We’re Speaking at Project Conference 2014

Well, after delivering three presentations on consecutive days at the last Project Conference in 2012, I swore to never again do so, and to keep my presentations at any conference down to a manageable number somewhere between zero and two.  You can see how well that worked as I proudly announce I will be presenting (and/or co-presenting) the following sessions in Anaheim in February:

Enhancing Value Through Socializing Your PMO: Yammer for Project Management (with the Christophe Fiessinger – now accepting candidates for mildly off color French jokes if anyone has them)

Enterprise Reporting – Business Intelligence Overview in Project Online and Project Server 2013 (with longtime partner in crime, Mr. Mike McLean)

The Epistemological Adventure: Best Practices in Enterprise Tool Deployments

I figure two co-presentations count for 1 actual presentation as Mike and Christophe will be doing all of the heavy lifting.  That still gets me in the ballpark of 2ish total presentations at one conference….sort of.   Luckily, no Earned Value this time around.  I may rue saying this, but I’ll take the Enterprise Social zealots over the EVM zealots any day of the week.

Other UMT folks will be around and presenting as well:

Integrated IT Portfolio Analysis – Going Beyond PPM and to Effectively Run the Business of IT (Ben Chamberlain and Gartner’s Donna Fitzgerald – of whom I am quite the fan)

PPM 2.0 – 4 Things You Did Not Know You Could Do With Project Server to Realize Even More ROI (Ben Chamberlain & Catalin Olteanu)

…as well as co-presenting a number of case studies with our clients.  It should be fun….


We’re Speaking at Project Conference 2014

PMO Symposium San Diego: Where Portfolio Optimization and Guamanian Food Meet

Feel like this blog has gone off the rails and want to vent in person?  Feel like things are just great and want to share your ideas?  Come on out to San Diego in November for the PMO Symposium – where a couple hundred motivated PMO directors will get together to share ideas on how to better provide value to the organization.

I’ll be hanging out in or near the Microsoft booth and looking forward to chatting…although I’m admittedly a bit bummed that my favorite Guamanian restaurant (full disclosure: it’s actually the only one I’ve ever been to), the Islander Grill shut down a couple of years ago.  Luckily, an Internet search reveals Chamorros seems to be carrying the flag.

PMO Symposium San Diego: Where Portfolio Optimization and Guamanian Food Meet

The Tragicomedic Organization

It’s no secret that I’ve retreated to my underground lair of late to work on upping my presentation game by trying my hand at the odd bit of stand up comedy (and roller derby, but that’s a different story).  That, of course, begs the question, how does one get started in the world of standup?  I could take a class on standup, but as a couple searches quickly determined, Houston appears to be a bit of a wasteland in that regard  – although, as in all cultural comparisons, Austin definitely shows promise.  Hence, I’ve retreated to Plan B, and started my odyssey to become an amateur standup comedian (after all, let’s be realistic, going pro is a non-starter) by going out and purchasing a couple books on comic theory.

Thusly, I found myself reading the Comic Toolbox the other day, as the author, John Vorhaus, deconstructed different comedy types.  One of them particularly resonated.  You see, the ensemble comedy (think Friends, Bad News Bears, Inglorious Basterds,  etc.)  involves what is considered a group protagonist.  The group itself is the protagonist as it strives to reach its goals, whether they be killing Nazis, banding together to win the championship, or raising enough money to buy their old theater from the evil businessman.

The comedy lies in the conflicts between the members of the team whom invariably are written with divergent characteristics and personalities.  The common goal binds them however, because without that common goal, their radically divergent personalities would quickly cause them to lose cohesion and focus on their own specific needs, not that of the team.  The common goal provides the catalyst for the team to work through their differences and unite in the face of overwhelming odds.

Without that driving goal for the group protagonist to work against, the team would quickly split apart and disperse into the four winds.  That would no longer be a comedy.  That would be a tragedy.

The Tragicomedic Organization

WordPress E-mail Alerts Down

Just an FYI that if you’re reading this post, you’re probably not reading it by e-mail.  It looks like the WordPress e-mail subscription functionality is taking a personal day.

In the meantime, hopefully this saves someone from spending time checking their spam folders.

I could post the link to the WordPress forum discussing the issue, but let’s face it, it wouldn’t matter.  You’ll know it’s back up and working when you start getting e-mails alerting you to new posts.  In the meantime, I would encourage you to think about how today’s world is too reliant on e-mail – unless, of course, you’re not actually reading this, because, well, you rely on e-mail for your blog reading.

WordPress E-mail Alerts Down

You’re Invited! Project 2013 Comes to Houston on 8.22


Microsoft Project and Portfolio Management with Microsoft Project 2013

Complimentary Microsoft Event

Microsoft is excited to announce the release of Microsoft Project 2013 – the latest Project and Portfolio Management solution from Microsoft.

Offering 3 different products – Project Professional 2013, Project Server 2013 and Project Online – Project 2013 can help organizations of any size to efficiently and effectively: manage projects, portfolios, resources, capacity, strategic planning and work delivery.

Date: Thursday, August 22nd, 2013
Time: 8:30 AM to 3:00 PM
Breakfast and Lunch will be provided

Location: Microsoft South Central District Office
One Briar Lake Plaza
2000 W. Sam Houston Pkwy. S. #350
Houston, TX 77042

Registration Link

Join us at this complimentary forum to:

  • Two organizational case studies presented by Director-level client practitioners:
    • AGCO (case study presented by AGCO’s Director of Global IT Portfolio Management Office)
    • Energy Transfer (case study presented by Energy Transfer’s Director of IT Strategy)
  • See Microsoft Project 2013 and Project Server 2013 in action
  • Learn about the latest trends in Project and Portfolio Management
  • Network with your peers and industry leaders and share best practices
  • Win prizes

Please register now and we will send you a calendar invite with all of the details.

Ask the Experts

agco_logo_typeClient Case Study 1
Managing the Project Lifecycle, Resources, Projects and the Portfolio

Energy Transfer Logo ColorClient Case Study 2
Managing the Annual Planning Process

Implementing Project Server: Organizational Deployment and Migration from Older Versions

Portfolio Management:
The Latest from Gartner, Microsoft and UMT on Portfolio

Project and Portfolio Management with Microsoft Project 2013 – end to end overview and highlights

Project Management:
MS Project for the PM. What’s New and How to Use It Al

Usage and Value Focus: Reporting and Business Intelligence for Everybody

You’re Invited! Project 2013 Comes to Houston on 8.22

UMT is Microsoft’s PPM Partner of the Year (Again)!

UMT is honored to be named the Microsoft 2013 Project and Portfolio Management Partner of the Year.  The award, UMT’s second, recognizes the company’s ability to deliver innovative solutions for businesses using the Microsoft platform – particularly in the form of our latest version of financial governance for the enterprise, UMT 360. 

UMT 360 is the most ambitious product UMT has created to date and provides businesses with an effective tool for improving governance and increasing ROI.

UMT 360 is built on the Microsoft SharePoint Server and provides seamless integration with Project Server.  The solution provides businesses with up-to-date and easily accessible data and metrics which help the customer create a dynamic blueprint of their business and technology architecture, drive financial transparency and collaborate.  The end result is an enhanced ability to make informed investment decisions across project, program and asset portfolios.

UMT is pleased that our drive to innovate and create effective solutions is being recognized by Microsoft.  Even more rewarding is the broad adoption of UMT-led ideas in the industry, and UMT’s growth potential and continued ability to impact quality governance practices in organizations around the world.

We are proud to have been recognized as either a winner or finalist in the Microsoft awards in each of the last four years.  Winners are selected based on their commitment to customers, their solution’s market impact and exemplary use of Microsoft technologies.  We look forward to accepting our 2013 award with other category Partner of the Year winners at Microsoft’s 2013 Worldwide Partner Conference in Houston, TX in early July.  More information on the Partner of the Year awards.

More information is available at http://www.umt.com/en-us/community/pressreleases.aspx.


(Reposted from the official UMT Blog)

UMT is Microsoft’s PPM Partner of the Year (Again)!

When Life Gives You Stones, You Make Soup

Years ago, in university, I spent a couple of weeks backpacking through Sichuan and Yunnan provinces.  At the time, I was on a Chinese student stipend, and hence, often didn’t have very much money to spend – even if I could spend it, as many of those villages hadn’t quite gotten the memo that foreigners could actually use cash instead of those weird foreign exchange certificate things they used to foist on us.

I developed this game that I would play every time I walked into one of these villages.  Basically, I would go to the first villager I saw and show him this stone that I kept in my backpack.  This stone, I said, had magical powers.  You could throw it in boiling water and make the most delicious soup imaginable.

Invariably, we’d do just that, and throw a pot of water on the burner, and then start boiling the stone.  After a while, I’d make a show of tasting the ‘soup’ and making a face.  “Hmmm,” I’d say, “it needs chicken.”  And the guy would go out and butcher a chicken and throw it in the soup.

By this time, his neighbors usually had come by, and as the soup boiled and I kept tasting it, I would urge them to bring a selection of vegetables from their garden, maybe some celery or cabbage or onions…some salt….pepper…and all of that wonderful Sichuan spicy goodness that’s part of everything out there.

At the end of the day, we had a wonderful soup….all because of the magic stone.

Ok, right…..I never tried the magic stone trick in those days.  Instead, I do recall scamming a couple of free meals posing as a “foreign investor” in a southern Gobi salt mine and maybe hamming up my ethnic background to share a meal with my “minority brother” in some small town in Gansu.  I admit it….I stole the magic stone story from a kid’s book we got in a garage sale a couple of years ago.

But make no mistake, for the last couple of years, I’ve been plying the magic stone trick to great personal and professional benefit.  I can’t tell you how many times I walk into an organization and have been asked to implement a tool, only to respond, “Well, the tool is pretty good, but we’ll need a project intake process to make it work,” or “if only we had a schedule update methodology, we could get to where you want to go as an organization.”

At the end of the day, we have a wonderful soup….and it only took a little old tool like Microsoft Project to provide the catalyst.  That’s not to say that tools do not provide any benefit, because they do.  However, without the process and yes, governance, in place, the tools do not do very much.  Without process, they’re effectively the same value as a boiled stone.

For those of you who attended the Gartner PPM conference last week, one of the presentations discussed the role of tools in PMOs of varying maturity.  The guidance was to focus on people when the maturity is low.  Then focus on the process.  Only after the PMO is ready should you focus on the tool.

I would add a nuance to that by pointing out that no project management organization is a single homogeneous monolith.  There are always pockets of advanced project managers interspersed with less mature project managers.  Hence, even in “low maturity” PMOs, there are always individuals who stand to benefit from the use of an enterprise project management tool.

How do we get to the point where we have the right people and the right process?  Often, it takes a visible catalyst to drive it.  Often it takes the magic stone.

*Note that this metaphor isn’t even all that creative in the IT world.  Ian Clayton used it years ago to describe ITIL implementations.  Feel free to borrow it to illustrate every other silver bullet solution to the world’s problems: CMDB, Service Management, ePMOs, OPM3, etc.

When Life Gives You Stones, You Make Soup