Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Project Timelines

This Thursday I will have been at this job for four months.
In addition to being close to a record string of employment at the same place, I've been working on a single, massive project the whole time.
This project (a full upgrade and migration) was started almost a year ago, and my role was created out of a requirement determined during the implementation.
Every day, we have a bunch of meetings and do a lot of work pushing the new stuff into production and getting rid of the old and busted stuff.
Every day for four months.
Last week I got a meeting invitation to something on the 18th, just after lunch.
I assumed the title of the meeting was in error, a reference to some other meeting from before my start date or a joke.
And yet I found myself seated in a room with seven other people on Monday afternoon holding a meeting which was scheduled to establish the scope of the project.
Establishing the scope is pretty much the first step in any project, especially one with this kind of scale.
"What the hell are we doing?" is a question which (in my experience) if not readily answerable by any member of a project team is a complete train wreck for progress.
And yet.
Here we were, all discussing what it is we were doing every day and why.
Four of the people in the meeting were from the Project Management Office, and the other four were the only ones with any clue as to how to articulate our goals and motivations.
The Technology Owner seated next to me began to fidget and make odd noises. Then he began to mutter under his breath about the absurdity of the timing of this meeting which obviously existed as a way of generating documentation which matched the work done, as if tracking activities after the fact constitutes a plan.
I sensed that my input would need to be directed towards this individual for a few moments in order to hold off some form of attack he might have. Or make.
"Here is the important question," I whispered to him," This shirt I'm wearing - Is it 'mint' or would you call it 'sea foam'?"
Given another line of thought, his facial muscles lost their tension. He sighed and said, "Mint."
The Technology Owner on the other side of me said,"Bull shit. That's sea foam."
With this point now firmly in debate, we began to argue and stress less about the main topic of the meeting and all of us began to throw out more ideas relating to the scope and plan and mission statement, regardless of the timeliness of the meeting itself. The obvious management ass-covering going on was forgotten with the idea that after the meeting the mint vs. sea foam issue would be fully hashed out and settled once and for all.
The meeting dragged on until we had crafted a pretty decent overall "plan" for the work we've been doing for the last four billable months.
We have not yet established whether my shirt is mint or sea foam, but I just got a meeting invitation about that for later this week.

1 comment:

Darrell said...

I believe when it comes to Sea Foam vs Mint Obama said it best "That question is above my pay grade."