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You Can Obey The Rules or You Can Be A Success

August 13, 2014

We are NOT yet signed off on the project.

Isn’t today your deadline?

Yeah.

So, what happened?

Security won’t sign off on our site. There’s a gap around the turnstiles, and the doors don’t close on their own.

Security’s going to fail you for that?

Oh, I’m not gonna fail.

What do you mean?

I mean I just called the facilities manager. We’ve got until midnight and I’m not leaving until we get it fixed and security signs off.

There I sat on an empty 325 person call floor; me, my manager and our security analyst, waiting for contractors to be called back at 7:00 pm on a Monday night. My manager decided to stay and lend moral support.

You know Rodney, that gap doesn’t look big enough to get through.

I could get through it.

I don’t think so. I’ll bet you $5 you can’t.

He owes me five bucks. Eventually the contractors showed up and fixed the remaining items on our security checklist. We had many hours to spare, but for a project that spanned months, it was way too close.

Here’s a picture of them from several weeks ago.
IMG_1396.JPG

What happened?

Simple. I gave away my buffer.

Like me, my manager is a Project Management Professional (PMP.)

You aren’t supposed to add a buffer. You are supposed to treat everyone like adults and give honest estimates.

Yeah, I know. I didn’t agree with that part of the PMP certification. See, if the Desktop team misjudges their estimate and you miss your deadline, sure the Desktop team looks bad, but it really comes back to the PM.

Oh, I don’t know. . .

Of course it does. You look pretty weak if you say, “Well, it was that other team that made me miss my dates.” They might decide, “Maybe we should hire a Project Manager who can bring his projects in on time.

Good point.

This particular project looked deceptively easy. Six weeks out every team, Desktops, Networks, Security, Facilities, Telecom, they all told me that there would be no trouble making an August 1st date. Since my deadline was August 11th, I was feeling pretty good.

And then we were short 15 computers. The contract requires 325 working workstations.

And then the Network team realized they were short some critical cables that would put us past our date.

And then the guys building the wiring closet ended up with twice the number of ports. (Baking Pans and Wiring Closets.)

And then, when all of those crisis were overcome, the physical security wasn’t in place. The frustrating thing is that we’ve built 8 turnstiles as part of this project starting four months ago. And yet, every single time they forget to cover that gap.

Proper PMP protocols say no buffers. And yet, if you do not hold back a portion of the buffer, every team will decide that they can eat up the buffer you share with the team.

Looking back, I should have set August 1st as a “firm” date. Would we hit it? No. But, I’ve been a project manager long enough to know that people will work toward a deadline. Had we known two weeks ago that we needed more computers, we could have ordered them rather than scrambling to pull them from other buildings. We could have resolved our wiring closet issues weeks before the true deadline.

And I wouldn’t be sitting on our call floor at 7:00 pm the night of my deadline waiting for a contractor to come back to fix the turnstile gap.

Of course, I would be out the $5 I won from my boss, so there’s that as a positive.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife and thirteen children and one grandchild.

Follow him on
Twitter (@rodneymbliss)
Facebook (www.facebook.com/rbliss)
LinkedIn (www.LinkedIn.com/in/rbliss)
or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

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