Tuesday, March 26, 2013

How To Write a Production Schedule

Whatever project management software you use , there are two key immutable factors in setting a project timeline. There is today and then the due date. All goals, milestones, tasks, to-dos, steps, (insert your PM software nomenclature), must fit between these two unmistakable dates.

Rhetorically, I state production schedules are easy to write, because you have the above known factors, but now comes the negotiating part. If everything fits, fine, and consider yourself blessed. If all the steps' durations don't fit, what happens? I call it C & C. Compression, the durations that must be shortened, and Compromise, the effect caused by the Compression.

Compression exists, if your goals, milestones et. al. are predetermined and consistent. Compression does not exist, if you already have float time built in to your durations.

Compromise will take one or more of the following forms:
  • Extending the timeline
  • Cost overruns, due to personnel overtime, rush charges, anything that exceeds the cost of the project to achieve the deadline
  • Quality, by holding the timeline, process and costs, most likely this will suffer
  • Other - fill in the blank
My experience has shown:
  • Costs to be the chosen element to give
  • Deadlines don't typically change
  • Compression is common
  • The process should never change, especially approval steps
  • It doesn't matter if the  project is internal or external, the compromising forms are the same
Customers, internal or external, are more likely to forgive if it's late and never forgive if it's wrong. The key is to communicate all schedule changes, and their effects, to everyone in the stream, especially the client.

I hope you can use this blog as guiding principles for project management. I may have saved you $500 for PMP certification.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Smart Hiring (Somebody Gets It)

This was the title of one of my posts in April 2009, without the parenthetical addition shown today. That blog emphasized the job role (blending) and leadership to build an effective structure and team. I followed up with "Hire the Best", identifying over-qualified candidates as a hiring benefit.

After four years, the world of hiring is finally showing improvements. I have just signed onto a company providing production, process and business expertise. Their selection process involved a panel interview; five candidates and seven company members. I entered the foray at the last minute, due to overcoming the initial over-qualified perception.

There are several articles touting the benefits of hiring older people, including Entrepreneur, Huffington Post, Inc. A Forbes article last fall compares young verse old(er) entrepreneur's advantages.
This selection format was new to me, but I liked it. You get a brief brain break to formulate the question's answer, as the other candidates respond, except when you're first on the rotation. This beats the rapid fire questions one-on-one (of course, this style is appropriate, if the position requires quick thinking and response skill sets). You also know the interview ends, when the last person on the panel asks their question.

After the panel interview, the company team immediately meets to select those worthy of returning for individual interviews and a screening test.

Two days later, I received a call to have lunch with the company president. During lunch, we discussed my motives, intentions and deliverables. He offered me the position on the spot, without further steps in the process.

Why this works:
  • The playing field was level between candidates
  • The playing field was level on the company side
  • Time was efficient -  no long hours with individuals or return trips (see "Are You Smart Enough Not to be Stupid, my last blog post)
  • The company gave me the opportunity one-on-one with the president to clarify my goals and motives, rather than be dismissed

Most importantly, they recognized the value, abilities and contributions beyond their current needs.

The question today - Where do you stand in your best hiring practices? You might be missing out on the best candidate, using preconceived, or worse, antiquated beliefs.