Tuesday 18 January 2011

To switch or not to switch?

I've been using my iPhone - a very basic model - for about a fortnight now, and I'm completely blown away by it!

I'm also in the market for a new laptop, because my current one is creaking with age.

Then again, I'm sick of error messages, crashes, endless reboots and registry errors.

Perhaps the thing I'm most sick of is the frequent slowing down almost to a standstill while my anti-virus software does whatever it does; am I alone in thinking that being monitored by anti-virus software is almost as bad as having the virus itself?

All of the above points to making the switch to Apple.

And I would, and I'd use iWorks and all that other good stuff and not be one of those people who buys a Mac for its looks and then installs a parallel OS to use all the software that causes the problem in the first place.

I do, however, use certain killer apps that are the very things that make me so productive, and they might ultimately stop the switch to Apple.

The first is Outlook - OK there, because Microsoft produces a Mac version.

The second is Business Contact Manager - vital to me, but I've found a Mac alternative, so that's OK.

The third is Personal Brain. If you've never seen it, Google it - you'll thank me for it. Fortunately, PB is available for Macs too, otherwise that would be a deal breaker.

The fourth and final killer app, and the one that is a deal breaker I think, is OneNote. I don't even necessarily have to stick with this app - I know that Apple have something similar and I could happily live with that. However, the single thing that boosts my productivity more than anything else is the ability to handwrite notes straight on to my tablet laptop. That, I cannot live without.

So what am I to do? I plan on buying a powerful beast that will last me years rather than year, but I need that handwriting function.

There are several great convertible laptop/tablets out there now, sporting solid state hard drives, 8Gb RAM and Intel i7 processors, but ultimately they will keep giving me the same Windows OS grief.

A MacBook Air is very tempting, but I can't handwrite on it. An iPad screen is too small, and the OS wouldn't let me load the programs I need.

Rumour has it that Apple will launch a convertible laptop, but that could be ages off, and what if it turns out to have a disappointingly small 10.1" screen? I want portability, not a squint. My current tablet is just over 12" and that's my benchmark, give or take half an inch.

So do I wait and hope Apple come up with the (near-) perfect answer for me, or do I go out and buy a mega-powerful convertible laptop PC now, and so turn my back on Apple for at least another four years?

Or is there another alternative I'm missing?

I'd love suggestions from all you Apple aficionados out there - preferably before my PC gives up altogether!

Wednesday 5 January 2011

Adding Project Management Value

I heard yesterday about an excellent manager who has fallen victim to the public sector cuts. I'm sure he won't be the only one, and anyone who thinks the cuts are an opportunity merely to discard the deadwood is sadly mistaken.

Don't think for a minute it couldn't happen to you.

Now more than ever it's essential for project and programme managers to demonstrate that they add value for organisations.

It's not enough to merely maintain marvellous governance documentation. Documentation and methodologies are only enablers to help deliver programmes and projects effectively.

Project professionals need to be able to show their worth by bringing projects in on time - or sooner - and on budget - or below it! They should also always be looking for ways to cut project spend without compromising quality. In austere times especially, organisations often want to see "Good enough" for purpose, not all-singing, all dancing deliverables that cost the Earth.

Striving to identify ways in which your project can reduce your customer's operational costs is also something good project professionals do as a matter of course.

There will always be sceptics out there who believe project management is an unnecessary overhead. We know they're wrong, but we have to demonstrate it in our behaviours.

My contract at IBM is in a highly competitive market and there is always tremendous pressure to drive down costs without compromising quality for the end client.

Similarly, I'm currently helping with the next edition of the APM's BoK as well as being an assessor for the new project professional standard, due to launch in March 2011. I'm sure the quest for value for money will loom large in both activities.

Make sure that your customers recognise that you add value to their organisations to strengthen your position in these difficult times.