The Project Notebook

Sooner or Later

The early bird catches the worm. – English Proverb

Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise. – Benjamin Franklin

Adding manpower to a late software project makes it later. – Fred Brooks (Mythical Man Month)

Almost every language and culture has aphorisms, proverbs, and idioms extolling the virtues of being proactive. Failure to be proactive often creeps up on us in ways we may never imagine. Take this article, for example. I usually start the post on Friday with the goal of putting it online by Saturday morning at the latest. It’s now 10am Saturday morning, and due to a problem with a major Internet player who shall remain nameless, I’m not only just writing this week’s article, but sitting here wondering when I will be able to post it – I’ve not been able to reach my site for several hours now.

Just as with costs, we need to be proactive in handling our risks as well. As Fred Brooks astutely observed, once we’ve slipped our schedule, adding people, unless we are very, very careful, will probably delay the project more. Why? There is overhead in training and bringing a new resource up-to-speed. Unless you have the best expertise available, the best documentation, or someone who is a really quick study or already familiar with the project, you’re going to have a difficult time bringing it back on track. The best solution is to continuously monitor your schedule risks and plan ahead.

Forearmed with the knowledge my software project might be late at some point in time, I can take some positive steps. Perhaps hire an intern or contractor to perform an independent task the team might not otherwise get to. Maybe negotiate a change in scope by identifying benefits of putting something off until another phase of development. Or just being able to defend the team with the facts.

So let’s get things moving sooner and proactively in managing our risks. It’s easier to keep the train on the rails than hoist it back on after the wreck. Or as Al Gore said, “Early to bed, early to rise, work like hell and organize”!

See you next week with a new PMP Challenge Question!

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© 2010-2012 Ray W. Frohnhoefer, MBA, PMP, CCP