Dan Newcome, blog

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Increase project velocity, decrease cost of change

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I’ve been thinking a bit lately about project management topics and how they relate to customer expectations. I realize that this is quite a broad topic sentence, and I’m only going to dive into a few very specific things here, but hopefully I can keep expanding these ideas in a series of posts.

We’ve all been on projects where progress looks something like: requirements are hashed out, initial design goes very quickly, morale is high and progress is happening very fast. However, the initial velocity is rarely sustainable. Roadblocks arise, things are rewritten, and complexity goes up. The final days stretch into weeks and morale takes a dive.

I’m going to propose that projects should optimize for a sustainable increase in velocity throughout the life of the project. This means managing the critical path very carefully and being vigilant for hard problems that need to be solved and potential show-stoppers. There is a tendency to ignore hard problems that arise in order to keep the level of optimism up, but I think that there is an advantage to really understanding the problems well as early as possible, even if it means slipping on the schedule early.

I need to dig up a few references that I can’t seem to find right now that support basically two things:
1) New features should get easier to add as the project progresses rather than harder. This indicates that the project is dealing with complexity by building up solutions early on that can be leveraged later.

2) Project should optimize for higher velocity late in the project rather than early. Avoid going full tilt on a single branch in the beginning and focus the new-project energy and excitement on solving chunks of the critical path in small spike projects which form the basis of the first principle.

I apologize that I’m posting these unsupported and jumbled ideas, but I’ve been thinking about these things for a while and I think that starting a series of posts may be the only way I can figure out if they are at all valid.


Written by newcome

August 24, 2010 at 1:17 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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