Instead of No Estimates

Instead of  No Estimates

Instead of no estimates, we should consider adjusting our approach to estimates that eliminate the abuse, and still allows for the answers to the business questions, “does this project improve our bottom line” allowing the business to determine if the company really wants to undertake the project, and if so, do we have the talent and resources to undertake this project.  Answering these two questions initiates the next steps to actually create a project and being planning and doing the work.

Besides the techniques below, we can estimate from top down, estimation comes from managers and executives, or bottom up, that is those doing the work or closest to the work, provide the estimates. There are draw backs and benefits to each of these approaches.

Estimating Techniques

There are many techniques for estimating.  Experience suggests organizations may not use much more than the least helpful, expert judgement.

Analogous Parametric PERT Simulation (Monte Carlo Analysis) Expert Judgement Analogous

Instead … Continue reading

Abuses from Estimating

I would like to start off with has anybody seen an appropriate study of estimating when it comes to doing the work? Not a study that already knows the conclusion they want, but an actual scientific study.  The thoughts below are not based upon anything like that but, having seen many estimating boondoggles. I have also read portions of the works of Barry W. Boehm, and Constructive Cost Model which is a tool for estimating, many years ago.

I find myself in many discussions with the #noestimates crowd. I am not a no estimating person.  The latest “exchange” was around the abuses that estimating brings. This I am in full agreement with them. I just do not go as far as they would to say, no estimates because people are abusive in this regard. My retort, people abuse antibiotics, but we do not ban these.  It is interesting to note that most if not all the people I “hear” … Continue reading

Risk Management Through the Project Class

Risk Management Through the Project

In modern life, risk management is a fundamental discipline for success. This does not just apply to work life, or project management but also personal life. Today we are going to discuss the approaches and impacts on the project when there is insufficient attention to the risks to which the project will be subjected.  The risks to which our work will be subjected depends upon the what we are doing and how we go about doing it, that is, the strategies and tactics we employ to reach the objective.

Consider an automotive project to develop a new product. This will require understanding the need, creating the design, develop the manufacturing line and verify and validate the product and the manufacturing line, and ultimately launch the product at the production rate. We demonstrate in our SAE book, an example of how these phases work and how these phases share information.

 

Risk Management Class

We … Continue reading

Task Dependencies and Probability

Flip a coin, heads or tails. The probability that it will come up heads is 50%, after all there are only two sides.  Flip that same coin again, the same probability, 50%.  However, if we say that success is two successive heads (or tails) that is different. The probability of two consecutive heads, is the product of the two coin tosses (50% x 50%) or 25%.

I’m sure we understand task dependencies.  This is fundamental to project management and schedule.  Dependencies are the connections between tasks for example, I must put socks on before I put my shoes on (assuming I wear socks, which I generally do).  Of course, this is not the only type of dependency (finish-start). There are four actually;

Finish-start Start-start Start-finish Finish-finish

 

 

Let us focus on finish-start for a bit. Specifically, lets talk about a portion of the resulting schedule and the task consequences on the entire project.

Each task has … Continue reading

Taxonomy of Project Failure – Risks

Taxonomy of Project Failure – Risks

Experience suggests there are many ways to project failure due to our project management actions, this does not include the riskiness of the effort in general that comes with the uncertainty associated with projects – these are not operations.  Projects by definition have uncertain components, this is especially true in product development and especially in software product development.  That taxonomy would look much different than the one below as we could have, for example, material, processes, people, technical, measurements and many other ways to breakdown or categorize the failures.  However, project management is there to make things better, or it should be. It is there to improve our probability of success, not bring in additional potential project failure modes that must be navigated.  It seems all too often what really happens is poor project management does not make the situation better, but snatches defeat out of the jaws of success.  Below find a breakdown … Continue reading

Off Topic – A note to a son.

You are in college now, and you see people that are likely smart as far as youth will provide.  Everybody can have strong “opinions” and perhaps their track record in high school has been one of success after success or being the person known to be knowledgeable – as far as high school topics go.  University work is much different as I am sure you know.

I have been ruminating about engineers and what I think makes a good one. It is not the know it all’s – and many people besides engineers fall into that category (have this malady). People are so certain of what they know to be true, but is likely not at all true, or only true for a very finite or specific situation.  Engineering is as much about creativity as science.  It is about devising experiments for those situations in which it is not so easy to understand or calculate due to complexity, or wide … Continue reading

Learning Organization and Corporate Mastery

We have been exploring the connection between the learning organization, organization development and project management, in fact, if you visit the Learning Organization training area https://www.valuetransform.com/lo-od/ you will find the class that ties these concepts together with project management.

 

In this exploration we have reviewed some of our favorite works by Peter Senge, The Fifth Discipline. In our rumination we have considered that personal mastery is helpful for the individuals growing their ability to perform for the company. However, personal mastery from one person is not the best solution for the organization, just as one great player on your football team will not make a great team good enough to make it to the super bowl. To this end we have though of a term to describe how this mastery could apply to more than just one: apply to the Group, Department, Project, and even the Corporation. To that end we have divided Mastery into two … Continue reading

My First Five Jobs

I was what was referred to later as a latch key kid.  I was not aware of this term until long after I was through high school.   My dad was in the Special Forces during the Vietnam War and stationed all over the United States.  Any army dependent will tell you this is how it works, a couple of years here, a few years there.  My mom worked outside of the home at a variety of manufacturing jobs.

My first job was cutting the grass on the sides of the roads within the Anderson Creek Trailer Park.  In those days it was largely wooded with abundant pine trees and I think now it is golf course area.  By the way, I was not out of high school when I had this job.

My second job was working in the tobacco fields for Odell (I remember his last name but would not want to use it without permission). I topped … Continue reading

Work Breakdown Structure – Decomposition

In an earlier blog post, we compared the WBS Dictionary to the Agile Definition of Done. However, we never reviewed any connection between conventional project management Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) and the decomposition of the product backlog to produce the sprint backlog.  Before we can describe what completion of the item looks like, we must first identify those things that we will need to produce either in this portion of our conventional projects or in our sprint.

In conventional projects, we start with the scope and identify all of the things we will need to do to be able to produce the scope objectives.  Often this decomposition is performed on the entirety of the scope, though this is not a requirement. That is, at the beginning of the project we are decomposing all we know about the project often through to the end of the project. We identify the list of all the work to produce the scope.  The breakdown … Continue reading

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