The IT industry is filled with optomists. The answer is that simple.
If you have read some of my earlier posts, you hopefully will remember the post “# 1: Being Agile using Scrum in Waterfall projects“. Throughout my career of 27 years of being in IT, I have realized that there is truth in the theory that developers are optimists, and can not be trusted to do their own estimates. Most developers have proven my theory. Even some of the best developers I have worked with are terrible at estimating. Upon receipt of an estimate, I will often ask if we are using “Vijay Time”. As you would expect, developer estimates are most accurate if they are made right before the developer is ready to start the work.
What I have come to realize is that the developer estimate, which usually is one of the identified reasons for project distress, is one of many possibilities. If you think developers are the only ones who are optomists, look in the mirror. After more than 50 years of experience, we as an industry still miss deadlines, go over budget, and deliver solutions that don’t meet our client’s expectations. We think projects we are involved with won’t fail. At first, I struggled with how to validate my new theory. My current employer, Ambassador Solutions, does not have the money to engage someone like Walker Research to prove my crackpot idea. I decided to arrive at an alternative approach that might be cheaper.
I checked Amazon searching for the keywords “Project” and “Management”. I then scanned the Amazon listings looking for a title that could help us fix a distressed project. On the day I looked, I had to go through the titles of 464 books before I found a book with a title that was not some kind of project management how-to manual. Pharmaceutical, software, hospital, and construction project management, yet no books on what to do once a project is in trouble. Many of the PM books will devote one whole chapter to distressed projects. The book, title “Catastrophe Disentanglement: Getting Software Projects Back on Track“, was published in 2007. Given how bad the IT industry is at delivering software solutions on time and on budget, one would think there is a market out there for this type of book.
My research isn’t conclusive, but I think it proves my point. We, as IT professionals, want to think positively. We instruct in the way to run the perfect project. We want to believe that our teammates will do their best in all their efforts, including estimates. Yet their estimates are often significantly low, their status reports don’t reflect where they truly are, and most of our projects end up distressed. How do we figure out a project is in the early stages of distress? Once we figure out a project is in distress, what do we do?
We use Scrum of course. Check out these posts. More to come.
Thanks for coming in today.