Earned Value Joke

Only some of you will get why I titled it “Earned Value Joke.”

A fellow was walking along a country road when he came upon a farmer working in his field. The man called out to the farmer “How long will it take me to get to the next town?”

The farmer didn’t answer. The guy waited a bit and then started walking again. After the man had gone about a hundred yards, the farmer yelled out “About 20 minutes.”

“Thank you. But why didn’t you tell me that when I asked you?”

“Didn’t know how fast you could walk.”

New Video: Healthy Conflict in Projects, Part 2

In the previous video on healthy conflict in project teams, we explained how this is one of the essential things that a project team must get right to ensure the success of the project. In this video, we talk about what that looks like and a step by step guide to resolving issues.

Here’s the video:

Our COVID-19 Relief Policy

We’re starting to hear from companies who are being impacted by the economic conditions created by the COVID-19 pandemic. They’re telling us about workforce reductions and furloughs and asking questions about their subscriptions, renewals, and license transfers. After some internal discussions, we came up with an idea of how to help our customers who are having a hard time because of the virus.

Effective immediately, we are adding a new policy for our Project Analyzer customers:

  • If your organization had to lay off employees due to pandemic-related economic conditions and want to transfer their subscription to another user, we’ll help you facilitate that license transfer and extend the subscription’s expiration by three months.  
  • If your organization furloughed employees due to pandemic-related economic conditions, contact us when they are back at work, and we’ll extend their subscription’s expiration by three months.
  • If your organization laid-off employees who were active Analyzer users and they will not be coming back, please forward this offer to them: if they contact us directly, we’ll offer them a complimentary 3-month subscription to help them get back on their feet. Terms and conditions apply. 
  • This offer expires on 9/30/2020, at which time we’ll assess whether or not to extend it further.

We hope that you and your colleagues and families are staying safe during this time.

 

New Video: How the Critical Path is Calculated

In scheduling tools like Microsoft Project and Primavera P6, it’s too easy to do things that interfere with the calculation of the true critical path.  To understand how this interference can occur and avoid making these mistakes, you should first understand how the critical path is calculated.

In under four minutes, we can show you.  Watch the video below.

Our 20th Birthday

Today is Steelray’s 20th birthday, which is old age for a software company. As I reflect on that fact, one question comes to mind:  

How?

How on earth did we make it 20 years? In between all of the mistakes and false assumptions and questionable decisions, we must have been doing something right to get here. After some thought, I came up with a list of “pillars” that have supported our health and longevity.

  • Financial Health.  Just as people need water, food, and oxygen to survive, a business only survives with cash. Not running out of money has always been top-of-list!

  • Happy Customers.  You don’t achieve and maintain financial health without customers. Having happy customers who like us and our products has been the difference-maker. We are so grateful to you and know that we need to continue delivering exceptional products, service, and value to you.

  • A Mission That Matters to Us. Our mission is to make the finest software for project schedule visualization and analysis.
    • By “finest,” we mean the most useful and most usable software products in the market.
    • We make the best tools for the best practitioners. For 20 years now, we’ve applied our team’s expertise in project management and building software products to build and offer solutions that provide great value to you.
    • We realized that great schedules come from great schedulers, so making better schedulers through our software is part of our mission.

  • What We Do and Where Matters. At some point, I realized that how you spend your workdays is as essential as any of the other pillars. 
    • We want to work on cool stuff.
    • We want to be an excellent place to work.

  • ‘A’ Players. As cliché as it sounds, the single biggest thing I’ve done to make it 20 years is to hire and develop a team of ‘A’ players. I am eternally grateful for the team we’ve built. Nothing else I’ve done has mattered more to our journey. Because when the project management landscape undergoes change, and a whole new set of skills is required, I’d rather have a team who have the brains, skills, and mostly attitude to embrace change and pivot quickly to the new reality. The alternative is firing and hiring, and who wants to work for a company like that?

As I write this, we are self-quarantined and have replaced working in the same office with online meetings, webcams, and screen sharing. The conferences we planned on going to have all been canceled, so we’re not able to see our customers in-person. I am missing the office and the conferences and look forward to the day when it’s safe to come out and play again.

Mostly I want to say these two things: 

  • Thank you, Steelray customers. Let’s celebrate our 40th together too.  
  • And thank you, Steelray team. You are the best!

Go ahead and treat yourself to a slice of cake today!

Exporter Now Supports IPMDAR

We are pleased to announce the release of Steelray Project Exporter for IPMDAR, version 2018.10.8.  Steelray Project Exporter for IPMDAR allows you to convert any Microsoft Project schedule to AAP’s IPMDAR (Integrated Program Management Data and Analysis Report). Exporter supports the new specification.

To see how to export your first project schedule using exporter, click on the video below.
 

 

I Hate Marketing Emails

Because I’ve had my email address for almost 20 years, I get a lot of marketing emails spam.  A LOT of spam.  Gmail filters out a nice chunk, and I use an Apple Mail add-in called Spam Sieve to filter out another sizeable percentage of it.  Despite that fact, a lot of unwanted email still reaches my inbox.

For the past week, I’ve deliberately been clicking on the unsubscribe link at the bottom of each email to take me off of that particular list.  Some of them make it very easy, and some of them try to throw up roadblocks.  This one from Responsify is particularly, uh, “challenging:”

email with tiny unsubscribe text

Yes, a link in that microscopic text at the bottom is how you’re supposed to unsubscribe. They’re betting that most people won’t bother to navigate the obstacles required to get off of their email list.  I scaled the email to be larger and (with my nose about two inches from the screen)  I found the unsubscribe link.

After a week, it’s too soon to know whether I’ve made a dent in the unwanted emails.  I’m wondering if they will reach a critical mass and if the time I’m spending unsubscribing would be better spent hitting the delete key.  Will email as we know it become unusable because of spam?  

We make software products that help our customers visualize and analyze their project schedules, and we’ve used email marketing campaigns from time to time.  In my mind, it’s like we’re one person in a stadium of 80,000 shouting at the top of our lungs, trying to be heard above everyone else.  I’m not saying that email campaigns are pointless, but we’ve found other marketing channels that work better for us.  Five personal emails might be more effective than 500 “eBlast” emails.

I’m curious to know what you think.  Email me?  😉