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Project Management Blog

When we started out sixteen years ago, we had a simple product, no real competitors and product installation was so easy that project management for customer rollouts didn’t seem very useful to us.  Over time, as the flexibility of our products increased, we added a professional services capability to our company that was, in its earliest stages, somewhat haphazard and delivered inconsistent results to our customers.  This led to customer satisfaction issues that were a real impediment to our success as an organization.  Since delivering demonstrable customer value is the only moral way to achieve business success in our industry, we knew we had to fix this problem quickly.

Once we inculcated some repeatable processes based on project management disciplines into our delivery, we were able to go so far as to productize our initial customer rollout service.  This has been so successful that we’ve been able to strategically virtualize that service in certain instances. For example, we use a vendor to assist with every rollout that includes integration with QuickBooks.  This is surgically precise outsourcing of a very specific portion of a certain kind of rollout of our product that is common for a subset of our smaller customers – firms that sell services to other businesses.  Our integrated Journyx/QuickBooks rollouts moved from a dismal 50% satisfaction rate to an excellent 100% once we got that process well-defined and adhered to.  We couldn’t have done this without outsourcing it because retaining a QuickBooks blackbelt in-house would have been too expensive; nor could we have succeeded in this without a very well-defined project management process that is both flexible enough to work for all customers in this category and strict enough to ensure success.

This success has pushed and encouraged us to put tightly-defined processes in place elsewhere in the business to enable outsourcing of our software testing department overseas, as well as 100% of our accounting department, giving us the capabilities of a much larger company in those areas albeit at lower costs.  Those benefits wouldn’t be possible without rigorous processes born of excellence in project management.  We’re now a business that has virtualized itself globally.  We’re convinced that this adds tremendous value for our customers and that it cannot be done without good process definition, planning and execution.

Some of these processes have enabled us to achieve understanding of our profitability on a per-person per-project basis, using the same technology that we sell to others, thereby making us a showcase for our own software.

At present, we have only a few people who have been through formal PMI training, but we want 10% of the company to become PMPs.  We can see the value it adds every day, and we want more.  We’ve applied the principles in development, marketing, partnering, vendor management and even in sales to generally great effect.  Our software development process has always been what is now commonly termed ‘agile,’ and we want to be very careful in introducing too much rigor there.  The right amount of process for the task at hand – balance – is always of utmost importance at Journyx.

The incorporation of “just enough” project management processes into every aspect of our company operations over the last few years has enabled us to move from being a startup to becoming a scalable organization.  We now have the plans and the confidence that we can execute these plans successfully.  For example, we have tools in place that alert us to problems, like projects going over budget.  This is not to say that we’re a perfect company and that all our problems are solved.  They’re not.  But we have a plan for improvement now and the confidence to execute it.

About Curt Finch

Curt Finch is the CEO of Journyx. Founded in 1996, Journyx automates payroll, billing and cost accounting while easing management of employee time and expenses, and provides confidence that all resources are utilized correctly and completely. Curt earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science from Virginia Tech.  As a software programmer fixing bugs for IBM in the early ‘90’s, Curt found that tracking the time it took to fix each bug revealed the per-bug profitability. Curt knew that this concept of using time-tracking data to determine project profitability was a winning idea and something that companies were not doing – yet… Curt created the world's first web-based timesheet application and the foundation for the current Journyx product offerings in 1997. Learn more about Curt at http://journyx.com/company/curtfinch.  

 

Published in Blogs
Friday, 04 January 2008 07:49

Executive Actions For Project Success

"I wish that my boss could have taken this course." "This is not the way we do project management where I work." These and similar remarks are increasingly being made at the conclusion of much of today's project management training. Indeed, as I write and speak to increasing numbers of project management practitioners at PMI conferences, and as I reflect upon the feedback provided by the thousands of employees who completed project management training and certification at the CIA where I was Director of that program, I see a gap between what increasingly better educated and skilled project managers need for success, and what they are getting from their organizations and their executives. Lets call this the executive gap. Leaders in the project management training industry that I have spoken to about this have offered confirmation for this executive gap; and not just here in the United States, but industry and world-wide. This paper is a shortened version of work that I have been passionately writing and speaking about recently. For more detail you are referred to the reference list at the end of this paper, to the proceedings of recent PMI Global Congresses[1] and to the February 2006 issue of PM Network Magazine.

Published in Blogs
Tuesday, 21 August 2007 06:14

Project Planning:

Every year thousands of projects are completed over budget, out of scope and past deadline.  Still, with each passing year, project managers continue to rush into projects without due diligence in defining the project and creating a plan for project execution.  By lightly addressing these critical components they are, in essence, failing their projects before any work has even commenced.  So how can project managers efficiently execute a project plan while at the same time meeting the deadlines and expectations of senior management?

 

Published in Blogs
Sunday, 12 August 2007 20:54

Point 9 - Deming in Project Management

Break Down Departmental Barriers in Pursuit of a Common Goal

Many processes are cross-functional. The same is true of projects. {mosimage}This point is about dissolving the “us versus them” scenario that so often exists in one form or another within organizations. In most projects that I work on, there are individuals from departments such as operations, central services and other support functions, MIS, IT, Service Engineering, etc. The “us versus them” attitude comes about when project managers and project team members look at their own interests at the exclusion of others, and instead of working towards a common goal, work towards their own separate and distinct goals.

Published in Blogs
Saturday, 16 June 2007 09:46

Deming's 5th Point in Project Management

Continuous Improvement

This is one of my favorite points from Dr. Deming. I see so many mistakes that are made again and again, and lessons learned that are either completely undocumented or filed away after a project, never to be seen again.

Do all of the other project managers in the firm get exposure to lessons learned from other projects? Usually not, in my experience. Surely, individual project managers and sponsors learn from their projects, but organizational learning and continuous improvement require a formal process for the documentation, analysis, and incorporation of lessons learned into a common methodology.

Published in Blogs
Wednesday, 28 March 2007 18:46

Good Requirements ARE SORTA NUTS

Have you ever let someone down even though you had tried your best and thought you were doing what they wanted? Few things are frustrating as putting forth tons of effort only to find out you were working on the wrong things.
Expectations are such an essential and common component of human relationships and communication that most of the time they are taken for granted. Taken for granted is exactly what expectations should not be.

Published in Blogs

Every software professional that has been part of more than one project knows for sure:no two projects are the same. Different circumstances make most software projects unique in several aspects. And with different situations come different approaches to handle project life effectively: there are mutliple ways to “do” a project. Different circumstances require different approaches.

Published in Blogs
Saturday, 10 March 2007 05:59

Managing Project Knowledge

For an organization whose fundamental work is the delivery of projects, it is extremely important that projects are viewed as a source of learning.


Project delivery is a process that produces an abundance of knowledge. Project teams encounter problems, assess and monitor risks, evaluate baselines, watch budgets and finance and manage stakeholder needs and expectations, as they do, they generate knowledge that is contained within the team.

Published in Blogs
Thursday, 08 March 2007 04:04

Risk Management - the Other Dimension

The issue of risks on projects is considered a critical issue for the successful completion. Often, delays, cost overruns and claims are attributed to the absence or inadequacy of a risk management exercise. In a large and complex project, a risk management exercise was run. In the process of evaluating the risks, a new dimension was proposed in order to ensure adequacy of the exercise. The exercise originally followed the well documented steps of risk management. This included:
Published in Blogs
Thursday, 01 March 2007 01:27

Stakeholder Management

Project managers deal with dynamic environments. Their role is not only to deliver projects on time, within budget and to the required quality, but extend to include other aspects that are equally important.
Published in Blogs
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