Elements of professional working - Methods
Although project plans are never absolute, it is necessary to set up a plan to have guidelines both for the project staff and the client.
Revisions of the plan must be subject to negotiations between the client and the project team.
In meetings and conferences stick to the agenda to keep the goal intact. Postpone new or off-topic points to an additional meeting which can be prepared well.
Think about the unthinkable: the project responsible is involved in a severe traffic accident and is off project for quite a long time:
- Depends the project on a particular person? Does the client accept another nose or even your competition to take over the project in the worst case?
- The whole project idea may not be feasible on the envisioned platform: Does the client accept another solution?
Any nontrivial project should be broken down into pieces. These pieces must be negotiated with the client and be the base of milestone checks.
Do not check the project work just at the end. Each step makes assumptions on the quality of the previous step. Hence each project step must be checked. With checks at the milestones you avoid time consuming and costly retrofitting tasks (which in any real project can not be avoided completely).
The checks must include the timely and financial situation of the project. It is very bad practice to overrun either without early warning to the client. Provide alternatives in such cases:
- Some features of the project could be postponed to a follow-up project or even abandoned as «nice to have».
- The client may prefer a truncated project with a kept budget.
- The client may wish to complete the project with a different route.
Especially projects in Information Technology (IT) require high flexibility in methodology and programming methods. Not everything can be foreseen and you need to have alternatives in the back hand:
- Certain pieces of the project may require a different approach (e.g. programming language) of which you might not be an expert.
- Delegate tasks which are outside of your field of expertise. Your are not the guru of everything (otherwise you are not efficient at all). Make clear to the client which specialists you will involve in which project phase.
A PC in front of you tempts you to deviate from the task. It's just too nice to check this website for news or to download this cuddly tool first and then... Work and Play
Separate your working time from your time for experiments and education. Learn your tools in advance (and this means: dig into the manuals and additional books, book a class.) The key point is to know problems and pitfalls in advance – most tools are very similar in their basic functions, but very different when it comes to the edges!
Even a small project needs to be documented. Most projects are not for the current time only but must be continued some time later – in most cases not by you!
Assume a house with no plans about the (obviously) hidden sewage. Do you want to plow the whole garden to find the tubes if you need to renew them?
Document all input (assumptions) to the project, the methods taken (and why!), the results achieved, the tests performed (nobody can test everything).