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Project management

There are two kinds of project, one use proper project management techniques and the other has absolutely no project management. Managers in my old department are the firm believers of the first kind. We try our best to do project planning, estimate the scope of work, resource requirement and schedule. We have objective matrix to to measure project progress and individual performance. So, the projects are running quite smoothly and in general people are compensated fairly.

On contrary, people in the new department, from top to bottom, lacks any viable project plan. No wonder the project is in a mess and people feel like being slaved. The leader and manager have no clue whether the schedule is on track, since they don’t have any estimations to begin with. There is no way to keep track of progress, they don’t even know what the scope of work should be. All they have is just a date and the mentality is to meet that date at all cost. The task assignment is vague, you have no idea what is the real amount of work you have signed up for. You don’t see the light at end of the tunnel, you don’t even know how far you are from the finishing line. To make it worse, people refuse to do proper planning, using lack of time as an excuse. Here is a catch 22 situation. If you didn’t plan ahead of time, it is guarantee you will run of of time at the end. How can you meet the schedule if you don’t even know what is the scope of your work? Then the busier you are, the more excuse to ignore planning, hence formed a downward spiral all the way to the doomed land.

When it comes to evaluation, since there is literally no data on how well you perform, it all comes to the boss’ impression of how hard you work. In project management, evaluation should be result oriented instead of effort oriented, lots of effort does not always mean good result. Result is what delivers to the custom at the end of the day, not the effort you spend in making the result. Measuring on effort will tempted people to creates artificial effort out of thin air which is not tend to any result, with sole purpose of leaving good impression to your boss. Luckily, my intermediate boss of the project is a nice guy, so its not a big issue for me. However the boss one level up lacks visibility of my work, how can he evaluate me fairly?

Responsibility and expectation of the deliverable has to be clearly define, otherwise it will only lead to the tragedy of common. Being flexible does not mean refusing to laying out any job boundary. Dynamic adjust the job boundary to cope with the need is perfectly fine, as long as at a certain moment, everyone knows who is responsible for what. Theoretically speaking, anyone can do anything given enough time. The question is whether the time is spent efficiently. For example, the verifier can dig out the required information from the design if necessary. But the time of verifier is not best use in document hunt, it takes much less time for the designer to update the document in the first place. It is the designer’s job to provide adequate document to the verifier. Busy is not an excuse for the designer not doing his job right, since verifier is equally busy.

People are willing to walk a few steps further when they are working with friends. However, friendship cannot replace the need to define job boundary. It is OK when things are working fine, but sometimes things may get edgy. In this case, the job boundary definition comes in handy, it prevents friendship turning sour from misunderstanding. Just like no matter how good the friendships you are, money matter always have to deal with absolute clarity.

If any project management courses wants counter examples on productivity. I think I have a textbook case of poor project management. Enough bragging for today.

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