Talent Development Centre

Tag Archives: project management

All Talent Development Centre posts for Canadian technology contractors relating to project management.

Balancing Hard and Soft Skills in Project Management (Infographic)

In its simplest form, a Project Manager’s job is to ensure a project is completed successfully. In more complex terms, it includes managing countless aspects from people to budgets to timelines.

You don’t always need the title of Project Manager to be responsible for the completion of a project. Independent contractors are often brought into lead a specific task due to their niche skillset, and naturally end up taking on these responsibilities.

As the infographic below from Brandeis University shows, projects fail for any number of reasons. And, if you read further down, it implies that the root of these failures is lack of specific skills, both hard and soft. The infographic goes on to explain that most people excel at only one type of skill and need to work to develop the other.

Thankfully, this helpful infographic goes further to provide tips and tricks on how you can improve your hard and soft project management skills. If you’re in the profession, or a subject matter expert who gets pulled into leading projects, have a look and see how you can improve on your skills.

Discover Vancouver and Its Job Opportunities

Cameron McCallum By Cameron McCallum,
Regional Vice President at Eagle

The Insiders’ Guide to Moving to Vancouver… Plus a Tip to Find Work When You Get Here!

The truth about the Canadian economy is that while some regions may be booming in job opportunities, others continue to struggle. Even in those cities where careers thrive for one trade or skillset, an expert in another field may not be getting the same luck. If you’re considering a change in venue to find a new career opportunity, have you considered moving to Vancouver?

Is Vancouver the Right Place for You?

Downtown Vancouver Sunset
Downtown Vancouver Sunset” by Magnus Larsson is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

We all have our perspectives on what a city must be like, even when we’ve never set foot in it. Vancouver is one of those cities that evokes a lot of different feelings amongst Canadians. It gets its fair share of press, both negative and positive, which feeds into the stereotypes we all have. For example:

  • We’ve all heard of the “crazy” Vancouver housing market — it exists, but both the City and Province are taking steps to make renting in Vancouver or purchasing a house or condo more affordable.
  • The rain — there is a lot in the winter, but winter is soooo short!
  • The beauty of the city — oceans, mountains, parks… what’s not to like?

The truth is, if you want to live in a city with access to an endless selection of outdoor activities, a thriving arts and culture scene, more international restaurants featuring ethnic and sea food than you will find anywhere, great post-secondary schools, and an airport that gives you access to the entire Pacific Rim, Vancouver is it!

The Job Market and Opportunities in Vancouver

Vancouver has a thriving economy. Already considered one of the most livable cities in the world, businesses are flocking to the city in record numbers and that is driving a lot of opportunity. Companies like Google, AOL, SAP, Amazon to name a few, have decided that Vancouver is a great place to put down roots. Access to Engineering grads and a lifestyle which attracts potential employees from all over the globe has made the city increasingly attractive. And with this “boom” the spillover effect is that other areas of the economy have to respond to the need for increased services and infrastructure. And that leads to more and greater job opportunities, which is where we are at today.

An Inside Scoop on Project Management Jobs in Vancouver!

Eagle is one of Vancouver’s leading employment agencies and we offer a number of IT job opportunities, both contract and full-time. Today, we’re fortunate to be partnering with BC Clinical and Support Services Society (BCCSS) to assist them in hiring a large number of permanent employees with IT Project Management expertise, including Portfolio Managers, Infrastructure Project Managers and Project Manager Team Leads.

Not only is this one of the largest initiatives that I’ve ever been part of, but it has to be one of the largest in Vancouver’s history! And it is not just the volume of recruits needed. The opportunity to work in the health sector, delivering services to mission critical staff and systems in a challenging and dynamic environment, is a rare opportunity that does not come along often. Fantastic Benefits, Pension and other perks all add to the attractiveness of these roles.

So if you’ve been thinking about moving to Vancouver or always had a question in the back of your mind as to what would it be like to live there. Stop thinking about it and act… now is the time.   Feel free to leave your questions in the comments section below.

10 Characteristics of a Good Project Manager

Everybody is a Project Manager. If you’re responsible for organizing anything that has a start and end — IT project, proposal, party, vacation, etc. — then you can consider yourself a Project Manager. Sure, your mother-in-law’s birthday party won’t have the same impact on your career compared to your client’s intranet used by thousands of employees, but the same principles will apply to both situations if you want them go to smoothly.

This infographic from TaskWorld includes 10 principles you can follow as they describe the top characteristics of the best project managers. The great news is that you don’t need to be a technology professional to master any of these characteristics and they’re applicable to all scenarios — even your mother-in-law’s birthday!

10 Characteristics of A Good Project Manager #infographic

Plane Lands Safely at Airport!

David O'Brien By David O’Brien,
Vice President, East Region & Government Services at Eagle

Plane Lands Safely at Airport! The complex IT projects we don't always hear aboutBoth the IT community and the Federal Government often bemoan the fact that newspapers and media, in general, feast on failed technology programs and projects as their headline stories, while the successful projects are all but ignored. It is why the politicians and senior government executives have a long standing fear and largely prefer blind ignorance to the role technology can play in transforming and increasing productivity while they know it to be a truism. It’s why the Harper government, and frankly every government, effectively slows down or stops all IT projects in the months and sometimes year or two before elections to avoid potential embarrassments. We’re equally confident that although the media doesn’t report “Plane Lands Safely at Airport,” failed or over budget IT programs in the Federal Government tend to grab the headlines.

One needs only look at the incredible visibility the Phoenix pay system has garnered due to its glorious “failure”. This, of course, is the system that has resulted in 80,000 of 300,000 public servants not being paid correctly or in many cases at all. While it’s not ours to assign who, what or where all is to blame or at fault, let’s look at just some of the moving parts and complicating factors that have resulted in the new government fully engulfed in an IT Project mess that dominates the headlines. Unfortunately, many of these are characteristic and common to many projects and what therefore tend make it far more complicated than just the technology.

Processes. A long and convoluted procurement process that started in 2009 was awarded in 2011, and has now spanned two distinctly different governments. These procurements, although complex, tend to never envision total scope, underlying fundamental complexities already embedded, or difficulty to implement without a huge change management piece. For example, in this case, during the course of the software development work, it became clear that the myriad of union contracts in the Feds were being interpreted vastly differently by payroll specialists in the various regions and departments; furthermore, contract terms weren’t even clear. Re-configuring and “customizing” off-the-shelf software to handle many of the 80,000 pay rules and rates of the Feds is hopeful at best.

People. As always there is/was a huge people piece. The Phoenix implementation involved a government initiative that saw the Feds centralize and move its pay centre and all its pay specialists to Miramachi, New Brunswick; however, as is often the case, many of the experienced and tenured specialists chose not to move and a lot of knowledge capital went out the door (many have since been rehired and are located in Gatineau now). There has been a steep learning curve for many of the new hires as a result that resulted in a huge backlog of case files. Training and specifically training users was, and is, a vastly underestimated component

Specifications. It is now apparent that architects on the Feds initially vastly underestimated both data volumes and users for the new system, resulting in poor and sluggish performance of the system. Vendors and clients can certainly attest to so called post award “‘surprises” after what may have been a seemingly thorough RFI or RFP process. Who is to blame is always contentious but it is almost always real.

Finally there is always the unexpected, (somehow one thinks this should have been anticipated); however, in this case, the curve was the location of the Miramichi Pay Centre evidently had insufficient Internet bandwidth to handle the system load!

All to say that just as we know the hundreds of truly successful, on time and under budget IT projects will never be the lead story on the nightly news, we have to always remember every project is a complex amalgam of people, process, “stuff” and finally at the end, technology.

What You Need to Know About Agile Certification

Colin Montgomery By Colin Montgomery,
Director, Private Sector Services

Much of my day is spent discussing trends in the IT industry with clients and people in our resource network.  The hot topic these days is Agile ceWhat You Need to Know About Agile Certificationrtification. “Which certification is best and what is the value of certifications” tend to be the questions I’m asked.

While it’s beyond my scope to judge the value of the certifications themselves, from a staffing perspective, I can comment on some trends I see emerging.

First off, some type of Agile certification has value for anyone, including people who work on the business side of an organization which has adopted Agile who may only occasionally interact with IT.   Through the analysis phase of a technology project there is inevitably interaction between business and technology.  There is value in those who embrace and participate in the increased speed to market that the Agile process can contribute to and there is value in those who bridge the chasm that often exists between business and technology.

Program and Project Managers also ask me if they should get certified and my answer is a definite “yes”.   While you may no longer be close to the software development or network integration process, the assumption is that you will be providing some oversight to those processes and if they are being completed within the Agile framework then you should know the language and cycles of that process.  If you are a senior individual who has worked with the waterfall methodology for years, then your new-found knowledge of the Agile processes can help contribute to a project delivery framework that uses both where appropriate, for example. From an even simpler perspective, many of the PM roles we work on require some kind of Agile certification so in this world of key-word searches, you should have something on there.

As I mentioned earlier, while it is beyond my scope to comment on the value of specific certifications, I do suggest that anyone in IT realm should get some kind of baseline Agile certification as soon as they can especially if you anticipate entering the job market soon.

CSM (Certified Scrum Master) appears to be the most prevalent and would likely be used as a common term for keyword searches.  My understanding is that the CSM requires around 16 hours of course work and a multiple choice test that takes about an hour.

Another certification that is generating a lot of discussion is the PMI-ACP(Agile Certified Practitioner).  It requires more time and effort but seems to be emerging as a strong preference for those leading technology projects.

The discussions I’m having these days around Agile certification remind me a lot of the conversations I had a few years ago regarding PMP certification and I’m saying the same thing to those who are reluctant that I did back then.  It’s not going anywhere so you might as well get on board or risk being left behind.

Project Management is for Everyone (Infographic)

A number of the Talent Development Centre’s subscribers are Project Managers and spend a large amount of their time working with teams made up of both contractors and their clients’ full-time employees. While they’re hired for the oversite of the project, most will still agree that everybody on the team should have at least some knowledge and skills in Project Management. Unfortunately, that is not always the case.

Take a look at this infographic from Wrike. It finds that while almost everybody manages projects at some point in their regular job, few people use a standard approach and the results can lead to extra stress. If you’re a Project Manager, or any team member who believes this area could use some improvement, arm yourself with these facts next time you make the argument to your client.

Everyone's a Project Manager, But Not Everyone Can Manage Projects (#Infographic)
Infographic brought to you by Wrike

Humour at Work (Video)

For many of us, the holiday break is over and it’s time to get back to work. Along with colder weather, projects are waiting, work is piling up, and there’s not much positive energy coming from those around you. If this sounds familiar, then try being the person who brings a smile back to your team’s faces.

When appropriate, humour in your professional life can make a huge difference to your day and those around you. For inspiration, watch this TEDx Talks video where Andrew Tarvin speaks to some students at Ohio State University.

Agile Planning in a Nutshell

By Mishkin Berteig
President, Co-Founder of Berteig Consulting

Talent Development Centre subscribers can get 25% off Agile training! Visit www.worldmindware.com and use promocode EPR-25-CSM-MV4A for Certified ScrumMaster courses and promocode EPR-25-CSPO-QE7X for Certified Scrum Product Owner courses.

This post was originally posted on the Agile Advice Blog on August 21st, 2015.

Agile Planning in a NutshellAgile methods such as Scrum, Kanban and OpenAgile do not require long-term up-front plans.  However, many teams desire a long-term plan.  This can be thought of as a roadmap or schedule or a release plan.  Agile planning helps us build and maintain long-term plans.

Agile Planning Process

The steps to do this are actually very simple:

  1. Write down all the work to be done.  In Scrum these are called “Product Backlog Items”, in Kanban “Tasks” and in OpenAgile “Value Drivers”.
  2. Do some estimation of the work items.  Many Agile estimation techniques exist including Planning PokerThe Bucket System,Dot VotingT-Shirt Sizes.  These tools can be applied to many types of estimation.  There are three kinds of estimation that are important for Agile Planning:
    1. Estimating relative business value.  Usually done with the business people including customers and users.
    2. Estimating relative effort.  Usually done by the Agile team that will deliver the work.
    3. Estimating team capacity.  Also done by the Agile team (this is sometimes called “velocity”).
  3. Create the long-term plan.  Use the team capacity estimate and the sum of all the effort estimates to come up with an estimate of the overall time required to do the work.  (In Kanban, which doesn’t have an iterative approach, this is a bit more complicated.)  Use the business value and effort estimates to determine relative return on investment as a way to put work items in a logical sequence.

Agile planning allows a team to update estimates at any time.  Therefore, the techniques used above should not be thought of as a strict sequence.  Instead, as the team and the business people learn, the estimates and long-term plan can be easily updated.  Scrum refers to this ongoing process at “Product Backlog Refinement”.

Principles of Agile Planning

In order to use Agile planning effectively, people must be aware of and support the principles of Agile planning:

  1. Speed over accuracy.  We don’t want to waste time on planning!  Planning in and of itself does not deliver value.  Instead, get planning done fast and use the actual delivery of your Agile team to adjust plans as you go.
  2. Collaborative techniques.  We don’t want to be able to blame individuals if something goes wrong.  Instead, we create safe estimation and planning techniques.  Inevitably, when an estimate turns out to be wrong, it is impossible to blame a single individual for a “mistake”.
  3. Relative units.  We don’t try to estimate and plan based on “real” units such as dollars or hours.  Instead, we use ordering, relative estimation and other relative techniques to compare between options.  Humans are bad at estimating in absolute units.  We are much better at relative estimationand planning.

About the Author
Mishkin Berteig is the President and Co-Founder of Berteig Consulting Inc. He has been Mishkin Berteigtraining, coaching and consulting for organizations adopting Agile methods since 2001 and is committed to helping individuals, teams and organizations apply Agile methods. Mishkin is a Certified Scrum Trainer, and qualified to deliver OpenAgile and Agile Project Management training.  He has developed and delivered Agile training both in public and in-house seminars for over 3000 people in Canada and abroad. Courses have been as short as three hour intro-style and as long as five day boot-camp-style, and audiences have ranged from junior team members to senior executives. He has also assisted organizations of all sizes to make the transformation from traditional methods to Agile/Scrum methods (Extreme Programming, Scrum, Lean, OpenAgile).  Assistance includes Agile Engineering Practices, Agile teamwork, Agile project and product management, Agile management and executive management.

16 Top Project Management Methodologies (Infographic)

Project Management is anything but simple. To top it off, there’s a myriad of methodologies and acronyms to learn, which can be overwhelming for somebody new to the discipline. If you’re considering becoming a project manager but still trying to dissect your options, have a look at this infographic from Wrike. If you’re a seasoned project manager, let us know what you think. Do you have any preferences? Is anything missing?

”Project
Wrike Social Project Management Software

Keeping the End Goal in Mind… One Step at a Time

Frances McCart By Frances McCart,
Vice-President, Business Development at Eagle

Keeping the End Goal in Mind... One Step at a TimeIt is less than two weeks until I leave for my Kilimanjaro trek.  I posted in July about pushing one’s limits and thinking outside of what you would normally do, and being surprised at what can be accomplished.  I have been training for 9 months for the trek and have been busily preparing myself physically, mentally, and emotional for the adventure.  There has been a lot of planning and prep work and the greatest challenge still awaits me.

When thinking about the trek, and all the prep work, it gets overwhelming and easy to lose sight of the end goal.  You can get buried in all the details which start to seem daunting but what has kept me going is the end goal — to reach the summit safely and to raise funds for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation.

You don’t have to climb a mountain to apply this advice. When working on any intense project plan, the keys to the end success are identical:

  • Be well prepared and set goals. You don’t need to spend 9 months of intense training for your IT project, but you do need to be prepared with a detailed plan. My team has a complete itinerary detailing our climbing plan, including goals for each day and how long it should take to achieve them. Setting these milestones helps ensure success and keeps us from getting overwhelmed by the overall project.
  • Surround yourself with a great team. I’ve been training with an amazing group of people. We’re always encouraging each other in training, and I know that during our climb, we’ll continue to help each other up so we all reach the summit together. On top of this team, we’ll have an experienced leader we can trust to help us through the challenges and guide us up the mountain.
  • Keep climbing. Like every project you work on, as the trek gets tough, the only way to succeed will be to continue moving forward. A positive attitude, the support from that team, and determination to work through adversity will be crucial for me to reach the summit, and are critical elements to work through any complex project.
  • Keep the end goal in mind. Do you know the end goals of your project? Of course it has to be on time and on budget, but what else do you want to accomplish? As I said, my end goal is obviously to reach the summit, but I also want to get there safely and raise funds for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. Identifying your intrinsic motivations that mean the most to you will help push through those times you think about slacking or giving up completely.
  • Celebrate your successes. After 7 days of grueling work, including a final 12-15 hour climb that starts at midnight, my team will be greeted at Millennium Camp with a nice beverage. In the following days, we’ll get the opportunity for more celebration, well-deserved spa time and a chance to explore the sights the region has to offer. How do you and your project team celebrate victories? Exploring Africa may be excessive, but dinner and drinks are a great way to wind down, focus on all of your accomplishments, and guarantee that you end on a positive note.

Every project, from climbing a mountain to developing software, will face set-backs. The key is to focus on the end goal and reach the summit one step at a time. That’s the strategy my team and I developed, and I invite you to use the same steps on all of your projects.

Please visit my page to support my trek and the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation.