Project Management

Say No to Wishful Thinking

Geoff Choo
"Are you telling me that you can only deliver the new sales force automation project in six months?" questioned the project stakeholder. "Six months is too long for us. We really need you to deliver the solution right away. Can't you cut three months of your estimate?"


It never fails to amaze me how many project stakeholders or clients take well-estimated schedules and arbitrarily replace it with wishful thinking. Taking a carefully estimated schedule and simply cutting it 60 percent off the end doesn't necessarily make the project go any faster; it will just guarantee that it will come in even later.


Projects are inherently difficult to deliver when you have all the time you need; what makes you think that it'll go any better with only half the time? Way back in the 1970s, Fred Brooks had already recognized that "more software projects have gone awry for a lack of calendar time than all other causes combined."


Doing more (overtime) on less (schedule) doesn't work because when you run out of time, schedule pressure will put more stress on you. The more stress you feel, the more shortcuts you're likely to take, like leaving out activities such a requirements analysis and software design. Who's got time to do all that? Let's start coding now!


And when time starts running out, people simply throw all planning to the wind and go into code-like-hell mode. But the …

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