Don’t start until you know when you’ll be finished!

14 Jul

One of the best articles on project managemnt I’ve come across over the last couple of years is this one from CIO magazine:

The author makes some great points about making sure you understand what the project sponsor will measure success by.  He makes the distinction between a project that builds a brick making factory when the sponsor was expecting a factory making bricks – fully staffed with the ovens running and bricks going out the door. 

“The big difference between the ‘brick making factory’ and the ‘factory making bricks’ is that the latter is meeting the real objective of having a brick factory — generating revenue”

So often we see projects where the team doesn’t understand what the end goal actually is, and they spend lots of time and effort very efficiently solving the wrong problem.  They use the best methodologies, the right tools, have low defect rates, great user interfaces, have empowered teams and enjoy delivering the product – the surprise comes at the end when the customer says “you missed the target”.

How do we ensure that our participants get this message loud and clear?

Posted by Shane Hastie


Posted by on July 14, 2009 in Project Management


Tags: ,

2 responses to “Don’t start until you know when you’ll be finished!

  1. John Watson

    July 15, 2009 at 2:29 pm

    Have a look at my blog on the importance of WHAT not HOW…..

    The really big question that must be asked early is “What is this business seeking to achieve?”

    Appropriate use of a Context diagram, and Business UseCases (see the Robertsons on this one), and B5 can all help with answering the question.

    Premature use of BPM is likely to lead people down the “wrong” path of perpetuating the past and or premature specification of an inappropriate solution.

  2. bjosman

    July 16, 2009 at 11:52 am

    Sometimes it’s hard to stop the ‘ball rolling’. I’ve worked on a project wherein the testers were making ‘noise’ about the product (not just in the bugs being found but also in what the product is supposed to be doing)but this ‘noise’ effectively became filtered out by teflon management.

    The upshot was when the product was implemented and the business started using the it, the business started creating workarounds because the product didn’t deliver WHAT THEY WANTED.

    It looked though…


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