Project Planning

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Immutable Laws of Project Planning

LAW 1: No major project is ever completed on time, within budget, with the same staff that started it, nor does the project do what it is supposed to do. It is highly unlikely that yours will be the first. Corollary 1: The benefits will be smaller than initially estimated, if estimates were made at all. Corollary 2: The system finally installed will be completed late and will not do what it is supposed to do. Corollary 3: It will cost more but will be technically successful.

LAW 2: One advantage of fuzzy project objectives is that they let you avoid embarrassment in estimating the corresponding costs.

LAW 3: The effort required to correct a project that is off course increases geometrically with time. Corollary 1: The longer you wait the harder it gets. Corollary 2: If you wait until the project is completed, its too late. Corollary 3: Do it now regardless of the embarrassment.

LAW 4: The project purpose statement you wrote and understand will be seen differently by everyone else. Corollary 1: If you explain the purpose so clearly that no one could possibly misunderstand, someone will. Corollary 2: If you do something that you are sure will meet everyone's approval, someone will not like it.

LAW 5: Measurable benefits are real. Intangible benefits are not measurable, thus intangible benefits are not real. Corollary 1: Intangible benefits are real if you can prove that they are real.

LAW 6: Anyone who can work effectively on a project part-time certainly does not have enough to do now. Corollary 1: If a boss will not give a worker a full-time job, you shouldn't either. Corollary 2: If the project participant has a time conflict, the work given by the full-time boss will not suffer.

LAW 7: The greater the project's technical complexity, the less you need a technician to manage it. Corollary 1: Get the best manager you can. The manager will get the technicians. Corollary 2: The reverse of corollary 1 is almost never true.

LAW 8: A carelessly planned project will take three times longer to complete than expected. A carefully planned project will only take twice as long. Corollary 1: If nothing can possibly go wrong, it will anyway.

LAW 9: When the project is going well, something will go wrong. Corollary 1: When things cannot get any worse, they will. Corollary 2: When things appear to be going better, you have overlooked something.

LAW 10: Project teams detest weekly progress reporting because it so vividly manifests their lack of progress.

LAW 11: Projects progress rapidly until they are 90 percent complete. Then they remain 90 percent complete forever.

LAW 12: If project content is allowed to change freely, the rate of change will exceed the rate of progress.

LAW 13: If the user does not believe in the system, a parallel system will be developed. Neither system will work very well.

LAW 14: Benefits achieved are a function of the thoroughness of the post-audit check. Corollary 1: The prospect of an independent post-audit provides the project team with a powerful incentive to deliver a good system on schedule within budget.

LAW 15: No law is immutable.

----------------A Final Thought ...

"In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable."

- Dwight D. Eisenhower (1890–1969), U.S. general, Republican politician, president. One of Eisenhower’s favorite maxims. Quoted by Richard Nixon in: Six Crises, “Krushchev” (1962)


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Revised: Tuesday, September 07, 2004 03:53:15 AM