Post about "management"

Changing Face of the New Hotel General Manager

In the olden days, the General Manager was the friendliest face you saw when checking into a hotel. The host supreme, he was entrusted with the task of interfacing with the guests and making them feel at home. He accommodated your wishes, catered to your demands, and made troubles vanish into thin air. A competent General Manager was worth his weight in gold, and made all the difference between a good and great stay at a hotel!Today, however, the genial General Manager is fast transforming into a power tool that takes care of various responsibilities, sometimes simultaneously. Gone are the days when he would stand in deference in the hotel lobby. This Jack-of-all-trades now has his fingers deeply and firmly embedded in not one but many pies and is adept at juggling his many roles with a quiet exterior and charming panache.So what exactly does the new age General Manager do? The short answer to that is ‘Almost everything!’It’s true. From tasting food and ensuring top-notch room service to assuming a leadership role and guiding the team towards the company’s goal, the General Manager’s responsibilities are varied in nature and not restricted to any one division of the hotel.Here’s a more detailed description of what is expected of a General Manager. In addition to overseeing day-to-day options, he’s in charge of…

Building a vibrant organization

Creating a distinctive work environment

Establishing priorities and setting the goals of the company

Spearheading innovative and strategic thinking

Managing human resources and mapping their productivity

Driving the team towards success by setting a personal example

Maintaining the highest standards across all operations
There’s no denying that a General Manager has a lot on his plate. Each responsibility has to be executed with perfection and mistakes are not tolerated kindly in the hospitality industry. Accustomed to fighting fires every day, the General Manager goes around troubleshooting a wide range of problems without batting an eyelid. Safe to say, this job is not everyone’s cup of tea.What characteristics are desirable in a General Manager?The General Manager is one of the most respectable, demanding, and exacting positions in the industry. Not everybody can do justice to this role. It takes a person with considerable ingenuity to step into those shoes. Here are some of the traits you should look for in a prospective General Manager.The Ability to Multi-taskThis one makes it to the top of my list for obvious reasons. The typical workday of a General Manager is extremely complex since they are required to oversee so many things and. With equal alertness and perspicacity, they have to supervise guest relations, housekeeping, front desk, finances, F&B set up, compliance, employee evaluation, and any events that may be happening in the hotel. Unless he has excellent time management skills and organizational talents, a General Manager will never be able to rise up to the occasion and keep things together.Professional TroubleshootingMost people who land up at a hotel for a lazy getaway are completely oblivious of the chaos playing out behind the scenes. All they see is a haven of peace, luxury, and indulgence functioning like well-oiled machinery, while attends rush to fulfill any wish or demand they may have.All this is possible, in large part, to the General Manager and his common sense, quick thinking, and the creative and practical solutions he comes up with for every day problems that crop up. Anything that can go wrong does go wrong, and it’s the General Manager’s decisiveness that allows him to avert disasters and keep things working like clockwork in the hotel.Adaptability & the Desire to LearnThe hospitality sector is one of the fastest evolving sectors in the world. Technology, policies, government legislation, and local politics all contribute towards the changing of times, and it falls upon the General Manager to foresee these changes and prepare for them.In my experience, the best General Managers are those who welcome the new. Instead of being frightened, they’re curious about the developments taking place in the industry. They’re well-informed and, despite their hectic schedule, they find a way to stay abreast of industry news and trends. By doing so, they ensure that no latest innovation gets by them. They apply their knowledge to work so that their hotel moves with the times and adapts continually.Teaching & MentoringWe’ve already established that a General Manager should constantly be amassing knowledge related to the industry and his position. But it’s also important that he passes on what he’s learned to his team, so that they’re equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge to work efficiently and independently. Few things are more frustrating and draining for him than to micromanage all the tasks that fall in his lap. For the hotel to function optimally, the staff has to display initiative. This can only happen if they’ve been mentored properly and taught how to be resourceful and quick-witted.Like I mentioned earlier, a good General Manager is a valuable asset to any hotel and selecting the right one is no mean task. Given the complex nature of the position, I would always recommend that you ‘grow’ your own executives. This allows you to select from within the ranks and prepare somebody who’s familiar with the working of your hotel for the managerial role.However, that may not always be possible, and you may have to fall back on traditional ways of searching for someone competent to take over the role of a General Manager.When doing so, keep the following best practices in mind:

Always bring in someone who knows the business, the industry, and the people involved. Unless you’ve got a very small establishment, the General Manager will not be able to learn everything fast enough to carry out his responsibilities competently.

Look beyond the management training courses, seminars, or workshops the candidate may mention on his resume. In my experience, these programs tend to emphasize too much on the importance of formal quantitative tools, which, though relevant, are hardly integral to the job at hand.

Scan the potential candidate for the qualities we talked about earlier. They’re just as important as the qualifications and experience the prospect brings to the table.

Finally, when you find the right candidate and welcome him onboard, allow him /her at least three to six months to collect information, build a network, establish relationships, and set the direction for the team. Do not assign pet projects or specific tasks in this duration. It will be counterproductive and divert attention from his main goals of driving the team to success.A good General Manager is integral to the smooth functioning of a hotel. He works behind the scene to offer a pleasant and hassle-free experience to guests and patrons. On his discretion stands the reputation of the hotel and on his efficiency depends all other divisions. So make sure you invest time and effort in selecting the right candidate for the job, for he’s the one who will lead the establishment to its ultimate vision.

Applying Earned Value Management to Software Intensive Programs

Many information technology projects have been declared too costly, too late. and often don’t work right.  Applying appropriate technical and management techniques can significantly improve the current situation. The principal causes of growth on these large-scale programs can be traced to several causes related to overzealous advocacy, immature technology, lack of corporate technology roadmaps, requirements instability, ineffective acquisition strategy, unrealistic program baselines, inadequate systems engineering, and work-force issues.   This article provides a brief summary of four processes to resolve these issuesEstablishing a Process for Requirements Definition and Developing the Technical, Cost and Schedule BaselinesWe all realize the importance of having a motivated, quality work force but even our finest people can’t perform at their best when the process is not understood or not operating at its best.  A well defined process is critical to defining the requirements and completing the initial cost and schedule estimate.  The proper use of Performance-Based Earned Value® (PBEV) provides for integration of project technical scope, schedule, and cost objectives; and the establishment of a baseline plan for performance measurement.  Additionally, the use of an analytic application to project likely cost and schedule based on actual performance provides for realistic projections of future performance.  Success of the project can be aided by defining the best objectives, by planning resources and costs which are directly related to those objectives, by measuring accomplishments objectively against the plan, by identifying performance trends and problems as early as possible, and by taking timely corrective actions. In the book, “Software Sizing, Estimation and Risk Management” (Dan Galorath and Michael Evans, 2007) a ten step process is presented for program requirements generation and estimation.   The 10 steps are:1.    Establish Estimate Scope2.    Establish Technical Baseline, Ground Rules, and Assumptions3.    Collect Data4.    Estimate and Validate Software Size5.    Prepare Baseline Estimates6.    Review, Verify and Validate Estimate7.    Quantify Risks and Risk Analysis8.    Generate a Project Plan9.    Document Estimate and Lessons Learned10.    Track Project Throughout DevelopmentThe key here is to establish an auditable, repeatable set of steps to establish the requirements and develop the baseline estimate of cost and schedule. Identifying Critical Software Management MetricsThat most large software programs get into trouble is a demonstrated phenomenon.  Therefore selecting the correct set of software metrics to track is critical to program success.  Practical Software Measurement (McGarry, Card, Jones; Addison-Wesley, 2002) identifies seven information categories and expands these information categories into measurable concepts and then prospective metrics . For Earned Value purposes, the most effective software metrics are those that relate to product size, schedule, quality, and progress.  For software intensive programs, measures of quantity (e.g. number of lines of code completed) do not accurately reflect the quality aspects of the work performed on neither the program nor the actual progress since items such as lines of code completed do not capture items such as integration, testing, etc. Size is often measured as Source Lines of Code (SLOC) or Function Points and used as a sizing measure for budgets and for earned value using a percent of completion method.  There are two critical problems with this approach.  First, there has traditionally been a significant error in estimating SLOC.  And, the number of lines of code completed does not necessarily reflect the quality or total progress toward a performance goal.  Therefore, any progress metric based solely on SLOC is highly volatile.  Whether SLOC, function points, Use Cases, or some other size artifact is selected, a careful process must be utilized to establish a credible size metric.   It is recommended that in addition to tracking progress toward a goal, size growth should also be tracked.Schedule metrics and procedures normally relate to completion milestones are also a common tracking metric.  Sometimes these milestone definitions and completion criteria lack quantifiable objectives.   Often an incremental build is released that does not incorporate all the planned functional requirements or a developer claims victory after just testing the nominal cases.Progress metrics can be very difficult for large software programs.  It is generally agreed that no software is delivered defect free.  Software engineers have hoped that new languages and new processes would greatly reduce the number of delivered defects.  However, this has not been the case.  Software is still delivered with a significant number of defects.  The physical and practical limitations of software testing (the only way to determine if a program will work is to write the code and run it) ensure that large programs will be released with undetected errors.  Therefore, defects discovery and removal is a key metric for assessing program quality. Applying Performance-Based Earned Value (PBEV)Performance-Based Earned Value® (PBEV) is an enhancement to the Earned Value Management Systems (EVMS) standard . PBEV overcomes the standard’s shortcomings with regard to measuring technical performance and quality (quality gap). PBEV is based on standards and models for systems engineering, software engineering, and project management that emphasize quality. The distinguishing feature of PBEV is its focus on the customer requirements. PBEV provides principles and guidance for cost effective processes that specify the most effective measures of cost, schedule, and product quality performance.Program managers expect accurate reporting of integrated cost, schedule, and technical performance when the supplier’s EVMS procedure complies with the EVMS Standard.  However, EVM data will be reliable and accurate only if the following occurs:o    The indicated quality of the evolving product is measured.o    The right base measures of technical performance are selected.o    Progress is objectively assessed.Using EVM also incurs significant costs. However, if you are measuring the wrong things or not measuring the right way, than EVM may be more costly to administer and may provide less management value . Because of the quality gap in the EVMS standard, there is no assurance the reported earned value (EV) is based on product metrics and on the evolving product quality.  First, the EVMS standard states that EV is a measurement of the quantity of work accomplished and that the quality and technical content of work performed are controlled by other processes. A software manager should ensure that EV is also a measurement of the product quality and technical maturity of the evolving work products instead of just the quantity of work accomplished.  Second, the EVMS principles address only the project work scope. EVMS ignores the product scope and product requirements.  Third, the EVMS standard does not require precise, quantifiable measures of progress. It states that objective EV methods are preferred but it also states that management assessment (subjective) may be used. In contrast, other standards specify objective measurement. Fourth, EVM is perceived to be a risk management tool. However, EVMS was not designed to manage risk and provides no guidance on the subject. PBEV is a set of principles and guidelines that specify the most effective measures of cost, schedule, and product quality performance. It has several characteristics that distinguish it from traditional EVMS, by augmenting EVMS with four additional principles and 16 additional guidelines.PBEV supplements traditional EVMS with the best practices.  Its principles and guidelines enable true integration of project cost, schedule, and technical performance.  The distinguishing feature of PBEV is its focus on the customer requirements.  Measures of product scope and product quality are incorporated into the project plan. Progress is measured against a plan to fulfill all customer requirements. Measuring the wrong things does not dilute management attention. Consequently, management is able to take rapid corrective actions on deviations that threaten customer satisfaction and business enterprise objectives.Using An Analytic Process To Project Cost And Schedule Based On Actual PerformanceOnce the requirement definition is complete; the cost and schedule baseline has been established; the appropriate metrics have been selected; and a PBEV system is in place, the final challenge is to implement a process that quickly and accurately estimates final cost and schedule based on actual performance.  This analysis is best accomplished using an analytic/parametric process.  Galorath Incorporated calls this process SEER Control.  The purpose of SEER Control is to provide an understanding of the project’s progress so that appropriate corrective actions can be taken when the project’s performance deviates significantly from the plan.  SEER Control provides a “dashboard” that includes a health and status indicator for the project related to: schedule variance, time variance, cost variance, size growth, and defects discovery and removal. At the heart of SEER Control is the ability to forecast the final project outcome based on actual performance to date.  One of the primary goals of SEER Control is to provide adequate supporting documentation (charts and reports) to support the software project management process and to satisfy stakeholder needs.ConclusionManagement of Software Intensive Programs should be based on the foundation of establishing the requirements, developing a reliable baseline estimate for cost and schedule, selecting effective software metrics, applying Performance-Based Earned Value (PBEV), and using analytic processes to project cost and schedule based on actual performance.Author’s Note: This article was written with contributions from Dan Galorath, CEO of Galorath Inc. and author of the book, Software Sizing, Estimation, and Risk Management and Paul Solomon, co-author of the book, Performance-Based Earned Value®.