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Business management seminar at IBM in Sofia

by bjordanov
ibm-seminar-business-managment-2016

What is this course about?

Host: IBM Sofia
Place: Bulgaria, Sofia, Sofia Airport Center, 2nd floor
The course topic: Core Basics of Project Management
Presentation: PowerPoint (about ~80 slides)
Course duration: Approximately 2 hours

Today our lector’s name is Veselin Jelev who is working as a BI Developer and Project Manager at IBM Company in Sofia, Bulgaria where I was sent by the Technical University of Sofia for a formal seminar. We are inside a big room designed for presentations, which is equipped with the latest tech equipment. The presentation is about to start and we are going to talk about business management so hopefully, I’ll finish this post later today and tell you how it went and what my experience was.

What I’ve learned through this course?

At first, I was very enthusiastic about everything. I thought my knowledge of business management compared to what I was about to hear is significantly superficial. Actually, it turned out there weren’t many new things I’ve learnt but I am still glad I took an active part in the discussions among all the other 40 participants. I don’t want to sound arrogant, but I’m just telling you the story as it was. Almost all my suggestions on our lector’s questions about nearly every topic were 99% correct. He just had to add up something little to what I already suggested and basically repeat my answers afterwards. This shows me that I have business acumen and business management feeling and that’s an expected outcome from my life experience till now. I’ve done many solo projects and worked in a team more than several times, trying to lead the team to success most of the times successfully.

Why am I saying “Most of the time”?

An interesting point that our lector brought to the table was “admitting your fails”.  I think what he really meant by that is learning, not only from your successful projects but also from seeing your mistakes in the ones you couldn’t finish the perfect way. Such as being late with the deadline, failing to manage the resources, failing to give the right people the proper tasks and so on. Veselin Jolev gave us an example where he is conducting an interview for IBM and the position “project manager”. He asks the candidate about his pros and weak sides and if the candidate doesn’t admit any downs, he is probably being unable to see his own mistakes and in future learn from them.

Some of his questions I can clearly remember were: “What are the project resources?” , “Definition of a Group, Team. What is an effective team?” “What ways do we know to manage resources?” and others.

I am talking about Gantt charts.

What I was really fascinated by were Gantt charts. It looks like Gantt charts are very useful. You can put several timelines on top of one another and that way represent the time for every individual task. The basic idea is to manage your time efficiently, so you don’t just calculate the whole length of every task in the project by simply adding the next one, but take in mind that the people participating in the project are separated in teams, that can accomplish several tasks at once. This means that you can plan your time and put a more realistic deadline for your project and also take a look at what parallel problem solving can look like. Of course, some tasks cant’ be done before others so you have to use this method wisely. He mentioned some real spicy details I’m going to try and put to the test in my future plans for new projects.

Another new method I’ve learned is working type: “All in”.

It’ll be hard to formulate those type names in English since the seminar was in Bulgarian and I can only guess what most of these methods are called. Anyways the point is the understanding of the method, not its name so the idea here was to immobilise your whole team to work together on a certain module or task from the project, so they can finish it faster and start the next module.

PROS:

It’s obvious, because of the big group of people trying to solve a problem together they have more ideas and the pressure will be split equally among them. As soon as they are done with the first problem, they can continue working together on the next one and show faster results for the client.

CONS:

The problem here, as you can guess, is that if all the participants in your team don’t have deep knowledge and haven’t faced similar tasks to the one they are assigned to. they’ll gain some experience but lose time while doing it. It’s also going to be a pain in the neck to take the time and try teaching every single one of them the same thing, instead of concentrating on the final goal – to make the client happy.

Where do I plan to implement what I’ve learned during the course?

This is the easiest thing. Actually, while listening to Mr Jelev, I was already having some ideas on how to put what I’ve learned today into my future work. My own projects are the perfect place to use the accumulated information. Me and my website front-end developer – Tony Manoilov, are working on our new online client management software, where we plan to include not only user interface for submitting new tasks from the clients but automatically calculate the final product price based on the time, effort and joy spend on it, while generating an invoice at the same time with a click of a button. Pretty neat, huh?

At the end of the course, me and two others were gifted an original IBM hats with a symbolic meaning to our extremely strong knowledge and active participation. After the seminar, I had a personal non-formal conversation with our lector. He told me I knew a lot and asked where I’ve been working at that time. I smiled and answered that I am a freelancer and I am just about to start my own company very soon but that’s another topic for another day…

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