The End Draws Nigh

As we start seeing the light at the end of the RMR tunnel, we are on time, on budget!

But is it purely down to my masterful planning and estimating skills? Or are other factors at work?

Well the planning is in the right ball park, but as I started to ask myself if we could have finished any earlier, two things dawned on me.

1) Project Teams work to a given deadline and are unable to realign to an earlier one

2) Although Quality, Cost and Funtionality are all within the required boundaries, there are ways to cut corners without affecting them, when viewed from a high level (e.g. the project stakeholder)

In terms of the former, I think it is well known that if you assign a task and allow a given time for it, it is very likely to take that long if the time allocated is realistic. It takes dedicated individuals with something to win by delivering early, in order to do that.

The latter point relates to having loose requirements specifications from the customer, and moving requirements driven by the development team as we designed and engineered the solution.  It is relatively easy to convince a customer how to change the system to make it easier to develop, when he cannot sit down and play with it to see if the proposed solution will work for him. It’s like building a kitchen and negotiating using a different cupboard that is easier to install. If it provides roughly the same worktop space and storage space, the customer will find it hard to picture whether the slightly smaller doors might affect its use (especially if the developer forgets to mention it…).

So what options are there when planning and estimating? Should you even estimate on the low side? Dangerous is you slim down too much! How about a plan that has a low estimate, but with a secret extension that you only bring out if required? Crafty… but underhanded. And impossible to determine if your influence of knowing of its existence will affect the early stages meaning you have to use it.

I recommend doing absolutely nothing.

Plan as usual. If you are in the right ball park, there will always be some features that are cut out, others which are changed and the end result will be that you deliver roughly what is required on time.

The trick is estimating to the right ball park – and for that you might need to consult someone like myself 🙂