Friday, June 20, 2008

How are people reaching this blog?

The answer, according to Google Analytics, is surprising to me. The top referring site is Google Images, probably because I have a couple of images such as one of John Paul Jones playing a many-necked mandolin. But the next few referring sites are:

6. (my homepage)
7. (The Austin chapter of the Society for Technical Communication)

5-7 are tied. 2, 3, and 5 are different aspects of my lifestream; people are seeing the same information refracted through different services.

Reading :: The Rise of the Project Workforce

The Rise of the Project Workforce
By Rudolf Melik

I've begun trying to push past traditional project management literature to look at what is typically called "agile project management": project management for less hierarchical, flatter, typically smaller structures. In particular, I want to see what's out there for networked organizations that are distributed geospatially and temporally as well as organized in networks rather than silos or hierarchies.

Rudolf Melik's The Rise of the Project Workforce is in some ways a good place to start. Although the book is a bit too focused on a particular methodology for my purposes, its opening chapters frame the issue well and provide some good concepts and thoughts on the distinction.

Malik is deeply influenced by Thomas Friedman's The World is Flat (which I haven't read). Based on Friedman's description of a hierarchically "flat world," Melik says, "Today's business systems are simply not designed to plan, schedule, manage, audit, and optimize work that gets done in a flat world. ... More modern versions of business optimization tools such as enterprise resource planning (ERP), customer relationship management (CRM), and project management software want to impose a certain rigidity within business processes, and fail to address the dynamic interplay and constantly shifting relationship between projects and people, which occurs naturally in the flat world that characterizes today's businesses" (p.5). Malik's book attempts to move toward a project management footing that addresses these characteristics.

This footing is called "project workforce management," a solution that combines human capital management, project management, business process management, and cost/revenue accounting (p.9). Such a system aims to integrate components such as time and expense tracking, cost and revenue accounting, workforce planning, project planning, project process management, and analytics (p.13). The idea is to produce a system that provides "a common vantage point for all decision makers"; "real-time views of projects, resource groups, actual progress, and issues"; and "more accurate decision-making" (p.14).

The rest of the book describes such a system in nuts-and-bolts terms. Melik has obviously given these parts a lot of thought, and I don't have the expertise to evaluate them, but the described system is fairly intricate and appears to be aimed at larger organizations with cross-functional projects. That is, Melik appears to be supporting project management for global enterprises which are going through "flattening"; I'm more interested in smaller, more agile organizations.

Nevertheless, the book was helpful for me to conceptualize some of the issues I've been investigating, and should provide a good blueprint for those working in larger organizations.

No cameras, no big deal

House Rep. John Culberson (R, Tx) has been Twittering from the House floor in the name of transparency. It's pretty interesting, but this post really caught my eye:

"@maslowbeer We (Rs) had TV cameras in the Rules Comm hearing room - Pelosi took all the cameras out - I will start Qikking these meetings"

Qik is a service that allows you to stream video from your mobile phone in real time. It's been used extensively by tech industry folks such as Robert Scoble. But seeing it mentioned in this context is arresting because it highlights the ability for someone with a pocket-sized device to easily replace much larger chunks of infrastructure such as larger cameras plus multiperson camera crews.

I don't take a position on whether transparency is a good thing in this particular case. As a general principle, I think transparency is a good thing, but in practice it may make people reluctant to do the sort of sausage-grinding necessary to generate compromises. My sense is that the House will need to establish firm protocol to deal with acceptable mobile device use, and soon.

Twitter / johnculberson: @maslowbeer We (Rs) had TV ...

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Opera Mobile usage report is out

Who's browsing the mobile web? Mostly males 18-27. I'm among the mere 4.4% of users 38-47 years old. Some interesting variation by country too.

Mobile Browsing Report

Monday, June 16, 2008

GDocs torpedoes Yep

Well, that's one possible implication. Yep is OSX software billed by some as "iTunes for your PDFs." It scans your hard drive, finds PDFs, and puts them in one searchable, tagged interface. I used it for a while, but was unimpressed with the tagging and search functions, so I just use Quicksilver now.

But today GDocs announced PDF support. As in, you can upload PDFs. I just tried it and it works very well. You can't edit the PDFs -- yet. But you can upload and search them, another differentiator with MS Office.

Google Docs Get PDF Support
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Reading :: A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge

A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge
by William R. Duncan

A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge, also known as the PMBOK Guide, is the frequently cited guide developed by the Project Management Institute Standards Committee. This edition was published in 1996 and supersedes PMI's Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK); the third edition, which I believe is the most current one, was published in 2004.

The PMBOK guide aims to set out the principles of project management so that this young field can establish standards. To that purpose, it is divided into the following sections:
I. The Project Management Framework
II. The Project Management Knowledge Areas
III. Appendices (which contain information on processes, additional sources, and a summary among other things)
IV. Glossary and Index
In other words, the PMBOK guide is definitely on the reference side, giving an overview of the basics of project management, an overview that should be supplemented with other texts as well as specialization in one's own content area and organizational structure. It's a 50,000 foot view. And as such, it's quite valuable for anyone who wants that overview. But it also introduces challenges for anyone who needs a closer view.

So, for instance, the PMBOK guide is especially valuable when defining project management as "the application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to project activities in order to meet or exceed stakeholder needs and expectations from a project" (p.6), and when explaining basic concepts such as the difference between projects and operations (p.4). It also diagrams the knowledge areas and processes of project management (p.7) and explains what stakeholders might be involved in the project (p.15).

In one really valuable part of the PMBOK guide, the different types of organizational structures are described:
  • Functional: hierarchies in which staff are organized by specialty and have distinct superiors (p.18).
  • Projectized: focused almost entirely on projects, with relatively independent project managers drawing on resources across the organization rather than siloed into functional areas (p.20).
  • Matrix: a blend of the functional and projectized organizational structures (p.20).
The PMBOK guide is geared toward supporting projects across the two extremes of functional and projectized organizational structures. However, as I've discussed elsewhere, the projectized organizational structure is not an extreme: we are starting to see much looser and more distributed organizational structures such as federations and coworking as well as (arguably) agile organizations. The PMBOK guide, with its emphasis on processes and structures, is not well positioned to be extended to these looser organizations. More thoughts on this point as I continue to read the project management literature.

T-Mobile Plans to Release Android Phones in July? - Google Android Mobile Phone

Thanks to the good people at Filtrbox, I've been keeping up with interesting Google Android news. Today's unconfirmed rumor is that T-Mobile will bring an Android phone to market as soon as next month.

T-Mobile Plans to Release Android Phones in July? - Google Android Mobile Phone
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