Spent the weekend (really the last two weeks) preparing to engage some
business partners on a project whose plan got somewhat sideways.

Original estimates were smaller than really required. Requirements took
much longer to elicit because the business vision was not complete, nor
were all that participated invested in a vision.

There has been a lot of drama around this project, because business execs
felt deceived. While the project team felt like it had been
extraordinarily transparent.

Then someone said it. Business reality implied a fixed bid process. While
IT was working on a time and materials project.

It explains why business gets angry and hostile when we shed scope to meet
a date. Their reality is fixed bid.

Internal IT rarely does fixed bid estimates. There is no motivation. No
profit. We only ever bill what we spend. But what if we did? What would
we do with the profit?


The sniff test

When someone asks you to do something different or unusual, it must pass
the “sniff” test. Is what this person is asking “reasonable”. Does the
accommodation represent a material departure from process/protocol/custom
that may/will have impact in other ways? Is it a one time deal, or setting
a new precedent? Is the cost worth the value? Are the motives behind the
ask straightforward or are there hidden agendas? Is this a setup? Is this
somehow compromising my integrity, justice, fairness, etc? Will this come
back to “bite” me later? Will this actually satisfy the requester?

Whatever sniff test(s) you want to apply. You apply them quickly in your
mind with history and experience as your guide. You reach a conclusion.
When the request fails the sniff test, you call “bullsh*t”!

Happy sniffing!

The plan

The plan is the set of steps to get to “done”. What happens when there is
not enough time or money to get to “done”?

We can stop and adjust the schedule – making more time. We can decide to
spend the money. We can decide that “done” means something different that
costs less or takes less time. Or we can keep going and hope we that
people will understand why we have failed.

The hardest part is that while we are deciding how to react to the
information that is not pleasant, we continue to spend time and money.

While people look for some cause of the “problem” – and try to deflect
culpability – they are/were somewhat responsible and now decisions must be
made. There is no problem. There is only new information, and with it,
the ability to decide differently.

Think of the effort to do some work on your home – when a project takes
longer, costs more, etc, you don’t usually duck and cover or deflect
responsibility – it’s your money, time and effort. You get what you pay
for – but software is less tangible, predictable, and permanent than your
house. You just decide….

And in those decisions is the plan….