Looking for the Right PM Resources

Last post 02:52 pm August 10, 2022
by Chuck Suscheck-PST
5 replies
01:49 pm August 5, 2022

I'm a design engineer for a very small company (7 employees). We are owned by a larger company (150 employees) that handles accounting and HR so we are 7 employees focused on producing our products.

The college I graduated from, while in excellent in technical engineering education, covered Project Management in about a day saying that there are these various styles out there and may have mentioned AGILE. I've realized for some time now that I am woefully ignorant in project management and would like to self educate to add these skills to better manage our design projects.

To that end I am looking for a handful of resources that I can begin reading to implement PM in my organization. I was looking at PMBOK 6th ed then saw they have 7th out and have seen some controversy as to which should be used. Also if AGILE is right for our group, I'll have to pick up a book on that (I saw a lot of references to the AGILE Practice Guide).

This brings me to another question, I've noticed a handful of different PM formats, AGILE or SCRUM to name a couple. To give some background to help taylor the suggestions, our company designs and manufactures valves and pumps. The valves are relatively low quantity - high quality 1-3 thousand a year ($1-$4 thousand each), the pumps are very low quantity - high quality 10-100 a year ($35-$50 thousand each). So far the pump side of the business has not added to the lineup since 2010, the valves are a new market for us and we have released 7 new products in 7 years.

05:28 pm August 5, 2022

Would you describe valve production as a complex challenge which presents significant business risks and unknowns? It sounds as though that is where most of the unearned value and innovation potential lies.

09:33 pm August 5, 2022

The production isn't the complex risky part, it is more the design and r&d that is complex and risky. If that is what you meant by production, then yes building the better valve does have benefits.  Also being positioned to give better customer service by maintaining inventory also is a big plus. 

05:41 am August 6, 2022

In Scrum, each Sprint allows a Sprint Goal to be met which mitigates a significant risk or unknown when developing a complex product. A Done, finished increment of immediately usable high quality is produced every time, however small that increment may be. The idea is to reduce the leap-of-faith before a valuable and empirical outcome is obtained. Empirical process control is thereby established even under complex conditions of high uncertainty.

At first blush, it therefore seems that Scrum could be a reasonable approach for developing new valves for the novel market you describe. This is quite different, although related to, the challenge of maintaining inventory.

My advice is to evaluate the company's present time to market and ability to innovate using an approach like Scrum. Doing so typically requires deep and pervasive organizational change and new customer engagement strategies.


02:31 pm August 9, 2022

Thank you for the information.  I will definitely look into Scrum more.  My current thought process was Stage-Gate for new product development, but what you are describing with Scrum (i.e. the sprints) really talks more to the innovative process that takes place.  I'm really interested in mitigating the "leap-of-faith" that we took with the last large project. Again, thank you. 

02:52 pm August 10, 2022

The PMBOK agile extension is really quite good, but uses different terms and has a more managerial focus.  When you read it, keep the Scrum guide at hand so you can get the golden standard of what Scrum is.

That said, take a look at this video:  


If you are in the complicated or complex world, Scrum is the right thing.

For a little more on a Scrum-like approach, see: https://youtu.be/502ILHjX9EE


If you do look at implementing Scrum, use Scrum to implement it - make sprints and backlogs around implementing the process and run the transformation like Scrum.