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Elements of professional working - Methods

Have a plan
Stick to the agenda
Have a backup
Monitor the project
Check at milestones and watch the budget
Have alternatives at hand
Don't tinker around
Document your work

[To top/bottom of page] Have a plan

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.

[To top/bottom of page] Stick to the agenda

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.

[To top/bottom of page] Have a backup

Think about the unthinkable: the project responsible is involved in a severe traffic accident and is off project for quite a long time:

[To top/bottom of page] Monitor the project

Any nontrivial project should be broken down into pieces. These pieces must be negotiated with the client and be the base of milestone checks.

[To top/bottom of page] Check at milestones and watch the budget

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:

[To top/bottom of page] Have alternatives at hand

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:

[To top/bottom of page] Don't tinker around

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!

[To top/bottom of page] Document your work

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).


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