Technology Forum

"Concept to Reality – Successfully Sell Ideas and Secure Executive Funding": February Technology Forum Summary

Written by Glenn Boylan, PMP

PMI Atlanta’s February Technology Forum was held on Tuesday, February 28th, where Sarah Ming Hsi presented a very informative and interesting talk titled "Concept to Reality – Successfully Sell Ideas and Secure Executive Funding".

Steve Kruger started the festivities at the Hewlett-Packard Enterprise office in Alpharetta. Once again the Technology Forum enjoyed the amenities of HP-E’s fantastic new café. Our thanks to HP-E for sharing it with PMI.

Steve reviewed PMI Atlanta’s upcoming events and reminded everyone about the many volunteer opportunities available for the Forum and the Atlanta chapter. For the full schedule of events and more details on how you can volunteer (and earn extra PDUs!), go to the chapter web site at PMIAtlanta.org.

Steve introduced Ms. Hsi, who is the Chief Information Officer for the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transportation Authority (MARTA). Sarah started her career as a developer at AT&T. Her first job at MARTA was as an Oracle database administrator. She moved from databases to project management and program management, earning her PMP and PgMP certifications along the way. Being a program manager ignited her interest in a more strategic role, leading to the opportunity for her to become MARTA’s CIO.

In the first part of her presentation, Sarah shared some background on MARTA and an overview of what the agency is working on this year.

MARTA is the ninth largest mass transit system in the country, averaging 450,000 weekday boardings. These passengers use 338 rail cars, 565 buses, and 211 vans which are kept running by over 5,000 MARTA employees. All this adds up to a $2.1 billion input to the regional and state economies.

Security is vitally important to the agency, and to that assist in that they have over 12,000 cameras installed around the system, which includes 2,000 cameras at rail stations and major bus stops. That’s a lot of video, so MARTA is in the process of implementing video analytics software to help keep track of it all.

Looking to provide more than just transportation, MARTA recently introduced some amenities to their ride services – things like food trucks at stations, a bicycle sharing program, jazz events, and the popular Pianos for Peace initiative that placed pianos at several stations, inviting anyone to sit down and play. In addition, transit oriented development is in progress around several rail stations, including the Edgewood and Avondale stations.

Innovation and technology play important roles is keeping MARTA competitive. MARTA is teaming with City of Atlanta on smart city initiatives as well as working to incorporating the power of the Internet of Things (IOT) into the system. One of the key innovation techniques the agency uses is their “Hackathon” which invite teams from the public to come up with ideas to improve MARTA’s services. Last year’s Hackathon had over 197 participants. Hackathons have resulted in system improvements ideas ranging from train scheduling to waste receptacle management.

As CIO, Sarah is at the forefront of MARTA’s technology initiatives. The Breeze fare card program is completing a significant upgrade this year. The next step for fares is a purchase and ride application for smart phones. This app is in the pilot stage now, with 500 pilot users. So far MARTA has is getting an 88% approval rating on the app from these users.

A major technology initiative, and the focus of Ms. Hsi’s presentation, was the distributed antenna and Wi-Fi network being installed throughout the system. Sarah is responsible for the project from concept to reality, and as you can imagine, there were significant logistical, technical, and funding issues to be resolved.

Sarah stressed the importance of simplifying the scope – and therefore simplifying the messaging to stakeholders, including vendors and management. Previous projects to implement the Wi-Fi network at MARTA did not get off the ground, largely due to complicated scopes of works (and the resulting complicated RFPs) and confusing messages to the stakeholders.

By thoroughly analyzing the scope and requirements, the MARTA team was able to simplify the scope of the project without compromising the overall requirements. This was critical to providing clear, concise communication to MARTA management, government authorities, and participating vendors. Effective communication was the key, Sarah said, to getting project approval and continuing the successful project implementation.

The programs and initiatives Sarah shared with the Forum seem to be striking a chord with MARTA’s riders. A November ballot proposal for a half-cent sales tax increase within the City of Atlanta to help fund the transit programs passed with a remarkable 71% approval by the voters.

The Technology Forum appreciates Sarah taking the time to share her insights with us. The Forum attendees, which included both long-time riders and those not familiar with MARTA, learned a lot about the system and the successful project management techniques Sarah’s teams use so effectively.

The Technology Forum meets on the fourth Tuesday of the month except in August and December. The next Forum will be Tuesday, March 28th. Come join us.


"We Have Met the Enemy, and He Is Us: Cyber Security Issues and What You Can Do About Them": January Technology Forum Summary

Written By Glenn Boylan, PMP

Scott-David-2The January Technology Forum was held on Tuesday, January 31st, and featured a very interesting keynote presentation titled “We Have Met the Enemy, and He Is Us: Cyber Security Issues and What You Can Do About Them” presented by David Scott.

Steve Kruger and Nancy Berlin kicked off the event which was hosted by Hewlett-Packard Enterprise in their new café at their office in Alpharetta. The café has been completely re-done and is a beautiful facility for both HP-E and HP employees. Our thanks to HP-E for sharing it with PMI Atlanta.

The Forum also wants to thank the Rezult Group which sponsored the food for the event, and provided some great swag for the meeting attendees. The Rezult Group provides staffing solutions for companies seeking talent in healthcare IT, finance, accounting, and of course, technology. They have just opened an Atlanta office. For more information, go to their web site at www.rezultgroup.com.

Steve and Nancy reviewed PMI Atlanta volunteer opportunities and events, including this year’s Technology Forum schedule. The Tech Forum will meet on the fourth Tuesday of the month except for August (when Nancy will be at the beach) and December. Melody Cookson announced that there will be an Alpharetta series of the popular “PM in the AM” breakfast meetings on the third Wednesdays of each month, starting April 19th. For more information on volunteering and upcoming events, go to the chapter web site at PMIAtlanta.org.

Nancy then turned the meeting over to David Scott of Mission Advantages, LLC. David got everyone’s attention by asking the question “Are you aware of the greatest threats and risks to your organization?” and he kept it by linking The Varsity, a rubber duck, and Mountain Dew to the key basic principles of cyber security.

Read more ...

"How to Self-Promote without Being a Jerk": January Technology Forum Summary

Written by Glenn Boylan, PMP

PMI Atlanta’s Technology Forum started 2016 with a great presentation from Marcia Trajano titled “How to Self-Promote without Being a Jerk”.

Steve Kruger welcomed everyone to the meeting, and thanked Hewlett-Packard Enterprise for hosting our forum again this year. Nancy Berlin reminded everyone that the Technology Forum relies on volunteer help; especially with meeting registration activities and getting – or being – a speaker for upcoming events. Nancy also reviewed upcoming PMI Atlanta events. The full calendar of events can be found on the chapter’s web site at www.pmiatlanta.org.

A new agenda item was added to this first forum of the year, an open roundtable discussion. Topics covered during the discussion included the new Continuing Certification Requirements (CCR) requirements, potential topics of future meetings, and the time of the meetings.

The new CCR requirements are in effect, requiring us to classify Education PDUs into the categories of Technical Project Management, Leadership, or Strategic Business Management. We reviewed several of the recent Technology forum meetings to show how they would fall into these categories. The group suggested that PMI Atlanta should categorize all future meetings based on the subject matter to eliminate confusion for the attendees.

Read more ...

"The Internet of Things": February Technology Forum Summary

By Glenn Boylan, PMP

At the February Technology Forum, I gave an overview of the Internet of Things (IoT); looking at what it is, what it requires, and providing some examples of where it is being used.

Steve Kruger and Nancy Berlin opened the meeting by welcoming all the attendees and thanking Hewlett-Packard Enterprise for hosting the forum in their Alpharetta office. They also reviewed upcoming PMI Atlanta events and reminded everyone about the many volunteer opportunities with the forum and the chapter. Be sure to check out the PMI Atlanta web site at PMIAtlanta.org for more information.

The overview of IoT started out with the example of a connected vending machine. We talked about “the old days” when vending machines were not connected to the Internet. The people responsible to re-stock the machine had to go by historical data to estimate how many of each product would be needed to re-stock the machine.

But in the case of a machine connected to the IoT, the restocking team would know exactly how many of each item were needed, and could build the restocking inventory for these specific quantities. This saves time, reduces waste, and increases customer satisfaction by making sure the vending machine is properly restocked.

Read more ...

August Technology Forum Summary

Written by Glenn Boylan

The August Technology Forum discussed project management consulting roles, especially in the healthcare arena and the many technology-related jobs that are available in that industry.

Mike Cooper was the featured speaker. Mike is with Healthcare IT Leaders out of Alpharetta. The healthcare industry is going through enormous changes, many of them technology-related, which is driving a need for project managers for the IT projects.

The explosion of projects and the need for project managers covers all aspects of the healthcare industry, including producers, payers, pharma, device makers, and the public sector. Project managers are needed for ERM implementations, regulatory compliance, security, mobility, and cloud-based projects, and for Agile development projects.

With Healthcare IT Leaders’ experience in placing project managers, Mike shared their tips for effective interviews, their view of the consulting world for PMs, and how to work with recruiters.

Mike suggested several ways to best prepare for an interview. First, do your research. This will help you articulate why you are a good candidate for the job and will help you ask thoughtful questions during the interview. It’s very important to know yourself – your experience, qualifications, and traits. While you want to present yourself in the best light, always be truthful, and concise, in your answers. And don’t forget to practice! Go through some mock interviews and practice your answers out loud.

Healthcare IT Leaders work in the consulting area, which can be a different experience for a project manager. Some of the advantages of consulting are higher pay, flexible schedules, travel, and exposure to different work environments and industries. Working as a consulting PM requires you be comfortable marketing yourself.

Finally, Mike talked about working with recruiters. Project managers need to build a relationship with the recruiter they are working with. Be honest with them about your requirements, goals, and availability. It’s vital to keep your resume and references up to date at all times. And don’t forget to keep in touch with the recruiter even while you’re on an assignment.

Healthcare IT Leaders have several project management opportunities at this time. Check out their web site at healthcareitleaders.com.

We do want to acknowledge that the recruiting firm Tech USA was also scheduled to speak at the August meeting, but they were called away at the last minute. Tech USA was able to leave some valuable information on their company and the how they work with project managers for the meeting attendees to review.



Membership Benefits

PMI Atlanta, made up of over 4,000 members, is located in a large geographic area serving project managers all over North Georgia and metro Atlanta.

Not a member? Apply Today!