Friday, 7 November 2008

Work Rant

"Can you give me a date that you will have that done by?"

The most useless question in project management. Which is odd, given that projects have deadlines so therefore tasks to accomplish the project have deadlines. Those tasks must be completed on time so certain milestones are reached, and the whole project can move forward. It is logical. In a theoretical world.

But the problem is time itself. We like to believe that it is something that can be managed, roped in, controlled. It can't. The more complex the process, the less control of time you have. Its really hard to forecast how long a task will take, when you've never done that particular task before. You fudge it based on experience. Your fudge factor might be 10%. Take 10 tasks with a fudge factor of 10% and all of a sudden you have a fudge factor of 100% for the next major milestone. I.e., it'll take twice as long as expected.

ERP Implementations are the most complex undertaking a company can do. Bar none.

Nearly 90 percent of ERP implementations are late or over budget and the success rate with ERP implementation is about 33%.

So what does my company do? Two ERP implementations at the same time!!! Add in a EAM implementation, disaster recovery/high availability planning, and countless other smaller projects and your head explodes.

My problem? I'm a critical resource in all of those projects. AND THEY ALL HAVE THE SAME PRIORITY. Everyone acknowledges this. But somehow they expect me to give accurate dates when tasks will be accomplished.

Fuck..... Me.....

Since I'm so busy, why do I find time to blog?

Stress relief. It's either that or I find myself an AK-47 and let loose in the office.

One project manger in particular is a real PITA.

A recent conversation:

him: "Can you give me a date that you will have that done by?"
me: "Nope!"
him: "That's not acceptable."
me: "Kiss my ass!"
Well actually that's what I wanted to say, what I said was this: "It may not be acceptable, but that's reality."
him: "Why can't you give me a date? I need a date to give to the IT Director."
me: "OK then. Flubuary 35th. Its as real a date as any other I could give you."
him: {Glaring silence}
me: {amused silence}
him: "Look, I know you're busy doing other things and you are constantly interrupted with special requests. But I have to have a date."

(Anybody else notice the logically inconsistency there? How do I plan a hard date when I'm constantly interrupted, given new things to do, and must work on everything at the same priority?)

me: "I'll look at it and let you know. Assuming no more special projects come my way I might be able to come up with something."
him: "OK that's all I'm asking for. I really appreciate it."

(ten minutes go by)

him: "Hey! Can you setup a new Sharepoint site for this project?"

Why I haven't killed him yet, I don't know. He knows that last minute requests keep delaying me and prevent the accomplishment of the "Milestone task" I am working on. So what does he do?

Makes last minute requests.



Ken Breadner said...

I read this post to my wife, who is a senior business analyst. Her response?

"I love him."

Also "I'm living his life."

--Ken, who (every now and again) has reason to be *happy* he's in retail

Catelli said...

My life has purpose! Ken is happy he's not me!

It ain't much, but I'll take it.

The one upside to the ERP implementations is the conversion of former users into business analysts to help with the conversion. They have come to the darkside and have realized the logical dead zone IT based implementations can be. Misery loves company in other words...

Raphael Alexander said...

Stress relief. It's either that or I find myself an AK-47 and let loose in the office.

lol... seriously.

By the way, you should treat these requests the way I handle bill collectors from FIDO or Mastercard or [insert idiotic billionaire company here]:

Q: When can we expect payment, sir?
A: Tomorrow
Q: So I have your word that payment will be made on [insert date here]?
A: Yes

Next phone call

Q: Sir, according to our file, you indicated you would make payment on [insert date].
A: Yes
Q: Sir, when will you be making payment?
A: Tomorrow
[repeat chorus]

It's easy. Treat people with the intellectual honesty they deserve. And remember: management is never as important as production.