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Project Management

Agile Methodology

by Randall Craig on March 17, 2017

Filed in: Blog, Make It Happen Tipsheet,

Tagged as: , ,

Project managers the world over build Gantt charts, PERT charts, Work Breakdown Structures.  They focus on delivering on-time, on-budget.

No matter your role, is there something that can be learned from the profession of project management?

In the olden days – and sadly, “today” for many organizations – the most common project management approach is the so-called waterfall approach:

  • Market research
  • Analysis of requirements
  • Technical specification
  • Development
  • Testing
  • Bug-fixes
  • Final testing
  • Launch

This approach allowed for clear approvals at each stage, and cleverly separated the “client” of the project from those actually doing the work.

Unfortunately, this methodology has some significant disadvantages, chiefly that because of this separation, there is little or no collaboration during the project itself.  Said another way, the ground can shift during long projects, and therefore the needs may change significantly from the project start to project launch.

Enter Agile.  While the dictionary defines agile as “the ability to move quickly and easily”, from a project management perspective, agile means something very specific.  Instead of a long, drawn-out process, an agile process divides the project into a number of cycles, called sprints.  Each sprint would have three parts:

  1. Build:  Something is put together (a prototype, a pilot, etc)
  2. Test:  The kinks are worked out of the system.
  3. Demo:  Feedback is collected for action during the next sprint.

Agile Project Management

Agile provides a number of advantages over the traditional waterfall approach:

  • Real-time market research is embedded into the process.
  • There is collaboration and connection to the target users.
  • Continuous mid-course corrections and improvements.
  • Lower project risk, since progress is demonstrated continuously.
  • Faster time-to-market.

This week’s action plan:  While the example above might be for a digital development project, agile can be used anywhere.  Consider the projects that you are connected with: how many are managed traditionally, and how many are agile?  This week, begin the process of moving at least one to agile.

Note: The Make It Happen Tipsheet is also available by email. Go to to register.

Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)
:  Professional credentials site
.com: Web strategy, technology, and development
:  Interviews with the nation’s thought-leaders



Five Steps to Reduce Risk

by Randall Craig on January 13, 2017

Filed in: Blog, Make It Happen Tipsheet, Risk

Tagged as: ,

Are you keen on risk?  Do you seek it out?  Most people and organizations don’t – and for good reason.  Yet risk is not necessarily bad: it is part of the risk-return equation; it identifies potential opportunity… and exposure.

What is bad is unnecessary risk.  This simple framework can help:

Step One: Identify all of the potential risks. (Including the risk of non-action). This is a brainstorm that should consider all of the potential problems that might occur.

Step Two: Mitigation strategies. What can be done to reduce the chance that each risk might occur? What changes to process or methodology? To the people involved? To the technology? To the terms and conditions?

Step Three: Monitoring. Often it is easier to reduce or remove a risk if it is identified earlier in a process than later. Define – up front – how the initiative will be monitored, and who will be monitoring, and how it will be reported.

Step Four: Disaster planning. For each of the identified potential risks, how will each be handled if they were to come to pass? A useful question to ask, for each risk, is “what is the worst that can happen?” Having contingency plans in place helps the business survive with minimum disruption. As should be obvious, when disaster happens, most people are in “panic mode”, so having done the thinking beforehand is invaluable.

Step Five: Insurance. Many risks can be insured against – often at a surprisingly low cost.

These five steps make a lot of sense, but when considering risks – most people and businesses – go in the opposite order, starting with insurance, then disaster planning, and maybe, just maybe, monitoring. Most don’t consider mitigation strategies, and ignore step one, identification, completely. Doing it the right way means that you’re planning for less ominous disasters, and less costly insurance.

This week’s action plan:  Risk is everywhere – from operational, to financial, to legal, and so on.  Because digital is usually newer for most organizations, this week, focus there.  (More on digital risk management here:  Insight: 34 Social Media RisksViewpoint: Risky Businessand Identifying and reducing Facebook risks.)

Note: The Make It Happen Tipsheet is also available by email. Go to to register.

Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)
:  Professional credentials site Web strategy, technology, and development
:  Interviews with the nation’s thought-leaders


Avoiding tech project failures (2)

by Randall Craig July 1, 2016

Have you ever had a problem – or a disastrous – project in your organization?  When this happens, it is often “clear” that the problem is with the consultants hired to help, and sadly, this is often true. But is some of the fault also with your organization?  While a previous post looked at issues from an […]

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Avoiding tech project failures

by Randall Craig June 10, 2016

Has your organization invested in a “game-changing” software project, only to discover that the promised benefits never really materialize?  Or that the implementation was so flawed that the system is regarded as a financial and operating disaster? Sadly, this happens far more than it should… but must this always be the case?  Here are five […]

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