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   ► MB LobbyPM, Process, and PSDP BoardPSDP Topic   Print This     

PSDP and Culture

PSDP and Culture in PSDP topic (part of our PM, Process, and PSDP group).

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Terry
 (Inactive)
California
In the Overview of draft 2 of PSDP, Section 2.6, Culture, it seems to infer that the culture of a company has a lot to do with whether a project is considered a success or failure. IÆm confused by this. IÆd like to know how a project that takes twice as long and/or costs twice as much to complete can be considered a success or moderate success. Let me state, my company has had its share of delayed, over-budget IT projects. Beginning a software project that is supposed to take 5 months and cost $500,000, and ends up being completed 10 months later and costing $1,000,000, would not be considered a success. Even if the technology is everything wished for when finally delivered, executive management would hardly think of this as success, but rather an example of gross mismanagement or incompetence. Does this mean that if our company had a different culture, twice as long and twice as much would be acceptable? What am I missing?
Terry
 Posted 17 years ago (Thread Starter)
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Post ID #4888, 3 replies
Thread Started 1/17/2002 8:50:00 AM
View Counter=2827
Last Reply Posted 1/23/2002 7:12:00 AM)
Location=California  
Joined=17 years ago   MB Posts=3  
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Mike Prestwood
Prestwood IT
Prestwood IT office in Citrus Heights, CA
Excellant question. Thanks for taking the time to post it. I believe you have the basis for the answer to the following question right in the text of your post.

>>...how [can] a project that takes twice as long and/or costs twice as much to complete be considered a success or moderate success.

This depends on many things. Here are a few points to consider and several examples that directly answer your question.


  1. What is success? For each project you must define sucess. Is success a time issue? A money issue? A feature issue? Is it all three? Is it always all three? Is it something else? PSDP defines success according to process and project. This allows your group to define "clearly" what success is for you on each project.


  2. Detail design-based estimate: If you're talking about a detail design-based fixed bid, then you're correct. The project must be considered a "process" failure. Once a development team knows "what" the software will do and the details of "how" the development team will accomplish the what, then a development team should be able to fairly accurately "predict" a target deployment date and budget. What's fairly accurate? Not sure, I think the standard is plus or minus 25% in the industry, but that isn't defined in PSDP and may be company specific.


  3. Project success: It may still be considered a business success if, for example, the software needed to be in place by June 1, 2001 and it was just completed in Jan 2001. Perhaps 5 months before needed but still 6 months after the target date.


  4. Inception-based fixed bid: Now, if the estimate was an inception-based fixed bid (neither requirements nore design was known) and the development team was able to come within 200% of budget and target date, I would absolutely call that a success. However, I would strongly question the process. Too many technologists try to give "accountable" estimates too early in the process. The risk factor is outragious for inception-based fixed bids. Requirements-based fixed bids are a little better, but still too risky. PSDP recommends going through at least General Design, before giving a fixed bid (a general design-based fixed bid).


  5. Scope creep: What about scope creep? If the project was budgeted for six months and $500,000 and even just ONE single feature changed, than you have scope creep. Now you may have allowed for some scope creep, but did you allow for enough? How do you know? What's acceptable? If you're going to do fixed bids, you MUST have a precise and detailed description of deliverables that does not change. This concept applies to time and material billing relationships too. An estimate of $500,000 and six months is a huge iteration of the software. You had better have a precise and detailed description of the deliverables. Otherwise, you're just guessing. That's ok too, depending on culture. The state, for example, does alot of work on a strictly time and material basis. They get estimates, sure, but they just keep rolling until it's done or cancelled. (If they adopt a good process like PSDP, they could manage those types of projects better too.)


  6. Completed deployed software success: We've delt with several companies that were soooo very bad at software development, they considered any project that was completed and deployed a success.

>>...my company has had its share of delayed, over-budget IT projects...supposed to take 5 months and cost $500,000, and ends up being completed 10 months later and costing $1,000,000, would not be considered a success. Even if the technology is everything wished for when finally delivered...

What was the $500,000 for? When was the budget established? Was it for everything (inception, requirement, design, coding, and deployment)? If so, how could you establish a budget of $500,000 before you've documented "what" and "how"?

Was the what (requirements), and how (detail design) completed prior to establishing that budget?

I think you can see from this response that PSDP can educate all on what success is and how to measure it.

If, according to your culture, an executive manager will always call a project that cost twice as much and took twice as long a failure. Then you should never give estimates for something unknown. A very common mistake. That way, a "true" failure can be learned from. PSDP can guide you correctly through those various scenarios so you evaluate the appropriate criteria to define success.

--
Mike Prestwood
Prestwood IT Solutions

 Posted 17 years ago
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Post ID #4895 (Level 1.1)  Reply to 4888
Thread Started 1/17/2002 1:19:00 PM
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Location=Prestwood IT office in Citrus Heights, CA 
Joined=19 years ago   MB Posts=1410   KB Posts=1805   KB Comments=69   BLOG, Topics=4  
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Mike Prestwood
Prestwood IT
Prestwood IT office in Citrus Heights, CA
>>Inception-based fixed bid: Are you suggesting that while the client may benefit from a bid at this point, the developer could suffer?

Actually, I was saying that you should not do inception-based fixed bids because they are too risky. Too many unknowns.


>>What I am getting at is how does a company know that a developer doesnÆt really have the experience to do a certain project and thatÆs why a fixed bid is not given until after general design?

Bottom line: Don't do fixed bids until you have a complete and detailed description of deliverables. You can refer to the section titled, "Avoiding Development Team Fixed-Bid Loses" in the "PSDP Project Management" document for more info. As for the skill set, that's where PSDP can help. With a solid process like PSDP, you rely more on the process than on the talent and experience of the developer. PSDP is flexible in that experienced developers on smaller projects can take the informal path.

>>...if a developer has experience in the type of software a client needs, couldnÆt cost be determined on previously developed software?

Yes, ballpark estimates can be generated. However, neither the client nor the company should rely on those types of estimates. Refer to the "Rolling Estimates Project Management" in the "PSDP Project Management" document for more info.

--
Mike Prestwood
Prestwood IT Solutions

 Posted 17 years ago
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Post ID #4958 (Level 1.2)  Reply to 4888
Reply Posted 1/23/2002 7:12:00 AM
Location=Prestwood IT office in Citrus Heights, CA 
Joined=19 years ago   MB Posts=1410   KB Posts=1805   KB Comments=69   BLOG, Topics=4  
Terry
 (Inactive)
California
Mike
Thanks for the feedback. Your answers were very informative, and while some of them cleared things up, others provoked more questions for me. Let me start with

#4. Inception-based fixed bid: Are you suggesting that while the client may benefit from a bid at this point, the developer could suffer? If the developer does requirements, you state this is less risky but still taking a chance, and that only after doing a general design, should a developer feel confident in giving a fixed bid. What I am getting at is how does a company know that a developer doesnÆt really have the experience to do a certain project and thatÆs why a fixed bid is not given until after general design? I assume that for a large project, this could involve asking for a substantial investment before a client knew what it was going to cost to build the software. While I know there are highly complicated multi-million dollar projects that involve huge amounts of research just for feasibility, there are also projects that are far less involved, but large enough to be costly to develop. However, if a developer has experience in the type of software a client needs, couldnÆt cost be determined on previously developed software?

#5 Scope Creep: If a feature/features change, I assume you are talking about the client requesting this change, and notoZ
 Posted 17 years ago (Thread Starter)
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Post ID #4947 (Level 1.3)  Reply to 4888
Reply Posted 1/21/2002 1:12:00 PM
Location=California  
Joined=17 years ago   MB Posts=3  

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