Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Delusional Project Managers

Maybe it's the circle-R in the PMP® signature that put me off.

What's important is that the PMP-certified project manager is absolutely married to fixed-price software development.  The idea of "Agile" was unthinkable.  They were very clear that we had enough information to create a fixed price.

It's hard to disagree with someone who's sure that their presentation is a pinnacle of project specification.

Slides 2 and 3 are an overview that lists some broad, vague buzzwords.  ("Asset", "Resource")

Slides 4 to 7 are blurry screen shots of the legacy application.  There must be dozens of pages.  We were shown four.

Slide 8 is a list of project objectives with no priorities, actors or user stories.  "Modify tool navigation to be more intuitive and efficient."  That's the kind of stuff that's supposed to define the scope with enough detail to create a fixed price.

Slide 9 is  another list of objectives.  "Create a simple project and resource KPI dashboard showing real-time status."  I'm not even sure we can define a fixed-price task for figuring out what this might mean.

Slide 10 is a schedule in which all of the dates are already in the past.

We were told -- firmly and finally -- that we were supposed to fabricate a fixed price proposal from this PPT.  We were encouraged to ask follow-up questions.

My first follow-up question should be "Are you crazy?"

My second follow-up question should be "How much time are you willing to put into this effort?  If it's less than 4 hours per day, we can't really help much."

I'm guessing that we're just "column fillers".  There's an incumbent team that has an existing proposal to extend or rewrite; we're merely providing an outside, "independent" quote that can be used for comparison purposes.  The incumbent team probably knows (in detail) the actors and user stories, and has a carefully prioritized feature set.  We don't even know (precisely) what's in the data model.

I would like to avoid writing a "column filler" proposal that will be a million dollars more than they had in mind.

An Agile approach (5 people × 8 hrs × 15 days = 600 labor hours per sprint) was refused.

If they would reveal their budget, we could have a more meaningful conversation on what they can get finished and delivered for that little dribble of money.

I think that PMP best practices are getting in the way of a successful software development effort.