Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Sanity in project processes - back to reality pleassseee

Sorry, cynical mode today....

Ah, I succeeded again... Finding myself suddenly being pulled into a, well, project from Hell.
We all know them. The ingredients are simple:
- Not enough time
- No formal proces for requirements, design and build
- No test tools
- No issue tracking procedure and supporting tool
- A strict deathline
- No recording of decisions and knowledge
- Changes in project staffing

And within no time, everybody is running around, trying franticly to discuss, rediscuss, implement, change, discuss, test, discuss, report delays, etc. Working software? I think not.

Key ingredient is, I think, a recurring thing. Let's do a short parabel:

Company A wants a new building as headquarters. They approach a architect and a builder and tells them: well, we want a building, we don't know what we want yet, but why don't you start architecting and building already in parallel, we will test in parallel, so we can move on magicaly date XX-YY-ZZZZ, which we have promised to everyone in the world (and our heads will roll!) without knowing the scope of our demands or any knowledge of timelines for buildings anyway. Make sure it's on time, on budget, and to the right quality!
And what would the architect and builder tell them? Simply: "interesting, but no thanks. Good luck trying to find someone crazy enough to go nuts together with you. And when (or if) you come to your senses, don't hesitate to contact us, so we can tell you how you architect and build buildings for real, with lasting succes and sanity"...

But what do IT companies do? They say - sure. (because O my, it might go to the competitor).

It reminds me of a funny story (happened really!) I heard when working in Sweden.
The king wanted to build this great warship. So, he invited a shipbuilder (dutch, like me :-)), who promised to deliver a 3 deckship. After some years the king visited the king in Danmark, and oh my, saw that his ship had one deck in addition. King back to shipbuilder: I want an extra deck! Shopbuilder, knowing his stuff, tries to scope down, but the king insists, it's the extra deck or the shipbuilder's neck... Easy choice. The ship is delivered, and within about 15minutes of her maidenvoyage it sinks.

My lessons:
Projects should have:
- Realism in scope, cost and time
- Clear processes

Back to work, cleaning up :-)

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