Friday, 15 February 2013

Project Update - Feb 2013

Wow - it is already the middle of February.  2013 seems to be going as fast as 2012 flew by.  Before we know it, it will be Easter holiday time.

This month has been a short month for me.  I worked through Christmas, into the New Year and then took a week of holiday with my family to Centre Parcs.  I have been back at work for three weeks and have not made time to write a blog.  I have two poor excuses.  The first is that I am trying to study for the PMI Risk Management exam.  The second is that I am tracing my family tree.  Both of these tasks have eaten away my free time in one way or another.

As for the family tree, I had previously gone way back along both my Wife's and my own family tree, but I had branched out in all directions.  I decided that I needed to start over and concentrate on the male side of the lines, following the 4 grand fathers that we have.  I will create a blog post next month with a short summary, but I warn anyone looking to start their own tree that the process is time sapping and very addictive.  I find it very therapeutic, which is a welcome break after studying and working hard.

The Risk Management study is not going as well as planned.  I am already behind on my simple study project plan, due to a slight lack of enthusiasm in the early part of the year.  I had planned to read the PMBoK Risk Management chapter during my family holiday, but this was not achieved, as I decided that I needed a complete break from work for a week to relax and recuperate.

Study is now going well and the plan to read the chapter from the PMBoK will be completed this weekend.  I have a set of 30+ questions on Risk Management, so I will ensure that these are completed on Sunday morning, before I have some guests for dinner.  The most important task is to book my exam.  I have already been accepted and have passed all of the prerequisites, but I must book the exam to ensure I have the correct focus.

I have been very busy this month on my project at work.  I have written a separate blog post to update you all on what has been going on there.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

January 2013 - Project Update

As you may know, I am working for a Japanese Corporation as a Project Manager to migrate all of our users from Lotus Domino email to Exchange.  This sounds quite a simple project, and it would be, if there were not so many dependencies on a corporate email infrastructure.

For almost a year, we have been working hard to understand the dependencies, understand all of the risks, complete the design to ensure the most robust, reliable and fault tolerant system we can. 

I am from a Lotus Domino background and have more than 13 years consulting experience and I am working with a Technical Architect who has been an Exchange consultant for roughly the same period of time.  This relationship has a chemistry which is very useful to the project as we are able to compare best practises and techniques for email on a global level.  We have considerable banter regarding our own technology expertise, which is useful when discussing design issues and infrastructure considerations.

People have the misunderstanding of the size of the project, as they think it is a simple case of changing the Lotus Notes client to the Outlook client.  This is far from the facts.  Imagine that you have a Ford car and just need to change the steering wheel to a model from a Ferrari, then imagine all of the configuration, the systems it integrates with, such as the telephone, radio, windscreen wipers, onboard computer, air bag, indicators.... the list goes on and on.  Now think of your email system and the links to other systems it has, such as Mobile messaging, Blackberry, Backup, Monitoring, Anti-virus, Archiving, storage options ... and the list goes on....

Within December, the budget was completed and contains approximately 200 line items, which covers all of the manpower, hardware, software and services that we require to implement our new infrastructure.  This shopping list took more than a month to collate, speaking with various suppliers, technical teams and the stakeholders.  An approximate budget was set, so reworking the design and streamlining options had to be presented, for example, "If you want to save cost X, then you either remove Y from the architecture, or you run the risk of Z".  These decisions were then put to management for final approval.

The project is now getting exciting - and busy.  I cannot tell you too much detail for now, but the infrastructure is a considerable size and the engagement of the technical team, vendors and consultants, as well as the recruitment is all starting to build up.  This is one of my favorite times in a project, which is taking the design and concepts that have been in development and taking these forward into the final product.  The communication and coordination with all of the people is the particular part of Project Management that I enjoy.  I have built up many relationships and trusts over the past year and they are now starting to pay off.  Communication and being a "people person" is a definite skill required for a Project Manager.

On a monthly basis, I will post an update on the project and try to explain the good parts and the bad parts as we progress.

iGoogle replacement?

I have been using iGoogle for many years and like the home page it have.  I have, and use, only seven widgets on the home page, which I find very useful.

The main use is the excellent bookmarks widget, which allows me to categorize my bookmarks and easily find (and add) bookmarks.  Even my children know how to use this widget.

Other widgets I use regularly are for Gmail and Google Calendar, to see my latest emails and diary entries.  I do not have to open the individual apps, but can see the upcoming appointments and latest emails at a quick glance.

The peripheral apps that I use are for the BBC News Headlines, my Rowing progress on my Concept2 and the weather.  All of these are used everyday or so, but not every time I open iGoogle.  They are good to see at a glance and are more "nice to haves" rather than a necessity.

I understand that Google have made a decision to dis-continue iGoogle in November 2013.  Does anyone have a suitable replacement.  The best replacement I have found so far is igHome, which can be tailored to look similar to my iGoogle homepage, however the bookmarks do not read directly from Google Bookmarks, which is a major issue for me.

Any ideas?