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Hardfacts on Software – Christmas project truths

The year comes to a close. Everybody is starting to be in a good mood, since holidays are on the cards and it’s just a matter of days until one can relax. Many are already planning ahead for next year. Some of you will embark on small, some on big projects to keep your company in the running and/or to move it ahead. So I thought I’d stick to a lighter theme today.
Over the years, my simple project truths proved to be very popular. And because they all contain grains of truth, let me share with you more of them today.
“If you can keep your head while all about you are losing theirs, you haven’t understood the plan.”
“Feather and down are padding, changes and contingencies will be real events.”
“There are no good project managers – only lucky ones.”
“The more you plan the luckier you get.” – Isn’t that true? Especially in light of the simple truth above?
“A project is one small step for the project sponsor, one giant leap for the project manager.”
“If everything is going exactly to plan, something somewhere is going massively wrong.”
“Overtime is a figment of the naïve project manager’s imagination.”
“Quantitative project management is for predicting cost and schedule overruns well in advance.”
“Metrics are learned men’s excuses.”
“For a project manager, overruns are as certain as death and taxes.”
“Some projects finish on time in spite of project management best efforts.”
“There is such a thing as an unrealistic time-scale.”
“The project would not have been started if the truth had been told about the cost and time-scale.” – This is true for many projects and IT projects are very prone to this as well, since estimating project effort is a very complex affair. In large business system installations, the scope of the project is not clear until the project is about 30% to 40% complete. It is seldom possible to predict the exact scope at the start of the project. Hence some companies (ours included) have resorted to giving project cost guarantees. These guarantees give the customer peace of mind that the project will not go over budget, but they come at a high price, since the risk of overruns is transferred to the implementing company.
“A two-year project will take three years; a three-year project will never finish.” – Ha ha, this one I like a lot as well. The reason here is that the customer (and sometimes the project team) looses interest in the project. It is therefore vital to break a long project down into many smaller ones so that successes are always around the corner.
“A badly planned project will take three times longer than expected, a well-planned project only twice as long as expected.” – Very true. See my point above about the scope of the project – especially complex IT projects.
“Warning: dates in a calendar are closer than they appear to be.
A project gets a year late one day at a time.” …and it’s Christmas already again…
“If you’re six months late on a milestone due next week but really believe you can make it, you’re a project manager.”
“No project has ever finished on time, within budget, to requirements. Yours won’t be the first to.”
“Activity is not achievement.”
“Managing IT people is like herding cats.” Haha – especially programmers – they live in a world of their own. It’s hard to be brilliant.
“Good control reveals problems early – which only means you’ll have longer to worry about them.”
And my favourite of all times: “Fast – cheap – good – you can have only two of these for your project”
Well, I hope you have enjoyed these simple project truths. Apply them to your Christmas shopping or the preparation of Christmas dinner and you know what I mean.
Until next time then, have a good rest and a joyous festive season – and remember – Keep it (A)fresh

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