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Behind the Scenes: Website Administration at the PMI Switzerland Chapter

Author: Eric Jelenje, PMP

Eric Jelenje

Information is Power, so the old adage goes.

The PMI Switzerland Chapter website is a vital source of information and creates opportunities for members and non-members across and beyond Switzerland, and critical to the Chapter’s communications and stakeholder engagement efforts.

An extension to the Chapter Website is the 2022 PM Conference website, through which users can access speaker profiles, the conference agenda and information about registering for the Conference. Keeping both websites functional is a mammoth effort that demands commitment, technological savviness, and a lot of behind-the-scenes work that we rarely get to see.

I caught up with the Website Team of Philippe Soupart and Danh Nguyen to get their perspectives on the challenges of website administration in the modern age, their experiences as volunteers, and, moving forward, what’s in store for users of both websites. 

 

1.    Philippe and Danh, it is a pleasure to speak to you. Tell us about your respective backgrounds and your work as PMI Switzerland Chapter Volunteers.

Phil: I am a Telecom expert. I passed my PMP in 2015 and joined the Chapter in the Technology group a few months after becoming a member and participating in some events. I started by helping people with the new Email service for the volunteers and took more responsibility, eventually becoming VP Operations. 

Now I am in charge of three teams (PMO, Office and Technology) but as I started administering the website from day 1 of the new design, I continue to work a lot on it. 

Danh: I’m a Mechanical Engineer but I have always had an interest in IT. I joined the PMI Switzerland Chapter many years ago, but in various different guises. I first volunteered on the Zurich Events team and have, for the past three years, supported the organising of the PM Conference. Currently, managing the PM Conference website is my main focus.

  

2.    You have highlighted your website management responsibilities. What is a typical day like for you?

Phil: My day has no fixed time. I’m working nearly all the time in front of two big 32” screens and I can switch easily from my main work to the PMI environment. As my work is flexible and the switch can be done in a second, I can answer a Slack or Email message quickly and go back to my work. It is a great advantage for PMI but also for my employer as it goes in both directions. 

Danh: A typical day is my job! As a volunteer, I have been mainly dedicating some time in the evenings when I have availability to tend to the website. The needs are driven by various stakeholders related to the PM Conference so a lot of the work is during the initialisation and startup phases leading up to the conference, to make all the necessary information available to prospective attendees. As the PM Conference is quite an important event in the PMI Switzerland chapter calendar, it has its own “website” within the PMI Switzerland website

 

3.    For how long has the Chapter website been operational? How has the website itself evolved to what it is now?

Phil: When I joined PMI, the website had articles but not every possible feature was exploited. 

We have worked on a component to present our events in a nicer way, with actions such as registrations, reminders and certificate issuances done automatically.
Then we upgraded the Event notifications service and the Newsletter system. The strategy is to have components doing the work on our website platform to centralize the information, to protect, and to use automation to minimize the work. An example is the automated email facility for welcoming new members.

Last year we implemented the payment by credit card and, lately, we refreshed the Job Opportunity notification service.
I am proud that, as PMI Switzerland, we are one of the chapters with the greatest amount of services and features for users on our website. 

 

4.    Cybersecurity and content management are some of the most commonly-cited challenges with managing a website. What are the challenges you experience as a team and how have you dealt with them?

Phil: Cybersecurity is one of the biggest topics of the last two years for every company and PMI Switzerland is also following the trend. The Operations department is following our new projects and implementations to ensure that we do everything to protect our data. General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is one of the challenges but we have to be vigilant on every threat and it is a daily work to monitor, correct and patch the systems we have. 

Danh: Since the PM Conference site resides within the PMI Switzerland website, all the policies, implementation and rules are inherited from the main website. This means that fortunately for me, as long as the main website is robust, the PM Conference site is also robust! 

 

5.    The COVID-19 pandemic heralded a greater reliance on virtual working and collaboration. How has the pandemic impacted your work as a team and with others?

Phil: For the Technology, PMO and Office teams, we were not impacted as we were already used to working exclusively online. We had some additional work to acquire Zoom licenses for our events online and it took some time for users to familiarise themselves with using the platform; “You are on mute” was the sentence we were sure to hear multiple times during a meeting!

Danh: The first PM conference I supported was very challenging. Not only did the conference itself get canceled, reinstated, and then postponed, we had to navigate the constantly changing pandemic landscape. Fortunately, the online conferencing, collaboration and other tools we use helped ensure that our work was not too heavily impacted. We had to adapt of course, but were still able to deliver a very successful conference.  

 

6.    The World Wide Web has grown exponentially since its inception 40 years ago. As user numbers skyrocket and technologies advance, how do you see the Chapter website in the short to long-term?

Phil: For the next few years I do not see a lot of changes. With the global trend towards a greater use of mobile phones for accessing online content, our website was designed to be ready to be mobile-friendly. Currently, 29% of our website serves mobiles. 

In the long term we see some changes on the way people will connect to the website as I expect PMI members to be able to roam to other chapters at no additional costs. Maybe this is a dream, but anything is possible!  

 

7.    The 2022 PMI Switzerland Project Management Conference’s central theme is Innovation in Project Management. What innovations on both websites can users expect to see in the coming months and beyond?

Danh: We are consistently trying to improve the user experience, whether it’s for the main Chapter website or the Conference website. Phil has been doing excellent work in this area, trying to make sure we have the tools available to deliver the information the user seeks in the most effective way. As Phil already mentioned, there is a natural shift away from browsing websites on a traditional computer which we need to accommodate. A lot of the innovation really happens on the back end to make this happen. 

Phil: Beside the technology, a lot of time is and will be spent verifying the consistency of the information displayed on the website, given by Email and propagated on social media. In the coming months, we will try to ease the discount proposition for students and unemployed members. 

We are working on added functionality for the Events List page, including an event search filter. We will also display the courses run by certification Training partners.

 

Special thanks to Phil and Danh for their volunteer work for PMI Switzerland Chapter and for sharing their thoughts and insights with us.

Philippe Soupart and Danh Nguyen

Solving problems with PMI’s Bodo Giegel

Author: Christopher Ziemba, PMP

Christopher Ziemba

For our 2022 Project Management Conference, PMI Switzerland warmly welcomes Bodo Giegel, Business Head Europe at PMI, to introduce us to The Wicked Problem Solving Toolkit. Do not let the word “wicked” throw you. Unlike Shakespeare’s famous line, referenced in this article’s subtitle, wicked in our context is not evil, but rather it indicates that we want to solve problems that are both serious and complex in a collaborative way. Project Management is fundamentally about solving problems and it is on the most serious and complex problems where innovative strategies can have the biggest impact.

The increasing complexity of modern work, projects and problems has driven PMI to partner with Tom Wujec, a leader, author and speaker on the subjects of technology, creativity and visualization, to develop and now offer the Wicked Problem Solving Toolkit, an innovative problem solving strategy based on visualization and collaboration.

I asked Bodo to provide me a bit of a preview for his session and to share some of his thoughts on the project. Let me say first, that I enjoyed our conversation very much. I could sense Bodo’s enthusiasm through the video call and I expect this will be more apparent in person. He is himself quite an authority on innovation, teamwork and collaboration, based on his rich history as a project manager, consultant and key account manager. I would say secondly, that I am now hooked. I look forward to attending this event and exploring how I can put these tools to work on my own projects.

Wicked_graphic_-_Christopher_Ziemba.png

In the words of Tom Wujec, “Wicked Problem Solving is a simple scalable visual system that helps people become dramatically more effective as creative leaders and modern problems solvers. It teaches three fundamental principles of creative collaboration. It teaches how to organize work into effective Plays and it teaches how to find a path to pick the best possible Plays. The concepts can be taught quickly. They can be applied to a vast range of business situations, and they can help teams run better meetings, untangle deep complexities and lead important change.”

A “Play” is the basic building block of Wicked Problem Solving. As described in the supporting program materials, a “Play” involves the three fundamental principles:

  • Leading with a key question – a clear articulation of the problem we’re seeking to solve.
  • Making ideas visible – creating a shared visual representation of the issue to help team members think through the problem. We mean this literally. Wicked Problem Solving is highly visual; we seek to get to the essence of the problem through drawings. 
  • Engaging with tasks – laying out an activity to help teams work through and solve the problem.

A Play is run in a time bound manner. Depending on the complexity of the problem and question this varies, but usually it takes 15-30 minutes to run a Play.

Wicked Problem Solving is a form of collaborative exercise. It is a very different manner of work to which many of us may be accustomed. Bodo explained to me how this can work very well with a Miro Board, how it can be done well in-person, but also remotely, or a combination of the two. As we discussed further, a key characteristic of this strategy for Bodo, and for me as well, is that it is an investment in your team. Instead of bringing in an expert to tell you how to solve a problem, Wicked Problem Solving enhances the collaboration and the productivity of the existing team, empowering them. Having input from different perspectives is essential, and visualization and time limited exercises enable different perspectives to be recognized more effectively.

I asked Bodo about how this effort has been received in the industry. He told me that the project is still in the early stages of deployment, PMI Switzerland is at the cutting edge, but that one company, which has strategically embraced Wicked Problem Solving, is Nagarro SE. They do not seem shy to discuss their experience. Nagarro is an information technology and digital product engineering company based in Germany, with more than 500 million euros in revenue in 2021 and more than 17,000 employees spread across 32 countries. Martin Hack, Global Head of Consulting at Nagarro has commented on the program, “At Nagarro we are striving to solve complex business problems with technology. For doing that, we identified the Wicked Problem Solving training material as a foundation on top of our own methodology…” He continues to say, “For us, Wicked Problem Solving is a complete operating system for creative collaboration.” Bodo explained further that Nagarro has already trained 500 of their consultants in Wicked Problem Solving and that these numbers will go up by the end of this year.

I suspect the numbers of Wicked Problem Solvers will also be going up across PMI Switzerland. A great place to get started is to join Bodo Giegel in Zürich on September 21, 2022 for his Keynote at our 11th Project Management Conference. I would like to thank Bodo one more time for speaking with me about the event, and I look forward to meeting you all there.

Getting to know two volunteers from our 2022 PM Conference

Authors: Eric Jelenje, PMP and Christopher Ziemba, PMP

Eric Jelenje     Christopher Ziemba

Volunteering is at the very core of the PMI Switzerland Chapter’s work and service to the Swiss project manager community. From producing the monthly Newsletter to coordinating events and keeping the Chapter website up-to-date, volunteers do it all.

We recently caught up with two volunteers, who have made significant contributions to our chapter, to learn more about their experiences and to get their thoughts on the upcoming Project Management Conference. Sangamitra Prayaga is an active member of the Zürich Events Team, and Leandro Benda is an active member in the Events Team for the French/speaking part of Switzerland. We posed each of them the same few questions and received some rather exciting answers in return.

 

Question 1: Please tell us about yourself.

Mitra: I am known as Mitra (short name). I have 14+ years of experience in IT and project management in diverse industries, including telecommunications, networking, and banking. Currently I am working at Credit Suisse as a Scrum Master and SME in Payments. What I am most proud of myself for is that I am a lifelong learner and passionate about new technologies, such as machine learning and AI. I have lived in 15+ houses, in 10+ cities, in 5+ countries, but I can still produce the kindergarten certificate of my daughter. Project management experience really helps!

Leandro: My name is Leandro Benda and I am 33 years old. I am Swiss with Italian origins and live in Bulle (FR). As a job, I am responsible for purchasing and IT in the Swiss subsidiary of Mapei, a multinational company that makes chemical products for construction and industry. I have been working there for 5 years.

 

Question 2: What are your roles and responsibilities as a PMI Switzerland Chapter Volunteer? What is a typical day like?

Mitra: I have been organizing and participating in PMI events since 2008 as part of our Zurich Events Management Team. Even after a hectic day at work, it can be relaxing for me to help planning for the next event or looking up great speakers for the future. Our team meets once every 6 weeks and we discuss activities and action items for upcoming events. Once a year, we meet up at a cool location over a nice dinner and build an event roadmap for the year. 

Leandro: In my typical day, I take part in calls where we decide together with the team on the operations to be carried out, which can include preparing Powerpoint presentations and writing articles for the Chapter Newsletter. Occasionally, I am also assigned lead responsibilities, which involves overseeing and coordinating the entire organization of an event.

 

Question 3: How did you get into volunteering for the PMI Switzerland Chapter?

Mitra: I was working in the US and had to move with my young daughters when my husband got a job in Zurich. My first few years were spent looking after them until they could go to school and learning German, but I did later become interested in getting back to work. My husband sent me a link for a volunteer opportunity at PMI and I jumped at the chance. I began supporting development on the PMI website, attending PMI events and getting to know wonderful people, like Martin Härri. My network grew and my new PMI friends became my references. This helped me land my job at CS. 

Leandro: I did a continuing course in project management at a local institution and PMI Switzerland were offering coaching for the PMP. I took it in 2020 and liked the concept. I then visited the chapter website, saw they were looking for volunteers, applied and here I am!

 

Question 4: Against the backdrop of COVID-19, the last two years have presented both challenges and opportunities in the project management field. How has your work as a Volunteer evolved?

Mitra: Work must go on. Every risk has a potential for opportunity. We turned towards organizing online events and made them free to the community. We could not do our yearly roadmap onsite, but did it online instead. We overcame many technological challenges thanks to great teamwork.

Leandro: Overall, the COVID-19 pandemic has certainly changed things. Before the pandemic, the Chapter held several face-to-face events but that changed once restrictions were placed on public gatherings. This saw us focus more on organizing online events such as Open Spaces for the Swiss project management community. For me, the experience of learning how to organize virtual events has been very valuable.

 

Question 5: The Chapter is hosting the 11th Project Management Conference in Zurich on the 21st of September, 2022 titled “Innovation in Project Management-Shaping The Future of Projects”. What are you most looking forward to?

Mitra: I really am looking forward to everything - meeting people, getting energized, networking, discussing and hearing great topics, I can’t wait.

Leandro: I look forward to learning more about the latest innovations in project management and meeting experts in the field to enrich my knowledge.

 

Question 6: There are those that have not yet considered volunteering for the Chapter or are deciding if it is for them. What would you tell them?

Mitra: Don’t wait for a minute, if it was not for this action I had taken to join PMI as a volunteer back in 2007, I may not be where I am today. I have learnt a lot and project management has become my greatest passion in both my personal and professional lives. 

Leandro: It is a fantastic experience, both from a professional and human point of view. We have the opportunity to work with very knowledgeable and approachable people.

 

Question 7: Do you indulge in any pastimes/guilty pleasures/hobbies in your free time?

Mitra: I love walking in this beautiful country of Switzerland, teaching Hindi, learning Sanskrit, coaching youngsters in computer programming and project management. Most important for me is spending time with my daughters and dog.

Leandro: In my spare time, I often do sports like running, trail running, soccer and fitness. Concerning running, I am a member of the Sporting Athletisme Bulle Team. Running, Running and… Running :-)  always higher, always further! My favorite race is the Sierre-Zinal trail which is technical, requires good endurance management and offers beautiful landscapes with a great atmosphere. I'm also a big fan of Italian soccer and I sometimes go to see matches.

 

Question 8: And lastly, Waterfall or Agile?

Mitra: I have been an Agile practitioner for the last couple of years and I am quite an Agile enthusiast. Before that, I worked more with Waterfall, yet with an Agile mindset.

Leandro: I prefer Waterfall project management because I think that this method allows us to anticipate in an often optimal way the unforeseen.

 

We would like to thank Mitra and Leandro very much for their volunteer efforts for our PMI Switzerland chapter and for sharing these personal insights with us today.

 

Agile in Finance - COP 13.09.2022

Author: Florian Ivan

Florian Ivan

Imagine Doing Agile in a bank! A Swiss Bank!


On September 13, our Agile CoP has the pleasure to welcome Stuart Nixon who is going to tell us about his experience in implementing Agile for a major bank. When you read about these kinds of experiences, it’s all nice and fun. When you actually do it, as you’ll see from Stuart, it comes with lots of challenges.

Join us at: https://pmi-switzerland.ch/index.php/events/agile-community-of-practice-cop-events/cop-agile-in-finance-sep2022 

CoP_-_Florian_Ivan.png

PM Master Class: 2-day Product Owner Training 30.09-01.10

Author: Fredy Wehrli, PMP & PMI-PBA

FredyWehrli

The coming PM Master Class gives you the rare opportunity to get your preparation training for the Product Owner certification for a very competitive price.

Above all, Silvana Wasitova will inspire us and make sure we are ready to fill out this role!

Mark your calendar and register here: 

https://www.pmi-switzerland.ch/index.php/events/events-list/master-class/pm-master-class-2-days-product-owner-training

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