Categorized | Project Management

Fight fire with fire – Becoming a Project Manager

For many years now, since I discovered lean and agile software management I’ve tried to convince everyone around me, from developers to project- and general managers that lean and agile methods are the best way to go to create software solutions and the first time I really got “in position” to make a change was when I was working with ErgoGroup (now Evry).  I could try it and put it into a larger scale. But no matter how hard I tried it was difficult to  get people to listen. The biggest problem was probably the lack of knowledge on how to become lean and do agile. With a huge (norwegian scale) company with 4000+ employees, it’s hard to change when your business model and culture has proven itself economical by underselling vague projects, taking it all back in a hugely profitable hourly priced change management. All in a jolly “waterfally” way.

Lean onion

One of the most funny/sad stories i have from Ergo was once when i was riding the elevator and stepped into it finding two seniors from the Oracle department discussing agile methods. As I stepped out of the elevator and the one said to the other “… you can say what you want, but SCRUM won’t  work on large-scale Oracle development projects…”, I commented on this a little over two years ago.  Was a bit sad when I left work for home that day.

ErgoGroup proved to be a too big of a page to turn for me so I had to go, and went for a smaller company in the advertising business with smaller projects. I wasn’t hired as an PM, but acted as one in several projects and was shocked when i discovered that there was no management, just project. The PM acted more as an art director or creative lead, that has the last/first saying about the creative outcome of the project, than someone who should manage the project. It was a good lesson in chaos. Project management is not a creative profession. Don’t try to make it so either, it end’s not well.  I am not saying you can’t be both, but you need to choose a primary role.

So, “fight fire with fire – becoming a project manager” feels like the only logical step forward when I review my hands on experience and I see how large (and small) companies manage their projects. I was a developer and solution architect for 10 years, then i was an enterprise architect, team leader and technical project manager. Now I’ll become a ITPP (IT Project Professional) & PRINCE2 certified project manager and plan to show (head on the block ready for chopping) “the world” how it’s done :)

Over the last 17 years I’ve met a lot of project managers and in some small way I hope that I make it in a way that is “noisy” enough for them to remember what I was talking about :) (Just my megalomania talking here.. ;) )

On the other side… One of the really good things while working with Ergo was to be introduced to offshore software development through their development department in Chandigarh, India. Through that  I was put in charge of creating a framework and processes for doing development based on offshore resources. I learned a lot and feel that I have a solid platform as foundation for my dive into project management. I’ll build on that now that I have started my own company. We (Appaloosa AS)  have also found all our development resources in India and I can use my skills from Ergo with them and our customers. Managing remote teams in a SCRUM environment is quite easy when you have created a process and method for it.

I feel that it is so easy that I’ve introduced a “No cure, No pay” guarantee for our customers. If we don’t give you what we agreed to deliver, we’ll make the changes and give you  the whole project for free.

Hopefully I’ll be able to continue to do some development cos I still love it very much. But becoming a good project manager requires as much work as it does to become a good programmer. There’s no slacking about.

Funny thing, after I tweeted that I was starting on my PRINCE2 Foundation class today I’ve just got 5-6 new followers promoting project management tools :)



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One Response to “Fight fire with fire – Becoming a Project Manager”


  1. […] A little over a month ago i decided the only way to get people to listen to me when I try to explain how you should manage small and medium-sized software projects is not by the weight of my experience, but that I actually need to become a project manager :) It is not enough to just have the experience so I decided to get certified as one. Small writing about that here in a post called Fight fire with fire – Becoming a Project Manager. […]

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