This category contains 143 posts


In the tech industry we’re reasonably good at capturing needs. Sometimes we skip the needs (or assume them) and go straight to requirements. That’s not great, but the intention is roughly the same: an expression of what (we believe) people need. We even have people for whom this is a significant part of their job. … Continue reading

Flat pack estimation

It’s well-established within the agile world that delivery teams—and particularly individuals—are terrible at estimation. We do estimate, still, and hopefully we get better with time, comparing forthcoming work with past examples, for instance. But it often remains a wonder to those outside the immediacy of delivery teams just how misjudged our estimations can be. “It’s … Continue reading

Evaluating prioritisation methods

The other day I was discussing prioritisation with a colleague, and in particular talking about cost of delay and weighted shortest job first (WSJF). When deciding how to prioritise it’s very useful to calculate cost of delay divided by duration (CD3). By sequencing our work by that metric we get the greatest economic benefit. WSJF … Continue reading

The three dimensional progress report

A programme manager colleague once told me about the report he created to keep his programme board up to date with progress. It was a room. On the walls of the room were all kinds of charts and pictures which collectively told the story of the work in progress. It showed the context, the high … Continue reading

Mistaking frameworks as toolkits

The other day I was watching Craig Larman discuss the LeSS framework for large scale agile development. In the video he says many prescritive frameworks address compliance by saying it’s just a buffet and you can take what you want. He went on to say that in practice that often doesn’t work, “for whatever reason”. … Continue reading

When certainty is absent

Among all the noise about Brexit, one line I keep hearing is that “businesses need certainty”. We can read this message from the British Chambers of Commerce, from the Confederation of British Industry, and it’s a message the Chancellor has repeated, too. Undoubtedly certainty is helpful. But those who run businesses deal with uncertainty all … Continue reading

Opening doors for positive people

The other day I bumped into a colleague whose responsibilities include something I often have to manage—encouraging people to change the way they work. She described her new team, including the familiar situation of having a number of people who were skeptical of any change, or who were otherwise reluctant to do so. But she … Continue reading

Lightening the delivery balloon

I’d love to say all the projects I’ve ever worked on have run perfectly smoothly, but that would be a lie. There are plenty of times I’ve been involved with a project where a deadline is looming, and as we get closer and closer we have to ask harder and harder questions about what to … Continue reading

Act on priorities, or expect to be late

If you can’t do the most important project work first, expect to overrun. Doing project work generally yields any of three results: either you complete the work in good time, you overrun, or more work comes out of it. They are not all mutually exclusive. The problem with projects is that work tends not to … Continue reading

Project management is about managing the unexpected

There’s a snappier title for this blog post, but it’s not mine. It comes from Tim Lister, who says: “Risk management is project management for grown-ups”. This is in his book, co-authored with Tom DeMarco, and also the title of his 2014 QCon London presentation. And maybe that’s all there is to say… but the … Continue reading