Stelian Roman is a result-oriented project manager having 30+ years of experience. He is known as the pioneer of formal agile frameworks (XP, Scrum) and agile delivery (using light documentation).
Stelian has 20+ years of experience working in agile, PRINCE2, Scrum, Kanban, SAFe and Lean Six Sigma. He has worked for both public and private sector companies.
He has been an active volunteer of project management institute. He is associated with Fastlane solutions as an agile coach, scrum master, and project manager.
TaskQue: First of all, tell us about your career struggle? How did your journey start? What obstacles did you face and how did you overcome them?
Stelian Roman: I started my career as a computer Aided Manufacturing and Computer Aided Design (CAD/CAM) specialist.
I was one of the few who become a manager before becoming a developer. The story of my “conversion” to software development is very interesting, especially looking from the Agile perspective.
I was working on algorithms to “cut” complex surfaces and I needed a function to draw spline functions. The developer that I was working with used formulae that calculated the curve based on reference points without intersecting them.
Mathematically it was correct, but in real life, I needed a curve that could be validated by the quality department, therefore it had to touch a few points.
It is an example where business knowledge, the reason for developing software, is more important than the way the software is written.
This struggle, to keep the development team focused on the scope, still exists for a Project Manager.
TaskQue: You have extensive experience working on many projects and programs. What are your two cents on successful stakeholder management?
Stelian Roman: The most important aspect is good communication, and good communication involves listening.
You have to allow others to express their views and try to understand the scope of the project from their perspective.
Patience and respect are very important in fostering good relationships. I personally prefer the terms stakeholder collaboration and coaching than stakeholder management.
A Project Manager should manage the project: scope, time and budget, and collaborate with the people involved.
TaskQue: Being a volunteer of a project management institute, which events do you like the most pertaining to PMI? What are your plans for this year?
Stelian Roman: I enjoy presenting webinars, I learn a lot from the Q&A and also while researching and developing the webinars.
I started a blog on projectmanagement.com that will complement the webinars, and I intend to publish a few white papers on Agile Enterprise, and maybe write a book.
TaskQue: You have managed development teams in France, Australia, France, and Bahrain. Please share your experience with team management and collaboration.
Stelian Roman: It is very important to adapt your management style to the cultural aspect of the organization and the team.
As a manager, especially as a servant leader, you should identify the common values in your team and build your team spirit around them.
It is very important to help team members who need assistance in understanding their roles and responsibilities. It could be the language barrier, lack of skills and experience or their expectations from a leader.
In my experience, the organizational culture is strongly dependent on the environment. You need a different approach in the Middle East than in Australia or France.
TaskQue: Being a mentor, what do you suggest to new IT professionals starting their career?
Stelian Roman: Keep learning and keep an open mind. I have worked with many University graduates who had some theoretical knowledge but didn’t understand how to apply that knowledge in the commercial world.
They first need to understand the problem before presenting a solution. I remember a fresh graduate who proposed to redesign our network infrastructure during the interview.
As a graduate, you should impress with your potential rather than with your skills or knowledge. Also, don’t discard anything, the market is changing rapidly and when an opportunity arises, grab it with both hands.
Don’t wait for a ’better’ one because it may never come. Don’t be afraid to try and don’t be discouraged if you fail. We have all failed and some of us learned a lot from that experience.
TaskQue: You have been working in the field for a long time. Please share a few names who have been your inspiration in the field?
Stelian Roman: There are many people who contributed to who I am and what I do. From my High School and University teachers who laid down the foundation on which I keep building my knowledge base to great minds who inspired me.
I will start with Einstein’s “Imagination is more important than knowledge”, which although put me in a lot of trouble in conservative environments, paid off in professional satisfaction.
Project Management is one of the most challenging and rewarding professions where one person can have a significant influence on results.
As an Agile practitioner, I keep reading Ron Jeffries blog. The XP framework was unfortunately way ahead of his time, but many of the concepts and practices survived.
TaskQue: It would be great if you can share with us a picture of your workstation?
Stelian Roman: It’s a bit hard these days. Everything is confidential or can be misused. At home, I have 3 large monitors.
I like to read books and articles and I like to visit forums. One monitor is for writing. I did my quota of computer games with the first version of Tetris on PDP 11.
TaskQue: Technological advancements are reshaping the arena of project management. Businesses are implementing various tools for boosting efficiency these days. TaskQue is one such emerging task management tool across the market. What are your thoughts on TaskQue?
Stelian Roman: Contrary to some Agile evangelists, I believe that tools are important and TaskQue looks like a good tool.
It has a very intuitive interface and it can be used in a pretty straight forward way. I like that the overlying structure is by projects. It has pretty good reporting capabilities and I also like the integration capabilities.