Digital PM Controls: Low-Tech/High-Touch vs. High-Tech/Low-Touch

Southern Alberta Chapter

Mike Griffiths is a consultant and trainer who help organizations improve performance through shared leadership, agility and (un)common sense. He maintains the blog

Agile teams are picky when it comes to the adoption of high-tech tools. On the one hand, they seem positively geeky in the adoption automated build and testing tools. Yet they are absolute Luddites on the other hand, spurning technology when it comes to project scheduling and tracking tools, favoring cards and poster-sized graphs over computer-based tools.

Why the schizophrenia over tools? When you dig deeper behind the reasons for these choices, some interesting facts emerge. Rather than relying on work breakdown structures and Gantt charts, it is more common to see agile projects tracking work and progress via Big Visible charts and task boards to track projects.

Work breakdown structures and Gantt charts have many technical advantages over cards and task boards. They can illustrate very deep hierarchies of work items, support task-dependency integrity checks and allow the calculation of interesting metrics like slack, sub-assembly costs and resource utilization. Yet therein lies part of the problem, and the principle reason agile methods avoid these techniques. The math, statistics and reports that can be produced with these tools belies the volatile nature of what is being analyzed: tasks and estimates.

When we use tools that perform scheduling calculations and forecasting, two problems arise:

  1. Data accuracy perception increases. Just because we have a …

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"In youth we learn; in age we understand."

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