August 24, 2010 | Author: PM Hut | Filed under: Project Management Musings
Dear Project Manager
By Glen Gage
If you are responsible for a project where the IT department has a significant role, or are thinking of starting one, then this article is for you. You are in for more than may have thought - IT projects are serious business and fraught with corporate politics. Below is a (slightly tongue-in-cheek) form letter sent to new project managers from their IT Department.
Congratulations! If you have come this far you’ve already been through a lot - getting your idea to the IT Steering Committee, not to mention through it, and approved and funded!
Time to relax? NOT! Oh no, the journey has just begun. We hope you are highly available over the next several .
Good news: The IT department is now at your disposal.
- Bad news: You need these people and while they may be nice, dedicated employees, they are IT. They are overworked, don’t suffer fools lightly, and the last project manager from your department still raises a laugh once the door to the IT department closes. They don’t speak your (business) language (in fact it seems that they expect you to speak their (computer) language) and they ask endless questions you’ve already answered (somewhere) or questions that appear overly detailed or to cover such exceptional cases as not to be worth discussing.
Worse news: A good percentage of the questions you will answer with an “Oh no, I didn’t think of it that way/didn’t consider that/etc…”
Even worse news: You are the only one who can answer the question authoritatively, after all, you’re the project manager.
Good news: Computers keep getting faster and cheaper and the complexity of the things they can do grows daily.
- Bad news: Computers are just stupid machines that only know two concepts, “On” and “Off” or “True” and “False” or “1″ and “0″–it’s all the same to the machine.
Worse news: Your application probably requires hundreds of these stupid machines to work together, likely with thousands of users you never met hacking at it.
Even worse news: It is your job to define how these machines will support your idea in such rigorous detail that the two concept (on/off) device (the computer) can handle it. The machine just doesn’t understand things like “generally speaking” or “in most cases” or “yeah, but what I meant was”.
Even worse than that news: What you define will become a legally binding contract with at least one third party supplier, and what they deliver to you (and the rest of your company, on your behalf) you will need to live with for YEARS (think 10+).
Good news: 90% of what you want to do is easy to define and implement, and in fact will only take 10% of the effort.
Bad news: The other 10% is difficult to define and implement and will eat 90% of the effort.
Worse news: You can’t avoid the nasty 10%, your application just won’t work if this isn’t taken care of.
Good news: You get to define all kinds of cool functions that will make your application the most flexible, the most information rich, the most of everything!!!! You can stuff the box with all your wishes.
- Bad news: While it may not have taken too long to ask for that bell or that whistle, testing it, documenting it, piloting it, training it, and taking care of it for the life of the application will.
Worse news: No one ever found that bell or whistle very useful in any case and no one ever told you, “hey, that was cool!”.
Good news: The supplier who was awarded the development contract seems nice and reasonable and not nearly as “pushy” as the IT Department about the details of your requirements.
- Bad news: The first (or maybe the second) time you change your mind or find that what you said was “misinterpreted”, the supplier is going to want to suck your blood (i.e., get more money, after all this is generally their business model).
The somewhat good news: You followed procedure and signed the standard company contract AND the IT Department is standing shoulder to shoulder with you.
The worse news: this doesn’t mean that the company wins, and supplier disputes are a very unpleasant and painful experience. You may not even be included in the ‘negotiations’ but your name is on the tip of everyone’s tongue.
Good news: You have a project plan that shows all the major milestones and when they will be complete.
- Bad news: It won’t happen that way, you’re the guy who has to explain why, and your personal effort is deemed critical to meeting each one or, worse, the reason they weren’t met.
Worse news: You have a million other things to do and each one of them seems a lot more important at this point than this stupid application.
Good news: At some point the application is finished, implemented, and being used to the benefit of the company.
- Bad news: Getting that good news was awfully hard, and industry wide, the exception to the rule. If you really get this good news, you’re a winner. Be proud. (The opposite of this good news is that the application is finished, implemented, but is not helping the company. This is worse news than that the application was never implemented and the project fizzled.)
Worse news: Now that it is real, the design flaws, the ways it could have been better, etc. become obvious to all. Your colleagues have excellent 20-20 hindsight.
Even worse news: A lot of the people who will use your application don’t work for you (or your VP) and have other agendas, which may include complaining about your application and how it makes getting their job done much harder.
Even worse than that news: You get to manage Version 2!
Again, congratulations! If your idea wasn’t worthwhile you wouldn’t have come this far. We’ve attached some resource material to help you with your part of this effort. Remember, we’re in it together, we share one common objective-the betterment of the company.
Glen Gage is an independent consultant with extensive international and cross-industry consulting and line management experience. Getting the highly unlikely done is the hallmark of his career. Contact information can be found on http://www.linkedin.com/in/glengage and http://sites.google.com/site/gsquaredinfo/.
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