Obama and the Oil


It seems that after lot of media bashing & paranoid people views on the street, Obama has struck a well balanced agreement with BP.Some of his critics would may still consider President’s meeting outcome with BP as missed opportunity to extract much more than what has been spelled in the agreement yesterday, it would go a long way in getting the message that he is in control of the situation. In his speech the previous day also underlined President’s laudable goal of creating a renewable energy-based economy. Here are some of the factors that may have got subdued in all the frenzy last few weeks;

Actual Magnitude of Spill: Some of this has to do with the size of the crisis and it’s long term impact on the local people. The disaster, involving a leaking deep water oil well, has devastated a vast area of the United States marine environment, killed sea life and has a serious impact on the local fishing industry. Efforts at containing the spill were at first inconsequential but lately some progress has been made since the fitting of a cap to stem the leak tough it is not completely stopped the leak and a permanent solution may still be months away. Obviously it had a toll on the stock valuation sensing the potentially huge financial commitment BP would have to shoulder in cleaning up the environment. Currently US senate is estimating roughly $20 billion would be required from BP to safeguard and protect the environment from the aftermath of the spill. A similar accident cost EXXON roughly $7 billion and fought several lawsuits to limit the extent of the liability.

Soft President: US President Barack Obama is under tremendous pressure to live up to high American expectations to act tough on the BP oil spill. It is not only the growing anger of the American electorate that is resulting in plummeting popularity for him but constant criticism from the media too. From the beginning he has had been portrayed too soft on the company for not acting fast enough to force BP take immediate steps. Now that the oil spill story unfolds itself & it is pretty much clear that the first estimate of environmental damage is actually manifold that previously thought. It is now clearly one of the biggest environmental tragedies caused directly by human activities that we know in the recorded history of across the world. Obama now is expected to put stringent rules for BP’s accountability to pay for the damages. Constant media attention has made sure that he is seen more involved and talking much tougher than few weeks back.

Bad PR: To top it off, BP’s million dollar PR campaign to show better picture of itself didn’t help Obama either. BP has taken heat for spending millions of dollars on television ads to tout their commitment to the clean-up efforts in an effort to re-store their bruised and battered public image. Obama is now putting pressure on BP to skip paying millions in its stock dividends to commit more funds for the clean up and saving wildlife.

Govt Failure: Department of Interior’s Minerals Management Service, the agency that was supposed to be regulating BP, failed miserably. At this agency, industry insiders were put in charge of industry oversight. “Oil companies showered regulators with gifts and favors, and were essentially allowed to conduct their own safety inspections and write their own regulations,” Obama said

American double speak: However, the twist came when UK government made a statement in BP’s favor asking to let the company take its own decision in best interests of its stockholders. Now some industry analyst asking if there was an American company involved in a similar accident outside US, would there have been same hue & cry & same govt pressure to clean up and accountability? Consider Bhopal Gas Leak decades ago where Union Carbide went scot-free without paying required compensation, environment clean up or financial liability and court cases went on well over 25 years to book the company officials.

It would help all if US govt & Obama works to shape the future safety policies for such tragedies and enforces strict adherence rather trying to please every American constituent. As a leader, Obama should keep his focus on key issues not only globally but locally as well than let just this one issue cloud the broader vision.

Shyam Verma, PMP, ITIL
Program & portfolio mgnt professional
LinkedIn:spverma. Twitter: Shammy11

10 signs it is time to look out!


When is the right time to quit? When is too soon, or too late? I stumbled upon this interesting article on Career Joy and thought you may find it helpful! Knowing when to leave a role is one of the most important decisions that you will need to make in managing a successful career.

The Quitting Test.

  • 1. You are being asked to do something illegal or unethical.
  • 2. You get lousy or no raises (or your pay cheque bounces)
  • 3. You feel tired by 10 a.m.
  • 4. You call in sick when you aren’t sick.
  • 5. You hate your boss (or your boss hates you)
  • 6. You aren’t promoted because your company “needs you where you are”
  • 7. Your job turned out to be not what was promised
  • 8. You know you are doing a great job but don’t care.
  • 9. You gain, or lose, a substantial amount of weight.
  • 10. You have no friends outside of work.

How many of the above did you answer “yes” to?

< 4 You may need more time to discover if things can be changed for the better.
4 to 7 Get together your game plan to move forward.
>7 Start packing your career bags…you have permission to leave                                  (Source: http://www.careerjoy.com)

Shyam Verma, PMP, ITIL
Program & portfolio mgnt professional
LinkedIn:spverma. Twitter: Shammy11

10 PM Tools to Turbocharge Your Project Planning


 I am frequently asked by new PMs and some experienced PMs as to what are the other PM tools that could be used for managing projects in addition to vastly popular PM tools offered by the Top 5 Industry majors. I noticed that majority of the people were looking for free or inexpensive tools which are efficient and affordable. So in this post, I would touch upon some of these options for you as project management professionals to explore.

PM tools are not just  for managing software based projects but they also contribute in bringing standards and consistency in practice. They  can be used for variety of other tasks to increase personal or team productivity too through collaboration, remote access and notification features. Though there are numerous tools for planning, organizing and managing resources to achieve project goals and objectives, there are few notable and relied by large number of professionals.Pl note each tool would have some advantages and some drawbacks but I am sure you would find something that may suit your current requirement.

  1. Daptive: It’s Software as a Service delivery model ensures a high value web based project management capability including robust task management, fully interactive Gantt Chart, and integration with Microsoft Project. In addition it gets teams collaborating around Documents, Issues, Discussions and News with portal approach. Starts at $50/year for a group license.
  2. @Task: This wed-based tool focuses on An easy-to-use interface. The Gantt charts shows some impressive utilities. You can drag and drop information to avoid unnecessary typing, easily schedule individuals for specific tasks, and view real-time reports showing your project’s status claiming superior scheduling power than MS Project!. It offers a variety of pricing plans depending on the number of users and the number of projects you need to manage.
  3. ZOHO Project: It’s a web-based application, meaning that you don’t have to install project management software on every computer you use. You can access your schedule from anywhere and, if you’re only working on one project, ZOHO Projects is free. ZOHO Projects can generate Gantt charts, but doesn’t offer PERT charts.
  4. Open Project: It’s a good fit for enterprises that have deployed Open Office as cheaper alternative to MS Office. It runs both on Mac, Windows as well as Unix machines. For a few dollars a month, users can host a virtualized edition of OpenProject on Projity’s servers, making this tool an ideal hybrid of desktop and web-based project management software.
  5. Active Collab: It is a PM & collaboration tool that one can set up on your own server or local network. It allows team collaboration with access control features or differentiated privileges & time tracking. Starting with $ 299 it can be answer to your global projects management requirements.
  6. eProjectTracker: It is a web based project management software focused exclusively on helping project-intensive businesses manage their entire project portfolio lifecycle, including projects of all sizes. It goes one step ahead & provides the project execution and control capabilities at program and portfolio level. Other notable features are Executive Dashboard, Project Management, Task tracking and Management, Issues tracking and Management, Resource Management, Customer Management, Document Management. It starts at $29 for up to 15 projects.
  7. GanttProject: GanttProject is a cross platform desktop project scheduling application featuring gantt chart, resource management, calendaring, import/export (MS Project, HTML, PDF, spreadsheets).
  8. FastTrack: Available for both Mac and Windows, it is easy to update and offers an easy introduction to the software and a gentle learning curve for new PMs while robust enough for experienced project manager wanting to put it through its paces. A license for FastTrack is significantly lower compared to one for Microsoft Project.
  9. ProjectPier: It is a Free, Open-Source, self-hosted application for managing tasks, projects and teams through an intuitive web interface. It is completely web based, has great usability to provide an easy to use solution. It organizes projects into Milestones, Messages, Task lists, Tasks and Files. You can set E-mail notifications for new milestones, tasks, messages and comments to stay in loop for changes.
  10. RedMine: It is a flexible project management web application. Written using Ruby on Rails framework, it is cross-platform and cross-database. It includes calendar and gantt charts to aid visual representation of projects and their deadlines.

Shyam Verma, PMP, ITIL
Program & portfolio mgnt professional
LinkedIn:spverma. Twitter:Shammy11

Idea Vs Execution


An idea can change your life! this is a popular punch line of a leading telecom company in India. Its a fact that an idea well conceieved and articulated has a potential to deliver a dream. There are many who would concur with me on that and vouch for power of good ideas. However, there are facets to it that need to be considered. A good idea is a good idea only if it is well presented and well represented, when it is translated in appropriate terms to gell with the context of the problem.

A good idea should carry the clarity that is required for the target audience to see through the intent and connect with people. This is why some time a simple idea works better than something that needs some thinking and articulation. An idea need not be profound or complex to be good and a bad idea need not be too simple for an ordinary person. An idea cannot exist in a vaccum it needs to serve a purpose and solve a problem too.

It’s only when potential benefit of the idea is understood that it gets the support and approval of stakeholders to carry it forward for implementation. From that aspect a good idea is only a beginning of a long journey. This where the power of flawless execution come in. An idea cannot see light of the day unless there is a similarly powerful execution capability behind it. So Idea and Execution cannot exist without each other. Simply put
Execution is what makes an idea come to life and these realized ideas tested in the test lab of time. That’ the reasom some ideas are timeless and some only situational. It doesn’t mean we need only timeless ideas, we need both of these types, realized and executed to perfection!

-Shyam Verma