Best project of 2012 : Redbull Stratos Project ( A project that inspired me )

(This is not a blogpost endorsing any commercial brand )

On 14th October this year a very unknown austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner flew to 39kms above space to the edge of earth and took a leap back to the ground. The entire jump was spanning just 4 mins 20 secs and is captured so beautifully on the video. During the jump, more than half a dozen world records were broken which include breaking the sound barrier outside an aircraft, highest altitude jump and the fastest on earth so on. They are
Maximum altitude of 39.045 kilometres (24.261 mi)
Maximum speed of 1,342.8 kilometres per hour (834.4 mph), which corresponds to Mach 1.24 or 373 m/s
Total free fall time of 4 minutes, 19 seconds
Total free fall distance of 36,529 metres (119,846 ft)
A fifty year old record is broken and dedicated 8 million users watch this 2 hr spectacle on youtube here

To execute a 4 minute jump required months and months of planning to the last detail with a dedicated team that worked on covering all aspects of this feat.The project was called the Redbull Stratos Project. More than the human endurance element there were several factors that needed to be quantified measured and kept track of to ensure that the entire project was on course. Just to think of putting Risk chart for such a project is by itself a great challenge. The innumerable risk elements that need to be covered and the contingencies mapped is just humongous.

As a geek you get to dabble with technology and gadgets that are until now available at the echelons of power like Dept of defence or NASA. Now private enterprises across the world are aspiring to take to the skies with cost effective solutions and thereby redefining the realm of the space travel industry.

Redbull Stratos Project team

Above all this a project of this scope demands leadership that is so visionary as well as a subject matter expert in the field with great determination and passion to drive the team Reading through the nitty gritties of this project makes you aspire to be a part of such ventures to plan better and reach to test the limits of human possibility. One thing that i have learnt very clearly over the year leading project is that “any goal is achievable as long as the plan and resources and human determination to execute are strong” And the Redbull Stratos Project was one such project that really fascinated me in the year 2012 !

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A project without risk is a project worth not doing !

A Ship in a harbor is safe, but thats not what ships are for !

Projects that have no risks are no humdingers ! Typically a project has to test your capabilities as a team thereby kindling the competitive spirit. Such projects help in team building as well as benchmarking performance in an organization. Project risks and benefits always go hand in hand. Risk is basically a component of any work that on materialisation leads to an undesirable outcome. In simple words risk is a problem that is yet to occur. Risk management is similar to an Insurance cover. As long as things are rosy and going fine people feel it is unnecessary drain in the budget but the the moment we are blindsided by any risk then everyone is clamoring why it was not done.

Organizations and Project teams that define risks in a project demonstrate increased maturity. We need to acknowledge the grey areas / realities well in advance and accordingly plan our resources. Otherwise what typically happens is that we end up going on a “firefighting” mode thereby crisis management. And in the process we end up doubling our resource utilisation, escalating budgets and above all a very dissatisfied client.

As project head it is our bounden duty to set aside the “Can -do attitude ” and deliberate on some “Cant -do ” thinking also .  Analyse your risks, take steps to mitigate possible risks, plan your contingencies, put systems in place to monitor risk trigger points. Scope the entire process into your project plan and schedule. Stakeholder / client when informed of the possible risks tend to show resilience and greater confidence on the Project Leadership.

Principally 5 steps involves in assessing and quantifying of project risks are Risk identification, exposure analysis, contingency planning, Risk mitigation and Managing risks. There are tremendous advantages of Risk Management like increased clarity of the project to the team, increased team morale once you get over a scoped risk, and finally there is clear management focus on the weaker links of the project to ensure that attention is given to reinforce them.

For a more detailed discussion on the various aspects of Risk like  Risk planning, Risk mitigation, Critical path method, Risk management and models like Monte Carlo effect contact me. I would love to share our learning over the period of years

Project Management and Mindmapping Tools for Startups and Entrepreneurs !

Eversince I started this blog back in February 2006, all my blogposts are peppered with topics, discussions that are focused primarily on my passion for technology, social media , stocks …that is what i dont do between 9 – 5 pm. Since 2009 i had the opportunity to interact with Project managers from larger organizations and get to understand what is being practiced by them . Inspite of so many vibrant PM tools available in the market at negligible or Zero costs, larger organizations still rely on time old tools like XL sheets and default project management tools like Ms Project , Primavera. This post is addressed to some of my friends who are Project Managers and from the same domain.

For those PM practitioners who have been very familiar to MS Project and Excel Sheets for their Project Management needs, Projity serves as an excellent alternative open source product. Fuente Systems Inc was involved with Projity and their then CEO, Marc O Brian back in 2006 during the ideation stages of Projity for offshore development of the product.  Projity ( renamed as Open Project ) allows for creation of GANTT charts, PERT diagrams, tasks & resource scheduling so on. The commercial version of the software is available on a SaaS model called as POD (Project on Demand) to address geographically distributed teams. However Projity limits its functionality to address conventional project management needs. Projity has now been acquired by Serena Software.

Today organizations are shifting focus towards new techniques like Extreme Programming, Scrum, Crystal, DSDM and FDD, or emerging variants like Lean/Kanban.  MS Project or Open Project fail to address the requirements of user stories, priority list that go alongwith Agile development .  Silver Catalyst is an Agile project management tool that perfectly addresses agile development methologies.  Silver Catalyst is offered from one of my close friends, Sid .Free account / download of  Silver Catalyst Available at their site. For a personalised  corporate presentation on the product and organisation wide participation you can call me.

Similarly today Project Management has become an integral part of Online Collaboration Tools. These tools today address the priorities of team members and project stakeholders by including collaborative design and development , online conferencing, communication, archiving, progress tracking, and real time reporting as part of the solution. There are a few solutions that are available for startups and entrepreneurs on a web based model.

Huddle is one such software that is available on the web for tracking workgroups that are geographically distributed on a subscription based SAAS model.

Open Atrium is an open source Project management tool that combines Apache , Drupal (cms) , php and mysql This has been put to use in ambitious global projects on inclusive development whose showcase is available here  ( http://developmentseed.org/projects ) . It provides versioning and mobile support as well.

ActiveCollab is a collaboration tool for project management that allows for project planning, progress tracking, communication within team members and stakeholders of the project. However these are subscription based web services available at a premium ($ 250 /yr )but include a host of features.

Apart from addressing project management needs of entrepreneurs one of the must have tools is on Mindmapping. These tools help us in the ideation process and to visualise any business idea creatively into simplified tasks/ activity. Mindmapping  allows entrepreneurs bring structure to their thought process.

Freemind is the most prominent Mind mapping program that is available both for Windows as well as Linux platform. Helps in problem solving and decision making process. Vym is the closest resemblance / alternative to Freemind

Similarly for building compelling proposals one requires design tools Ms Visio for building business flow charts, network diagrams, streamline workflow diagrams, and plan resource utilisation. These tools are an absolute must to go with any project manager profile for his day to day requirements. Kivio is an open source alternative that is available for entrepreneurs at zero cost. I would rather prefer MS Visio for reasons that there are extensive stencil sets available for any kind of diagramming that we can do with it. When it comes to Kivio the user group is having limited resource and those stencil sets available are also premium priced.

PMI Team India’s first National Conference on ” Unleash The Power of Project Management of a better Tomorrow “

The Theme for this year’s Conference is ” Unleash The Power of Project Management of a better Tomorrow “. organized by PMI India along with PMI TEAM INDIA (7 PMI chapters of India) hosted by Pearl City Chapter, Hyderabad. PMI creates history in Showcasing the best Projects in the Indian Subcontinent and the convergence of best of talent to share the cutting edge practices in Project Management. Of the 12000 certified Project Management Professionals from India, the conference has a foot fall of more than 700 of them at the Venue which is a very impressive number. The Name badges had different color bands to indicate the Project Management Qualification of each delegate thus facilitating breakout conversations among the peer group.

Anything @ HICC is a pompous affair and PMI PMC was no exception. Starting with the traditional Kuthuvilakku (lighting of Lamp) by the distinguished chair and political blessings from the honorable Chief Minister Shri Rosaiah, it had all the making of Showcasing what India is all about to the distinguished global audience. Welcoming the delegates, Mr Raj Kalady, Managing Director PMI India was all praise for the “awesomeness” of the Event.PMI India team drives excellent coordination between volunteers of 7 different Chapters to ensure that the pre event coverage is extensive across industry and Project Management practitioners. In-spite of their day jobs all the volunteers draw synergy to make this event a grandiose success .

Mr V Srinivasa Rao, Chairman PMI India Team talks about how Mahatma Gandhi through his philosophy of ” Resistance through non-violence ” was able to successfully execute the greatest project of Delivery Freedom for India. He also cited examples of post independence projects like the space research programmes and . Successful Projects are not just about translating profits / bottom-lines but about impacting social change . There is a major need for Project management competency in India.
The Keynote was delivered by Mr Jagdish khattar, Former MD, Maruti Udyog who talked about how Maruti brought transformational change in the Automobile business landscape in India. He was all praise for the lessons we Indians learnt associating with japanese (Suzuki) The corporate mantra of Project management at Maruti Udyog was Plan – Plan – Execute -Plan more .

Mr Peter Monkhouse , Director At-Large PMI Worldwide, talks about Project Management as a Strategic Catalyst for transforming India. He showcases Indian success stories like Delhi Metro Rail Project and TATA Nano and how they stand setting precedents for more successful projects to come. Incidentally TATA NANO was awarded PMI’s Business Process Award on 30th Oct 2009 at London. Recent global survey conducted with employers on “What Skill is the most important in Staff ? ” the top answer was ” Project Execution”. The Key value drivers in India Economy was the advancement of the Baby boom generation and the incoming workforce being smaller and more demanding. This also resulted in increasing demand even on global downturn. PMI India today boasts of 12000 certified professionals with more than 16% growth (Second largest in the world). 20 years back we had just 20 PMI professionals here.

Mr Steven Fahrenkrog, VP, PMI USA recalled his Indian experience . Vote of thanks was delivered by Mr Suresh Chandra, President PMI Pearl City Chapter thanking the 7 coordinating chapters for the success of the event. As soon as I came to the venue I met with Mr Arun Kiran Ponnekanti, who heads Corporate communications and Brand Management for PMI PMC. After a 10 minute discussion we got to work on updating the Social Media tools like Twitter ( #PMIPMC ), Facebook and Youtube with minute by minute live updates. All presentations will be loaded with copyright to Slideshare and all pictures to flickr and picasa for benefit of the attendees.

Incidentally i am at the HICC at the same place exactly a year ago (2008). I was invited by NiXi(National Internet Exchange of India) as a Internet Governance Research Fellow on IPR (Intellectual Property Rights) to IGF 2008 and here i am a year later as part of PMP sharing notes with the peer group.

L&T Award Ceremony for Distinguished Project Award

Harold Kerzner talks about Future PMO @ PMI Project Management Conference

Mr Harold Kerzner initiated a discussion on Future Project Management Office – A Value driven approach for Key stakeholders

Mr. Harold Kerzner

Share of Projects using Project Management software is less than 35%. There is a shift of trend towards more non traditional projects being executed under current business conditions.  Unlike in Traditional projects where the focus is only on the Triple constraints , in non traditional project there is an additional parameter focus on triple constraint +Value

The shift of Contractor Expectations is towards Long term strategic partnerships (Engagement Expectations).Each project is seen as a collection of values scheduled to attain corporate objectives.  Statement of Work ( SOW ) is subject to numerous changes in current PM’s with multiple stake holders.  Unique value driven KPI (Key performance Indicators) are enumerated.  Flexible “Fluid ” PM methodology adopted.  There is a demand for Real time reporting  of Project progress. Managing multi stakeholder expectations.  All this is illustrated as a matrix.

Governance>>Dashboard Design>>Key Performance Indicators>>Measurement>>New Success criteria

With this there is a Multiple definition of success of a project (each customer / stakeholders have different definition). This demands the need for Creation of customer satisfaction Index.  that can be measured occasionally on the project.  Metric driven PM will be the future.

Project failure is bound to happen when linear thinking is adopted and  when Methodology doesn’t not allow out of box thinking.

Newer analyses tools like Different Value analyses – Intellectual Cap valuation. Intellectual Property Scoring , Balanced Score Card method, Future value management, value management methodology to take customer engagement to a higher level.

Project management reports like Forecast reports >>Status Reports>>Progress Reports help in monitoring how projects progress in future.

Forecast Reports tend to capture data point and parameters like  >> Time @Completion, Cost @completion.

The entire session was so informative and good perspective of what project management will be in the future.

PMI Project Management Conference 2009 – Day 1

The Theme for this year’s Conference is ” Unleash The Power of Project Management of a better Tomorrow “. organized by PMI India along with PMI TEAM INDIA (7 PMI chapters of India) hosted by Pearl City Chapter, Hyderabad.

PMI creates history in Showcasing the best Projects in the Indian Subcontinent and the convergence of best of talent to share the cutting edge practices in Project Management. Of the 12000 certified Project Management Professionals from India, the conference has a foot fall of more than 700 of them at the Venue which is a very impressive number. The Name badges had different color bands to indicate the Project Management Qualification of each delegate thus facilitating breakout conversations among the peer group.

Anything @ HICC is a pompous affair and PMI PMC was no exception. Starting with the traditional Kuthuvilakku (lighting of Lamp) by the distinguished chair and political blessings from the honorable Chief Minister Shri Rosaiah, it had all the making of Showcasing what India is all about to the distinguished global audience.

Welcoming the delegates, Mr Raj Kalady, Managing Director PMI India was all praise for the “awesomeness” of the Event.PMI India team drives excellent coordination between volunteers of 7 different Chapters to ensure that the pre event coverage is extensive across industry and Project Management practitioners. In-spite of their day jobs all the volunteers draw synergy to make this event a grandiose success .

Mr V Srinivasa Rao, Chairman PMI India Team talks about how Mahatma Gandhi through his philosophy of ” Resistance through non-violence ” was able to successfully execute the greatest project of Delivery Freedom for India. He also cited examples of post independence projects like the space research programmes and . Successful Projects are not just about translating profits / bottom-lines but about impacting social change . There is a major need for Project management competency in India.

The Keynote was delivered by Mr Jagdish khattar, Former MD, Maruti Udyog who talked about how Maruti brought transformational change in the Automobile business landscape in India. He was all praise for the lessons we Indians learnt associating with japanese (Suzuki) The corporate mantra of Project management at Maruti Udyog was Plan – Plan – Execute -Plan more .

Mr Peter Monkhouse , Director At-Large PMI Worldwide, talks about Project Management as a Strategic Catalyst for transforming India. He showcases Indian success stories like Delhi Metro Rail Project and TATA Nano and how they stand setting precedents for more successful projects to come. Incidentally TATA NANO was awarded PMI’s Business Process Award on 30th Oct 2009 at London. Recent global survey conducted with employers on “What Skill is the most important in Staff ? ” the top answer was ” Project Execution”. The Key value drivers in India Economy was the advancement of the Baby boom generation and the incoming workforce being smaller and more demanding. This also resulted in increasing demand even on global downturn. PMI India today boasts of 12000 certified professionals with more than 16% growth (Second largest in the world). 20 years back we had just 20 PMI professionals here.

Mr Steven Fahrenkrog, VP, PMI USA recalled his Indian experience . Vote of thanks was delivered by Mr Suresh Chandra, President PMI Pearl City Chapter thanking the 7 coordinating chapters for the success of the event. As soon as I came to the venue I met with Mr Arun Kiran Ponnekanti, who heads Corporate communications and Brand Management for PMI PMC. After a 10 minute discussion we got to work on updating the Social Media tools like Twitter ( #PMIPMC ), Facebook and Youtube with minute by minute live updates.

Incidentally i am at the HICC at the same place exactly a year ago (2008). I was invited by NiXi(National Internet Exchange of India) as a Internet Governance Research Fellow to IGF 2008 and here i am a year later as part of PMP sharing notes with the peer group. Look forward to 2 more exciting days with PMI Team India. Good Nite folks !

L&T Award Ceremony for Distinguished Project Award