Project managers know that they have to understand the true state of their projects and to report accurately on them. Sometimes, however, they lose sight of the reason for all this attention to detail: to make sure the project achieves its objectives. They adopt as their goal the accurate portrayal of the state of the project at all times. They become, in effect, journalists. Like film critics, project journalists believe—if only subconsciously—that they can succeed even if their project fails.
Consider the situation of a journalist reporting on a plane crash. The journalist feels accountable for reporting accurately which plane crashed, when and where it crashed, how many people were onboard, and whether any of them survived. The journalist does not feel guilty for not having prevented the crash. That was someone else’s job.
Journalist project managers come across the same way. Their reports are models of clarity, accuracy, and detail. They know exactly how late the Order Entry subsystem is, by how many days it is pushing out the critical path, and how that will affect dependent downstream tasks. But they have lost sight of something pretty important: Their roles exist to ensure that their projects have happy endings. Just as the pilot’s primary goal is to avoid killing all the passengers, the project manager is first and foremost supposed to ensure that the project “lands” at the right destination, safely and on-time. Accurate reporting along the way is one means to achieve these goals, but it is no substitute for them.
Win a free pass to the BA Conference Europe, London, September 22-24, 2014, normally costing £1374 to attend. This competition is sponsored by Volere and the Atlantic Systems Guild Limited.
Read Tom DeMarco's article from the July/August edition of IEEE Software: Sigil, BlueGriffon, and the Evolving Software Market.
"This war isn't going to blow anything up, only turn everything off."
Announcing the publication of the third edition of Tom DeMarco and Tim Lister's iconic text, Peopleware: Productive Projects and Teams. The book is available now from Amazon or directly from Addison Wesley. See press release on Business Wire.
Read Tom DeMarco's essay from the July/August issue of Software Magazine. It's entitled, Bells, Whistles, Power, and the Requirements Process.
The preparation course for the IREB "Certified Professional for Requirements Engineering" is now available as video training. Learn at home or any other place. Including questionnaires to prepare you for the multiple choice test.
A Sci-Fi novel from Tom DeMarco: Andronescu’s Paradox. Could this be the Apocalypse we’ve all been dreading? Or has the nineteenth century just returned for an encore? Click to find out.