Sunday Morning Coffee Edition

Everyone can use a little help from a designated professional
Everyone can use a little help from a designated professional

I hope you enjoy your Sunday Morning Coffee page. It is here to inform, have fun and enlighten your day. Dip in and out during the day, put your feet up and relax. Have a coffee and enjoy.

This weeks edition is packed full of information and stories. Engage and humour me, please have a read and comment. Click like if you feel like doing so. Don’t forget to make your coffee first.

Sunday Morning Coffee ‘The Headliner’

Welcome to the Sunday Morning Coffee – The Candidates

The Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) is an American public broadcaster and television program distributor. It has consistently been placed the service as the most-trusted national institution in the United States. But i’m not writing about them this morning. I just wanted to clear that up before moving on to the Project meaning of PBS.

One of the tools used at the start of project is to build a product breakdown structure (PBS). I also found it useful for team building. On one occasion when putting together a new project team, we had a number of candidates come in, about twelve in all.

As an exercise and with little knowledge of the business, I shared with the candidates the project brief. I then broke them into four teams and asked each team to write and draw on a flip chart the PBS. I gave them a couple of hours to do the task. I said they could come and ask questions, when they wished to do so. I didn’t know what to expect when they came to present their PBS’s.

In theory, the steps to identify products are:

Photo by gerald fredrik on
  • People think about products and write each product;
  • Consolidate the products into a list from the people in the meeting;
  • Review the list and remove duplicates;
  • Review the remaining products in the list and put them in related groups;
  • Develop the product breakdown structure diagram.

The project brief documents all external products and projects, and clearly identified and distinguished them. Two out the four groups missed this completely when presenting back. To me the PBS is also a memory jogger. Extremely useful down the road as the project progresses.

Not one of the teams came and asked me for the product checklist. They used the Powerpoint in-scope and out of scope slide only. They also confused the work breakdown structure with the product breakdown structure, which is also a common project management tool. The product checklist is the voice of the customer turned into into superb product definitions. Shame the teams didn’t see fit to ask. It would have made their life so much simpler.

The PBS diagram differentiates between the different types of product (ie thing):

  • The final product is at top of screen
  • Groupings
  • Internal products (those built by the project)
  • External products (those either supplied by another project or bought in)

Once completed, the PBS gives confidence that the project team clearly understands what has to be created and that the relationship between a product and its constituent parts has been defined. From the PBS a Product Flow Diagram can be produced to represent the order in which sub-products build into the main project product. This helps define the logic of the delivery plan.

The output of scope management is a specification that may be presented as a product breakdown structure (PBS) showing the deliverables and a work breakdown structure (WBS) showing the work required to produce them A WBS takes a similar approach but shows the work required to create the products.

Photo by Pixabay on

it is quite common to see a hybrid WBS/PBS in a single chart. In this situation, the separation between project phases, products and work-packages tends to be based on the various ‘levels’ in the WBS. In general the WBS makes it clear what work needs to be done and makes it easier for that work to be assigned to project teams. External work is included in the WBS with an internal manager taking responsibility for the oversight of the external contractor or supplier.

Both the product breakdown structure and product checklist make great starters for ten when building the Quality Assurance checklist and test scripts later on in the testing phase. A topic for another day.

How do I make a QA checklist

  • Create a test plan document.
  • Create a rigorous QA checklist.
  • Review and update plan with stakeholders.
  • Confirm scope of test.
  • Define primary, secondary, and monitoring goals.
  • Confirm stakeholders who will create required resources.
  • Document responsibilities and deadlines (in Kanban, gantt chart, or other internal method)

The PBS is a hierarchical structure of things that the project will make or outcomes that it will deliver.

The teams of three came back after completing their PBS’s all looking a bit shaken and stirred. And not in a good martini way. The external candidates had been told to expect a day of exercises and interviews. May be it was the pressure cooker situation, and or working and completing with other people for the first time. Their presentations and focus was all over the place. I really believe they spent the couple of hours competing with each other, rather than working together as a team. Their content and delivery strayed from the defined project scope.

One team introduced a whole new strand of solutions. When confronted by me, they thought the stakeholders would benefit from this. They indeed might however, it wasn’t what the project board had currently signed off on. The eventual project team would have to deliver what the key stakeholder had asked for. “When you get a thing the way you want it, leave it alone”. Winston Churchill

Another team, ran out of time and had just documented the reporting requirements.

It was fortunate that it only an exercise. It did give me insight to the candidates. The what is a PBS and what is a WBS prayed on their minds. Others, questioned the scope and suggested we went back to the project brief and business case plan. This was in the days before agile had been introduction. Even today, Agile fits into the standard project management tool kit.

Photo by Pixabay on

An agile software development process always starts by defining the users and documenting a vision statement on a scope of problems, Agile methodology is a type of project management process, mainly used for software development, where demands and solutions evolve through the collaborative effort of self-organising and cross-functional teams and their customers. Agile is a process by which a team can manage a project by breaking it up into several stages and involving.

It wasn’t pretty. I felt for the candidates that morning. It wasn’t unfair to ask them to build a project breakdown structure. The unreasonable behaviour it unveiled was. Some were determined to dominate the discussions and not give or compromise. With one I contested their premise, even when I agreed with their idea. It did demonstrate how unyielding they were. The flip chart was knocked over once. One person asked for water because they felt faint. Another wanted to boil the ocean, when they probably couldn’t boil a pan on a stove. The farce grew sadly. Not many of them made it onto the project team. The revolving door was held open on their exit, one left at lunchtime and very quickly. It was a major cause of concern in the early initiation days of the project, how to restrict the revolving-door phenomenon. “It’s kind of fun to do the impossible”. Walt Disney

Photo by PhotoMIX Company on

My advice to anyone who is asked to do this type of exercise, is to use the information given, ask questions, be polite and stick to the script. If you make it onto the team, there is always plenty of time to shine, influence and make valuable changes to the final products, with the agreement of the senior users and project board.

“Be all that you can be.” US Army Motto

Some great people said:

  • “Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change.” – Stephen Hawking
  • “Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.” – Thomas A. Edison
  • “Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.”
    -Vince Lombardi
  • Progress is our most important product. Advertising slogan, General Electric

Until Next time. 🙂

As a business leader or owner, we can help you with strategic decisions and delivery them. We are available now for work, contact us.

CV Image of Kenneth Mulley-Smith and Roger Smith
CV Image of Kenneth Mulley-Smith and Roger Smith

“Vast Project Management Knowledge and Experience”

Ken Mulley-Smith And Roger Smith are available to work now. Contact us. We both have vast Project Management knowledge and experience in the space of Financials (Oracle and SAP). We have managed large scale changes for businesses over the last thirty years.

As a business leader or owner, we can help you with strategic decisions and delivery them.

We are available now for work, contact us. Read more of what we can for you.

Picture by Daniel Korpai


Pro-tip: Independent Learning

Words of encouragement shared by an achievement leader at my nephews school recently.

Pro-Tip – Independent learning, building resilience and developing self-motivation. These are all aspects of learning skills which can only stand you in good stead for your future endeavours.

Pro-Tip of the week. Independent Learning

I’ve lent knowledge and experience to companies across the UK, Europe and the world with Information Technology Solutions.

Project Strategy – What is a Project Initiation Document?

Following on from the Project Brief and Business Case comes the project initiation document, assuming you have project board approval to proceed following the review of both documents. The project initiation document purpose is to define the project, to form a basis for its management and assessment of overall success.

Why document the Project Initiation?

The project initiation document purpose is to define the project, to form a basis for its management and assessment of overall success. The out come will be why you can continue to justify the project to the project board. The initiation document is used to control the project. It is the go-to document to manage change management issues and ongoing viability questions.

The initiation document is now your most important document. case describes the reason and justifications for undertaking the project. The project information drives the project decisions. It is continually checked to ensure progress is made against the project objectives. It is developed at the end of the start of the project and is maintained throughout the project. It is reviewed by the project board at each key decision point.

Discover more and read on about the project initiation next week when I publish it.

Learning Laughs

Pupil: I don’t think I deserved zero on this test!
Teacher: I agree, but that’s the lowest mark I could give you!

Who invented fractions?
Henry the 1/4th.

Teacher: Craig, you know you can’t sleep in my class.
Craig: I know. But maybe if you were just a little quieter, I could.

Teacher: Why have you got cotton in your ears? Do you have an infection?
Pupil: Well, you keep saying that things go in one ear and out the other, so I am trying to keep them it all in!

A photon is going through airport security. The TSA agent asks if he has any luggage. The photon says, “No, I’m travelling light.”

I got fired from the calendar factory, just for taking a day off.

I recently took a pole and found out 100% of campers were angry when their tent collapsed.

Success poster

C, Eb, and G walk into a bar. The bartender says, “Sorry, no minors.”.

One-fifth of people are just too tense.

Never trust an atom, they make up everything!

Heard about that new band called 1023 MB? They haven’t had any gigs yet.

Why did Adele cross the road? To say hello from the other side.

Read last weeks Sunday Morning Coffee Here – Buffy

Sunday Morning Coffee

The headlines this week have reflected the status of the economy and the outlook we have to look forward to. To nobody’s surprise, the forecasters says that “the global economy is projected to contract sharply by –3 percent in 2020, much worse than during the 2008–09 financial crisis “. If your into more torture then visit later.

Read last weeks Sunday Morning Coffee Here – Buffy

June Review Out Now

I’ve spent the month of June during the extended lock down, creating content to explain my business I.T. services and solutions. My brother Roger Smith has also joined the fold and you can read about him as well. I’ve also had a bit of fun writing a Sunday Morning Coffee column. I am an I.T. Consultant professional, everyone can use a little help from a designated professional. It’s been a busy month sharing our knowledge and experiences.

Read more about my activities in June, 2020 here

About our I.T. Consulting for Businesses

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Everyone can use a little help from a designated professional

Everyone can use a little help from a designated professional. When it comes to managing the different aspects of your business, an IT consultant can help with many different facets.

As a small business owner (or medium-sized business owner), you are in charge of all aspects of your business. You may have to tend to many different things you would rather not have to. This may include, being the administrator, salesperson, marketing lead, and even in charge of Information Technology (IT). Taking one or more of these jobs that don’t quite relate directly to your business can help you focus on the things that matter most.

Hiring an IT Consultant can be beneficial to your business, but finding one can be a task in its own. Everyone can use a little help from a designated professional.

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