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Can this really be true?

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a self-proclaimed voice of Project Management 2.0 claims that traditional projects management and their tools were created to support waterfall project management style. Here's a debunking of that notion

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Can this really be true?

  1. 1. Can this really be true? The self proclaimedleadingvoice of PM2.0 says... Traditionalprojectmanagementsoftwareapplications,likeMS Project,werecreated to supportthe waterfallprojectmanagementstyleand arefile-based.All thedata on differentprojectsarestored in variousdisconnected filesand are usually accessible to the team membersin theread-only mode.The existing combination of processesand toolsdoesnotencouragetheteamto contributeto projectplans directly on a daily basis.With these solutions,someonehasto connectall the pieces and bitsof information into a bigger picture,and this person is the projectmanager.Traditionalproject managementapplicationsalso arerarely suitablefordistributed teamsthat work in a heterogeneous environmentof multipleoperating systems.Thissoftwareisfocused on the projectmanagerand places him or her in the center of the projectcommunications.Itoften meansthattheprojectmanagermust collect all the dataand manually puttheinformation into the projectplan. Thisof course mightpossiblybe anopinionbasedonnarrow experience. But FirstDoes Waterfall = Design,Code,Test? Firstlet'sestablishacontextforthe notionof "waterfall."Inthe redherringapproachto waterfall,a projectisa seriesof tasks - design,code,test.Everyone I've everycome incontactwith,frommyfirst software developmentjobasa graduate studentwritingFOCAL(aninterpretative languageforthe PDP- 15), to my lastactual codingposition,inthe late 80's writingADA forthe rudderpositionholdingunder side pressure control loopforthe 668 classsubmarine,noone everproducedaworkingproductby doingdesign,code,test.I'dsuggestthose thatexecute software developmentinthe design,code,test mode are foolishatbest,andincompetentatworse.IthappensIknow - or at leastthere are storiesof it happening.Butthatdoesn'tmeanitright.Remember Pauli andhisrightandwrongquote. All developmentwasinincrements.Write alittle,testalittle,establishaworkingbaseline,take abreak to thinkaboutthe nextsteps.Move to the nextstep.Whywas thisthe case inthe domainI worked? Because inthe embeddedsystems,of radar,sonar,real time control - at leastinthose days- whenthe CPU encounteredanerror,itstoppedrunning."The runlightwentout"inPDP-15 and 2901 bitslice platformactuallystoppeddead.Code waswrittenbypunchingholesinMylartape,feedingthatintothe tape reader,and thenassembled,compiled,orsimply"run"toproduce the desiredresults.Youwent slowly,stepbystep,andknewwhateverychange wouldproduce.If youdidn'tyou'dbe stuck - deadin the water. No more Waterfall comparisons - Let'sget to the real Pointof Managing Projects All projectsare a sequence of workactivities.These workactivities,themselvescanbe performedin parallel orinseries,dependingonseveral constraints:  The availabilityof resources  The logical dependenciesof the intermediate productsof the projects
  2. 2. In the embeddedsystemsworld,Ican't developthe control algorithminthe absence of the I/Odrivers fr the sensorarray. I can't developthe interrupthandlingcode forthe sensorarray,in the absence of the operatingsystemschedulingalgorithm.The functionalityof the rudderholdingcontrol loophasto be builtina specificorder- a sequence.A Waterfallof capabilities.Notdesign,code,test.Onlyafool woulddothat. Andhopefullyonlyonce.No,the orderof the code mustfollow asequence. Whenasked"what'sthe purpose of time?"Einsteinsupposedlysaid Time keeps everything from happeningatonce So let'sstopusingwaterfall asthe anti-Christof projectmanagement.Allprojectactivitiesoccurinsome sequentialmanner- ina series of workactivities. Deconstructing the PM 2.0 Opinion So let'ssetsome context.Iwas an earlyuserof MSFT Project.NotVersion1.0,butVersion3 forDOS in 1986. The official Version1for Windowswasonmy desktopmachine runningunderWindows3.1.A complete piece of crapcomparedto TimeLine,whichranunderDOSand made beautiful picturesof the projectswe lookedafter.Hardware developmentusingSun-1CardsrunningUnix,inthe dayswhenyou couldcall Brian Kernighanandaskquestions,andhe'd sendpatcheson9-track tape So the responsesbelowcome fromanecdotal evidence of havingwalkedthe walkforsome time - somethingaround30 years.  Traditional projectmanagement softwareapplications,likeMSProject, were created to supportthe waterfall project managementstyle andare file-based. The designof MSFT projectisindependentof itsuse.Waterfall of course isthe code wordfor non-agile. An uninformedopinionof course.The notionof Waterfall - design- code - testisforbiddeninthe US DoD. Nodoubt,like all processes,thereare misapplications.Inthe same waythere are misapplications of Scrumand XP. The plan,schedule,andcostbaseline foraprojectisnot heldisa seriesof emails,tweets,IMmessages. It isa database - the Performance MeasurementBaseline.Todootherwise,foranythingotherthana trivial project,wouldbe likeplanningthe constructionof yourhome (anactivityI'll neverwanttodo again),usinga bunchof stickynoteson the dashboardof the constructionsuperiorstruck.Itcan be done,butthe resultsare usuallydisappointingtoall. MSFT Projectis usedina wide varietyof projectmanagementprocessenvironments.Rangingfor productionsequential effortstoScrumbasedsoftware development. My favorite anecdote aboutusingMSFTProjectforonlywaterfall projectsstartsrighthere inBoulder. The RallySoftware MicrosoftProjectconnector.  All the dataon different projectsare stored in variousdisconnectedfilesandare usually accessibleto the team members inthe read-onlymode.
  3. 3. Thisis course issimplyBADprojectmanagement.Projectmanagementpossiblyperformedbynaive and inexperiencedprojectmanagers.MSFTProjectisa "data base,"accessible throughavarietyof APIs.VBA for project,VBA forAccess,andVBA for Excel.All provide integratedmanagementof the dataheld inside MSFTProject.Grantedthere are limitsonthe fieldtypesandthe numberof fields.Thishasbeen improvedin2007 and possibly2010. But no credible projectmanagerwouldspreaddatainvariousdisconnectedfilesaccessible ona"read only"basis.StartsimplybyinstallingSharePoint(WSS) andmove ontoMOSS. Buy andinstall one of variousEnterprise ProjectManagementtoolsbasedonSharePoint.Use SafranforProject.Move up to SAP,PeopleSoft,andOracle MSFTProjectconnectors.Possiblyeven wInsight. We hada wonderful postercampaignata verylarge nuclearweaponsdecommissioningsite,where I leadone of the manyProgram ManagementOffices. Don't dostupidthingson purpose Everytime I hearsome "expert"onprojectmanagement,speakaboutwhatisessentially"doingstupid things,"Ithinkof those days whenstupidthingsgotpeople killed,suspended, orfired.  The existingcombinationofprocessesandtools doesnot encourage the team to contribute to project plansdirectly ona dailybasis.Withthese solutions,someonehasto connect all the pieces andbits of informationintoabigger picture,and thisperson is the project manager. Thisis utternonsense inanycredible projectmanagementprocess.Whywouldanysensible project managerprohibitcontributionstoprojectplans.Maybe noton a dailybasis.Youhave to tune the managementof the projecttothe rhythm of the project.Thisis once againone of those "stupidthings" comments.Basedeitheroninexperience, naivety orsimplyignorance of whatprojectmanagersactually do fora living. The NASA,AirForce, NavAir,andArmy programs we workmandate weeklyearnedvalue management. EveryThursdaywe have a sitdownreview withthe Control AccountManagers(CAM) toassessprogress for the week,plansfornextweek,nextdeliverables,nextrollingwave.Theseprocessare generally applicable toall enterprise classprojectsnomatterthe domainorcontext.The businessrhythmisbuilt aroundthe weeklyEV process. At the nuclearweaponsplantdecommissioning($11Bover7 years),we hadPlanof the Day duringthe lastyear to assure we stayedonschedule,onbudget,anddidn'tkill anyone inthe process. The people whoconnectall the pieces,are the same people whoare willinglyaccountable fordelivering all the pieces.The CAMs,Technical Leads,the workstreammanagers,the ProgramPlanningand Controlsstaff,the ProgramManager and hisdeputies.There can'tbe successful anyother way.  Traditional projectmanagement applicationsalsoarerarely suitablefordistributedteams that work in a heterogeneous environmentofmultipleoperatingsystems. This softwareis focusedon the project manager andplaces himor her in the center ofthe project
  4. 4. communications.Itoftenmeans that the project manager must collectall the data and manuallyputthe informationintothe project plan. Nonsense again."rarelysuitable?"Gotanyphysical evidence?Mostdefense andspace programsuse distributedteams,multipleIntegratedProjectTeams(IPT),distributedsites,andwide varietiesof tools, environments,andworse - managementprocesses.Itsimplycan'tgetdone any otherway. There aren't enoughpeopleinasingle buildingtoproduce the productsorservices.The toolsthat supportthe Program Managementpieces - notthe social networking - are enterprisegrade.SAP,Oracle for Construction,MicrosoftEnterpriseProjectManagement,specializedenterprisetoolslike wInsight. All collaborativeweb-basedtoolstailorabletothe needsof the user. I getthe sense thatthose wantingusto move tothe PM2.0 paradigmdon'tget out muchto see how professionalprojectmanagersdotheirjobusingthe currenttool sets.

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