When Being Done Is Actually 'Done'

Don is an entrepreneur and business leader with over 15 years experience specializing in aligning management-driven technologies and initiatives together with business and project strategies resulting in thoroughly planned and comprehensive business solutions. His expertise as a project manager, developer, tester, analyst, trainer, consultant, and business owner has spanned across diverse industries such as finance, retail, health care and information technology

“We’re 90 percent done,” my team member said to me, to which I replied, “But we’ve been 90 percent done for the last six months!” This conversation is based on a real experience I had for a project involving a major upgrade to a new database server for an enterprise level ERP system that I was involved with early in my PM career. So it was quite a pleasant (or unpleasant, depending on your perspective!) revelation to me when I read about this very scenario in Johanna Rothman’s book, ManageIt! YourGuidetoModern, PragmaticProjectManagement. It happened to her when she was involved with a database conversion project as well.

In my situation, this ended up becoming a “death march” project for me. The project was ultimately completed one year behind schedule--and hundreds of thousands of dollars over cost to hire additional consultants to assist with the upgrade. This was one of the main catalysts that prompted me to seek new methods and practices to get projects delivered on time and under budget.

And sure enough, in the numerous articles I have written for gantthead, agile practices and methods have been one of those major ideas I have pursued. But despite the short iterations that required working deliverables at the end of each iteration--and the close collaboration between the team and customer--defining and …

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