Week 5 Estimating Costs and Allocating Resources

Jim teases Spock about giving an estimate


The task “for this assignment, was to conduct a web search (listservs, message boards, blogs) and locate at least two resources that would be useful in estimating the costs, effort, and/or activity durations associated with ID projects” (Walden, 2014).

The first resource I found is located at: http://www.nwlink.com/~donclark/hrd/costs.html. Big Dog and Little Dog’s Performance Juxtaposition by Don Clark (2014) states: “Budgeting training is often a difficult chore as plans are often based on training an “average person.” But, as we soon learn, although there are many models and statistics of an average person to be found in various literatures, there are actually no average people to be found! We are all unique in some form or manner. This makes any activity that must place a variable on people highly uncertain and inaccurate at times.

Although the budget may not be correct the first time, especially if the training is new or complicated, it still should be performed at this time to give the training staff a goal to aim for. The budget or the program can be adjusted when more information has been obtained. After all, this is what the ISD model is all about, performing evaluations throughout the various phases and then using the feedback to adjust the program for the desired results”.

He goes on to quote, ” After performing the initial budget, it might seem that the training program will be quite expensive, but as Gary Wilber, CEO of Drug Emporium, Inc. said, “The expense isn’t what it costs to train employees. Its what it costs not to train them. You realize that as you grow.” –

I like how the site is laid out, is explained, and has links to outside resources. I think the neatest tool it has is the Excel Spreadsheet Cost Estimator. All you have to do is plug in your numbers and it calculates for you.

The second resource I found is located at: http://www.planningpoker.com/. It is an estimating tool and it is FREE. According to the site, “Planning Poker works because it lets the people who are actually going to be completing the work do the estimating. Estimates derived from Planning Poker are more accurate because of the emphasis on lively discussion and the fact that estimators are called upon by their peers to justify their estimates — factors proven to increase accuracy. Finally, Planning Poker provides a true average of individual estimates, which has been shows to lead to better results.” I think this is a great way to make sure that they people who need to do the estimating can come together in the same “space” at the same time and actually get things worked out. It does have a limit. It says it is “usually best if this number does not exceed ten people.” Work groups can be divided up if there are more than ten people on a team. I would think that this would also help people feel more inclined to open up about what they really need for their part of the project.

I think both of these site have good information and tools to use. It depends on what I might need, but I think I will be referring back to both of these sites in the near future.

Enter data here . . .

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Week 3 The Art of Effective Communication: It’s all in how you say it / write it.


According to Portney et al, (2008), “The key to successful project management is effective communication – sharing the right messages with the right people in a timely manner. Through communication, people exchange and share information which influences attitudes, behaviors, and understandings.
Communication may be informal, formal, written or verbal. Whatever form the communications take, project managers should plan and prepare so their messages are received and correctly interpreted by project audiences”.

How did your interpretation of the message change from one modality to the next?

The three modalities of communication we looked at this week are: email, voicemail, and Vis à Vis (face to face). In the email, it seemed snobby, arrogant, and a bit bossy. In my opinion, there is no way to accurately or effectively portray “tone” in an email. Other than changing the color and the font in an email, so as not to give the wrong impression or hurt feelings, one can only state the matter in a respectful way.

In an email, there is an opportunity for a misinterpretation / translation issue. This perceived “tone” could also cause a misunderstanding or hurt someone’s feelings unintentionally. This should be a third choice, or a follow up to an in person contact, if a project team is in the same building(s).

“So it is not perceived in a wrong light for other than its true purpose: to obtain the required data so the other team member can submit their report on time, change the color and the font.”

Voicemail is a little better than email. It can convey tone, context and meaning using voice. However, Voicemail is like email: one never knows when the message will be opened and listened to. Sometimes voicemails do not go to their intended target. Other times, there may be a malfunction in the telephone equipment. Then there are the times when the voicemail is just not picked up / heard.

Vis à Vis (face to face) communication is a better way to get the information one needs if they are located in the same area(s). It is more personal, it can convey meaning and context, and it provides more motivation for the team member(s).

Which form of communication best conveyed the true meaning and intent of the message?

Vis à Vis (face to face) communication is the best form of communication to get the information one needs if they are located in the same area(s). It is more personal, it can convey meaning and context, and it provides more motivation for the team member(s). People, in general, respond better. There can be no mistaking a person’s facial expression, tone, inflection, mannerisms, etc. which cannot be conveyed in an email or a voicemail.

The factors that influenced this decision: face to face communication is more effective because it is more personal. It also best conveys the message that she may miss her deadline. She is able to connect with the team member and they can also iron out any wrinkles in the transfer of information.

Not everyone is comfortable with Vis à Vis contact. So voicemail should be a second option of communication. They may not check their mail on a regular basis and may “miss something”. If they do not check in regularly, it could cause Jane to miss her deadline.

The last option would be that if one needed a confirmation, email would be a good avenue. However it still does not minimize the chances for a misunderstanding / misinterpretation..

A synthesis of thoughts regarding what this activity implies about communicating with members of a project team.

As a PM, the persons who need to know and want to know about the project, should be the ones receiving the information. One needs to take into account the location of other team members. It may be that they are spread worldwide and this poses another issue – lack of face to face contact. However, with the technologies we have today, we have the ability to Skype meetings or in the education systems – use BlackBoard Elluminate / BlackBoard Collaborate.

What did you learn that will help you communicate more effectively with others in the future?

I think the most important item would be to make sure that any emails and voicemails are kept short and to the point, “just the facts, ma’am”. Messages can be formal, planned ahead, in standard format and on an established schedule. They can also be informal where the information is shared as it either becomes available or as people think of it (Portny, 2008). If it is an informal communication, to minimize chances for misunderstandings, misinterpretations, or hurt feelings, a PM could do a few things such as: confirm in writing the important aspects of the informal discussion; make sure that all involved in an important topic are present and addressed; prepare regularly scheduled reports in standard format; stay focused – keep on topic; minimized jargon; emphasize key issues in another color / font, or on different colored paper; and say what needs to be said and STOP (Portny, 2008)

References

Portny, S. E., Mantel, S. J., Meredith, J. R., Shafer, S. M., Sutton, M. M., & Kramer, B. E. (2008). Project management: Planning, scheduling, and controlling projects. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Post Mortem – Health Tracking

X marks the spot

X marks the spot

When I first started my last job, I shared an office with an amazing person, “Sherry”. Sherry was always working hard, very rarely chatting like the other hens in the office, and almost always a smile on her sweet Southern belle face. She had these long papers taped, glued, stapeled, whatever she had to do, to keep them together. She was always focused and always doing something to those long papers. One day, my curiosity got the better of me and I asked about her papers. Sherry explained to me that all of the health inforamtion that were were required to have was also supposed to be “tracked” somehow. This was how she did it as her predecessor had taught her, in long hand, not utilizing the computer to her left.

We continued our talk and I asked if I could help make her job easier. Who wouldn’t like that, right? I asked her to give me an idea, or draw out her idea, of how should would want a “spreadsheet” like the one she had taped together, only on an 8.5″ x 14″ piece of paper. I asked her to give me a day or two to make it for her (I couldn’t wait that long!) and presented it to her a little while later in an Excel format. I love to create things and creating this spreadsheet for Sherry was very gratifying. I sent it to her in an email and began showing her how to input all the data, etc. for each classroom. Once the hard part was done, filling in all the blanks, she could see exactly what each child was missing from immunizations to a dental visit.

As a child care facility, there are certain things that must be done and certain things that must be tracked. We had a computer software program that would allow data entry but it was highly irritating and not user friendly at all. This was another reason for the spreadsheet. Sherry could take all of the information she had gathered and work directly off of one sheet instead of a million pieces of paper. However, it was still not possible to get everything into a nice Matrix on one sheet of paper.

My desk faced Sherry’s desk. I had happened to look up one afternoon to see that there were only a few sheets of paper on her desk. Usually, it was covered in papers (all in neat piles). I asked about her spreadsheet. The look on her face was priceless. She looked like a kid in a candy store with her favorite lollipop. She was working on her desktop and only had one sheet per classroom – eleven 8.5 x 14 sheets in total – all stapled together.

While I do not like to toot my own horn, too often for fear of getting a “big head”, I must say that I am rather proud of the work we did together to create that Health Tracking sheet. It is now 8 years later and Sherry still uses the same sheet. They finally changed to a different more user friendly software but the spreadsheet still stands on its own. I think what would be nice is to have the paper just a little longer so the font could be a little larger. Other than that, I think the spreadsheet looks great. Sherry did a great job conceptualizing what she needed and wanted for her tracking sheet.

The most frustrating part of the tracking sheet was the font size. Resizing the cells could be done but then it would be difficult to have all of the information need on one side of the paper – which is preferred. The most gratifying and satisfying part of the process in working with Sherry was helping her to be more efficient. Her manual spreadsheets were great! But having them on the computer and being able to do all the wonderous things within a digital world literally opened a whole new world for her. She now creates her own spreadsheets with little help. Every now and again, she will request some help or an “extra eye” to double check a formula or get help with layout.

Portny, et al (2008) stated that getting team buy helps the unit function better. Having consistent systems amd procedures is place is crucial. Each team member may have other projects competing for their time. While the team members may not be familiar with another’s style, knowledge and approach, they may may require time to build up a trusting relationship and be comfortable with each other’s styles and behaviors.

Sherry and I work well together. We understand each other and communicate well. In my opinion, we were the only two stakeholders. However, if we had to bring in another stakeholder, I suppose it would have to be the boss. She did ask questions a few times on why I was helping Sherry. To me, if a co-worker asks for your help, and you have the time or can schedule it in, should you not help as requested? Micro-managing behavior is not my thing. As long as it is work and pertains to the work at hand, stop trying to make a good situation difficult.

References
Portny, S. E., Mantel, S. J., Meredith, J. R., Shafer, S. M., Sutton, M. M., & Kramer, B. E. (2008). Project management: Planning, scheduling, and controlling projects. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Kitchen Sink Syndrome – A.K.A. Scope Creep

 

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Kitchen-Sink Syndrome – A.K.A. Scope Creep

According to www.projectscope.com, “The Project Scope pertains to the work necessary to deliver a product. Requirements and deliverables define the project scope, and it is critical that the stakeholder is in agreement with the information discussed in the proposed plan.

The use of Mind Mapping Software can greatly assist in the processes involved in creating the Project Scope. The following graphic shows some of the components to include in the project scope.”

Image 

Scope creep happens when items are forgotten or all of a sudden a client “needs” to have something included.

While I do not have a specific project with scope creep I am reminded of scope creep in a movie: Father of the Bride 2. The father, George Banks, has a “room” to build on to their house for their new mid-life bundle of joy. They have the help of a quirky designer.  As things turn up, more stuff is added into the addition yet there does not seem to be a meeting of the minds with those issues. Time is not too much of an issue but each added “thing” brings the budget OVER budget. George does not find out the final price tag in the movie as the designer does not hand him the bill until later in the film after he is shown the baby’s new room. It seems they thought of everything to put in the room except the kitchen sink.

 

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Had I been managing the project, one of the first things would have been to have a firm hold on the budget. They went overboard on the size of the baby’s room. Unless they had plans for that area later, they might have scaled down, made a room with a walk in closet and a nice bathroom, or made 2 bedrooms and an en suite bath between the rooms with the size of the room. In order to control the “creep”, they could wait until later to put “everything” in the room or wait until after the baby shower (I do not remember if they had one in the movie).

Looking back at the movie, even though this is a room for a child late in life, they could have spent less on “stuff” and put some of the money in a college fund. It would have been more prudent to remodel the eldest child’s room as she no longer lived there. In this manner, they could have saved more money and possibly have come in under budget.

 

 

 

WEEK 3 THE ART OF EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION

 

 According to Portney et al (2008), “The key to successful project management is effective communication – sharing the right messages with the right people in a timely manner. Communication may be informal, formal, written or verbal. Whatever form the communications take, project managers should plan and prepare so their messages are received and correctly interpreted by project audiences”.

     This week we looked at three different modalities of communication: email, voicemail, and face to face (vis à vis).  In an email, there is an interpretation issue. The way it reads, it could be construed as being a little “bossy”. There is no way to accurately convey tone in an email. I believe this should be a third choice if a project team is in the same building(s). 

One could change the font  and color so it is not perceived in a wrong light for other than its true purpose: to get the required data so the other team member can submit their report on time.

     Voicemail is a little better than email in that one can convey tone, context and meaning using voice. However, as with email, one cannot be sure that this project team member will open the voicemail in time to send the necessary data.

     Face to face communication is a better way to get the information one needs if they are located in the same area(s). It is more personalized, can convey meaning and context, and more motivation for the team member(s).

    The factors that influenced this decision: face to face communication is more effective because it is more personalized. It also best conveyed the message that she may miss her deadline. She is able to connect with the team member and they can also iron out any wrinkles in the transfer of information.

     Not everyone is comfortable with vis à vis contact. So voicemail should be a second option of communication. They may not check their mail on a regular basis and may “miss something”. If they do not check in regularly, it could cause Jane to miss her deadline.

     The last option would be that if one needed a confirmation, email would be a good avenue. However it still does not minimize the chances for a misunderstanding.

 

 

References

Portny, S. E., Mantel, S. J., Meredith, J. R., Shafer, S. M., Sutton, M. M., & Kramer, B. E. (2008). Project management: Planning, scheduling, and controlling projects. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

 

Effective Communication

Effective Communication

By “Dean Jacobs”

 

In the Case of Beth Owens and the Culinary Arts Program we have some challenges. They each come at their instruction methods in different manners. Beth finds Chef Reiner’s (Chef) behavioral methods conflict with her constructivist background. Beth’s challenge is to find a way to retain and support the students they have and also to promote the Culinary Arts Program.

As the Project Manager, Dean Jacobs could help promote a positive interaction and communication between Chef and his students (stakeholders) by hosting an informal meeting so everyone can learn about the direction that Chef wants to take the Program. It is also necessary that the students see and understand that the Dean also supports his instructor, Chef Reiner.

As the ID, Beth needed to learn more about the Culinary Arts Program, safe food handling procedures, and how to provide positive constructive feedback to culinary arts students. She could do this by examining her own beliefs about constructivism and find a way to integrate those with Chef’s behaviorist approach.

As Dean Jacobs, there are a few things to consider. First, what are the rules and regulations guiding a “kitchen” in the culinary world? Second, does Chef abide by these rules and regulations? Third, I, the Dean, need to sit down with Chef and have a meeting with him to find out what kinds of issues there are from Chef’s perspective. At this point, I already have a pretty good “idea” of the issues some of the students were having. However, it may be constructive to have a meeting with the students as well after my meeting with Chef.

In the culinary world, regardless if one starts at Wendy’s or in their own kitchen, there are food safety issues that need to be addressed. Have you ever wondered WHY there are these neat little 8 x 11 sheets of paper in the windows of the drive thru or posted in the restaurants with a GRADE on them? What about the signs in the restrooms stating that ALL EMPLOYEES MUST WASH THEIR HANDS BEFORE RETURNING TO WORK?

As a former Wendy’s crew person, Crew Leader and Assistant Manager, Line cook (Pantry, Grill, and Sauté) and Prep Cook at The Biltmore Estate, Line cook (Dessert, Pantry, Grill, and Sauté) at Champion Hills Country Club, and various other restaurants, THE most important issue is safe food handling procedures. One may see signs posted that state something to the effect that a certain person has completed ServSafe Certification from the NRA (National Restaurant Association). (This is a big deal in my opinion. I carried a ServSafe Card for years.) Part of the scores one sees on the GRADE signs includes points for having ServSafe certified people on staff. When the Health Inspector comes around to inspect and give you your GRADE (hopefully an A), you hope that the folks that have the certifications are working that day so you can get the extra points. (DO NOT eat anywhere that has a score less than an A. You are asking for intestinal troubles and maybe more.)

Personally, I agree with Chef and his method of holding the students accountable for their appearance and production. First of all, who wants to eat food from someone with long stringy hair hanging down, different colors of chipped nail polish, dangling earrings, and 2 or 3 rings on each finger and thumb? THAT would be a BACTERIA’s dream come true! All those places to hide and breed and the opportunities to make people sick! It would be like Disney World for them if they had feelings – they would be so happy! What should I think about dirty and dull knives and equipment? The first thing that crosses is my mind is cross contamination and food borne illnesses.

The second issue is their production skill: how well do they listen, take direction, how fast do they produce good quality food consistently? Once they get out of culinary school and they have their “paper”, they have an opportunity to be a Chef. There are many levels and types of chefs. If one wants to achieve the Level of Executive Chef (Project Manager), he/ she will need to excel in all areas of the restaurant and hospitality industry. The most notable Culinary Arts Program is The Culinary Institute of America.

“CIA is a private, not-for-profit college dedicated to providing the world’s best professional culinary education. Excellence, leadership, professionalism, ethics, and respect for diversity are the core values that guide our efforts. We teach our students the general knowledge and specific skills necessary to live successful lives and to grow into positions of influence and leadership in their chosen profession.”

– See more at: http://www.ciachef.edu/about-the-cia/#sthash.bcMQqg2S.dpuf

I liken how CIA teaches to how Chef Reiner is instructing his students. He is requiring and holding them to higher standards so they may succeed in the culinary world and life. The ability to communicate effectively is crucial to the success of a project (Portny, Mantel, Meredith, Shafer, Sutton, & Kramer, 2008). Sometimes it is brutal, back breaking work. But the reward and the satisfaction from having pulled off a lunch of 400 guests (with 4 cooks on the line) ordering à la carte between 11:00 AM and 2:00 PM is incredible and makes you want to do it all again the next day!

How many jobs do you know of that would accept your coming to work late, leaving early, being idle, not cleaning up after yourself and your work area, wearing dirty clothes, etc.? Maybe a plumber’s helper could get by with the dirty clothes. Which Project Manager would want a person who did not listen or take direction, be respectful of others, work as a TEAM, or be mindful of project costs and being on time in submitting their projects?

There may be ways for Beth to mesh her constructivist point of view with the necessary behaviorist approach of Chef. Behaviorists Skinner et albelieve “that meaning exists in the world separate from personal experience. The goal of understanding is to come to know the entities, attributes, and relations that exist in this objective reality. Frames instructional goals in specific, behavioral, observable terms. The behavioral approach is concerned with immediate, recognizable changes in behavior.” Beth needs to understand that in the culinary world, results have to be immediate or within a reasonable time frame depending on what the issue is. If it is an issue in sanitation, a student can be re-trained. If it is an issue in appearance, this is easily correctable if the student is willing to listen and the feedback is given in a positive manner.

Constructivists, like Beth and Vygotsky et al, “Hold that learners impose meaning on the world, and so “construct” their own understanding based on their unique experiences. Frames instructional goals in experiential terms: specifying the kinds of learner problems addressed; the kinds of control learners exercise over the learning environment; the activities in which they engage and the ways those activities could be shaped by leaders or instructors; and the ways in which learners reflect on the results of their activity together.”

Chef and Beth can work together to mesh these two approaches because they really are not too far apart in reality. The stakeholders (student learners) have control over their learning environment when they abide by food safety and sanitation guidelines. They construct meaning and understanding through the creation of product. The activities, shaped by the Chef (instructor/leader), engage the students to create meaning through their food. Each student has a unique experience but for it to be “measured” in the culinary world, the goals have to be specific, measurable, and observable. It is “important to clarify to ensure that everyone understands what is expected of them and what their responsibilities will be for the project” (Portny, et al., 2008). There is some information left out of this scenario, too much to write about, however, it is a doable project. I would be excited to take on Beth’s role!Image

References

Ertmer, P., & Quinn, J. (2007). The id casebook: Case studies in instructional design (3rd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.

Instructional Design Approaches, n.d. Retrieved from depts.washington.edu/…/Instructional%20Design%20Approaches.htm‎. November 2013.

Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2010a). Communicating with stakeholders. [Video webcast] [with Dr. Harold Stolovitch] Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu/webapps/portal/frameset.jsp?tab_tab_group_id=_2_1&url=%2Fwebapps%2Fblackboard%2Fexecute%2Flauncher%3Ftype%3DCourse%26id%3D_4065699_1%26url%3D

Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2010b). Practitioner voices: Strategies for working with stakeholders. [Video webcast] [with Troy Achong & Vince Budrovich] Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu/webapps/portal/frameset.jsp?tab_tab_group_id=_2_1&url=%2Fwebapps%2Fblackboard%2Fexecute%2Flauncher%3Ftype%3DCourse%26id%3D_4065699_1%26url%3D

Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2010c). Project management concerns: Communication strategies and organizational culture. [Video webcast] [with Dr. Harold Stolovitch] Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu/webapps/portal/frameset.jsp?tab_tab_group_id=_2_1&url=%2Fwebapps%2Fblackboard%2Fexecute%2Flauncher%3Ftype%3DCourse%26id%3D_4065699_1%26url%3D

Portny, S. E., Mantel, S. J., Meredith, J. R., Shafer, S. M., Sutton, M. M., & Kramer, B. E. (2008). Project management: Planning, scheduling, and controlling projects. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

A Killer In Your Fridge ~ Sweet Poison…A MUST READ

EVERYONE . . . THIS IS A MUST READ!! PLEASE TAKE A MOMENT TO READ AND SEND ON!!

Rhonda Gessner

In October of 2001, my sister started getting very sick. She had stomach spasms and she was having a hard time getting around. Walking was a major chore. It took everything she had just to get out of bed; she was in so much pain.

By March 2002, she had undergone several tissue and muscle biopsies and was on 24 various prescription medications. The doctors could not determine what was wrong with her. She was in so much pain, and so sick she just knew she was dying.

She put her house, bank accounts, life insurance, etc., in her oldest daughter’s name, and made sure that her younger children were to be taken care of.

She also wanted her last hooray, so she planned a trip to Florida (basically in a wheelchair) for March 22nd.

On March 19, I called her to ask how her most recent tests went, and…

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