Friday, April 25, 2008

Project Management

Having worked on committees for ISP associations like FISPA and WISPA, I can tell you that email and listserv usage make for a really challenging way to run a project. Now that I am in Chicago managing an MPLS migration, I realize that Microsoft doesn't have decent tools for this either. Outlook and MS Project help to schedule stuff and create a 1MB file with the timeline, but when you want to look at spreadsheets or other docs, it's still a cumbersome project.

I have used a Wiki, which wasn't perfect but it beat using MS Word and its version machine.

Yahoo Groups is a little better because the listserv, emails, archive, files are all right there. Y! is a pita to get people without Yahoo emails signed up though. And it still doesn't do anything for document version management. Collaboration is a tough thing.

Emily Chang's Hub points out new apps every day. ( and points them out too). Emily has pointed me to STIXY, which is an online collaboration tool. (Free in beta). The invite people and version management are good. The GUI is like setting up Blogger.

Another one that I have not tried yet is HomeCourt. The app supposedly answers: Who is responsible for what; who said what and when; and where are the files for this project. Not all of it, but the responsibility part is pretty important, not just for CYA, but to find out who is holding up the project. Time is money.

PMP is a big certification in the last 3 years. However, it is mainly about how to create a ton of documentation. As someone not used to that, it is a cumbersome process (and truth be told, I can not figure out why you would have to spend so many hours just to deliver more status reports.) But the project detail docs are where the gold is. Explaining what MPLS is and why it was chosen. How will it be integrated into the current network architecture. Define Class of Service; VLAN's; policies; IP Addressing schema; diagram the network and the NOC. These are documents that many data centers do not have. I can see why they don't (too many man-hours to produce) and why they should (easier to "franchise" the business. IOW, it is knowledge that you want to preserve in your business. When Dan leaves (or dies), what happens to all the knowledge about your network, your gear, your customers???? Gone. How do you replace that? Hence, why documentation is an important piece. (It's still one big hairball to create, but becomes an asset to your business). Now go sell something!

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