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Two Lists of Project Management Flavors
By Pawel Brodzinski

When talking about project management almost always you have to consider two sides: customer and vendor. On each of the sides you can find a lot of techniques which not necessarily lead to successful and quick end of the project.

Customer side

  • Blame game project management. the main goal of project manager is not to finish the project on time, on budget and within agreed scope but to protect himself/herself. Nothing against procedures. Forget about common sense. As far as no one can prove you did something differently than it was stated in procedures you can’t be blamed for anything, right? You just wanted to do it correctly. As a side effect a lot of blame game can be detected in that scenario.
  • Never pay project management. Force the vendor to agree to deadlines impossible to meet. Then move the project into production before it’s stable enough. Then start complaining about all issues which can be found. When they’re fixed find another. When they ask about their money tell them you’ll pay when all the issues are cleared. Avoid making hard commitments. As a side effect you hear a lot of “We haven’t bought a piece of software but a system which should cover our business needs” or similar statements.

  • Clueless project management. Start a project first and then think what the scope is if there’s any. Throw in all the new features you can think of and force the vendor to propose some implementation or something. Change scope. Much and often. Don’t go into details when you talk about the solution but go into the smallest and the least important details when you talk about the business issues. As a side effect you’ll see dramatic time and budget overrun.

  • Overactive project management. Call them. Mail them. Get them on meetings. As often as possible. Expect they’re all fully and exclusively dedicated just for you. Make them cry whenever they see your number on their mobiles. Become their worst nightmare. Expect the same intensity of communication from the other side. As a side effect the PM will have a brand new set of haters. Paradoxically sometimes this leads to successful project management.

  • I know it better project management. You pay and you expect. You actually expect everything will be done exactly the way you want. It doesn’t matter if the idea is good or not. Don’t even list arguments of adversaries. You just know everything better. As a side effect the ego of the Project Manager will be boosted and you’ll hear a lot of golden thoughts in type of “It is so because it is so.”

  • Marketing project management. Leave the role of the project leader to market. Possibly the one who always has those crazy ideas. Let him decide what, how and when things are done. Vague requirements with no feasibility study whatsoever. You’ll end up with a bunch of impressive products. Unfortunately they’ll be solving the wrong problems. As a side effect developers will scream whenever they’re forced to do another great thing before even being halfway done with the previous one.

Vendor Side

  • No one cares project management. Or no project management at all. What for? Project management is overrated anyway. Assume everyone know what to do and will do it correctly. As a side effect you end up with project which solves the wrong problems but exploits all cool new technologies or without a project at all or with some unusable monster. Who knows?
  • Wishful thinking project management. Close your eyes. Relax. Suppose there’s no issue. No time overruns. No bugs. Now, go tell it to the customer. Hey, that’s something they want to hear. Don’t tell them about anything bad as long as you can. There will be time for this… later. As a side effect you’ll have deal, on occasions, with some angry customer at the end. What a great lesson, don’t you think?

  • I know it better project management. It happens on both sides of the barricade although the reasons are usually different. In this scenario you’re the boss and you expect. No matter what is reasonable. Don’t let them even think you can be wrong. Effects as above.

  • Methodology zealot project management. You know the best project management methodology in the world (whatever it is). That’s the best choice because… just because. You switch off common sense and thinking and you apply your methodology exactly as it was described in the books. Absolutely no exceptions. Often seen, but definitely not limited to situations, when some impressive agile techniques are applied. As a side effect you’ll learn when the new impressive methodology can be applied with good results and when it is useless.

Pawel’s experience in software development covers a bunch of positions in both rank and file and management roles. He worked in quality assurance, software development, design, support and implementation teams. He also managed different teams from small group of testers up to ERP system development department. While spending most of his career working on enterprise and carrier grade systems, he did play some roles in micro-ISVs. He’s currently the Chief Operating Officer in Wind Mobile (www.windmobile.pl). Pawel’s blog can be found at: blog.brodzinski.com.

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