Murphy is a alive and well, and managing your project

Murphy is a alive and well, and managing your project

Found on Rules In Project Management (more stuff there to) via Globe and Mail. I feel like I’ve lived many of these over the years, which is not a good thing…

  1. The same work under the same conditions will be estimated differently by 10 different estimators or by one estimator at 10 different times.
  2. The most valuable and least used word in a project manager’s vocabulary is “No”.
  3. You can con a sucker into committing to an unreasonable deadline, but you can’t bully him into meeting it.
  4. The more ridiculous the deadline, the more it costs to try to meet it.
  5. The more desperate the situation, the more optimistic the situatee.
  6. Too few people on a project can’t solve the problems – too many create more problems than they solve.
  7. You can freeze a user’s specs, but he won’t stop expecting.
  8. Frozen specs and the abominable snowman are alike: they are both myths and they both melt when sufficient heat is applied.
  9. The conditions attached to a promise are forgotten and the promise is remembered.
  10. What you don’t know hurts you.
  11. A user will tell you anything you ask – nothing more.
  12. Out of the many possible interpretations of a communication, the least convenient one is the only correct one.
  13. What is not on paper has not been said.
  14. The first activity in any project is to identify the scapegoat.
  15. Things take longer than they do.
  16. The first 90% of tasks in a project will consume 90% of the allocated resource.
    The remaining 10% of tasks in a project will consume the other 90% of the allocated resource.
  17. A ‘piece of cake’ is any unit of work, regardless of scope, for which someone else is totally responsible.
  18. A meeting is no substitute for progress.
  19. If you don’t know where you’re going, any path will get you there.
  20. No matter what has to be done immediately, there is always something else that has to be done first.
  21. If it was not written down, it was never said.
  22. Hindsight is the only exact science.
  23. A committee is a group of people that meet for hours to produce a result known as minutes.
  24. Diplomacy is the art of letting other people have your way.
  25. The proper course of action can always be determined from subsequent events.
  26. If at first you don’t succeed, destroy all evidence that you made the attempt.
  27. Parkinson and Murphy are both alive and well – in your project.

The Globe article also suggests steps to improve project success, summarized and commented for your reading pleasure…

  • Ensure that the project has an executive-level sponsor…, skills, time and desire to play an active role in the project and to remove any internal organizational obstacles that come up.
  • Get a written statement of the objectives and the criteria for success; The objectives should be written and widely shared..If you have no goals you are sure to achieve them
  • Manage client expectations…Build no less than needed to meet your goals, and no more!
  • Build a dedicated and qualified team. Train and reward team members, and continually instill with a sense of team spirit…The Quality and robustness of the project refect what the team put into it, and what gets put into them…Garbage in, Garbage out. letting them kept their jobs jobs is not a reward, it’s teaching how much you value them.
  • Establish clear project governance, accountability and communication channels. Optimistic or pessimistic reporting is not helpful to anyone.
  • Develop risk assessment and risk-reduction strategies..a rigorous examination of all the things that can go wrong during the project and what to do when they do — or how to avoid them entirely…Plan for risk or risk your planing
  • Streamlined management processes and financial controls… to pay for quality deliverables at all times….You cannot cut corners without leaving some out, be sure what remains adds value and furthers goals.
  • Discourage office politics…The bigger the office the bigger the politics, and the bigger the executive-level sponsor you need to bang heads
  • Learn from past mistakes — either your own or someone else’s. Learning from the past, or the present is always cheaper than learning in the future…Ian’s Law of Learning Inflation

And remember: The schedule is not the project! (when did I get so Cynical?)

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