Sunday, January 24, 2010

January 24, 2010 – Driving me Crazy!

Having a GPS in the car drives me crazy. I do not operate well with directions that come one step at a time. It may be the Project Manager in me, but I want to see the big picture and know where I’m heading. Besides, at 65 miles an hour, I can’t judge “300 yards before taking the next left.” I’m not even sure if “Miss Voice” means her left or mine.

I realized this last week as I was traveling to a client site with our main sales person. She was driving and I was trying to navigate. We were attempting to go from Orange County, CA near Disney to the Pasadena area, home of the Rose Bowl Parade. The final destination was between the 60 and Interstate 10. I know how I would go and assumed the GPS would use the same route, straight up the 605.

Imagine my confusion when Miss Voice said, “In ½ mile, take exit to Interstate 5 North.” Before I could wrestle the screen to show the projected route, we had swerved onto the exit ramp to follow the directions. It was either that or face the dreaded “Recalculating…Recalculating” reprimand….or worse, the “Make a legal U-Turn” snide remark.

Through a comedy of errors, we managed to get back on track. We missed the 60, but found Interstate 10. Following Miss Voice’s advice, we passed the exit bearing the name of the street the client was on and took the next exit. I had a general sense of where we were heading by then and expected to head south and then east. Miss Voice, however, took us north and then west until we realized the ending address had changed.

I personally think Miss Voice was so disgusted with us that she was thinking, “Fine! If you don’t appreciate me, I’ll drive you to a back alley where you’ll get car jacked. They’ll strip this vehicle down and sell me to someone that can follow directions!”

Some project managers run their projects using a GPS. They punch a predefined address into their Charter and start driving. They fail to look far enough ahead to get into the right lane before missing the turn. Ultimately they allow the project direction to be altered without their knowledge, ending up somewhere else entirely. Even if they avoid a devastating collision, the sponsor usually ends up with car sickness.

Here are the top 10 ways to reach your destination without throwing your GPS out the window.

10. Lay out the full map. Understand where you are headed. You don’t need to know the turn by turn details, but you want to be able to sense when you are going in the wrong direction.

9. Verify your destination. Review the scope and requirements with your stakeholders and obtain their approval.

8. Keep an eye on the gas gauge. Budget, time and resources have to be planned and used appropriately.

7. Listen to Miss Voice. If you have laid out your plan and schedule accurately, follow them.

6. Track your progress. A GPS uses your current speed and position to calculate arrival time. Analyze your progress and spend rate to make sure you are on schedule and budget.

5. Look for landmarks. Set milestones in your schedule. Use them to validate your direction with stakeholders and gauge your timing.

4. Check the map frequently. Verify progress against the scope and requirements in order to stay on course.

3. Recalculate. As the project progresses, more information is available. It may be refined requirements, new technology, resource changes or other factors that impact the end product. Use formal change processes to re-evaluate and alter the direction and cost.

2. Check the traffic. Analyze the risks in your project. If it appears there is traffic ahead, take action to avoid it.

1. You have arrived at your destination. Recognize when you have completed the project’s scope. Don’t allow random course changes to be slammed in at the end of the project. These tend to be less structured, lack adequate testing and overrun the budget.

We arrived in one piece, but it is a good thing we left early.


Umasree said...

Cool, I had the same experience in California and I know what you mean...the same applicable to Projects too... Recalculating is the best part of this post at every stage of our project managers, no chance taking!


Smitha said...

Very nice way of explaining a project:)

Project Management said...

funny as it can be, but really true when compared to project managers,both has the same idea of giving directions and possible solutions for Project Management
well I am a fan of GPS though there are really times when it becomes inaccurate,