haven‘t been paid. we don‘t have the money to buy the licenses from Tracer. But hiding from real possibilities were not in my scope. I had it propped on my 19 . Sara. ―This is not good. and we don‘t know when we‘re going to get it. I began wadding blank post-its and tossing them into the basket. I had to press Gregg to face this looming crisis.‖ ―It is what it is.‖ ―For Best Bargain?‖ ―Yes. Hope that something will come through soon. I hate to start this project being evasive. Avoid the subject.‖ I didn‘t consider the hopeful ‗You never know‘ conjecture as a planning option. I turned my chair towards the wastebasket and grabbed the post-it notes. You know if they ask the Tracer people for licenses. that‘s what it is. ―Gregg. As I turned I took notice of the one special photo I had of my daughter.‖ Gregg deadpanned. So things had gotten worse. here‘s the latest. We‘ll be outed.‖ I closed the Skype call and took a moment to contemplate this conversation. What do you suppose Best Bargain will say if they find out?‖ If I could buy sky hooks I would. maybe not. ―It‘s like finding a dead body in your trunk.‖ ―Uh-huh.‖ ―Yeah. Some people squeeze stress balls. ―They‘ll probably call their lawyers. You have any new business in the pipeline?‖ ―Nothing predictable.
―Would you rather I‘d didn‘t have any? How would you feel about it then?‖ was my banal reply. Richard. When I got there. old single car garage. That was about as close as we had been for many years. I was divorced because of my own blindness. Never touching. the 20 . but I flipped and became the mole they needed to gather the damning evidence. one of the lowest level members. maybe addictive. But it was new to me. I worked hard at it. But we all hyped one another with the company chants and never saw the wrong in it. The rush from accumulating so much easy money was powerful. You‘d find me near the top of the pyramid. we implied. Selling AM-HOW diet supplements. invited me to his house. just aware of each other‘s passing existence. My daughter cried.‖ my wife had said so many times. My wife pleaded. I wasn‘t there. She didn‘t much know me. She felt like she never had a dad. naive person after the next with dreams of easy money and early retirement. My life was the opening chapter of a marriage-gone-wrong book. I‘d been there.‖ Everybody did. Loading up one greedy. But the truth of the sham didn‘t bother me because I had no place for it in my selfcentered view. I began to think. and even when I was home. Until the feds investigated the company. Hell. and I didn‘t much know her.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed bookshelf. Making great money. I don‘t know why they offered me the deal. I got in on the ―ground floor. wearing fine suits and flashing fancy rings at the recruitment rallies. I was a platinum guy. it did dawn on me that no one was really selling enough diet supplements to produce a living wage or even get their initial investment back. Nevermind that no one but the guys at the top ever made any money. and I found myself looking straight at it. And with a lot of pills to fill the garage with. and I didn‘t have any idea what a pyramid scheme was when I started in it. What a tired old story. like he was struggling to maintain control. A thousand dollars could get you a million. ―Your life is all about the money. I saw that the whole idea was just to recruit another recruit who would recruit some more recruits—and get their buy-in. Granted I was young. The turning point came when one of my crystal members. too. I couldn‘t be judgmental with Gregg with his blind determination. I stayed in the racket for another four years. I got a cut of all the new business. this middleaged guy was standing in front of a weathered. too. His voice on the phone was shaky. I should say he pleaded with me to come to his house. I was gone all the time. Sara was nine when we divorced. After a time. It was all consuming.
He backed up and leaned on the garage. but maybe they‘d never really be good. He told me how he‘d put all their savings into AM-HOW and there they sat in stacks of mildewing boxes. I handed over all the cash I had on me. Abandonment is a wound that‘s hard to heal. Raging phone calls. Things were better. 21 . I offered her my home when she and her mother finally couldn‘t stand each other anymore. and I‘m paying for it. I got us counseling. That is. he said. drank their wine. Finally. Sara often needed a place to escape to. He began to tear up and they trickled down his implacable face – like he was trying to be a man about this. We talk now and then. One of his cheeks suddenly started to twitch like a nervous tic. and his head dropped. She made it into college. sleeping on floors. but I still couldn‘t tell you where she was living. and I drove the five and half hours it took to make the session every week for many months. but obviously his heart was breaking. moving from home to home for much of the last three years of high school. I got off lucky with a year‘s community service. She‘s always kept moving and still kept me at arm‘s length. Her only contact with me came by cellphone. Our connection just faded. savored their steak and sent the honchos to prison with what I learned.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed door up. I wore a wire to company dinners. but she wouldn‘t come to me. I never felt lousier. They had fights. I smiled. his body sagged. It was filled back to front with boxes of AM-HOW diet supplements. I was still too much the stranger. The tears said enough. She was too far away. and Sara and I barely spoke to one another for six years. He didn‘t elaborate. But I‘d been working on it. There were school suspensions. and I was doing everything I could to restore her faith in me as a father. He tried to stop it with his hand. We began slowly working our way back to a relationship. His wife and children were suffering. I told him to burn the rest if he wanted to. Not going to beg. a few hundred dollars maybe. he told me. the only permanent address I had for her. as best as I could tell. Her mom was drinking a lot. At least he could have use of his garage back. He needed the money back. couches and spare bedrooms. Until I decided to do something about it. The program didn‘t allow for refunds. I told him. Instead she survived staying with friends. Paint flaking off the jambs. My ex moved away with Sara. I decided it was important to be a parent. There were health problems.‖ he said. and loaded as much of the inventory in my car as I could. I could see he was coming apart. Her picture is there to remind me of what‘s important. ―Please.
no matter how expectations had been set up during the sales process. Don‘t ever lie to the customer whatever you do. I‘ve called him several times this week. tell the truth.‖ Vincent said.‖ I said.‖ ―Get something in their hands. ―Vincent. and don‘t promise anything you don‘t feel confident in.‖ And I wasn‘t looking forward to the day I had to deliver the bad news—a realistic go-live date.‖ ―Don‘t waste your time worrying about things you can‘t control. I decided to download the sample project plan Giant 22 . Flexibility and organic changes may be reality. I placed my second anything-you-need call to Vincent. This deal is already two months old. ―On top of that. They had been prepared to expect a certain go-live date. then explain to Best Bargain it‘s naturally going to change as events unfold. If Alex confronts you on it. ―What about the due date for the software licenses? I have no idea when we can get them. but I expected the explanation to be rejected by both Alex and Donald. Alex is going to ask why. ―This worries me. That‘s what we‘ve promised. but we don‘t have the money for the Tracer software licenses.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed I was feeling the anxiety of a very bad experience shaping up.‖ ―I‘m not feeling confident about anything. Do your best.‖ ―Do it yourself then. I‘ve got about six hours before I have to fly to New York to do the blueprinting. more or less. but this was going to be a tough sell.‖ ―A plan is an organic thing.‖ ―I don‘t know how long each of these tasks take. it was up to me to start framing reality for our clients. The call was the beginning of a series of consultations I would have with him as I expected. but Paul is not getting it done. It changes with circumstances anyway. What do I tell them?‖ ―You can renew temporary licenses over and over again until you get the real ones. What should I say?‖ ―Leave the go-live date blank. I can‘t reach him. What things can you move along?‖ ―I need a project plan. I suppose. On the other hand.‖ ―The due dates in the project plan are supposed to add up to a May 1 go-live.‖ This was sensible advice. The due dates I come up with are going to be bogus. Don‘t wait. there‘s nothing you or I can do about this. In six hours there was not much thought I could give to preparing the project plan. then start fixing it as soon as possible. I ended the call and got busy on it.
They believed it was about ordering. he said. I‘d seen as much in my subordinate roles in previous projects. 2 See Preparing a Project Plan in the Quick Reference section for more information.2 The Giant plan was a brief one that primarily listed milestones and no intervening action steps. The fall can result in paralysis. an ERP implementation was a collaborative effort and this had to be emphasized by assigning the client responsibilities.‘ without any supporting detail of the required subtasks. I first thought the answer to that was related to how much detail I could manage.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed Software provided on their website for their business partners. How much detail to supply was a question in my mind. the Work Breakdown Structure. I understood what he was saying. Each of the other milestones lacked similar supporting details. I‘d put it this way. How many follow up phone calls could I make? How long and detailed should a status review meeting last? My second thought was my team needed close guidance. for example. Too many small companies. and they had to be prepared to eventually take over the system reins at golive. I had witnessed in my past endeavors a reality that was quite different. and the assigned resources. some tasks only the client could most reliably accomplish. There were but five or six columns. As important as it was to include all the necessary tasks. but sufficient to track tasks. too. I had been there when a go-live went badly. And only they could approve the system design in light of their business requirements. those necessary steps that had to be completed to reach the milestone. Vincent had stressed. I supposed I‘d figure the proper balance as I went along. More important than that. The number of columns in the project plan grid. Of course. Going from spectator to bull-rider results in a sudden rise to unexpected heights of reality. and they had to participate in the creation and approval of the user acceptance testing scripts. was minimal. both projected and actual. They as key stakeholders had to be involved. saw the purchase of an ERP system in the same way they saw ordering a sandwich. paying and getting handed the order all wrapped and ready for the eating. Vincent had cautioned that it was equally essential to assign the client to various tasks. I could make small modifications to it. There were only cursory entries in it such as ‗Load ERP Software‘ and ‗Import Master Data. Only the client knew with any authority what was what in their master data. including their start and completion dates. Clearly. 23 . so I had to incorporate enough detail to accomplish that. too.
I clicked the email Send button and the preliminary project plan was speeding on its way to Best Bargain. about seven weeks late.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed With little time left to hurriedly pack for my trip. 24 .
Actually. An observant client would have seen some bad butterflies in the very first page of our proposal.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed Chapter 6 A Cracked Foundation Finish this sentence. 25 . It was a statement of mutual agreement. The regular traveler will tell you: they want to aggravate the hell out of you. peace treaties and proposals should look as though care has been taken in preparing them. and would have served as fair warning. I chose a seat in a dim corner. but this gate had no flight assigned to it and no one was there. Why is your gate always the one at the very end of the concourse? There is only one rational answer: Because God hates you. forcing you to buy expensive drinks once on the plane. not merely read it. It was past time for me to have read the proposal Gregg provided to Best Bargain and the Request For Proposal they had sent to us. the proposal preceded the blueprint. In the TripleS sales sequence. and to eternally punish airport management instead of me. quietly asked the Almighty to reconsider my gate assignments in the future. My gate was C31. It was a stew of rambling comments cooked up with a seasoning of soaring. inane claims lifted from sales brochures. next to the window. The O‘Hare airport concourses are exceedingly long because… The coldly rational person who rarely walks them might add: the wingspan of the aircraft are so wide. had they been concerned with the contents. I needed to study the proposal. so the proposal was the foundational document—our first promises to the customer as well as their commitments. Forensic analysis would have determined that the text was derived from boilerplate text. like resumes. I opened my laptop and propped it on my knees. Here‘s another one for you. I see them as a Rorschach depiction of your professional skills and knowledge. and about as informative as a gangster‘s alibi. well-boiled. Official documents. I dropped myself into a gray seat at gate C27. The joker might suggest: they‘ve put wheels on luggage. have fun.
. e. clearly. and provide a rich user experience. Hence a typical bullet pointed list read: Sales Opportunities Bin Control Advanced forecasting and replenishment Warehouse Management including pick to carton Container management Shipping system EDI Transactions The narrative text resembled the approximate English one finds on an ethnic restaurant‘s menu. ―Turtle soap. tangible Return on Investment in my hand.‖ What ―working hours‖ would that be? We‘re open when we‘re open. And what about support for the other two solutions in the proposal? Care had not been taken in writing this proposal.‖ ―Eat children free. From the ―Project Objectives‖ section.‖ I don‘t think I‘ve ever actually held a true. …and… ―Triple-S requires the system to be easy to use. flexible. But the most troubling statement among the carnage strewn about on the proposal‘s pages was the following: 26 . we‘re closed. it read: ―[the software]…offers true tangible Return on Investment.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed In the first few paragraphs. and when we‘re not. it was evident that Gregg had followed a style borrowed from the RanSom notE writEr‘s GuiDe to cApitaliZation.‘ or ‗great sex‘ or some other immeasurable claim? …and… ―[the solution]…reduces post-purchase costs by providing a onecall via toll-free support line.‖ and the like.‖ You only get one call? …and… ―Our support desk runs working hours and specializes in Giant Software Business First.‖ Just what constitutes a ―rich user experience?‖ Is it like a guaranteed ‗best shave.g.
like playing poker ever Friday night with the guys is okay.‘ to name a few landmark cases. like: ‗Honey.‖—one hour or a hundred. No emphasis was given to change orders. The next sale is like a first kiss to every salesperson on the planet. and could pass a polygraph on that if asked. In the heat of the exchanges.3 Like in a new marriage. I have never felt about anyone else like I feel about you at this moment—baby. no extras. If that is your intention. leaving the door ajar for unlimited ―small‖ changes to be requested. and every effort will be given to meet this date. but with less detail. you better get to the game soon after wedding day.‘ or ‗I wish you‘d never been born. No ups. because things always change. And to set expectations clearly. It was a time and materials based estimate which also included a page displaying specific milestone payment amounts—a selfcontradicting paradigm that a customer will interpret to his advantage as a fixed amount bid. In the sales cycle. who knew? And we would use our ―standard methodology‖— which was explained in fewer words than the Gettysburg address. Gregg was understandably aroused too when making the Best Bargain sale. the rules need to be unequivocally established. And not a penny more. sweet prospect. and he can‘t wait for it to happen. a promise to ―try‖ sounds just like ―You will go live on the date you‘ve stated.‘ or ‗Of course [lover‘s name here]. I really hate your mother. Wait too long to announce the game. my dear.‖ There are certain words and their implications you can never take back. and you‘ll be charged with changing the rules of the relationship.‖ Your customer will say you promised it.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed ―The Go-Live target date for this project is May 1 of the current year. 27 . Vincent offered no advice more insistent than this: a reference to change orders must be in the proposal. overheated ―I love you‖ said to surrendering lover. Our proposal included our ―standard training. and promised to ―try‖ to meet a golive date in his conversation and again in print. All this I found on the first page. it sounded just like the infamous. Each following page added to the disaster like another pound of plutonium. he had observed that you must present a 3 See Change Order in the Quick Reference section for more information.
I turned around to check the gateway. or any contract for that matter. Ours was a proposal of headings stuffed with the detritus of past contracts holding little intellectual value. the accent was too thick for me to decode. but I could recite the caution to not leave your bags unattended in my sleep. I closed the document just as the overhead speakers began squawking flight information. is a blind built for a surprise attack. When I finished reading the document I knew I could not rely on the proposal to defend the scope of our obligation. I‘ve always held. that dark harbinger heard wailing from the purgatory of lost minds. People had closed ranks. An unclear proposal results in a fuzzy project mission statement. 28 . Though the announcer was speaking English. I rarely understood most of what they said. Best Bargain would have been wiser had he been alert for the telltale admonition of an unclear proposal. eager to squirm into their seats. The client must learn to expect it. I closed up my computer and joined the line. I always held that the idea of the proposal. should be to provide the clarity needed as a basis for cultivating cooperation. Obfuscation.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed change order with the very first change the client requests—even if you intend to charge nothing for it.
He exuded vitality. a dual major in business administration and computer science. A plain. Donald was the Operating Manager. And besides. Donald Moore greeted me at the entrance and directed me to the conference room. since in my experience many CEO‘s are notorious for setting bad examples. and I judged that he would to be actively involved in the project. He wore pressed jeans. Though only 26 years old. nothing confirms a lack of commitment better than being late for the meeting.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed Chapter 7 Blueprinting I pulled into the Best Bargain lot an hour before the meeting was to begin. Alex entered the conference room a few minutes before our set time. backlit sign by the road identified the site as Best Bargain Companies in sterile block letters. a form fitting golf tee shirt over a flat stomach and v-shaped chest. His ruddy complexion reflected every micro-movement of his emotions. Alex spoke proudly when introducing Donald as a Harvard graduate. Alex was a trim fortyish man who looked me directly in the eye when he spoke. 29 . arriving consistently late then wondering in later days why the company lacked professional discipline. The building was set amidst dozens of lookalike two story. he had overseen an ERP implementation for a company much like Best Bargain in size and complexity. He walked with a bounce in his step and gestured with jerky motions ignited by a restless undercurrent of energy. In his first employment after Harvard. Donald‘s mission was to bring Best Bargain into twenty-first century technologies as he had his previous company. I needed time to break the ice with Alex and Donald and to make sure the plan was set. and became flaming red when he was excited. and a pair of sportsman‘s eyeglasses rested on his chest. hung by a orange lanyard around his neck. Donald carried himself with the mature stature of an executive many years beyond his. a good sign. His trim figure suggested a marathon runner‘s physique. spotless white Nikes. dingy yellow brick structures in an industrial office park that had stood its test of time.
emergency or not. I planned to always confirm why each step was done. I found there was always some confusion among the company‘s representatives as they tried to recite just what it is they do and how they do it. 30 . then marking up that blueprint where the customer‘s processes are at variance. I preferred to keep the focus on the as-is state. There was going to be a lot of erasing. when. There are those who endorse presenting a blueprint of the proposed solution. and outputs for every transaction within and between every relevant department.5 Process mapping was not as straightforward as taking dictation. See Business Processes in the Quick Reference section for more information. the customer and I will be speaking the same language. The goal was to map the ―as-is‖ state of the business using the simple analysis process of tracking inputs. re-wording and re-sequencing involved. Any way I could build their confidence was critically important. The answers to the question why would be where 4 5 See The Blueprint in the Quick Reference section for more information. I needed a white board to map their processes in flowchart fashion when it got too complicated to simply list the sequential steps in my notes. and I had to be prepared for it. sometimes excusing myself for acting like a dunce in asking about the seemingly obvious. Some consultants choose to affix large post-it notes to the whiteboard instead of writing on the board itself so the notes can easily be removed and repositioned in a sequence. and they will have confidence that I truly understand their business as I relate my first hand knowledge of what they have been doing in comparison to the way they will be doing it after the implementation. how and why such inputs. decision points. I had experienced on other occasions how letting one of the meeting members out of the room led to a loss of concentration that is all but impossible to recover. Involved in all the analysis was who. where. There could be no interruptions to take care of business.4 Both Donald and Alex were required for every session along with the relevant department head. In the many pre-sales calls I‘d made. Sometimes only a visual can make it clear. I planned to list the process steps on every third line in my notebook anticipating some re-writing and for inserting forgotten steps. and the white board was good for that. but my fresh eyes must assume nothing. choices and outputs were made. It was up to Donald and Alex to arrange for others to take over their duties in their absence. When I proposed the final solution later.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed I had prepared Donald and Alex for the blueprinting meetings by previously advising them how we would go about it. so to speak.
warehousing. of course. ―Certainly. I thought to myself that defining the problem for a software solution or any other type of project involved the same process.‖ I took that to mean it was important not to get ahead of ourselves.‖ Alex responded. Alex. 31 . who receives the call. and what they do with the information—write it down. I had to resist the temptation to get into a discussion of how the new system would handle their transactions. ―Does this make sense to you?‖ I said. an owner or maybe anyone at the customer‘s site. As Vincent had said. and outputs. A number of reviews of the draft blueprint document would be required before Triple-S and Best Bargain could agree upon a blueprint that could be signed and approved. Donald echoed his agreement ―What we‘ll do is take each department individually—sales. decision points. So it was important to keep the discussion focused on the current flow. whatever. purchasing. shipping—and map all their transactions step by step. Where I noted the gaps where the system would not perform the transaction as currently done. ―For example. I could later suggest where better practices might be put in place of the current process in the draft blueprint. type it into a computer screen. We‘ll divide each transaction into inputs. and simply flag where I saw opportunities to make improvements. Donald and I arranged ourselves around the conference table and began. And. I was sure it was never easy to get everyone to agree precisely on the as-is state of a current circumstance as competing delegates to such a meeting defended how they did what they did or didn‘t do. I had to be sure to find out what happened when it all goes wrong—and how the situation was corrected. ―You let the conversation get out of control. It‘s important that we agree upon this because this will be the standard by which we can determine when it‘s all done.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed outdated processes could be exposed and possibly changed to fit the best practice designs built into our solutions. Good project management includes a talent for good wordsmithing. ―Let me first state for clarity‘s sake that the purpose of the blueprint is to provide a document for you and Triple-S that describes the functionality that will be provided to you in the solution you‘ve purchased. You‘ll tell me who makes that call—a buyer. it becomes a pajama party where you all get dreamy-eyed and get to making wishes upon a star. the input for a sales order may be a customer phone call. Not to mention there are the elementary difficulties found in all communications like trying to agree on what has actually been said.
we‘re decently oriented I‘d say. a pick ticket. until the sales department is finished with the transaction. Between the e-lessons and the navigation training we saw last week. It‘s done entirely differently. even though I had never heard there were three companies.‖ ―Okay. is why the blueprint should be done first. then for a little background. Are there any other business units I should know about?‖ ―Well. Does this seem sensible?‖ ―This is what I expected. The last thing one wants to see is shock on the doctor‘s face.‖ said Alex. Same for Best Bargain Western. I knew that it would be very difficult to start this or any project properly if all stakeholders lacked a sufficient overview of the goal and the proposed solution. This. I held my composure. and the next step.‖ ―How is the Best Bargain Incorporated business different from Best Bargain National?‖ ―Incorporated sells to retailers and institutions. We represent Best Bargain Inc. all three companies will operate on one server. that‘s our understanding. or whatever it may be. plus they run a third-party logistics operation. ―Two here. Through the efficiency of remote web training.‖ Donald spoke for himself and Alex. ―Where are the three companies located?‖ I asked. Donald. too.‖ Donald continued. Will there be one application server and will it be located here?‖ ―Yes. We share the warehouse with Best Bargain National. or a printed sales order. from an overview perspective. depending on various factors. National sells to manufacturers. I thought. I had presented basic navigation training of the ERP to Alex. you‘ll tell me what the output is from that process—say. The third is in California. ―Fine. and who gets this output and how. ―And you‘ve both viewed all the eLessons for the Giant software so you have a good handle on the core system.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed ―Then you‘ll tell me what is done with that information in the next step. It‘s not mentioned in the proposal. and all the department heads without ever leaving my office. I was glad to hear that Donald had completed his assignment and had his staff view the e-lessons provided them. right?‖ ―Yes. we use three 3PLs around the country to fulfill orders. The scope as stated in the proposal was completely inaccurate.‖ No mention of 3PLs in the proposal either. The patient takes it as a death sentence. if not worse. How could a proposal estimate have been prepared with such an inadequate understanding of their business landscape? 32 . ―Finally.
as you can see. Though I was sure my delay sounded very much like. you will go live May 1. But when in doubt. then quickly returned his focus onto me. Richard. right? This is what Gregg has promised. You have to be able do this. Alex eyed me quietly. I have no reason to doubt his judgment. Donald‘s eyes fell. what else?‖ Alex cocked his chin back and raised his eyebrows and looked as if he was preparing to deliver the coup de grace. The erosion of my integrity began thusly. How I might have responded candidly to them without humiliating Gregg. I‘m just getting acquainted with the project. I would be speaking out of turn…‖ Alex interrupted. and they quietly allowed me to continue. apparently finding interest in his notepad. I knew then there was precious little chance we could meet that goal.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed ―Okay.‖ Alex had stiffened as he spoke. delay. I‘m sure he told you. The storm subsided. You can do that. and with his head held high his eyes rotated towards Donald casting a furtive glance as though demanding support. ―You know we have to go live by May 1. I did not know.‖ I said and nodded in a confident manner towards Alex and Donald. We talked to Gregg about this. Yes. ―It‘s a requirement. with a dodge. ―Gregg is an experienced consultant. well.‖ ―Yes. 33 . before our busy season. before we signed.
‖ ―No problem.‖ ―Oh. You just tell me what you do. I don‘t really know computers. I had to wonder if they owned lift trucks or not.‖ I said and offered my hand to shake. in the conference room. and had large biceps no one had without working at it. The coffee was Folgers. clearly. dark haired. ―You‘re the consultant. he turned and smiled broadly in my direction. The coffee creamer was a generic brand. right?‖ ―Yep. Somebody had a strange sense of humor. I concluded they were tight with a dollar at Best Bargain. With his coffee ready. in a giant can. Manager. and I went to the company lunch room down the hall. There were real spoons. A Best Bargain employee dropped in and prepared his own coffee. I hope I can help. That‘s all there‘s to it. I chose it assuming no one there would openly challenge me for it. I poured a cup of coffee using someone else‘s cup I took from the lunch room cabinet. ―Manny DiSalvo. It had some strange hieroglyphics on it resembling lewd acts of bestiality. Ten years.‖ Manny had an honest look in his eye and a surprisingly soft manner for a guy who bothered to bulk up like he did. You can sense something meaningful about a company in every element you observe on the premises. But more importantly. The floor and white counters and counter tops were spotless and uncluttered. no wasteful plastic stirrers. He raised the cup to his mouth which made his shirt sleeves strain to contain his flexing muscle. They didn‘t provide disposable coffee cups. I know. Sam‘s Club style. He was short. Best Bargain was neatly arranged. middle-aged. like the break room where I sat. ignoring my presence.‖ ―Yeah. 34 .How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed Chapter 8 Judging from Appearances We took a break from the blueprinting session. we‘ll be talking soon.‖ ―I‘m in the warehouse. well. either evidence of rare visitors or pronounced frugality. ―Richard.‖ he said as he sat down across from me.
and showing a slight smirk on his face said. then stood to offer me his hand. ―He‘s got it all. like. He. ―What do you mean?‖ I asked. ―Well. so what?‖ ―Well.‖ ―Let‘s put it this way. you know.‖ He lowered his voice.‖ He took another sip of his coffee.‖ He leaned forward. ―Sure hope this works out okay. let‘s just say he bought out all of the competition.‖ he said with a nervous laugh. you‘ll know. Have you met him?‖ ―No. You get the idea. The money behind this company comes from the father. He owns the casket business up and down the coast around here.‖ Then he nodded knowingly. And listen. Everyone pays attention when he‘s here.‖ ―Maybe you won‘t. He doesn‘t come around much. but. shook my hand and left. Charles. glanced over his shoulder.‖ ―Sounds like the Outfit?‖ ―I didn‘t say that. so there isn‘t any competition anymore. yes. I thought. tilted his head like he was keeping an eye out for intruders as he spoke.‖ ―Interesting. you can tell a lot about a company if you just look around.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed ―Well. If you get what I mean. ―I‘d better. maybe I shouldn‘t say. but when he does. ―I shouldn‘t say any more.‖ he added and dropped his head to look at his cup.‖ he paused and considered something in his head. owns the casket business. ― It‘s just maybe you should know. 35 . what I do is make sure things work out there. ―Sounds scary.‖ he nodded towards the warehouse. caskets you bury people in. uh.
Accounting is not a new science.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed Chapter 9 The Great Escape We managed to cover the business processes of the three business entities in four days. The agenda was to show them the chart of accounts. scarred leather brief case on the floor by his chair. and the members of the in-house accounting department. All other topics were to be reviewed in three dozen or so eLessons they had been provided. instructor-led classroom training would be conducted in the two weeks before go-live. It was not unusual that from time to time Alex or Donald was surprised to hear some details of their operation. The CPA. or never threw anything away. basic banking processes and the standard financial reports available. Barry interrupted. He set a large. so a separate blueprint was needed for each of the companies. only to explain how Giant Software‘s accounting system was fundamentally designed. the automatic internal reconciliations produced from sales and purchasing transactions. and I was not there to conduct classes in accounting principles. I explained the agenda and began showing the first eLesson. It overflowed with papers and looked to prove you could stuff ten pounds in a five pound bag. how accounts could be added. I invited Best Bargain‘s CPA. The department head from each function attended the discussion concerning their business process—the sales manager for sales. Barry Busey. This man was busy. entered last ambling through the conference door and took a seat at the only available monitor sitting on the conference room table. I dedicated a full day to some highlevel training on the accounting system in the second floor conference room. In a matter of a few minutes. The revelations reinforced the need to complete the blueprint exercise in the interest of properly defining the goals of the project. On the final day of my visit. 36 . Each unit processed their business in a few unique ways. intended to look busy. who prepared all their financials. A week long. the warehouse manager for warehousing. etc.
I know how ERPs work. Barry went for coffee and never came back. 37 . I helped keep the session orderly by acknowledging the value of their questions. you let me know. All I have to do is do a little exploring with the software. then using his shoulders shrugged off further conversation. I responded to several questions. really. ―I‘ve been at this a long time… look. I‘m all set. Back for more?‖ Manny had finished his session with me on Wednesday. elbows then ears on a blank page.‖ I said: ―I can appreciate that. No.‖ He gave me a serious look. putting things in a context or clarifying a fuzzy point. to keep the group on track. At the first break. as always. and golive will go badly. After the session ended. stopping it periodically to add helpful commentary.‖ ―Well.‖ he said. I hope you got all you needed from me?‖ ―You did great. Manny. I also advised them that most of their questions would be answered if we followed the sequence of topics as outlined. Like drawing toes then noses. if you ever need anything. whole concepts. Barry. the body won‘t take shape in a meaningful or memorable way. The resulting lack of cogency undermines the essential buildingblocks approach to learning. But as much as they are all the same. Manny. The consequence of an unordered questions-and-answers session is a jumble of disconnected topics that fails produce comprehensible. I would realize later on that I made a serious mistake by not insisting that he return. ―Say. just go ahead. okay? Just let me know. flitting from topic to topic.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed ―I don‘t think I need to spend time on these elementary subjects. It was difficult. I was surprised to see Manny just coming out of the room as I was entering. I went downstairs to the first floor conference room to pack up my laptop and leave for the day. losing the logical thread. I started the lesson. The students won‘t learn much. thanks. It‘ll save a lot of confusion and time wasted later on if you get properly introduced to the solution now. I just heard something beeping in here. To keep control and meet their need to know. The uncontrolled class will surge ahead wildly. ―No. out of sequence. Sacrificing the class agenda to a barrage of questions invites an incoherent stream of topics. I kept track of their questions for review later. they‘re all different. writing them on a white board and labeling the list ―Parking Lot‖ so they could see I was serious.‖ He grimaced and with a tired head swagger said. and I can figure it out.
Manny. Things were progressing. I appreciated him going out of his way to offer help. so I took a moment to email Gregg a short summary of the week. My Outlook was still running. 38 . I will.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed ―Well.‖ I could see Manny was a goodhearted man who knew I was up against a tough challenge. thanks.
and turned to go back inside to see Alex whom I had just left. I hadn‘t seen him all week. Silverstruck would like a word with you. It was a Rolls Royce.‖ He was a block of flesh. Morrow. ―No. Nobody in a car like that has an ounce of humility. at least. The drizzle turned to rain as he led the way to the car. ―Please. a half-sized Sumo wrestler. if you will. The sumo opened the rear door. but the polite. but they do have chutzpah. Mr. ―But I thought you said…‖ ―Please. I was sure. which I could now see was not just any black car.‖ He gestured to a black car I could barely see through the low hanging limbs of the trees between the Best Bargain building and the neighboring lot in the industrial park complex. Morrow. but assumed he must be on the staff. if not a rap sheet. ―Oh.‖ I said. Silverstruck is waiting for you over here. Morrow. opaque panels overhead. Their futile beams were caught up in the mist producing unrevealing. ―Mr. Morrow. The man appeared from nowhere. over here. We carefully short-stepped down a water slickened berm to the lot. Water beads pocked the shiny black finish like crystal domes. I dripped into the tan leather car seat and turned to 39 .‖ I don‘t know why I should have believed that. Even water looks expensive on a car like that. I walked alone to my car in the parking lot around the corner of the building. It was not a question.‖ he said. a vehicle that always screamed ostentation to me.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed Chapter 10 The Gentleman’s Bargain It was five in the afternoon Friday when we adjourned in time for me to make a late flight home. assumptive manner of the man made it so. ―Yes. Mr. The sky had clouded with a low grey cover that dropped a fine but heavy drizzle creating a fog dense enough to trigger the lot lights. Mr. Mr.‖ He was the most polite sumo I‘d ever met. Okay.‖ ―Mr. I held my brief case above my head to shield myself from the drizzle and half-trotted towards my car.
Seymour and Alex.‖ ―That‘s wonderful. please offer Richard a dry towel. 40 . ―It‘s good to meet you. for I imagined a manservant was involved in his preparations. I am sure you‘ll understand what I‘m about to share with you. ―May I first of all apologize for our sudden introduction. He wore a crisply pressed gray sharkskin suit with a pearl white shirt sporting a gold collar pin choking a sparkling blue silk tie. I‘ve been presumptuous. or maybe my abductor. I tell him. It felt slightly more like the latter at the moment. You‘re wet. There‘s no sense being modest about it. probably not more than five foot six. Comically unoriginal.‖ I could not imagine there is a single authentic Sebastian in all of Japan. ―Richard—excuse me. and his man. Silverstruk was a small man. Richard.‖ I did not feel the rapport building as he must have. you being a father too. but suddenly I felt he already knew the answer to this question. aren‘t you Richard?‖ he paused with his gaze still fixed on my eyes. I didn‘t want my being a father to have anything to do with this. Said the naked stripper. ―You‘re a father. late seventies I guessed. teak wood cane with a gold tip at the bottom of it. Richard. May I call you. He was lean and old. Mr. is there?‖ I thought. ―Yes. I have two sons. A daughter. but I was accustomed to the new practice of adopting American names by countless Indian call center staff. you knew he would never slaughter a cow nor a caterpillar. His eyes were as black and burnished as his car and were fixed on mine as he spoke. Alex is the youngest. not from the royal quarters here in the back. Alex is my son. I suppressed an amused smile as he looked stereotypically like any other wealthy man would be obliged to look when being chauffeured in a shiny black Rolls Royce. I‘m Charles Silverstruk. It is utterly audacious to hear a support call clearly emanating from the heart of Bangalore answered by a consultant who comforts you by calling himself ―Tex‖ and though he may sport a tengallon turban. So.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed face my host. Richard?‖ Of course. For a moment. finished by adding a white silk kerchief that bloomed from his chest pocket. and I presumed a matching gold handle hidden by those hands resting languidly at the top.‖ He spoke to me warmly in the heavy accent of a native New York cabby you would expect to hear coming from behind the wheel. and had a deeply lined face that advertised a fresh from the islands tan. but seriously real. His hands were tipped with manicured fingernails resting on a shiny. I could figure how he knew my name. ―I am a successful man. I suppressed a smirk and let him continue. Sebastian.
But in your business. well. this IT business is made for swindlers. I have many friends who have seen the crap created by these consultants. and I‘ve conscientiously respected that. well.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed ―I am also retired. ―Unfortunately. though I had never heard of them. What difference did it make? He continued. independent boy. When I sell a casket to the funeral home. It cost Alex a lot of money. Admirable. I‘m pleased to say. isn‘t it. well. Blame the customer. anyone for what doesn‘t work.‘ ‗That‘s not what we said. One has to respect who they are. Do you follow me so far?‖ ―Yes. ―You see. Alex. who knows who or what‘s at fault. I‘m sure you understand the kind of thing I‘m describing. it was Seymour who had the stomach for the challenge such an operation requires. and another until the budget is blown to hell. We manufacture and sell caskets. he just gets back up on the bike and tries again. Couldn‘t steal from an open safe. but they could fuck up a computer and send a bill for it. ―You see. That‘s Alex. but when the problems hit. done. He just took off on it. then fast talk your way through the rest. Richard. Alex had a very bad experience two years ago with a consulting firm who tried to update his computer system and failed. Maybe you‘ve heard the name?‖ I nodded a confirmation. When I retired. ―You‘re not saying anything.‖ He paused for a few moments.‘ And on and on it goes. Inc. Seymour runs the company that has provided my family our comforts. But here. not the way I have or how Seymour would. That‘s the game. Richard? You make a sale. I‘m afraid I must help Alex. it hurt his professional pride. not anyone‘s. But worse. That special relationship a father‘s has with each of his children. He was that way from birth. But you keep sending that bill and another bill. Wouldn‘t let me help him learn to ride his bike. ―Alex. wanted to go his own way. going at it again until he got it. but what‘s this got to do with me?‖ ―I‘m getting there. Eastern Caskets. I don‘t like that. my more sensitive son and a very bright. falling over again and again. He is a good boy. Alex doesn‘t quite know how to handle these charlatans. ‗It‘s not what you said. I don‘t want to see my Alex hurt that way again. He doesn‘t want my help. you never really know what you‘re buying. picking himself up. you might say. blame the freaking gods. They‘re all confident and promises in the beginning. Sold.‖ 41 . No one would get away with this sort of thing with Seymour. Make it on his own. Nobody swindles Seymour. raised his chin and X-rayed my cranium with his stare. It‘s not fair. They get clever. but through a lot of—hard work I grew the company. It dominates the business on the east coast. You look worried. ―It‘s a tough business. they get what they ordered and at the price I quoted. It‘s a clean business. everyone‘s happy.
You see. I have no stomach for a swindle. We‘ll be watching. Richard. Richard.‖ For the first time.‖ 42 .‖ he cut me off mid-sentence. You‘ll get the other half when you‘re finished. Richard. To gesture more vigorously would have been to shout at me. Not your company. Silverstruk‘s eyes have never left mine and never blinked. Richard?‖ I said: ―Yes.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed ―Mr. Nobody else knows either. and for your discretion and for making sure this project is successfully completed. that I‘m a fair man. ―This is between us. he raised one hand from his cane. his head is rigidly fixed. there are a lot of people involved. Mr. tiniest wag of that finger he punctuated the caution. and with a single. There‘s ten thousand dollars in there. ―Stop there. very simple things. I glanced at Sebastian.‖ All this time. I instinctively reached for it.‖ I recoiled at the mention of my daughter again. and warily held it in front of me like one might handle a dead rat by the tail. I am giving you a fair incentive. not your daughter. You are responsible for delivering this project. Richard. and it‘s good to hear you know how to do this right. not anyone.‖ He pulled an envelope from his inner pocket and held it out to me. in a seemingly disinterested posture until I saw his eyes in the rear view mirror staring back at me with that street fighter‘s readiness. I am a fair man.‖ My inner voice spoke again: he means yes. his bent index finger extended. When Alex tells me the project is completed successfully. I might keep my manhood. that‘s yours. Stated simply. ―That brings me to my point. that‘s how I have always worked. Secondly. it was evident. Simple and fair. I‘m sure you understand. Keep in mind. What’s he getting at? He continued. But it can be done right. Silverstruk‘s words. That‘s not my concern. ―I have found that in keeping the deal free of surprises and tragic misunderstandings that it‘s best to keep a single point of contact. Just initial here. Mr. Am I right. ―There are conditions. They are…real stories. He‘d be sensitive about that. ―That is your retainer. Like I said. Silverstruk. I don‘t want Alex to know that we‘ve ever spoken. He continued. well. I am very aware of the implementation nightmares we‘ve all heard something about. and…. Richard. Richard. need not be amplified superfluously. never turning. And responsibility. I am expecting you to deliver this project successfully— no fucking excuses. Richard. you‘re finished and we‘re all happy. you know.
This is complicated. and Charles Silverstruk could keep his money. ―Wait.‖ I laid the envelope on the seat between us.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed I believed I did. sir. 43 . No one should take a project that seriously. fairly leaped out and walked in my bravest speed walk back to my car. my mind racing trying to digest what had just happened. my bladder suddenly bursting. And I don‘t want it. ―My company would never allow this. I was not for sale. Good afternoon. I can‘t accept this. Mr. Silverstruk.‖ I opened the door into a torrential downpour.
I drove obsessively. I opened my laptop and began to transcribe the blueprint notes into the proper format in my word processor. Silverstruk. Failure to meet his goal under his terms might put me in one of Eastern Casket‘s finest. Mr. Churchill was right. Once in the air. It was one of those external risk factors. popped the trunk. I wanted out of there badly. that contact transfer from a thousand communal touch points from every cab.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed Chapter 11 An Offer I Couldn’t Refuse Traffic seemed to disappear ahead of me as I drove to the airport. gate 44 . such was my distraction. The attendant politely informed me that I was driving an Enterprise rental. Manny had insinuated the same about Charles Silverstruk in his casket business. Charles Silverstruk was not about playing fair. wondering if he might have followed me. The stretch limo snaked its way through the herd of impatient taxis and other limos escaping O‘Hare‘s terminals. Silverstruk and the incentive he had thrust upon me—making himself a self-appointed stakeholder in this implementation. Draw the line quickly and firmly. and handed over the rental papers. It was a long two hours. Silverstruk‘s bonus proposed a false promise with an edge on it. I closed my laptop and prepared for landing. Behind all great wealth is a great crime. The strong only respond to strength. Soon. like I often heard. Concentrating was a struggle as my thoughts kept wandering back to Mr. I was right to tell him so. I would be home. But just how tough would he play this? Appeasement was not the answer. I pulled into the Budget rental car return. got out of the car. and I hoped my abrupt rejection put an end to the matter. The answer is no. And I didn‘t want his money. ruminating on the encounter. I thought. wasn‘t he? Intimidation had to be met with equivalent resolve. I‘d take a hot shower to shed that traveler‘s grime. I kept watching the concourse for Sebastian. Walking away was the right thing to do. It seemed there was only one rule to the game for him—he wins. I arrived at the airport not fully aware of the route I took to get there. one I had never imagined. but a mechanical problem kept my flight grounded. Mr.
my mind trying to reach for something to think. Its weak beams. Once cleaned up. something I should do. feel the muscles in my shoulders. I was both frightened and afraid of the sensations of fright itself. from the canister of resuscitated air in the airplane cabin. melting it away. feel the welcomehome hug of its sleeves. He might still be here. cast just enough light across the room to reveal the dimly colored profiles of my furniture. no stronger than a flashlight. I didn‘t know what it was. All that feeling was suddenly ripped away when I bumped my desk table causing the monitor to recover from its sleep. For someone breathing. I twisted the key then shoved my way through the front door of the condo. something I should understand. Safe at home. But who did? My heart sprinted ahead while my mind froze in place. The tires crunched on the frozen snow as the driver parked the stretch limo in a cockeyed angle to the garage door. no— maybe a glass of Merlot. large envelope hanging from my monitor that I had not put there. Perhaps. and handed my credit card through the driver‘s pass-through window to bring closure to my journey. Richard. I‘d slip on my soft wool robe. It was an unaddressed. I listened for some movement. I was trapped where I stood. I stood motionless. breathe softly and rhythmically. somehow imitating what small prey do when in the presence of an overwhelming predator. table or lamp of mine could have barked. lower myself into the secure. I stood perfectly still for a long time. But how ridiculous. I would have petted it. the one feeding on the other propelled the paralysis of shock. Be rational. Think. and that ultimate violation. The cases almost toppled when the pneumatic door closer began to pinch the trailing part of the suitcase between the door and door jamb. The air inside was stale. I had to get away.m. just like any prince in his coach would do. Maybe the computer. Protect yourself. These inert objects were my friends in this space of mine. The limo pulled into my condo‘s driveway after 10 p. restaurant counter. I wouldn‘t be seen. handle. with a cup of hot tea. center of the monitor. If any chair. pulling the large suitcase along on its wheels. My heart rate raced 45 . spreading it through my body. my neck release the tension.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed seat. the second case with the computer perched on top of that. I crawled on my hands and knees across the expanse of seats. I uprighted the cases and flipped on the small overhead entrance light. light the candles. arrest all thought and just be. enveloping comfort of my cushioned recliner. The lowly moonlit screen outlined an envelope taped to the top. my arms. My mind screamed at me. relax. having been sealed for six days behind locked doors and windows. Suddenly there was a tiny beep.
It was a retainer I could not refuse. Fear occupies the mind like a spreading dye in a pool.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed again. I looked to the desk lamp and willed my hand to turn it on. then used my scissors to ever so slowly open the envelope. My breath came in short spasms. I eyed the solid black shadow in the hallway that led to the remaining three rooms. Of course. he had to hear you come in. I tried to massage away the tension in my forehead and found it slick with sweat. ratcheted descent. I had my answer now. If I should sit. I began to think at last. There was always the chance. Oh. Though rationally I thought the intruder was surely gone. I counted out stacks of ten one hundred dollar bills each. There must have been some misunderstanding. but could not will myself to bend my legs to allow it. This was how tough Mr. A sick mind might be toying with me. Dear Richard. Moments passed. Sebastian had beat me home. The pounding of my heart resonated like a kettle drum in my chest. I exhaled as quietly as possible through my mouth. I began to feel weakened. Whoever it was just wanted me to find it. Christ. It was cash. I turned the light on. 46 . I still paused to listen alertly. but it was a several moments before my encouragement caused the arm to move. And a handwritten note. I fished out its contents. I collapsed into the office chair when my knees finally surrendered their last bit of strength. Fool. yes. CS. my knees were giving way to a force. I believe you mistakenly left this behind. From a room just steps away. I wanted to sit. It was stuffed full and sealed. could I get up? Could I run? I told myself to breathe. I must not be heard. With my eyes involuntarily fixed on the hallway. Charles Silverstruk played it. It was signed with the initials. my mouth held ridiculously wide open to make the least sound with my breathing. Ten thousand dollars. We have a deal. A harangue of thought swirled in my mind yielding not one intelligible thing. How could he not hear that? I lifted the envelope and peeled it from the monitor. My mind squeezed out a thought. and once released it can‘t be contained at will. Why would someone tape the envelope to my monitor and remain behind? That wasn’t the point. I sat down in a stiff.
Planting the envelope was a clever move. On the fifth results page.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed Chapter 12 The Duel Begins So. I clicked a link to a news article from the New York American Bugle. It was a standard eCommerce site. Loeb died in an auto accident before the case went to trial. a small town paper I‘d never heard of. No picture of the man himself. bullies intimidate. I typed in ―Eastern Caskets‖ into Google and started a search. opened the patio door‘s drapes and let in a bright sunshine from a very cold and clear day. I was spared a terrifying nightmare. I decided to play some soothing music to help settle my soul. It must have been quite a night. Loeb. And he had. hadn‘t he? But. however. brought a civil suit years later claiming he‘d been coerced into selling. and agreed to the buyout. Permanent Dreams. I had to learn more about Charles Silverstruk and his company. 47 . I found their website in the list and followed the link. I woke up later than usual lying on a sweat-dampened bed sheet.‖ It was a short article about a civil case brought against Eastern Caskets that had been dropped. Unfortunately. only murderers kill—and they don‘t warn you. I went back to the search list. ―Casket Case Closed. but awake now I quickly fell into a throttling obsession with Silverstruk‘s threat. Silverstruk was trying to frighten me. what now? The question ran through my thoughts like a perpetual crawl. I thought. had been bought out by Eastern Caskets a few years ago. Threats had been made against him and his family. my legs and arms wound about the top sheet twisted as tight as a hangman‘s rope. Maury Loeb owned Permanent Dreams at the time. Pictures of caskets and their descriptions. The article was titled. a distributor of burial caskets in upstate New York. Or do they? How serious could he be? Would he kill someone over a botched implementation? Exactly how had he gone about dominating the casket business? I made a cup of coffee. I chose A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Twang by a Chicago artist with a special touch for jazz and melody. Eastern Caskets. though I blacked out once merciful sleep washed over me.
It was not much to go on. Did Loeb conveniently die. Gregg was the most immediate object of my resentment. but it didn‘t sound good. The sales executive could not expect a vague proposal to provide the defense of his company‘s actions when the customer challenges the project‘s status. If they should win. An Eastern Caskets spokesman declined to comment on the case. I was angry. once Best Bargain handed over a huge deposit on the project. an unreachable go-live deadline. He hadn‘t even included all the rudiments of a professional proposal. they were left with limited options if things went wrong. Truth be told. How could the sales executive just hand off preposterous promises to the unsuspecting project manager like that? And omit critical components that would affect the project timeline.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed The story went on to say that Eastern Caskets. A sloppy proposal. of course. Their best option: withhold future payments. but the worst was we wouldn‘t get paid. I was angry at Gregg. Throwing good money after bad would surely scare them. I would never have agreed to support this proposal as written had I reviewed it before it was signed. we couldn‘t make payroll. Without cash flow. there were three! All doing business in different ways. of course. but that was a gamble. headed by CEO Charles Silverstruk. you said. or what? And what kind of coercion was it? I swiveled away from the screen to consider my situation.S. But without future payments. Where was the description of the company organization and landscape? There wasn‘t just one company. with an implied promise. And 3PL operations to boot. had been pursuing rapid expansion of its business through a series of acquisitions. Maybe not. I said. At what? At whom? Surely at Mr. Charles Silverstruk. 48 . I wondered how often scope creep was actually a manifestation of anincomplete project definition like this. I found that I subconsciously grabbed the post-it pad and had begun tossing wadded notes into the waste basket. we would be bled dry. a contest of might between customer and consultant—or between lawyers? That‘s the best I thought we could expect from it. And my company. We would have to consider withholding services. ensuring the project‘s eventual collapse. I was paying for our indifference to professional methods. I thought again. What now?. They might not win. too. would they ever really collect? Maybe. It had become the largest casket distributor in the northeastern U. she said. Not to mention my neck was on the line. I could hear it now: Where does it say that?! Just where does it saaay that? What else could all this lead to but a childish push and shove fight. What were they to do? They might sue. That ought to be our process. How could we possibly rely on one another‘s memory to settle disagreements? He said.
Ultimately. Silverstruk‘s terms were pretty clear. it would be condemned to a synthesis resolved only in mutual defeat. 49 .How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed The argument would become a cathartic combat between their righteous resentments and our rights of survival. This kind of menacing business made me think it was time to check in with an old friend. get this done right or start checking my brake lines daily. So what now? I asked myself. Mr. accept his offer.
and fell like a marble slab when Lucky caught him in the forehead with a piece of chipped granite—a comfortable fifteen yards between them. Lucky rarely missed. my childhood friend. Besides being small. naming him like a horse that way. a boy already sixfoot two in sixth grade. His one good eye was an amazingly good one. Learning to shoot was going to be a snap. and he could center a small rock on a boy‘s. He and I formed a spontaneous partnership where I would gather boys around to challenge Lucky to pick off the local wildlife or stray dogs with his slingshot for a wager. The first to go down was Hunter Kimbrough.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed Chapter 13 Lucky Stones Lucky Stones was a ridiculous name for a five foot five inch private investigator with only one good eye to look at while the other one stared off at Pluto. It should have been his destiny to ride. the soft whoosh of his 50 . he was not fast. And with those eyes the way they were. At least. but he thought no one in the service could ever rival him in close combat where rifle fire would give your position away. Lucky thought he had the promise of being very useful as a sniper. a dog‘s or a possum‘s eye with a handcrafted slingshot he carried around with him for safety purposes. Then he practiced. Lucky formulated a plan after a few beatings and made a slingshot out of hard hickory wood and a spare inner tube. and bigger boys were constantly tempted to exercise their pugilistic fantasies on little Lucky. This was something I knew better than to say to Lucky. and never did. and I made good commissions from our endeavor. he was hard to talk to for you could never be sure if you had his attention. He was easy to catch. Lucky tried to join the army after high school.‖ he told us. And nobody messed with Lucky Stones anymore. but they wouldn‘t let him in because of his bad eye. He weighed no more than 125 pounds. ―Get your own self shot out of a tree that way. He should have been a jockey with his slight physique. Lucky proved early in life that he was not to be trifled with. We had a lot of fun. that‘s what I thought. After that Lucky became popular. Whereas. and may have been his parent‘s intent.
He refused to be rejected by the army and found some way to insinuate himself into a division leaving Los Angeles. Both storefronts had retractable steel gates that the owners apparently drew closed for overnight protection. but now I guessed that the decomposing structure could not have been sold for its land value. or some other exotic name that sounded menacing and mystical. The moment exposed the effects of my personal neglect and the general effects of aging. 51 . I dug out his card and gave him a call. They might give him a name. Moreover. He told me that we could meet at his office on South Welles Street. They sent him home. A bird splattered Deluxe Offices For Rent sign was affixed to the siding near the top floor and probably had hung there since the place opened its doors. As I walked toward the light. And as I understood it from a ten-year high school reunion we had a long time ago—that this was in the scope of what Lucky was doing in those days. At the opposite end of the hall I saw a brightly lit office entrance. Now I needed Lucky to let some of that luck rub off on me. heading to Vietnam. I needed him to help me keep safe from Charles Silverstruk. Gave him back pay and a medal too. Lucky‘s office was on the third floor with access by the stairs only.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed slingshot would likely go unnoticed. Denial takes many forms. It was not a very nice location— had the kind of address you heard on the local news murder stories. I was taken aback to see his office was in a shabby old building with a round gray turret on corner of it. a product of baffled soldiers watching fellow soldiers falling prey to an unseen. they were cut down by the dozens—some of them without shots fired. He thought he might provoke folklore. Turns out Lucky‘s destiny was to be lucky—we all overlooked that possibility. and boarded one of the planes fully equipped like any other soldier. Lucky got lucky. At street level there was a dingy discount tobacco store and a Laundromat with an aged store front no cleaner than a shop rag. I thought. they bent the rules and managed to give him an honorable discharge with complete GI benefits. I hoped he was still in business. I began walking down a brittle linoleum-floored hall that every few steps snapped underfoot. No charges were filed. silent jungle spirit. I didn‘t want to acknowledge my diminished state by actually gasping for air. Offices and cheap apartments filled the remaining three floors of the building. He was doing great until he was found out in an awards ceremony where the colonel questioned how his lazy eye could meet army standards. This building in its best days had never been high rent. like Whoosh-dog. Once in Vietnam he managed to be assigned sniper duty and killed enemy soldiers like a farmer harvesting wheat. By the time I reached his floor I was stifling a desperate call for air from my lungs.
I could see the dark stenciled letters on the door read in a fancy Old English font. He left the gun where it lay and grinned at me. I opened the door and saw behind a desk a small man‘s shadowy profile against the circular arrangement of windows in his rounded office. nasal voice. Lucky was born incognito. I began to think maybe Lucky hadn‘t been so lucky lately.‖ he noted in a doubtful tone. It was all black on a white glare. A mammoth morning sun shot straight over his shoulder and bled the color out of everything. ―We had some good fun with this one. Perhaps taking any kind of work at all. harmless look. ―Lucky Stones. ―Lucky?‖ I asked. ―Confidential Services. I sat down in a wooden chair in front of his desk.‖ He turned to the credenza behind him and lifted its wooden top. As I neared it. The smell of decaying dust lingered in air not fit for a cadaver. His teeth were too large and gave him a silly. and not telling a soul.‖ ―These others I designed for better performance or for specific conditions. Richard?‖ ―Yes we did. with a reverence like one might lift the Hope diamond from its case. ―If I‘m not. What times those were. It‘s titanium with a spring loaded 52 . but it turned out not to be an altogether useless suggestion.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed I sensed that the series of closed doors was a mausoleum of dying or dead enterprises.‖ I recognized the high-pitched. from murder to plumbing. lifting the hickory slingshot gently. Lucky‘s toothy grin was not unlike a horse‘s gum-exposed whinny. Once my eyes adjusted.‖ I was only joking.‖ In smaller print beneath his name.‖ That seemed a bit all encompassing to me. Lucky rose from the desk chair. I supposed it was this disarming appearance that allowed Lucky to penetrate any defensive quarters. Lucky?‖ I asked. I nodded at the gun. No ringing phones. squinting into the light. No light shined through their dimpled glass panes. ―Look here. ―This is the original. This one shoots a three-eighths inch steel ball two hundred yards at three hundred feet a second. eh. The only sign of life came from a flood of sunlight thrusting through the opaque glass panel of that last door facing me at the very end of the hall. one of us is in the wrong office. making some small talk to reacquaint ourselves after fifteen years or so of no contact.‖ he said. I saw that Lucky had a revolver resting on his desktop alongside of the stapler and other customary office paraphernalia. ―It‘s me Richard— don‘t shoot.‖ ―Not at this very moment. ―You won‘t be needing that. It was hinged and beneath it was a velvet lined display of a half dozen slingshots of all makes. ―Do you still have that slingshot. There were no muffled voices.
Assassination is not a first option.‖ As I left I thought Lucky was still lucky as ever. I own most of the block. focusing his good eye on his gun. Gives us the latitude to do what needs to be done without quibbling. When my hand reached the door knob. I‘ve got custom ammo too. Kinds that just bruise you. ―This one is resin and disassembles so I can get it through airport security.‖ Lucky stroked the shiny pistol grip with his fingers the way one pets a kitten. ―And by the way. if you‘re wondering why I should have chosen to have an office in this condemnable building. I really mean…‖ ―Don‘t worry.‖ ―So you use these things professionally?‖ I asked.‖ I said. ―Don‘t you just hate bullies?‖ he said. I didn‘t want to start a war and I had the uncomfortable feeling that Lucky was eager for action. closed the credenza and sat down. I killed a bear with this one. Tax write-off. I got up to leave and turned towards the door. I‘m not asking that anyone be killed. but I think I could use your help. We‘ll figure out what he‘s made of. and pursed his lips—suppressing a smile it seemed. no K‘s—or A‘s then. stun balls with an electric charge in them. ―Well.‖ ―We don‘t actually use the ‗K‘ word around here. ―I call it having fun. ―It‘s a—broader concept. 53 . ―So what brings you here.‖ He chuckled.‖ ―No.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed assist I engineered to put more tension on the band. Lucky. Custom built. okay?‖ ―Good. We take ‗necessary measures. Lucky spoke again. paintballs. He rested the side of his head against his fist. it‘s because I own the building.‖ I sat forward and placed my open hands against the desktop.‖ ―We?‖ ―Me and my clients.‘ ‖ Lucky paused. ―I‘m not sure how far the man will go. I thought I saw a wishful look in his eye. Some explode on impact.‖ ―Let me do some checking. I‘ll keep you informed.‖ I explained how Charles Silverstruk had been threatening me and what my brief research on the man had revealed. I don‘t know if you can do anything for me. cocked his head sideways a bit. Richard. ―Okay. Richard?‖ I went back to my chair and sat down too. but let me be clear about this.
―What was your job. Lay the man out if he‘s trouble.‖ This was the sidekick speaking. they got caught. They always provided these creatively cryptic titles to make you wonder what it was all about. ―Cuz Bobby goes. They decided to steal something big. and I needed to think creatively. stealing came to mind right away. only it‘s actually real. Of course. giving it some time to see where it went. Stress led people to repeat the very same futile attempts they‘ve tried over and over with the same failed results. but it did relieve stress. Albert had cut the captain‘s throat and stabbed to death the one shipmate on board. Maybe this wasn‘t exactly what I needed to hear after all. He‘d stabbed the shipmate in his bed below 54 .‖ And that he had. I asked myself how this project could possibly go live by May 1. make it big was the idea. You could say I had a post-it note fetish. the one who Bobby brought along to help out. and Bobby.‘ Said he worked for a man who owned one. Been there. I heard the announcer say the topic today was Thinking Ahead. Steal big. ‗I can drive a yacht. Albert? What did Bobby say you were supposed to do?‖ ―I don‘t know. like one of those huge white yachts they saw moored all about Chicago‘s lakeshore downtown. Needless to say. That‘s what I did. Something like that. but I kept listening. the narrator informed me. It sounded like something I should be listening to.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed Chapter 14 Quantum Physics and IT I sat in my office chair listening to public radio while wadding and pitching pink post-it notes into the waste basket a few feet away. ―Why did you choose to steal a yacht?‖ the interviewer asked one of the two wannabe thieves. or maybe even delusionally. I thought. A young-sounding female reporter interviewed the suspects. he goes riding with him sometimes. Part one involved two young men from Chicago‘s south side who wanted a way to get rich quick. It was public radio‘s version of a reality show. My thoughts became distracted by the radio broadcast I had playing in the background.
make a run for it?‖ ―I couldn‘t start the boat.‖ too.‖ That got Albert agitated. I seen the man do it before. he can drive the boat. the police say they arrested you anchored out in the marina just where you boarded the boat? How did that happen? Why didn‘t you make a break for it?‖ ―Well. well. It just happened. Bobby was clearly the brains of the operation. I thought. they had killed the only two people who could actually start the boat. This made me think how Triple-S hires people who ―can‘t start the boat. How much trouble could a sleeping man be? I thought. bankruptcy.‖ How much was their world like mine? I thought. depression and such. And he says he can start the boat. Bobby and Albert too just wanted great wealth in the quickest way they cared to imagine without concern for those they used.‖ recent college graduates who‘ve 55 . Is that what you mean?‖ ―Yeah.‖ ―Why couldn‘t you start the boat. I began to think how the desperate and the greedy both act in about the same way. I just did. you know.‖ Like I could just watch Tiger Woods golf then birdie the back nine. but a business person who goes to market without a plan seemed to me by degree of expectations was just as negligent. ―So Bobby. The interviewer turned her attention to Bobby.‖ ―Albert? Why did you do that?‖ ―I don‘t know. ―Bobby. We didn‘t know she was gonna be on the boat. ―Yeah. ―But sometimes the things don‘t—they ain‘t as bad as they look. Bobby ?‖ ―Well. that fool says. with their naked violence. They call them ―freshies. By now. ―How‘s that.‖ ―You mean you had to rape her first.‖ ―Why did you rape her the way you did?‖ ―I didn‘t. Just turn the key and give it the gas. The short-sightedness of a psychopath is easy to spot.‖ Bobby said. It looked easy. first we had the lady there. He said it was gonna be easy cuz he had saw it before. And the impossible dream.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed while he slept. The narrator tells us that the boat was a diesel and that Albert and Bobby didn‘t know anything about starting a diesel engine—like having to warm it up first. Albert did. why didn‘t you drive the yacht away. No idea extended beyond the immediate now and the immediate next. The denial of the undeniable. I mean. Albert didn‘t mean to cut anybody. There was just no blood—only lost dreams. she was there and so…‖ Albert ran out of explanation and quit mid-sentence. Bobby ?‖ ―I don‘t know.
As the Coast Guard came near the yacht. even a yacht priced cheap will sell fast. they found the two drinking beers taken from the onboard refrigerator and playing music on the sound system. they held that same lust for the short cut with no consideration of the consequences. This story was as good as any movie I‘d seen.‖ ―Who do you know there who would buy a stolen yacht?‖ ―Anybody.‖ ―Gary. I thought. two costumed kings playing their roles. Just hand over the cash. There were no other considerations. when they tried to force the young wife to start the engine. If the price is right. Indiana?‖ ―Yeah. The interviewer asked one last question. It seemed Triple-S was a little too eager to get the cash too. ―Where did you intend to sell the yacht. And were sure they would never get caught. but they‘re cheap. she said she didn‘t know how. Just what were you thinking?‖ ―Truth be told. When the police boarded the yacht. It didn‘t sound too much unlike the project I was on now. Wouldn‘t you?‖ Anything. The party was open to all. ―Tell me. They can‘t really chop code. even in a town with one of the country‘s highest unemployment rates and lowest per capita income.‖ Their story had those same themes so many ill-fated crooks shared. And everyone involved got hurt. Thought they knew how. It just looked easy. Bobby and Albert were stranded and got arrested on board right where they sat. Unfortunately for Bobby and Albert. Then she surprised them when she jumped overboard and swam a mile to shore.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed never programmed anything outside of a class project. Bobby ? Just supposing you got away. Bobby. Thought it was easy. And got the Coast Guard on them. the kind I heard about on the dozens of crime story channels. And thought it was much easier to do than it really was. we wasn‘t. Bobby and Albert were going to 56 .‖ ―Gary. From Madoff to Loman. I grabbed a handful of peanuts and began to munch on them. just the cash they were sure to get. Albert was wearing the captain‘s blazer with a fancy gold embroidered symbol on the pocket. Bobby was wearing the dead captain‘s hat. please. That was the life. I been on that boat before. he thought. At least that worked when you turned the key on. Who couldn‘t use a yacht? Now that was a bad business plan. they observed the two waving cheerfully towards them as though their visit was welcome.
57 .How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed jail over their misadventure. but in my deal I might get demoted from boat captain to boat anchor. I shut down my browser and returned to the business at hand. I told myself I surely wanted to do a better job on Best Bargain‘s project than Bobby and Albert did with their plan. I needed to revise the plan as soon as possible to reflect the best reality of a timeline that I could. It was a dilemma. The trouble was I had a blueprint to finish while it was still fresh in my mind. I chose to pick off one bird at a time and proceeded to work on the blueprint first. Getting off to a stumbling start had precipitated a logjam of activity.
I would have something finalized. I learned great respect for the small word. Explanations were needed to flesh out the sometimes cryptic labels within each flowchart element. logical ―chunks. After a few more conference call reviews of blueprint drafts with Alex and Donald. decision points. step by step. I had to get this blueprint confirmed with Alex and Donald. A flowchart would describe each transaction in digestible. I felt it was imperative that Alex and Donald clearly understand exactly what problems we were solving and how. I began typing. Donald and I had joined in three lengthy conference calls examining and revising the business process blueprint document. My experience was that confusion is the agar for conflict. but I could never get away with saying nothing substantial about an 58 . Like ―and‘s‖ and ―or‘s‖ are not interchangeable and either of them could torpedo the project if used wrong. I learned I could say too much about a topic. I also planned that each flowchart would be supported by a table of explanations cross-referenced to each numbered step represented in the chart. or I could say too little. Somehow I had to pack two weeks of work into one. I read each sentence aloud as we examined every word. I knew. I had double the motivation to get it right now. All the inputs. including Saturday. It was tedious. displaying the document for all of us to see from our respective offices. Producing a good blueprint was going to be the first thing we‘d done right in the whole deal. the lifeblood of our company. I planned to include all the necessary elements to sufficiently describe all their commercial transactions and the custom reports they had requested. And that. and resulting outputs would be illustrated. I used a web meeting service for the day‘s meeting. and to eliminate those dreaded misunderstandings. ‗The purpose of this document is…‘ Alex.‖ being careful not to try to explain too many procedures with any one flowchart and overwhelm them. inevitably would hold up payments.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed Chapter 15 Finishing the Blueprint I had six days to compose the blueprint.
get the blueprint done first. Ultimately. In some instances. 59 . You‘re learning. I‘m concerned that I might have to backtrack if unexpected things come out in the blueprint discussions. Reasonable men might disagree. so go slow. There were some tasks I could conceivably move along simultaneously. eh?‖ Vincent said. I called Vincent for some insight. regardless of my learning curve.‖ ―They wouldn‘t like to hear that.‖ ―You learn any task in life by going slow first. The document had to be complete. The important message was that it must be done. The blueprint clearly defined the path forward and indicated changes that should be made to the project plan. and done right. much was clarified as Alex and Donald‘s individual recollections of their processes were reconciled with each other‘s. I felt the pressure too. Alex complained that we were wasting time. ―Yes. delaying the project with these recurring discussions. Richard. or the content could be submerged with the weight of too many words. everything flows from that.‖ ―So.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed essential topic in a document that you wanted someone to sign. getting it right is always preferable.‖ ―Don‘t make excuses to them.‖ ―Yes. In the end. and I want to be deliberate. I came to realize that requiring that the blueprint be completed first accomplished two important goals. And it had to be concise.‖ It took a few weeks to complete a final version they were willing to sign.‖ ―I‘m afraid I‘m going to miss the go-live date by a mile. and I was pleased Vincent supported that. by being insistent on its completion. Secondly. opting for sure-footed progress looked to me like a prudent way to proceed. its importance was made clear. And there is no such thing as getting it wrong on time. but I was concerned that I might move too quickly. ―Ah. it‘s always about clarity. deadlines. Vagueness and omissions left the subject open to anyone‘s and everyone‘s imagination to fill in the needed information. yes. but it seemed to me that a solid methodology required a finished blueprint before other activities began. Slow and certain is better in any case. They‘re getting nervous. As I anticipated. they decided that a process should be updated to meet current requirements or take advantage of the possibilities presented with the new ERP.‖ ―Probably. After so much fumbling and thirty-one incomplete projects on our company resume.
and I needed his help. ―Paul. Their concerns only highlighted how important they too thought the document was. and I‘ve sent you a copy. I‘ve put the new due dates in the project plan you‘ll see.‖ ―I suppose you‘ll use Giant Software‘s configuration form to collect the information from Best Bargain. The next step was to begin collecting the configuration information—those data that fed the ERP the information it needs to operate—customer contact information. and was probably why so many gaps in the project remained long after all tasks should have been completed. bank account numbers and much more.‖ ―Sure. the blueprint is signed off. ―I‘d like to you use the form this time. And we need to use the form for Best Bargain to sign off when it‘s complete. They never seem to get completed. I‘d have to depend on Paul to do all he could do. The session would surely leave a log of follow-ups that tended to float around in the ether of undone things. do your best.‖ ―Got it.‖ ―I don‘t think they‘ll sign it. ―Look.‖ Hearing this gave me pause. I called Paul. I didn‘t have unlimited resources. To expect the customer to be fully prepared for such an ad hoc format seemed entirely unreasonable. Customers don‘t like signing things.‖ ―I‘d like to see you get started collecting the configuration information for the ERP and for the WMS solutions.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed Alex finally agreed to sign the blueprint document after considerable nitpicking with the words.‖ I didn‘t want to risk pushing Paul too far. I thought there had to be some sensitivities to my being the project manager on this one. 60 . It had been a strenuous process that would not be forgotten. I think they‘ll sign. Any good meeting required the participants to prepare for it. Alex and Donald needed the data collection forms and have them explained before they could collect the necessary data.‖ I wondered when was the last time Paul had asked any client for a signature on anything. Real or imagined. fine. They had to realize that we had collaborated with great care in getting it right.‖ ―I usually hold a web session and we go through the screens together. I‘m trying to get our accomplishments documented so you‘re not troubled with all those loose ends later on. item masters.
My resources were proving unreliable as one consultant got commandeered for another home office priority. Donald and my team updated project plans once a week—appending the project filename with a current date. Gregg made only incremental progress with many days interleaving small spurts of effort in defining a file interchange protocol he was working out with a Best Bargain consultant. I know. trying to figure which was the latest plan. Progress was coming at a frustratingly slow pace. Alex and Donald called to question the project plan. I wasn‘t sure exactly how much we‘d accomplished.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed Chapter 16 Give Me a Project Plan I had been emailing Alex. It‘s like feeling your way along in a dark cave. This awkward system led to constant confusion as one can always doubt whether he possessed the latest version. resembled a verbal pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey game where even the ones without the blindfold couldn‘t find the donkey to go after. Alex spoke first.‖ ―That‘s not the point. even the simplest of requirements turned into a complex debate that we returned to time and again. don‘t you think? Paul speaks to you pretty often.‖ ―We‘ve been in regular contact. I don‘t know where we are in the progression of events. The start on several custom developments seemed perpetually scheduled to start ―tomorrow. Tasks were hung up for countless reasons.‖ ―I have sent you an updated project plan.‖ 61 . but we don‘t know if we‘re on the right path. Richard. ―We‘re in the dark here and we don‘t know what to expect when. Anyone could easily be looking at an outdated plan that was more than a day or two old.‖ so said my software development team. The conversation amidst this confusion. I‘ll be adding more. And when they did work on them. and I was being consumed in a blizzard of follow up calls and emails trying to sort it out. We‘re just putting one foot in front of the other. then another seemed to be flailing at trying to make contact with the 3PL representatives who acted like they were dodging the calls. Truth be told. My project was almost at a standstill.
How much detail to provide is a judgment call to some degree. Alex and Donald had seen a sample plan and had other expectations. I had to take the time it took to do the right thing as it should have been done initially. no details.‖ As things were unfolding.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed ―Come on.‖ ―Well. you can get in your own way. ―defensiveness. too. Giant Software provides a model of the minimalist project plan which is what I‘ve provided you. and I‘ll provide a more detailed plan as soon as possible. I see your point. It‘s going to take a few days. I could see that Alex was right. Other‘s want the details. and got busy on it. The minimal plan lists milestones without the minutia behind each achievement. Alex.‖ he had said. It‘s maybe ninety lines long. ―You can provide so much detail. there are two schools of thought. and my team needed to see how they were being tracked. You can‘t be serious. Vincent‘s advice was to supply all the detail I could practically manage. but couldn‘t face disgracing myself or the company any more. It was clear to me now. that I had not nearly enough detail in the plan.‖ I was embarrassed by the plan I had given him. That‘s a project plan. I needed to track the steps much closer. 62 . When Gregg sold us the system he showed us a project plan that had over two hundred lines with lots of detail. so why don‘t we have a plan like that?‖ I was checkmated. All high level. We had botched so much already.‖ ―I don‘t see how you can manage this project with so little to go by. My defense was just that. Some customers are okay with that. After the call. I stopped all other activity. ―Look. Gregg had not told me this.
It grew to over two hundred lines. I made the call. But they deserve to know. Tell me about risks. I muttered to myself. Parenthood. I thought she‘d always need me. and marched myself back to the desk to contemplate the project‘s risks. 63 . I‘d lived for weeks now in various stages of anxiety—many days shoving away my plate with half a meal still on it. Each task in the grid listed as sub-tasks the supporting steps in the sequence that needed to be completed. but I felt myself melting down. How could I abandon her again? I pulled myself out of my downward spiral. But you‘ve got to go ahead and show them where the pitfalls are.‖ ―It‘s like you‘ve got a runaway team of horses.‖ ―It could be worse if you don‘t. I poured myself a glass of wine and flopped down in my recliner. but that didn‘t mean I had to like doing it. Richard. Along with the plan I prepared a list of the risk factors to send to Alex and Donald.‖ It may never be too late to do the right thing. I wanted to quit this job. I wondered what Vincent would say. sitting agitated in a dim room unable to choose between the bed or a hard walk. Risks. I didn‘t want the wine. This project was full of them. It will only get worse when one of those things go wrong. Gregg had not presented the risk factors with the proposal when it‘s best to present them. You‘ve got no choice but to slow them down.‖ ―This is like handing them a horse whip. ―Yes. Richard. even in our tenuous relationship. it‘s late.‖ ―They‘re going to scream. It was midday. Was it too late now to present risks to Alex and Donald? An unpleasant scene was the best I could anticipate if I tried it. They‘ll use it on me. finished the wine. The risk that never ends. but it gave me something else to do but sit at my desk. I had to survive this. They‘ll be yelling at you for not anticipating whatever. for no other reason than to be there for Sara.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed Chapter 17 Risk I got busy fleshing out the project plan the next day. Now there’s a risk for you. but Silverstruk wouldn‘t let me.
Now Alex felt he was being blindsided with pre-planned excuses by a conniving project manager. and we have every right to expect you to do it. but warned that not everything could be handled without causing delay. Donald sat at his side. but not much. unforeseen integration issues between the various solutions. Alex answered the phone. ―Alex. Matters of contention are best handled in person or in a phone call. Emails are a feeble method of hiding from the confrontation. and clicked the Send button. You‘ve got a job to do.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed I identified several risks: the unforeseen difficulties in software development. It read: Best Bargain made it clear that the May 1 go-live date was an imperative. Risk factors need to be raised and presented along with the proposal process where the customer can be apprised fairly of the realities before signing. I called Alex. I suggested that they consider being prepared for a later go-live date than they hoped for if these risk factors came into play. potential change orders requiring more effort. the ubiquitous threat of debilitating illnesses or personal matters among staff. In the email message. Better late than never. with a copy sent to Donald and Gregg. then IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN RAISED BEFORE WE SIGNED THE CONTRACT. I explained in general terms what I had done to the project plan and why a risk document was also included. His tirade was understandable. I could picture Alex‘s reddened face—his fingers pounding the keyboard expecting the characters on the screen to carry the full fury he felt. and Best Bargain‘s own resource limitations in the face of business demands.‖ 64 . It is up to you to coordinate the participants in the plan and to assign proper resources. I got your email. Best Bargain WILL NOT ACCEPT A COMPROMISE IN THE GO-LIVE DATE. the unpredictability in aligning resources from three different companies each with their own priorities. And it is UP TO YOU TO HAVE TESTED THE SOLUTIONS BEFORE SELLING THEM TO US. and there is no possibility our staff can participate in a go-live effort after that date. Risk Factors. If there was a problem with the go-live date. Another methodology problem. We had to do our best to be prepared to respond to any risk that came to pass. Our busy season begins then.‖ ―We don‘t appreciate you trying to welsh on the deal. I combined the updated project plan with a separate document titled. Alex responded in an email within the hour. equipment failures.
Go for that walk I‘d put off for days. I‘m sure you would not want me to be insincere. Maybe watch TV later.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed ―That‘s just what I am doing.‖ ―There are risks to any implementation.‖ ―It‘s a little late for this kind of candor.‖ The call concluded agreeing to disagree. and Alex remained angry. like it or not. Isn‘t that right?‖ ―We think you‘re trying to duck your responsibilities. don‘t you think?‖ ―I do. and it is my duty to make you aware. But the risk factors I presented are there. Facing reality was not always pleasant. 65 . but he had to be told. I told myself to take the evening off and again try to think of something else for a while. Get mindless and recover from the stressful day. It doesn‘t help anyone to bury our heads in the sand and pretend they don‘t exist.
take advantage…go all-in.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed Chapter 18 Researching Silverstruk The overhead camera shot was a dramatic display of the four players remaining in the Planet Poker Tour‘s Final Round. I couldn‘t figure how he did that. bet eight hundred thousand dollars. I sat in my recliner popping raw cashews into my mouth and washing them down with orange soda for a change. This guy I figured was deceptive—trying to make the other guy think his play is sloppy as his stacks. of 66 . The color man said that was a good bet. I began to think how unsettling it would be if he whipped out a pocket Ouija board and started chanting a little mumbo jumbo and waving his hands around. The announcer is very impressed with Danny‘s poker skills. To lie with a straight face. what the hell!‖ the others would shout. Danny stood to win triple his bet back. one stack ridiculously high. I wondered why. with stack heights as irregular as the Singapore skyline. a five-time world champion. ―Hey. The camera closed in on Danny‘s eyes as they shifted from player to player. Danny hadn‘t won a tournament in seven years. all dressed like they were on their way to work at a car wash. I wondered if I could make a living playing poker tournaments. I thought the stacks revealed the players‘ core personality. Danny can read minds. I didn‘t know if it made him good or bad at poker. He was pinching his lower lip which always helps people see through other people. several the very same height. One was very messy. another very short. but I thought it forecast bad things for his stomach lining. and just what would they decide? Danny wouldn‘t do that. They‘d have to get a ruling on it. and a spread of loose chips surrounding the stacks like a beachfront. Danny. Coffee was killing me. figuring the pot odds. He gives them each searching looks. Wondered if I had the nerves for it. separating a single stack of chips into two stacks then reshuffling the stacks into one stack again—all with one hand. His pupils got real small. So the announcer says. To bluff. Two had neatly stacked chips and looked like cautious players who wanted to always know where they stood and bet carefully. There are all colors of poker chips stacked every which way in front of each player. Go ahead. The last guy fidgeted.
It was hard to find Lucky if he didn‘t want you to. nobody can read minds. Danny has two aces. Watching TV was working.‖ ―I think Danny is a has-been. He had some way of changing the way his Caller ID read from time to time.‖ ―Is Sebastian W-2?‖ ―Yes.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed course. And no one.‖ I said. ―As a matter of fact I was. The announcer thinks Danny has his opponent on a middle pair. Bluffing like it was poker.‖ I said. Almost made the Japanese Olympic team.‖ ―Scares me to death. But that‘s his second option. He‘s just a weightlifter. ―So he kills. right?‖ Lucky thought he was clever working Mr. I mean no one can read minds. but I don‘t have him on hit man anyway. not anyone. 67 . And give it up. Danny loses. He had to play better and my company had to continuously improve to compete. Caller ID showed it was from Indian Resort. ―Here‘s what I got on Silverstruk.‖ ―I was just thinking the same…‖ Lucky cut me off. because he‘s already read the other guys‘ minds and already knows what they would do. I think there is no low hanging fruit for Danny in his business or for me in my business anymore. I didn‘t think it was funny.‖ ―How tough?‖ ―Tough enough to get you snuffed if he wants to. Silverstruk had Maury Loeb‘s car have the accident that killed him. I believe Danny didn‘t realize that there were a lot more players in the field these days. the last guy bets ―All-in. Loeb‘s company name in that way. I knew it had to be Lucky. and these new guys have learned very well how the game is played. My landline rang. And he‘s outsourced that kind of work. The announcer is stunned. Two guys fold.‖ The audience howled and clapped. He pauses for several dramatic moments and calls the all-in bet. Not that there was ever any excuse for business people going around taking advantage of people. I was getting mindless. Cards flip. Fuck that crap. Turns out he‘s a bona fide tough guy.‖ ―Turns out Mr. ―Hey. Mob guys did it on contract for a permanent dream. It was just another reality Danny and I had to grasp. ―You watching Planet Poker?‖ Lucky asked. chief. Danny was winning big when there were plenty of chumps at the table—like the proverbial low hanging fruit business people talk about.
―Okay. The best gift I ever received. I tossed the paperback on the floor. Like that.‖ ―Don‘t think so. I tucked a pillow under my head. and gave it to me for Christmas. in my line of sight each night when I went to bed and each morning when I got up.‖ ―Kinda like he‘s buying me.‖ Lucky laughs till he‘s coughing. He was nowhere near at the moment. involved in life. She was only eight when a former friend of mine painted it. He didn‘t sound well. but then he‘d always sounded a little frail.‖ Lucky let loose with a high reedy laugh. Silverstruk has an inside guy keeping tabs on his boy Alex. they were cool to the touch and the bed welcomed me in all the right places.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed ―As a last resort.‖ ―Manny? The warehouse guy?‖ ―The same. Another part of his natural disguise. He bought him off.‖ ―Now that is funny. I pulled the sheets up. ―It was Manny DiSalvo.‖ ―That‘s not funny.‖ ―What‘s this mean?‖ ―I‘d say Mr. her thin body sitting at the kitchen table. For the moment. I read for only a few minutes before I began falling asleep with a relaxing sort of natural drowsiness creeping over me. I thought he was trying to warn me about the old man when I was there. it‘s not funny.‖ ―Jimmy Hoffa. A reminder of all that‘s important to me. but not for any good reason. grabbed my book and reached for my glasses. Get it done right. Bought and paid for tattle-tale. and I was standing naked in my bedroom about to crawl under the sheets. for example. As I leaned toward the nightstand I caught sight of Sara‘s portrait hanging on the opposite wall. Somehow having Lucky involved now gave me a sense of security. Guess who the witness was. I hung it there. Head and knees raised. or else. but this is. In the picture she‘s busy drawing something. where little girls should be—safe.‖ ―Yes. Just giving you the heads-up is my take.‖ I took a shower and went to bed feeling refreshed as any marked man could be. and I could sit up to read. life was good.‖ ―So what do we do?‖ ―We wait to see if he kills you. The way sleep should envelop a tired soul for the night. It operated like a hospital bed. 68 . Wherever she was. He didn‘t kill the prosecution witness. Manny is Charles Silverstruk‘s man. happy.‖ ―Damn. I punched up a semi-seated position on my fancy new bed‘s remote control.
honey?‖ ―Yes.‖ ―Not that easy. And then the phone rang. Paula Toms should be on the team. make her do the processing. preparing for a long talk. tumbled forth. I thought maybe I was getting too clever. So now what?‖ I asked. The problem was in filling the last seat on the team. not Randy. ―I was going to ask you that. ―I‘ve been waiting for him to confess it and drop out.‖ ―Strongly suspects. What are parents for.‖ The good news was she was chosen the debate team captain. You tell me.‖ ―What‘s easy about it?‖ I was sounding like that TV counselor again. ―But. My first question. ―Cute.‖ ―You think she knows. Let her grow with the experience. Dad. makes you face reality when you try to answer it. I know he cheated on the exam.‖ ―Well. ―We have a code of honor. Ordinarily. ―It‘s wishful thinking. if not for times like this? Tell me something. We‘ve already had our first practice. She looks at me like she‘s waiting for one of us to break down and tell. what next?‖ I shifted myself up in my bed and laid my book aside. There were four members in addition to herself who would attend a debate contest between colleges in her school‘s conference. I‘d blurt out what she should do.‖ ―How‘s that working?‖ I‘ve seen a talk show counselor use this question a lot. but not before taking one last look at Sara looking back at me from her position on the wall. Dad.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed shed my glasses and reached to turn off the light. He‘s not that smart. Sara. It‘s a great question. I saw him. I guess. I‘m afraid she‘s going to ask us about what she might already suspect. ―Are you all right.‖ ―Tell me.‖ 69 .‖ ―So who‘s supposed to do what?‖ ―You‘re not making this easy. The bad news she was to prepare a debate team from those who got the best scores on the mid-term civics exam.‖ Sara said.‖ I wondered where I‘d got the wisdom to leave the thinking to her. almost every time. I feel like the faculty advisor can read my thoughts. ―That‘s not good. Dad. Sort of. Randy Cobb qualified for the last of the four seats.‖ ―Why?‖ ―Because Randy scored well above his usual on the exam.
Sleep was still welcoming me and I quickly sunk into a deep slumber. Or just being vengeful.‖ ―And what‘s that?‖ ―It‘s your choice. I‘m good at this.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed ―I think I‘m doing pretty good. ―I suppose it would look like she was lying to get on the team. Why doesn‘t she tell her?‖ ―How do you think that would go?‖ I‘m thinking I need to change occupations now. I quit the failed strategy. If you don‘t want to help.‖ Back on track again. too. a while back. telling her what to do. actually.‖ ―So she‘s not your best witness. I tell myself that maybe she‘ll appreciate this someday.‖ Call mom. So you‘re telling me I have to do it?‖ ―Not my words. not mine. Dad?‖ ―It‘s your choice.‖ We were fencing now. struggling with a decision to make. And knowing all along what I had to do.‖ ―Okay. for god‘s sake. ―Paula knows. I‘ll just—I‘ll call Mom.‖ ―Thank you very much. huh?‖ ―No. I was certain she knew what she had to do. ―Well what then. ―Sure. I turned off the bedside lamp again thinking I can be like that too. Maybe a marriage counselor or something where I get to just ask all the questions. Good bye and thanks for nothing. nevermind. or even talk to her. and would do whatever she decided to do without my weighing in with a decision. I thought I‘d done the right thing. Don‘t you have an opinion?‖ I love her tenacity and wish I could hug her right now. 70 . She rarely does anything I advise anyway. Great jab. I know her mom is very unlikely to help her. Keep talking. Make her keep thinking.
‖ Sebastian put me on hold while he turned the call over to his boss. are you Richard? You‘re being rude. Silverstruk. ―All right.‖ ―About me? And I‘m such a dull person. I don‘t know. The risks should have 71 . There was no sense resisting. reward—square roots? I‘m your answer man. A voice said. Hold on. I‘m sure you‘re familiar with that. It was the way kings. I answered the phone figuring I was going to be punished somehow.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed Chapter 19 Silverstruk Threatens It was very early.‖ The numbers on the clock read 4:42—a digital code for rude in my book. After a few moments. Mr. I was sleeping deeply without artificial aids for a change. Even Sara‘s call hadn‘t kept me awake worrying. Silverstruk.‖ Where I‘ve gotten the courage to be witty. Tell me about risk.‖ ―You‘re not quite awake yet. by stripping you of your dignity first. A phone ringing before sunrise is a cattle prod on high voltage. Richard. Silverstruk. kidnappers and drill sergeants got your full cooperation. I wondered what could make a person feel more powerful than to have another person dial the phone for them. and make the other guy wait to speak to his Excellency. ―Good morning. you can come right out with it. My heart reached take-off propulsion on the first ring.‖ I wanted to get this over with as soon as possible now. Silverstruk would like to speak with you. Finally.‖ ―Mr. Silverstruk‘s raspy voice spoke to me. Mr. ―You make me wonder about that. Mr. You know what risk is?‖ ―Risk. I want to talk to you about risk. I was on a sunny beach somewhere when the phone rang. I waited like a peasant. a phone ringing before breakfast is only pepper spray—but either one can just about kill you. Ask me anything. ―I‘m hearing alarming things about you.‖ I wished he‘d stop with the phony politeness. ―The simplest form of risk costs you money. Richard. ―Mr. if Alex has complained to you about my risk assessment report.
Lucky could match Silverstruk for arrogance any day. isn‘t it Richard? I‘d call it risky to be sleeping in. You keep working. the other won‘t let you. Right out of a some late-night gangster movie. The line went dead. I responded in kind—ignoring his escalating threat. We gotta talk.‖ He was ignoring me. Predictable thug. ―Lucky. It‘s one thing to watch such a cliché‘d scene munching a late night snack. ―Flying blind is risky. Massah Charles is in bed and Sebastian is making him coffee at the moment. Right now.‖ ―The more serious risks cost you more than money. The line went dead. I know it‘s only intimidation at this point. Or predictions. and they weren‘t.‖ ―Nothing to worry about now. I thought. I just got a call from Silverstruk. Look.‖ ―It‘s about time you got up.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed been discussed in the first place.‖ ―I couldn‘t wait.‖ ―That‘s better than a bullet. Just managing a project as best I can.‖ Click. It was quite another thing to be on the receiving end of such intimidation. but we know it can lead to something worse. Richard.‖ ―You‘re lucky I was awake. Richard.‖ Click. if I were you. like Lucky said. ―You‘re at his house?‖ ―Near enough to see through a window. You think I should lead Alex around blindfolded?‖ ―Richard. I had to go to work.‖ ―I‘m not making excuses. I‘ll be around.‖ ―Only slightly. 72 . You understand I won‘t tolerate excuses. Just doing a little more research. One puts you to sleep. I am advising you not to make your list of risks a list of excuses. I got up and called Lucky. I did what had to be done. I respond poorly to phone calls in the early hours.
How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed Chapter 20 Breaking Bad Habits I reached Paul to discuss gathering the master data. As it turns out. Otherwise the master data import stage could be strung out endlessly. Donald hadn‘t filled out the templates correctly. A good part of the job is keeping the peace. Paul ran into troubles. Paul agreed to the plan and began working with Donald on the data. Once the data was ready. and a project manager doesn‘t need to ruffle feathers unnecessarily. emailing him periodically to make sure something was getting done before reaching the due date. I made no mention of my past requests for a project plan. but he doesn‘t leave him with any documentation. Donald claimed he‘d been misinformed and told me he couldn‘t get answers from Paul. that was water under the bridge now. Finally. Paul would check the templates Donald completed. Donald has nowhere to look up answers for himself. making sure the right type of data was in the correct columns. He can rarely reach Paul. Any changes after that would be input directly into the system by Best Bargain. I planned to make the customer responsible for the data‘s integrity. There are hundreds of fields and dozens of tables in the templates. the records would be printed out and Best Bargain would validate the data to their satisfaction and sign off on it when they judged it ready to use. He has to repeatedly call Paul. Key to the plan: minimize Paul‘s time involved with the grunt work of cleansing data and the mechanics of uploading it. I tracked his progress. I told him the plan to efficiently gather and import the master data. they would remotely upload the master records into the test database on the Best Bargain server. The overseas technical team couldn‘t 73 . Paul would train Donald on importing legacy data into the proper fields in the data transfer templates. The off-shore team would then take the templates and check and correct what‘s needed to make the records importable. Paul ―trains‖ Donald with show and tell conference sessions.
and let his pride fuel his effort. would want to do better. I could set the course right again. Without the discipline to stick to the methodology. the project veered out of control. I didn‘t think the problem was really about resenting me. How would I deal with either factor? I didn‘t have an alternate to replace him. then resend them. the technical team and Donald were spending great amounts of time trying to straighten things out—all working on the same task simultaneously negating the efficiency I planned into the team effort.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed understand the data and couldn‘t get it to upload. I let it slide. What is it with Paul? I thought. Paul was pulled away from his other tasks causing other due dates to slip even more. sharing his thoughts with a sympathetic but inquisitive group. Now he. I had missed the opportunity to challenge and manage Paul‘s effort. and get their tasks divided again. I thought he was nearly burnt out. I was too cautious. Paul had told me by this point that he passed the data import files to the technical team without checking them first—saying he didn‘t have the time. That was impossible. Too much was wrong and too much was missing. I now had to intervene in their conference calls. too afraid of offending him. It‘s hard to get anyone to do anything else but what they want to do. My plan was to promote peer-level interaction. and Paul would naturally pull away. Direct confrontation would not work in either case. I should have acted immediately when I first heard he had passed on the data without looking at it—instead of accepting the bad news passively as I did. lead them into seeing the duplication of effort. 74 . I should have had him back up and review the data import files at that time. not without very close and direct over-the-shoulder supervision. I had to cultivate an environment where Paul. Applying the harsh rasp of command or criticism to the wound would only add to the pain. but I had allowed precious time to be wasted. I could have called the technical team and called them off the effort until Paul finished. Was it subterfuge or his resignation that was undermining me and the project.
I‘ll call the home office and check on funds. ―When will I get the real licenses?‖ ―Let me get back to you with an answer to that. the room shrinks and nothing exists except the few square feet of my desk. Donald. Donald.‖ Caught again. I‘m not playing this game anymore. ―Richard. When are we going to pay Tracer for these licenses?‖ ―I don‘t know. I‘ve got the shipping system consultant here in my office asking for the licenses for the software. and I had the curtains completely pulled back to let every ray of sunlight in. But right now they‘re mostly concerned that they‘ll never get paid.‖ I thought to myself. Why don‘t I have them?‖ ―Not sure.‖ ―Richard. Donald didn‘t have the permanent licenses. It‘s was a sunny day outside.‖ ―Just be prepared. if the vendor’s company is willing. In the meantime. I had asked Tracer that the software be set up with temporary licenses just to get things going.‖ 75 . You do what you gotta do. Caller ID said it was Best Bargain. And the handset. invited bad news like a fire station. they could. he can install the software with temporary licenses. One of the independent software provider‘s consultants asked Donald for the licenses to complete the install. ―This is the last time I cover for us. Let me check into that. and it made me feel very uncomfortable. Because we hadn‘t paid for them yet. But when the phone rings. The message didn‘t get through. What would my daughter think if she knew her father conducted himself this way? I called Gregg. apparently. Some days I thought I could live on intravenous Xanax and never get too relaxed. The phone rang. that peephole to the outside world these days. it‘s real world.‖ ―What we gotta do is pay for these licenses and stop lying about it.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed Chapter 21 Weaseling The test server was being set up. Gregg. and I‘m covering up for Triple-S. This was getting too easy for me. Donald Moore.
Sara. and now he was threatening me. ―I‘m glad to hear you‘re going. When we do things right. okay. I can give it directly to them. too. What do you have against that?‖ ―I just think we have to deal with circumstances the way they are. I put her address in my Outlook. 76 .‖ I knew she‘d been working at the school. Don‘t play games with this project. could go in spurts. I don‘t have enough. I haven‘t had a personal address for her in years.‖ Except I didn‘t know where to send it. Gregg was feeling threatened. How much?‖ ―Nine hundred. She seemed to want to navigate life on her own. but we create the circumstances. I hoped that it wasn‘t Alex. And they pay us.‖ A little diplomacy had backed Gregg down. honey. but I‘m signed up for a trip to London to see some of Shakespeare‘s plays. this isn‘t a revival.‖ ―Let‘s keep this simple. ―Dad. ―Okay. I didn‘t need another going over at the moment. If you‘ll just make it out to the school. The truth was the last thing I needed was another obstruction or another enemy.‖ ―I‘m not the problem here. obscuring his perspective. they get what they want. I got lucky. It was probably due to her sense of abandonment coming from both her parents at different point in time. and not at each other‘s throats?‖ Gregg paused a long time.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed ―Richard. Progress in relationships. I‘ve never had to call you for extra money before. ―It‘s on its way. My phone rang shortly after I hung up with Gregg. it was Sara. Whatever had prompted this was a gift to me.‖ ―Listen to me. but I couldn‘t feel much comfort in that.‖ I took this as some kind of break through. Sara didn‘t like living in a state of dependency even though every other kid on the campus was. and I intended to make it as pain free as possible. let‘s be grownups about this. it seemed. I supposed she‘d ask me to put it in an account. making pocket money at best. And wouldn‘t it be better if you and I were collaborators. This was as unexpected. I was glad she called me for help though. There‘s a fee for the air fare and my room. baggage free. If you don‘t have the stomach for this kind of work—I mean. We can‘t afford it. Let‘s just keep this thing moving.‖ ―Yes.‖ ―Not a problem. ―Let me give you my address. and I had hard choices to make that could cost me more than Gregg had on the line. I had to hope that Gregg would not turn on me.
we‘re going to fix it anyway. actually. However. No one is willing to pay or sign off for something that isn‘t working. we‘ll fix things that might go wrong after that. Yeah. right?‖ ―I don‘t think it will change anything. I had found that was no exaggeration. The combination of variables and events could provoke outcomes no one would expect. We run a trial balance before and after.‖ One of our persistent problems centered on this very issue. But don‘t most warranties have more limitations than promises? Nonetheless. We just run several transactions. the point is to determine the finish line. but tell me what you want me to do. I talked to Paul about the matter. purchase to payment. That‘s why all software warranties basically disclaim responsibility for anything bad that happens when using their software. then do the basic banking functions. The challenge: define working.‖ ―Well. Triple-S never used user acceptance testing based on customer approved test scripts to officially sign and close development and system 77 . ―How have you gone about preparing test scripts in the past. Software doesn‘t come with an all expenses paid warranty. The answer was in the test scripts that would be run by Best Bargain to determine if the outputs were correct.‖ ―Do you get a sign off afterwards?‖ ―No. Paul?‖ ―I don‘t use scripts.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed Chapter 22 Test Scripts They say a million things could go wrong when operating an ERP system. but we have to have the option to start billing for future work. But it happened. And no project of any type can legitimately be concluded before a thorough dry run of the system validates that it‘s ready. I thought it was probably true in about any kind of project. the only statement that mattered was when the customer said it‘s working. What‘s the point? If something doesn‘t work later on. we‘re good to go. If it balances. order to cash. I knew there had to come a point when the system was said to be working.
Consequently. More testing meant more billable hours. so Best Bargain could be persuaded to keep the testing to a reasonable level and not break the budget over it. run a trial balance sheet. He could then check inventory levels for each of the items. Like the blueprint. He could ask Best Bargain to select a few past sales and purchasing transactions. ―I would tell them when you sign off on the user acceptance testing using these test scripts. Having the stakeholders. and was inclined to provide almost unlimited services at no charge as penance. And having no methodology. from purchase order to payment. the client had always felt justified in asking for more fixes and even enhancements using the broadest possible interpretations of the proposal and the blueprint. check account balances. And then you ask them if that sounds fair. no rules of the road to rely on. depending on the extent of the testing. I think you want to hear them say yes. to get them mentally committed to it. or the project would remain an open-ended obligation with no end to the profit drain caused by the customer‘s endless complaints—be they real or imagined. then go through the banking functions from deposits through reconciliation. from sales order to invoice. the importance of the test scripts I thought had to be emphasized. There was no end to it all. Those documents would provide both the inputs and outputs to confirm the successful tests. How much testing should be done seemed to me to be an arbitrary matter. This project was a time and materials based purchase. Isn‘t that your answer?‖ 78 . It could take a day or days. It may have been that Triple-S generally felt responsible for the messy process that preceded the go-live. I attempted to persuade Paul of the importance they held. There had to be a point when the system was considered finished.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed preparation. the system development is considered finished. participate in the selection and preparation of the tests would oblige them to sign off on the user acceptance testing when it was completed successfully. they had no alternative other than to engage in a push-and-shove argument over what services were owed or not. All that remains is the final training and the go-live process. Best Bargain. It was an ugly and unprofitable process I wanted to avoid. I suggested that Paul might take a simple approach to developing test scripts. however.‖ ―What if they find bugs?‖ ―We release bug fixes twice a year at no charge.
stay seated. Never raise your voice. 79 .‖ I knew that even the best methodology could encounter a customer who wouldn‘t abide by the rules. It was understandable that their fears might overtake their rationality from time to time. There seemed to be only one fallback position—issues between the consultant firm and the customer should be worked out using the project documentation for reference. scared the hell out of customers. A ragged implementation. And again. I had to restore their confidence. And again. Facing their panic. It was my position that what worked best in any tense situation was simply to offer the clear evidence that their requirements were being met. patience. Restraint is a paramount virtue in these tense moments. He would assemble the test scripts in collaboration with Best Bargain. One can never apologize enough for the damage this causes. I found that in the grip of a dispute it was important to observe some guidelines I had compiled from a series of such experiences that were helpful in containing anxieties and avoiding an escalating argument: Never get confrontational—don‘t even look or sound like it. Brick by brick. In my experience as a project team member. patience. Hear them out completely. This is not so easy when anxieties cloud communications. I didn‘t think this would be any different if the confusion had existed between an in-house project team and the various department‘s stakeholders within the same company. God laughs. Use calm tones of voice. ―Man plans. Never call names. Without proper documentation. on the other hand. After hanging up with Paul. Never impugn their motives. Then ask for their consent again. it was a cage match.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed Paul reluctantly agreed to the approach. Without interrupting—patience. get something solid in place to build on. I thought of one of my favorite sayings. A properly executed methodology was intended to provide them the confidence in what our consulting firm was doing for them. child or spouse would know that. And we had Best Bargain on edge that way. look relaxed—and not like a fighter resting in his corner before the next round. Repeat as necessary. I had seen that customers were often spooked from the very outset at the prospect of what they were attempting. They feared a new system could ruin the entire business. Demonstrate the facts of the matter very slowly getting their agreement each step of the way. Best Bargain was no different. Anyone whose had an argument with a parent.
calmly and empathetically set up another time for another meeting—we all want this to work. A delay in training meant a delay in the go-live. I had yet to see a finished training database. And I had to be prepared for another ugly encounter with Sebastian. Some changes to the timeline needed to be made were we to agree on a delayed go-live date that could be achieved as soon as possible. calm resolution can bring the matter to a close. and it‘s harder to have a follow up discussion starting where you left off that way. Best Bargain had to sign-off on the readiness of the system before training could begin. I began thinking of ways to compact these two activities by having training begin on the heels of user acceptance testing—hoping that there would be no glitches in the software.6 Facing a nearing golive date.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed In these tense discussions. And do it all again. except for the final balances. or be prepared to delay. but I think you should never leave the discussion in inflamed disarray. The thought of that left me weak in the knees. We had been actively on the project for twelve weeks and closing in on April 15. User acceptance testing needed to happen at least two weeks before we started the week-long final training with each department and company management present. If anything wrong was to show up. Hurrying suggest bullying. the very same database we would go live with. would be imported the weekend of golive. If agreement cannot be reached. the date when we had agreed to assess our readiness to go live on May 1. As I reviewed the project plan. I would act as though I had all the time in the world. 80 . It needed to be fully prepared for the full cycle of transactions the test scripts would call for. it was absolutely clear that we were not going to be ready. Only persistent. Being relaxed suggests a rational approach. I needed to allow some time to fix the problem and re-run the failed transaction before we started training. I thought it unwise to terminate the discussion in a show of frustration or resignation. It was important to get this done right. 6 See Sample Sign Off in the Quick Reference section for more information. You could be late for your dialysis. The training database. I was beginning to feel very alone in this project. That‘s the last thing the other party remembers if you leave it there.
shipping labels. Our buckets were leaking. nothing. And the truth is. it would be serving time as a project manager. This meant they couldn‘t print a carton label. and I wouldn‘t assume buckets held water if I were managing a Chicago‘s finest fire brigade. Sri had the blueprint.‖ ―What? And have the picker walk all the way over to the PC in the manager‘s office each time he needs some labels? If they knew which cartons we‘re going to need labels. Richard. where they can get to them quickly. They need to print from a printer close by. I began to think of those firemen forming a line passing buckets back and forth to and from the spigot. bin labels. But the conversation revealed a flaw in my approach. Get the orders out the door faster. How could they scan and pick a carton with no label? They had to label the cartons when they received them. but they don‘t always know that. at the dock at minimum. so to speak. I should have had the 81 . Half the imports from China didn‘t have a carton label on them. Increase efficiencies. a pallet label. So he says.‖ This was all in the blueprint. ―They have to print them from the PC. they could print them in advance. I had a new attitude. That was the big deal behind the whole warehouse system—barcodes and accuracy. a price label.‖ ―The system is supposed to save footsteps. This afternoon Sri told me that the handheld scanners the warehousemen will be using don‘t have a print command on the menu—and it can never have one. What do you mean we can‘t print from the handheld?‖ If anything could destroy one‘s inclination to have faith in anything. He knew when label printing was planned to occur in the processes. They couldn‘t print using the handheld from where they stood in the warehouse while performing a task that might require a label printed. Sri.‖ ―It can‘t be helped. at the dock.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed Chapter 23 Good Intentions on Your Dime ―I don‘t understand. you shouldn‘t. Of course. I explained. Maybe a line of warehousemen could form a ―label line?‖ Such was the ridiculous state of affairs.
I could only try reason. and I could have been accused of overpromising.‖ Gregg assures me. I learned something.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed software development department sign off on the blueprint before I presented it to Best Bargain. I wanted to tell him my neck was on the line. In the future. Now Sri claimed foul. but I hadn‘t. Applications must be able to print something. Gregg could have been accused of overselling. The functionality was not there. but I couldn‘t take that chance. Due date: ―?‖. Gregg. Every application can print. Communications was the most important priority of the project manager. I was all facts. I am bothered at the circumstance. I added the task to the project plan under Developments. I explained the situation. but a threat would have felt better. Gregg was all hope. and Sri gave me no assurance he could put it there. ―This is just wrong. I need you to put some pressure on Sri. It‘s a Windows function. Sebastian was waiting. Sri told me he would see what he could do. Sri had to make this work. Still. I called Gregg. How could I or the customer legitimately demand the functionality now? He had a point. Don‘t worry. I must have the technical team sign off on the blueprint before presenting it to the customer to avoid surprises and disputes later on.‖ ―He‘ll fix it. and I had blown it. 82 . Our solution wasn‘t printing labels from the handheld the day Gregg sold the deal to Best Bargain.
okay?‖ ―I can‘t let this become a last minute thing. And the half that was true was irrelevant. I slipped on a jacket and stepped out the patio door to go for a walk. what I said. then we‘ll print. How was he going to put me on the spot now? ―Richard. But give us a little more time. this is Donald from Best Bargain. Best Bargain displayed on the caller ID. shelled. Donald had let it pass. we simply didn‘t know how or when we could. I started walking in a direction only my feet seemed to know. Though the intention was to make labels print from the handheld menu. I‘ll track it.‖ ―Yes. I‘ve got the crew setup to do this Saturday. All day long. Every time Donald or Alex called I got tense.‖ ―Now that we have the warehouse mapped.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed Chapter 24 Half-baked Software If I were stranded on a desert island and had to choose two foods to live with I‘d choose coffee and low-salt roasted peanuts. Only half true. I marveled at how a quick delivery and a confident tone can stifle an objection. we‘re ready to print the labels and put them on the bins. I was pouring a pile of nuts into the jar‘s inverted lid that I used as a serving dish when the landline sounded. I made sure to swallow the peanuts in my mouth before I started this conversation. 83 . Let‘s get that tested. It was not exactly true. You‘re sure you‘ll be ready in time?‖ ―It‘s on the project plan. I‘d looked the Planter‘s Peanut man in the eye often enough to be on speaking terms. Can Paul help us get them printed?‖ ―Sure. and it felt sleazy. Donald. I ate peanuts almost every day between mealtimes. It‘s too much to eat crow and peanuts at the same time. Sri is making some adjustments to the handheld code for your new pick-to-carton feature. The freshness could clear my head and allow me to reflect on matters. The air was beginning to take on the fragrance of new plant life.‖ The words had spilled from my mouth as smooth as a waterfall. and began snaking through the streets keeping close to the curbs. Donald.
84 . Ultimately. We were in a hurry just like Preston Tucker. he failed to deliver a heartfelt. His conception was rushed into development at a break-neck speed to meet the deadline for its world premiere in June. The Torpedo was the product of hurried and sloppy work. Preston Tucker started with a love for the automobile. the impression had been cast. Triple-S bore an unseemly resemblance. leaving a great number of people with useless souvenir accessories from the Tucker Torpedo fiasco. He was a highly creative man and introduced a number of extraordinarily prescient features in his dream car—the engine was rear mounted. The booming car market had attracted a number of entrepreneurs since the inception of a gas powered car. to name a few of a dozen innovations. It was the most egregious rush-to-market story I‘d ever heard. Driven by greed and glory. he sold accessories to hundreds of potential buyers before a production car was ever made. and it was at the moment true. A rumor spread that the car could not back up. Who would have wanted to be toyed with this way? No project lives in an ideal world. Tucker. wanted in on the business. wasn‘t there a point when we failed reasonable expectations? Such had been done before. Preston Tucker introduced a remarkably innovative car named the Tucker Torpedo in 1948. but descended into a loveless affair. an entrepreneur‘s entrepreneur. and the Best Bargain project existed in a very troubled environment. et cetera. It got worse. and it had seat belts. The Tucker Torpedo did not have a reverse gear. a ―Cyclops‖ headlight mounted in the front center of the car swiveled when you turned to light up the road ahead around the curve. the downfall of many business ventures gone awry. in Tucker‘s unrestrained zeal to get revenues flowing. But had professional project methodologies been practiced in the past. but we quacked like ducks. only fifty-one Tucker Torpedoes were manufactured and sold before production had to be suspended. the types of deficiencies I was finding in our solutions would not have been benignly overlooked as they were. and lured a huge audience to the unveiling. Buyer beware. Though the car had a strikingly attractive body design. What was once surely a passion became a lust. but too late. Our circumstance provoked a memory of an article I read about the Tucker Torpedo. Worse yet. Could it be called criminal? Maybe not. in the frantic drive to get business. This was added later. honest value.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed I could argue that Best Bargain did not ask to see the printing function when they were viewing the demos. skepticism quickly developed beginning when the suspension snapped on the prototype and the car had to be pushed onto the display platform. But I asked myself.
too. The handheld‘s issues could have been corrected back then. they always seemed to be around. Through the accountability of a documented project plan. Whether they represented the same potential for we humans. and neither was anyone else on my team going to until this was done and my sentence lifted. who could tell. I lived in the uneasy peace that no news was good news. progress is required. I could only assume that Alex had not reported anything disturbing to his father. but their loud celebration overhead was inspiring. Having heard nothing from him. It hadn‘t worked and the client had given up in exasperation. But Charles Silverstruk had an alarming way of getting my attention when he wanted it. I began yet another status check on my personal safety. I couldn‘t tell how closely he was watching me now. Silverstruk‘s since he‘d made his early morning phone call to me. and I would not have faced the same problems again in this implementation. that‘s for sure. How could the project have gone live with such an obvious deficiency? There could not have been any pre-golive full cycle testing that included the handheld functionality. I was not sleeping well. I watched their purposeful flight path and wondered if they actually migrated anywhere. There is no shrugging off the status quo when accomplishments are being tracked and validated. They were always cheerfully content. Following a disciplined methodology would have exposed the problem before that go-live. 85 . I made the turn for home. I hadn‘t seen or heard anything from Sebastian or Mr. A flock of honking geese flew in from nowhere it seemed and arrested my thoughts. but I certainly understood that door locks were no object if he wanted to get in for a closer communication.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed I learned that our wireless handheld functionality had just been de-installed at a previous implementation that had gone live just two months before the Best Bargain project began. And the company would have been made better.
‖ Vishal said. Gregg. and you too Gregg. I don‘t know how he computes the time frame. I suspect it‘s just a number out of thin air. but he sounds certain about it. If they were to be ready. I saw his question as an example of the power of denial coming from a desperate man. My strategy was to let him state his opposition later in the discussion after he had heard some support for a delay. Meanwhile. we are at a moment of truth. Vishal. As a consequence. our development team had been working feverishly on the special features Best Bargain was promised in the blueprint. We‘re not ready. User acceptance testing has to go flawlessly. ―No. many other dependent due dates needed to be pushed out because of the delay. If we‘re to go live May 1. myself. I knew that Alex and Donald would react badly when the truth became evident. I started the discussion. ―Gentlemen.‖ ―Don‘t you think we‘re ready?‖ Gregg asked. It will take a miracle and the three of us. I didn‘t want to face that scene. We haven‘t seen the full system work on the test database yet. He could he not understand where we were in the project. and it won‘t. I strongly suspected Gregg would be obstinate about a delay. Paul and myself to discuss it. I was baffled that he could ask this question. 86 . and at least subconsciously. and start training on Monday morning on the heels of testing. Paul. we need to hold user acceptance tests over the weekend. classroom training had to begin one week before go-live. ―I say we delay go-live four to six weeks. to pull this off. We now had two weeks before the targeted go-live date. what‘s your take?‖ I posed the question to Vishal hoping that a consensus would develop in favor of delaying the testing and training. ―And you Paul? You‘re the closest to the action. I had not updated the project plan. He might have felt pressured to go along.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed Chapter 25 Trumping Reality Weeks would pass before Triple-S found the money to pay Tracer.‖ I asked. I arranged a conference call with Vishal.
Gregg got agitated at this. What could I gain by fueling an argument by restating my opposition? And for whatever reason. We‘ve got to suck it up and go. and that‘s the bulk of the solution.‖ I said. For now.‖ Without a company-endorsed project methodology to help decide the matter. Gregg countered. Tracer will be working eventually. I gave them the classroom requirements and listed who should attend by job title and when. just ten days before go-live. We need to stay on track with this. I yielded to his vice presidential authority and said nothing more to contest his will.‖ What‘s the magic of September 1. he did not find me or the team credible.‖ ―We‘re asking for extreme trouble if we show up to do training with an untested. but we were going. incomplete system. We would arrive in less than a week to conduct user acceptance testing and final training. and I knew I would be hearing from Charles Silverstruk again soon. These guys will go bonkers. I prepared a training outline and schedule and distributed it to the team and sent it to Donald and Alex. We weren‘t ready. we talk them through the rough spots. while retreating from the truth. This was impossible. move user acceptance training to the weekend after training. We‘ve got to go live May 1. Gregg already thought I was a drag on the project‘s progress. Gregg was pushing his troops ahead in a wild charge. ―This is crazy. It‘s what we do. That will give us another week for development. ―We can fix the little things in time for go-live if something goes wrong. I wonder? Here we go again just pulling dates out of the air. We have to train them on what we have. I would give us a few more months. Richard.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed ―September 1. Development will get done. The facts had been laid out and he had viewed them differently than I. 87 .
A few students now and then could actually benefit from this. as it has been said so often. but most learned very little. Some classroom training was not much more than a guided demo followed by the student‘s single attempt to mimic the demo. It required the department head to learn a single or 88 . This was another instance where I let the project get out of my control. I had observed that the central reason most training fails was that it lacked the opportunity to practice a transaction enough times to actually learn it. a surprisingly negligent action given Donald‘s computer science background. I felt it was no time to crack the whip with Donald and insist that he follow my instructions. Donald proudly presented the training room set up. Yet knowing the havoc that was soon to become evident. I had come to appreciate the term ―entertraining‖ as an all too accurate term describing classroom training. As we would discover. Contrary to my instructions. Repetition is the mother of learning. In my years as a software trainer. Donald had hooked up multiple desktop computers to the network for students to use.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed Chapter 26 Spanked When I arrived at Best Bargain‘s offices. This led to numerous computer failures which only compounded the inherently flawed training we were attempting. but mostly owing to the instructor‘s entertaining manner. It‘s not so. My mistakes were compounding at a frightening pace. he had not verified that each computer had the correct configuration needed to operate the solutions. I hadn‘t confirmed the training room setup before I left for this visit. I had informed Alex and Donald that I would follow a standard train-the-trainer methodology. Class ratings could be high. one of three I had asked him to prepare for each of the instructors. only better. We were in a four wheel slide. I addressed this indisputable maxim with my version of the train-thetrainer method. This spurious response to the training class had misled many executives into thinking their employees had actually been trained and that their training dollars had been well spent. It was no time to criticize the one who failed to check the tire pressures.
―I am. As I had anticipated.‖ I was embarrassed. invited a subordinate from the department to become the learner. Manny wanted to see the full functioning system. I closed my Outlook email. ―No. training actually achieved its objectives.‖ I said. Good to see you‘re ready to go. Then that learner became the teacher while another employee became the learner. but as is so often the case.‖ I said. and avoided the chaos all too typical of many go-lives. ―I guess we‘ll see what we can do without it. but soon. and taught the learner the same transactions until the learner demonstrated their mastery. The department head then traded seats with me. slow is faster. We can get a good start. and helped by offering encouraging words to keep the class inspired. At the end of the first day.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed small set of transactions. They were all truly trained this way. many times. switched to the Giant First screen and pointed out the warehouse menu where Manny would be doing all his work. The department head became expert. Just thought I‘d get a peek at the interface. all under the department head‘s supervision.‖ he said nodding at the screen. There was little he could do though. but was automatically drawn in to putting the best face on things. It was slow. instruct and practice the transactions many. and he wasn‘t going to witness that. This frustrated the class who rightfully expected to witness the new system working as it should have been. After seeing that Paul was set up okay in his training room. This can‘t be hurried. In this way the department head got to observe. ―I hear the shipping system isn‘t set up yet. I circled my computer to display the opening menus. I kept an open issues list on a table beside me that ballooned to sixteen items before the grueling day came to an end. The system seemed to fail at every other step. The process repeated until the training agenda was completed. there were many features that were not fully functioning in the training system. The company would be actually ready for go-live when the day arrived. repeating the actions until they could perform them fluidly without any assistance from me. Manny DiSalvo was standing at the instructor‘s podium. ―Hey. Manny. exhausted from the travel and the hardships of the day.‖ Manny said. I went downstairs to greet my trainees as they arrived. Already it started. Paul and I left for the hotel. I had no excuses to offer.‖ ―Yes. I think. Manny did his best to be supportive. We agreed to meet in the bar before going to dinner. and gave me a big smile as I entered the room. That is. 89 .
looking away from the listener at some other object. He complemented the look with a detached.‖ ―I‘ve got sixteen on my list. I‘m logging issues like crazy. how did your day go.‖ I said. offered a simple hello. his eyes still fixed on the TV. ―I think I can match that with mine. ―The baseball team‘s project? Why did you do that?‖ ―For the same reason I avoid all our solutions. It was the unforeseen consequence of Rajan‘s leadership—the alchemy of his dreams of wealth combined with his indifference to our product‘s value. ―You and I know that‘s not going to happen. A tailored goatee gave him a distinguished. professorial look. ―Why‘s that?‖ ―I‘ve never bothered to master it. well. Almost all significant problems in any organization can be traced to the top of the organization chart. and looked up at the TV monitor showing a soccer tournament. his face showing a stony smirk. Paul didn‘t believe anymore. Do you feel like you‘re prepared to teach them our warehouse management system on Thursday?‖ ―Not so much. But then it might have all come to be too mundane for Paul to care much. you know. Paul?‖ ―Like yours. and delivered his message with an oblique nonchalance—as though the truth of the matter being so obvious did not require that he apply any effort in retrieving the thought.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed Paul mounted the barstool next to me. presumably something of more immediate interest. Enough defeats and the soldier didn‘t trust the general‘s strategies anymore. I looked at it. ―Yeah. frankly. It‘s junk. You‘re scheduled to teach them the warehouse management system this week.‖ Paul took a sip of his beer. for God‘s sake.‖ he said.‖ 90 . ―Yep.‖ Paul briefly turned his face to me and gave me a mischievous smile. dogmatic manner of speaking. that puts us in a little bit of a hard place. It‘s not worth my time to learn them.‖ ―Junk?‖ ―Yep. ―They‘re still expecting a May 1 go live. don‘t you think? You‘ve got to know them. ―So. They‘re junk. his head bobbing. junk. I supposed.‖ Paul said. I even tried to get the Muskies to drop it from their implementation.‖ ―I‘ll get by. They‘re deadly serious about that. keeping his eyes on the TV.‖ ―Well.‖ He ever so slightly turned to me. He had a bramble of black hair dotted with silver spikes flagging his age. that is not good.‖ Such were the ravages of war.
Richard. I think you could have avoided this. It was the quintessential dilemma.‖ ―You underestimate them. ―Of course. I betrayed the company and by implication Gregg.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed ―Yep.‖ ―Look.‖ ―Paul and I logged thirty-one open issues in one day. the last one at the end of the concourse. I found my gate. and now it‘s going to be delayed. ―This is unbelievable. They aren‘t idiots. presenting no good way out. Alex was applying full irony in his question. I‘d said it. Paul and I headed home the following morning. We need to bill. act busy. and that is the point here.‖ There.‖ The following morning Alex invited me into his office with Donald before training was scheduled to begin. I sipped a tall coffee and nibbled on a chocolate muffin—a treat costing me the lion‘s share of a ten dollar bill. My seat faced an empty Jetway overlooking a waveless ocean of concrete extending as far as the distant tree line. If you‘re not busy. There was no good place to set down my coffee. Why are you here?‖ He spoke in an accusing tone of voice. Alex. I think you limp-legged this visit and let them take you down because you opposed it from the beginning. The system doesn‘t work. Alex and Donald decided that it was of no good purpose to continue the training and waste the budget on this folly. one needn‘t ask why the guards are at the cell door at the appointed hour. This is no place for a purist. you can‘t keep on like this. and I knew what he meant. Richard. Gregg. You‘re not thinking about our cash flow problems. Richard. ―If it had been up to me. Like execution day. ―I guess I have this question for you. Alex spoke first.‖ ―When does all this add up to willful negligence? Doesn‘t that cross the line into wrong?‖ 91 . How could they rationally respond otherwise?‖ ―We have enough ready to go-live in two weeks. Enough to ask for another payment.‖ ―But they actually kicked you out?‖ he repeated. and spread piles of paper around everywhere. Richard.‖ ―Yep. and I was dropping crumbs down my shirt with every bite. I easily conceded. hell. Gregg. ―They kicked you out?‖ he said in a disbelieving tone. They wanted us to leave. we wouldn‘t be. they say. too. This is trouble. At the airport. I decided to call Gregg and discuss the fiasco over breakfast. Donald was either very busy or cleverly camouflaged. Donald‘s office was a testament to disarray.
and thought about him all the way home. again. So get your head out of your ass and look around.‖ ―I‘m not going along with this farce.‖ Gregg‘s fears were redlining. Richard. Don‘t cry on my shoulder.‖ ―The reason we‘re where we are is because of you as much as anybody. And I can‘t let this project fail and see the company fold and my job along with it. I found it odd how a person could selectively believe what they chose to believe to the exclusion of all contradicting facts. 92 . the stage was set for a contest of wills and threats to begin. Gregg. Who would care about that? I could think of one man in particular. But the system didn‘t work. You surrendered. Gregg had kicked it off by threatening me.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed ―Wrong is getting arrested. you act like you‘re the only one who has a stake in this. I felt badly for him as I did everybody in this mess who had something to lose. Now that the customer‘s goals and the vendor‘s goals became so out of alignment with one another. But it didn‘t change the facts of the situation.‖ ―Goddamit. and I got mine. We‘ve all got our own problems.
I drained my wine glass and asked for another. A diamond ring on one pinky finger was large enough to pay a kidnapper‘s ransom.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed Chapter 27 Ethics by Bradley Had I been praying for it. while the other hand displayed an emerald the size of granny‘s green apples. She smiled happily again and filled my glass. 93 . The flight was overbooked. He was not looking at the flight attendant when he said. A perfectly gorgeous ticket agent choose to relocate me to a first class seat. cheerfully poured me a glass of Chardonnay. I drank it down before she turned around. but as it was it was just happy fate smiling down on me for a change. though the wine would sink my spirits the more I drank. but the drinks are free. The rich man tossed down his scotch and got another. his own jet probably being in the shop at the time. I thought he looked like he required a first class seat. think or drink. I began to feel out of place.‖ She was standing two rows away with her back to us. no tie. He was wearing a tailored blue blazer and sharply pressed gray trousers. the attendant was already presenting my cabin mate with another scotch. just an unbuttoned white shirt exposing an ostentatious chunk of gold hanging around his neck. I thought. She somehow knew this man was important. I asked for another Chardonnay. I had to admit. make it a double. Or is this all there is? I don’t know. A large man standing by me in the aisle excused himself and pointed to the window seat next to me. That made me feel special. ―Scotch on the rocks. There are few things you can do in an airline seat: sleep. A middle-aged flight attendant who had not lost a bit of her charm in her in-flight years. He didn‘t have to ask. please?‖ I asked with an innocent expression on my face. Two of us were assigned to the same seat. I couldn‘t sleep. so I was left with the remaining options. but picked up his call like one dolphin‘s supersonic squeal to another and turned immediately to prepare his drink. ―Miss—another. By the time we reached cruising altitude. I could have called it a miracle. too. This is what I live for.
A requirement. I studied them in college for some reason. It‘s all set.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed My encounter with Gregg led me to think about survival just like he was. ―No taxes.‖ He chuckled at this.‖ he continued. ―Panama?‖ ―Panama is just a better Delaware. It‘s no trivial thing. MetaOil. He was oblivious to the near miss. He folded the paper to read an inside page. The man next to me opened his Wall Street Journal. You think it‘s going to happen?‖ ―Going to happen? Hell. ―No.‖ 94 . ―What kind of work do you do?‖ I asked. I could see the profile of a broad smile on his face. So what does it matter? Why not just go along? I thought about this then and still do now. I suppose. What does it matter how I or anybody goes about things—the right or wrong of it? People have thought about these matters for a very long time.‖ I never heard of them. Funny how much I‘d forgotten. we‘ll all be dead. Panamanian corporation. but he seemed to think we shared an orbit in his galaxy. As far as we‘re concerned. He read silently for a few minutes then spoke to me. ―I just got back from Bogata. ―Negotiator.‖ I searched for something of substance to say and came up with a ten-year-old story. but didn‘t look at me.‖ I don‘t know why he should have expected that this stranger next to him would have anything in common with him. What would the great philosophers have to say about selling a software solution in the twenty-first century? I had some sketchy recollections of a few of the many I had once read about.‖ I shrugged nonchalantly. ―You hear about this?‖ he said and pointed to an article titled. ―I hear we spend a lot on the drug war in Columbia. Or was it? In a hundred years. it‘s already done. He finished his scotch and traded glasses with the attendant. so as not to disappoint my cabin mate. not really knowing how I should react and being a victim of four glasses of wine. ―Columbia Free Trade Agreement Nearing Approval.‖ ―Define working. His swinging elbow invaded my airspace and nearly clipped my chin as he straightened the paper. adding an assertive strength to my voice. He tilted his head towards me.‖ ―Oh? Who do you work for?‖ ―No one you‘d know. Doesn‘t seem to be working. I instinctively adopted an executive demeanor. it‘s working great.
still not looking at me. he can‘t find a job. A middle-class kid gets rich. ―Made all the difference in the world to us. no girls. Enrique.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed ―But a lot of people are getting killed. ―It‘s table-top magic. buys a Corvette and he can‘t drive around the block without getting laid. He‘s going to be a teacher.‖ He gestured with his free hand. you can get anything done. He was the classic nerd. What‘s working?‖ I was starting to feel like I could box with this guy. Can you believe it?‖ He asks me like I grew up with him.‖ I started to fantasize about the feeling of running into big money so young.‖ ―How‘s that?‖ ―I come from an ordinary background. and another glass appears like magic. Still can‘t quite believe it‘s happening. He loves to see me. That‘s me. He goes to Northwestern. while he does his business with the other. I guessed I was watching the wrong hand. Cocaine is their main export. Coffee market gone to hell. Oil business. Then he meets a kid there from Columbia.‖ ―You mean the drug war is a cover story?‖ ―Indeed. I have to shift in my seat to settle down. All study. I hear. you‘ve got the keys to the world.‖ ―I‘ve been doing this for almost twenty years. Cutting down the rainforest. ‗Who wouldn‘t?‘ ‖ ―Sounds pretty good. so his friend. The magician gets you to look over here at this hand. asks him to take a summer job with his father‘s company in Columbia. ―Richard. He calls me and asks if I want in on the deal. releasing an imaginary dove in the air.‖ Sounding like the voice from behind the monastery wall. Comes home. you know. I think. Didn‘t everybody? ―So Bradley. ―I suppose having money has its advantages. Presto. And we get the oil. eh?‖ ―He made a hundred grand in three months.‖ His swallowed the last of his scotch. I can feel the inebriating vapors take hold in my head just hearing about it. how did you get in to this line of work—negotiating?‖ ―A childhood buddy. Campaign donations.‖ he said and extended his hand.‘ I tell him. actually.‖ He folded his newspaper and stuffed it in the seat pocket. friend. I‘d like that kind of money. Who am I kidding?. You know I can get an appointment with my Senator with less than 24 hours notice? Do you believe that? And I do. ―Very simple. They graduate. The rest is history. I‘m telling you once you‘ve got the money and contacts. ―Bradley. 95 .‖ ―Just that easy. ‗Of course. If you know how to use money. Profits. perks.
Opportunity has raised its hand.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed ―Suppose?‖ He tilts his head in my direction and lowers his voice. ―It‘s like this.‖ I‘m starting to reconsider my get-rich fantasies.‖ 96 . that‘s a…‖ He cuts me off again.S. ‗Isn‘t that something? We‘re hearing the same thing. but he cuts me off with a wave of his hand.‘ Feeding him the inside stuff. is he? We all get along fine. and he‘s not really going to put them out of business. We get the oil rights. That‘s a metaphor for my whole life now. ―But this is a pretty big lie. uh…your name again?‖ ―Richard. they buy a few mansions. But so what? Everybody lies. Everybody lies. ―Ah. Tell me you haven‘t told your wife she looks great when she doesn‘t.‖ He waves a silencing finger in the air. ―Look at the way that flight attendant brings me my drinks. the Columbian president is telling us he‘s willing to play ball. ―Or tell me you never told the car salesman you might just have a better price from down the street. ah. too. when I want it. ―Right along with that. I get what I want. ―And tell me you never failed to mention that gal at the office you flirt with or what have you. People are getting killed. we being the objective third party who keeps feeding our ambassador the scary propaganda. and feeling like I‘m about to be forced to confess that time I stole cigars from the grocery store in seventh grade. Yeeessir. too.‖ ―So the drug war is a big lie?‖ ―Depends on your point of view. right. ― So we help get his campaign financed if he‘ll promise to provide the U. Gets him all fired up.‖ ―But how do you…‖ I started to ask.‖ Bradley has raised his hand and started waving it like a schoolboy. Billions of dollars. They buy a few guns.‖ I‘m thinking now I want to see my lawyer. ―Yeah. the drug lords are making a fortune. I can help there. some military bases to attack the country next door because our intelligence is hearing that Hugo or whatever left-wing dictator is going to finance terrorists—or cut off the oil supply.‖ He gives me a sidelong glance and tips a hand back and forth inviting me to use my own imagination as to what ‗what have you‘ refers to. because why? Because they‘re funding el presidenté as well. Why? Because they think we‘re the key to the aid programs. Say the president of a country tells me he wants some perks in his life. Richard. But good news.‖ ―Well. So our government is persuaded to give el presidenté and his generales unlimited funding for their wars and whatever. ―We tell our ambassador.‖ He was slurring a bit now. Columbia wants us to be happy.
And avoid the expediencies a guy like Bradley had made a way of life. and help Triple-S become a profitable operation. Bradley suddenly tipped his woozy head toward the window and checked out like he‘d dropped in a manhole. ―Shoulda got an education. A disregard for the human cost. ―Some soldiers get killed. He snored. But how? 97 .‖ The eight or ten scotches had finally taken their toll. If this is the price of a first class seat. The message returned to me again. Our methodology had to become our philosophy. Somehow I had to insist on methodology to keep everyone honest. The drug lords lose a couple of drug shipments. I found myself thinking that Triple-S was on a similar slippery slope—minus the warfare. He starts nonchalantly picking lint I can‘t see off his sleeve. and to that I could argue that it made the best business sense to adhere to it. But here‘s the good news. The attendant promptly removed his almost empty glass from his limp hand.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed ― Yeah. Part of doing business. everybody is making money. and flicks whatever he‘s found on the floor. I was sure now I didn‘t want to sit here. right?‖ He shrugged. The base need to survive slowly overtaking our integrity.‖ he lilts.‖ ―Except for the few thousand who got murdered.
or frankly. Trimmed gray beard. I wondered how many of my fellow business travelers were returning from having made a grossly expedient attempt at some preposterous mission. I stretched one long. flipped the hall light on. alone with my thoughts. And fears. Same driver. I twisted the key in the condo door and peeked inside. The same car as last time. What could I possibly say to defend this state of affairs? I rode home in silence. 98 . and quickly surveyed my computer monitor for any evidence that Sebastian had beat me home again. ―Mr. watching some lucky bastard walk straight out of the terminal and directly into a waiting limo. timorous step into the foyer. I restrained my homicidal fantasies and watched gratefully as the shiny Lincoln crept up to the curb. you feel more inclined to slap your limo driver than greet him. It‘s a scientific fact that thousands of us stiffs can confirm. after any damn body whose shivering suffering comes to end before your own. Only the pecking pigeons bobbing along the sidewalk seemed to think the situation was normal. By the time you‘ve survived a dozen disappointments. The driver hopped out. Morrow?‖ ―Yeah. Some may actually do what they say they can do. Nothing there.‖ I said giving him a conciliatory wave. but Chicago weather had always left room for bitterly cold contradictions to weather optimists. It was too dark to see anything. They do what they must. It was supposed to be getting warm about now. I hoped the similarities for this home coming would end there. Most had families to think about—and the monthly bills. but I knew the news would soon get to Charles Silverstruk. A limo is the only thing on the planet slower than a glacier. He waved. then wait in the cold to go home. Who knows? Impossible to tell which was which just by looking at them. that‘s me. Number 432.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed Chapter 28 The Devil’s Wake Up Call Chicago‘s infamous winter Hawk was screaming a personalized message in my numbing ear as I stood waiting for my limo.
My heart throttled up. Gradually. I went on in. I was relieved but still cranked up on the adrenaline my fears produced. That was stupid. and accepted that my body would struggle for life without direction from me. Having a quick getaway in mind. I felt the limpness creeping up my arms and legs. No one can sleep with a hand squeezing his windpipe. held my own breath. ―Lemmeguh. He sat patiently. A rhythmical breathing returned. I flicked on the dim hall light. ―You awake now. When he had me trapped inside. 99 . I made the same expedition to each of the other rooms and survived. As I fell limp.‖ I was blacking out. though I was cautious enough to sleep with my jeans on. I took three Benadryl and went to bed hoping to be too drugged to care what might happen next. Silence again. I sucked for air in short convulsions. I paused at each door. Nothing. Thoughts still scrambled. I supposed I was. flopping like a helpless baby seal on the bed. The determined grip holds fast to my neck.‖ I struggled to get free. I sat waiting. I give myself up to fate. Sebastian was not going to greet me until he had the advantage. though I felt completely depleted of any strength.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed I thought maybe he was going to greet me personally this time. the hand suddenly released its grip and let my breathing resume. He was not there. I‘d never make it to the door. A large figure in the dark pulled the bedroom chair to the side of my bed. People think stupid things when they‘re full of fear. I crept into my bedroom to meet what fate awaited me. Richard.‖ He was a polite mugger. ―Mr. Breathing better. barely denting the darkness. too. Finally. ―Is he—here?‖ Blame it on the Benadryl. Of course. ―Hello. When I heard nothing.‖ I squeaked out and waited for a response. sat down and leaned forward like an attending physician. seated position in my bed. Four gaping black doorways lined the hallway. he spoke. If being in a state of paralyzing fear counted. my consciousness settled in. I tasted the acid seepage of nausea invading my mouth. I whispered a ―Yes. Richard?‖ Sebastian‘s voice spoke softly from the dark silhouette. he wasn‘t there. Lemmeguh. I choked out a dazed protest. My head toppled for the sheets. waiting for me to recover. I was lifted by the chin to a wide-awake. Plezz.‖ Two strong hands reached under my arms and sat me upright against the headboard. Silverstruk speak with you. From the depths of my drugged sleep. If he was there. I try but can‘t sit up. ―Plezz. and listened for somebody else‘s.
you don‘t.‖ I said. Suddenly. Silverstruk came on the line. Silverstruk said. He staggered.‖ Mr. ―What time is it?‖ ―Time to talk. A leg came through the window. I watched a hand at work in the darkness.‖ ―Mr.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed Sebastian dialed the phone. after all—what did he once say?—―a fair man. His hand dropped from my throat. I toppled over. drained. My bedroom window exploded.‖ ―We got off to a bad start. Richard. put it on speakerphone. Mr. I heard glass shattering. then a head. and laid it on my lap.‖ ―I‘m doing what I can do. you have disappointed me. ―Yes. Sebastian grunted.‖ And didn‘t I know that? I supposed now that he would ask my recommendations for nice. missing. Richard. Thwock. imagining it was Sebastian scrambling to get out. My bladder protested. You have to take charge of this project. this time purposefully. Sebastian struggled to his feet. I automatically began struggling.. one measured stroke at a time.‖ Still speaking softly. Thwock. I heard the front door open.‖ I was feeling alert now. Silverstruk.‖ Sebastian barked at me. clearing the jagged edges of glass. I tried to shout. I know some things aren‘t going as hoped for. Because he was. Sebastian buckled. nearby locations where a body might be disposed of. I had no idea how long I had slept. It‘s taking some time…‖ ―You don‘t have that kind of time. ―I have to go to the bathroom. He dropped to the floor and began slowly crawling towards the bedroom door. his hands grasping at his stomach. face down in the sheets. A spray of dark fluid flowed from his forehead. needing air desperately.‖ He spoke softly. His body sprung backwards and thudded against the wall. The remaining glass in my window was shattering again. look. ―Richard.‖ ―Don‘t play me.‖ ―Sebastian. I felt faint. All I could manage was a pathetic hiss. politely. prompting his thug. You‘ve allowed things to get out of control. Your people are running all over you. You‘re a coward. ―No. 100 . sir. ―Good morning. My head fell back on the headboard. but my throat was still constricted. I changed my mind. Sebastian gripped my throat again. I swung the telephone wildly at his head. Richard..
―How‘s it going. ―Sorry about your window.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed I rolled off the bed and on to the floor.‖ 101 . trying to shield myself from another attack. Richard?‖ Lucky said as he finished pulling the rest of himself through the window.
How could I live peacefully with my life perpetually in his hands? Him watching me. then cold. Me trying to sleep in an imaginary comfort. seething with anger at everything and everyone. I found myself standing in silence at the patio door. How could anyone deserve all this—over an implementation project? I hated Charles Silverstruk. It was true that I needed to control the project. With the 102 . Not through ultimatum. on my feet. The new surge of adrenalin from Sebastian‘s visit had defeated the Benadryl and kept me up. staring out. mother. But was it the threat or the truth he spoke that had shaken me so?—coming from a man who always got what he wanted. he was not a man who could be bargained with.‖ sort of ghoulish setting that twisted his heart in the beginning.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed Chapter 29 What Is a Project Manager Supposed to Do? Lucky‘s visit was a godsend. I let the soothing warmth of the spray cascade over my head until the water turned tepid. What could have made a man like him? It couldn‘t have been so simple as the ubiquitous abused child syndrome. He was oddly polite in doing the devil‘s business. I drank half a pot of coffee and took a shower. I had to take charge of the project. And to not get what he wanted was cause enough to act malevolently. Charles Silverstruk actions didn‘t flow from a man who had simply become angry beyond control. pass the eyeballs. But it had stung me. Maybe he did get it right. I couldn‘t do that. but it didn‘t do much to calm my nerves. he saw the world differently. somehow. maybe a ―Please. Whatever his origins. what he said. by any means. He came from something more insidious than that. When dawn broke. believing that my guardian angel would show up in time the next time. he had said. His world had a single basket scale where he weighed what he got not balanced by any offsetting concerns. masked in his incongruent politeness— manners that met with a grisly parent‘s approval. Not through intimidation. For hours a thousand echoes of this same angry resentment ricocheted off the inner walls of my head in a muted hysteria. perhaps. But how? How? Now what? Confusion consumed me again. Not like Charles Silverstruk would. all night. Like he takes charge of his business affairs? No way.
But. you let it happen. You had a choice and you conceded it. Make it an upclose-and-personal experience. ―You sound a little groggy.‖ 103 . It was up to you to throw on the emergency brake.‖ ―I‘m sorry to hear it. my friend.‖ ―Courage. giving myself a moment to collect my thoughts. I was still dripping wet. Richard. but his tone was grave when spoke of it.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed cold. Gregg insisted we move ahead.‖ ―So have a war then. You‘re being too passive. Let everyone in on what‘s going on. forehead to chin.‖ ―Alex just tossed us off the site. To get to the next payment milestone. they saw all right. Status meetings. It was time for you to exercise your special perspective as project manager.‖ ―He‘s got trouble at home.‖ ―I had a very bad night. I ran my open hand over my face. The sad fact is.‖ ―You mean. ―Yes and no. I knew it was going to be a disaster. poured another cup of coffee and called Vincent. got a very sick boy.‖ ―Why did you go then?‖ ―I thought it would shine a light on the reality of the situation if the team saw just what would happen going in there unprepared. Well. but you let it tip over. talking to each guy all along. I threw on my robe. Richard.‖ ―It would have been war. You should have refused to go. managing and motivating the team. They‘re all going to hate me. I could think enough to know I needed some help thinking this through. We went to do the final training and it was a complete bust. It‘s up to you to deliver this project. Gregg is stressing out. You have to take control of the project. and I went along with it.‖ ―All right.‖ ―Richard. no. Richard. That was your mistake.‖ I could feel my gut wrench on hearing the truth played back to me like this. I‘d been telling them. Richard. ―Things are out of control. all right.‖ ―Tell me. Richard. I‘ll try to control it better. but what can I do about that? My trouble is that we went to Best Bargain and got our asses kicked. It‘s a fine balance. He won‘t say what it is. Richard.‖ ―So what now?‖ ―Hold everyone accountable in sight of everyone else. Snuff out the excuses and make everyone face the reality.‖ I looked at my steaming coffee thinking that it might be more effective to plunge a hand into it than drink it. some glimmers of rational thought returned.‖ ―So?‖ ―So he overruled me. You‘d think they could size up the situation.
This was all up to me to do. had to have a due date. but if it required calling someone tomorrow. Charles Silverstruk and Sebastian had provided me some clarity. with or without the threats. I supposed Gregg was seeing the same in his own worried face. I had to arrange all the calls and moderate them personally. I had to indelibly impress upon the team that the project operates on documentation. So had Vincent. Every single telephone call had to be based on a written document. stressed. The soft cushions felt comforting. I put my robe back on and went to the living room to sit in the recliner. They say that. They were out of control. I smelled clean and felt slightly refreshed.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed I finished drying off and stared at myself in the bathroom mirror. Almost none were. Nothing would simply be forgotten—like always happens in the vapors of oral communications alone. Or die. What had I learned so far? What could I do differently now? I reflected on that for a while and let my thoughts flow unencumbered by the fear or the uncertainty. And I would send an email to the consultant right away to document that he had agreed to make the call. I had been seeing these loose ends popping up unexpectedly and disrupting the task of the moment. and the relevant design document. I had to tighten up my oversight. whenever I could. in battle. Bedlam 104 . and I could not depend on anyone else to share those skills. I would follow up with a vengeance. Every single action. deeply lined. I thought back on how many calls never got made or got stuck with the first obstacle in the discussions when I delegated them to others? Too many to count. The project plan had to include the supporting steps for every milestone in the plan. And it was my job to deliver it. They created a log jam of activity that overloaded the team when there was no time to spare. and stop letting things slip. then that call would be put in the list as a subtask and it too would have a due date. no matter how trivial. I was alarmed to see how my face was transformed. My team needed it. once the soldier accepts his impending death he can concentrate with amazing clarity. I would also take the time to retrieve relevant emails from my folders. As many times as any one consultant had completed a given task in the past. No matter the stress or the circumstances of my entrapment in this project. A certain task might be due in three days. I had learned that the organization and communication skills of the project manager are the special domain of the project manager. I had to always display and center the discussion on the project plan document where notes could readily be inserted in conjunction with a task. and the blueprint. sagging now. something could always be overlooked. the truth was Triple-S owed the Best Bargain company fair treatment. They had to see me use documents to make everyone accountable. avoiding confrontation.
too. I would display the project plan on a shared screen for all to see and review our progress—line by line. not the team. unless agreed to by the customer. Patient resolve would get the project restarted. I as the project manager was assigned the responsibility of running the project. Completely.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed ensued. an international conference call with India. I would resolve the issue through informed. Verbal training alone was woefully insufficient. Dependencies had to be respected. and Alex or Donald as the customer‘s representative. U. and never be hurried. rational discussion. No exceptions. Short cutting training was self-delusion. My team had to finish each step. It would take the time it took. No ―I‘ll get back to that later‖ excuses. My new resolve would become clear when I began holding daily status meetings. I would be prepared to stop everything. I had to run it. at the time it is scheduled in the sequence where it is needed. but at some point do nothing more until they decided to sign off. Best Bargain needed to have written documentation in order to complete their tasks. I resolved to live by the maxim that the standards you set are the standards you get. and that demanding sign-offs would never let that reality stray from the customer‘s mind. and not the customer. I knew that the go-live would not go well unless the department heads were expert and their staff trained. I would continue to insist that the customer complete their own tasks and submit their required sign-offs before continuing on the next steps. I would validate every task I possibly could by personal inspection. Best Bargain had to learn how to help themselves. I would insist on giving Alex and Donald all the documentation available. The training database with all solutions and required features would be fully functional before training began. Best Bargain had to stay focused. Best Bargain was going to receive effective training—the kind that offers sufficient repetitions to master the system‘s features. Not later. and I wouldn‘t let that happen. and make sure it was used as a reference. but I could at least sample and survey the completeness of the task. It would never be forgotten that a project is a collaboration. not partially completed. I would take nothing for granted. create what was absent. From now on I would assiduously follow the project plan and insist that a step be completed.S. members of the team. I couldn‘t read and experience everything. I would accept that slower is often faster. 105 . If Best Bargain refused a sign off.
and it‘s easy. I‘m sure. I gave my office chair a little kick and spun a complete three-sixty. 106 . This time I gave up on planning the call and just dialed Gregg. and listen to them howl. A symbolic gesture I guess.‖ I said. No licenses.‖ ―You‘ve heard the saying. I don‘t know what to tell you. Alex paid for those licenses. Richard?‖ ―What do you call it when you walk off with somebody‘s money. the first one‘s free. ―Look. and not an obligation. Lying. this whole project has gotten out of hand.‖ ―Look. Going in circles like this. We had to make progress if I was ever to sleep soundly again.‖ ―And listen to them howl?‖ ―Yes. If I took too long though. the longer I take.‖ Gregg said. The team members had to feel what accountability was. Going to let it flow naturally. Donald and Alex are very angry. I had found that at Triple-S it was considered just a strategy. and he still doesn‘t have them. Things only get worse when I do that. It had become addictive the way a drug dealer lures in his victims. I might not make the call at all—push it off until later. The cover up is worse than the crime?‖ ―Who‘s committed a crime here. The more difficult the call. in all its forms—shading. but don‘t give them what they paid for?‖ ―Haven‘t we been over this? What are you saying now?‖ ―I‘m saying we can‘t start testing until the Tracer solution is installed. but the second one costs you—then you‘re hooked on it. spinning. ―I know. What if we tried something drastic?‖ ―Like what?‖ ―Tell Best Bargain the truth.‖ ―You‘re sure Tracer won‘t install their solution if we promise them payment by the end of the month?‖ ―Or I could tell them the check is in the mail. and plain deception—had lowered all our standards of accountability in the organization in an insidious way. kind of running through a script in my mind beforehand. omitting. Just don‘t blow this thing up. no install. yeah.‖ I wondered why telling the truth was so often a discarded option. Which often ends up being too late or never.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed I was willing to completely expose our efforts to the customer as a way of enforcing our professional integrity and responsibility. I prefer to plan my calls ahead of time. evading.‖ ―Oh. I don‘t know when they‘ll get paid. ―Gregg.
but get this call over with. on the other hand. Gregg.‖ ―How can it get worse? We‘re going to call Best Bargain the day after tomorrow and have that conversation. The attitude was say anything. the staff was deceiving one another. once you get used to it. I‘ll call you before we place the call. the more the justifying criteria expanded to include just about anything. and the whole project descended into a surreal theater of the absurd where nobody could be believed. Professional methodologies were ignored as more and more effort went into the cover stories and short cuts and buying time.‖ ―It sounds like you‘re going to make things worse to me.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed Getting by for the moment had become the standard once deception had been accepted as a means. Be thinking about it.‖ 107 . Telling the truth works very well. ―What I‘m saying. The more deception was used. is that we have to reset this project and that‘s got to start with being candid with Alex and Donald. Before long.
screw you. They were prepped. Charles Silverstruk‘s guests at the night‘s garden party. Also marble. Andouille de la Jeannine. pronounced ‗Petah‘. and Melanzane Sott‘Olio. He‘d have to fake the names if anybody asked what was on the tray while he served.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed Chapter 30 The Garden Party The head waiter had a pencil mustache that Lucky thought the guy might have painted on.‖ How about the mini-dogs? Lucky mused. Eventually eleven men and eleven women. The pants fit nicely though. and he thought he was as inconspicuous at the rest of the staff. Oh. Beignets. ―Line up on the steps everyone. informing the group of the protocols to be observed in serving Mr. The pretense was revolting. He spoke in a nasal voice as high pitched as his attitude. the best fit he could find as he picked off the smallest arriving waiter in the employee‘s parking lot. holding the notes in priestly fashion. He was sleeping soundly under a pile of weeds in the park down the road from the estate. Lucky thought. all with collars cinched up to their necks preventing the escape of proletariat cooties. Guests would be arriving within the hour. men in white coats. He pronounces Charles Silverstruk‘s name like a king‘s title. arranged themselves in choir fashion on the steps looking down on the maestro. elongated vowels—dragging out the name. It didn‘t help Lucky‘s attitude that his waiter‘s coat was tight. tuxedoed man stood on a large marble poolside platform beneath the dozen or so marble steps that led up to Charles Silverstruk‘s massive patio.‖ Peter. The lean. The head butler had rung his tiny brass bell signaling all the waiters to assemble before him. said while he was flapping his arms like a flamingo trying to organize the preflight meeting. The poor schmuck whose place he took would not wake for hours from the drug Lucky had injected in him. Lucky wouldn‘t eat anything he couldn‘t pronounce. Aioli Platte. women in black dresses. 108 . Personally. ―On tonight‘s hors d‘oeurve menu: Oeufs Au Plat. Peter pontificated on all matters of etiquette and fine cuisines for twenty minutes then dismissed the staff.
He would have guessed Olympic-sized. Charles Silverstruk—in front of his adoring flock. Lucky thought this was the perfect scenario to dethrone Mr. never emitting a vulgar laugh. not really sure what had happened. Lucky had anticipated that and had recorded a video of the event with his most recently customized. out the front door and carefully crept around to the wrought iron fence that ran the entire circumference of the five acres of his backyard. Morristown‘s elite. not one that anyone heard. Even with a gun silencer. video equipped slingshot. and walked through the living room. The men smoked cigars. As darkness consumed the perimeters of the party grounds. it would have made quite a pop. The guests either stood around or sat in the deck chairs and chaise lounges surrounding Silverstruk‘s large swimming pool. He captured the moments of the attack. including a close up view of Silverstruk‘s scotch glass exploding in his hands and the red paint splattering his face and white silk shirt. For the first few moments people close to Charles stared speechlessly at one another. It was an all silk or imported cotton crowd. they came to him. but words could not suffice. Lucky guessed. He had perfect line of sight to King Charles from where he stood. the stealth. but soon calculated that the red paint Lucky‘s special paintball ammo carried was his own blood. Lucky wondered. To disorient him. How large was it?.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed Lucky estimated the gathering crowd at around two hundred. to scare him. from Castro‘s private humidors they would likely tell you. and he nodded back. Cuban. He positioned himself at the far end of the pool whose length extended perpendicularly to his stone mansion that perched on the rise at the other end. Charles was stunned. and Lucky could hear him begin to emit a low moan that grew in volume by the second. The guests were confused. He was regally composed. but the gangsters in the crowd might have estimated room enough for several dozen dead bodies. That was the beauty of it. The remainder of the crowd was oblivious to the action. Guests greeted Charles like the resident royalty. Charles Silverstruk didn‘t wander through the guests like many hosts do. Lucky sauntered away. 109 . To let him know he was not untouchable. Lucky heard referrals to ―our state senator‖ and to ―the CEO of‖ throughout the early evening. He sited him through a small gap between two junipers planted just inside the gate and meant to provide privacy. which they did—for Lucky. To say the expression on the man‘s face was ―priceless‖ was to understate the matter. 75 yards away Lucky estimated. That was Lucky‘s plan. smiling gracefully. There had been no shot fired. He rapidly became alarmed. the women adorned with a touch of Cleopatra‘s flair for jewelry.
eager to hear the ending. ―Did you kill him?‖ I asked. I don‘t know how many Mr. I would still have to measure my well being day by day. it would take Charles‘ security staff a few minutes to collect themselves and decide to look around—for what. Now everyone turned to look at him. But we couldn‘t be sure about it. Maybe it will silence him altogether. the euphoria evaporated.‖ ―But he won‘t know it was me—or you. I had let him speak without interruption as we drove. unless he died of embarrassment later on. As Lucky drove away. If you‘re his only concern presently. I thought. all right.‖ Surely he would. but you didn‘t take a second shot. they wouldn‘t know.‖ ―Possibly.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed And then. do we Richard?‖ Lucky said. He had plenty of time. more than enough to make up for his slow-footedness. barely able to restrain myself until we found our seats at the Acorn Coffee Bar. I mean. We found a table away from the order counter and sat down. however. Lucky supposed Charles would never get over it. The climax. and began howling louder and louder like a branded calf. Charles embarrassed himself beyond redemption. ―Remember. 110 . acting for me. We will hope that the experience will keep Charles Silverstruk at bay. he saw in his rear view mirror a few frantic men in flowered shirts fanning out around the grounds in front of the mansion. But in just a few moments. I think he might put it together. Lucky turned and calmly walked away to his car that was safely camouflaged in the park. He‘s alive. Silverstruk might be threatening at the moment. It was a hopeful prognostication I wanted to believe. ―All right. He won‘t know who to be afraid of. He had a hundred yard start on them at least. we don‘t use the ―K‖ word. occurred simultaneously with our arrival at the order counter where we could not risk anyone overhearing the incriminating culmination. right?‖ ―He is alive. Lucky had recited the whole story of the garden party. gawking at him.
Today‘s morning show: Chariots of the Gods.m. too. perfect shots. which in turn became folklore. I could use divine powers. but I sipped it anyway and carried the cup back to my desk. How ordinary men become divine authorities. but not new. The plane 111 . the super-glue of mankind‘s emotions. The cold. I tossed the first two notes into the wastebasket without touching the rim. I added more cream. The narrator began with a short summary of a recent news item— the discovery of a lost pilot who had spent twenty years in the jungle. turned the computer on and began waiting the few minutes it took to boot. hidden for millennia under the canopy of dense jungle. I wanted to believe anything now but the present realities. How such oversized fears take hold is a marvel. Maybe I‘d learn something. My desktop displayed. shiny as hard coal. then religious proclamations no one has ever validated. black dregs of yesterday‘s coffee sat in the pot. This sounded good. a foreboding dark pool. began tossing post-it notes at the waste basket while pondering the developing schism between Gregg and myself. I was competing with fear. and I clicked on the public radio icon on my computer screen just to hear something distracting for a while. waited for the beeps. She says: A piper cub lands in the middle of an Amazonian stone age tribe.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed Chapter 31 Chariots of the Gods I awoke at 5 a. of course. Still no change. I needed coffee now. I leaned back in my office chair. Maybe it was a good omen. I thought Gregg was hanging on to the devils he knew. I poured a cup and added a heavy dose of cream. I heated the sludge in the microwave. Wasn‘t it a matter of historical record how countless fearful superstitions have developed over the unknown outcomes of our actions. then withdrew the steaming cup. The coffee remained belligerent black. It smelled toxic. It set in fast and bonded strong. From superstitions came predictions. from a restless night‘s sporadic sleep and walked groggily to the kitchen. He was certain that change would be the end of this project—or him.
he repeated his prediction of imminent doom. The segment segued to the next with several bars of dramatic 112 . Every aspect of their lives is ordered by their great leader. He rules with impunity. the LDFQ. always predicting that the world‘s demise was but six months away. this story emerges when a runaway woman flags down a state trooper. To add to their distress. The reporter ponders how easy it is for such power to be ensconced in a mere mortal. She speaks again: From the small mountain village of Picoville. but the principle means he used was to predict the imminent end of the world. over and over. In his twenty years as their god. And then a dazed pilot. They fear him. To keep the members in line. How did he gain such leverage over their beliefs? By many means. They all were too fearful to break away. he produces twenty-seven children with nine wives. bone-pierced faces greeting him. has relinquished ownership of all their homes to the church at their leader‘s command. It‘s not unusual she says and tell us of another recent discovery only a few weeks ago. In Utah. and to compel his followers‘ obedience in their preparations for their salvation—in ways only he could prescribe. music. blonde and blue-eyed. of course. She is one of many concubines held there. emerges from the cockpit to find a tribe of amazed. she reveals that the members of a church group known by its acronym. Among her accounts of predictable forms of abuse. the women have been shuffled around between homes at their leader‘s whim. No one owns anything but him. Utah. She pleads for protection from a domineering cult leader who has demanded absolute obedience from his followers. He is declared a god and worshipped for years to come.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed strikes with the flaming force only a god could produce. assuming the role of wife to whomever headed their current household. He has predicted the end every six months for nine consecutive years. And it had worked.
and this had created a folklore in his own mind that deception was a best practice. Each announcement of impending doom harvested more property titles until the leader had them all. My wastebasket was half full of post-it notes when Vincent rang on Skype. the woman tells us. we did just conclude a not so chummy conversation yesterday. Fear had him in a grip. Be aware.‖ ―To put it mildly. Such was the power in his fearful warnings. in his view. real or imagined.‖ ―Well. but I found it to be commonplace. no matter how ludicrous. Gregg thinks you‘re presenting a growing problem. As it was commonplace at Triple-S and in Gregg‘s mind. I just got off the phone with a very unhappy man. be aware of this. captured their minds. As I listened I thought some might presume these followers were particularly susceptible to fear mongering. why hang on to your house? It was all but over. One bad experience. Or maybe it had taken hold of Gregg through the steady practice of expedient deception in place of truth telling. ―Richard. revealing the truth would bring the end to our project. Fear is such an insidious factor. Gregg may have tried the straightforward approach a time or two without getting the desired results.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed Members had thought.‖ ―Yes. Not because he had experimented with each and confirmed his belief.‖ I opened my word processor and began to outline my new approach to this project. well. to be precise. And quit on it. wasn‘t it? And the lord needed their property.‖ ―How many good excuses are there for hiding information from those who rightfully have the need to know?‖ ―None. he feared that too much to try it. The purpose of my call is only to let you know that Gregg is straying. Still I wondered how Gregg had become so certain of the tragic consequences of a reasonable option? Was it the fear of the unknown like the shocked tribe surrounding the gods‘ fallen plane or those people who sank under the hopeless forecast of a charismatic leader? Or was it the same way a coincidental fatality persuaded people to avoid eating tomatoes for centuries. Vincent. I‘d run it by Gregg before we called Best 113 . that in the face of doom. Maybe made a commandment against it. He wouldn‘t dare be totally candid with Best Bargain. but because he had not ever experimented using candor and had no idea how he could work that way. Perhaps. It‘s probably going to get worse. looking for allies against you. Likewise.
How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed
Bargain, and develop all the agreement I could in the time allowed. Nonetheless, things were going to change.
How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed
The landline phone rang while I was chatting online with Paul. Caller ID showed it was Best Bargain. Paul and I were discussing how to get the bin labels printed in the absence of a print function in our warehouse management system. Before I could reach for the landline, Gregg rang on the Skype phone. I cancelled Gregg‘s call, text messaged Paul to hold on, and picked up the landline. ―Richard, Donald here. I‘m here with Alex and we want to know where the test environment is? It‘s way past due. What is going on?‖ He got right to the point, and I suddenly felt trapped by my own determination to stop masking our missteps. My throat constricted uncontrollably. Thoughts of retreat ran through my mind. Perhaps I could wait another day to confront Best Bargain with the facts. The funds might arrive after all—tomorrow. But I knew it had to be done and now. And I had to face down my fear and say it. The words escaped my dry mouth in a subdued monotone. ―We haven‘t purchased the licenses from Tracer. We have to have the licenses in place before they will move forward with us.‖ I told him half the truth to begin with, not by strategy. It was simply all I could muster the courage to do. Charles Silverstruk had a point. Maybe cowardice was at the center of my problem. I had been avoiding confrontation. Alex jumped in. ―Why don‘t I have my licenses? We gave you ninety thousand dollars to start this project.‖ Now the other half of the truth had come due just that fast. ―It‘s a cash flow issue.‖ ―Cash flow! What did you do with our money?‖ ―It was deposited, like all our revenue.‖ ―And you spent it on something else and didn‘t pay for our licenses?‖ ―The funds weren‘t contractually earmarked for those licenses, but I do understand how you feel about this.‖ We had little to stand on, but it was fair to balance the scenario with the Triple-S perspective, too.
How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed
―Yeah, you screwed us. That‘s what I understand.‖ Donald said, ―Alex, I think it‘s time to get our lawyers involved.‖ That was all this project needed to bring it to a complete standstill. Donald‘s suggestion was reckless—if he ever wanted this thing to get finished. ―Alex?‖ Someone called to Alex in his office. ―Hold on—,‖ The line went silent for a few moments before Alex returned. ―Richard, you and Donald finish this up. I‘ve got to go. But Donald is right. I‘ll be putting a call into our lawyer.‖ Donald continued, ―So Richard, what is the deal?‖ ―Donald, all companies have ebbs and flows to their business. Triple-S is currently in a valley, and the timing is terrible. We will get the licenses, but for now we will continue to progress on the remainder of the project. We are not at a standstill.‖ ―Tell you what, I think you should call Gregg and tell him he better get this straightened out.‖ ―Be assured of this, Triple-S will have tested the solution and Best Bargain will have personally tested the solution before go-live. It will be a working system that fulfills the promise of the blueprint you signed.‖ ―But not by May 1.‖ ―No, not by May 1.‖ I could have forecast this conversation the day I took on the project, and most certainly could have said so when they signed off on the blueprint. I had withheld this truth because of the pile up of early embarrassments—the delay in delivering the first project plan, our inability to print the bin labels, the almost certain prospect of delays because we couldn‘t pay Tracer. Poor execution, poor methodology, insincere promises—they all worked to draw me into hiding the facts from Best Bargain just like the rest of our company. It had become a way of life at Triple-S, and breaking out of the pattern of deception and excuse making is a painful transition. ―All I can say is Alex is not going to settle for this,‖ Donald continued. ―I understand. Can we set up a time sometime today when we can finish our discussion?‖ ―He‘ll be back tomorrow. Let‘s talk at three.‖ No one said telling the truth was a walk in the park. The facts were all out now. We hadn‘t violated the letter of the agreement, but we certainly violated their expectations because we had not managed those expectations. Had I been Alex or Donald, I would have felt much the same way about it. Alex and Donald didn‘t know all there was to know about purchasing and implementing an ERP. They were expecting
How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed
professional guidance, and they didn‘t get the full measure of that as they should have—not from us. My greatest concern now was how Mr. Charles Silverstruk would take it. I could almost feel a hand on my throat. I called Gregg back to let him hear the news. ―You told them?‖ Gregg said in a tone of disbelief. ―Yes, I told them.‖ ―How did they take it?‖ ―Alex threatened to call his lawyer. We have a conference call at three tomorrow afternoon. They want to hear how we‘re going to straighten this out.‖ ―I told you I don‘t know when we‘ll have the money. What am I supposed to say?‖ ―Maybe you could just make something up.‖ ―Cute. Are we all better off now that you told him?‖ Gregg is raising his voice now. ―You know, sometimes you have to know how to dodge the question.‖ ―I‘m not doing that. This lying keeps us in the rut were in.‖ ―I don‘t like calling this lying. No one has lied to them.‖ Gregg is growling at me. ―We‘re innocent on a technicality only, Gregg. Best Bargain has the legitimate need to know these things. And we‘re deliberately hiding the facts.‖ ―You‘re going to wreck us. Hell, we may never get paid. They‘re going to fire us.‖ ―Should we drop all pretenses and just rob them at gunpoint?‖ ―Damn it, man. You just can‘t face reality, can you? Now they‘re going to think I‘m a complete asshole, thank you very much.‖ ―Better think of something useful to tell them before our call, Gregg.‖ Gregg had played out several reasons against my decision to tell the truth. Did telling the truth accomplish anything useful? Didn‘t I humiliate the company by telling? And lastly, was I disloyal to Gregg himself? Loyalty must be the most abused virtue of all. How often is it posed as the counterpoint to telling the truth? Was I obliged to be loyal to my company and Gregg and continue the cover up? Was I to lie in their behalf? Lying had always been a complex subject, in my view. Everyone lied from time to time given the broadest definition of lying. We accept white lies. We know lying is not always wrong—in defense of yourself and family, for example. But when is it wrong? Or is lying just a natural part of commerce?
then was there any trust left among the group? How could this group avoid sinking into a melee of survivalism. unshaven. A young girl in the cross walk is hit by his car and pitched high into the air. I assumed we all had affirmed we would eagerly cooperate. becomes impossibly blurred. He blasts through a school crossing light. a rather rough looking fellow. He asked us what we would do in certain situations. Dr. A policeman has arrived at your door a day later and asks what you saw. You tell the officer you could identify the driver in a lineup and would be glad to do so if called upon. then we marked our answers to his queries and submitted them in successive votes as he embellished the story with new details in new versions of the story that made us rethink our answers. Fletcher. Fletcher asked if we would be willing to offer such assistance to the police officer. She lies immobile. he said. the kind that only operated at certain times of the day. even though he ―only lies to others‖ outside his inner circle? His powers of influence are diminished. She lands hard on the turf on the side of the road. He posed a problem. He was a stranger to us all. You support justice. A student tallied the ballots and confirmed my speculation.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed I believed when the other party has a justifiable need to know the facts in a given context where candor is rightfully expected. we couldn‘t tell. even in some utilitarian calculation of favorable outcomes. The driver must be held responsible. It was easy to miss it. I recalled a lecture by my college psychology professor. He asked us to consider being the sole witness to a hit and run accident. everyone promising a contribution while grabbing for the last life jacket? The situation where lying might be accepted. which revealed the collective vulnerability of the class when he challenged us to participate by secret ballot in a moral debate he proposed. We submitted our ballots. You get a good look at the driver. Who wants to be misled? I didn‘t think Gregg saw the many corrosive effects of lying. You held the little girl‘s limp hand at the scene while waiting for the ambulance. One hundred percent offered their unreserved assistance. You tell him you saw the driver clearly. Not a sound coming from her when you reach her side. wearing a greasy ball cap. Dr. ―Now. the speaker was obliged to tell the truth. I believed only a sociopath could avoid that conclusion—especially in a commercial setting. and the moment of impact. You can describe the car. prowling the speaker‘s platform—he is puffing on a pipe like a Scotland Yard detective—―let us imagine a second 118 . Who trusts a liar. How can anyone ever trust what he had to say? If our entire company participated in such deceptions.‖ said the professor. his face darkened by soot or by sinister intentions.
How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed
scenario with all facts the same except the identity of the driver. Imagine you knew the driver to be your best friend of a lifetime. It was the fellow or woman you had double-dated with, whom you shared starting positions on your high school basketball team, whom you still invite for backyard bar-b-cue‘s. He‘s president of a small company in town. Would you be as readily eager to identify the driver in this circumstance? Or would you begin to consider mitigating factors? Had the victim a) suffered superficial cuts only, or b) been reported to be in serious but stable condition, or c) been killed. Would any of these instances cause you to avoid identifying your lifelong friend?‖ We voted again. The tally showed that many agreed that the friend status and the particulars of the injury would affect their willingness to identify the driver. Some would, some would not. Hearing the results, Dr. Fletcher smiled slyly at his students, and continued with another wrinkle. ―But what if the victim was your dear neighbor‘s child? A child whom you had seen grow up since birth. You had held that infant in your own arms. Played catch together in your backyard. This time you know the child to be in critical condition. Then what would you do?‖ The calculations became perplexing. And upon collecting the final votes the tally showed that not all had even voted. Some were stymied. What to do? After a tortuous discussion, a frail majority painfully concluded that holding to a standard of truthfulness was the only antidote to such tortuous inner-conflict. One must identify the driver in all cases, and let the system render the justice it would find appropriate. A principled approach was the only way to rise above loyalties and naked self interest. Now, years later, I was finding this was equally hard to do in a company environment that had marginalized its integrity. I didn‘t want to be accused of preaching, being the one who advised against the delusions of deception. I was more certain than ever that the only effective way to combat this corrosive atmosphere was to insist on working within a methodology, an acceptable philosophy in business circles, and the only secular way to ―keep everyone honest.‖ This was the risk I had to take. It was now imperative that I think of something to say to Alex and Donald before Charles Silverstruk heard the news of the delay. I just might have tripped the trigger on my own demise.
How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed
I‘d be calling Best Bargain in about an hour. It was time to get Gregg on the phone and go over the strategy. I grabbed my notes on the new approach to the project and a notepad and set it atop a pile of other papers on my desk. I called Gregg. We began discussing how we could go about resetting the project and get our efforts focused again. Gregg‘s voice revealed his tension, and I supposed mine did too. Our collaboration was necessary, however, no matter the political turbulence between us. He comments were limited at first, but as the conversation warmed up, he began to cooperate. By the end of the call, we had agreed on the basic approach and placed the call. Alex came on the line and began on the attack. ―The problem here is you told us we could go live by May 1, before our busy season begins, and now you‘re changing the story because you took our money and squandered it on other things. You‘ve cheated us.‖ ―That was not our plan, Alex. Please believe me, I‘m not happy about this circumstance either,‖ Gregg said. ―Don‘t tell me I don‘t remember what you promised. You said May 1.‖ ―Alex, I never promise a go-live date to anyone. It can‘t be promised. There are too many wild cards.‖ ―Yes you did, and I also know you took ninety grand of my money and now you can‘t deliver.‖ Alex was getting loud. This I saw was the price Gregg and Triple-S had to pay for starting off this sale and this project without regard for a sales or a project methodology in mind. Gregg made three important mistakes he was paying for. He biggest was including in the proposal the intoxicating and illusory promise to ―try‖ to go live by May 1 which set the stage for a ‗we said, you said‘ argument—totally mismanaging customer expectations. A clearly stated list of risks was not part of the proposal process so when things went wrong they were entirely unexpected. No risk assessment had been presented. Again, he mismanaged customer expectations.
How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed
And lastly, he failed to insure that the initial funds collected from Best Bargain were used to buy the necessary licenses as they would naturally expect. Purchasing the licenses was a de facto line-item step in the project plan that was ignored. Gregg placed a bad bet on this one, hoping the company‘s cash flow would magically take care of the matter, but I lost the chips being the one who suffered repeated tongue lashings over it. I took a stab at presenting reality. ―Alex, it‘s my recommendation that we do a candid assessment of where we are on May 15. If we agree we‘re ready, we‘ll go live in June. We‘re not going to make May 1, and we just can‘t kid ourselves. We‘ll continue to apply the resources we have on the project full-time, doing everything we can to make a June go-live, but that‘s something that can‘t be promised.‖ ―When do I get a promise?‖ ―Alex, there‘s simply too much complexity in this project to be making empty promises. We‘ll be holding daily status meetings, with you and Donald in attendance. You‘ll be fully aware of everything as it progresses.‖ ―I suppose that‘s what we have to do, since we now know you can‘t handle this any better. I‘m not sure you can handle it all. So, okay, May 15. We‘ll see what you‘ve accomplished.‖ The conversation was ugly, but I had succeeded in moving them toward reality. Project manager can be a lonely position. At this point I had upset the fragile balance achieved by deceptions and self deceptions on all sides. In doing so I had created a multi-party conflict, like a civil war with shifting alliances focused on one another in varying partnerships with Alex and Gregg and Charles Silverstruk having one common enemy—me. The temperature outside has risen, much like my hopes. I stepped out onto the patio and took a deep breath. Breathing is underestimated. It can bring peace as well as life. I tilted my head it as far backwards as I could then slowly rolled it around, letting my neck muscles stretch. My neck popped loud enough to hear. A few steps away some small birds inspected the ground for food, pecking around, in need of some good news like me. Maybe Gregg would provide some. I pulled out my cellphone and called Gregg to get his reaction. ―How do you think it went, Gregg?‖ ―Better than I thought it would. Maybe it will work, but we still have to be careful what we say.‖ ―I see this as a real change of direction in how we approach projects. It‘s more open, and I don‘t see that hurting. Just the opposite.‖ ―Maybe so. Maybe so. We‘ll see.‖
How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed
I found Gregg‘s reaction a hopeful sign. I sensed that his fears were weakening and his faith in my project management was starting to take hold. It was much needed bright spot in the litany of difficulties I had faced.
I invited Gregg. I intended to include anyone who was needed to completely review our status. Everyone could see each task. Alex and Donald might become even more suspicious. ruling out legal remedies for the time being. On the day of go-live and for five days afterwards. They thought we would expose our weaknesses in the discussions. I began the review by setting expectations. Once each was logged in. the assigned resources. the entire team will be on call to support the system. of what they heard. The status quo was unsustainable. With a click I could display a notes page that logged supporting information to the task such as explanations of certain difficulties or options to consider. too. 123 . Paul and I will be on site for that same period. and the exposure to a hostile customer was just the elixir they needed. I displayed the current project plan fully expanded on the screen for all to see. Paul. Alex. Vishalthe vice-president of global implementation. Triple-S had to bring itself to account for its actions. I began the daily status meetings the very next day using a web-based conferencing service. Navender-the special features software development team leader. I feared that. Donald and myself. Sri-the software development executive.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed Chapter 34 Daily Status Meetings Alex and Donald had decided to move forward. Neeraj-the project manager for the home office team. too. and to confront them with the document everyday so they might come to understand that they had to live by the project plan. Gregg had bristled at the idea. But Charles Silverstruk gave me more concern than either Gregg or Paul would ever know—unless it came out in the autopsy. the start date and the desired completion date. we will be holding a status meeting every day until this project has gone live. Paul. the completion status. and I promised them a better perspective of our efforts by inviting them both to attend what would now be daily status meetings. We had five weeks to get the system ready for go-live. My purpose was to immerse all the team members in the management perspective of a project plan. even panicked. ―Gentleman.
but these are small things.‖ Paul said.‖ ―Yes. We all know that this task has to be done before anything else can be loaded in the 124 .‖ ―Why wait? The chart of accounts is already overdue by two weeks. ―This particular task. be sure to note those items assigned to yourself. please speak up if you have something to add to the current topic. ―I‘m going to ask that you please stay on topic and be concise. Paul. those that should have been started by today‘s date. Paul. ―That may be. Of course. please be prepared to explain why they are not. but I just want to say that we all tend to fool ourselves into thinking we‘ve made real progress when we report something as done. If they are not done as indicated. has gotten out of hand. They are expected completion dates. New habits take time and repetition to take hold. I called on Paul.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed ―Today I will cover each incomplete task. when it‘s not. ―Joining us today and everyday are Donald Moore and Alex Silverstruk. ―Please be candid when asked when a task or action item will be done.‖ For the first several days. sure.‖ ―It‘s done.‖ Paul said. Every newly emerging action item will be entered in the project plan. ―To make this kind of call productive. I‘ll be calling on you to comment on your respective tasks.‖ ―Then. let‘s have only one speaker at a time. The second day presented the first opportunity to define what ―done‖ meant. It‘s important for all of us to be clear about things like this. Done means it‘s complete with nothing left to do. ―Please tell us about the chart of accounts.‖ ―Barry has a couple more changes to make. ―I‘ve got the chart and I will be sending it to Navender for uploading by the end of the week. They will be participating in the plan review. let me comment on this for a moment. That is. For the others. no one can make out anything. With more than one talking at a time. It‘s central to being accountable to be precise about this. These are not casual dates. I briefly repeated the expectations until it appeared that all the participants had accepted the rules of the call. but let me acknowledge you before you expand on your comment. Friday. please don‘t repeat your point. this coming Friday. and please don‘t take offense. Let‘s keep the meeting as short as possible. What you‘re saying is the chart of accounts is not done.‖ ―You mean. the fourteenth?‖ ―Yes. I‘ll be putting comments in the notes page for clarifying purposes.
to have Donald feel the accountability we all felt. I ended by asking for any critical input that we had not covered. Hearing nothing I clicked the End Call button on my screen and watched the conference call application shut down. I was finding that only the project manager could police the project plan with authority.‖ Donald responded. In tomorrow‘s call. 125 . today preferably. The exposure to Alex and Donald was uncomfortable. Where progress was bogging down.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed database. and it‘s still not done. And it was misguided to blame them when the client was negligent. He needs to be pushed. I‘d confirm with him that this was done. the model had been set for the balance of daily status meetings I would conduct. I could only hope that the inoculation would take hold quickly. Was there any hope at all I could get this done in time? Who knew? I could only stay on it and steer it with a better hand going forward. ASAP. the chart of accounts was unfinished and consequently the Giant database remained blank. none were near completion—victims of diverted resources. I entered Donald‘s action item in the project plan as an action step. anything that might call for adjustments. to set up a conference call with Barry. Donald. The number of steps in the project task list still undone was bewildering and heightened my anxieties. I had to step in and press for action. This was a fortunate thing. The review revealed that of the four custom software developments. being a part of the team on the field. unprepared for formal testing or training. When do you think you can you set the call for. I wanted to hear of anything that might affect the timeline—unplanned absences. the Tracer integration was not started—in limbo with the pending licenses. conflicting demands. Donald?‖ ―I'll try to set it for today. I could never depend on the consultant to be the heavy. The consultants were simply too close to the client to be insistent. Nonetheless. I‘m going to ask you. and he‘s your guy. due date—today.
What‘s he going to do about it?‖ ―Take them back. we might have worn out the fifth amendment such was the abhorrence of perceived self-indictment. He takes them home and finds one heel is shorter than the other. Despite all that. though there remained the tricky integration with the Giant ERP following that. Three of our custom software developments were ready for final testing. He began with this news: ―The charges for the Best Bargain project are adding up too fast. but I estimated no more time consuming than our normal practice. Getting a straight answer was like getting a politician to use the words ‗yes‘ or ‗no. we were making progress.‖ ―Yes. puts on the shoes and to demonstrate the issue starts hobbling around in front of the salesman. what‘s he supposed to say. Now the salesman. our ad hoc approach resulted in our solution being shut down permanently and taken off-line after the customer blew a gasket in frustration.‘ Had our status calls been held in a court of law. The new practice felt unnatural and progress was a series of two steps forward then one or two steps backwards. this is what Best Bargain was presented and expects. which required a never ending series of support calls after the go-live. and Tracer‘s licenses were soon to be purchased. say a guy buys a pair of shoes. ‗what limp?‘ ‖ 126 .‖ ―Vishal. Is it finished or not finished? A response to this question sounded like a plea bargain with all the accompanying obfuscations of a grifter. I had to repeatedly interrupt speakers to draw them back to the question as asked.‖ ―And so goes back to the store. It was difficult for the team to adjust—like learning a proper golf swing after hacking away at the ball for many years without lessons. I‘m sure.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed Chapter 35 A Lesson in Fencing Bringing Triple-S into alignment with professional methodologies had been an arduous process. We‘re breaking the budget. On more than one occasion. It was time consuming.‖ ―You‘re referring to the budget estimate Gregg made. Vishal was ringing me on Skype.
there are three separate software solutions involved. Gregg?‖ Gregg didn‘t answer. ―You had four people scheduled for the go-live training last time. We‘re not going to be profitable until we work coherently. The project is a time and materials contract. and demand the payments we‘ve earned. It‘s impossible.‖ ―That‘s not an answer. What did you say?‖ Gregg multitasking again. doesn‘t it?‖ ―I think we know that very well. How do I deliver less than what we sold them?‖ ―You have to do it with fewer resources than you‘re using. You gotta remember. Gregg.‖ ―Best Bargain cannot be trained sufficiently for go-live without the training the way I scheduled it. Don‘t wait and surprise them. again. ―Sir.‖ ―You tell me then. guys. we could maybe exceed the estimate by five percent or so.‖ I said.‖ Vishal interjected.‖ Unfortunately. but I agree we can‘t smash the projection. It was happening every time. Why can‘t we justify our bill?‖ Vishal was stumped and paused to patch Gregg into the call. I appreciate your professional concerns.‖ ―Then we‘ve failed to do what we said we would do. that means billing the way we said we would. Isn‘t it time we started doing things properly. Richard. I‘ll remind us all that we have thirty some open projects.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed ―Don‘t be silly. ―Gregg?‖ ―Sorry. We can‘t fit that many people in the budget. 127 . Where is this not logical?‖ Vishal said.‖ ―The dilemma here is delivering the solution we‘ve promised and meeting their financial expectations. You see what I mean. ―Look. An estimate is not reality. That‘s self delusion. ―We can‘t invoice so frequently. I can hear him typing on his keyboard. He caught him up on the discussion and we began again. Gregg said. Our problem is we don‘t really know how to estimate a project properly because we‘ve never done one properly. but it all comes down to that ugly matter of money. Should we short them on training and throw them into the system unprepared?‖ ―We have to deal with the reality of the estimate. get a handle on what it takes. Treat it for what it is. so our future won‘t be more and more of this chaos?‖ ―But we have to get a payment. We have a serious problem here. I hope we‘re billing them monthly like the proposal says. We‘ll never collect the money if we overbill. ―Richard.‖ ―So see that the invoices are explained well and advise Alex where we‘re headed. it was not unexpected that we might not collect all that was invoiced. it‘s guessing.
‖ I heard a phone ringing the background somewhere. I felt the isolation closing in on me. Gregg had broken down again and turned on me once more. frankly. He‘s in full survival mode. perhaps. Gregg had sided with Vishal. Worried about getting paid.‖ And with that he truncated the call citing more urgent matters he had to attend to.‖ I said.‖ So this is a two-bottle call. Gregg.‖ ―He wants to talk with Rajan about this. I can‘t cut training down. You‘ve got to talk him down. I wasn‘t looking to get their agreement now.‖ ―He‘s panicked.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed ―I said an estimate is a guess. I pressed the Talk button. life was crushing him. I was holding a large can of peanuts in my hand when my pocket started buzzing. I pushed my cart toward a quiet corner in the liquor section. Just be forewarned.‖ ―You have to deal with it. The time read six o‘clock. And I‘ve often wondered if delivering what you sold has anything to do with it. and we should not let Alex think otherwise. I fished out my cellphone and flipped it open. My sense was that Vincent was leaning towards the Swiss position. Something was keeping Vincent up. and this was probably not going to be good news. Gregg excused himself to take another call at that moment. I suspect his troubles at home are keeping him up nights. I just rang off with Gregg. I thought. He thinks I‘m being too honest with Alex and Donald. ―Don‘t think that‘s likely to do any good. Vishal and I ended the call with my last stand hanging in the air.‖ An irritated shopper cleared her throat behind me. Richard. 128 . It was Vincent‘s caller ID. I‘d probably want to pick up something there after this call anyway. ―Well. I was moving ahead with what had to be done. ―There‘s always some fool who drops the grenade in his own foxhole. ―Getting the money is important. and left us waiting for too long. I was running out of allies. and the fault lines were growing. I‘m in the way. It seemed clearer as the days wore on.‖ ―Yeah.‖ ―Alex thinks it‘s more than a guess. He‘s at full boil. Who could blame him. and I was going to have to win this battle on my own. or me—my employer or Charles Silverstruk. I started surveying the wine aisle for sale items. We just cannot come in too far over the estimate. Lunch at 10 Downing. That made it after midnight in London. that it might be just a matter of time and chance that would determine who would be the one to bring an end to my job. Richard.
and it looked now like I had no friends to cover my back. that would set Charles Silverstruk into action. I put three bottles of California Chardonnay in my cart and headed for the checkout.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed If Gregg pressed forward for my dismissal and succeeded. I could not allow myself to get fired just like Gregg couldn‘t afford to lose his job either. 129 .
―Donald. after all. When Sushant repeated the same status on the eighth day. 130 . I called Donald. ―This is going to blow the timeline. There was no room to sugar coat the truth. Donald was. It was good for him to experience another bit of the same frustration the rest of the team encountered. I decided to have a discussion in a private call between myself. That‘s just one part of why go-live dates can‘t be promised. Plans have to accommodate the realities of business. What‘s the hold up?‖ ―Simple lack of cooperation. Donald was getting a good taste of it. Nothing had happened. It was a reality check. Why should it delay things?‖ ―Because Sushant is a resource who is dedicated to a number of tasks. he was enigmatically guilty of foot dragging when it came to some of his responsibilities. All companies face the strain of doing business while trying to implement an ERP at the same time.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed Chapter 36 The Balance of Power For seven consecutive status meetings Sushant reported that the testing with two of the 3PL warehouses had not yet transpired. It requires researching where he left off. They‘ve been good to us. Donald. reminding him via email that it was important to get the time and date set with the two errant 3PLs. I was pressuring Donald to get this done. It‘s not realistic to think he can switch between tasks as easily as turning a faucet on and off.‖ That was as true for them as it was for Donald. but they‘ve got a business to run. and served to keep Donald and Alex‘s complaints constrained. too. but even he was subject to the will of others. Sushant and Donald. it won‘t take long once we get to it. too.‖ Time was running out. I had tickled Donald on this every other day. we‘ve hit a real roadblock with these two 3PLs. ―Well. I suppose. For all Donald‘s complaints. still the customer and deserved the respect of a private conversation where I would confront his shortcoming.
‖ In a perfect world. Ours was not a perfect world. And wasn‘t it true for all projects for any company in an internal or externally contracted project. that‘s why. I‘m sure you know what I mean.‖ Donald responded defensively. It‘s a false analogy that needed to be extinguished and kept that way. Pressing on Best Bargain to respond to their collaborative responsibilities was one way to do this.‖ Donald conceded breezily. Maintaining that balance of power and responsibility between my firm and his company was essential to managing the project in a professional manner. With only two weeks until our next go-no go meeting. 131 . I needed some serious responsibility at this point. they wanted the cashier‘s undivided attention. including this. It was all too easy to let the conversation sink to repetitious quarreling over the point. Pressing for a quick agreement could backfire and result in a quarrel where the quarrel itself would become the point of focus. Best Bargain included. I judged that Donald had not missed the point and would privately consider it later. but customers are never generous about such things. Donald.‖ I used a firm. friendly. ―This is not the only thing that‘s holding us up. It gets to be chaotic. It was the retail mindset most customers bring to the purchase. And everything goes to hell. but insistent tone—not sounding at all as homicidal as I felt. but I couldn‘t concede the matter either. They knew that couldn‘t be so. you know. everybody needed to meet their due dates if there was any chance of succeeding. He made me wonder if he would. ―I know that. When it‘s their turn at the head of the line. wanted their project to be treated as though it was the only project on the project team‘s docket. All clients and stakeholders. Everything has to be accounted for. It couldn‘t be allowed to devolve into a game of gotcha and CYA. ―I‘ll call them both and shake the bushes. that it was difficult to maintain the resources focus on the project? There were always competing and shifting demands on their time. a consultant would only work on one project at a time. wanting to make sure he was not going to be singled out in front of Alex later on.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed setting up and getting his mind in synch with the task.
All of the customers who place orders this way use their own item numbers.‖ Sushant interrupted. When all had dialed in on the conference call.‖ We were all aware of what he had to say having all been a part of our ongoing daily status meetings. there are a few things still with the file exchange that I think could be finished in just a few days. I‘ve displayed the collapsed view of the project plan showing only the major milestones and the status of each. wanting to make some comment.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed Chapter 37 Landing on a Short Runway About four weeks had passed since our previous attempt at going live. I decided to use my land line to hold the go:no-go conference call. but that activity is not difficult to complete once we have that information. ―Welcome all. knowing that Charles Silverstruk would have Sebastian monitoring the call. You know that we have not finished the cross-reference table for the incoming sales orders. so he could to stay even with what Charles Silverstruk would hear—sharing intelligence fairly. The intense focus of daily status meetings had produced positive results. and we don‘t yet have a complete reference table for two of the customers. I allowed him to proceed. What we determine here is what we will tell Best Bargain tomorrow. I invited Lucky to secretly listen in too. ―You‘ll notice that a status is listed as either ―complete‖ or ―incomplete. Sushant was voicing the eternal 132 . Today we need to evaluate the possibility of continuing on the schedule as planned. Candor and clarity was all I had to prevent him from punishing me unfairly. or we‘re not ready. ―First. Some things were getting done. I hosted the call on May 14 with the Triple-S team alone. I began.‖ There is no in between status we can consider. you can see that the file exchange feature is not completed. and let him choose his next action with all the facts in hand. What we need to achieve here is agreement on exactly where we stand. We have to assume we are completely ready to demonstrate a fully functional system for user acceptance testing and final training. ―Richard. I would let him hear it all.
‖ Gregg had offered a reasonable point. We were either ready or not ready. At this point. that crucial moment of truth. easy-to-do loose ends.7 Best Bargain would make the choice. It really is done. Gregg proposed the hopeful perspective. Our development team had reached the limit of possibilities in developing the warehouse management system‘s capability to 7 See Go Live Checklist in the Quick Reference section for more information. That voice is fueled by a hope that often tells us that a task is done. We closed the conversation having determined that the file exchange feature may not be absolutely necessary and we would suggest removing it from the go-live checklist. What was truly critical could be sorted out with Best Bargain. 133 . I had to trust in what I could plainly see and not what heroics I might hope for. ―I think we could assure Alex and Donald that this feature would be ready in time for go-live. The file exchange feature was not complete.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed optimism of the ―almost done‖ consultant persona. though in their mind they hold in reservation a private truth that there is still one or a few tiny. The closer we came to the go-live decision. We continued to review each milestone in the same manner. ―Thanks. I was pleased to see that Sushant had progressed past his customary delusional instincts. It‘s just a few minor things to complete. we have to consider only where we stand at this very moment. the clearer the realities and priorities became. Running a project is a lot more like marching a platoon of foot soldiers through the mud than flying a crack squadron of screaming jets in death-defying maneuvers.‖ Once again. Or so they believe. Sushant. and keep the current go-live date. excusing some unforeseen malfunction that prevents the demonstration. ―I think we could ask them. Do we dare offer Best Bargain anything that resembles speculation? How about this? Is it possible that Alex and Donald are okay with going live without the feature?‖ Gregg responded. I think it would be reasonable that they could continue with the manual method for a while longer. and was telling us the whole reality of the situation. Gregg interjected. keeping in mind that whatever the status was at this moment in time. as some would delude themselves. That belief may hold until the moment the feature is being demonstrated when the panicked consultant finds himself spewing a stream of double-talk. The number of transactions they run with this feature are really very few. we were too close to making a go:no go decision to bank on any last minute breakthroughs to save the day.
Our proposed development and solution would require some manual processes in the warehouse to complement the development. The disciplines of daily status meetings were developing a unified. Perhaps the realities of project management were sinking in. we had yet to see the functionality in action. and we reached the consensus that Best Bargain would be offered the options of going-live without certain functionality. This time. one of the custom developments. but it wasn‘t done. We were at a take it or leave it point that would have to be presented diplomatically. In my judgment. and as such would meet the requirement—if Best Bargain could allow themselves to grasp the concept. or delaying to another go:no-go decision date. And lastly. 134 . otherwise. we would delay until another date. the task was either done or not done. realistic view of the project. sober heads prevailed. that would be their choice. If Best Bargain wanted to go live without it. but unambiguously. They were close.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed accommodate multiple units of measure in the order and picking process. and I was not in favor of gambling on its completion. though the Tracer development had progressed. of course.
The weather had turned warm. The human factor I was finding is always one of the greatest wildcards in the project. I had run end-to-end transactions for sales and purchasing yielding results as planned. and that meant more money. Donald had to be prepared to give extra support to his 135 . All developments. Peter and I had run mock receipts and shipments by remotely connecting to the Best Bargain warehouse and coaching the warehouse manager through the steps with the handheld. He had to believe it was necessary to increase the budget. inputs and outputs had been processed precisely as expected. The staff continued to struggle in learning the new system. and we could print. I would double the training effort if necessary. In any event. the chart of accounts signed off and loaded.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed Chapter 38 A Finger on the Trigger May 15. The quantities were correct. the configurations examined and also signed off by Best Bargain. found its way around the computer monitor and reminded my tense face of nature‘s gentle side. It was the day we would decide whether to proceed with the user acceptance testing and training at Best Bargain. we had covered every item in our go-live checklist successfully except the actual user acceptance testing and the final training. and involve Donald in the training so he could witness their flagging performance. Peter and I would be on site for the week following go-live to continue the support. In short. Ability and willingness are both unpredictable variables. except for the shortfalls we had already noted. He would have to approve the extra effort. were tested. Whether the warehouse staff could actually run the warehouse system when they went live had me concerned. Peter tested the accounting functions and produced financial statements. The production database was ready for the cutover—master records had been examined and signed off by Best Bargain. and witnessed in operation by Donald in behalf of Best Bargain—though we would conduct formal user acceptance testing using the test scripts. There were no error messages. and a gentle breeze slinked into my living room through the open patio doors.
I knew better than to blindly believe everything would go well. far more than he‘d pay any of his own staff. and they could live without the remaining developments for a while—as long as those tasks didn‘t drag out for more that two more weeks. and leaving time for any minor fixes that might have been needed. As it stood. each planning to arrive the night before our respective activities would begin. After that. and we reviewed them. Alex and Donald and each respective department head would observe and participate in the testing. The stress of that prospect continued to constrain my appetite. Maybe Triple-S had learned something of what it really took to implement an ERP as we navigated this messy project. It was a software system. my fate would be sealed. to have Triple-S help them. The CFO would also be present for all sessions to confirm that the ledgers were posted accurately. we planned to return two weeks later to conduct final training. Peter and I planned to arrive on Monday night to be there Tuesday morning to begin the critical user acceptance testing. We made our own travel arrangements. I warned him of that possibility to ward off a last minute storm of dissatisfaction. and anything could go wrong at any time. We were ready enough. I really wished I could get interested in more than peanuts someday soon. It was that or pay comparatively exorbitant fees. Assuming all went well with the testing. we would plan to go-live the second Monday in June.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed warehouse staff if they continued to have difficulties. I displayed the milestones with their respective statuses. I held the web session in the same way as the previous time. We couldn‘t risk a weather problem to delay our arrival. We agreed to move forward. We had to be on time and ready to go—no excuses. All were agreed. afterall. We had demonstrated responsibility and organization in our efforts that restored a measure of Alex and Donald‘s faith in Triple-S to deliver. I promised Triple-S would apply themselves as devoutly as they had observed in the last month. 136 .
too. Long enough for Alex to believe 137 . What foolishness on his part. Nothing would stop this project now. I was sitting silently.dot. 11 p. Support the go-live. I nixed the thought of failure. but could I hope that he would understand I had no control over this firing? In a start of terror. Neither might review the tapes until morning. It was late. I would see it done. feelings of optimism dueling with the sinking feeling that something could go so very wrong. But maybe Sebastian was waking Mr. The risk was too great that he might already know. I had never had to do so in a state of panic like this without a clear plan. Vishal called.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed Chapter 39 Friendly Fire I was home alone Sunday night. Applied all the diplomacy. Train them well. But then came Vishal‘s ominous email. It was non-negotiable. dot.m. to finish those last important steps. Gregg‘s complaints had finally done me in. His black-or-white view of this project meant my neck was on the line and only mine. But Charles Silverstruk would not care who was at fault. Sebastian. my mind would not stop the relentless review of the project. and I was fired. I had done what I could. trying to relax my very agitated soul. disciplines and demands on the team that I could properly conceive.m. Try as I might. if I had one to consider. Maybe. I had always taken some pleasure in my ability to pack fast and completely when on my way to my next trip. I remembered that my phone line had been tapped. Exonerate myself before Alex told his father the news without the context needed to hold me innocent. And I had to contact Alex and Donald first thing in the morning. We had to talk—dot. too. I had to move fast—finish packing and leave promptly. and tell them what had happened. How long would I be gone? For a month or two I roughly calculated. Now. Then consider my future. I hoped. feeling the crush of aloneness. I had wrestled it to the finish line. Silverstruk at this very moment. It was late. staring thoughtlessly as I could at the dark panes of glass of my patio doors. where Charles Silverstruk was sleeping. 10 p. my time. Prove the system.
I can get through this. Then silence.‖ 138 . The prompt tells me the file already exists. I stuffed as much as I could get of anything into my bags.‖ ―Hello.‖ And hung up. The Dew Drop Inn. I won‘t answer that call. My passport. Dad here. ―Hello. inconspicuously melding with the flow. Enough to continue to run on if it came to it. I‘m going to stop my cellphone service soon. I‘ve had to get out of my condo. And headed for the door. I didn‘t want the police to start looking for me because the mail was piling up. copy my files from my laptop computer where my current files reside. I may end up using a public library‘s computer in order to hide my whereabouts. I have to be unreachable. The phone is ringing again. Suddenly. Sara. so you won‘t be able to reach me for a while.‖ That would be Sebastian. Enough to hide on. Take out as much as my ATF card limit allowed. ―Richard. To the Post Office now to grab a stop mail notice. leaving a voice mail. he‘s on his way. I paused a moment at the computer. you sound serious. I won‘t use the credit card— that‘s too traceable. to an out of the way motel I knew from past travels. I create a folder on my thumb drive and copy all Best Bargain folders and files to it. I copy the contacts to the thumb drive and I‘m done. I was cruising down I-88. but who? I am in the car. This place was used to cash customers anyway. I‘ll take my Outlook Contacts. In a moment of dark humor I wrote a note on a post-it note and stuck it to my computer monitor. You better run— now. The phone is ringing. What‘s up?‖ ―Something very strange has happened at work. Shouldn‘t you call the police or something?‖ ―No. too.‖ Maybe Sebastian would find it. ―Gone fishing. It stops ringing. Then a voice speaks. No police. Dad. One last detail. it wasn‘t Charles Silverstruk and not Lucky‘s. The voice. I overwrite it. not before. The Caller ID reads ―Eastern Caskets. I start to export the Contacts to an Excel file and accept the default filename the system automatically suggests.‖ ―Holy crap. it wasn‘t Sebastian. Caller ID reads Unknown Number. Never mind. I don‘t know why. I‘m not answering this call either. They could start wondering about me when they found my body. I headed for Evansville. Hey. I called my daughter from my cellphone. Dad. I remember I needed cash. small bills. Bastard Sebastian. backing out into the darkness. I turned around and headed back to my bank. at least for a while. I gathered my personals and my laptop. Inc.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed that the system worked and tell his father the good news. Indiana. There could be someone after me who I don‘t want to find me. to be able to port them to any email system I may end up using. Who knows. no voice mail.
You get what you pay for. There were about seven cars in the lot. I thought I may have missed them already. No one really came here to sleep much. Just be patient. Slivers of soft light showed through curtains in as many rooms. It the cops come asking for you. Hard to do on a motel bed as hard as this one. He flopped a key with a plastic tag attached to it on the counter. Manny. A groggy. I‘d slept through my alarm set for 6 a. that‘s your problem. You understand?‖ ―I understand.‖ ―I love you. Not as good as the Dew Drop Inn‘s beds. ―Look. I thought. pajama-clad man took my money without looking up then bent down slightly to shove it in what surely was time-locked safe beneath the counter. ―It‘s in the back.‖ ―Richard. It should all be cleared up by then. but I don‘t like it.‖ ―How long is this going to take?‖ ―Maybe a couple months. Dad. I had decided to stay in a different motel in case Sara slipped up and told someone where I intended to stay. don‘t tell anyone. Once in the room I kicked off my shoes and laid down on top of the covers and fell asleep.m. It was Manny’s voice. but it was late and I couldn‘t think anymore. If someone did come after me. I heard my cellphone ringing. Then it came to me.‖ I hung up feeling a little queasy from fear and the adrenaline was causing my hands to shake and my skin grow cold and moist. They could trace those things or follow you.‖ He slid the receipt across the counter.‖ he said and jabbed a thumb in that direction. ―Hel.m. Indiana. In the meantime. I parked my car in front of one of the lit rooms. hel…Hello. I‘ll be at the Dew Drop Inn just outside of Evansville. Room number 232. I didn‘t want to make it too easy to find the room I was in. What the hell happened?‖ 139 . It‘s going to be okay. I love you. or I had slept in. and don‘t call me. When my eyes could focus I saw it was just after 8 a. too. where I am. ―Cash. It was not a very clever idea. I intended to be awake in time to reach Alex or Donald as soon as they reached the office. I stepped out of the office onto the asphalt parking lot. I don‘t want to be disturbed so if…‖ ―I don‘t give out names to anyone but the cops. Don‘t come. Paul. The road ahead is pitch black. don‘t email the motel. It was early. not anyone. clothes on.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed ―You mean no one is going to know where you are?‖ ―Look.‖ I said. I figured. turned and headed back to his living quarters. From the depths of a deep sleep.
It was my only hope. if Sebastian hadn‘t already checked the wiretap and told him. He‘s giving everyone hell. And I had to figure he‘d told his father already. Charles Silverstruk would believe I quit. Why did you do this?‖ ―I didn‘t quit. and you quit? What‘s up with that?‖ ―He said I quit? I didn‘t quit. 140 . just like the accuser always has the advantage over the accused. because you quit right before this thing is finished. We got three weeks to go here.‖ ―That‘s not what Gregg said. Vishal let me go. The first story is the one they‘ll believe.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed ―What do you mean? What‘s up?‖ ―Gregg says you quit. I had to keep working to see this project through. Or Alex.‖ It was too late. Alex thought I quit.
There are thousands of such online services. this project had to finish successfully. He doesn‘t realize that this puts the whole thing in jeopardy.‖ ―This couldn‘t be worse. I called Gregg. I used MagicJoe to establish a phone number. ―Look. Revenge was useless. Gregg. Twenty bucks for a year‘s VOIP service.‖ ―Richard.‖ Reality strikes. No matter what. but I could use the account with some false name to secretly participate in the status meetings. From character assassin to ally overnight. But then don‘t most conversions happen in a lightning flash of passion? Or fear? ―Then for the training. I‘ve got it all set up and broken down by trainer and job roles. Please do. Paul is going to have to do almost all the training now. I didn‘t think they‘d let you go. Not a problem. And I needed his. Gregg is speaking with regret in his voice. I‘m officially off payroll. ―Gregg.‖ ―Yes. You‘ll have to move the training schedule up a week and figure on two solid weeks of training. But I could sit in as a silent member of the status calls with a phony ID. and IM you as it goes if I have anything useful to add.‖ This was quite a change of heart.‖ ―Vishal thinks the project is all but done. Except. I had to be coldly practical. I‘d recommend pulling in someone from one of the 141 . The phone number is never listed. I called to offer to help. That way no one at Triple-S would know I‘m still in on it. I would be difficult to trace. Despite what he‘d done.‖ ―What‘s done is done. No worries. Richard. this was really bad timing. Look. at least all the help I could offer under the circumstances. What do you think?‖ ―Sure. I thought. He needed my help.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed Chapter 40 Ghost Management I bought a laptop computer from a local repair shop and set myself up a web site with email accounts using a prepaid credit card. And now I could work under the radar—unknown to Triple-S or Best Bargain. sorry to hear the news. this really screws up the schedule.
There‘s nothing like a fat retainer you can‘t refuse to get someone to see the light. ―Think nothing of it. later. and considered what might have happened with Gregg.‖ I set my cellphone on the night stand. ―Name doesn‘t ring a bell.‖ ―One more thing.‖ He‘s definitely speaking in tongues now. Someone I should know?‖ ―No.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed other Giant partners to do just some of the ERP training. My only thought was don‘t double-cross Charles Silverstruk—he said tell no one. He wanted me fired. Richard. thanks for sticking in there under the circumstances. That‘s all standard stuff. I wasn‘t going to risk it even now. You know someone by the name Sebastian?‖ For a moment I was too stunned to speak. Just someone I met. 142 . This is not the Gregg I talked to a few days ago. Then it came to me.‖ ―Richard.‖ ―Okay then. Most people would just walk away.
June 25. Peter will run a trial balance and compare it to the existing system‘s report. I wondered if I might add another significant chapter to the many project manager certification programs found around the country—How to Survive Like a Hunted Rat.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed Chapter 41 Going Live I listened in on the remaining status meetings. I could resume a normal life again. Gregg was handling the meeting quite well. just two more days to go. Peter will have three days to complete the cutover and get the golive checklist signed off. I felt some satisfaction in that. At various points I typed an instant message to Gregg to cue his memory or nudge him not to forget what I thought was an important point. or we had to find out why it didn‘t and fix it. But in the main. I took nothing for granted. More importantly. I would remain in hiding. 143 . and I felt he had observed and taken away some of the approaches he had witnessed in the dozens of meetings we had held. It‘s Wednesday. Peter will begin transferring open balances and open transactions into the production database. That was another sign that the inoculation of proper project management had taken. and with Charles Silverstruk‘s permission. After the close of business that day. It had to match. He was an intelligent man. They would take a final physical inventory over the weekend and opening inventory balances will be entered into the database. I felt that Gregg could see this project through to its completion by sticking to the means of professional project management. Training would be completed on Friday. too. I was certain he would get the sign off as Gregg had made it clear during the final status meetings that he insisted upon it. When the project was completed. Until it was all clear.
Gregg?‖ ―The system seems to be functioning all right. pizza is never recommended as survival food. if you asked me. We‘ve seen orders transmitted to the 3PLs. however.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed Chapter 42 Please Release Me Five more days until go-live. I didn‘t presume.‖ ―Sounds almost good. It was a little concerning how quickly a hot pizza turned into cold. time. that they needed so much support. rancid pizza box. ―But all in all. too. U. that we were getting paid for the support. So we‘ll wait and see what‘s happening there. They bought these chairs at the same place they bought the coffee. ―Well. No orders received by the file exchange feature yet. Triple-S still had a way to go in setting the terms for their service agreement. Richard. Profitability was ironically still an elusive goal. but a rotting banana peel is no better.‖ This wasn‘t a good thing. I say swim for it. and I can say we delivered all that we said we would. But we were handling it. So far. I dumped both creamers into the black liquid and sat down in one of the world‘s most uncomfortable chairs to ponder where I stood. I closed the lid on an empty. They recommend bananas.S. but they‘re all operatorerror type things. You can never offer too much training. two months later than Alex and Donald had first envisioned. Stranded on a desert island. I thought you would have to hunt hard for coffee this bad to package and distribute to motels around the world. which I had my doubts about. I 144 . It‘s late. how did it go today. It was unnatural.‖ I hung up and made a cup of the world‘s worst coffee in the coffee maker the inn provided. It was just getting dark out when I called Gregg for another update.‖ As I listen to this I think. so good. I‘m not hearing a lot of yelling out of Alex or Donald.‖ ―The warehouse is having its problems. But he‘s available every minute of their day. stinking garbage. ―It‘s got Paul pretty tied up. He‘s spending quite a bit of time on the phone with them. They‘re satisfied enough. And I‘ve got Sushant working their shifts.
Maybe a drunk trying to find a room. giving Sebastian a moving target to try to hit. wanting me to move out of the way. Not now. I knew it wasn‘t the pizza man. This unacceptable. ―Who is it?‖ I squeaked. My ears are stunned by the blast. Silverstruk has son. Manny slid into the room on his knees expecting a high shot to the head or chest. I flung the door open. How does this come to a happy ending? Or does it? Someone was knocking on my door. The door struck Sebastian and a shot exploded. too afraid to peek through the curtains. His free hand reached for his forehead. I walked to the door. I cracked open the door. gun ready. and that left all bad options after that. ―Get in bathroom. waving me off. I don‘t know where the bullet went.‖ ―It will take just one minute. The maid is whimpering beside me.‖ Sebastian shouted at the maid. avoiding Manny‘s aim. 145 .‖ Sebastian signaled for me to open the door. He fired twice. I peeked through the crack.‖ I opened the door to let her in. ―So sorry. Silverstruk. Manny fired twice.‖ I walked to the door as Sebastian circled behind me. Manny was standing there.‖ ―I know.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed ruminated on the future. How much longer would it be now? Hiding. Morrow. She crawled towards the bathroom still wearing the white towel tied around her eyes. his eyes suddenly gone glazed. his own gun gyrating in the fall. using two fingers to indicate about an inch. thanks. He hit the wall near the ceiling and chipped cinderblock sprayed the room. trying to hone in on Manny. Sebastian could not have found me here. The door flung open and a frail. one last heartbeat away. It won‘t take a minute. Surely. And Mr.‖ ―We‘re checking the WiFi connections. Richard. Then Sebastian‘s head snapped back hard. I am afraid you fail Mr.‖ Someone was knocking at the door. ―No. Mr. May I speak to you?‖ ―Now‘s not a good time. Sebastian fell awkwardly towards the bed. Manny rolled away.‖ He pulled his gun from his shoulder holster and aimed it at my head. ―Get rid of them. blindfolded maid came flying at me. ―Hotel management. Sebastian looked startled. ―I have a daughter. Sebastian slammed the door shut. ―Who is it?‖ ―Room service. Sebastian stood behind me to my right. I am knocked to the floor. Sebastian pushed his way in behind her. Sebastian fell backwards on the bed and his arms went limp. and dropped to the floor to my right.‖ It was a woman‘s voice. gun in hand.
―Meet Lucky Stones. about Permanent Dreams.‖ ―Oh. ―I saw it in your Contacts list. I had her address. Then at me.‖ Manny continued. He‘s checked every motel in Evansville and then some. ―Yep. holding a titanium slingshot at his side. Just stunned him a bit. She told me when I found her.‖ ―You followed Sebastian that closely?‖ I asked Manny. He wanted his company back.‖ ―Her address? How?‖ I asked Manny. I sent it to Charles before you started the training that first day.‖ Manny nodded at Sebastian‘s body. he threatened Maury‘s family.‖ ―I told her the Dew Drop Inn. looking at the sling shot. You go along or else. Then that‘s why there was already a contacts export file on my computer. ―He checked the Dew Drop first. He finally found you. I worked there. He‘d kill. huh?‖ Lucky said. ―You shot him with that?‖ Manny asked. I was right behind him.‖ Manny said. Richard. Weren‘t you the witness who refused to testify in the civil suit?‖ ―Yeah.‖ Manny turned back to me. 146 . casually appearing in the doorway now. But why were you helping Charles Silverstruk?‖ ―Nobody resigns a Charles Silverstruk job. wide-eyed.‖ ―I know. too. Silverstruk broke us. Moments passed. ―I knew he‘d go after her first. ―That‘s what she told Sebastian. You did it. ―Your daughter told me. yeah. The day you found me in the training room.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed ―What the hell?‖ Manny was baffled. Been following him all day. looking at Sebastian. When the bribes didn‘t work. ―Nice shot.‖ Manny stood to greet Lucky. Made Maury sell. Then he beat it down here. And there‘s the proof. Manny. Lucky twirled the slingshot in his index finger like a revolver. she‘s fine.‖ ―Why didn‘t it just end there…when he sold out?‖ ―Maury‘s resentments never went away. ―How did you find me?‖ I asked. Silverstruk will threaten anyone. So he sent his wife and sons to relatives in Europe to be safe and filed suit.‖ ―He had to hide his family?‖ ―Oh yeah.‖ ―Is Sara okay?‖ ―Yes. He had her tied up.‖ ―I read an article. speechless confusion muted both of us. I was just an hour behind him.
Then he threatened my family. He grew up. Charles Silverstruk won‘t be threatening anybody anymore. We had to change our plans a little bit. as he put it. You‘re all right.‖ ―I‘ve got to get to Sara.‖ ―How do you know that?‖ ―Let‘s put it this way.‖ ―Donald? Did you mean the Donald?‖ ―Yes. Surprised you weren‘t first through the door. ―Oh. too. Alex‘s Donald. he gave me a job with his son‘s company for keeping quiet. But then.‖ Lucky said. Then this deal and you came along. It was the first time I‘d hugged her in years. We were going to do all that we could to see that it failed. too. But to be fair. Now Mr.‖ ―He‘ll send somebody else now won‘t he?‖ ―No.‖ I peered over Sara‘s head at Lucky. Made it look like a car accident.‖ ―First. he had Maury killed. the oldest was the same age as mine. I needed the job and I thought it was the safe thing to do.‖ ―Yeah?‖ ―He knew who killed his father. Richard. when things were going badly on the project. Donald would do what he had to do.‖ ―I was watching. He was going to kill you. walking back into the room. Just keeping my promise. too. We thought it was time to finally put a stop to Charles Silverstruk. just like he threatened Maury‘s. That was ten years ago. Lucky. he won‘t be sending anyone else. maybe your daughter. So it was decided I would take care of Sebastian. Maury had three sons. Sara rushed to hug me. Let Charles see his son suffer some. To protect my family. No ‗K‘s. You know where she is now?‖ ―Right here. We‘ve been planning something for a long time. To settle the score. Dad. Sara at his side.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed ―So how did he get to you? Stop you from testifying.‘ I trusted Manny to take the necessary measures. but everyone knew what it was. we started to figure that Charles was going to go after you.‖ 147 . ―Thanks.
There is no disaster recovery service that could salvage anything in a case like this. figuring sons were fair game since Charles had included Donald and his 148 .k. his mother. The police aren‘t not sure what happened. Opportunity would present itself someday. Maybe two at a time. When Charles decided to deliver my punishment. Donald Moore. I‘m going to work on bank shots next. It was all gone. Charles Silverstruk died in a car wreck. It burned the Best Bargain offices to the ground—including the server and the backup server where everything. I understood Donald‘s need for revenge for his father‘s miserable years after his company had been wrenched away from him. My waste basket was half full of postits. I had no idea how long Manny and he had planned their revenge. One man‘s revenge is another man‘s salvation. That‘s my new saying. He was undetectable. son of Maury Loeb.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed Chapter 43 Epilogue Ten in a row. Alex will have to start over. It was a long time coming. and the backup server were housed. Donald had to finish his education. absolutely everything—the production server. get a job. the development server. Maybe the inexperienced driver just made a mistake and drove the Rolls Royce into a concrete embankment.. With the Best Bargain project. looked more like arson. And for his father‘s murder. and his young brothers had lived with while his father tried to reclaim what was his. the test server. To Triple-S‘ delight. I understood his resentment surrounding the state of fear that he. I have a renewed joy in the simple things in life. The CIA could have used a guy with Donald‘s skills. Maybe it just evolved. I reasoned that he took aim at Alex. left handed. and they received payment for everything done to that point. Two weeks later the fire destroyed everything. Maybe they only knew they wanted to get even— somehow. They called it an accident. build a resume and find his way into Best Bargain‘s employ. The fire. and Manny had completed their unfinished business with Charles Silverstruk. however. Off the wall. And it had. It happens when you cheat death.a. they decided the moment had arrived. Donald Loeb. Donald let the company go-live successfully. a.
Called it even. are not neatly packaged. as I‘ve seen in this project. Got fired instead. The realities of life. I knew how to do that now. discipline. I have wondered if the business culture there was embedded too deeply to accept change. with organization. courage—and with integrity. It was all certainly something no project manager could ever anticipate. It will cost them. I am ready for the next project. Go figure. 149 . communication. and I judged it would never be all that tidy. So Donald took a pound of flesh from Charles Silverstruk‘s own son. But I have no doubt that it can be done well. I deserved a hazardous duty bonus. too. Galvanized by the hellfire of this troubled implementation. Alex paid them. I had to wonder if Triple-S would follow the methodology I had imposed on them. Their next project will probably be run like they always have— without a champion on board to enforce a methodology. Did they hold a project evaluation meeting and seriously review the lessons learned in the Best Bargain project? Or did they just count the money? I may never know. I have finished.How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed brothers in his threats. This was certainly no textbook experience. diplomacy. Nonetheless. I guess. Just like Silverstruk implied that his threats included my daughter. and all‘s well that ends well would be good enough for Triple-S. I suspect.
How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed 150 .
How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed Project Management Quick Reference 151 .
How to Be a Project Manager without Getting Killed 152 .
......................................................155 DETERMINING AVAILABLE RESOURCES................................. 180 INTRODUCTION....161 THE CHANGE ORDER ...................................................................................................... 155 DEFINING THE SCOPE ................................ 169 SAMPLE SIGN OFF DOCUMENT ........................Quick Reference Table of Contents PREPARING A PROJECT PLAN .........................................168 CONTROLLING PROJECT VARIANCES ............................................................................................SAMPLE........................................181 SUMMARY OF REQUIREMENTS .............................................................180 CURRENT STATE ...........................157 COMPLETING THE BUSINESS PROCESS BLUEPRINT....................................180 COMPANY ORGANIZATION ...............................................................................................................................................................156 LISTING THE SUPPORTING STEPS.......................................................................................................................................................................................187 153 ......................................................................................................................................................................................................................187 DOCUMENT SCOPE .......................................................................................................183 REPORTS .... 164 SAMPLE TRAINING OUTLINE ........................................... 185 PROJECT SUMMARY .......167 SAMPLE TRAINING SCHEDULE ..................................................................157 CONSIDERING THE TIMELINE .............181 FINANCE ................................................................................160 WORK BREAKDOWN STRUCTURE ...............................................................171 IMPLEMENTATION METHODOLOGY .......................156 LISTING THE BIG STEPS .........158 MONITORING YOUR TEAM'S AND YOUR CUSTOMER’S PROGRESS ...............................................183 BUSINESS PROCESS BLUEPRINT.......................................................................... 162 TRAINING............172 THE BLUEPRINT .............................................183 FORMS .................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................159 COMMUNICATING......................................... 187 INTRODUCTION......................................158 CREATING THE BASELINE PLAN...........180 DOCUMENT SCOPE ..............................................................................................................................158 PRESENTING RISK ISSUES ........SAMPLE .............. 172 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY ........156 ASSEMBLING YOUR PROJECT TEAM ..............................181 BUSINESS PROCESSES .....................................................................................................................
............................................................................. 188 SUMMARY OF REQUIREMENTS............................................ 196 CROSS FUNCTIONAL FLOWCHART EXAMPLE .............................................................................. 197 SAMPLE REPORT DESIGN TEMPLATE ...........................................................................................................................................................................................................Quick Reference CURRENT STATE..... 212 154 .......... 209 SYSTEM READINESS . 211 DATA READINESS ....................DATA GATHERING FORM ................ 189 BUSINESS PROCESSES ......................................................................................... 190 BEST BARGAIN —SALES ........................................................................................................... 209 COMPANY READINESS ............. 191 APPROVAL ............................................................................ 199 CONFIGURATION SETTINGS ......... 187 COMPANY ORGANIZATION .................................................. 198 FUNCTIONAL DESIGN DOCUMENT .............................. 203 GO-LIVE CHECKLIST ...............................................................................................................
how many hours an employee is scheduled to work affects payroll. Manually computing the dates. the promise to provide a payroll system for a customer might be interpreted to mean that it should include a scheduling functionality. As is the case throughout the project. too. For example. how many hours an employee is scheduled to work affects payroll. right? It is important to include a detailed definition of the scope. Learning to use a software solution is essential. some PC-based. They differ in complexity and serve the needs of project managers working with a wide variety of project types.‖ Customers tend to interpret any defining statement in the broadest terms. Without a carefully worded scope definition. Determining what problem the customer is trying to fix and how takes considerable deliberation. the promise to provide a payroll system for a customer might be interpreted to mean that it should include a scheduling functionality. the scope. effort and dependencies manually is too hard to do. the opportunity is left open for the infamous ―scope creep. The first challenge is to adequately define and document what the project is supposed to accomplish. the opportunity is left open for the infamous ―scope creep. Without a carefully worded scope definition. (A customer could be your own boss or someone else in the organization. 155 . After all. After all. The text is concerned with the simplest form of project management and primarily the management of a single project at one time. the resources. Dozens of project management software solutions are available on the market. some server-based. and often the budget for a project. A helpful way to preclude such interpretations is to include a detailed marketing brochure or solution blueprint for the software solutions included in the proposal. The resulting document is the project plan. Given that context. For example. Getting this right is critical.‖ Customers tend to interpret any defining statement in the broadest terms. Defining the Scope The first challenge is to adequately define and document what the project is supposed to accomplish. too. generically speaking) Getting this right is critical.Quick Reference Preparing a Project Plan Preparing a Project Plan The project manager (PM) is asked to plan and control the timeline. right? It is important to include a detailed definition of the scope. Determining what problem the customer is trying to fix and how takes considerable deliberation. some web-based. the following describes the parts of the project plan and the generic challenges presented by each.
Review how you will be communicating with them and what your general expectations are of them in terms of completing task assignments and reporting requirements. Be sure to include your customer‘s resources in the resource list and assign them to their tasks. they will be doing most of the actual work. Follow the structure recorded in your implementation methodology document. The major milestones in the project plan should be the same as in the implementation methodology document the customer has seen. The scope definition is typically included in the proposal contract in a vendor-customer scenario. You will need their input as to how tasks can best be accomplished.Quick Reference Preparing a Project Plan the adjudicating reference for what was committed to is found in written and signature approved documentation. Determining Available Resources A project manager is the ultimate politician in the organization since he/she rarely has line authority over the staff that will be carrying out the project tasks. Obviously. and start a dialog. more than one resource may be required for any one task. your own consultants and any service providers. Listing the Big Steps Once you are certain of the project scope. You will 156 . Assembling Your Project Team Get the people on your team together. and this is a binding. When you have compiled a list of the resources made available to you. Maintaining that commitment often requires persistent and patient diplomacy. You will want your customer to fully acknowledge that the project is a collaborative endeavor wherein everyone has to meet their responsibilities. They are the technical experts who will have much to say that will affect the timeline. too. a document the sales executive may well have presented to the prospect while securing the deal. you may begin composing the project plan using the project management software solution of your choice. Afterall. You will be reconvening with them once you have developed the preliminary plan to see if changes need to be made to the plan at the outset. you will be able to later assign them to the project task list you have composed in your project management software. signature-approved document. That means the PM must ask other managers to provide one or more of their subordinates to the project on a part or fulltime basis. Advise them of the scope of the project and the anticipated start date and proposed go-live date.
you may already have a pro forma project plan listing the common steps followed in almost any project you‘ll be asked to manage. there are always competitive pressures to meet the prospect‘s demands and get the deal. Your project management software will be automatically calculating the finish date for each supporting step and computing a finish date for the parent step in the process. Good project software will validate the date sequence relationship between the steps and offer a warning message if you‘ve entered an invalid start date. etc. If your software allows. Considering the Timeline Meeting the customer‘s go-live deadline in a project. training. Some of the steps cannot be completed until preceding steps are completed. Based on information provided by the customer and your knowledge of your company‘s current workload. In a mature company. e. can be tricky business. the less predictable it is. A small consulting firm‘s capacity to deliver is always challenged by the number of deals the sales force is closing. it is up 157 . hardware installation.Quick Reference Preparing a Project Plan want to build confidence in your management abilities by demonstrating that you are consistently following your written methodology. you can begin entering a start date and duration time for each of the supporting steps. The more special developments and integrations included. though all deadlines are in any project. Identify opportunities where tasks may be scheduled simultaneously in order to compress the timeline efficiently. an ERP implementation. Or it may be critically real.. the more predictability there is. All this is combined with the complexity of the project to estimate a go-live date. indicate the dependency relationship between these related steps.g. Whatever the case. software installation. You can tweak that document to accomplish this step. Listing the Supporting Steps After listing the larger steps. Though the salesperson is expected to suggest a reasonable timeline. Those steps might include: project kick-off. Be careful what you commit to. you have a preliminary plan to review with the project team for their input. begin fleshing out these steps with the supporting steps that must be accomplished in order to complete the larger one. Adjust the list until the sequences are in proper order. A customer‘s desired deadline may be a result of exaggerated expectations or unreasonable fears or naiveté. When this step is completed. The more ―out-of-the-box‖ the solutions are in the proposal. Add the larger steps as subentries to these major phases of the project plan.
Presenting Risk Issues There are inherent risks in any project such as illness among the team members that may prohibit them from working. and they will have to be added to the list of risks and their affect on the project plan accounted 158 . These details will likely affect the timeline and call for some additional tasks to be added to the preliminary plan. Completing the Business Process Blueprint If there are special developments. Enter the duration for the tasks in the proper fields in fields of your project management software. Using days as an increment is acceptable. New details will be added. Circumstances may cause unplanned delays. The revised timeline needs to be presented to the customer. The result of this meeting is the baseline project plan. Adding up the time it takes to complete all the tasks will not yield an elapsed time and predict a finish date well. If you‘re able to manage the project‘s tasks in hours or minutes. but choose just one time measurement type to keep it simple. the duration and the dependencies their efforts entail. Discussions may need to be held with service providers to determine availability. Circumstances may arise that could never have been anticipated. they will be revealed in the blueprinting process. you may do so. Using days as the increment favors the project manager who is focusing on deadlines and not the billing. Change orders may add new tasks and resources and affect the timeline. Understand that a project plan is a dynamic document that will change with time.Quick Reference Preparing a Project Plan to the project manager to provide the most candid version of the timeline estimate as possible. Functional design documents may have to be produced for review by your technical team before they are approved by the customer. Consultants are not always tied to a workstation as in a manufacturing worker might be. and the amount of time they put in or when they can put in the time is variable. Creating the Baseline Plan Present and discuss the preliminary plan to the project team and adjust the timelines and resources as required. Statements of work will have to be reviewed and approved. The customer should always be kept abreast of the current project plan whether the timeline is affected or not. too. especially if the time it takes to complete your tasks cannot or has not been measured precisely in the past. integrations or any other unique challenges in the project.
An uninformed customer becomes an mistrustful customer quite quickly. add them to the project plan as all watch. are necessary to keep abreast of developments allowing you to remove roadblocks or re-focus efforts on the plan.Quick Reference Preparing a Project Plan for. Customer confidence varies proportionately to how well they are informed. but the reality that unplanned events can affect the project must be confronted. Make sure progress is being made. Many just don‘t want to face the imperfect world. Review with each resource every incomplete task whose start date has come due. Note those issues which should be discussed separately after the meeting. That will make it easier to catch issues before they become problems. Help them. or later on if a tornado hits and delays the project. Be liberal in praising accomplishments. why changes were made. Don‘t make the team feel that you‘re only there to catch them doing wrong. Caution: don‘t let the meeting devolve into a troubleshooting meeting. If more supporting steps are needed. status meetings are needed to keep everyone on the team and the customer in tune with the project. Monitoring Your Team's and Your Customer’s Progress You will make little progress at the beginning of the project. Many people don‘t know how to say what they mean.g. the blame is likely go to the consulting firm that allowed it to affect the project. You may need these notes to defend your timeline later on when consultant and customer anxieties constrain memory recall. Make sure they know what they‘re supposed to do and thank them for a doing a good job of it every chance you get. Public accountability like this goes a long way in keeping consultants focused. If the sales executive has not already reviewed with the prospect the potential risks to the project. or in some cases daily. Don‘t wait to do this. Use the notes or comments feature of your project software to document the record. You want the team to understand that the project is run strictly by the project plan. but start monitoring what everyone is doing right away. Update completed tasks. Use a web conferencing service for the status meetings and display the project plan for all to see. 159 . you should when presenting the preliminary project plan. e. Weekly. what caused delays. Ad hoc contacts. Involve yourself in those offline conversations to measure the effectiveness of the exchanges.. present the risk factors when presenting the baseline project plan. Building team spirit is a very important part of the project manager‘s job. At minimum. emails and phone calls.
Add appropriate action items to the project plan—this includes about anything and everything that has to be done. You get terrible reactions. the project plan.Quick Reference Preparing a Project Plan Communicating You probably can‘t communicate too much. you must also speak to the person. Whenever possible. whatever is sensible. that is. particularly bad news. Leaving bad news in a faceless email is like leaving the unwanted baby on the porch then running away. Oral communications experience a remarkable amount of drop out. a design document. and courageously face the consequences whatever they may be. Take your own notes on the conversation and save them where you can find them again. resolve the matter. When the discussion is over. It‘s best to have a document to refer to when you‘re conversing with another party so they have prepared crib notes to consult. so much is forgotten or misunderstood. I prefer to use the notes feature of the project plan software to keep as much in one place as possible. For anything substantial. Sometimes a written notice is enough for very minor matters. but the realization is hard to come to. Speak to the other party. This is not news. make a written summary of action items and send them to all parties. begin with a written document—an email. 160 . or an email with an attachment.
Quick Reference Preparing a Project Plan Work Breakdown Structure .Sample 161 .
suggests the impact on the project timeline and affect on business processes. <List any business and/or technical assumptions for this change. and records the customer‗s signed approval to proceed with the change. > 162 . such as impact on other interrelated projects.Quick Reference The Change Order The Change Order Purpose The Change Order documents the requested change to the Blueprint or Proposal document.> <State the total estimated cost to complete this change.> <How many hours are estimated and who will be needed to complete the change order?> <How does this change affect scope? > <How does this change affect the project timeline?.> <State any other factors. For: <Company Name> Change Description Description of change to be made: Item Description Start/Finish Date Budget Resources Scope Schedule Assumptions Other <State the desired start and finishing dates.
Quick Reference The Change Order Change Approval This change order is approved by: Signature Position Printed Name Date 163 .
Most of the list is the client‘s obligation to provide. FACILITIES Conference room Computers – properly configured Printer for instructor‘s computer Internet access Digital projector Computer speakers Whiteboard and markers Telephone with conference speaker □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ SOFTWARE ERP Software Triple S software Office software Acrobat Training database □ □ □ □ □ 164 . You will also find some guidance in how to conduct a training session.Quick Reference Training Training The following lists the preparations one must have in place before arriving at the training site.
Personally demonstrate the feature using the training database. Stop the eLesson at intervals to confirm students are tracking the lesson well—replay the lesson as necessary. Have lead student look up answers using the Help screen. Have the lead student perform the same transaction using the training database until fluent. Review what has been learned. Explain feature‘s use in one or more texts/scenarios. Have lead student look up answers using the User Guide. Stop the eLesson as necessary to clarify concepts.Quick Reference Training MATERIALS eLessons Software user manuals □ □ TRAINING METHOD Use role-based training outline. Introduce the feature to be learned. Have lead student train the next student in the transaction until all students are fluent. Have lead student look up answers using the eLessons. Show the eLesson. Note: in every day‘s training session: Emphasize the client is in training to become self-reliant in the use of 165 □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ .
□ □ □ 166 .Quick Reference Training the software. Demonstrate how to use the eLessons for independent review. Demonstrate how to use Help screens to find answers. Demonstrate how to use User Manuals to find answers. More training beyond the currently planned engagement will require more training fees.
Quick Reference Training Sample Training Outline 167 .
Those who feel the need ―to duck out‖ to take care of ―emergencies‖ are asked to make a choice—stay or reschedule. I let the company management choose who to send when. Business obligations are in constant conflict. giving the flexibility to meet business requirements. This is summarized later and presented to the company project manager to validate who participated—and that means to remained in the classroom throughout the training session. Required attendance is not for your benefit. the topics. it‘s for the company‘s—to avoid incurring additional training costs later or for spoiling a successful cutover when they go live. Attendance is required. be signing a document verifying that each has completed the training agenda for each session. Each attendee will. the attendees by job title and the pool of people who should complete the training.Quick Reference Training Sample Training Schedule It is a difficult challenge to get everyone who needs or wishes to be trained to attend training. 168 . Discuss this schedule with the company project manager and a senior level executive to get it approved. and that must be stressed. however. You‘ll see below that I‘ve listed the times for the sessions.
g. But they can be solid guesses if you have the historical data to support them. budgeted expenses as scheduled. Data Cleansing. Purchase orders and invoices likewise need to be coded properly. and you are behind schedule. etc. and when budgeted plan expenses are less than budgeted schedules. The simplest cost analysis would compare total actual expenditures to estimated (budgeted) expenditures. To control the project more closely. but things are under control. the analysis would include three general factors: budgeted expenses as planned.g. a supplier went broke. For example. You are overspent. When both actual and budgeted expenses are equal. Consultants need to properly code their timesheets to make this possible. The project manager may control the project in various levels of detail. When budgeted expenses are greater than actual expenses. and Data Upload. Historical data then becomes useful in preparing future estimates. e. things are going very well. key personnel quit.Quick Reference Controlling Project Variances Controlling Project Variances Estimates are guesses. a strike. new laws. bad weather. things are not under control... Legacy Data Migration might have three sub-categories like Data Extraction. e. but more than budgeted schedule. you are ahead of schedule. Estimates are only guesses because: Your company has learned to complete processes more efficiently since the last time. When actual expenses are greater than budgeted scheduled expenses. and actual expenses. management priorities changed and took away some of your 169 . Here are some examples of what your analysis might reveal: When actual expenses are equal to budgeted expenses. The accounting department is responsible for providing the means to collect the data along with project codes that allow for detailed analysis. things are under control. External circumstances have varied. Internal circumstances varied. a flu epidemic made your workers sick.
labor rates have gone up or down. Cancel the project. or eliminate certain tasks. When variances are judged unacceptable. key machinery broke. apply more or better resources when behind schedule. e. 170 . Do nothing. extend the due dates. the options you have to choose from are: Correct the situation. There is no universal standard.. etc.Quick Reference Controlling Project Variances resources. How much variance is acceptable is a matter for your company to decide given the nature of your business. e.g.g. Revise the plan to accommodate the factors causing the variance..
Signature ______________________________________________ Printed Name ___________________________________________ Date __________________________________________________ 171 .) Your Company Logo Here Your Company Name Here The master data for <client company name> is approved for the final production database.Quick Reference Implementation Methodology . Don‘t give the client anxiety by asking them to sign what looks like a contract.Sample Sample Sign Off Document (Keep it simple.
Our firm and the client must have equal access to all such documentation to make it effective. but it is not immune to unplanned events. such as the project plan. A project will progress as the planned sequence of tasks is accomplished. therefore. Resources may be allocated in coordination with the timelines of one or more concurrent projects. our firm follows a disciplined approach closely adhering to these tenets of professional project management. The practice of documenting important matters reduces the opportunity for confusion and misunderstandings. Having realtime. weekly status meetings will be conducted with implementation team members from our firm and with the client in attendance. It is important. 24/7 access to the documentation provides the assurance that no party is left out of the communication. Consequently.Sample Executive Summary Our implementation methodology is designed to provide a consistent approach resulting in predictable positive outcomes. and must reasonably be identified and acknowledged at the outset of the project and during the project as new circumstances may dictate. Our firm stresses the responsibility of fully completing tasks in the required sequences to minimize such impediments. Many tasks are dependent on the completion of preceding tasks. To ensure effective communication. Consistently positive outcomes are the product of proper documentation. Our firm provides access through an accessible. that assigned resources address their assigned tasks as promptly as possible and follow them through to completion. is updated frequently. The particulars of the methodology are derived from the industry‘s best practices as are found in numerous industry publications and from our own experiences. Deadlines are calculated using the best estimates of the size and complexity of the project‘s task list along with scheduling constraints 172 . Good project management is a requisite for a successful implementation. a backlog of incomplete tasks may overload a resource creating bottlenecks that negatively affect the timeline.Quick Reference Implementation Methodology . Some documentation. For these reasons. Risks are inherent in every project. Though verbal communication is intrinsic to all projects. good communication and close collaboration between our firm and the client.Sample Implementation Methodology . all substantive agreements and plans are put in writing and signed off by both parties as validation. secure internet site which holds all such documentation.
The following provides an explanation of the phases of the implementation. Our obligation is to teach. Our firm‘s commitment is to provide the training as necessary to establish the client‘s self-sufficiency. Training is a critically important mutual obligation of our firm and the client. The amount of training required is a function of the learner‘s ability to absorb the training as provided. Reaching completion by the targeted deadlines always assumes quality standards have been met and that any caveats to any task. where they might occur. have been documented and signed off. the blueprint and any change orders approved with the client‘s signature. All accomplishments in the project plan must be in accordance with the proposal. The final goal of the implementation is to leave the client in full control of the system.Sample presented by our firm‘s and the client‘s workload and capacities. 173 . Periodic validations are signed by the client as the project progresses to assure the building blocks of accomplishment have been satisfactorily put in place. The optimal speed at which deadlines are achieved results from the continuous application of a disciplined approach that disallows risky short cuts and compromises to sound methodologies. but can be adjusted as the client requires to reach self-sufficiency.Quick Reference Implementation Methodology . the client‘s is to learn. Training will be scheduled based on similar implementations.
Indicate that the preliminary plan is a shell at this point that will be fleshed out once the blueprint document has been approved.Quick Reference Implementation Methodology .Sample Implementation Cycle Project Preparation Item Prepare initial project plan document. Emphasize that the project plan is the primary tool by which the project is directed. personnel and communications. Name the team members. Be prepared to discuss these matters at the kick-off meeting. versus remote access and its requirements. Explanation Read the project scope as written in the signed proposal to remind the client of the parameters of the project. 174 . including who will be the client‘s project Establish implementation procedures. Briefly go through the preliminary project plan with the client at the kick-off meeting. Discuss the on-site.
A company technician will inspect or receive a confirming confirmation of the system landscape presently in place at the client‘s site. see that the appropriate hardware is installed promptly. 175 . Arrangements need to be made where new equipment may be required. yourself as project manager and presenter. Hold kick-off meeting. Hold a kick-off meeting with the client‘s key management staff. a demo version. If required. edit. this task will be put in the project plan. Install a ―sandbox‖ version. Install production hardware..e. read only. If so.Sample manager.Quick Reference Implementation Methodology . Review the system landscape. of the solution so key client personnel can begin inspecting the solution and begin working on the eLessons once they are assigned. and your account executive. no access. Install ―sandbox‖ solution. Explain you are the primary point of contact. how you may be reached and how you will respond. i. Explain where and how all project relevant documentation can be accessed and what privileges will be granted.
Hold a series of workshops in which key executives and department leads are present to thoroughly review the ―as-is‖ transaction flows for every department. Also indicate training requisites.Sample Blueprint Item Perform key persons solution overview training. note gaps. etc. the consultant‘s project manager or business analyst will compose the blueprint. e. e.. Indicate sequences. Using a data collection form. After the sessions. sales people. and the chart of accounts. e.. collect all the necessary configuration information. Document business processes. warehouse staff. rooms and equipment 176 Collect configuration information and chart of accounts. etc.g. This information is needed to begin any required developments and conduct actual training sessions.. Key persons need to have a clear understanding of the accounting and transaction flows in the solution.g.g. validate solutions. Present a tailored training plan indicating courseware or other training exercises for each job role in the company. customer names. . and develop gap—filling proposals to be presented to the client in another session.. note gaps in the solutions. Explanation Distribute introductory training materials (available eLessons) to key persons to study before conducting live training. self study requirements and who must attend when. and learn navigation skills needed to inspect the solution.Quick Reference Implementation Methodology . Document training plan. item numbers and descriptions. a schedule of live training events. pricing.
Ask the client for a signed approval of the master data. testing and training database. then upload the master data into a production. using the customer‘s test scripts. 177 . Install and configure third-party solutions. Collect and upload master data. Use existing transactions as the scripts for the testing that validates the readiness of the system. Obtain project phase sign-off from customer for ―Business Blueprint. ask the client for their approval signature on the blueprint document. Develop and test special developments. Emphasize that the readiness of the master data is the responsibility of the client.Sample needed. Oversee the installation and configuration of any third-party solutions and conduct unit testing. then upload the configuration data into a production. Explanation Ask the client for a signed approval of the configuration data.‖ Realization Item Upload configuration data. testing and training database. When the blueprint is agreed to. The scripts are approved by the client with the help of the vendor‘s consultant. After the functional design documents have been approved by your own technical team and the client. with the client.Quick Reference Implementation Methodology . Conduct full cycle user acceptance testing. begin developing and unit testing of the developments. Be prepared to conduct full cycle user acceptance testing. Document test scripts.
Project closing review. Self explanatory. Obtain project phase sign-off from customer for ―Final Preparation.‖ Final Preparation Self explanatory. If issues erupt. Close open issues. Emphasize the need to be selfsufficient.Quick Reference Implementation Methodology . Start using the system. Conduct live training reviewing the self-study lessons and any other topics needed to develop self-sufficiency with the client‘s staff. Maintain consultant(s) on site for a period of time (days) while user become accustomed to the new system. Obtain project phase sign-off from customer for ―Project Realization. Confirm support resources. Train end users and administrators on complete system. Explanation Confirm the original or establish a new go-live date – typically during a weekend and near a period end. apply all resources required to close the issues promptly.‖ Go-Live & Support Item Perform final cutover and go-live. review the project 178 Monitor live environment. On the final day. . Import open transaction documents as required.Sample Ask the client for a signed approval of the user acceptance testing. Train key staff in system maintenance. Train all staff in the access and use of reference sources and help files. Explanation Import open balances and beginning inventory quantities. services and Train in system management. Item Confirm go-live date.
Implementation Methodology - Sample
plan emphasizing that all tasks were completed. Note any suggestions for improving the process.
Obtain project phase sign-off from customer for ―Go-Live and Support‖ as well as final project completion.
The following explains the structure of a business process blueprint. Opinions vary widely how to prepare a blueprint. Some argue that one begins with the presentation of the proposed solution wherein gaps are noted as the demonstration progresses. The presenter may explain how the gap may be addressed at that time—which includes the idea of reworking the current process to accommodate the solution as is. Some argue for mapping the processes in the ―as-is‖ state, then later presenting the ―to-be‖ proposal. I have used this approach finding that combining the views of the as-is state with the somewhat abstract view of the to-be state gets bogged down in confusion. Too much information is presented, and imaginations are strained. The following is a blueprint document structure that you might consider.
Inform the reader of the document‘s purpose. It will describe in sufficient detail the solution that will be implemented. And, importantly, the document must receive the signed approval of the client. Changes to the proposed solution have to be documented, approved, and fees may be charged for the additional work. The blueprint document is the primary tool used in preventing scope creep.
The blueprint document provides a functional description, not a technically detailed description. Most clients would not understand the technicalities anyway. You should have reviewed the functionality being proposed with your technical consultants before making the presentation—so you‘re not proposing the impossible.
This section might be lifted directly from the signed proposal. It describes the current situation at the company that they find unacceptable, and what they expect for the solution to do about each problem area. This is restated in the blueprint to reassure the client that the sales executive who sold the deal and you, the project manager, are on the same page.
Describe the company organization – where facilities are, what their function is, which are included in the implementation or not. This also can be lifted from the proposal and again assures the client that the sales executive and you are on the same page.
Summary of Requirements
Same thing—copy this section from the proposal for the same reason as above.
Begin describing the ―to-be‖ state of company operation once the solution has been implemented. Use flowcharts to illustrate the process where it is practical to do so. In many cases, it is appropriate to use a cross-functional chart, a chart with many ―lanes‖ in it representing different departments in the company. Some processes cannot be adequately explained without providing the interdepartmental processing. You can provide the clarity needed in these explanations so you and the client have a perfect understanding of one another. Remember that the flowchart is supposed to make it easy to understand and follow the process quickly. Don‘t try to jam too much into a single chart or on a single page. Use continuing pages to complete the flow where necessary. I have seen many flowcharts that resemble spider webs of criss-crossing lines, double-headed arrows crossing the expanse of the chart and non-sequentially positioned boxes that are very confusing. The flowchart shouldn‘t need deciphering. It should be easy to read. Keep the flow linear with a clear start point and clear ending point. Keep the chart uncluttered. In very complicated process, provide a highlevel flowchart, then breakdown the details of sections of that chart in subsequent charts. The point is to achieve clarity quickly and easily. A flowchart should not in itself be a challenge to read. You can rarely type enough text into a flowchart element to fully explain what it means. Almost all flowcharts require a table of explanation. I have witnessed oral explanations of flowcharts that went on and on for the lack of explanatory documentation for participants to read. Number each element in your flowchart, then in a table provide and explanation of each element, referencing the element number, and provide contextual clarity in a comments cell where appropriate. The goal is clarity, sufficiently explain the chart so no questions remain. If the discussion reveals that your explanations are inadequate, amend the table of explanations before you ask for an approval signature.
I do not include a flowchart of accounting transactions. The accounting flows are unchangeable in most ERPs, therefore, it isn‘t necessary to flowchart what can‘t be changed. Use the software vendor supplied blueprint documents and a demonstration to explain the accounting flows to the client.
How to Conduct a Blueprint Meeting
Invite the company‘s project manager, other senior management member, and a department lead for the transaction type to be discussed, e.g., the sales manager for the sales process. Explain that you are going to document every step from inputs through decision points to outputs and compose a document that shows what and how the new system will handle the processes. Tell them it is important to be thorough, and that it may seem tedious, but you are depending on them to supply the details based on their expertise. Begin at the beginning, e.g., ―Tell me how you receive a sales order.‖ Use the journalist‘s set of questions—who, what, when, where, why and how-to get all the details you need. You want to record the steps in the sequence in which they occur. By thoroughly gathering the details, especially asking ―why‖ where things seem odd or puzzling, will often reveal an opportunity to change the way they have been doing things. Sometimes companies are getting in their own way, and you can help straighten things out. Don‘t try to do that at this meeting. Wait until you have a completed draft of the blueprint to propose adjustments to their current processes. You might use the following techniques to ascertain and document the conversation. I handwrite the list of steps using a standard pad of lined paper. I leave several lines between each step since the discussion of leads to forgotten steps that have to be backfilled. Some prefer to use self-stick easel pads and affix each finished page sequentially to the walls of the conference room to give everyone in the room a constant reference to the progression. If the discussion bogs down in confusion, members may dispute one another‘s version of the steps, I use a white board to draw a flow chart of the steps. This can lead to a lot of erasing and rewriting. If that‘s the case, you might use large post-it notes for each step. They can easily be peeled off and repositioned in the sequence. I recommend that you go very slowly, giving ample time for the members of the group to think and reflect. Don‘t get uncomfortable with long silences and start filling the air waves with chatter. The goal is to get it all out, but you won‘t. In the review session with your draft blueprint which you will present some number of days later following the session, new steps will likely emerge. It may take several iterations to get it right. The goal is to prepare a detailed functional description of the client‘s
. This is your deliverable. Finance The chart of accounts and option settings are handled in the configuration gathering stage of the implementation. e. then a flowchart and table of explanations would be necessary. though it could be done so. See the report gathering form shown later in this handbook. Reports If custom reports are required. use a standardized form to gather the data fields.g. And one the client will apply their approval signature. a financial consolidation solution to produce financials for a group of companies. the sales order) in the solutions to be customized. If additional software solutions are used. Any changes to the blueprint will have to be made with a signed change order. calculations and format of the report. and may result in additional fees. There‘s no need to document this information here in the blueprint. then each of the forms in their proposed format should be presented in the blueprint. You may use screen prints and a photo-editing program to mock up the new forms. Forms If the client wishes the standard forms (e.g. 183 ..Quick Reference The Blueprint business processes based on the solution design you are going to deliver.
Quick Reference Blueprint Sample 184 .
3 —— Confidential Document —— 185 .Quick Reference Blueprint Sample Business Process Blueprint Prepared for Best Bargain Companies (sample – partial document) Prepared by: Richard Morrow Date Prepared: January 16. XXXX Version: 1.
................................................................... # Company Organization ............................................................................... # Flowchart Legend .................... # Document Scope ................................... # Key Business Processes ................................... # Best Bargain Sales Chart Organization ................... # Approvals.......... # Summary of Requirements .................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................... # 186 ................................................................ # Introduction ......................................................................................................................................... # Current State ........................................................... # Best Bargain Sales .....................................................................................Quick Reference Blueprint Sample Table of Contents Project Summary .................................................................................
e.Quick Reference Blueprint Sample Project Summary Introduction The purpose of this document is to provide the functional description of the business management solution as it will be implemented. the decision matrices affecting the desired outputs. The design will address Best Bargain companies (BB) desire to automate processes as much as possible. and the outputs. The 187 . Best Bargain inputs that contributed to the content of these documents include: Meetings between Best Bargain companies (BB) including Best Bargain Incorporated (SSI). the Tracer shipping solution for UPS. Best Bargain National (SSN). Giants‘ native customization tools. The business management solution will include Giant Software Systems ERP (Giant). user-defined fields. queries. This document will describe transactions for the sales. Document Scope The scope of this document is to provide: A detailed description of the proposed management solution for BB‘s key processes—specifically the sales. Current State Best Bargain has determined that their current management software will no longer meet the needs of its growing business. and Bonus Plan solutions. Fedex and LTL. WMS. and Best Bargain American (SSA) and Triple-S teams in the Best Bargain offices to gain a detailed description of the company‘s business processes. It is not the intent of this document to describe the technical details of the solution. Participation in demonstrations of the Giant Software Systems. and Bonus Plan Inventory Planner solutions. tables and objects.. the WMS warehouse solution. Therefore. and warehouse processes.g. and formatted queries may be used when those features can effectively automate a process being developed expressly for BB. A description of the solution landscape being provided in the implementation. Tracer. purchasing. purchasing and warehousing functions in terms of the required inputs.
Quick Reference Blueprint Sample deficiencies of the current system have led to a number of timeconsuming. cash flow. Best Bargain National. legal entities that comprise the Best Bargain Companies. inventory balance. profitability. To eliminate current manual sales order processing in order to speed order processing and reduce errors. Best Bargain will also benefit from the real time inventory control that the system provides which streamlines the inventory movement though the use of scanners and tracks inventory throughout its lifecycle. To automate order processing between BB and its 3PL service providers to eliminate cumbersome. Among the most serious consequences of the current system are: Best Bargain requires better visibility of financial and transactional data in realtime. Best Bargain requires precise inventory forecasting and replenishment to minimize on‐ hand inventory in order to increase inventory returns and increase the company‘s return on investment. error-prone manual processes aimed at filling the gaps in the systems functionality. and Best Bargain American. error prone and time consuming procedures as are currently in place. New Jersey. There are three separate. and vendor performance to name a some of the critical concerns. increased sales. The objective is to increase the number of orders that can be processed daily while improving on fulfillment percentages and accuracy. Each operates independently of the others and prepares separate financial statements. Company Organization Best Bargain is headquartered in Anywhere. Best Bargain requires better reporting capabilities to provide the business intelligence needed for better decision making targeting improvements in areas such as purchasing. they are: Best Bargain International. This enhanced view of information will provide management with multiple ways to analyze and react to the company‘s key financial indicators as well as empower the key employees to better manage their fields of operation resulting in quicker and more accurate responses to customer demands. 188 .
189 .Quick Reference Blueprint Sample Summary of Requirements The business management solution to be implemented for Best Bargain includes the software solutions shown below: Best Bargain Incorporated. record tracking numbers. Its computations will be integrated with Giant. Bonus Plan holds its data in a separate database. out and within the warehouse. and produce a bill of lading for LTL and TL shipments. Tracer will be used to estimate freight rates. post actual freight rates plus or minus user parameters for freight billing. The WMS solution will be used in managing all product movement in. arrange pickup with parcel carriers. National and American Business Solution Map Giant Software Systems (Giant) is the ERP management system that will be used by home office management and staff to manage back office operations. and will be used to recommend purchase orders to vendors and inventory transfers between BB companies based on warehouse level requirements by item. Bonus Plan will be used to optimize inventory levels resulting in optimal inventory turns. produce shipping labels. Implementation of this business management solution is planned for 45 licensed Giant users.
Quick Reference Blueprint Sample Business Processes Key Business Processes Flowchart Legend 190 .
Quick Reference Blueprint Sample Best Bargain —Sales 191 .
email or EDI. 3. 5. 2. SSN. Price lists are designated in each customer‘s master record causing the appropriate pricing to automatically appear in the sales orders. 4. This step is conducted outside the system. 20XX at this time. though the effort will be made to provide it by that date. The fulfilling warehouse or the choice to drop ship the order directly to the customer will be assessed by the order entry staff in consideration of the following factors: 192 Inventory levels of SSI. Note: This feature is not promised for March 1. so each will be viewable using the . Description Comment Sales order arrives via phone. and is a personal interaction between CL and its customers. Giant provides for the creation of an unlimited number of price lists. Non-EDI orders are manually entered into the Giant sales order form. This step presents a notification to the user when the company policy concerning the ratio of loss leader items to the total value of the order exceeds limits. EDI purchase orders from customers are automatically converted into Giant sales order form. and each 3PL warehouse will be maintained in Giant in the New Jersey office. The value of loss leader items in proportion to the total value of the order will be assessed by system to determine the percentage of loss leader product in proportion to the total order value and return a notice of that result.. and 6.Quick Reference Blueprint Sample Best Bargain – Sales Chart Explanation # 1. fax. If the loss leader value exceeds allowable limits the sales staff will collaborate with the customer or through other means bring the sales order quantities and values into compliance.
outgoing and commited quantities by dates. Drop ship sale order items can be included on the sales order with non-dropshipped items. The available to promise (ATP) feature caclulates the likely delivery date for each item based on several factors including incoming. Drop Ship Comment Determines the warehouse selected warehouse and displays the warehouse code in the marketing document. though this address can be overwritten with another ship-to address.Quick Reference Blueprint Sample # Description Comment Factor Customer’s Shipping Destination Stock availability. 7. Use the ATP feature in WMS to assess future stock status. native functionality in Giant and IP. When the required quantities become available the order manager can allocate the order in its entirety. The automatically produced purchase order will show the customer’s ship-to address. The partial or 100% fill requirement is taken from a setting made in the customer’s master record in Giant. The order quantities or customer preference calls for a direct shipment from the vendor to the customer. 193 . Options: Use Giant features to check in—stock positions for order items in relevant warehouses. A sales order that can only be partially fulfilled cannot be allocated if the option to partially fill the sales order has been disabled.
194 .g. Description Comment The due date is entered into the sales order form by the order entry staff. The other terms are applied either at the CSR discretion or by using the information provided in UDF fields showing the appropriate terms as derived from those same fields found in the Business Partner master. and indicates when the customer wants their order to arrive. The appropriate freight terms are assessed by customer service representative (CSR). Pre paid—free freight for specific customers when the order exceeds $500. The freight terms will be one of the following: Pre-paid—free freight when the order exceeds $700. 9.Quick Reference Blueprint Sample # 8.. WMS presents sales orders in the Order Management screen with their delivery due dates. e. 10. Prepaid. The CSR can clearly see that the total order value is in realtime and apply the prepaid terms. orders requiring 100% order fill that cannot be filled 100%. then Charged to Customer Freight collect Specified freight amount Bill third party Add the sales order to Giant. Eligible sales orders will be allocated either automatically or manually depending on the system settings and actions taken by the order manager. The appropriate freight charge due from the customer will be flagged in a manner in which the shipping system will know the freight terms to apply. Orders not eligible for allocation will not allocate and will appear on the Open page of the Order Management screen. The order manager makes the judgment as to which sales orders to release for picking based on the delivery due dates.
a return EDI document will post to the Delivery note in Giant and close the sales order line items fulfilled. The 3PL warehouse needs to be indicated on the line item levels of the sales orders.Quick Reference Blueprint Sample # Description Comment Note: A system configuration can launch an approval process requiring approval for sales orders to customers who have exceeded their credit limit as set in the customer master. Orders cannot be processed until approved in this process configuration. When the sales order is fulfilled by the 3PL. A separate step will send the sales order via EDI to the 3PL. 11. 195 . Add the sales orders to Giant intended for fulfillment by a 3PL.
Quick Reference Blueprint Sample Approval This document provides the necessary and sufficient description of the business management solution to be implemented for Best Bargain companies. It is acknowledged that changes to the solution as described in this document will require a mutually agreed upon and signed change order for which additional fees may be charged. Best Bargain Triple-S Signature Signature Printed Name Printed Name Date Date 196 .
197 . Note that this is a continuing page of a multiple page flowchart. The numbers indicate the corresponding numbered explanation in an accompanying table.Quick Reference Blueprint Sample Cross Functional Flowchart Example The chart below illustrates the flow and sequence of step with arrows.
Review the document with the customer to make sure it makes sense. 198 .Quick Reference Blueprint Sample Sample Report Design Template Ask the customer to provide the necessary details as directed or shown in the example below.
0 First Draft Related Documents Version No. Document Name Date Prepared by Icons Icon Meaning Caution Example Note Recommendation Syntax 199 . Date Prepared by/ Modified by Significant Changes Reviewed by 1.Quick Reference Functional Design Template Functional Design Document <Feature Name> Revision History Version No.
# Database Modifications.…………………………………………...# Sample Screens….Quick Reference Functional Design Template Table of Contents Introduction…………………………………………………………# Policies and Assumptions…………………………………………# Explanations of Fields..……………………………………………..…………………………………………………# 200 .
Business Policies and Design Assumptions 1 2 Explanation of Fields Field Name Grid Id Description Type Buttons Add Edit Copy Delete Type Control Type Description Database Modifications Modification in <table name> table Field Name Description Data Type Max Length Nullable 201 .> Policies and Assumptions Sl.Quick Reference Functional Design Template Introduction <Explanation what the function needs to do and why the functionality is needed. No.
Quick Reference Functional Design Template Sample Screens 202 .
not for the customer. 203 .Data Gathering Form Use a form to gather the data to input into the system settings. Second. That means the customer must approve the data as collected for input. Data is prepared with the customer. Remember that the project is a collaboration. an approval page must be signed giving the customer‘s approval to the settings. See the sample data gathering form on the following pages. First. data gathering will be thorough. There are two advantages to doing it this way.Quick Reference Configuration Settings Configuration Settings . if all the fields are filled in. And they must be.
Quick Reference Configuration Settings Basic Company Set Up Information Company Name: Company Address Internet Address Phone 1 Phone 2 Fax Company general information E-Mail address Local Currency If other than US Dollars System Currency If other than US Dollars Will your business like to use any of the tax features? Tax types may include: Sales Tax Use Tax Value Added Tax Tax Authority Name Federal Tax ID State Tax ID Reseller Tax Exemption # Does your business currently use a segmented Chart of Accounts? Select to specify if segments of information should be added to the standard account codes. cost center. Yes / No Yes / No 204 . such as division. region.
Standard Price: Choose this option to calculate the inventory value by a fixed price.. each inventory release transaction will use quantities and their corresponding costs from the first open layer/s. Yes / No Moving Average: Choose this option to calculate the inventory value by the item's cost price. Does your business allow a stock release with a cost? Yes / No Which inventory valuation method would you like to default into new item file records? Note this can be changed to another method at the time a new item master record is created.Quick Reference Configuration Settings Basic Company Set Up Information and so on. Does your business require Multi-Language Support This function is used to translate field names in Business One to foreign languages and print them in documents you send to foreign business partners. for detailed transaction tracking and reporting. 205 . Each inventory receipt transaction creates a "layer" of quantities linked to costs. The item's standard price should be set before you start working in your company. This field is updated dynamically by every stock receipt posting. FIFO: Choose this option to calculate the inventory value by the FIFO method (first in first out).
even when a cost price has not been determined. If you selected Standard Price. Which business checking account would you like to be the system default? 206 . Select when the inventory valuation is performed according to moving average or FIFO. a price has already been defined.Quick Reference Configuration Settings Basic Company Set Up Information Permits items to be included in documents such as deliveries or A/R invoices.
A warning message appears if <the customer's account balance> + <the amount of the current document> exceed the customer's commitment limit. 4 (quarters) 12 (months) Start of Fiscal Year: _____________ What is the earliest prior period that you would like to enter into the ERP to allow for Comparative Financial Statements? Customer Activity Alerts Options: You can restrict the creation of sales documents for customers and prompt a warning message according to the following parameters: Credit Limit: Select to check whether adding the sales document for the customer causes deviation from the credit limit defined for the customer in the Business Partner’s Master record. Commitment Limit: Select to check whether adding the sales document for the customer causes deviation from the commitment limit defined for the customer in the Business Partner’s Master record.Quick Reference Configuration Settings General Company Settings What are the standard posting periods for your business? Fiscal Calendar Date From: ______to _______ Number of Periods: 1 (year). A warning message appears if the customer's account balance and the amount of the current document exceed the customer's credit line. Consider Deliveries Balance Select to check the customer's 207 .
A commission can be awarded based on the sales employee. You can change this setting at any time. This setting influences where you can specify the sales commission percentage.Quick Reference Configuration Settings General Company Settings account balance and also the balance of their open deliveries while applying the selected restrictions for customer activity. or customer specified in the document. Once you select the required option(s) described above. Select one or more of these options depending on how you want the ERP to calculate commissions. item. Salesman Item Customer 208 . select the type of documents to which the restrictions apply and for which a warning message is launched: A/R Invoice Delivery Sales Order How does your business set the commission rate by. but does not automatically calculate any commission transactions. If used? Define how commissions are calculated.
explain and provide adequate documentation. Project Management Is the system ready for go-live in a production environment? If no. explain what critical issues are still open and need to be addressed before going live.Quick Reference Configuration Settings Go-Live Checklist System Readiness Verify that all actions to get the system properly configured according to the blueprint have been conducted and tested in the production environment. please explain: Has production system been backed up? Yes No Yes No 209 . Yes No Final Integration Test Have all integration tests been completed? Have all issues been resolved? Yes Yes No No If no. Explain: System Management All hardware is installed and operative? Startup/shutdown procedures have been tested? Is network ready for production environment? Backup strategy implemented? Backup & restore tested? Disaster recovery plan is ready? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No No No No No No System Readiness Are there any problems with the performance of the production system? If yes.
Quick Reference Configuration Settings All interfaces are tested and operative? All printing is configured for production? Print preferences set? Sales documents can be printed? Purchasing documents can be printed? Outgoing payments can be printed? Comments: System Administration Alerts defined for recurring administrative tasks? Support process is setup according to Service Level Agreement? Supports contacts for customer and consulting partner identified? Escalation contacts for customer and consulting partner identified? Access to support site and documentation completed? Remote connection tested? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No No No No No No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No No No No No No 210 .
End User Readiness Have all end-users completed navigation training? End user documentation is available and updated where required? Have all end-users completed business process training for their specific functions in the system? Has the system administrator been trained according to the Service Level Agreement? All User IDs and passwords have been created in the system and the appropriate security level assigned? Comments: Documentation Have all business processes been documented? Have the system and configuration settings been documented? Have custom queries been documented? Comments: Yes Yes Yes No No No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No No No No No 211 .Quick Reference Configuration Settings Company Readiness Confirm that the end users and the system support personnel are ready for the go-live.
Quick Reference Configuration Settings Data Readiness To confirm that all data has been properly migrated. and is available in the new system. Cut Over All transactions from the final business day before conversion have been entered? The complete month end processes have been completed in the legacy system as required? The complete year end processes have been completed in the legacy system as required? All final legacy reports have been run? Have all automated conversions been run? Have all automated conversion results been verified? Have all manual conversions been completed? Have all manual conversion results been verified? Have all manual outstanding transactions (open documents) been entered into the system? Comments: Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No No No No No No No No No 212 . as agreed in the blueprint.
Quick Reference Configuration Settings Data Migration All required master data has been imported from legacy system? Business partners? Item master record? Chart of Accounts? Price lists and special pricing? Catalogue numbers and alternative items? Bill-of-Materials? All required transaction data has been imported from legacy system? Service contracts? Sales employees? Bank accounts? A/R and A/P terms? Serial and batch numbers? All required opening balances recorded? GL accounts? Business partner opening balances? Inventory opening balances? Verify inventory booking value in matches value of item valuation report Trial balance matches legacy system? Comments: Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No 213 .
<Customer> <Consulting Company> Signature:___________________ Name: _____________________ Company:___________________ Position:____________________ Date ______________________ Signature: _______________ Name: __________________ Company: _______________ Position: ________________ Date ___________________ 214 . the parties agree that the information in this document is correct and that the system is ready to go live in production.Quick Reference Configuration Settings By signing below.
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