Do You Speak “Project”?

December 8, 2008 | Author: PM Hut | Filed under: Project Management Definitions, Project Management Musings

Do You Speak “Project”? (#1 in the series A Cynical Perspective on Project Management)
By Barry Otterholt

Project management is a specialty, and it has its own language. Resistance is futile.

  • Scope - It’s what has to be done. Always too general for some and too specific for others. Never right.
  • Resources - Funding and people authorized for the project. Never enough and always in the wrong denominations.
  • Schedule - How much time you have to get it all done. Never enough.
  • Project Manager - You. The person responsible for everything, and in control of nothing.
  • Sponsor - The one that wanted it in the first place. The one that shudders when you walk in because you always bring a problem, and give them way too many details.
  • Customer - The group that want things their way.
  • Vendor - The other group that wants things their way.
  • Users - People addicted to the old way.
  • Escalation - A process that defies gravity, and moves problems uphill.
  • Documentation - The last task in a project, or later.
  • Flowcharts - Cubicle art.
  • Team - Your best friends. The group that, when asked who caused a problem, forms a circle and each person points to the left.
  • Work Group - An oxymoron.
  • Oxymorons - People that take more than their share of oxygen from a project.
  • Project Plan - A deliverable assigned to the most annoying person on the project, who doesn’t recognize his or her work is done after the project has started and is going according to plan.
  • Almost Done - Where you are after Day 1 of the project. What you say when the “80% done” answer quits working.
  • RFI - Request for Information. A request for a customized marketing document.
  • RFP - Request for Proposal. A request to take a monkey off a customer’s back.
  • RFQ - Request for Qualifications. A request for a customized marketing document. A good source of boilerplate information for the RFP.
  • RFQQ - Adds a price quote to the RFQ. Generally from a vendor that has too little information from a customer that has too little understanding. Binding.
  • RFK - An important reminder that even the best project managers can find themselves in a bay of pigs.
  • Proposal - A document of sweeping generalizations.
  • Testing - What development is called after the development schedule has passed.
  • Testing - What the end-users do when the testing schedule has passed. Sometimes called Post-implementation Support.
  • Process Reengineering - Todays processes, turned sideways.
  • KPIs - Key Performance Indicators. Objective measures of failure, most often advocated by opponents. Never tracked.
  • CSFs - Critical Success Factors. An early view of the blunders you will certainly make. Always tracked, but never called CSFs.

If this sounds familiar, you are an experienced project manager, undoubtedly overworked, underpaid and not appreciated. Get a dog.

Barry Otterholt, CMC, PMP

Barry Otterholt has been a project management specialist and coach for the past 30 years. He is a Certified Management Consultant (CMC) and a Project Management Professional (PMP). He works with both public and private sector companies in the USA, Europe and Scandinavia. Mr. Otterholt was a Director with Microsoft, a senior consultant with Deloitte Consulting, and a COO with a nationwide consumer electronics enterprise. In 1988 he founded Public Knowledge, LLC to provide independent management and operational support to the public sector. More recently, he founded Stouffer & Company, LLC to provide as-needed project management services to fill an obvious skills gap in both private and public sectors.

Mr. Otterholt is an adjunct professor teaching project management at Northwest University. His essays on project management have been published in PMI newsletters. His runs a blog, Project Management Essays, where he muses about various project management topics.

Mr. Otterholt is a member of the Institute of Management Consultants (IMC) and the Project Management Institute (PMI). He has a BA in Accounting and Computer Science and an MBA in Business Administration. He lives in the beautiful Pacific Northwest.

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2 people have left comments

[...] the original Do You Speak “Project” for more of these Project Management [...]

How Well Do You Speak “Project”? - PM Hut wrote on January 15, 2009 - 6:18 am | Visit Link

Laughed at the “oxymoron” jibe - I know a few of them…

Also “Almost done” tends to mean “we are having problems so don’t hassle us and we will fix it without you knowing…”

jonathan wrote on May 15, 2009 - 2:31 am | Visit Link

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