Monday, December 7, 2009

Project Management Wisdom From Dilbert

Reminders of My Former Work Life

I spent a number of years in project management, particularly in the Information Technology area. Clients always wanted to know what something was going to cost to get developed for them, but like the cartoon, often had no details that they could give me to start the ball rolling.

I used to call this the Tyranny of the Number. My question would be "What is your budget?" or "What do you think the project is worth?" My clients, thinking I was on a money grab were in turn asking "What will it cost?" Both of us were pretty sure that the one who could get the other to blink first, won.

There, of course was more to it than that, but this comic which I received in email this morning from Dilbert.com reminded me of how negotiations usually started over projects.

3 comments:

PM Hut said...

I like the way you discuss the budget with your client. Software projects are notorious for being very hard to estimate projects where clients don't know exactly what they want.

mbrandon8026 said...

PM Hut left a comment that I could not post as follows:

I like the way you discuss the budget with your client. Software projects are notorious for being very hard to estimate projects where clients don't know exactly what they want.

mbrandon8026 said...

Yes, PH Hut, software projects are notoriously difficult to price. I did not explain how I went about it, since I don't anymore, and I was only communicating the humour of the comic.

But, I did have a successful process for pricing such projects, by working on phases, and only committing to a cost for one phase at a time.

I used computer spreadsheet models based on PMI long time stats for proportions that each of the numerous phases of a development project took on average in a project, and gave loose estimates of the project based on proportionality, in the early phases.

As the project moved forward, the loose estimates got tighter and deeper with the completion of each phase.