Alik Levin's

Clarity, Technology, and Solving Problems | 

May, 2009

  • Alik Levin's

    Microsoft Certified Architect (MCA) - Preparing For The Review Board Interview Video Distilled


    Alik Levin    Review  board interview is the critical part of the MCA certification program. It is discussed in the Preparing for the Review Board Interview video. Below are the notes I have taken when I watched the video.

    • Key to success is no different of any other interview.
    • Before interview you should make yourself very familiar with the documents you submitted (resume, case study, presentation, skills template, etc).
    • You should be well prepared for  presentation.
    • Ensure presentation compliments the submitted materials/documents.
    • Practice the presentation.
    • Familiarize with competencies – show you mastered it.
    • The interview conducted by 7 people – practice and rehearse with friend, instruct them to make it hard for you, not harsh but be a tough crowd.
    • Ask to provide feedback.
    • When you asked a question you  do not know the answer – say you do not know it, do not try to make up the answer, chances one of the board members knows it well and you might only make it worse.
    • Ask clarifying questions.
    • Do not ramble – time is precious.
    • Relax – watch the videos, should not be anything new to you.


  • Alik Levin's

    Hollywood's Project Management System


    What if I tell you there is a project management system that works? By "works" I mean it helps completing projects on time, on budget, on spec. No more 2% slip. Think such system does not exist? It does exist in Hollywood. Not in the movies. The system is wide spread across major film studios. In his book, Hollywood Secrets of Project Management Success, James R. Persse covers Hollywood's approach to successful project management. The main ingredients are:

    • Consistency. "Consistency of vision, a common agreement, reached through communications and reviews, regarding the purpose, scope, and tone of the project".
    • Predictability. "The system defines a present work flow that can be mapped out, planned, and followed, thereby ensuring that essential work phases are not skipped and critical milestones are not missed or ignored."
    • Accountability. "Slipping 10 percent over budget is a $6 million slip, so it's helpful to know who did the slipping and why. The system, build accountability into every phase of production. The production system pays very close attention to job descriptions."
    • Communications. "… it promotes communications – both informal, casual communications and formal binding communication. Producing, at its heart, is a communications job."
    • Trackability. "… the system promotes regular and deep-reaching measures of progress. This process tracking begins on day 1 and does not end until the lid of the can of the final cut is taped shut."

    Hmm... seems nothing revolutionary to me. If so, then why IT projects always slip? They slip massively in all dimensions – scope, budget, time. May be because project management skills are not that valued? May be project manager (director) must be a super star for the whole project to be succesful? I cannot find another explanation to such phenomena. BTW, next time you finish watching a movie pay close attention to titles running in the end. Usually director of the movie comes before the movie star. Why is it so?

    Persse cites Bill Fay, President of Production with Legendary Pictures, as he comments on the fact that IT projects often slip 100% in budget and time, - "That wouldn't fly in this business… no able producer or competent production team would ever allow project to drift so far off base."

    Is you project manager a super star? Are you set to produce the next block buster?

    Read Hollywood Secrets of Project Management Success to help you produce the next IT mega hit.

    My related posts

    -  Is Your Project Going To Fail?



  • Alik Levin's

    Microsoft Certified Architect (MCA) Review Board Interview Video Distilled

    Alik Levin    I was watching MCA Review Board Interview video as part of my preparation to the MCA program. Following are the notes I have taken while watching the video:
    • Review process conducted quarterly.
    • The board of 7 members reviews 13 candidates during a week.
    • 3 hours per candidate
    • The process:
      • 10 minutes for set up.
      • Introductions.
      • 30 minutes presentation to the board.
      • Candidate shows the 7 skills throughout the presentation.
      • During 30 minutes of the presentation it is candidate’s prime time, only interrupted for clarifying. Generally no interruptions.
      • Show 7 competencies.
      • 10 minutes for each member of the board to ask questions.
      • Precision technique questions methods – expect to be cut off.
      • 5 minutes break – candidate leave the room – the board discusses what they saw and what they did not.
      • 10 minutes Q&A – wide open questions.
      • 5 minutes for closing remarks – candidate may say thanks or add whatever he likes.
      • Done
    • Members go through process of determining whether the candidate deserves MCA – thumbs up/down, giving each competencies “does not meet”, “meets” or “exceeds” mark.
    • The board shares general impressions and notes taken during 2 hours review process.
    • The board makes recommendations – provide feedback to the candidate where he can improve.
    • Final vote, thumbs up/down.
    • 3 members must give thumbs up to achieve the MCA certification.
    • The candidate should expect an email after two weeks with the decision on his performance during the review.


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