Friday, April 01, 2011


Thoughts on Enterprise IT Projects and Aggressive Schedules (Part One)

In my experience, the majority projects in which the schedule is commonly termed "aggressive", it invariably turn out to be a fiasco...

Historically speaking, IT has always delivered at least 50% of their projects either over budget or late or both. So, by having leadershipmanagement declare an aggressive schedule, what do you think they hope to accomplish especially when being aggressive isn't back testable?

Independent of the stupidity of leadership, the bigger question is in asking yourself how do we avoid stepping in it? Could it be that in the commitment stage of project work something comes over us in the way the evil Mr. Hyde could take over kindly Dr. Jekyll?

Is this a question of diversity or should I say the lack of it? Should a team be solely comprised of blissfully ignorant optimists or should it have a healthy balance of pessimists who help keep conversations balanced? I come from the school of thought that says if you have two people who think alike, then you only need one...

Overcommitment is not just an accident! Companies sometimes take purposeful steps to build an overcommitment ethic into their managers and IT culture. Encouraging overcommitment may seem bizarre to many who are not familiar with an article of faith common to many managers. There is a school of thought that says while everyone knows that they won't hit the original date, there is no harm to the effort. This belief system is less about IT discipline and more about articles of faith.

Now, for those who simply aren't believers and haven't drunk the Kool-aid preferring rationale thinking over hype and indoctrination will come to see aggressive scheduling as a ludicrous worst practice.

Imagine setting a goal to build a McMansion in one week. Unindoctrinated outsiders will remind you that this kind of performance is not inline with reality. We ignore common sense and best practices while continuing to champion a distorted form of heroism and figure out that we will need at least one hundred skills framers on site ready to swing hammers on Tuesday, that we need fast drying cement when we pour the foundation on Monday and of course all the materials have to be onsite prior to everything getting started.

Reality says we will ignore the fact that having all the materials onsite will simply get in the way and show the work effort down. We will also conveniently forget that this form of aggressiveness will require us to have plumbers show up before there is anything to plumb or for electricians without anything to wire. Now, one little thing slips and in order to make up time, we end up skipping all the necessary inspections. At the end of the project, we got a house that is of low quality and costs at least double of what it cost to do right. More importantly, you hit the date but do you think the customer will be happy?

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