Fog Creek Software
Discussion Board




Good Proj.Man. attitudes

What do you consider good attitudes for project managers?

Eg. I need to manage a project, however the client cannot really decide on some requirements, they delay the decision for weeks now and cannot make a clear commitment for one feature. The problem is that this is a major feature of the system and affects how other parts of the system will be built (workflow and communication with external systems)

As a PM my task is to finish a good project where the client is happy and we get a good money on the project. I want to push the client to make a decision at the same time I do not want him to feel that I'm a jerk and that I'm pushing him. But I also need the answer very soon as my group cannot continue with some implementation.


Friday, July 02, 2004

Open Scope Contract.

If they can't tell you what it is, you can't tell them when it will be done or how much it will cost.

Propose:

Simple Working System

Incremental Delivery

Customer Decides Priorities


---> I would look into the "Planning game" and "iteration planning" aspects of extreme programming.  Even if you don't use the engineering aspects, the things above might help.

Good luck!

Matt H.
Friday, July 02, 2004

Do you know the reasons for the delay? Are they afraid of making the wrong decision, or is it a non-technical reason such as limited cash flow? Once you know the reason for the delay, can you get more involved and help them make a more informed decision?

Can you apply some sort of measurable/subjective values to each of the options, such as cost, risk development time etc? It’s easier to make a decision when the numbers tell you the right way to go, even if what the numbers were based on was completely subjective.

Can you help them devise a plan so they can decide on one direction but give them the option to change at a specified later date? Make sure you spell out the implications first though.

Whatever you do don't just wait for a customer req spec to arrive on you desk. You need to be involved and help them write it.

Ian H.
Friday, July 02, 2004

Why are they delaying the decision?  Are they not sure or are they playing politics? 

If they are not sure then say that things are being delayed because no decision has been made.  Ask them what their issues are and see if you can help resolve them one way or the other.  Maybe they need some help understanding the implications, maybe a prototype would help.  Ask them what outputs they want from the system (ie reports), maybe that will focus their minds on how the inputs and processes will work.

If they're are just trying to stall, ie force you to make the decision, they can come back and say "well we didn't ask for that..." then be very wary.

The open project thing sounds like it could be very hard, if not impossible to manage.  Chances are there will be a lot of indecision.  You will do things one way, then the client does things another.  Even if the client is willing to pay, chances are programmers will become annoyed that a lot of their work is being thrown in the bin and will walk out.

Be aware that the customer probably does not understand just what is involved and how time consuming and difficult programming can be.

Steven Newell
Friday, July 02, 2004

I've just read what Ian H wrote a little closer.  If you can deliver the project in small chunks then having a very flexible requirements process may work.  Though you will have to be very careful of scope creep. 

The problem with having a very flexible requirements process is how do you know when you're done?  If you're being paid a fix price then the customer is going to make it work to his advantage.

Steven Newell
Friday, July 02, 2004

Charge by the hour.

Richard C Haven
Friday, July 02, 2004

*  Recent Topics

*  Fog Creek Home