Friday, January 9, 2009

January 8, 2009 – Going Covert, Part 2

NOTE: On January 12, Computerworld published an article I wrote entitled Covert PMO. This series of entries is a fictional account based on the Project Manager in that article. Any resemblance to anyone from my past, present or future is purely coincidental. To start at the beginning, jump to January 1, 2009 – Going Covert, Part 1.

Day 12 – Monday. Take a deep breath….hold it…let it out slowly. Great. Just 5 days until Friday.

Actually the weekend gave me a chance to do just that: take a deep breath. It helps to switch gears for a bit. I mowed the lawn. I’m probably one of the few homeowners in southern California still mowing my own lawn, but it allows my mind to relax and put things into perspective. Call in Monday Madness, but I have a bit more optimism today.

I did two things this weekend. First, I took stock of what currently exists. Second, I made a list of what was missing with notes on getting them. Here’s what I came up with.


  • Project description: New insurance offering – interface with external vendor supplying them with member information, they offer call in counseling. Supposed to be a big money maker.
  • Deadline: 3 months from last Wednesday. Firm.
  • Commitment: Promised by CEO to shareholders’ meeting 4 months ago.
  • Documentation: Some. Charter was drafted but not presented. Requirements are stored as Use Cases in RequisitePro. Design is being developed mainly on whiteboards for now.
    Status: Officially in Design, but Requirements are not completed/approved and I heard that Developer 1 is coding. Not sure who Developer 1 is, yet.
  • Need:
    Scope definition. Ideally it would be the Charter, but there may be something political going on there.
    Finalized and approved Requirements. Need to get them out of RequisitePro and in front of the Business.
    Introduction to external vendor project manager…if he/she exists.
    Find out who Developer 1 is and stop the coding.

What I didn’t do this weekend was put together a Schedule. Don’t have enough information yet.

Initiated a Stand Up Meeting. Actually, most of the team called in to the conference number and the Team referred to the meeting as a Scrum. Semantics. I asked 3 questions of each member:

  1. What did you do yesterday?
  2. What are you doing today?
  3. What other projects are you working on?

Turns out most of them are working on multiple projects and are not getting much time for this one.

Day 13 – Got nailed last night for not having the Schedule ready. My fault for not resetting the expectation. By not saying when it would be completed I allowed Management to create an unspoken expectation in his head. His wishful thinking date didn’t correspond to my “you’ll-get-it-when-it-is-done” attitude.

After talking Management down off the ceiling I calmly explained the current state of the project, walked through the Have and Need list and said I would have a schedule by the following Monday. I think what he heard was “blah, blah, blah, blah…Monday.” At least now we share the same target date.

Note to self: Never promise anything on a Friday. They invented weekends to catch up on everything you don’t get done during the week.

The Business Sponsor is excited about the project. She sees it as an easy $100K profit each month. While we were chatting, I pulled out the Cost Benefit Analysis template and started filling it in. Technically it is an Initiation Phase document, but I had a plan.

Asked about the delivery date. Said she suspects that it was arbitrarily picked by the CEO, but the sooner the system is up, the sooner they can make money. Companies were already interested in signing up.

Set up a weekly meeting with her to give a verbal update, but assured her that she could pick up the phone at any time and ask. Along that line, I think I’ll send out one paragraph email blurbs throughout the week to update Management, the Business Sponsor, et al. When appropriate I plan on mentioning team members by name to give them credit for their actions.

Jump to part 3.

No comments: