Keys To Project Management

In this week’s The Faces of Business Episode, our guest speaker was Angela Thurman. Angela is the Principal Managing Director at Thurman Co. LLC. She has also worked at Collins Aerospace and NASA before this.  Angela helps companies organize and execute their projects on time and budget.

Our guest today elaborated on the keys to project management with her expertise.

In this week’s The Faces of Business Episode, our guest speaker was Angela Thurman. Angela is the Principal Managing Director at Thurman Co. LLC. She has also worked at Collins Aerospace and NASA before this.  Angela helps companies organize and execute their projects on time and budget.

The conversation of the episode started with Damon introducing Angela to the show. After this, he asked her to share her remarks. Angela said that initially, she wanted to be a teacher of Math in school. However, she was 16 when a deacon at her school introduced her to engineering magazines.

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This is when Angela felt this option to be suitable for her. Moving on, Angela explained that when she first joined NASA it was Lewis instead of Glenn. She also explained how she worked for NASA in her final year project and then she got a job interview from NASA. So basically her first job was about project management.

After this, Angela share that she did her initial project management training from Dr. Krezner. Further, into the conversation, Damon asked Angela about the keys to project management. Responding to this, Angela said that one key is to understand who your stakeholders are. Moreover, she also said that this is important because you should know who needs to have what information in terms of your management.

Talking more about keys to project management, Angela also explained the process of it. She said that when it comes to project management you initially make a complete map of how things will work. However, Angela said that you can face times when this map faces major changes or it goes as planned. This is also something you have to make your sponsors and stakeholders aware of.

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Moving on, Damon asked Angela that what her routine for the various projects she performed was. Answering this, she said that unless she is working on a software project that has an agile framework, she does not have a daily framework. Moreover, Angela also says that this gives her team time to actually work than to report back instantly.

Therefore, according to her, the major keys to project management also include giving your team some space. The conversation of the episode ended with Damon thanking her for her time.

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Angela Thurman, Damon Pistulka


Damon Pistulka  00:02

All right, welcome everyone to the faces of business. I’m Damon Pistulka, your host. And if you thought we were going to be a little while ago, stream yard wasn’t talking nice with LinkedIn. So we had to come back again. So I hope that people are going to be able to see this. I know it’s, it’s going to be starting here on my my profile, I just want to refresh to make sure we’re there. Because if we’re not live on LinkedIn, we’re gonna do this again. But we are live on LinkedIn. So I’m happy about that. With me today, I’ve got Angela Thurman of Thurman, CO.

Angela, I am so excited to have you here today, because we were talking earlier, and I gotta get my microphone back over here, because we were talking earlier. And man, it’s just like, when I started, when we started talking about your experience, it was just like, this is cool. And then it gets cooler and cooler and cooler. So we got to start. And I know I’m pologize because you told me about your your college history. And we were on live on LinkedIn. But I’d like to start over again, because you started going to college to be a math major. And and then something happened and you want a completely different direction. And it’s been fantastic.


Angela Thurman  01:04

So I always thought that I would be a math teacher or, you know, math and science teacher at school level. And then, when I was about 16, a deacon in my church, who was the chair of the engineering division in our local colleges, very small, private school, called John Brown University, took me under his wing, and gave me a subscription to woman engineer magazine, and opened my eyes to the potential that maybe I could be an engineer.

And that really made a difference. And it was really great to have a mentor like that in my life. So I decided that I would study engineering instead of math. And become an engineer instead of a teacher. Yeah. Yeah, that really changed the direction. Yeah. Where I was planning to go to school. And what I would study,


Damon Pistulka  02:10

yeah. So you ended up getting an electrical engineering degree? Yes. Yeah. Well, first in and of itself to people that understand that’s hard degree to get, first of all, first of all, is yeah, that’s nice little swagger degree there. And, and then you went on to do a few other things. Today, we’re talking about the keys, a project manager, or keys to project management, which is Angela is a project management master.

And you’ll see why when we start talking about this a little bit more, because some of the projects He’s managed are mind blowing, quite honestly. And it’s so cool to have you on today. So when when, when you got out of school for engineering, what were some of the things that you were thinking you were going to go going to be doing at that time?


Angela Thurman  02:54

Well, it was really kind of funny, because again, woman engineer magazine had a full page ad for NASA Lewis, which is now called NASA Glenn, and it’s in Cleveland, Ohio. And, again, that particular professor, in the summer between my junior and senior years, we had gone with a couple of other students to Ecuador, and worked at a missionary shortwave radio station. And that was a fantastic experience in and of itself.

But coming away from that, the missionaries had a need for a switching power supply. So a switching power supply for the missionary station in Ecuador, became my senior design project. So when I saw that full page ad in woman engineer magazine, one of the things that they highlighted was power systems. So I decided I’m gonna apply, I’m gonna fly to NASA. And it turns out that they called me for an interview. And ultimately, I went, I interviewed, and they’re like, Well, how did you apply to Louis?

And I’m like, because there was a full page ad and woman engineer magazine. And so that was kind of funny. But they did, they did hire me. And they hired me to work on power systems for the space station. So my first job out of college was working as basically a project manager as an electrical engineer. Designing testing and managing power systems for the space station, and my particular job was the load converter, which is basically a big switching power supply.


Damon Pistulka  04:54

Wow. So what you’re seeing your project was you were kind of doing it at a different level. For the space station,


Angela Thurman  05:01

yes. So because I’ve gone with that professor to Ecuador because I’ve met the met those missionaries because they needed a power supply that I ended up at NASA. Wow. Yeah. From


Damon Pistulka  05:12

from a math teacher to villain power supplies for the face space station. That’s all different path.


Angela Thurman  05:18

Yeah, yeah. And of course, I was, you know, as female and very young and there weren’t very many this is a Yeah. Um, and I was monitoring the activities of suppliers like Westinghouse and TRW, and male engineers who were significantly my seniors and had a lot more experience than I did. So. So my branch chief sent me to assertion assertiveness training. Yeah. And that was one of the things that I had to learn.

But I also had the opportunity because I was at the NASA facility in Cleveland. Dr. Harold kerzner taught at the nearby University, Baldwin Wallace college. And Dr. kerzner is the leading expert on project management theory on our modern project management theory. He’s written numerous books. He’s one of the founders of the Project Management Institute. And so NASA would bring him in to teach courses on project management. So I got my initial project management training from Dr. kerzner directly. And so I had his book in 1989. I still have it. Yeah. Yeah. And so that was a really, you know, those are some treasured memories.


Damon Pistulka  07:00

Yeah. Well, and, and when you look back at it to the beginning of your career, the formative years of the career, and you get to learn from one of the very best sources of learning and project manager, the master in project management, on probably some of the most difficult projects known to man at at the time.

And if nothing else, because of the environments that they have to operate in, and all the you know, it can’t fail. That’s the kind of thing, but that’s really cool. So you took this and now now you’re at NASA, you’re making power supplies for the space station, then you decided to, to, to move on and do some other things. So you, you, what was what were some of the next things that you were doing?


Angela Thurman  07:45

Well, because of some family dynamics that were going on, I left NASA and I moved back to Oklahoma. Yeah. So I spent some years working in a manufacturing company, where we manufactured silicon and germanium, which are two materials that have infrared qualities. Although they’re metal, they have infrared properties, and are used for night vision systems. Okay. Yeah. A big metal blank. Imagine that could be used in the night vision system of a tank or helicopter, or personal devices like a rifle sight or binoculars, those sorts of things.

But they’re also semiconductors. So we also had a another group that grew single crystal germanium and silicon, gallium arsenide, indium arsenide, and chambers that were single crystal, and that was for the semiconductor industry. So imagine if you will, a, a single crystal structure that could be six or eight or nine feet long and weigh 400 pounds. And again, it’s one single crystal structure. Wow. Pardon me. And so it’s seven nines pure so 99.99999% pure metal? Yeah, so very high quality standards. And that would be used for the semiconductor market.


Damon Pistulka  09:40

Wow. Wow. That’s crazy. Because they needed the purity to be able to to conduct as quickly and as error free and all that kind of


Angela Thurman  09:49

enter to create that. The to get the highest amount of power generation off of that chip.


Damon Pistulka  09:57

Wow. Wow, that’s cool. That’s cool. So then I mean, then you kind of kind of I don’t know if this is quite the right point in your career, but then you started to do some work in the telecommunications industry, wasn’t it? Right,


Angela Thurman  10:09

right. So because the manufacturer that I was working for was really a defense manufacturer, at the end of the first Gulf War, there wasn’t so much need for tanks and helicopters. Yeah. So we went through a riff. And I found myself looking for a job. Yeah. And I parlayed that a network as a network as a network interests to the telecommunications industry.

So just like an electrical, electrical network has sources and seeks and peaks and valleys in our demand, so does a telecommunications network. And luckily, the person that was interviewing we understood that bought it and hired me. So I became an engineer. And I did engineering planning a whole bunch of different functions for Williams communications, in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Okay. And I was there for a number of years, I spent actually quite a long time in the telecommunications industry with various companies.


Damon Pistulka  11:13

Nice. Nice. So it now now let’s talk about this a little bit, because you just glossed over this stuff. So So you did. But let’s let’s back up a little bit. So it part of this. You got a master’s degree in telecommunications management, right?


Angela Thurman  11:30

Yes. Yes. Go Oklahoma State University. Yeah.


Damon Pistulka  11:34

And for your capstone project, you did a metropolitan now this is this, were these words were not put together like this before, but you developed a metropolitan access network, telecommunications baby, basically a hub? That would be like in your thesis around the city of Atlanta, correct?


Angela Thurman  11:59

That’s correct. Yeah. Yeah. So tell us a little bit


Damon Pistulka  12:03

about that. And then then kind of what happened as it came to fruition?


Angela Thurman  12:11

So in telecommunications, there is a basic unit of transmission called an optical channel. And that’s equivalent to 672 voice channels. So just like I have, my


Damon Pistulka  12:31

my beloved. Oh, yeah. Like that.


Angela Thurman  12:35

This is one voice channel. Yeah. So an optical channel can carry 672 individual voice channels. Yeah. So this network around Atlanta, that that I planned, would carry 48 times that, that much capacity. So a that the amount of capacity that you would need for a television program? Yeah, let’s say would need at least one of those optical channels. Okay. And it’s best if you have one going in and one going out. Okay. Um, so you at that time, Williams had contracts with Turner Field, a CNN, the Center for Disease Control. They also owned a satellite uplink station, outside the city, and numerous other customers within the city, of course, but those were the big big ones.

So the cost that the cost to connect all of those really high capacity locations, to the network’s Point of Presence, where, you know, the, the brain Center in Atlanta for the backbone of the network, was really expensive, if you had to buy it directly from Bell South. So the idea was, let’s purchase it from a third party supplier, and link these all together and save a lot of money, get additional capacity that will allow us to grow. And that became what was known as a metropolitan access network. Okay, and so that’s what we did. And so I Designed to negotiated it. And then eventually, we built it. And it was a huge success.


Damon Pistulka  15:09

So yeah, so so this was part of your master’s degree in telecommunication management, you’ve figured out a way to deliver data to these high demand users easier or, and less expensively, but and more efficiently. And then you’re actually able because of where you were working to design it, build it and and see it through the, through the actual realization of it and working for these customers and replicate it. And then they at Williams, they replicated it.

Yes. Wow. So yeah, so so it’s, it’s enough though, that to me, I’m just I’m still back on this in Atlanta. So you thought this up, you designed it, you built it. And then and then people like the CDC, and, and Turner Broadcasting and some of the other big users of data, we’re running on this stuff. So that’s, that’s incredible. And then they replicated it.

So that alone, I mean, okay, so let’s just back up a second. We were talking about making the power supply for the space station. Now we’re talking about you developed a metropolitan access network with Williams and then they were out, designed it built it, put it in place, they replicated it throughout the United States. And and you’re still going, you’re still going at this stuff, because now we talked about something else.

And you You are said that part of part of what you were as part of your career in this as you been a subject matter expert on telecommunications, undersea telecommunication? Two cables? Yeah, I don’t see telecommuting cable. So tell me about that a little bit. Because I’m just I’m just like this, this, this web of your career is so interesting, because I mean, when you start back and just think about this, you’re you’re in northwestern Arkansas, you’re influenced by a teacher, by them giving you a magazine subscription to go to school for engineering.

And you went to school and got an electrical engineering degree started working at NASA because of that magazine. Because you saw the ad in the magazine. And you are on a on a mission and you a new saw the need for a power supply that helped you get that job. And then it moved into telecommunications. So you you are the Metropolitan access then turned into you becoming an undersea telecommunications cable subject matter expert? How the heck do you get to be that?


Angela Thurman  17:44

Well, when you’re doing planning, yeah, you eventually do find air a niche area. And one of those things for me was the underseas cables, where were the landing sites? The points? Yeah. And maybe it was Miami and maybe it was San Luis Obispo. But you eventually need to connect. And Williams had a Buy Sell agreement with British Telecom. And so we were buying capacity in Europe, and particularly with British Telecom, in exchange for selling them capacity in the United States.

So So I was reviewing, you know, contracts at the beginning. And then that generated just an interest in the the, the wet landings by cables, and what that network looked like. Yeah, and and those contracts are a little bit more complicated than the regular us exchange agreements with other fiber optic.

Yeah, communications companies. So they took they they took a little bit more finesse, I think, and they’re more there, there are not as many of them so yeah. So you kind of had to learn where they were. And because we had a, a, an up like satellite in, in California. I was like, Okay, how am I going to connect that satellite to the cable sites in San Luis Obispo? And once we, you know, how are we going to expand our network beyond our own borders? Yeah. And that’s where that came from.


Damon Pistulka  20:00

Wow, wow, this is cool. This is cool though because I mean, it just is such an interesting career path. Because you’ve been you were able to go in several different directions. And and then this I mean to, to go beyond this, then you helped you helped a couple other. Another one to hear that we talked about is when Disney Studio moved there when Disney moved their studio, you help them do some more work there too, with data and telecommunication.


Angela Thurman  20:30

Right. So, um, so we planned the network for the relocation to pick a boulevard. And that was a huge, huge event.


Damon Pistulka  20:45

Yeah, yeah. And you said out now that they’re using that, and that that same kind of way that that’s been done, or the system is being used in other places now to wow, wow, that’s something that’s something because we’re, you know, so when you look back, and you talk about the project management, that work that you’re doing today, it’s kind of a natural part of doing these big projects.

Because if you’re not managing projects, well, you can’t handle something that’s global, something that’s technical. And when I look at some of these, and we’re gonna talk about a few more, when you look at some of these, what are some of the things that you really learned, that are, you know, one of the fundamental keys of project management,


Angela Thurman  21:34

one of the keys is to understand who, who really is your stakeholder, you know, who’s got skin in the game, and who needs to be informed, because it may surprise you, that someone is going to be impacted, that you didn’t realize was, you know, was going to need to know something. And someone may have information that you’re going to need in the future. And you may have overlooked that. Yeah, so definitely identifying your stakeholders is really important. And, and that needs to be done upfront and early.


Damon Pistulka  22:19

Yeah. Yeah. So the, the other when you think of project management to you think of there’s like the, you know, and this is me, and my lack of project, I’m just gonna throw that out there, even though I did take in college, but it’s so you know, you have to think about some of these things, there are the critical path items that you have done, you know, and that, how, I mean, when you have these huge projects, like, how the heck did you manage something like this with all these moving pieces? Was it software? Was it, you know, sticky notes on a huge wall? I mean, what what was it?


Angela Thurman  23:00

Well, you know, early on, it was definitely a big schedule in the wall with a lot of sticky notes that were moving. But, um, but I am a fan of good project management tools. And I have my favorites. Yeah. But yeah, your your critical path can can definitely move, and you can have change that comes in and can force you to change the critical path. And so your, your sponsor, and and your stakeholder holders may have to realize that, due to changes in requirements or availability of resources, the critical path may change, and it can improve, but it can get delayed.


Damon Pistulka  23:49

Yeah, yeah. So, when, when you’re doing some of these projects, I got to imagine, you’re just like sitting here someplace, and you’re about ready to pull your hair out because something happens, and it’s just like, Oh, my goodness, I can’t believe this is happening. It’s just like the earth just crumbled around me. So I don’t want you to relive the bad part of it. But let’s laugh about it a little bit. What are one of these situations that you can share? If you can share some where you go, man, this was a really old guy, I’m just gonna have to sit and think about this moment. Oh, one of them.


Angela Thurman  24:23

This was an in in the aerospace industry, when you are team needed to perform a particular reliability test. I’ll just leave it at that. Yeah. And it had to be performed at an outside lab. So first of all, we had to, and this was with a third party, by the way. We had to find a lab that was capable of performing the test, book the lab, so there was a cost involved. And then conduct the test which took, let’s say, three weeks. And then then everything, you know, the results came in, and we’re ready to proceed. And I asked the third party, I said, Did you make sure that the customer had signed off on the test plan?

Before you conducted the test? And there was this? Oh, were they supposed to read the requirements on the contract? Yeah, yes, the customer had to sign off on the test plan before it was performed. And so we had to go back and get a get a letter from the customer that said, Yes, I approve the test plan, and then go do it all again.


Damon Pistulka  26:00

Oh, my goodness. Oh, my goodness. Yeah. Because, you know, we talked about solid communications, but you’re at Collins aerospace. And you were doing a work project management work in the aerospace industry as well. Correct.


Angela Thurman  26:13

for over 10 years.


Damon Pistulka  26:15

Yeah. What were some of the things you liked about that?


Angela Thurman  26:20

I liked that. The work I was doing would directly impact the the end product and the the customer results. Because I was working on complex products that would be delivered to customers like Boeing and Airbus and bombard yet. And so those went into aircraft that real people flew on every day.

Yeah. And, you know, maybe you didn’t see those products, but they did have an impact on your satisfaction in your flight. Because nobody likes to be sitting at a gate. And hearing that announcement. You know, we’re sorry, passengers, but you know, we’re going to be delayed because there’s a maintenance issue on the aircraft. Yeah. So I like to think about that, that if the products that I was helping to deliver every day, were of a very high quality, that ultimately, I was helping passengers get to their destination, you know, the other way they


Damon Pistulka  27:43

needed to, yeah, and safely. Absolutely. Yeah. Yeah, that’s cool. Because it is, I mean, when you look at project management, people think of, you know, this project, that project, but when you look at something like the, the aim early in your career, the space station or in the aerospace, project management encompasses from the time you design the product, and the time until it’s no longer in use anymore.

Yeah. So tell us a little bit. Tell me a little bit about that. I know, is it Stephen? Lew? I believe his last name is on LinkedIn. He talks that he’s an end of life project, PR engineer at Northrop Grumman, I believe, isn’t it or Lockheed Martin? Again, I’m sorry, Steven, I forget. But But it’s interesting because this the project management is like, it’s not just a little bit, it’s, there’s a lot to this right. So


Angela Thurman  28:41

obsolescence management is in and of itself, an entire category of project management. Because you have to think about if this resistor capacitor, you know, Chip is no longer available, what are we going to substitute so that the entire design is not obsolete? And what does that do to so all of the documentation, think of the bomb, something just as simple as the bomb?

Yes to be updated? And how does that flow down to all of the other documentation, the ERP system and everything else? Because in aerospace, if you change one component, the entire product has to be retested. Yeah, and in most cases, recertified to convince the FAA, if it’s a commercial aircraft, Mm hmm. That it is still safe. For example, let’s say that you change from a resistor that Ceramic to a resistor that’s now plastic. Well, does that plastic fabrication have a different melting point? Will this cause toxicity? concerns in the in the the device because the device is going to heat up?


Damon Pistulka  30:24

Yeah, yeah.


Angela Thurman  30:27

And what if it causes a smoke in the cabinet? And or some sort of fumes that are going to asphyxiation the pilots? Yeah. All because you change from ceramic to plastic.


Damon Pistulka  30:40

Yeah, it’s it’s it’s it’s crazy when you think about that and it is he I just just looking up Stephens profile because I felt bad because I’ve I interviewed Steven, I think it’s been over a year ago now. But he’s super nice guy. Yes. Yeah. And he worked for Lockheed Martin. Now he’s out Applied Materials.

But yeah, the so the project management though, the the keys to it. You mentioned the first one is understand your keys, key stakeholders and, and make sure you’re communicating with them. But as you’re going through these projects, what was your kind of routine? I mean, do you did you like to have a cadence where, hey, we’re gonna do this kind of meeting every day, this kind of meeting once a week, this kind of meeting once a month? How what was it? I mean, so we’re talking about projects that lasted


Angela Thurman  31:25

maybe a year? Oh, easily a year? Yeah. Okay. So unless I’m working on a software project, that is an agile framework, I don’t have a daily stand up. Yeah. Otherwise, the team just gets sick of me. So usually, for most of my projects, a weekly cadence was was adequate. Because that gave the time that give the team time to actually get some work performed? Before they had to report on it. Yeah. Yeah, but I, I am a big fan of the action item register. And the risk register.


Damon Pistulka  32:11

So let’s explain those so people that people don’t understand.


Angela Thurman  32:14

So an action item register is where you actually capture all of the tasks or action items that need to be done. The due date of when do we expect this to be done? And who’s responsible for the action? So who has the X on their forehead? To do this thing that needs to be done?


Damon Pistulka  32:39

Yeah, okay. And the risk, then yeah, he’s good. That’s the action action item. What How did you describe it? Yeah,


Angela Thurman  32:46

I call it an action item register, action item register? Yeah, just a very simple document it however you want to capture it, I use a spreadsheet, because that’s, I think in spreadsheets, okay. But a risk register is where you simply identify, what is the potential, you know, what is the risk? What is its probability of occurring? What is its impact if it does occur? And what steps are we taking to mitigate that risk? To ensure that we’re protecting ourselves?


Damon Pistulka  33:26

Wow, that’s cool. That’s cool. This is this is this is some gold right here, because I’m right, I’m writing it down. That the it’s so important to understand those risks, because it can be a huge risk. But if the if it’s infinite decimal chance of it happening, right, you want to give it appropriate consideration, right. But if it’s if it’s kind of just a pain in the behind risk, or pain and behind impact, when it happens, impact, but it has happens easily and is going to happen over and over and over. You want to get rid of that. A lot of time to get over it. So the I like the risk register, and how you quantify how much how we should really spend our time on the right things to make the biggest impact


Angela Thurman  34:11

impact and probability. Yeah,


Damon Pistulka  34:13

that’s cool. That’s cool. I’m writing some notes here. Because it’s good stuff. It’s good stuff. So if people aren’t listening to this, and because project management, it really is, it’s a lot of from your perspective, it’s it’s a lot of, yes, you can put the science and the numbers to it. But a lot of it is you have to be intimately involved in it and really feel it and understand how it’s going. So what are some of the things that you really have found over the years that make it they make it easier to manage these projects, other than tools other than just


Angela Thurman  34:55

relationships? Yes, definitely developing the relationship ships, and letting the team know that you need them. But they need you. Because Because again, the project manager normally is someone who doesn’t have direct authority. So I’m not someone that is going to hold the title of, you know, man, you know, director of this and that or whatever. So you have that you have to get your authority by virtue of the fact that the team trusts you. Ah,


Damon Pistulka  35:42

that’s a huge thing. Yeah, I think you probably just uncovered one of the toughest thing for project managers. And probably one of the best things that a project manager should understand early is that you said it really well there, Angela, because you’re probably not their boss, you probably can’t really direct their actions by, you know, by authority. But they should, they should understand that how they integrate in the success of your relationship should be with them, so that you can help them understand how they’re going to be important in making sure this project is successful. And, and the good and the and consequently, the bad implications if they aren’t.


Angela Thurman  36:24

And something like that can be, you know, just getting people to show up to meetings. Yeah. And, and having those critical conversations, if if someone is not showing up to the meeting, is it because you genuinely are so overwhelmed? You just don’t have time for yet another cadence meeting? So is there someone else who be who should be reassigned to support the project? Or do we need to move the time of the meeting, so that it better fits your schedule? You know, what can we do to help make the project and the team successful in the end?


Damon Pistulka  37:04

Yeah, that’s, that’s so important. And you just said, Yes. You said so much in there. Because? Well, because a lot of thinking I could, because I’m thinking of myself, I’m a technical guy, right? I’m a technical, but you said some human things that are really important to think about their perspective. Are they too busy to come?

Are Is it the wrong time? Is it that we need more resources, those kinds of things. And it’s, it’s easy to say, hey, you need to show up for this meeting. It’s at it’s at blah, blah, blah, and do that. But those other things are probably really the underlying root cause of the reason why they’re not able to attend the meeting. And, and really helping address the root cause is the way to solve the problem and build the relationships that will get you get projects done on time.


Angela Thurman  37:57

I’ve learned a lot of those lessons, because I’ve been doing it wrong.


Damon Pistulka  38:02

Well, that’s awesome. Because that I don’t know how many times I hear that from people that are really good at something like yourself, and and we go, we’re only good because we screwed up a lot. Yes. Yeah, that’s great. That’s great. Well, you know, this is this is okay. Okay, I’m just I’m getting into into talking project management here. Because this is good stuff. Because I mean, you talked about the relationships and brought up the fact that you’re probably not an indirect authority position.

And you really have to build the relationships, and, and communicate the, the how everyone working together is really how the project successful projects, get, get done and get done on time. But your your back, you said something a little while ago about agile? Because, yes, I really want to, I really want to understand your thought because I’m exposed to Agile once in a while. And you know, it’s not the traditional project management. So have you worked with Agile?


Angela Thurman  39:04

I’m working with it right now. Yeah. Okay.


Damon Pistulka  39:05

So you’re helping software development happen. So what are some of the things that you see that traditional project management and agile are like, they’re butting heads on it? But there’s some things that that are similar and work together? And what do you really think about agile overall?


Angela Thurman  39:23

So, first of all, let me just put a caveat in here. Too many people, in my opinion, in my humble opinion, too many people are confusing, agile with a capital A and agile with a lowercase a. So they’re using a lot of lingo and jargon, not understanding what Agile with a capital A is. So they’re saying we need to use agile we need to be you know, we need to use agile project management, because I think it sounds cool.

And like it’s the new thing. and it doesn’t not mean nimble or new. Okay, it’s good. It’s very specific. And if you don’t know what Agile is, I highly recommend that you Google Agile Manifesto. Okay? And that should be your first step to understanding what Agile is, or agile project management. Okay? So first of all, agile project management was originally and is primarily intended for software development. Yep. Now it can be used for other types of project management.

But the key thing about agile project management is that it is iterative. So you don’t start with all of your requirements, and a schedule, you do not start understanding what your scope of work is. Which, for someone like me, who has done a lot of traditional waterfall, project management, the thought of beginning a project and not understanding what my scope is, is frightening. So yeah, just say that, we’re going to do a little bit of work, and give that to the customer and see what they say, and then come back and do a little bit of more work.

And see what they say then, and repeat this every two weeks. Does not intuitively sound like it’s gonna lead to success? But it actually does. Okay, because when you particularly in software, you may not exactly know what your end goal is. And software development is particularly risky for changes. So you might start down a path, and then someone says, But what if we did this? And then you’re starting back again. And yeah, and a lot of the work you’ve already done, may have been wasted. And that’s why an iterative method is so beneficial.


Damon Pistulka  42:36

Yeah, I can see how that really helps offer development because, you know, developing an application, if you just if you just said, Oh, I’m gonna go out and develop a Microsoft Excel application.

Okay, you know, you start with one function, and then you work up to the other functions after you know, addition and subtraction basically, and, and kind of see what what are the next ones you want, or next features that people are asking for, it’d be nice if it did this, this is something critical as missing, rather than going out and trying to define in the box, what it looks like, and spending all that time to get there to go. People go here is these three, here are these three to five critical things, and there weren’t in your box.


Angela Thurman  43:20

Exactly, exactly. Okay. Whereas if I’m building a house, there are some real physical constraints, it can it’s going to be one story, and it’s going to have three bedrooms and two bathrooms. And so I know I’m going to need a kitchen sink and, and, you know, 10 windows and yeah, now there can be some changes, I can I can say, well, I’m going to want quartz countertops instead of granite, or I’m going to paint the walls gray instead of white, you know, there can be changes, but it’s not going to have the catastrophic implications that you would see in the change the same type of changes with software.


Damon Pistulka  44:20

Yeah, yeah. This this is just this is this is good stuff here. Because Because, because, well it is when when you’re trying to think about and there’s a lot of people that are out developing software, there’s a lot of people that I’ve heard about actually a lot of people are develop software like Yeah, and I think there’s still people though, to that develop software, that traditional project management way where they’ve, that this is what we’re gonna make, this is what’s gonna look like and go off and build it as well. But I really see the differences. Now, when you’re when you’re in these. And you’ve done a few of these, the Agile type era of project management, what do you like better?


Angela Thurman  45:00

I am at my heart still a waterfall go, okay. I like being able to track, you know, to tick the boxes as the requirements are yet you have that traceability and and agile doesn’t have an action item register agile. Agile uses a task board and you track your user stories, one at a time as they go through, but you generate new user stories with every sprint.


Damon Pistulka  45:30

So yeah, yep. Yep. Yep. So


Angela Thurman  45:35

it’s with agile, it’s much, much harder to define when you’re done.


Damon Pistulka  45:44

Yeah, because there’s there, there’s always an add that you would think there’s an endpoint there. But it could be continuing indefinitely.


Angela Thurman  45:52

Yes. Add with agile, you’re, you’re done when your money’s done.


Damon Pistulka  45:57

There you go. You’re done. When your money’s done. That’s it. Oh, that’s great. That’s great. Well, Angela, it’s, it’s, it’s been awesome talking to you know, he said 10 years is volunteer, almost 15 minutes now. Project management, it cuz because it is so interesting. You’ve got such an interesting career. And now Now you’re helping people as as a project manager, you’ve got a team, you’re helping people manage these complex projects. So what what have you really learned in the last, however long you’ve been doing this for people helping manage many different projects.


Angela Thurman  46:38

Um, first of all, there is, I think, a great need for project management consultants. Because so many companies could could benefit from having a project manager that comes in and helps out with a project, again, only for a short time. And as a project manager, we realize that because a project is time boxed, and we’re not expecting to come on and be a part of your company for, you know, an eternity forever. But a lot of small to medium sized companies don’t have this expertise in house and don’t realize they could have if, if they would reach out to a consultant and bring in a professional who does have expertise in this area could really ramp up their ability to identify and finish a project.

And it could be any number of things, it could be a small thing, like mapping out their processes and identifying areas of improvement. It either in, in their management office management type of things, or in their factories, or it could be a big thing, like onboarding a new supplier leaning out their factory themselves, or moving a factory. That’s, that’s a big, big project and would really require some expertise. So,


Damon Pistulka  48:31

yeah, it’s cool. I think about it. I say, I’m there because of me. I’ve been hired a few times to build factories and I’m like, I’ve done a live I’m really probably not that I don’t I don’t consider myself an expert. It’s kind of like you said after you screwed up enough times doing it. But but that that is it is really something consider though because there are there are a myriad of projects that exactly like I said, you know, my experience is, even in bigger companies, they’re going to build a factory inside I am talking to huge like, like, yeah, big big tech.

I mean, it’s talking, you know, 100,000 square feet, when you start to think about the details of the needs from walking into and I’m not talking Greenfield because I’ve done Greenfield too. Yeah. When you when you when you just go hey, we’re we’re gonna open another little bit of manufacturing over here and we got 100,000 square foot building and it’s an empty shell. Just with the the permitting the build out. Only the stuff you’re building out even if it’s not your building. When you think about okay, what are we gonna do with electrical and and HVAC and what kind of people stuff we got. What are the IT requirements? We got? The fire



extinguisher? Yeah, down to that down to that. I mean, you talked about


Angela Thurman  49:49

are the aisles going to be wide enough to allow a gurney to get through in the case of an emergency? Yep.


Damon Pistulka  49:55

All that good stuff that you got to do when you’re when you’re doing these these different projects, but you’re right that the the the key resources are busy doing the tasks that need to be done in a business. And that project manager can come in for the for the scope of that project or the term of that project and really help them execute that efficiently without having detrimental effects on the rest of their business.

Exactly. And that’s, that’s very valuable. Because oftentimes, you’ll have people that a probably aren’t normally managing projects or be not normally doing those kinds of things trying to do do project work. Yeah, that’s a great point. So what? One thing, if you could tell one aspiring project manager, just just tell these aspiring aspiring project managers? One thing, what would you tell them?


Angela Thurman  50:53

Join PMI, because it’s a very small investment. But you will never one have a network of other project managers that you can rely on and lean on to obtain knowledge and training to be a mentor. And you’ll have access to all kinds of knowledge and information including the product, the project management, body of knowledge, and the Agile program guide. But you’ll have access to events and where you can meet people. Interesting people. Yeah, who can help you grow in your project management journey?


Damon Pistulka  51:46

Yeah. And that’s the Project Management Institute. Institute. Okay. Just want to make sure that we knew that. Well, Angela, it’s been awesome talking to you. And I just, I just, it’s the I’m just floored at the cool projects and stuff. I mean, I just I’m thinking back through and it’s so neat to talk to you about them. And then it but but through this and to be serious about this part of it.

You’ve managed some very technical, global high complexity in tough situations, no fail options, kind of projects. And and I think that’s, that’s awesome. And that goes to goes I think it speaks volumes about the help that you can do with companies today, and in their projects that they need done. Well,


Angela Thurman  52:35

thank you. I hope Yeah, I’m, I’m looking forward to helping more people.


Damon Pistulka  52:41

Awesome. Well, I’m, I’m we’re gonna sign off here on the faces of business again, Angela Thurman with us today talking about the keys to project management and man, she just blew it out of the park. I’m so thankful for you being here today, Angela. Thank you, Damon. All right. Well, we’re gone for now. And it is Thursday. So we’ll be back next Tuesday. Have a great weekend, everyone. Thank you.

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