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Hollywood Secrets of Project Management Success

Best Practices

James Persse

Publisher: Microsoft Press, 2008 , 285 pages

ISBN: 0-7356-2569-7

Keywords: Project Management


Toggle Synopsis

What can Hollywood´s hundred years of filmmaking experience teach the software industry?

Like movies, software projects can be tremendously complex, creative, and high risk. But Hollywood has the superior track record for delivering projects within budget, schedule, and spec.

Whether you´re new to project management, or a software-industry veteran seeking fresh perspective, you´ll appreciate this insightful look at the film industry´s best practices. And you´ll see how to apply them to your own work — for better, more predictable results.

The author — an expert in software engineering and process management — shares what he´s learned from dozens of interviews with film producers and production managers. The consistent takeaway? All production starts and ends with a bankable script of clear business requirements.

  • Learn how movie studios use a cohesive system to plan, manage, and measure projects
  • Implement a rigorous green light, or approvals, process — with payoffs in better execution
  • Use budget to drive project changes, not the reverse
  • Treat your stakeholders and end users like associate producers
  • Use iterative development — editing dailies and hot costs as you go
  • Stick to the script — and yield greater accountability, reliability, and results

Table of Contents:

Toggle Table of Contents

    • Introduction
      • Gates of Heaven, Worlds of Water
      • Project Management in the World of Information Technology
        • An American Success Story
        • Managing the Projects
        • The Cost of Success
      • The Project Management Landscape
        • Solutions Are Available
        • The Project Management Institute's Project Management Body of Knowledge
        • Iterative/Agile
        • Capability Maturity Model Integration
        • International Standards Organization's ISO 9001:2000
        • Microsoft Solutions Framework/Six Sigma/The Custom Approach
        • Available Does Not Mean Used
      • Why the Association with Hollywood?
        • Developing the Intangible
        • Shaped to a Business Need
        • Significant Investments
        • Specifications Open to Change
        • Specialized Production Protocols and Technologies
        • Specialized Teams
        • Common Life Cycle
        • Strategic Delivery
      • The Purpose of This Book
      • The Audience for This Book
        • Program and Project Managers
        • Upper-Level Technology Managers
        • CIOs
      • How This Book Is Organized
      • From Principles to Practice
      • Find Additional Content Online
  • Part I Development
    1. Know the System
      • Two Percent Over, with a Lot of Explaining to Do
      • The Hollywood System of Production Management
        • Phase 1: Development
        • Phase 2: Preproduction
        • Phase 3: Production
        • Phase 4: Post-Production
        • Phase 5: Distribution
      • A Similar Model for the Technology Industries
        • Phase 1: Initiation
        • Phase 2: Planning
        • Phase 3: Execution and Control
        • Phase 4: Closure
      • Management Objective: The Project from the System
      • Case in Point: Modernization at the Internal revenue Service
    2. Know Your Properties
      • Rocky XXIII, Friday the 13th Part 14, and Titanic 2 — Makin' It to the Top
      • IT Portfolio Management as Strategic Positioning
      • The Need for Applications Portfolio Management
        • Environments Are Complex
        • Directed growth Requires a Known Starting Point
        • Software Development Is Expensive
        • Effective Planning Begins with Scope
      • The Adverse Consequences of Black Box Management
        • Scope Fluctuations
        • Lost Stakeholders
        • Amorphous Boundaries
        • Redesigns
        • Added Work
        • Problematic Implementations
        • Ambiguous Test Result
      • Hollywood and Portfolio Management
        • Identifying Investment Value
        • Analyzing Present Value
        • Leveraging Future Value
      • Launching IT Portfolio Management
        • Step 1: Inventory the Applications Portfolio
        • Step 2: Model the Applications Universe
        • Step 3: Manage the Portfolio Through Governance and Guidelines
      • Case in Point: Kohl's Department Stores
      • For a Deeper Look
    3. Establish Green-Light Rules
      • Inside the Hughes Hangar
        • Eagle Eye
        • Bearer of the Green Lantern
      • Technology's Unlocked Gate
      • The Green-Light Path in Hollywood
        • What's on the Slate?
        • What's the Property?
        • What's the Potential?
        • What's the After-Market?
      • Project Portfolio Management for IT Organizations
        • PPM Control Points
        • Beginning PPM in Your Shop
      • Case in Point: CalPERS of California
      • For a Deeper Look
    4. Invest in a Solid Script
      • The Package Drives the Script
      • The Business of Weak Requirements
        • Speed-to-Market Business Pressures
        • Lack of Technological Appreciation
        • Lack of Commitment to Analysis
        • Variations in Personal Expression
        • The Comfort of the Clacking
      • Continuing the Parallels at Parallel Entertainment
        • The Non-Negotiable Do's of Hollywood Script Development
        • The Cardboard Box of Might-Have-Beens
        • System Requirements as Technology's Script
      • Addressing Requirements Development
        • Seven Productive Requirements Development Practices
        • Promoting the Investment in Requirements Development
      • Case in Point: Athena Technology
      • For a Deeper Look
    5. Time Box the Projects
      • Form, Format, and Formula
      • IT Runaways and Throwaways
        • The Unlocked IT Gate
        • The Classic End Game
        • Limiting Through Form and Format
      • Toward a Controlled Development Tempo
      • Benefits of the Time Box Approach
        • Promoting Focus and Prioritization
        • Nurturing Reliable Scheduling and Dependable Budgeting
        • Support of Effective resource Utilization
        • Fostering a Long-Term View of the IT Mission
        • Accomodation of the Project Management Program Framework
      • Case in Point: Time Boxing at Oatland Container Corp.
      • For a Deeper Look
  • Part II Preproduction
    1. Strip Board the Script
      • The Time-Money Equation
        • Strip Boarding the Script
        • Order Through Understanding
      • Form Following Function in Technology Development
      • The Two-Dimensional Work Breakdown Structure
        • Establish the Assessment Team
        • Organize the Requirements
      • Benefits of Source-Organized Work Breakdown Structures
      • Case in Point: Pryor Development Services
      • For a Deeper Look
    2. Staff to the Genre
      • The Central Role of Casting
        • "Ninety Percent of the Job Is Casting"
        • Working with the Right Types
      • Any Casting Is Not Right Casting
      • Assign By Design
        • Mission and Project Definition
        • Repository Design
        • Centralized Resourcing
        • Repository Maintenance
        • Development and Recruitment
        • Cross-Training
      • Benefits of "Type Staffing"
      • Case in Point: Athenati Integration Services
      • For a Deeper Look
    3. Budget to the Board
      • Liberty Within Limits
        • The Numbers Behind the Story
        • The Mark of Professionalism
      • The IT Budget and the Bottom Line
      • Budgeting Tips for Technology Projects
      • Benefits of Multifaceted Budgeting
      • Case in Point: Westpoint-Taylor
      • For a Deeper Look
    4. Sign an the Dotted Line
      • Contracts and Commitments
      • Stakeholder Involvement for IT Projects
        • Balance Through Involvement
        • Hollywood Lesson
      • Facilitating Stakeholder Involvement
        • Identifying Stakeholders
        • Involving Stakeholders
      • Benefits of Stakeholder Agreement
      • Case in Point: Kohl's Department Stores Revisited
      • For a Deeper Look
  • Part III Production
    1. Stick to the Script
      • The Script as Bible
      • The Requirements as a Contract
      • Hollywood-Style Change Control
        • A Bump on the Head
        • Following the Script
        • Technology Interpretation
      • Moving Toward Improvement
        • The Discipline of Requirements Management
      • Case in Point: The Fall of Indus
      • For a Deeper Look
    2. Work to the Call Sheets
      • Yes Man
      • Tracking the Work in IT
      • Incrementing the Solution
      • Benefits of a Work Authorization System
      • Case in Point: Palter-Taft Technologies
      • For a Deeper Look
    3. Ante Up the Completion Bond
      • Gospel Hill
        • Protecting the Investment
        • The Practice of Insuring Success
      • Losing Sight of Process in IT
        • Hollywood Lesson
      • Establishing Project Quality Assurance Oversight
      • Benefits of Project Quality Assurance
      • Case in Point: Pitney Bowes
      • For a Deeper Look
    4. Manage the Hot Costs
      • The Trailer Next to Sound Stage 4
        • A Cool View of the Hot Costs
        • The Clock Is Running but the Camera Ain't
      • Floating Over the Numbers
      • Managing by the Numbers
      • Benefits of Managing Through Measures
      • Case in Point: Micronetix
      • For a Deeper Look
    5. Cut as You Go
      • Way Down East
        • Cutting to Ensure Increase
        • Cut, Print, Shape
      • Waterfall Ahead
        • Separating Us from Them and Then from Now
        • The End-of-the-Line Crunch
      • Integrating an Iterative Test Approach
      • Benefits of Iterative Testing
      • Case in Point: Public Health Software Systems
      • For a Deeper Look
  • Part IV Post-Production
    1. Edit to the Investment
      • The Butcher's Wife
      • Divergence and Discontinuity
      • Continuity of Quality
        • Helpful Reviews
        • Shaping a Peer Review Process
      • Benefits of Peer Review
      • Case in Point: MCI Worldcom
      • For a Deeper Look
    2. Study the Test Cards
      • Changing the End
      • Working with the User
      • Listening to the User
      • Benefits of User Acceptance Testing Together
      • Case in Point: Agilys
      • For a Deeper Look
    3. Count the Box Office
      • The Bucket List
      • The Unconscious Organization
      • Leveraging Knowledge Management
        • Define, Organize, Shape
        • Present, Access, Rely
      • Benefits of Leveraging Lessons Learned
      • Case in Point: Advantage Computers Inc.
      • For a Deeper Look
  • Part V Wrap-Up
    1. Honor the System
      • The System Is the Solution
        • The Machine Rolls On (or Over)
        • The Surety of Familiarity
      • Hesitation in IT Shops
      • Project Management as an Operational Asset
        • Predictability, Consistency, Repeatability
        • Synchronous Customer Relations
        • Effective Strategic and Tactical Planning
        • Enhanced Performance
      • The Lean Machine at Work
      • The Secret to Project Management Success
      • Case in Point: Thoughtmill
    2. The Lessons Reviewed
      • Treat Your Business Like a Business
      • Lesson 1: Establish a Project Management System
      • Lesson 2: Manage Your Applications Portfolio
      • Lesson 3: Establish Project Assessment and Approval Guidelines
      • Lesson 4: Devote Time for the Development of Requirements
      • Lesson 5: Employ Incremental Development Windows
      • Lesson 6: Use WBSs as a Basis for Estimation and Planning
      • Lesson 7: Identify Needed Knowledge and Skill Sets
      • Lesson 8: Establish Budgets and Schedules That Tie Directly to the WBS
      • Lesson 9: Obtain Commitments from Key Stakeholders
      • Lesson 10: Focus on the Delivery of Required Functionality
      • Lesson 11: Manage Through Incremental Progress Targets
      • Lesson 12: Welcome the Quality Auditors
      • Lesson 13: Track Scope, Schedule, Budget, and Quality on a Regular Basis
      • Lesson 14: Test Early, Build Often
      • Lesson 15: Test to Verify Requirements
      • Lesson 16: Focus on User Acceptance Testing
      • Lesson 17: Conduct Project Retrospectives Across Stakeholder Groups
      • Lesson 18: Follow Your Project Management System
      • Summary


Hollywood Secrets of Project Management Success

by Roland Buresund last modified 2008-10-19 18:38

Rating: ****** (Decent)

An excellent overview of the way Hollywood works (as far as I can tell), but unfortunately not a very good book about project management.

60% of the book gives descriptions and stories about how movies are made in Tinseltown, and why they usually succeed very well (from an economic perspective, not quality or cultural). The remaining 40% is trying to map this into IT projects (with pretty lousy success) and discuss generic project management issues. The author may be a good PM (and a good story-writer as well), but this fails to give anything to the reader except an interesting view of how another (non-IT) industry handles its projects.

All in all, if you know the limitations of the book, this is interesting reading that may explain a lot of the decisions that are made when movies are contructed.

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