Random Acts of IT Project Management

Project Management for Information Technology

Archive for June 23rd, 2009

Real Life Project Management

Posted by iammarchhare on 23 June 2009

Steve McConnell wrote about a home project he worked on in “Building a Fort: Lessons in Software Estimation” and the take-aways he had.  It’s a neat little reminder that, consciously or not, we use/ignore project management techniques on a daily basis.

For example, there are many events can take quite a bit of preparation and planning this time of year.  Graduation parties, planting a garden and let’s not forget weddings are all competing for our schedules and other resources.

This year, many are running into a new obstacle: money.  Obviously, I don’t mean to suggest that it was ever an unlimited resources, but for many it is more scarce than at times past.  Even those who do have sufficient means are more reluctant to dip at the well because they don’t know what tomorrow might bring.

You PMs know the concept: Triple constraints.  You can control one of them and influence the other.  The 3rd will be the result of the other 2.

If you do a lot of internal projects, you can get caught in the trap of thinking strictly in terms of “estimating” a project in regards to effort and/or duration.  However, the reality is that at some point, it boils down to the bottom line.  “Time is money” goes the expression, and a project may have little effort required, but the outsourcing or off-the-shelf aspect of it drives up the cost.

Let’s face it that companies as well as individuals are very interested in the bottom line.  The controlling factor in your project is likely to be the budget.

That’s not always a bad thing.  As I go around the house, I keep thinking, “Do I really need mulch here?  If so, how much do I really need?”  Surprisingly, I’ve run into 2 other homeowners with the same exact thoughts recently.  We learn to tighten our belts and become more efficient homeowners.

Companies can learn to become more efficient as well.  Some will not.  For some, it may be too little, too late.  Some will try to ride it our, but they will either make no changes or make the wrong changes.  Others will learn to adapt.  They will learn better ways to get things done.

There used to be a time when if a person ran out of money, they simply didn’t spend any more.  Sure, you had your occasional exception that stupidly borrowed from the local loan shark, but most learned to live on less.  They had to.  It was called living within their means.

American credit had gotten way out of hand.  We thought we could borrow utopia.

What I am saying is that we don’t have to continue to be that way.  We can again learn to live within our means.  We can learn to do more with less.  We can work smarter instead of harder.  These may sound like antiquated clichés, but they are sayings that came with the wisdom of experience of another generation who faced their needs head-on.

Meanwhile, I am going to have to go to the store and get a couple of items.  One of them will not be mulch, I guess.  I will have to control the one constraint (cost) better than scope or time (duration) for now.

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