The Political and Economic Outlook for #Myanmar—An Economist Intelligence Unit Webinar


The Political and Economic Outlook for #Myanmar—An Economist Intelligence Unit Webinar

On February 21st, 2013, the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) presented a webinar on the Political and Economic Outlook for Myanmar. It was presented from Hong Kong by Jake Hamstra, the Editor on the Asia Forecasting Team for EIU, and my summary of the webinar is contained in the blog post below.   This post also includes the question and answer session at the end of the presentation, based on questions submitted to Mr. Hamstra by the attendees.

1. Introduction

It is now the 2nd anniversary of the civilian government in Myanmar after 50 years of a military dictatorship, and it that time it has gone from being a pariah state like North Korea to being a “donor’s darling”, being a prime destination both for investments and grants. It went from being an embargoed economy that was cut off from the global system to a market that is now an exciting frontier. The webinar covers the economic and political outlook in Myanmar discussing first the positive developments and then the challenging issues that the country faces on its road from transformation from dictatorship to democracy.

2. Politics—Positive Developments

There were elections in April 2012 that were judged to be fair by international standards and in them, the opposition gained seats in parliament. It is now a fairly well-functioning parliamentary system, with the opposition playing a prominent role in legislation and policymaking, although the military still has a majority stake in the government.

There is broad-based support for the reform process. There has been a steady expansion of civil and political rights, with steady releases of political prisoners, the lifting of bans on public gatherings and curbing of restrictions on the media.

The iconic figure of the opposition, Aung San Suu Kyi, has a positive relationship with the president of Myanmar, Thein Sein. Reform is being supported within the parliament not just by pro-democracy forces, but even some pro-government and even military MPs.

3. Politics—Challenges

The military is entrenched, and remains the overwhelmingly dominant force. Jake Hamstra thinks that the reform process may be irreversible, but it has the possibility of being slowed down or even stopped by the military if it chooses to do so.

Ethnic divisions and conflicts remain one of the key obstacles to reform. There have been many cease-fires signed in 2011, but there remain two serious areas of conflict, the Kachin in northernmost Myanmar and the Rohingya in the Rakhine state on the West coast of Myanmar.

The conflict with the Kachin seems to get the most attention both because is symbolic of the ethnic struggles in general in Myanmar and because of the involvement of the Chinese government in negotiations between the Kachin and the Myanmar government. The basic position of the Kachin is that they will only agree to a cease-fire if the government first grants them more self-rule. The government’s position is that they will only agree to granting them more self-rule if the Kachin first agree to a cease-fire. The negotiations between the two parties by the Chinese are aimed at bridging the gap between these two diametrically opposed positions.

The other serious area of conflict is in the Western Rakhine state of Myanmar with the Rohingya people, a Muslim people in a country which is mainly Buddhist. The government’s refusal to give citizenship rights to the Rohingya, and the violence perpetrated against them directly by the military and indirectly by the fomenting of sectarian violence between Buddhists and Muslims, is complicating Myanmar’s relations with ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations). The problem with the government’s relations with the Rohingya is that ASEAN is not as strong a counterweight in the conflict as China is in the conflict with the Kachin state to the north.

The low-hanging fruit in terms of reform has already been done. As reforms get harder, fault lines may begin to occur in parliament.

4. Economics—Positive Developments

The GDP growth will accelerate to a level of 6.7% a year in the period from 2014-2017. Inflation will remain manageable, but will remain vulnerable to typhoons and other weather-related events because 70% of the economy is still tied to agriculture.

Foreign direct investment is ramping up, and regional trade will start to ramp up as well.

Reforms are trying to liberalize state-run enterprises, and thereby increase private competition. Two examples of reforms that are being carried out are a) monetary independence of the central bank and b) fiscal transparency. Regarding monetary independence, this is the first time the central bank will gain independence from the Finance Ministry. Regarding fiscal transparency, last year was the first time the budget was openly debated in parliament as opposed to being decided upon behind closed doors.

5. Economics—Challenges

Corruption is still a very serious problem that hampers foreign direct investment. The infrastructure, especially the electrical grid, remains poor, and therefore growth in foreign direct investment and trade will remain gradual.

The agricultural sector now accounts for 70% of GDP, and all of the investment seems to be going in resource-extraction projects, which does nothing to boost domestic demand. Myanmar will not be an export-oriented global “tiger” for many years to come.

6. Key Issues to Watch

Political: constitutional change ahead of the 2015 election, peace process with ethnic groups Kachin and Rohingya

Economic: International telecoms will bid for 2 out of the 4 licenses available (Myanmar has low mobile phone penetration rate of 9%)

Here’s a chart summarizing the positive developments and challenges:

Positive Developments Challenges
Politics
  • April 2012 elections fair
  • Parliament functions well
  • Support for reform is broad-based
  • Expansion of civil and political rights
  • + relationship between opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and President
  • Military still dominant political force, retains “veto power” over reforms
  • Ethnic conflict in Kachin and Rakhine states
  • Sectarian violence
  • Reforms will get more difficult
Economics
  • GDP growth high (6.7%)
  • Inflation manageable
  • FDI, trade increasing gradually
  • Economic reforms (transparency, liberalization)
  • Corruption
  • Investment concentrated in resource-extraction
  • Infrastructure poor
  • Domestic demand lags

7. Economic and Political Forecast—Three Scenarios

In May 2012, the EIU gave a webinar in which they gave the following three scenarios and their likelihood.  This probably remains the basic forecast for Myanmar according to EIU.

Scenario

Economic

Political

GDP Growth

Likelihood

1) Most likely

Investment occurs, reform slows

Military in control, NDL reform party still marginal

7%

60%

2) Optimistic

Breakup of state monopolies, reforms implemented

Multi-party democracy, NDL not majority but very influential

8.5%

25%

3) Pessimistic

Only growth in extractive industries, reform halts

Military cracks down on reforms, ethnic conflicts unresolved, sanctions reinstated

5% (current baseline)

15%

8. Question and Answer session

Here are the discussion questions that came at the end of the presentation

Question 1: Will there be progress towards the settlement of ethnic conflicts?
There will be partial progress, especially at the meeting between the nationalities of the federal council representing 11 ethnics groups and the government. They have agreed to facilitate economic development in these areas, in order that the economic reforms benefit the regional areas as well as the area around the capital. The government in return wants the ethnic militias to be subsumed in a border guard controlled by the government.

Remember, the government is trying to move towards feudalism, and has the problem of working against 50 years of movement the other way, as the military tried to centralize control of the country.

Question 2: To what extent will Myanmar be able to create a Special Economic Zone (SEZ)?

There was initial interest in setting up an SEZ by Japanese and other foreign investors, but this is now waning because issues of insufficient infrastructure (electricity in particular) and land rights need to be resolved first. The problem is that most of the investment is flowing into resource extraction, and not infrastructure at this point.

Question 3: How does the mobile phone penetration rate of Myanmar compare to that of other countries in the area?

Mobile phone penetration in Myanmar is estimated at between 3 and 9%. For comparison, in Cambodia the rate is 70%, and in Thailand it is 110%. That is why the issue of the international telecoms gaining licensing rights in Myanmar is an important one.

Question 4: What is the banking situation in Myanmar?
This is one of the most challenging areas, because state-owned banks are dominated by people with close ties to the former military regime. The function of these banks was to funnel money to government-related projects that were not necessarily in the interest of the country as a whole. The state-owned banks will not be broken up, but their portfolio expanded as foreign direct investment increases. The main problem from a development perspective is that banks are not granting loans to agricultural and rural areas, which are in greatest need of such development.

Question 5: What is China’s role in the negotiations with the Kachin ethnic group?

China is playing a positive role in the Kachin negotiations. It has influence over Kachin because it is hosting refugees—there are currently ethnic Kachin on the Chinese side of border. Chinese have been the main provider of support for the military in Myanmar in the form of weapons, training, and intelligence. China is seen by the government of Myanmar as fairly neutral. The influence is beneficial, but may not be strong enough break the deadlock in negotiations that currently exist: Kachin wants political settlement before a cease fire, and the government wants a cease fire before political settlement.

Question 6: What are the roadblocks ahead for reform in Myanmar?

Although there is strong popular support of reform in Myanmar, and popular support for the democratic opposition, the main problem is that the pro-government forces are supporting investment to foreigners who want to exploit the natural and land resources of Myanmar, and these investments do not help the entire country as a whole.

Question 7: What is the role of Japan in Myanmar’s economic development?

Japan has played a critical role not only because of investment, but because they were at the forefront in terms of debt forgiveness. It not took the lead in terms of debt forgiveness, but also in terms of creating bridge loans to restructure the remaining debt. They played a role in looking into developing an SEZ near Yangon, although this development has stalled due to reasons of poor infrastructure and land rights issues.

Question 8: What is the exchange rate regime?

The exchange rate was vastly overvalued. In April 2012, the official exchange rate was revalued, and the kyat, the currency of Myanmar, will appreciate gradually over the next few years, causing higher flows of investment into the country.

Question 9: What is the current state of development of the SEZ in the port of Dawei with the Thai government?

There was an MOU signed back in 2008 under the former military government. However, the government canceled plans for a power plant to provide electricity to the SEZ, and a Burmese conglomerate subsequently phased out investment in the zone. There has been waning confidence on the Thai side as well. The electricity supply needs to be ensured before the project gets off the ground.

This concludes this blog post.    

5th Edition PMBOK® Guide—Chapter 4: Meetings


The fourth chapter covers the Integration Knowledge Area, and there are six processes that comprise this area. Out of these six processes, the following four of them have “Meetings” as a Tool & Techniques

  • 4.3 Direct and Manage Project Work
  • 4.4 Monitor and Control Project Work
  • 4.5 Perform Integrated Change Control
  • 4.6 Close Project or Phase

I wanted to write this post on what PMBOK® has to say about the different types and formats of meetings, as well as the requirements for a well-run meeting.

1. Meeting Purposes

The following is a summary of the different types of meetings. What the PMBOK® Guide means by “types” is what the purpose
of the meeting is.

Type Explanation
1. Information exchange Information is presented from project manager to team members and vice versa
2. Brainstorming, evaluation of options, design Interactive exploration of ideas, options, or design objectives and/or requirements
3. Decision making Options are evaluated with the goal of making a decision which one to take and then implementing it

The PMBOK® Guide basically recommends having one purpose for the meeting and purpose only, and not mixing the three types mentioned above.

2. Meeting Formats

Format Explanation
1. Face-to-Face When participants are all in the same location: most effective format for meetings
2. Virtual Meeting via audio or video conferencing tools: requires additional preparation and organization to be as effective as face-to-face meetings

In addition, each type of meeting may be formal or informal. Formal meetings are for major milestones of the project such as the kickoff meeting, or the closing of the project. Informal meetings are more of the regular work meetings of the project. Formal meetings will require more stakeholders in attendance, those that are both involved in the project work and those that are concerned or affected by the work of the project; informal meetings will involve those that are just involved in the project work.

Virtual teams that are international pose additional linguistic, technological, and cultural challenges. For a review of these challenges, see the following blog post which contains a review of an Economist webinar on this topic:

https://4squareviews.com/2012/10/03/working-together-how-to-manage-virtual-teams-across-borders-an-economist-webinar/

3. Meeting Requirements

Meetings where everyone “goes around the room” reporting their status are boring for the participants, as are “death by Powerpoint” meetings where people use slide shows for their presentations and read each slide as if it were the script for their presentation.

Here’s what the PMBOK® Guide recommends for an effective meeting

Requirement Explanation
1. Attendants The project manager, the team members, and the appropriate stakeholders (those involved in the meeting purpose) must attend the meeting.
2. Roles Those attending the meeting must have defined roles (leader, facilitator, note-taker, etc.) WHILE the meeting takes place.
3. Agenda A well-defined agenda must be circulated BEFORE the meeting which gives the

  • Purpose
  • List of attendees
  • Objective(s)
  • Time-frame
4. Minutes The general points made at the time of the meeting and actions items that need to be followed up on must be compiled in meeting minutes which are circulated AFTER the meeting to the involved and concerned stakeholders.

These meeting categories are designed to make sure that the meeting that is effective in that achieves its purpose, but also efficient in that it does it at a minimum of time taken from everyone’s busy schedule. This will make people more willing and less reluctant to take part in them.

After this weekend’s posts on a webinar regarding Myanmar, I will return next week to a discussion of the fifth process of the Integration Knowledge Area, that of process 4.5 Perform Integrated Change Control.

5th Edition PMBOK® Guide—Process 4.4 Monitor and Control Project Work


 

1. Monitor and Control Project Work–overview

With this fourth process out of five, we go from the Executing Process Group to the Monitoring and Controlling Process Group, which should be evident from the title of the process.

In the Planning Process, we plan the work; in the Executing Process, we work the plan; and in the Monitoring and Controlling Process, which for the Integration Knowledge Area means this particular process 4.4 Monitor and Control Project Work, we check the work to make sure that it is indeed going to plan. And if it isn’t, and changes need to be made in either the work OR the plan, those requests for changes get fed into the NEXT process, 4.5 Perform Integrated Change Control.

Here’s a list of the inputs, tools & techniques, and the outputs for this process.

4.4 MONITOR AND CONTROL PROJECT WORK
INPUTS
1. Project Management Plan This includes

  • Performance baselines (scope, schedule, cost)
  • Management plans from the 9 knowledge areas other than Integration
  • Subsidiary management plans (process improvement, requirements)
2. Schedule Forecasts
  • SV, SPI, ETC
3. Cost Forecasts
  • CV, CPI, EAC
4. Validated Changes Changes that were

  • approved in process 4.5 Perform Integrated Change Control and were
  • implemented in process 4.3 Direct and Manage Project Work are now
  • validated, meaning they are confirmed as to whether they were implemented correctly in process 4.3 Direct and Manage Project Work
5. Work Performance Information Work performance data that was an output of process 4.3 Direct and Manage Project Work is collected, analyzed, and integrated to produce work performance information such as

  • Status of deliverables
  • Implementation status for change requests
  • Forecasts (ETC, EAC, etc.)
6. EEFs
  • Government and/or industry standards
  • Work authorization systems
  • Stakeholder risk tolerances
  • Project management information system (PMIS)
7. OPAs Consists of a) procedures and guidelines and b) corporate knowledge database

  • Communication requirements (what format, how often, who receives, etc.)
  • Financial controls procedures (time reporting, accounting codes, expenditure and disbursement reviews, standard contract provisions)
  • Issue and defect management procedures
  • Change control procedures
  • Risk control procedures
  • Process measurement database
  • Lessons learned database
TOOLS & TECHNIQUES
1. Expert judgment
  • Helps interpret information from monitor and control processes so PM can determine actions required to make performance match expectations
2. Analytical techniques
  • Regression analysis
  • Grouping methods
  • Causal analysis
  • Root cause analysis
  • Forecasting methods
  • Failure mode and effect analysis (FMEA)
  • Fault tree analysis (FTA)
  • Reserve analysis
  • Trend analysis
  • Earned value management
  • Variance analysis
3. Project Management Information System (PMIS) Automated tools which include

  • Scheduling, cost, resourcing tools
  • Key performance indicators (KPIs)
  • Databases
  • Project records
  • Financial records
4. Meetings Discussion and decision making regarding actions required to make performance match expectations.
OUTPUTS
1. Change requests Can include one of four categories

  • Defect repair
  • Corrective action
  • Preventive action
  • Updates to project management plan

The first three adjust the work to the plan, the last one adjusts the plan itself.

2. Work Performance Reports Work performance information that was an input to this process is compiled in project documents which are then communicated to appropriate stakeholders in the form of work performance reports. Examples include

  • Status reports or memos, updates
  • Recommendations
3. Project Management Plan updates The same project management plans that are listed as input #1 for this process are updated:

  • Performance baselines (scope, schedule, cost)
  • Management plans from the 9 knowledge areas other than Integration
  • Subsidiary management plans (process improvement, requirements)
4. Project Document updates Examples of documents updated in this process are:

  • Schedule and cost forecasts
  • Work performance reports
  • Issue log

These are lists that are in the PMBOK® Guide, but with additional explanations and organized in a more coherent way.

The next post will go through the tool & technique of meetings. There are many categories to consider: the format, the purpose, and the type of meeting.

5th Edition PMBOK® Guide—Chapter 4: Change Requests


In the last post, I reviewed the elements that make up the process 4.3 Direct and Manage Project Work. I was going to go on to the fourth process, when I decided I had better stop and mention a few important points about Change Requests.

1. Change Requests—where do they fit in the project management process?

Change requests are identified, reviewed and approved, and then implemented at different parts of the project management process.

They can be identified either while project work is performed during the Executing Process Group (Process 4.3 Direct and Manage Project Work) OR as a result of comparing planned results to actual results during the Monitoring and Controlling Process Group (Process 4.4 Monitor and Control Project Work).

These outputs of the two processes mentioned above then become inputs to Process 4.5 Perform Integrated Change Control, where they are reviewed, analyzed, and then either approved or rejected. IF they are approved, they are then outputs to this process, and become fed into Process 4.3 Direct and Manage Project Work as inputs to be implemented.

2. Change Requests—types

Do you remember the Charles Dickens story The Christmas Carol? In it, Ebenezer Scrooge was visited by three ghosts, the Ghost of Christmas Past, the Ghost of Christmas Present, and the Ghost of Christmas Future.

On a project, a project manager is also haunted by three types of problems, Defects Past, Defects Present, and Defects Future. In other words,

  • Defect repair—defects or nonconforming products which have already been created as a result of project work must be modified or repaired;
  • Corrective action—an activity which realigns the project work, which is not conforming to the project management plan
  • Preventive action—an activity which ensures that the future project work will be aligned with the project management plan

Of course, rather than aligning the project work to the project management plan, another types of change may be:

  • Updates—changes to the project management plan itself

After this brief excursion into some important features of change requests, I will now continue the next post with an overview of Process 4.4 Monitor and Control Project Work.

5th Edition PMBOK® Guide—Elements of Process 4.3 Direct and Manage Project Work


In the last post, I reviewed the inputs, tools & techniques, and outputs of Process 4.3 Direct and Manage Project Work in the Executing Process Group. Here are some of the elements of that work, broken down into which knowledge area or subsidiary plan they are most closely related to.

Knowledge Area

Activity

1. Integration DIRECT AND MANAGE PROJECT WORK—means integrating the following activities related to all other knowledge areas and subsidiary plans.
2. Scope Create project deliverables to meet the planned project work.
3. Time Perform activities to accomplish project objectives.
4. Cost Obtain, manage and use resources including materials, tools, equipment, and facilities.
5. Quality Implement planned methods and standards.
6. Human Resources Provide, train and manage team members assigned to the project.
7. Communications Establish and manage proper communication channels, both external and internal to the project team.
Communications Generate work performance data, such as cost, schedule, technical and quality progress, and status to facilitate forecasting.
8. Risk Manage risks and implement risk activities.
9. Procurements Manage sellers and suppliers.
10. Stakeholders Manage stakeholders and their engagement.
11. Change Issue change requests and implement approved changes to the project’s scope, plans, and environment.
12. Process Improvement Collect and document lessons learned and implement approved process improvement activities.

As you can see, the reason why this process is in the Integration Knowledge Area is because it integrates the activities that cover essentially all the other knowledge areas, plus the subsidiary plans of Change Management and Process Improvement Management, which have their own plans under the Project Management Plan although they do not have their own knowledge area.

The next post will cover process 4.4 Monitor and Control Project Work, the fourth out of six processes in the Integration Knowledge Area.

5th Edition PMBOK® Guide—Process 4.3 Direct and Manage Project Work


1. Direct and Manage Project Work–Purpose

This is the third of the six processes in the Integration Knowledge Area, and it is located in the Executing Process Group.

It is the process of leading and performing the project work that was defined in the Project Management Plan (the output of 4.2 Develop Project Management Plan), and implements changes that were approved in process 4.4 Perform Integrated Change Control (in the Monitoring & Controlling Process Group). So it is fed into by the process that precedes it AND the one that follows it.

2. Direct and Manage Project Work—Inputs, Tools & Techniques, and Outputs (overview)

Here is a chart summarizing the inputs, tools & techniques, and outputs of the process.

The two inputs Project Management Plan and Approved Change requests have been described in the paragraph in section 1. The other inputs are the generic EEFs and OPAs.

4.3 DIRECT AND MANAGE PROJECT WORK
INPUTS
1. Project Management Plan In particular, those subsidiary management plans in the following areas

  • Scope management plan
  • Requirements management plan
  • Schedule management plan
  • Cost management plan
  • Stakeholder management plan
2. Approved Change Requests This is an output of process 4.4 Perform Integrated Change Control, and may be either

  • Defect repair
  • Corrective action
  • Preventive action
3. EEFs
  • Company and customer culture
  • Infrastructure (facilities, equipment)
  • Personnel administration (performance reviews, hiring/firing guidelines, and training records)
  • Stakeholder risk tolerances (allowable cost overrun %, for example)
  • Project Management Information System (PMIS) (e.g., Microsoft Project, Primavera)
4. OPAs
  • Guidelines, work instructions
  • Communications requirements
  • Issue and defect management procedures, database (historical
  • Process measurement database (collection of measurement data on processes and products)
  • Project files from previous projects (performance measurement baselines, risk registers, lessons learned)
TOOLS & TECHNIQUES
1. Expert Judgment Expertise for directing and managing work comes from:

  • Various units within the organization
  • Consultants and subject matter experts (SMEs)
  • Stakeholders (including external such as customers and suppliers, and internal such as sponsors)
  • Professional and technical associations
2. Project Management Information System (PMIS) Specific tools in PMIS used are:

  • Scheduling tools
  • Work authorization systems
  • Configuration management system
  • Information collection and distribution system
  • Automated gathering and reporting of KPI (key performance indicators)
3. Meetings Three types of meetings are:

  • Information exchange
  • Brainstorming
  • Decision making
OUTPUTS
1. Deliverables Tangible components completed to meet project objectives.
2. Work performance data Raw observations and measurements of identified during activities performed to carry out the project work.

  • Percentage work completed
  • Key performance indicators
  • Technical performance measures
  • Start and finish dates of scheduled activities
  • Number of change requests
  • Number of defects
  • Actual costs, actual durations
3. Change requests
  • Defect repair (modifies nonconforming product)
  • Corrective action (realigns performance with project management plan)
  • Preventive action (ensures future performance aligns with project management plan)
  • Updates (changes to project documents that reflects changes to project)
4. Project Management Plan updates Can include changes to performance baselines, one of the 9 knowledge area-related management plans that make up the Project Management Plan, or the two subsidiary plans of

  • Requirements management plan
  • Process management plan
5. Project documents updates
  • Requirements documentation
  • Project logs (issues, assumptions)
  • Risk register
  • Stakeholder register

In the next post, I will discuss what activities are done in this process with the tools & techniques mentioned above. The post after that will discuss the outputs, particularly the change requests, because managing these is the key to keeping your project under control.

The Spartacus Workout—Version 1.0 from Men’s Health


1. Introduction—Looking for a home exercise solution

Over the holidays, my life got a lot busier as I added two volunteer jobs onto my already full schedule of conducting a job search, participating as club officer in two Toastmasters clubs, going to professional association meetings, AND doing a daily blog post.

My exercise routine was suffering because it took so long to get to the gym, do the preparation for exercise, the exercise itself, and then shower and come back home. The total amount of time I spent was 2-2.5 hours each time I went. Could I gain the same strength training and cardio benefits from a routine I could do at home?

2. Home Exercise Options

I’m not in a position to get a Soloflex or other strength-training exercise machine. I looked at P90X®, the popular home gym system by Tony Horton that is based on circuit training. I decided to ask my trainer at the gym, and he told me that Men’s Health has a circuit training program called The Spartacus Workout that I should look into.

3. Spartacus Workout 1.0—Origins and where to get it

The Spartacus Workout gets its name from the fact that it was designed for the actors for the Starz television series Spartacus to get in shape for their roles. Now I do not have the body of a Roman gladiator; as I joked to friends at a Christmas party to whom I was describing the workout, my body resembles that of a Roman senator more than a Roman gladiator. But I decided to try it, so I downloaded the free IPhone app called Men’s Health Workouts Lite which is FREE. If you want to get the 2.0 or 3.0 version of the Spartacus Workout, you need to get the Men’s Health Workouts which costs $1.99 .

4. Spartacus Workout 1.0—The Circuit Structure

The basic idea behind the workout is that there are 10 exercises in the circuit, each of which you do for 60 seconds. After finishing one exercise, you have a 15-second period after which you go to the next exercise in the circuit until you complete 1 repetition of the entire circuit. Then rest for 2 minutes

You go on to complete 3 full repetitions of the circuit of 10 exercises and then you’re done.

How long does it take? For one circuit

Circuit Component Time Taken Entire Circuit
1 exercise 60 seconds 10 minutes
1 rest period 15 seconds 2.5 minutes

So there are 12.5 minutes for each circuit, so 3 circuits = 37.5 minutes of exercise, plus 2 minutes of rest between each of the 3 circuits = 6 minutes of rest, so you have a total of 42.5 minutes for the whole routine.

In reality, I find it hard to keep track of 60 seconds while exercising. I just do 20 repetitions of each exercise, some of which may take less than 60 seconds. So my actual exercise routine takes about 30-40 minutes.

5. Spartacus Workout 1.0—The Equipment

  • Gym shorts
  • 2 hex dumbbells (I started with 12.5 pounds each)
  • Yoga mat or other not-skid surface (to prevent slipping)
  • Towel
  • Water
  • iPhone (to keep track of exercises)

6. Spartacus Workout 1.0—The Exercises

Exercise

Explanation

1. Goblet Squat
  1. With both hands, grab one end of a dumbbell to hold it vertically in front of your chest, and stand with your feet slightly beyond shoulder width.
  2. Keeping your back naturally arched; push your hips back, bend your knees, and lower your body until the tops of your thighs are at least parallel to the floor. Pause, and push yourself up to the starting position. If that’s too hard, do a body-weight squat instead.
2. Mountain Climber
  1. Assume a pushup position. Your body should form a straight line from your head to your ankles.
  2. Lift your foot off the floor and raise your knee to your chest. Touch the floor with your foot.
  3. Return to the starting position, and repeat with your left leg. Alternate back and forth for 30 seconds.
3. Single-Arm Dumbbell Swing
  1. Hold a dumbbell (or a kettleball) at arm’s length in front of your waist. Without rounding your lower back, bend at your hips and knees and swing the dumbbell between your legs.
  2. Keeping your arm straight, thrust your hips forward and swing the dumbbell to shoulder level as you rise to a standing position. Swing the weight back and forth. At the 30-second mark, switch arms.
4. T-Pushup
  1. Grab a pair of hex dumbbells and assume a pushup position, your arms straight.
  2. Bend your elbows and lower your body until your chest nearly touches the floor.
  3. As you push yourself back up, lift your right hand and rotate the right side of your body as you raise the dumbbell straight up over your shoulder until your body forms a T. Reverse the move and repeat, this time rotating your left side.
5. Split Jump
  1. Stand in a staggered stance with your feet 2 to 3 feet apart, your right foot in front of your left. Keeping your torso straight, bend your legs and lower your body into a lunge.
  2. Now jump with enough force to propel both feet off the floor. While you’re in the air, scissor-kick your legs so you land with your left leg forward. Repeat, alternating your forward leg for the duration of the set.
6. Dumbbell Row
  1. Grab a pair of dumbbells, bend at your hips (don’t round your lower back), and lower your torso until it’s nearly parallel to the floor. Let the dumbbells hang at arm’s length.
  2. Without moving your torso, row the weight upward by raising your upper arms, bending your elbows, and squeezing your shoulder blades together. Pause, lower the dumbbells, and repeat.
7. Dumbbell Side Lunge and Touch
  1. Hold a pair of dumbbells at arm’s length at your sides. Take a big step to your left and lower your body by pushing your hips backward and bending your left knee.
  2. As you lower your body, bend forward at your hips and touch the dumbbells to the floor. Repeat for 30 seconds, and then switch to your right leg. If the exercise is too hard, do the move without the dumbbells; just reach for the floor with your hands.
8. Pushup-Position Row
  1. Grab a pair of hex dumbbells and assume a pushup position, your arms straight.
  2. Keeping your core stiff, row the dumbbell in your right hand to the side of your chest, bending your arm as you pull it upward. Pause, and then quickly lower the dumbbell. Repeat with your left arm.
9. Dumbbell Lunge and Rotation
  1. Grab a dumbbell and hold it horizontally by its ends, just under your chin. Step forward with your right foot and lower your body into a lunge.
  2. As you lunge, rotate your upper body to the right. Return to the starting position, and repeat with your left leg. Alternate left and right until your 60 seconds are up. If the exercise is too hard, perform the movement without the dumbbell.
10. Dumbbell Push Press
  1. Stand holding a pair of dumbbells just outside your shoulders, with your arms bent and palms facing each other. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and knees slightly bent. Dip your knees.
  2. Explosively push up with your legs as you press the weights straight over your shoulders. Lower the dumbbells back to the starting position and repeat.

Notice that most of the exercises require the hex dumbbells (1, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10), but a few do not (2, 5). In my opinion, the first circuit warms up you, on the second circuit you start to sweat, and on the third circuit you REALLY sweat.

I don’t think I’ll be fighting in any arenas in the near future, but I do have to say that I gain the same energy that I used to have from my gym routine, but in a routine that takes 25% of the time!

7. Spartacus Workout 1.0—Tips and Tricks

  • Do not worry about keeping to a 60-second pace, because it is hard to keep your mind on a stopwatch AND do the exercise properly, at least when you are getting used to the routine. Focus instead on doing 15 and 20 reps in GOOD FORM, no matter how long it takes.
  • You should do some stretching beforehand; I do a 15-20 minute yoga warm-up routine, so I essentially exercise for 1 hour if you consider the yoga + Spartacus Workout as one big routine.
  • The iPhone app of Men’s Health Workouts LITE has a built-in log so you can record when you do the routine. Either do this or record your workouts in another app, such as GymGoal, which I prefer.
  • The nutrition portion of the program is something I do in connection with the Transformation website by Bill Phillips. This six-meal-a-day plan is also the core of Tony Horton’s P90X® system in that it encourages you to eat three meals a day, plus two midmeals or snacks and a dessert. This spreading out of your caloric intake throughout the day makes your stomach gradually shrink because you are eating smaller meals whenever you do eat, and it keeps your blood sugar on a more even keel throughout the day.
  • If you’re timid about being a “gladiator”, then start out by doing 1 circuit, 3 times a week. This will be a good warm-up in the morning. Then once you are used to the exercises, increase to 2 circuits. You will start to see results in terms of greater energy and boosted metabolism, and will soon want to do the 3 circuit routine.

One thing I have to say about the Spartacus Workout as a side benefit, is that because you are constantly switching exercises every minute, you are NEVER bored. Because it is fast moving and intense, it is the quickest-moving half-hour or so of exercise you will ever experience! Now that I have “graduated” to the full 3-circuit workout, I plan to do it 3 times a week and see how it effects my weight and my body fat percentage over the next 3 ½ months. I’ll measure it at the end of May on my birthday, and if I lose 10 pounds or more, I’ll consider it a success.

5th Edition PMBOK® Guide—The Project Management Plan


The last post discussed the second of the processes in the Integration Knowledge Area, process 4.2 Develop Project Management Plan.

This post will focus on the elements of the Project Management Plan, which essentially are the plans from all of the other knowledge areas plus 4 additional plans that are integrated together in this process.

1. Inputs, Tools & Techniques, and Outputs

Let’s first review the inputs to the process.

4.1 DEVELOP PROJECT MANAGEMENT PLAN
INPUTS
1. Project Charter Defines high-level boundaries of the project; used as the starting point for initial planning.
2. Outputs from other Processes Baselines and management plans from all other knowledge areas plus 4 additional subsidiary plans
3. EEFs Government or industry standards, PM body of knowledge for application area (construction, healthcare, IT, etc.)
4. OPAs
  • Guidelines, work instructions, proposal evaluation criteria, performance measurement criteria
  • Project management plan template
  • Change control procedures
  • Project files from previous projects, lessons learned knowledge base
  • Configuration management knowledge base
TOOLS & TECHNIQUES
1. Expert Judgment Utilized for developing:

  • Technical and management details
  • HR expertise regarding resources, skill levels
  • Configuration management
  • Change control process
  • Resource scheduling
2. Facilitation Techniques Brainstorming, conflict resolution, problem solving, meeting management
OUTPUTS
1. Project Management Plan Integrates all baselines and subsidiary plans

2. Input #2 = Outputs from Other Planning Processes

What are the three categories of outputs from other planning processes that become the elements of the Project Management Plan?

Category

Description

1.. Performance Measurement Baseline This consists of the following three baselines:

  • Scope baseline (= project scope statement + WBS + WBS dictionary)
  • Schedule baseline
  • Cost baseline
2.. Knowledge area management plans These consist of plans from the 8 knowledge areas other than Integration

  • Scope Management Plan
  • Schedule Management Plan
  • Cost Management Plan
  • Quality Management Plan
  • Human Resource Plan
  • Communications Management Plan
  • Risk Management Plan
  • Procurements Management Plan
  • Stakeholder Management Plan
3. Additional management plans These are additional management plans such as

  • Requirements management plan (scope)
  • Change management plan (scope)
  • Configuration management plan (scope)
  • Process improvement plan (quality)

3. Additional management plans—additional explanation

It is fairly obvious that the nine management plans listed under item 2 above come from the various knowledge areas listed. However, I feel a little more detail should be in order for those 4 additional management plans listed under item 3.

Management Plan

Explanation

1. Change management plan This outlines the change control process:

  • who can approve, including the creation of a change control board if necessary
  • how approved changes will be managed and controlled
2. Configuration management plan As opposed to changes in the project, the configuration controls changes to the functional and physical characteristics of the product, and documents those changes.
3. Requirements management plan This links the various requirements to

  • the overall project objectives (sometimes through a requirements traceability index)
  • the source of each requirement (which stakeholder)
  • who is assigned to manage the requirement
4. Process improvement plan Improving processes used on the project during the course of the project by analyzing them in order to identify those activities that enhance value.

These are the elements of the Project Management Plan. In my opinion, it is the most integrative of ALL the 47 processes and that is why it is important to understand that it is the “mother of all plans” that actually must come last after all the subsidiary plans are created, 9 from the knowledge areas other than Integration and the 4 additional plans outlined above.

The next post will be on the third process of the Integration Knowledge Area, that of 4.3 Direct and Manage Project Work.

5th Edition PMBOK® Guide–Process 4.2 Develop Project Management Plan


The second project management process in the Integration Knowledge Area is under the Planning Process Group and it is called Develop Project Management Plan.

Here is a list of the inputs, tools & techniques, and outputs used in the Develop Project Management Plan process.

1. Inputs, Tools & Techniques, and Outputs–summary

4.2  DEVELOP PROJECT MANAGEMENT PLAN
INPUTS
1. Project Charter Defines high-level boundaries of the project; used as the starting point for initial planning.
2. Outputs from other Processes Baselines and subsidiary plans from other planning processes.
3. EEFs Government or industry standards, PM body of knowledge for application area (construction, healthcare, IT, etc.)
4. OPAs
  • Guidelines, work instructions, proposal evaluation criteria, performance measurement criteria
  • Project management plan template
  • Change control procedures
  • Project files from previous projects, lessons learned knowledge base
  • Configuration management knowledge base
TOOLS & TECHNIQUES
1. Expert Judgment Utilized for developing:

  • Technical and management details
  • HR expertise regarding resources, skill levels
  • Configuration management
  • Change control process
  • Resource scheduling
2. Facilitation Techniques Brainstorming, conflict resolution, problem solving, meeting management
OUTPUTS
1. Project Management Plan Integrates all baselines and subsidiary plans

2. Inputs, Tools & Techniques, and Outputs–detail

In going over these elements, let’s start from the end and work backwards.

It should be no surprise that the Output of the “Develop Project Management Plan” process is the Project Management Plan. This integrates all of the baselines and subsidiary plans from the various knowledge areas and other areas required for project management.

The Tools & Techniques should be pretty understandable once it is understood what is in the Project Management Plan. Expert Judgment is used when technical subjects related to planning are involved, which is true for many of the subsidiary plans that are integrated into the Project Management Plan. Facilitation Techniques are used to reach out to various stakeholders so that there is buy-in for the Project Management Plan.

For the inputs, you have the Project Charter, which actually contains a certain amount of high-level planning, which is turned into detailed plans that are contained in the Project Management Plan. These detailed plans are produced for each of the knowledge areas, plus other areas required for project management, and these are the next set of inputs.

The next two inputs are ones you will see throughout the processes: EEFs (Environmental Enterprise Factors) and OPAs (Operational Process Assets). For the EEFs, you have a) the governmental standards and regulations, and b) the PM body of knowledge for the particular application area, which consists of the practical application of project management to that area.

The OPAs are in two categories, a) those guidelines, processes, and templates for project management plans, and b) the corporate knowledge base containing project management plans from previous projects.

This gives a general overview of these elements. In order to really understand the process in depth, however, we should look at the contents of the project management plan. That is the subject of the next post.

5th Edition PMBOK® Guide—Chapter 4: Project Charter


The last post dealt with the inputs to Process 4.1 Develop Project Charter. It doesn’t take a great deal of imagination to figure out that the output of the Process 4.1 Develop Project Charter is, in fact, the Project Charter.

The purpose of this post is to into a little more detail about what’s in the Project Charter.

I want to ask similar questions that I asked about the What is it? How does it fit in the flow of PM processes? What are the elements within it?

1. Project Charter—What is it?

The project charter takes the “seed” of the project, the Project Statement of Work (and input to Process 4.1 Develop Project Charter) and prepares it to be “watered” or authorized by the sponsor.

2. Project Charter—How does it fit in the flow of PM processes?

As you can see by the chart below, it is an output of Process 4.1 Develop Project Charter

4.1 DEVELOP PROJECT CHARTER
INPUTS
1. Project Statement of Work (SOW) Description of product, service or result to be delivered by project, the business need, and the strategic plan
2. Business Case Ties together the elements of the SOW (description of product, etc.), business need, and the strategic plan.
3. Agreements Contract or MOU (memorandum of understanding); used when project is being performed for external customer
4. EEFs Government or industry standards, organizational culture, marketplace conditions
5. OPAs Organizational policies and procedures, project document templates and corporate database of lessons learned
TOOLS & TECHNIQUES
1. Expert Judgment Used for analyzing technical and management-related details of inputs in order to develop the output (project charter)
2. Facilitation Techniques Brainstorming, conflict resolution, problem solving
OUTPUTS
1. Project Charter Formally authorizes the project

3. Project Charter—Who creates it?

The project manager is the one that should be creating it together with the stakeholders, in particular the sponsor who will authorize the project, and the customer for whom the project is going to be carried out. However, the project manager cannot on his own authorize the project, this must be done by the sponsor.

Asking the various experts and stakeholders about the requirements of the project is, in fact, what the tools & techniques of Expert Judgment and Facilitation Techniques are used for, respectively.

4. Project Charter—What are the elements within it.

Here are the elements of the Project Statement of Work (the “seed” idea of the project) compared to the elements of the Project Charter (used for approval of the project). Those elements which are similar are put in the same row. In this chart, the elements 1 and 3 from the above chart on the Project Statement of Work correspond to the first element of the Project Charter, and element 2 from the above chart corresponds to the second element of the Project Charter.

Category Elements
1. Business Case Project purpose or justification (fits business needs, strategic plan)
2. Scope Management Measurable project objectives
3. Project success criteria
4. High-level project description and boundaries
5. Risk Management High-level risks
6. Time Management Summary milestone schedule
7. Cost Management Summary budget
8. Stakeholder Management Stakeholder list
9. Authority Project approval requirements (what they are, who decides approval and signs off)
10. Project manager assigned to project
11. Name and authority of sponsor or authorizer of project

Project Charter

Category: Business Case

1. Project purpose or justification

In order for the project to go forward, it has to be for a specific business need (both external or internal to organization) and it must fit into the company’s strategic plan. This is why a program manager and/or portfolio manager would be involved in the decision to green light a project. The project has to fit into the company’s work that is external to the project.

Category: Scope Management

2. Measurable project objectives

The difference between the high-level description of the product contained in the Project Statement of Work and this element of the Project Charter is the word “measurable”. The objective has to be measured in order for there to be…

3. Project success criteria

That’s why when you want to go somewhere in your car, you don’t say “take me somewhere nice”. You have to enter a specific address in order for the system to take you to a specific location.

4. High-level description of the project and boundaries

This is not a description of the product, it is a description of what the project will achieve. Boundaries in this context means exclusions: what is specifically NOT in the project. This becomes increasingly important in project management, as it is the place where you can prevent a lot of scope changes right away by agreeing with stakeholders right from the start what you will NOT do on the project.

Category: Risk Management

5. High-level risks

What are those events or other factors which have a chance of causing the project to be delayed, or in the worst case, to fail to achieve the objectives?

Category: Time Management

6. Summary Milestone Schedule

What are the major schedule milestones within which the project must operate? Is there an overall absolute time constraint? Now is the time to state this clearly. If a change comes along that knocks the schedule off past what the project charter says is an absolute deadline, then a) the project schedule needs to be accelerated, b) some other constraint (like scope) has to be altered, or c) the project may need to be terminated.

Category: Cost Management

7. Summary Budget

The other major constraint besides scope and time is that of cost. Is there an overall absolute budget constraint? Again, now is the time to state this clearly. If a change comes along that will cause the budget to go over what the project charter says is an absolute budget ceiling, then a) the project needs to be brought under, b) some other constraint (like scope) has to be altered, or c) the project may need to be terminated.

Category: Stakeholder Management

8. List of Stakeholders

Identifying all the relevant stakeholders needs to be done as the first step in managing them.

Category: Authority

9. Project approval requirements (what they are, who decides approval and signs off)

The project approval requirements are not the same as the project success criteria. The project success criteria (element #2 of the project charter) is more related to the scope. What are the customer’s requirements and how will we know that we have fulfilled them?

The project approval requirements are not focused on what the scope, but on whether the project was successful in achieving those results within the time and schedule constraints given at the beginning of the project. You can achieve your goals, but were they done in a timely manner and within the allotted budget? That is the focus of these project approval requirements.

10. Project manager assigned to project

This is important for obvious reasons. PMI recommends assigning the project manager during the initiating process, and not in the planning process.

11. Name and authority of sponsor or authorizer of project

This will be the not only the person who gives the green light to the project, but also the one authorizes to terminate the project if it is not able to achieve the objectives listed in the project charter.

These elements are what take the “seed” of the project as an input to the 4.1 Develop Project Charter Process, with the approval of the project charter by the authority, allow that seed to germinate so that it can be planted during the planning process, grow during the executing process, be pruned during the monitoring & controlling process, and finally harvested during the closing process.