Working in Phoenix this week on a Program Management Office deployment for a government agency providing public health services. We're installing processes and training staff on the notion of Measures of Success (a term I had not heard before), that have close resemblance to the Integrated Master Plan (IMP).
Here's a paper given at the Energy Facilities Contractors Organization (EFCOG) on a similar topic.
There are several critical points here:
- If we don't know what capabilities the project is supposed to produce and what the Measures of Effectiveness and Measures of Performance are for those capabilities, it's going to be hard to know what done looks like.
- If we don't know what Done looks like, someone is going to have to pay to find out. That cost has to be absorbed somewhere, many times the project itself.
- When we hear...
Estimates are difficult. When requirements are vague — and it seems that they always are — then the best conceivable estimates would also be very vague. Accurate estimation becomes essentially impossible. Even with clear requirements — and it seems that they never are — it is still almost impossible to know how long something will take, because we’ve never done it before.
This is going to turn out to be true. The project is going to spend money on discovering the requirements that delivery the capabilities. This is the case sometimes, but that cost needs to be accounted for in the business case.
The last sentence above is actually not the case, expect where the development team has no experience in the business or technical domain. And in that case, why did you hire people to spend your money when they've never done this kind of work before?
- So in the end, define the capabilities, hire people who know something about what you want done, make sure their Past Performance assures they have a grasp on the problem, and fund the project with enough budget to discover the requirements that deliver the needed capabilities.