Fundamentals Of Project Management

Of project management by james p lewis amacom books

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Unformatted text preview: gets that are always important. As we have noted, we exercise control to bring performance back on target by comparing performance to plan and taking corrective actions when deviations or variances occur. One of the hardest things to do in managing projects is to actually measure progress. When you are following a road map, you monitor the road signs to check whether you are in fact following your planned route. Similarly, in well-defined jobs, such as some construction projects, it is generally fairly easy to tell where you are. You can measure the height of a brick wall or see if all the conduit is installed, and so on. That is, you can tell where you are when a part of the work is actually finished. When work is poorly defined and is only partially complete, however, you have to estimate where you are. This is especially true of knowledge work—work done with the head, rather than the hands. If you are writing software code, designing something, or writing a book, it can be very hard to judge how far along you are and how much you have left to do. Naturally, if you can’t tell where you are, you can’t exercise control. Note the word estimate in measuring progress. What, exactly, is an estimate? It’s a guess. And so we are guessing about where we are. We’ll know where we are when we get there. Until we actually arrive, we’re guessing. Does this not sound like something from Alice in Wonderland? Now, what was that definition of control again? Let’s see—compare where you are . . . How do you know where you are? We’re guessing. . . . against where you are supposed to be . . . How do you know where you’re supposed to be? Oh, that’s much easier. The plan tells us. But where did the plan come from? It was an estimate, too. Oh. So if one guess doesn’t agree with the other guess, we’re supposed to take corrective action to make the two of them agree, is that it? That’s what this guy Jim Lewis says in his book. Must be a book on witchcraft and magic. Well, since it is impossible to know for sure where we are, then perhaps we should just give up on the whole thing and keep running projects by the seat of the pants. Right? The difficulty of measuring progress does not justify the conclusion that progress shouldn’t be measured. You cannot have control unless you measure progress. Wrong. The fact that planning and monitoring progress may not always be accurate does not justify the conclusion that they shouldn’t be done. Remember, if you have no plan, you have no control, and if you don’t try to monitor and follow the plan, you definitely don’t have control. And if you have no control, there is no semblance of managing. You’re just flailing around. What is important to note, however, is that some projects are capable of tighter control than others. Work that can be accurately measured can be controlled to tight tolerances. Work that is more nebulous (such as knowledge work) has to allow larger tolerances. Manage...
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This document was uploaded on 09/27/2013.

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