Daily Archives: October 15, 2020

Project Management for the Information Professional

Project Management for the Information Professional by Eugene Guidice


  • understand the importance of effective project management
  • understand several basic terms and concepts
  • know where to turn for additional help


  • defined activities
  • defined time frame – explicit beginning, middle and end
  • allocated resources
  • explicit start and end time
  • explicit goal
  • add value to the organization

Eugene pointed out that many of these points may be inherently familiar just from experience. I took that to mean that this session would label some of what I already know in terms of project management.

The project management triangle tells the story of the project. It includes:

  • time – when does the project need to be finished? are there milestones?
  • resources – do you need tech resources? people resources? financial resources?
  • scope – what is the project intended to do and NOT do?

The key is to keep the three points of the triangle connected so you can add value to the organization. For example, if you have a project where the scope broadens, then time or resources usually needs to expand as well. The mantra I made my attorneys live by was: pick two: cheap, fast or good. The concept is the same.

What are the two things that are the most important, because the third item will be your constraint.

Program manager: someone who manages a number of different projects in a program.

What Gets Managed:

  • Scope: Beware of scope creep, or prepare for it. Scope creep is when people want additional functionality and that requires
  • Risks – in terms of finances, resources, business opportunities
  • resources – individuals, time, financial
  • communications – how will the project status be communicated, how will the project valuse be communicated, how will the constituents who have to live with the results of the project be informed?
  • expectations – what will people expect of the project manager? Will people expect or be expected to work full or part time on the project
  • quality – this is not a question of shabby vs. good. It is question of quality on a continuum. How long to recover from a failure?
  • Change – communication is key as people move from an ‘as is’ condition to a ‘to be’ condition. Training needs to be in place and processes need to be updated.

Before You Start

What is the strategic intent of the project and how does it fit into the strategic intent of the organization?

What is the business case for this project? what value will it deliver that supports that strategic intent?

  • Understanding ‘as is’ and ‘to be’ conditions – how are things right now? What would we like the new state going to look like?
  • scope and approach – what is included? are we going to do a buy or build decision? In house or contractors?
  • risk assessment – based on business case, what happens if we don’t have resources, if the project isn’t brought in on time? How will it impact the organization?
  • options – what are the options from going from ‘as is’ to ‘to be’ condition
  • benefits
  • time frame – should we think of breaking it up into multiple projects?
  • environmental factors – what’s going on internally? Significant change and will project add to chaos? Should we wait until change in leadership is finished? What is happening externally? How is COVID-19 affecting projects? Is there a recession?

Planning the Project

It’s a lot easier to make a change to a document or form, when you are in the planning stage, than when you are in the middle of the project. At this point it is helpful to have a project management tool. The more sophisticated the project, the more sophisticated the tool, but a simple Excel spreadsheet can be fine.

This requires a lot of time and energy. Rely on institutional knowledge and a wealth of experience others have. Talk to them and mine their experience, because it can enhance your project plan.

What goes into the project plan?

  • Tasks
    • Consider scope of specific tasks.
    • Phases/Stages
    • Hours. If they are too big, consider breaking them up.
    • Dependencies – sequence in which tasks have to be executed
    • milestones – spots along the way where you take a breath and say where have been, where are we going, where are we?
    • Roles vs. Assignment – these are different. A role is a job title that is going to work on a specific project. The more granular you can make roles, the better you can allocate resources.

Managing the Critical Path

The critical path is made up of those tasks that will take the longest. Tasks on the critical path define the shortest amount of time it will take to complete the project. Any slip in critical path tasks will delay the project. Critical path tasks require close monitoring. An automated tool can help you determine and manage the critical path.

Feedback Loop

There is also a feedback loop in any project. The start is executing the plan. Next is tracking and updating the plan then communicating changes, especially to upper management. At this point there is a decision point: do we continue with the plan or stop. If yes, then you start with executing the plan again and going through the steps again. If no, you stop the project.

Generally, it is acknowledged that management can handle good news and bad news, but not surprises. Management will see the trend as you keep communicating with them and they make the decision, based on internal and external factors, as to whether the project still has value to the organization. Thus, they decide, based on your work, whether to continue. It is not a reflection on you. There are a number of factors that go into such decisions.

Finishing the Project

You can’t just walk away after all the tasks have been completed. You want to do this even if the project was stopped, so people can learn from it.

  • Make final updates to the project plan – this will become a piece of institutional knowledge for future project managers
  • Make final updates to the supporting documentation
  • Lessons learned – even if a project is cancelled, there are lessons to be learned and lessons that can be brought to other projects
    • what went well / what didn’t go well
  • Restatement of the business case – how does this compare to what we have now?
  • Compare ‘new’ to-be condition to imagined to-be condition – may take time since companies/orgs don’t turn on a dime
  • Recognition – opportunity to give recognition for hard work, growth. This will help you as a project manager, because people will want to work with you again.


I think Eugene did a good job laying out the steps for project management in a 30 minute session. I think anyone could watch his session and have a good idea how and where to start.

Reopening Libraries

Reopening Libraries During Covid-19: Lessons Learned from providing archive, library and information services during a pandemic. This was another 30 minute session and was described as “As members of the SLA Task Force for Reopening Specialized Libraries, Bronwyn Smyth and Seema Rampersad will present some of the findings of their Round Table discussions from this year, as well as their key practical professional experiences of working in archives, libraries and information services during the pandemic. Both have researched best practice information, which informed the guidelines presented to the SLA Community in Summer 2020. This has been a learning experience in unprecedented times for our community and their personal insights and knowledge captured demonstrates that we can use this challenging experience to help prepare us for future crisis management, pandemics and other health risks.”

I wasn’t super interested in this topic since I am not working in a library, but I wanted to support the task force. I also wanted to see if any of what the task force found out was relevant to information service in which I last worked.

SLA set up this international task force in June 2020.

Bronwyn talked about what the City of Vancouver did with their Archives. They have had a phased reopening.

Seema talked about the British Library. She talked about renegotiating contracts and working with vendors. Making a change to digital access is one coping strategy. Do a risk assessment before people start returning to the office.


  • Phased reopening allows course corrections as needed
  • Communication is key
    • supervisor to staff
    • staff to staff, including signage, helps keep everyone in the loop
    • staff to public – let people know how things are changing, continuously
  • Outreach – video video/online if in person isn’t possible. Social media is helpful and expanding materials that are already scanned is helpful to continue to provide service
  • Capture what you are doing via text and photos for future reference
  • Be prepared to course correct – puts it in terms of having an adventure and may make it less anxiety provoking
  • Social distancing
  • Contact tracing
  • Deep and regular cleaning
  • consider risk assessment – commuting, contact with the public
  • Be aware of how library/org fits into the community and how access fits in


REALM project documents/information

Lexis Nexis has a Coronoavirus Toolkit

Vancouver COVID-19 Safety Plans

Reopening Libraries

Foreseeing the Future…

Foreseeing the Future of Intelligence and Information Services…Are We Prepared? How Do We Know? The program was described as ” Intelligence and information services rely on keeping ahead of sources and methods, tools and technology, and changes in organizations, industries, and the broader environment. How well do we do this? How can we adopt ways to help us see more clearly and act with more certainty? How can we be sure we’re doing the right things and doing enough? Continuing their CI 20/20 series, longtime veterans Cynthia Cheng Correia and Dr. Craig Fleisher engage participants in a robust discussion, exercise and activities that will broaden our sights to drivers and signals of change and sharpen our focus to what’s important to our organizations, intelligence and information services, and professional impact and value. Join us to expand your foresight, gain more new insights, and prepare your work, and yourself, for the evolving service landscape.”

The speakers were John Thomson, Chief Research Officer, Aurora WDC, Craig S. Fleisher, Chief Analytics Officer, Aurora WDC and, again, Cynthia Cheng Correia, Managing Director, Knowledge inForm. Cynthia spoke at the scary program on misinformation yesterday.

This was held in Zoom and I find it a little confusing that some events are held in AccelEvents, some in Remo and others in Zoom. I am not sure about the why behind it.

They presented 3 scenarios for the future:

  • Dystopian Scenario
  • Utopian Scenario
  • Plausible Scenario

Not all will come to the fore.

I&IS (Intel/Info Services) Dystopia 2030: What are the implications for Intel/Info Services

  • People no longer even have experience ever having been in a library; orgs don’t have knowledge centers
  • the 3W is dominated by: Amazon, Apple, Alphabet/Google, Microsoft and We Chat
  • People need not apply; tech drives 90+% of information management tasks
  • Everyone are in filter bubbles
  • Data scientists are most valuable

I&IS (Intel/Info Services) Utopia 2030: What are the implications for Intel/Info Services

  • Info has been liberated, democratized for the global, social good of society, Info silos only exist in the info farms (reservoirs of archived info.
  • Citizens are educated to be info literate from their earliest school days, equal to 3Rs
  • Access to the web is viewed as a basic human right and provided by nation states as a public good, globally
  • Digital communities are peoples’ first affinity with which they interact, and people seek out information discovery, learning, support communities
  • A living and liveable balance has been struck between individuals’ and orgs’ information rights and responsibilities
  • Ethics considerations are included in all new information products/services being considered for public release; ‘information ethics’ becomes a required course in all universities

The Plausible I&IS (Intel/Info Services) 2030: What are the implications for Intel/Info Services

  • CI/Info Service pros continue to find occasional opportunities to influence significant org decisions
  • A few/some I&IS pros have ‘pushed the boundaries’ of knowledge and made breakthroughs in terms of influencing action
  • Some info pros grown in intelligence services awareness, and visa versa
  • a few orgs are publicly recognized for how I&IS contributed to their competitive advantage
  • Integrating information and analytics has become the key competitive differentiator for I&IS pros
  • Some associations and universities have developed curricula, standards , and policies standardizing approaches to ethical practice

One thing that needs to be done is we need to create collections of primary research. This will help combat mis- and disinformation. There will be a plethora of ways to build networks of experts and interviewing them will be based in a lot of different ways none of which are talking on the phone. Data analytics combined with human intelligence will be the way to get the plausible or utopian scenario.

We need to be thinking much more holistically rather than focusing on our job and the tasks that make up the job. We can expect that we will be able to automate many more tasks, especially search. We need to find the gaps in the systems and fill in for the tech there. I&IS can be the managers of these systems and lend our expertise to the design of these systems and how these tools fit in the overall process. We become advisors on the system. We have to look up from our roles and understand the info eco-system as it evolves. How can we be designers and advisors? Self-serve can be an asset, but it requires training so people know how to avoid mis- and disinformation and when to come to the Info Center.

We have to look back at the dot-com bust and how we looked at search engines through our lens not through the lens of the users and the organizations. How can current tools be in competition with us/our jobs? We are in a filter bubble. There is a sense of reinforcement, especially at this SLA conference, and see beyond that. We have to identify know centers in our orgs and bring them all together.

Growth Mindset – take on a new mindset, improve skill set, be curious, have insights co-emerge with our patrons. We have to be more interdisciplinary and be more interfunctional.

Toolset – toolsets (mindset, data set, skill set) have to be enlarged, not just wider, but deeper. SWOT is one that Craig mentioned – Substantial Waste of Time. Some of what is in our toolset is out of date or stale. (9:54). Some data we collect doesn’t help solve the problems of today. Datasets tomorrow and in 2030 will still be about big data, but there will also be a need to find needles in haystacks (small data). The 3rd type of data called thick data – questions about why big data is showing patterns it is showing. It helps us create the stories about big data. If you use all three, you will be able to show big rich insights.

They also discussed VUCA: Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, Ambiguity

There was a very lively discussion. I was disappointed that the same old value discussion was brought up. I am so sick of that discussion. I can talk the talk and walk the walk, but it doesn’t work. Very few people in the session agreed with me, which was very disheartening. I believe there has to be a larger campaign extolling the virtues of organized information. I don’t know how that would look or who would pay, but it has to transcend the organization. It has to transcend the organization because, when money gets tight, orgs are still laying info pros off regardless of how innovative they are; regardless of how valued info pros are by patrons. Organized information has to be recognized as a corporate value across organizations, then info pros can talk about what they do in the org and how it helps.

The other thing I noticed, which was incidental to the topic was how many different organizations there are. I think SLA needs to partner or merge with others like SKIP, AIIP, CID, AALL, etc. Having these different organizations doesn’t benefit info pros in general.