Straight Talk on Project Management

Paul the Octopus

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Move over Paul the Octopus. Europe’s IT Project Managers predict The Euros

Do you remember Paul the Octopus? Germany’s octopus football oracle who, in 2010, became a worldwide celebrity for his apparent ability to accurately predict the outcomes of World Cup football matches. Paul correctly forecast the result of six of Germany’s World Cup games, and also predicted Spain would take the overall title!!

Then, there was Achilles the cat, Shaheen the camel, those cute panda cubs, and this time, it’s a supercomputer that is grabbing the headlines, using data to predict a Czech Republic Euro 2020 win (it’s 2021. This is why I prefer rugby – Ed!).

The Best Forecasters Are IT Project Managers

With all our forecasting skills and team-building prowess surely the European IT Project Management industry would be better at sussing who is going to win the Euros. I decided it might be fun to put this to the test.

I sent an email to 23 (**) IT Project Management colleagues across the continent with a simple question: “Share your favourite IT Project Tip – Win Euro 2020!” The premise being first back wins for their country, second is runner up and so on.

I emailed Project talent from Turkey, Italy, Wales, Switzerland, Denmark, Finland, Belgium, Russia, Netherlands, Ukraine, Austria, England, Croatia, Scotland, Czech Republic, Spain, Sweden, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Portugal, France, and Germany! I don’t have a North Macedonian IT Project contact – my DMs are open!

Anyway, as I’m in England I figured that my man Andy wouldn’t let me down, he is in the same country after all! Let’s see.


Eighth Place – Portugal

Magdalena was the only one to call in her tip by phone, hoping that it would make her quicker. Clever! but seven others beat her to it. Nice tip though – unless you’re hungry!

Madalena from Lisbon, Portugal’s Tip: Shorter More Efficient Meetings

“To make them faster and more efficient, we have a rule like Jeff Bezos [*1] about meetings. You can claim four croissants (or four sandwiches) and four coffees (or refrigerante [*2]) only from the company for a meeting. Over four guests and they have to buy their own or all the meeting attendees must all contribute. Inviting only who you really need to attend soon becomes a habit.”

*1 Amazon’s Jeff Bezos 2 pizza rule is a guideline for deciding how many attendees should be invited to a meeting. Each meeting should be small enough that attendees could be fed with two large pizzas.

*2 Refrigerante – I think that’s what she said and I think they’re “pop” as in “sodas”.

Seventh Place – Wales

Nice imagery from Gareth, but it’s back to the valleys in the round of eight for my Welsh friend Gareth!

Gareth from Swansea, Wales’ Tip: Rope in The Scope

“You ever go to a museum or a stately home? Or a restaurant with a VIP area? How effective are those ropes at keeping the unwanted visitor at bay! We ‘rope in the scope’ on our IT Projects which basically means the scope is protected and defended BUT flexible to attractive change. Our scope isn’t bricked up or behind an iron fence it’s contained within ropes meaning that if a scope change request comes in that will add value (without adding too much cost or delay) we can lift the rope and let it in – like if Jennifer Aniston walked into your restaurant!”

Sixth Place – Sweden

It’s a nice tip but a quarter-final exit for the Swedes!

Olle from Helsingborg, Sweden’s Tip: Business Case First, Second and Third

“In my experience, most IT Projects that fail have lost sight of their original business intention. How can a project succeed if you have not always in your mind the business change you set to achieve?”

Fifth Place – Poland

I am biased but I think this is the best of the lot! Gutted here by Poland’s failure to navigate the last eight!

Katarzyna from Gdansk, Poland’s Tip: Use External Project Service Experts to Improve Your Team

“The business services sector is one of the main economic sectors in Poland, members of organisations such as IPMA Polska have been advocating outsourcing to improve capability for some time. I was impressed with the IT Project Management services market during my five years in the UK (any gap could be filled by one phone call) and I’m trying to recreate the model now I am home.”

Fourth Place – Germany

No place in the final for Karl and Germany sadly (I hope you’re not being sarcastic – Ed). A semi-final exit and losing out in the third/fourth place play off puts a dent in that legendary German efficiency.

Karl from Hamburg, Germany’s Tip: Break Down Your Project, Then Break It Down Some More.

Hope Google translate has delivered the context as well as the meaning of Karl’s words. He says, “Everyone breaks their project down into manageable pieces. We always ask if there is another level that you can go down to. The smaller your chunk of work becomes the easier it is to manage, monitor and deliver. It speeds the process up also.”

What I love about Karl’s suggestion is that he introduced me to the word Klotz – which sounds like an insult – but I’m told means ‘chunk’. I want to use the word Klotz every day!

Third Place – Scotland

An old Project Management friend Malc was third back giving Scotland a respectable semi-final exit and a win in the third / fourth place play off over Germany!

Malc from Edinburgh, Scotland’s Tip: Nail Your Processes – Nail Your Project

Process is everything. Get your process right, make how you do what you do scalable and repeatable, and you practically automate delivery of successful outcomes. Also, confidence in your systems, processes and methodologies gives you the vision to spot when you need to adjust your approach. Sometimes the key to being a processes king is knowing when to switch tack!

Runner Up – England

Andy was second back with a response! So England lose in the final! As long as it’s not penalties, I couldn’t take penalties again!

Andy from London, England’s Tip: Focus on The End User Throughout!

“Without end user satisfaction – what’s the point? You can hit every milestone, come in under budget and have the happiest project sponsor ever, but if your end user has a miserable experience – have you delivered at all. I make sure that we stay focused on the end user’s experience. Every request for scope creep, every quality enhancement, every deadline hit sooner than anticipated is counterbalanced with a check that everything we’re doing will make life better for the end user.”

Winner – Slovakia

Martina from Slovakia was the first to reply! Within about five minutes! Slovakia are therefore my prediction for Euro 2020 (I’m now seriously doubting your system David – Ed)

Martina from Banská Bystrica, Slovakia’s Tip: Keep Your Work Management Tools Up to Date!

“Applying for jobs in the UK I was amazed at how many positions insisted upon experience in *insert outdated work management system*. At one interview I was told that the spreadsheet was the team’s ‘go to’. I asked about Asana but was told ‘this is how we’ve always done it – works for us!’ I decided not to work for them. I’m loving ‘Monday’ right now. Keep all your working practices up to date and be a knowledge sponge when you meet someone with different experience to yours.”

So there we go!

Slovakia will win Euro 2020.

Hey! Let’s face it! It won’t be the craziest thing about this last 12 months will it!?

Good luck to all the teams and if you’re having an IT Project team sweepstake I hope your country wins – and if it IS Slovakia, remember who to share your winnings with!

If I, or my team, can help you deliver IT Project wins this summer, or anytime, we’d love to hear from you. 

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