project: Marah

project management for the things that really matter

Whatever works…

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Recently ,  I took care of my father’s book business.  He sells old and rare books on American Art.  Last year he acquired a new collection of books, and due to space / time constraints, the books were re-shelved in an unusual manner.

Each book was given a sequential  unique identifier, and then placed on a shelf.  The challenge arose when the number of books out numbered the number of available shelves.  As a result, spare space was created, and a map to identify where / how the sequence flowed through the stacks.

While my family was on vacation, my mission was to track down books, using this treasure map:

Surprisingly, I was able to navigate the chaos and ship merchandise on time.

The experience reminded me that a process is a process, regardless of how crazy it might look on the outside.  Could there be efficiencies created? Of course, but my father’s business would have to want those efficiencies.

The lesson was similar to one learned during my time working with a Start-up in Ottawa.  They were a small shop working on peer-to-peer and mesh network  telecommunications solutions.  As the Program Management Liaison, I spent a lot of time observing how things were currently getting done, and then translating that to the big-company way.  Many times the process in place was perfect for the situation.

An exception was the R&D schedule, managed via an Excel spread-sheet.  This was an arduous task, and a labor of love undertaken by the project manager.  The requirement from the parent company was that the project schedules be in a uniform template, and available on line. This aided in transparency across projects and staff coordination.   It was great, but it wasn’t as pretty looking as  the Excel document. This turned out to be the major hurdle to adopting the new tool, the fact that the team had gotten used to seeing things a certain way.

After understanding the project’s process for communications, I worked with the onsite team to preserve the important pieces of data.  This included uncovering some of the online tool’s customizations, such as color choice, so that they could continue to print charts in the colors they were used to, while the home office could still use the ones that made the most sense to them.

On the outside, looking in, it appeared a bit chaotic, but on the inside looking out, it was a fantastic coup of cross team communications.


Written by marahrosenberg

28 August 2009 at 6:12 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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