Update from PM Class

It’s time for my weekly update from the Project Management class, for want of anything better to talk about.  Which, this week, is a pretty big want.  In other words, there wasn’t much interesting about the most recent PM class.  This class we had a guest speaker who talked a lot about Microsoft’s Project Portfolio Server program.  I wasn’t really inspired by it.  Certainly, it made organizing large numbers of projects into a single view easier, and easier to do some cursory analysis on them.  But, with the analytics essentially obscured to the user, I didn’t feel confident that it was a good platform for decision analysis when considering multiple projects against constrained resources.  What I’m learning in my Decision Modeling class is much better for that, I think – and there, defining the parameters becomes a much more transparent process.

We also were given our group assignments, and I’m still waiting on feedback from my boss about whether there’s a project here at work that we can use.  If not, one of the other group members may have a project.

Tangentially related, as I was thinking about projects – both for this class and for the Decision Modeling class – I came up with what I think may be a great project idea for Decision Modeling.  In that class, we’ll need to model a complex and non-trivial decision with lots of constraints and uncertainties.  I don’t know all the details of the project’s requirements, but I was reflecting on the A & M Kerfuffle when this idea struck me.  I left a comment on John Scalzi’s blog a few days ago (scroll down to comments #43 and #44) about one of the factors that I thought was entering into the psychology of consumers regarding e-book prices (one which I hadn’t seen really brought up much, that being that physical books, even having the same content as e-books, can be valued higher simply because they have physical, concrete, and tactile existence).  Later, I thought about my comment, and thought: “Stephen, you’re smarter than that.  There’s more that enters into pricing, and perception of price, than any one factor.  It’s a complex interplay of Supply, Demand, Break-even, Equilibrium, and Consumer Psychology, all in one package.  Heck, it’s a complex, non-trivial nut to crack.”  That’s when I thought: “Complex!  Non-trivial!  Nuts-to-crack!  These are the features of the sorts of problems that I’d want to use my new decision modeling ninja skills on.”  Besides that, the prof had mentioned finding a project about which we were interested.

I’ve already reached out at work on that project, too, to see if there was a complex decision problem requiring ninja-level-analysis there.  And that will take precedence if I find one.  But I’d be much more interested in exploring the complex problem of e-Book pricing, if nothing at work pans out.  If I proceed with it, I’ll next have to consider how I’d frame the question, and what, precisely, I’m trying to “decide” and from who’s perspective.  Probably, I’d think that both Amazon’s and Macmillan’s positions on the issue are well vetted within their organizations, so the tack I’d have to take would be: from an author’s perspective, what is the ideal e-Book price?

If this goes forward…

STAND BACK!  I’ll be doing SCIENCE!