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The 80/20 Rule in IT Project Management

The 80/20 Rule states that in any project, 80 percent of the work will be done in 20 percent of the time but the other 20 percent of the work will require the other 80 percent of the time. That may sound counterintuitive, but from my experience, it is pretty close to true.

In any formalized IT project, most of the information for planning the project will be at hand and relatively easy to access. There are a plethora of tools for this, from spreadsheets to databases, to COTS reporting apps for monitoring and tracking. Gathering the info we need to get started is easy. That is what computers do best. The tail end of the project is where thing get tough because that is where the outliers and unexpected issues are, or should be.

When implementing an IT project, I always try to identify the easy wins and the high profile targets and make sure they are addressed in the project plan first. Easy wins help build momentum and build confidence, both for the team, and with the rest of the company. High profile objectives help to make sure the project is meeting its objectives and staying on track to complete its deadlines. But what about the project objectives which are not easy wins or critical to the timeline of the project?

I also try to identify project outliers as a part of the planning phase and make sure that they will be handled last and that appropriate time and resources will be allocated for those outliers. There will always be unexpected issues that will crop up and add complexity, and these require additional time and resources. There should be allowances made in the planning phase for the inevitable but unknowable issues that will arise. Planning for the outliers at the end allows critical work to be completed first. Key milestones should be implemented as a higher priority to maintain project deadlines without impacting goals upfront. Delays on the front-end can have far more serious impact than delays at the end of a project. Outliers, particularly if they involve technical difficulties, can impede the momentum of the project. These outliers may cause mixed priorities if allowed to overwhelm planning and objective management, but it is important to remember that they only affect a small portion of the project. A great example of all this is the project I managed while working for IBM. I was in charge of a project to integrate several different flavors of Linux and UNIX into an Active Directory environment. Most of this would be fairly easy to integrate, except that we also had to contend with AIX (it was IBM after all). The older versions of AIX didn’t have a PAM module. There was a custom LAM module with a LAM to PAM converter, but the configuration was finicky and had to be set specific for each machine. Those AIX systems were the outliers, and we planned to implement them last.

As a part of the process, we designed the AD environment, configured and tested it. We rolled out the integration scheme for a test batch of the Windows systems, which was successful, then rolled it out to the rest of the Windows servers. An easy win. We then implemented the OpenLDAP servers which would pass through the calls from the rest of the Linux and UNIX servers to Active Directory. This was the high priority part of the project. We tested that implementation, and after a few minor adjustments, we started rolling it out to all the Linux, Solaris, and HP-UX systems. Once that was completed, we moved on to the final planned part of the implementation, the outliers, where we knew we would have issues. We scheduled maintenance windows for each AIX system, took backups, and made sure we had a fall back plan for each system, as we slowly implemented the integration tools for each. Because the AIX systems required more planning, more work, and had more issues, they took almost as long as the rest of the systems combined, even though the AIX servers were only small percent of the total number of servers. Then we ran into the unexpected.

We were told after we had all the systems integrated that we also had to integrate our user management into the IBM Blue Book directory service, so that any user account for our systems that was not active in the Blue Book would not be active in our directory services. We had to scramble to develop some custom code to compare user accounts each night and disable any in our system that were not active in the IBM Blue Book. Fortunately, that did not take too long, and we stayed on target to meet our deadlines. As a part of this project we created a LDAP Cookbook for the schema we had created, since we had modified the Active Directory and integrated it with Linux and UNIX via OpenLDAP. Because the cookbook had been a part of the start of the project design and planning, we did not have to go back and try to document everything at the end. We just had to verify the documentation was correct and understandable to everyone else. We already knew the information worked because we had being using it in the integration process for each server type as the procedure manual.

The 80/20 Rule is a useful guideline for project planning if nothing else as a sanity check. If I can get 80 percent of the work done up front and leave the outliers and other issues until last, the projects always progress much smoother.

The orginal article is on my site with my other writing at
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About the art of interviewing at

Check it out. A good read for job hunters or those who are employed.

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This one is about social media. Check it out -
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I have a new blog post about jobs and job titles.

Check it out:
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I have a new site for blogging about IT stuff at Check it out. I will be putting up info about IT related events, technical docs I am working on or have done, and blogging about social issues with in IT that I think are worth talking about. Feel free to spread the word.
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The other night, I had a kinda weird dream about a time loop. The current theory on how those might work is described here .

So, try not to laugh, and don't think this is an April Fools thing. The dream came thru as a Back to the Future thing, focused on Doc Brown. In the story, Doc Brown is the real motivator for all actions that movie follows. He creates the time machine, he sells the plutonium to the Libyans and he fixes what he breaks. He closed the loop (or maybe he opened it) and allowed Marty to escape. And he remembers it all.

So what came into my head was that he was kinda crazy because he was parsing the experiences of two universes. One is the closed bubble of the time loop (actually several of them, if you count all three movies), and the open universe which continues on when those bubbles separate and/or collapse. Imagine experiencing several lives, having several memory tracks for different lives, each slightly different for crucial moments, and having to figure out which one you are currently in? It would explain his craziness.
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Testing Windows Live Writer for use with LJ.

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We make it better, by our choices, our actions and our words. I have been looking at a number of the wonderful videos and journal entries around the IGB movement, and some things struck me that I wanted to write about.

When I was a kid, I got bullied, attacked, and insulted. It wasn't quite a daily thing, and I know I didn't have it nearly as bad as a lot of others had it. But I felt like an outsider. But I never considered suicide. I didn't like school, or most of the kids in school. But my parents didn't let things get out of hand. In that sense, I consider myself lucky. Even if I was lucky, it wasn't easy.

It is a lot better for me now. But it didn't just magically happen. When I was old enough I left the town I grew up in, I changed a lot of things in my life and made decisions about what and who I wanted in my life and my future. And I worked to make it all happen. And that is why it got better.

In looking back, I realize that I didn't have a lot of choices as a kid. And that is why it sucked. I had to go to school, and the kids at school were sometimes very mean, and on good days they just ignored me. I didn't have a choice about where I lived, who lived around me, what I had to do, or eat or say or learn. So, when I was old enough, I moved out and had to unlearn a lot of stuff, change how I did a lot of stuff, and that was all hard work. I had to open up and challenge a lot of my assumptions, habits and training. But I had the choice to do that. And when days got too tough, I could take a break, because I had that choice. I could go at my own pace. And that made things better too.

When I realized that I could not only choose, but then implement those changes in my life, I think I really was able to let go of a lot of the pain. I moved on, met new people, did the fun things I wanted to do, and that wasn't just better, it was *good*. Not perfect, but good. And there have been tough times with the good times. The recent anniversary of the Loma Prieta earthquake reminded me of the suffering and wonder that I experienced then, the friends I made and the way that changed me forever. Ask me about Robin sometime. There are a lot of stories to be told, and they shouldn't be forgotten.

Now, I work for a living, support my family of choice, and try to be a good example. It isn't always easy, and when it gets too hard, I take a break. And when I have to deal with people that are difficult, I don't let them get to me. I recognize that the work, the issue, that isn't *me*. And it isn't really about me. They don't know me, how could they really? And so I let it go or just deal with the problem as best I can, or in some cases, just try to extricate myself from bad situations. And that is my choice, that that really help to make things better for me.

I hope that what others get out of this is my take on IGB. For me, it didn't just get better. That is passive voice with no actors. It got better because I could make changes in my life, and I did. I am the writer and actor in the story of my life and I want it to be a story worth telling. For it to get better, I have to make it better. It doesn't just happen on its own, I get to make it happen. And I get to make it as good as I can. And that means a lot to me. It drives me to keep going, to do things I'm not sure I can do. To keep trying even when it is really hard. And I know that *I* am making my life better. Every day.

And that is how it gets better.
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We have a chance to buy the house we live in, but we're scrambling to scrape up the money for the down payment. One of the ways we're doing this is by having a yard sale. If you want to help raise money for the Rabbits to buy the Warren, Donate things for us to sell, help volunteer to do the sale, and/or come buy stuff!

Contact for more information.
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It looks like Google is selling out. They are in talks with Verizon to work a deal that will help to undermine net neutrality. More info here:

My big concern with ISPs selling at different prices is that it will lead to an Enron situation with bandwidth. I was talking with a network engineer recently who worked at a bandwidth provider when Enron was in the energy brokering business, if you can call their shell game brokering. They were trying to get into the bandwidth brokering business as well at that time and I am sure they would have tried the same thing with bandwidth they did with energy. I don't see how it will NOT lead to that until it is properly regulated. And the simplest regulation is net neutrality. It is best for everyone, and has helped to fuel the internet revolution. To change that will be to undermine the what is best about the internet, that we can connect to data, to each other, to more than we knew existed, in an unfettered manner. To limit that is to shackle our ability to discover, to learn and to grow.

I truly hope this turns out to be wrong, or that Google will decide not to go down this path. I hope that The government will regulate ISPs adn stop this from even being an issue. And I hope everyone stands up for Net Neutrality.
airshipjones: (Wicked Grin)
What are you listening to these days?
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Well, it looks like I have a new job. I will be starting as the IT Manager at LeadClick on May 10th. This is awesome and really where I want to be going with my career. There are a bunch of things that made me really look forward to the job there. The technology I will be implementing will be cutting edge without being bleeding edge. They are a fiscally sound and profitable public company. And they have a ping pong table in the lobby! They are close to all my friends at my last job at PlayFirst. There are lots of places to eat and hang out near there. And it is easily BARTable. I was being considered for a couple other positions, but they either paid less or were contract positions with no real benefits.

In some ways it has been nice to have some time off, get some things done around the house, and get my perspective on what I want to do revitalized. There is still plenty to do around the house, but with the days getting longer I think I will still be able to continue the momentum we have developed in getting things done at home.

So, on to the home front. Things have been pretty good despite the financial belt tightening we have had to do. I have gotten a lot of paperwork and bureaucratic stuff taken care of like taxes, financial aid stuff and more. We have also been cleaning up the yard, the garage and the sheds. Dany and Lon have restarted the online book and eBay sales as well, and that has been going quite well too.

I am sure there is a huge backlog of things I will need to deal with once I start the new job. Both for them and when we have some money rolling in. But for now things are looking pretty good.
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I want to get input from my friends on a kinda weird question to help me calibrate my understanding of how people view walking distances.

So, here is the thinking in my head.

If I walk around the block, I think of it as having walked one block. But if I am describing walking directions, and I tell someone to walk four blocks, turn right and walk another 3 blocks, I think of that as seven block. But walking around a block is pretty much like walking the length of four blocks.

So how do you all describe walking distances?
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I predict that right-wing political pundits will be 'implying' within the week that the game was fixed or thrown because Obama called it for the Saints. Well, that and all he other political gaffs around New Orleans.

Just sayin'.
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Saw this retweeted, and thought it was worth posting up here. The gist is that people who multitask "have trouble ignoring irrelevant information", and can't "organize things in their working memory" and slows "how fast and readily people switch from doing one thing to another."

I think I need a new job.....
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why I don't drink diet soda...

The body is not fooled.

ganked from [ profile] yesthattom
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An Article on Read it now. Read it here.

Go. You will either be amused or thoughtful. And you will look at the people around you a bit differently, at least for the rest of the day.
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I was notified that my job at PlayFirst will be ending in a month. The severance package they are offering seems decent, though I need to look at it in more depth when I feel up to it. I have been there for two and a half years, and I have really enjoyed it until recently. The last several months things have gotten harder and harder as friends have been bullied out, laid off for 'performance' reasons that were bogus, and the priorities have been shifting. The whole company has taken on a pall, and it affected me too. I don't think I realized how much until today.

I left early today, had a drink with a few of the others who were also being given the boot, and headed home. I talked stuff over with the family, and started revising my resume. I have already put out about a half dozen resumes to promising looking companies with openings.

I think I will be glad to move on at this point. A new challenge, new scenery, and a break from the problems at PlayFirst. I didn't create and couldn't fix the real problems there and that I had no voice in their 'solution'.

If you are interested in seeing my resume, or know of available jobs, you can see it here or forward contact me at I am looking for an IT Manager or Senior Systems Administrator position here in the Bay Area.
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This is reposted from Dawn's LJ. We are looking for a Web Dev for a project we are working on. Details are here:
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Here are the things I heard that really stood out from Obama's speech:

He said the 'A' word. Yup, Accountability. I really want to see that happen. And he put that right up front. Bravo.

Then there was the triumvirate of energy, health-care and education. And when Obama talks about energy, he means sustainable, renewal energy. And when he talks about health-care, he addresses the ridiculous rises in costs and the poor quality and access in the US. He really wants everyone in the US to have health-care. And education he really understands, unlike our last president, who didn't (couldn't?) read. He really pushes higher education, and I like that. Imagine college for *all* Americans. This means our kids.

Best line tho'. 'The responsibility not to pass on a debt to them [our children] that they cannot repay.' Got the whole house standing with that one.

Amusingly, he mentioned auditing the budget and that they had found $2T in saving over the next 10 years. I quipped "Halliburton" and then right after that he mentioned 'no-bid contracts' and we all broke out laughing. The more I listen to Obama on economic issues, the more I realize the guy is really a genius. He is not going to hide the cost of the wars under some separate budget item, so we might really get some idea of what the economy really looks like.

Obama has such a clear facing on our foreign policy, he makes it seem obvious. Though I did notice that the McCain voters reactions went down quite a bit when he started talking about closing Guantanamo and leading by example in world politics.

Another line that really struck a chord was the quote from a young girl who wrote a letter to the president. "We are not quitters."

Two things I noticed from the panning cameras. The cameras seems to show the Republicans with frowns or their eyes bugged out every time and Nancy Pelosi looks like a marionette puppet being jerked up and dropped by someone who doesn't know the play it is in.


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April 2012

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