Why Schedules Fail

Thus, writes Scott Burken in his The Art of Project Management:

Project schedules are the easy scapegoats for everything that can possibly go wrong. If someone fudges an estimate, misses a requirement, or gets hit by a bus, it is the schedule (and the person responsible for it) that catches the blame. If the nation's power supply were to go out for 10 days, or the team's best programmers were to catch the plague, invariably someone would say, "See, I told you the schedule would slip" and wag her finger in the schedule master's face. It's completely unfair, but it happens all the time. As much as people loathe schedules, they still hold them up to an unachievable standard. Even the best schedulers in the world, with the smartest minds and best tools at their disposal, are still attempting to predict the future——something our species rarely does well.

But if a team starts a project fully aware of the likely reasons schedules fall apart and takes some action to iminize those risks, the schedule can become a more useful and accurate tool in the development process.

We're lucky to have a good writer explain all that in a truly well-designed book.

Comments:

Masood, In reading this item on Project Management as easy scapegoats, I thought back to my academic days when PM worked like a charm. I was on the Assessment Committee which headed up the 10 years accreditation study. We used PM to keep everyone on task. It worked so well, that many faculty members continued to use PM for their own planning and personal use. A very good article I used for faculty workshops as a motivator to learn and use PM was this: http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/39/faststart.html You may find it of interest. Best, Ralph Hannon

Posted by Ralph Hannon on May 02, 2006 at 05:25 AM PDT #

Ralph - Thanks for your sharing your experience and thanks for the link. I may have been a bit unfair to Burken to select the part of the book I selected. He's actually 100% for project management. Above, he is just trying to make some points about estimates and how they can go wrong.

Posted by M. Mortazavi on May 02, 2006 at 07:54 AM PDT #

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