Sunday, December 03, 2006

Timetable

I used to be a project manager and have done a lot of project plans. They all had timetables.

Whether it's the development of a software system to make a lease/buy decision or it's the management of the war in Iraq, you really aren't likely to be successful without some kind of an actionable plan, and you aren't likely to have a workable plan that can feed decisions without a time table.

Most of the time the times in the time table aren't external requirements, usually they are simply estimates. I worked at a bank and sometimes we'd have a software project that did have hard-and-fast target dates. That would happen when the software was to meet some new regulatory requirement. But even then, if you couldn't meet the date the elements in the project plan simply became a plan for negotiations with the regulatory agency. If you couldn't do it then you couldn't do it and you come up with new dates even if the dates had been previously announced as set in stone.

Dates were simply estimates. Decision points in the plan were driven by tasks accomplished, and and tasks began when other tasks where completed -- depending on manpower available and precedence relationships between tasks.

Dates were estimated from estimates and forecasts of available manpower and task completion estimates. If one task went over, or if a key analyst got hit by a train, We'd revise the estimated task and project completion dates. If the user community didn't like the dates it was just part of my job to sit there and get beat up by a bunch of 2x4 wielding bankers.

That's why Bush doesn't want to estimate dates. Because dates might actually lead to numbnuts actually being expected to just do his damn job.

That's why I find this Bush insistence that we won't have a plan for Iraq


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