Data Migration

I recently worked on a data migration and it was challenging and complex to say the least. I have listed out the key (but not all) issues and actions that had to be carried as part of the migration.

  1. Comparing and analysing the new data set to the old data set to find any discrepancies to make sure the new data contained all the required fields or information.
  2. Making sure the new data set was uploaded correctly and people were on hand to deal with any issues that could occur when it was loaded in.
  3. Checking if the system could be rolled back if the data migration caused a lot of issues when it was completed.
  4. Also looking at how the new data set was structured and how the different segments or categories connected to each other and if this was any different from how the old data sets segments or categories linked to each (this in itself brought up some issues that had to be resolved).

From this I can honestly say it’s so important for organisations to keep on top of the data that they use and store. It must be kept tidy, audited, organised and well maintained. So often this does not happen and it gets pushed to one side because of other business priorities. Then once a data migration is required or a new system needs to use the data there can often be all types of issues that come up that have to be resolved, and that can cost more money than properly maintaining the data to begin with.

Here is also an interesting article from information week on data migration: 10 Big Data Migration mistakes

 

 

LEGO DUPLO Tiny Film Festival

I have had the great opportunity to work with LEGO and Disney on the LEGO DUPLO Tiny Film Festival. It was a great experience and I worked with a great team of people.

During this project I had to manage and deliver several simultaneous work streams. From a website build, strategy, creative and design work, and video production. It all came together well and was also a enjoyable project to work on.

Website: www.lego.com/tinyfilm

http://lbbonline.com/news/lego-duplo-disney-and-isobar-have-just-launched-the-worlds-tiniest-film-festival/

FireShot Capture - DUPLO Tiny Film Festival - https___tinyfilm lego com_

Budgeting Management Part 2 (Budgeting example)

Budgeting Management Part 2: (This is a high level example of budgeting) I could add a lot more detail, but this post will get to long!

Budget Example:

A firm is approached by a music festival that wants to create an a mobile app for the festival. This app should cover all the main mobile platforms. This includes iOS, Android, Windows Phone and Blackberry.

They (the music festival) have a budget of £20,000 to do this.

The first and most important thing is that the scope is clearly defined. This will mean sitting down with the client (music festival) in a meeting or several, to discuss what they require. Requirements come in all shapes and sizes, but for a mobile app you want to define certain key things.

  1. What mobile platforms should it operate on?
  2. What date does it have to be delivered by?
  3. Is there an example of another similar app?
  4. What will the content of the app be? A list of key requirements. This will also require a design mock-up of what the app will look like and also what the various sections or areas of the app will cover and look like. Some wire frames (how the sections, pages, areas of the app fit together. Also a wire frame may be required of how one page or section works). This will probably change in some shape or form during the build of the app.
  5. A technical specification may also be required. This is a plain language document describing how the app will work and detailing how all the sections and pages will fit together.
  6. Copy. This is written content of the app. This includes the main written content. Any articles, information, notices, FAQs etc.
  7. Terms and Conditions. These are the terms for using the app.

The requirements are defined and the client wants a relatively straight forward app to be created. This will entail some videos, photos, some information and history about the event and some contact details for further information. It will also contain redirects and details of where and how to buy tickets for the music festival. Also the client would like a twitter feed built into the app so any twits about the festival show up in the feed.

Initially the client wanted the app on all mobile platforms. But after discussing this with the client and the extra costs and possibly low take up on some of the platforms. The client agrees to an app for only iOS and Android.

There would be two different ways to build this app. One would be an native app and the other would be a web (html5) app. Some thought is given to this, but it is decided to create a web app. Web apps are created using HMTL 5. Creating a web app should make it easier to use across the mobile platforms. It won’t require creating two apps using the developer kits for the various mobile operating systems which would be the case if creating a native app.

The client already has their own youtube channel so videos from the site can be used with the app. A photo gallery is also created using photos provided by the client who can provide these free of charge.

Because the app will be given away for free and they will be no in app purchases or subscriptions. It will be far easier getting it past the Apple guidelines and placing on the iOS store. Android apps can be directly loaded to the Google play store with no clearance process.

The project manager speaks to an in house developer who knows how to develop web apps and has done both for Andriod and iOS. However he is busy with two of the other in house developers at the moment and cannot take on this development himself full time. As the client wants a quick as possible turn around. It is agreed an developer should be brought in for 3 weeks to do the bulk of the work. The in house developer knows a really good developer who also knows some of the technical aspects of the build that he is not familiar with. This developer is free for the work and at £400 a day it is quite a good price for a developer!

An in house account manager, the project manager, project assistant and in house accountant will make up the rest of the team and as they are internal and paid monthly. They will not add to the cost of the project. However as salaries do have to paid the in house costs are charged at a 30% fee of the overall budget and this costs £6000 (In this price all costs will be covered and this also includes any contingency costs). This also includes an account manager who will provide a post launch service to the client.  Agreement is made with the client that an overall charge of £17,400 will be made. Coming £2600 under budget.

Break Down of Costs:

Company Charge: £6000

Developer: £400 X 21 Days = £8400

Designer: £300 X 5 days = £1500

QA Tester: £300 X 5 days = £1500

Itunes App Store: $99 and 30% cut of each download.  (This app will be given away for free so not cut is applicable).

The iOS Developer kit – allowing you to develop and distribute apps in the iTunes App Store – costs $99/year.

Google Play (Andriod Store): Pay a $25 registration fee. (This is a one-time fee required for all developers, even if you are publishing a free app. You can pay using credit card or Google Checkout).

Google takes 30% of the revenues of paid apps for“carriers and billing settlement fees”. The same as Apple.

Photos and Video: Free of charge. Provided by client.

Copy: (The blurb i.e. information, articles anything in written form) Free of charge. Provided by client.

Overall Cost: £17,400

There is an contingency cost agree with the boss, from the £6000 of about £3000. (Note: In some budgeting risk and issue budgets may also be required).

Looking at the costs above. Any delays or increases to the number of days the contractors work for could seriously increase the costs. Tight management and communication will be required to make sure the budget does not go over costs. As at the scoping stage of the project it was identified that this was a relatively straight forward app to build. No major risks are logged. However all risks, issues, progress and general monitoring of the project must be closely maintained to keep the budget on track,

Think of some other risks that could affect the budget. A change in project scope. Delays in the work. Issues with integrating with 3rd party systems such as twitter or youtube. All this must be taken into account. From this simple example it can show that budget management can be quite complex, Being affected by multiple variables.

Budget Management Part 1

This posting is part one of several posts in relation to budgeting:

On the face of it budgeting seems like a straight forward process. Set out the requirements and fund what is necessary to get a job done, product delivered or service created. But budgeting can be problematic and challenging. One of the biggest risks affecting budget management is simply one of going over budget.*

When working on a project, a budget should be approached with scope and requirements clearly defined. A great example would be when booking a holiday. You decide on a set budget you want to spend. For example this may be £700. This includes everything. The flights, the hotel/accommodation, food and dining, sightseeing, travel (taxi’s etc), miscellaneous costs. With this budget in mind, you set out what will be possible for you and book your holiday accordingly. It may not be the most glamorous holiday on this budget, but that is the compromise you would have to make. (On a side note to this a general rule that complexity theory or the adventure of life can through at you. Is that with good budgeting and research you could possibly land a glamorous holiday! This is life).

Managing a project budget can take a very similar approach. Developing new software, creating a website, building a bridge, all projects such as these will require money and the money used to deliver them must be budgeted for in the project. The finance may come from a client or investor or it may come internally from the firm you are working at.

One thing that is key for successful budget management is to have clearly scoped out requirements for what is to be delivered. Clearly defining scope and requirements will help successful budget management and delivery of the project.

As a high level example, a client/customer may come to a firm and say they have £10,000 to spend on the creation of a website. The sales person hands the project to the project manger. Unhelpfully the sales person has done what sales people do and said on this budget all types of wonderful things can be delivered. The project manger looks at the budget and the requirements and is not quite so optimistic. The first thing the project manager should really do is talk to the client/customer and really get the specific requirements down in writing. Ideally the client should also give some examples of what they are looking for. With these details the project manager can set out and look at what can be delivered. (The project manager may need to have discussions with web developers, programmers, accountants, account managers and any other key personnel when working out the costing for the project). Once this has been done the project can be initiated. (Note: The project manager should have another person check the costings for quality assurance. The project manager will not always be involved in the budgeting of a project and may just work on delivery. Before a project is initiated some money may have to be spent on scoping out the requirements. Creating mock ups of the website, wireframes. technical specs etc… May have to be created before the project begins. This would be part of an initial startup budget and may mean that money is spent without a project even being launched.)

Key elements to successful budget Management:

  • Build in a contingency cost. (This could be as much as 30% of the budget). A contingency budget is very important, If the project goes over budget this could save a lot of extra cost.
  • Have more than 1 person looking after the budget. Even if this just means weekly or monthly reviews with at least 1 other person. Ideally several other people.
  • Have more than 1 person creating the budget if possible.
  • Closely monitor and track the budget.
  • Have regular progress checks. Even if these are just weekly or daily meetings.
  • Monitor issues and risks.
  • Forecast costs. Future costs in the project must be accounted for in the budget.

Different ways a budget may be funded:

  • Funded internally. A project could be funded internally by a firm / bank or government that wishes to make its own product, provide a service, etc…
  • Funded externally. A client comes to a supplier or firm and asks for a product, service to be produced.
  • RFP (Request for proposal) or Quote. A client may come to a supplier and ask for them to put forward a proposal / quote for a project.
  • Funded by an individual. This could be a rich investor or someone who has links to rich investors.
  • Fund raising campaigns. Often done by charities.
  • Group funding. Such as those ran by kickstarter.

Notes:

When using an Agile Project Management approach such as Scrum. Some of the pressures and difficulties of budget management can be reduced or eliminated. For a product backlog would have been created and only in the first release would a selection of the key elements or realistic elements would be delivered as opposed to delivering the whole thing! Although this may not always be the case and using Scrum may not help your budgeting at all! Also in some projects you have to deliver the whole thing. Such as a bridge!

* There are risks with coming under budget. There have been numerous stories of councils or government agencies spending all their budget when they don’t need to. In fear that if they don’t their budget will get cut. This may not relate specifically to a single project. But is an issue that can be caused by under spending and a some what controversial one.

Photoshop (Examples of some of my work)

I sometimes get asked about how well I know Photoshop or if I know Photoshop. As an example of some of the work I have done please see the images below. These are all edited and created by myself. I love working with different media, medians and digital media and I greatly enjoy working with Photoshop. It can come in handy for all different types of work. For editing photos to working on presentations, websites and various other applications and tasks.

Emotions and Human Psychology (Key areas that could help to improve your life and skills)

One of the things that amazes me about project management and for that matter many other areas of business, is the little or no preference given to human emotions, ego and all the issues, conflicts and benefits that derive from emotions. As of today there is no approach, training or strategy in any of the main project management methodologies – for emotions and dealing with the issues they can cause.

Considering how emotions are basically one of the most powerful forces in us and can dictate the success or failure of a project, it is amazing they don not get more reference. Below I have listed some key areas to pay attention to when dealing with emotions and human character. Obviously this is a huge area to discuss so I will visit and re-visit with various posts.

  • One of the most important skills you will ever have in life is to be able to listen. This will serve you immeasurably in all aspects of your life. To listen to others and also what you are truly feeling.
  • It is highly important to be aware that human character can cultivated for the better. Yours, as well as others. Unfortunately a lot of people are not willing to do what is necessary to implement change for the better. This is very often as simple as not listening to feedback and not taking it on board. If you are not open to coaching you are unlikely to improve.
  • It is not a criticism of a person to point out an improvement they can make about themselves or how they apply themselves to their work. It is merely feedback that can either be accepted or rejected. If giving feedback to someone it is always best to put it diplomatically. If they don’t take feedback well this is an interesting insight into their character and often means a lack of confidence and bad egotism or pride.
  • Human beings can be very bad at listening to or accepting unsolicited advice. A good project manager or scrum master and all the people working on a project should be open to feedback and advice. At least for the sake of the project.
  • Projects should be approached with humility. People with large egos; that make an assumption they are always correct and are not willing to listen to others, can cause disastrous effects on a project. Large egos can create blind sides, disharmony in the team and cut off any chance of correcting badly made decisions.
  • A person must have confidence in their abilities and have a willingness to listen. A belief by an individual that their decisions are always correct and they are themselves of high importance, so cannot possibly change or be open to feedback, is a primitive, ego orientated type approach. That will often lead to mistakes being made and not corrected.
  • Transparency about the work being undertaken is also very important. It creates confidence in staff members and limits gossip and misinterpretations.  The more staff know about a project and about the company or organisation they work for. The more secure they will feel.
  • The human brain evolved specifically to survive. This is our primary instinct. The brain taking input from the past; creates opinions and stories based on available data or made up data to fill in the gaps. This way to the brain, the world is manageable and actions can be prepared. These opinions and stories are often incorrect and based on emotional states or negativity. Transparency limits staff from creating such stories or opinions based on nothing more than hear say or non-factual data.
  • Finally a calm, mindful, awareness of the project, your own emotions and people’s emotions around you. Will help to create success in projects.

Overview of Digital Technologies and related subjects

One of the reasons I originally set up this blog/website was as a central place to post, store and share the things that I or other people know or learn in project management. I also recently thought that it would be a good idea to store the things I learn about in a single document. So I created the doc below. This doc is a live document and I will add knowledge to it when I learn something new or when I want to add something else. It will act as a great reference doc.

Overview of Digital Technologies and related subjects