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Project Management. Classic Mistakes in Projects and How to Survive Them Lisa Black CSSE 591 August 7, 2001. Agenda. Introduction Classic Mistakes A Select Few Why do they happen What can you do? When should you bail out? Conclusions. Introduction. Undermined Motivation

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Project management l.jpg

Project Management

Classic Mistakes in Projects and How to Survive Them

Lisa Black

CSSE 591

August 7, 2001

Classic mistakes taken from "Rapid Development", Steve McConnell


Agenda l.jpg

Agenda

  • Introduction

  • Classic Mistakes

  • A Select Few

    • Why do they happen

    • What can you do?

    • When should you bail out?

      Conclusions

Classic mistakes taken from "Rapid Development", Steve McConnell


Introduction l.jpg

Introduction

Classic mistakes taken from "Rapid Development", Steve McConnell


People mistakes l.jpg

Undermined Motivation

Weak Personnel

Uncontrolled Problem Employees

Heroics

Adding People to a late project

Noisy, crowded Offices

Friction between developers and customers

Unrealistic expectations

Lack of sponsorship

Lack of stakeholder buy-in

Lack of User input

Politics over substance

Wishful thinking

People Mistakes

Classic mistakes taken from "Rapid Development", Steve McConnell


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Optimistic Schedules

Insufficient Risk Management

Contractor Failure

Insufficient Planning

Abandonment of planning under pressure

Wasted time at the beginning

Shortchanged Upstream Activities

Inadequate Design

Shortchanged quality Assurance

Insufficient Management Controls

Premature or overly frequent convergence

Omitting necessary tasks from estimates

Planning to catch up later

Code-like-hell programming

Process Mistakes

Classic mistakes taken from "Rapid Development", Steve McConnell


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Product Mistakes

  • Requirements Gold-Plating

  • Feature Creep

  • Developer Gold-plating

  • Push-me, pull-me negotiation

  • Research-oriented Development

Classic mistakes taken from "Rapid Development", Steve McConnell


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Technology Mistakes

  • Silver-bullet syndrome

  • Overestimated Savings from new tools or methods

  • Switching tools in the middle of a project

  • Lack of automated source-code control

Classic mistakes taken from "Rapid Development", Steve McConnell


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Why do these things happen and what can you do about them ?

  • Heroics

    • Sometimes the managers fault if favors a can-do attitude above the truth.

    • Sometimes the developers fault.

    • If it is your manager, resist the pressure and tell the truth.

    • If it is you, get counseling and get a life.

    • If it is a team member, have a heart to heart with the boss. Point out the risks.

Classic mistakes taken from "Rapid Development", Steve McConnell


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Unrealistic Expectations

  • Cause – usually a failure of middle management to communicate. Sometimes a failure of upper management to listen….

  • Continue to communicate the issues every week if necessary.

  • Request that the project manager show you the risk mitigation plan.

Classic mistakes taken from "Rapid Development", Steve McConnell


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Wishful Thinking

  • Any team member can be guilty of this. You are in really big trouble when the whole team engages with it.

    “The team is saying that it will take an extraordinary effort to meet the deadline, and they missed their first milestone by a few days, but I think they can bring this one in on time.”

  • One of the worst and most frequent problems of project.

  • Requires people who will call it for what it is and change the dialog to meaningful problem-solving.

Classic mistakes taken from "Rapid Development", Steve McConnell


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Push-you, pull-me negotiations

  • You are behind and you only get more time if you agree to add features.

  • Program manager should reestimate with the new work and show the real impact.

  • Developers should insist that this happens and refuse to provide overly optimistic estimates.

  • Don’t assume that it will go faster because you are under pressure and you want it to.

  • Sometimes you are not allowed to tell the truth. Why does this happen?

    • Management fears that the developers are either lazy, unmotivated unless under sever pressure, or lying to them. If that is the case, time to go!!

Classic mistakes taken from "Rapid Development", Steve McConnell


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Developer Caused Problems

  • In other words, you have total control of these.

    • Silver bullet syndrome

    • Overestimated savings from new tools

    • Switching tools in the middle of a project

Classic mistakes taken from "Rapid Development", Steve McConnell


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Optimistic Schedules

  • Causes

    • Optimistic estimates

    • Managers who dictate the schedule in spite of other input

    • Developers who don’t think it through and don’t capture all the work they really need to do.

Classic mistakes taken from "Rapid Development", Steve McConnell


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Optimistic Schedules(cont.)

  • What can you do?

    • Police yourself and the other developers on your team. Request team reviews of the task estimates and an overall schedule “map day”.

    • If your manager dictates the schedule

      • Ask what can be left out

      • When all else fails, learn to pad

Classic mistakes taken from "Rapid Development", Steve McConnell


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Why do all these same things happen over and over?

  • Crisis manager who loves to fix things

  • Developers who don’t care and don’t engage in the process

  • Developers who have their own agendas and want to do their own thing

  • Managers who think that they can get more features if they can just get the developers to work longer hours. The “why can’t we be like Microsoft” Syndrome. Watch out for this one.

  • Inexperienced project managers and/or developers

  • Intentional deceit to get funding

Classic mistakes taken from "Rapid Development", Steve McConnell


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What can you do, really?

  • Invest yourself, even if you are not the project manager. Speak up every time.

  • Evaluate the motives of the players. If they don’t trust you or are trying to manipulate you, you may need to leave.

  • Ask what the process is. Point it out when it is not followed. Ask about the risk mitigation plan.

  • Help educate your team members.

  • Suggest alternative actions when you see a classic mistake starting to happen.

Classic mistakes taken from "Rapid Development", Steve McConnell


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References

McConnell, Steve. Rapid Development : taming wild software schedules. Redmond, Washington. Microsoft Press.

Classic mistakes taken from "Rapid Development", Steve McConnell


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