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Saturday, August 15, 2009


Extract of Mr. Narayana Murthy's Speech during Mentor Session:

I know people who work 12 hours a day, six days a week, or more. Some people do so because of a work emergency where the long hours are only temporary. Other people I know have put in these hours for years. I don't know if they are working all these hours, but I do know they are in the office this long. Others put in long office hours because they are addicted to the workplace. Whatever the reason for putting in overtime, working long hours over the long term is harmful to the person and to the organization.

There are things managers can do to change this for everyone's benefit.Being in the office long hours, over long periods of time, makes way for potential errors. My colleagues who are in the office long hours frequently make mistakes caused by fatigue. Correcting these mistakes requires their time as well as the time and energy of others.I have seen people work Tuesday through Friday to correct mistakes made after 5 PM on Monday.

Another problem is that people who are in the office for long hours are not pleasant company. They often complain about other people (who aren't working as hard); they are irritable, or cranky, or even angry. Other people avoid them.Such behaviour poses problems, where work goes much better when people work together instead of avoiding one another. As Managers,there are things we can do to help people leave the office.

First and foremost is to set the example and go home ourselves. I work with a manager who chides people for working long hours. His words quickly lose their meaning when he sends these chiding group e-mails with a Time-stamp of 2 AM, Sunday. Second is to encourage people to put some balance in their lives. For instance, here is a guideline I find helpful:

1) Wake up, eat a good breakfast, and go to work.

2) Work hard and smart for eight or nine hours.

3) Go home.

4) Read the comics, watch a funny movie, dig in the dirt, play with your kids, etc.

5) Eat well and sleep well.

This is called recreating. Doing steps 1, 3, 4, and 5 enable step 2.

Working regular hours and recreating daily are simple concepts. They are hard for some of us because that requires personal change. They are possible since we all have the power to choose to do them.In considering the issue of overtime, I am reminded of my eldest son. When he was a toddler, if people were visiting the apartment, he would not fall asleep no matter how long the visit, and no matter what time of day it was.! He would fight off sleep until the visitors left. It was as if he was afraid that he would miss something. Once our visitors' left, he would go to sleep.By this time, however, he was over tired and would scream through half the night with nightmares. He, my wife, and I, all paid the price for his fear of missing out. Perhaps some people put in such long hours because they don't want to miss anything when they leave the office. The trouble with this is that events will never stop happening. That is life !

Things happen 24 hours a day. Allowing for little rest is not ultimately practical. So, take a nap.Things will happen while you're asleep, but you will have the energy to catch up when you wake. Hence.

- Narayana Murthy

Monday, August 3, 2009

Managing Tough Projects - Some points of advise

Steps for When the Project Starts to Fall Behind

1. Renegotiate. Discuss with stakeholders about increasing the budget or extending the deadline.
2. Recover during later steps. Reexamine budgets and schedules to see if you can you make up the time elsewhere.
3. Narrow project scope. Are there nonessential elements of the project that can be dropped to reduce costs and save time.
4. Deploy more resources. Can you put more people or machines to work? Weigh the costs against the importance of the deadline.
5. Accept substitution. Can you substitute a less-expensive or more readily available item?
6. Seek alternative sources. Can another source supply the missing item?
7. Accept partial delivery. Can you accept a few of a missing item to keep work going and complete the delivery later?
8. Offer incentives. Can you offer bonuses or other incentives for on-time delivery?
9. Demand compliance. Will demanding that people do what they said they would get the desired result? This may require support from upper management.

Steps for Building a Gantt Chart.
1. List phases of project, from first to last, down left side of page.
2. Add time scale across bottom from beginning to deadline.
3. Draw blank rectangle for phase one from phase start date to estimated completion date.
4. Draw rectangles for each remaining phase; make sure dependent phases start on or after the date that any earlier, dependent phases finish.
5. For independent phases, draw time-estimate rectangles according to preferences of people doing and supervising the work.
6. Adjust phase time estimates as needed so that the entire project finishes on or before deadline.
7. Add a milestone legend as appropriate.
8. Show chart to stakeholders and team members for feedback.
9. Adjust as needed.
Tips for Scheduling

1. Know which deadlines are hard-and-fast and which are not.
2. Compare your project to similar previous projects.
3. No task should last longer than four to six weeks. When tasks approach that time frame, they can probably be broken down further.
4. Don’t schedule more detail than you yourself can actually oversee.
5. Develop schedules according to what is logically possible: resource allocation should be done later.
6. Record all time segments in the same increments. Do not schedule a project so that overtime is needed to meet original target dates; this leaves little flexibility for handling problems that might occur later.

Tips for Monitoring Budgets

When monitoring actual costs against your estimate, watch out for these common contingencies that can send your project over budget:

1. Inflation during long-term projects.
2. Failing to factor in currency exchange rates.
3. Not getting firm prices from suppliers and subcontractors.
4. Estimates based on different costing methods; for example, hours vs. dollars.
5. Capital equipment purchased before the plan.
6. Unplanned personnel costs used to remain on schedule, including increased overtime.
7. A need for additional space.
8. Unexpected training costs.
9. Consultant fees for unforeseen problems.

The following contingencies contribute to costs being under budget:
1. Capital expenditures not made as planned.
2. Staff not allocated as planned.