Chickens Come Home to Roost

Perhaps some of you recall our post on project commitment. We have a continuation of that story now that is revealing.  In that post we saw how not communicating clearly about actions that could possibly happen or actions that were not even remotely possible can put our project at risk.  In that post, we show an example of appeasement to keep the peace over being forthright and articulating our schedule needs.  We now show how that course of action manifests later in the project.

A project manager had a team working toward a tight schedule, even up to the week before the team made this tight schedule assertion. Now, just hours before the delivery, the project team informs the project manager that they will not make the delivery date, and fall back on “it was a tight schedule”.  Upon closer inspection, we see that it was not a tight schedule – but an impossible schedule.

The project manager and … Continue reading

Why so long?

When I was but a young engineer, I was developing an embedded product for a small organization whose product line went all over the world.  Partially through the development of the product, a new permutation became needed. The owner of the company, also an Engineer that at one time did work for NASA, asked me to make an iteration of the product that would fulfill this newly identified need.  I went through a breakdown of what it would require to hit the objective.  In small organization’s the employee is required to wear a number of hats so I knew of the implications of the scope of the change on the product.  It is funny, I knew nothing of the concept of Work Breakdown Structures, but I did know that to estimate effectively, you must know what will be required to reach the goal.

After my breakdown, I estimated the amount of time to achieve each element and responded back to … Continue reading

The Histogram is a Helpful Tool

Like the Ishikawa Diagram, the Histogram can serve us well.  The histogram allows us to visualize the trends based upon a category.  It is a graphical distribution of data, in the example below we see the distribution of the duration to prepare an incoming vehicle to be a suitable device to put under test out of 126 projects.  From this graphic we can make some assessments about how long this event (should it be in our project schedule) may take to accomplish.  We can see, for example, that a project should not expect to see this objective accomplished in 1-3 days. It could happen, but the probability of success does not look good based upon the distribution in this chart.



This chart tells only ½ of the story. The next set of questions we would want to ask (if we do not like this distribution) would be focused upon what makes the duration distribution this way. Perhaps we … Continue reading

What problems or obstacles are in the way?

The daily sprint meeting has connections to our risk management as well. We have seen from the previous posting the fact we are having the meeting daily can hasten our project’s (system’s) ability to respond.  The sprint master is now asking about the obstacles or impediments to achieving the objectives of the sprint. Impediments and obstacles are risks to the objective.

Not all risks can be identified from the early stages of developing a project plan. Even if that were efficiently possible, meaning did not consume and inordinate amount of time, the reality is you will see the real risks much more clearly as you move through the execution of the project.

Again we are able to bring the entire team focus on these issues if that is required. At a minimum, the sprint master will have to do something about these obstacles.  That may include brining the project sponsor into the team for discussions to resolve the predicament.

What did you do Yesterday?

Continuing with our communications theme and agile methods, we discuss the question, “what did you do yesterday?”  This simple question places a check in a few project management boxes starting with the mechanism for the control of the output – specifically the feedback portion of our project control system.  Learning what happened yesterday (coupled with yesterday’s question of what do you have planned for today) provide an assessment point of the project team’s accomplishments (establishes progress monitoring metric).  We now have a suitable position to plot trends via a comparison of what was supposed to be accomplished yesterday with what was actually accomplished.  As this control loop feedback is no older than 8 hours, we see we have the possibility of a responsive system indeed.

Progress sharing indirectly pushes team members as well.  When we see the progress the others are making on meeting the objective, we want to make sure we are doing our part (the positive impacts of … Continue reading

Value Engineering Book

We are  pleased to see so much interest in our book, Reducing Process Costs with Lean, Six Sigma, and Value Engineering Techniques.

The book is featured  featured at The Society of Cost Management:

And it was the subject of a webinar at ITMPI


Plausible Deniability

We felt the need to follow on from our previous blog on tracking testing results in the background using hidden ubiquitous spreadsheet or documents.  If all you have is a spreadsheet for tracking, then you make that visible to all relevant stakeholders.  If the company has a sanctioned or preferred way of handling “bugs” and we deliberately circumvent that process and tool then we are on a slippery slope.

So what is plausible deniability?  It is when a person can claim they have no knowledge on a particular truth that may exist because that person has been deliberately been excluded from that truth.

According to “the term was first coined by the CIA during the Kennedy Administration to describe the withholding of information from senior officials in order to protect them from repercussions in the event that illegal or unpopular activities by the CIA became public knowledge.

So how is passing back the test results discretely between the test … Continue reading

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