Stop the crash of the project plan - you're an expert

Original author: Adrian Reed
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Imagine. Now 22:30 and the plane is preparing to fly a long distance. In the cockpit, the pilot and first assistant pilot are busy checking aircraft systems before departure. They check the weather forecast, check the fuel level and a number of technical indicators and indicators. They begin to prepare a detailed flight route.

Suddenly the CEO of the airline bursts into the cockpit.

“What the hell are you doing here? "I want this plane to be already in the air, and as soon as possible."

The pilot looks at him in horror: “But without enough checks and preliminary analysis ...”

“I don't care about verification and analysis. Do something already, ”the director added. “Yes, I know, analysis is considered“ best practice, ”but we need to hurry, and we don’t have time for all this theory from the books you insist on. I want to see PROGRESS. NOW."

The pilot and senior assistant cower in their seats. “But we haven't even prepared a flight route.”

The director does not even listen. “And why do you need so much fuel? I cut fuel costs by half. And I expect to see this plane at Heathrow Airport in London in 4 hours, and not after 7 like, you indicated in your flight plan. All clear?"

The director leaves the plane back to the runway.

The pilot and assistant look at each other, realizing that they do not have enough time and fuel, there is no route, and they fly out without a standard check of all aircraft systems. Now disaster can not be avoided.

You will not contradict a professional pilot ... So why does business contradict professionals?

The example that I described above simply cannot happen in the real world. It simply cannot be that the director would question the pilot's professionalism, and he would never cut fuel and time by half. However, do you find a similarity between the difficulties that fell on the lot of the pilot and the problems that you encounter in the projects? I will assume that everyone who reads this article, an investor or a customer, asked to reduce the preliminary assessment of the project so that it would be easier to fit into the project plan or start the project without sufficient preliminary analysis.

We, as business analysts, in the role of experts advise organizations about changes. We should expect the usual doubts from colleagues in the business and the project, but we also should not be afraid to challenge their opinions. It is imperative that we play the role of a "good critic" in the organizations in which we work - to support them, but also to be brave enough to ask complex questions and point out sharp facts. When the time comes to change projects, we will be on the runway. If the alarming red light blinks, then our responsibility is to convey the importance of the problem to others. We must do absolutely everything in our power to prevent the crash of the project aircraft by indicating the risk and facilitating the adoption of a meaningful decision.

What signals warn us of danger?

The lack of a route. If it is difficult to understand the direction of the project, then this is a clear indicator of the danger that it will not land where the customer wants. It is worth it to stop and understand why the project was launched and what goals and objectives were set for it.

Not enough fuel. Without enough resources, the project is likely to crash and burn to the ground. Here we need a simple and honest conversation: if the project is not important enough to get more resources, most likely it is not so important to do it at all.

Implausible flight time.Help the project team be realistic in terms of setting deadlines. If you don’t have time to “land the project”, then you will have to make an emergency landing, possibly forcibly dropping some of the desired functionality along the way. The sooner you know about it, the better, because it can change the approach to the problem.

Poor communication with air traffic control center. An airplane needs help navigating in a sky overloaded with airplanes. Organizations need to make decisions between competing projects in an overloaded portfolio. Our counterpart to the Mission Control Center is a project sponsor. He will provide oversight, take responsibility and be in touch. If it is not available, this is a serious indicator of danger.

I hope that you liked this analogy and found it useful, and that it helped you look at the problem from a different angle.

How do you deal with problems when working with a customer? What other warning signals are you paying attention to?

From the translator: if you find any translation errors, I will be glad to fix them.
Thanks to Sterhel and lecter for their help.

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