My recent experiences with a troubled project, have led me to the conclusion there is a significant confusion between Planning and Scheduling.
Planning is Not the Same as Scheduling
Both are needed. Planning comes first, followed by scheduling.
When we built our home here in Colorado, there were a set of plans created by the architect. I didn't personally build it , I watched it be built by the contractors. These plans showed where the rooms were on the foundation, how these rooms interacted with each other through doors, hallways and open areas. Were the plumbing went. Where the HVAC went. Where the electrical outlets were located and the 100's of other "features" of the home.
These plans were not a schedule for the construction of the house. These plans were not the architecture of the house either. There were elevation and plan views. But the architecture was represented in the conversations between us and the architect.
The drawings were the "Plan" for how the components of the house fit together.
From the plans, the building supervisor constructed a schedule, showing the sequence of construction. Starting with the basement and its foundation for the upper levels. Parallel construction took place, but still in an overall sequence. This sequence added value to the house. The bank released funding for delivery of this incremental value based on permitting and inspections.
A grading permit and site preparation, released funds. A framing permit released funds. Same for plumbing and electrical. The drywall completion was a Significant Accomplishment. Enclosing the structure with insulation panels a similar Significant Accomplishment. Roofing structure, concrete work, windows, flooring, installation of fixtures, etc. etc. etc. We spoke about the progress of the house in terms of "accomplishments and deliverables."
These Significant Accomplishments and the accompanying Accomplishment Criteria were evidenced by inspection reports and "punch lists" describing the increasing maturity of the house. The final Event was the receipt of the Certificate of Occupancy and the arrival of our household goods that had been waiting patiently in storage from California.
The description of the increasing maturity, the dependencies between the Significant Accomplishments and their Accomplishment Criteria is the Master Plan. This Master Plan is not time based, it is based on the assessment of the increasing maturity of the results from the constaruction efforts.
The time based part is the schedule of the work that completes the Accomplishment Criteria - the Exit Criteria. For example the exit criteria for the electrical contractor is the passage of the electrical inspection. Same for the plumbing, HVAC, structural, and roofing.
But these activities are not the schedule, they are descriptions of the plan.
Now for the Real Problem
When you don't have a Plan - just a schedule or a "to do" list - then how the increasing maturity of the project is actually increasing in very hard to see in any tangible terms.
What are the units of measure for increasing maturity?
In the aerospace business, the units of measure are Dollars in terms of Earned Value, Risk Reduction, and Flight Readiness in terms of probabilistic risk. In house building it is inspection passage and funding release. For software projects it MUST BE in some unit of measure meaningful to the customer.
Agile development does a good job of delivering the raw materials for the measurement of maturity - working code. But the "valuation" of these deliverables is missing. Agilest talk about delivering value, without a unit of measure. This unit must be Dollars or Percentage of Dollars. Dollarizing the deliverables is a critical success factor for any project. Dollarizing software deliverables is even more critical.
So when someone mentions they have a better project management method, or they have discovered a hidden truth about project management, or that project management as we know it is not really needed; there are some test questions:
- Can I measure your progress in dollars?
- Can I see the increasing maturity that results from your efforts of performing work?
- Can I forecast the cost at completion as well as the completion date with level of confidence?
- Can I see how you are "buying down" risk through processes that are measured in dollars and related risk reduction in dollars?
If so, then your project will probably not need our services for a "rescue effort."