Thoughts on Technical Project Management and Its Intersection with Blockchain's Disruptive Potential

Here are Simple and Easy Project and Product Manager Definitions

Published June 17, 2016 in Uncategorized - 0 Comments

​Comparing Project to Product Manager Roles is Like Comparing Apples to Apples

I've managed projects and products. I don't see a big difference between the two roles, if you view a product as a project. Then again, I believe project management should keep things simple.

I believe these two roles and their definitions get too complicated. Viewing a product as a project keeps things simple. Project management should aim to keep things simple. That's why I favor a simple definitions and simple approaches.

Let's start with some simple definitions.

What's a Project?

A project is a set of defined tasks executed to achieve a desired outcome.

What's Project Management?

Project management is defining those tasks, leading their execution and delivering the desired outcome.

That's it.

Yes, sh*t hits the fan!

Yes, in practice, sh*t hits the fan along the way.

I find setting a simple starting point sets a clear intention for a project. A a clear intention grounds the project. Keeping the project grounded helps focus it.

Keeping a project focused helps -

-Limit the amount of sh*t that hits the fan

-Bring the project back on track once the sh*t hits the fan

Everything's a Project

Viewing everything from a project perspective keeps things simple. If you view everything from a project perspective then -

-A product is a type of project

-A program is a collection projects or

-A program is a collection of products, since a product is a project

What's the Difference Between a Project and Product Manager?

So along these lines -

A project manager is a project manager. A project manager may manage a project, program or product.

A product manager is project manager. A product manager manages a product as their project.

That's my simple view of things.

Photo credit Raquel Martinez via Unsplash

Here Are My Dead Simple Project Phases

dead simple project phases

Only four dead simple project phases? What are we going to do with all these people then?

Project management should be simple. There's no reason for project management to become a complex monster that feeds on precious project resources. Project management should maximize the effectiveness of resources. It shouldn't consume them.

Here are four dead simple project phases I use to manage projects. I break projects into these four high-level phases. Doing this provides a simple and consistent frame of reference for everyone involved in the project.  I've also listed the major activities that happen during each phase.

Project Phase 1 -Planning/Initiation

  • Develop client requirements
  • Present/align/iterate/confirm client requirements and expectations
  • Determine/assign required resources
  • Develop plan
  • Confirm plan with client
  • Agree to a process to introduce and implement changes to the original plan, as required

Project Phase 2 - Execution

  • Track progress to plan
  • Manage and maintain the right resource levels to maintain consistency with the timeline and budget
  • Report on adherence and deviations to plan to internal and client stakeholders
  • Realign plan and expectations as required, identifying any potential reasons for realignment as far in advance as possible
  • Remove roadblocks preventing the team from making progress and hitting their goals
  • Maintain positive team morale and motivation
  • Recognize and celebrate the successes as they happen, not just at the end of the project
  • Try and have some fun along the way 😉

Project Phase 3 - Delivery

  • Baseline product being delivered against requirements
  • Present product to client and collect feedback
  • Address client feedback, balancing requests against original requirements vs. additional work, e.g. scope increase
  • Determine next steps, if any

Phase 4 - Ongoing Support

  • Similar steps to 1-3 above, done on a recurring basis, on a schedule agreed to with the client
  • Additional emphasis on reporting can be helpful during this stage, so clients consistently remember the work that’s being done, not just when they receive an invoice 🙂

You can also learn about my dead simple project management principles in this post.

Find the Best Remote Technical Project Manager Jobs Here

Published April 16, 2016 in Technical Project Management - 0 Comments
the best technical project manager jobs

I've analyzed over 4,000 remote project manager job listings. 99% (really, I've done the math!) of them are junk for an experienced technical project manager. The good news is there are some good ones. You can find them if you know where to look for the best remote technical project manager jobs.

Finding the good ones can feel like searching for a needle in a haystack. You'll find a list of sites here that post the best remote technical project manager jobs.

The Best Remote Technical Project Manager Jobs

​There are many sites out there posting remote jobs. Only sites that post the best remote technical project manager jobs make this list.

I update this list on a regular basis. Check back often if you're looking for the best remote technical project manager jobs.

Better yet, let me do the work for you!

I provide free access to my curated list of the best remote technical project manager jobs. My list does the work for you. It includes the best remote technical project manager postings from each of these sites.

1. Remote OK Jobs

From the site - "Remote OK acts like a search engine for all the remote jobs out there."

How to find the best remote technical project manager jobs on Remote OK Jobs -

​-Search for "project manager" or "project management"

The "project manager" search turns up more results than the "project management" search. It looks like most companies posting to Remote OK Jobs post the best remote technical project management jobs using "project manager" in the job title.​

the best remote technical project manager jobs

2. We Work Remotely

From the site - "We Work Remotely is the best place to find and list jobs that aren’t restricted by commutes or a particular geographic area. Find the most qualified people in the most unexpected places: Hire remote!"

How to find the best remote technical project manager jobs on We Work Remotely -

-Search for "manager", then browse the results for jobs that look like project manager jobs

We Work Remotely is a tricky one. It's one of the original remote job boards and run by 37signals. 37signals is a pioneer in remote working. That's why I've included the site in the list.

We Work Remotely hasn't posted many remote technical project manager jobs posted yet. I'm hopeful  the number will increase. I think it's worth keeping an eye on this site.​

3. Remotely Awesome Jobs

From the site - "Remotely Awesome Jobs is better than all those other sites because there are lots of job post aggregators out there, and there are even a few that focus on remote work like we do."

How to find the best remote technical project manager jobs on Remotely Awesome Jobs -

-Search for "project manager", and add the "management" filter tag

Then browse the results for jobs that look like project manager jobs. There will be some unrelated jobs that appear in the search.

This combination of searching for "project manager" and adding the "management" filter tag seems like your best bet. It strikes the best balance between not missing any project manager jobs, while limiting the number of of unrelated jobs that appear in the search results.

You can also sign up for email alerts from Remotely Awesome Jobs. The email alerts will alert you daily or weekly when a new job has been posted that matches you search criteria.

best remote technical project manger jobs

4. Jobspresso

From the site - "Jobspresso is the easiest way to find remote careers at interesting and innovative companies."

How to find the best remote technical project manager jobs on Remotely Awesome Jobs -

​-Click "Browse Jobs", then choose the "Project Mgmt" checkbox in the list under the Search bar

Choosing the "Project Mgmt" ​checkbox seems to be the most accurate way to find the best remote technical project management jobs on Jobspresso. Entering "project manager" in the search box returned zero results when I tried it.

So not entering anything in the search box and choosing the "Project Mgmt" checkbox seems to be the best bet. Jobspresso will email job alerts and provide an RSS feed based on your criteria.

You can also upload your resume to the site, in the hope that an employer might find it and contact you.

Adding New Sources

The popularity of remote working is on the rise. I believe the number of remote technical project manager jobs is going to increase over time. The number of sites that post them will increase too as that happens.

These are the best places I've found so far to find the best remote technical project manager jobs. I'm always on the lookout for new ones. I add them to this list as I find them, so check back often.

Better yet, let me do the work for you!

Sign-up to receive free access to my curated list of the best remote technical project manager jobs. Use the form in the sidebar to get your free access.

Photo Credit Gozha Net via Unsplash

Tags: jobs , remote work

Clients Should Pay for Value Created, Not Time Spent

Published March 25, 2016 in Technical Project Management - 0 Comments
value

Most consultants bill clients based on hours worked. Most clients expect to pay consultants for hours worked. This time and materials fee model is the oldest and most accepted consulting fee model. It's also broken.

The time and materials fee model does a poor job -

- Aligning value the consultant creates for the client

with -

- The consultant's compensation​

Using this model, the more time the consultant works, the more the consultant gets paid. There’s no guarantee the time worked is also creating value for the client.

Trying to map the value created to hours worked is a a subjective and time consuming exercise. Clients and consultants find this exercise to be unsatisfying and a waste of time.

The time and materials model also makes operating in a global economy difficult. Consultants may charge different fees in different parts of the world. An hourly rate that works in New York City or San Francisco may not work in London, for example.

Aligning Client Value with Consulting Fees

That’s why I prefer a value based approach to setting my project management consulting fees. I believe this approach is the most effective way to -

- Align client value I create with my fees

My fees are set. I’m there to make the project successful. This is the value I provide to the client. The client knows what they’re paying for this value. I know what the client is paying me for it.

I’m rewarded for working more efficiently and effectively, not penalized for it. My effective hourly rate goes up the more efficiently I work. My effective hourly rate goes down as my efficiency decreases. The client benefits from improved project performance the more efficiently I can work.

- Normalize my fees across different geographies

I charge clients a flat percentage of the total project budget. A percentage calculates the same way across any currency and any geography.

The client pays what they’d expect to pay based on their geography. I choose the projects I work on based on the calculated fees. I also consider how efficiently I can deliver the project.

This helps align my experience and expertise with clients who need it. Neither the client or I have to deal with fluctuating exchange rates. I don’t have to manage a complicated set of rates.

Project Management as an Insurance Policy

A strong project manager provides an insurance policy on a project. A strong project manager delivers a project on spec, on time and within budget.

Doing this prevents the client from incurring extra -

- Direct costs, e.g. budget overages

- Indirect costs, e.g. lost revenue due to missed release dates

20%-25% of Total Project Fees

I've found a rate of 20%-25% of the total weekly project fees works well for the client and me.

The 20-25% range also works well if there is a third party agency hires me to work with their client.

Why Flat Rate Billing Works for the Client

This flat fee allows the client to -

- Accurately predict their project management costs

The client builds the 20%-25% project management fee into their budget. My fee is calculated based on the actual project budget.

- Align the client’s success with mine

The 20-25% project management fee gets calculated against the estimated budget. It’s applied to scope changes the client requests.

It’s not applied to budget overages. This aligns the client’s success with mine. It levels the risk between us too.

There are instances where budget overages may be out of my control. The client and I have a discussion when this happens. We agree to an arrangement that works for both of us.

Why Flat Rate Billing Works for Me, the Project Manager

Not all project managers can operate under this model and make a profit. This model works for experienced project managers. It works better when you add the use of effective project management systems into the mix.

Experienced project managers know how to work effectively and efficiently. We know what systems to put in place and how to use them.

Project managers don't have to worry about tracking time under this model. We don't have to spend unnecessary overhead reviewing line items on invoices with clients. We're rewarded for working effectively and efficiently, not punished for it.

Give it a Shot, It's Worth a Try

The popularity of value based fee structures is gaining traction. Clients who try value based billing like it. It clicks. They get it. They stick with it.

Many clients still prefer the time and materials model. It’s the comfortable model. It’s the model they're used to using.

Ask you client to try a value based fee structure. Show them how it aligns both of your interests.

Show your customer it works for them once. They’ll become a believer. That’s when you both win.

Tags: billing , fees

Here Are My Dead Simple Project Management Principles

Published March 2, 2016 in Technical Project Management - 0 Comments

Trying Hard to Keep It Simple

Project management should be simple. There's no reason for project management to become a complex monster that feeds on precious project resources. Project management should maximize the effectiveness of resources. It shouldn't consume them.

Here are some dead simple project management principles I try and follow. I review them before initiating a project. I also come back to them once a project leaps forward from the starting gate.

I find them to be a grounding and refocusing tool. They help prevent managing a project from becoming bigger than the project itself.

Dead Simple Project Management Principles

Do set the path to a successful outcome. Do keep the path clear and stay out of the way. Don't block the path.

Do set the path to a successful outcome by developing, updating and communicating the path. Do keep the path clear by removing roadblocks. Do give your team what they need to make progress down the path, toward the successful outcome.

Do ask questions when they benefit the project. Do ask the hard questions when necessary.

Don't block the path. Don't get in the way. Don't impede progress. Don't establish process related roadblocks on the path.

Don't stop people smarter than you from doing what they need to do. Don't be afraid to admit when you don't know something.

Don't ask unnecessary questions for your own personal benefit. Don't shy away from asking the hard questions when necessary.

Do set your team up for success. Do give credit to team members where and when credit is due. Don't take undue credit when the team succeeds.

Do take responsibility when things don't go well. Don't blame the team when a project goes off-track.

Do celebrate small wins along the way. Do use the small wins to build momentum toward the bigger goal.

Do try and have some fun as you proceed down the path toward a successful outcome 🙂

This post is based on an answer I wrote on Quora to the question "What are the top do's and don'ts that a new project manager should remember?"

Remote Technical Project Manager Jobs for You

Published February 17, 2016 in Technical Project Management - 0 Comments
remote technical project manager jobs

Finding remote technical project manager jobs can be like finding a needle in a haystack. My lists of remote technical project manager jobs and projects make it easier for you.

Signup for free access to the lists using the form at the bottom of this post.

Always Current Lists of Remote Technical Project Manager Jobs

You'll receive free access to these two always current lists -

1 - Selected Sources - Remote

This is a listing of high-end remote technical project manager jobs and projects. Only Twitter accounts I feel post high quality and relevant jobs and projects post to this list.

2 - General Searches - Remote

This is a listing of remote technical project manager jobs and projects. Any Twitter account can post to this list.

Always Up-To-Date

Both lists update about every 15 minutes. This means they're always up-to-date.

Why am I doing this?

I'm a freelance, remote technical project manager. I believe that the way we work is changing to an on-demand, virtual model for knowledge workers.

Lists like this will become a valuable source of information that fuels the new way we work.

Benedict Evans, venture capitalist at Andreessen-Horowitz, even believes lists are the new search.

I'm also a strong believer in collaboration. As a result, I'm happy to share these lists with others who may be looking for remote technical manager jobs and projects. I'm sharing the lists to pay it forward to the technical project management community.

Enter your information below to access the lists!

You'll also be added  my newsletter. The purpose of the newsletter is to help you become a -

  • Successful and sought-after a technical project manager in the freelance economy
  • Thriving leader in the future of work, as it continues to manifest around us

I hope the newsletter becomes as valuable to you as the lists. Feel free to unsubscribe at any time.

You'll still have access to the lists if you unsubscribe. Although I hope you won't 🙂

Photo credit Jenelle Ball via Unsplash