Project management

This category contains 65 posts

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

Avoiding the unexpected

Earlier this year I was involved in a talk led by Gayatri Kamath in which she discussed a serious incident at the Apollo Theatre in London in 2013. A large number of people were injured after part of the building collapsed due to water build-up in the plaster. On speaking to one of those with … Continue reading

The cost of delay of technical debt

Last week I wrote about the value of stopping work to tackle tech debt, and more specifically when we might expect to recover from the temporary stoppage. In the ensuing discussion a question came up about one of my assumptions, which was that the team was delivering at a constant rate (albeit below its potential). … Continue reading

The benefits of timeboxing a solution

A colleague pointed me to a nice article by Sue Davis about writing for the public, and among the suggestions was the idea of timeboxing feedback: “If you don’t, the polishing process can be never-ending and you risk delaying getting the content to your users.” Timeboxing is really valuable not just for getting feedback, but … 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

Measuring the impact of our activity

When we measure our progress there are—by some perspective—three kinds of things we might be measuring. The most immediate things to measure is our activity: Are we doing what we said we would do, and at the rate at which we said we’d do it? This is about measuring ourselves against our plan and is … Continue reading

Balancing strategic guesswork with tactical evidence

I’ve always seen strategic decision-making as consisting of a large element of guesswork. It’s educated guesswork, but it’s very much taking a punt on what we want to achieve based on our assessments of how certain situations will evolve and where we want to be positioned at the end of that. And we can never … Continue reading

The map is not the territory

My daughter and I are currently reading Lemony Snicket’s very entertaining “Who Could That Be At This Hour?”, a book in the series of “All The Wrong Questions”. And there is a constant refrain I think is very useful: The map is not the territory. The book tells the story of Mr Snicket’s apprenticeship as … Continue reading

There’s trouble in MoSCoW

Most project teams I work with prioritise their work in a simple order: most important, second most important, etc. But sometimes people still use the MoSCoW method, and I find this leads to problems. MoSCoW stands for Must, Should, Could, Won’t—it’s a way of categorising deliverables into one of four buckets. The Musts get done … Continue reading

Separate strategic assumptions from goals

Previously I wrote about the importance of having a clear goal, in the form of a value statement. But in practice it’s tempting to confuse a goal with what I call a “strategic assumption”—and we shouldn’t do that. When I ask a project team what their goal is they usually suggest a number of things, … Continue reading