Earlier, I introduced DJ Dunkerley, a Business Analyst and Project Manager currently lending his expertise with Annex Consulting and working on a host of projects.
DJ has a two-part blog about Project Management. Here's part 2.
Part Two of Two: The Secret List
We draw on the pitcher to fill our glasses, and for some strange reason you are reminded of a scene in Revenge of the Sith with Anakin and Senator Palpatine. But you can follow your memory no further as the present discussion begins again:
Another good reason to follow procedures is a lot of time they allow people to form abstractions about what you are doing. And in a big organization it's important to have abstractions that mean the same thing to a wide body of people. This may come as a surprise to you, O great leader, but not everybody in org has the time to read your weekly updates or the energy to expend the effort to understand why your project is so unique and special. If you are following the procedure and not antagonizing (too) many people, then all is well with the world (meaning they won't block you and even perhaps release some resources to help you out). Don't underestimate how important it is to have solid abstractions in a large multi-national corporation. Let's see you have some procedures for rolling out a new product. You don't like the procedures? Fine, get on the phone to Brussels, Hong Kong, Tel Aviv, and Boston and tell everybody you're changing what beta means and early production doesn't include documentation because you think it's stupid to get stuff written at such an early stage. Let's see you get everybody to sign off on how you think it should be done, if not everybody agrees on what "it" means.
On the other hand, slavish obedience to every darn procedure that is drafted in head office is by no means a guarantee you'll get the project done. This is where experience comes into play. It can take years, years I tell you, to develop such powers of discernment that enable you to determine which procedures are crucial to follow and which can be safely ignored. Here is a rough guide:
- All procedures laid out by salespeople should be followed. Sales guys hate procedures, absolutely loathe them. So if the sales office actually comes up with a procedure, you probably should be following it.
- Procedures by your foreign branches should be followed. Even if the procedures seem really weird. Especially the weird ones.
- Procedures by the budget team. This is a tricky one. If money for projects is flowing like a river and your company is doubling in size every years, you can oftentimes ignore them. But if money is tight and the rumour of cutbacks is making the rounds, then follow their procedures to the letter. Unless you really did want your budget cut.
- Any procedure by a business analyst or a consultant can be safely ignored unless it's given a seal of approval by your boss or by somebody who your boss respects.
- Customer services procedures can be safely ignored EXCEPT for those procedures recommended by those people who actually deal directly with customers. I'm not kidding, in every large company there are people in the customer service division who have never ever SEEN a customer. And these people are the worst at making up stuff that is just a pain to follow.
- IT procedures. Find the guy who wrote the procedure and confront him. If he can defend it, then honour it. If he got the procedure out of a Dummies textbook, tell him to compromise or you'll start an insurrection.
- Procedures by the datacenter people (SAP, Oracle, Peoplesoft): Follow them only if the data people give you resources so you CAN follow them. That is to say, the SAP guys should be given you face time with the database administrators to work the system to get what you need. Ditto with Oracle and Peoplesoft. If all they are doing is sending you e-mail with hyperlinks to undecipherable database GUIs, then you can safely ignore them. Because they are probably doing the same thing to your boss and bosses' boss, and as a result, everybody in the org hates them.
- All procedures that release resources that enable a crucial task to be completed should be followed, no matter how stupid. Fight the good fight in the next life, not this one dummy.
- If it will annoy your boss to not follow the procedure, then follow the procedure. James Dean could be a "Rebel Without a Cause" because he had tons of natural charisma and was incredibly good-looking. However, if you follow Dean's example, you will just come off as being just irritating.
In short, you gotta push the paper and kiss the rings of the various bureaucrats to get stuff out the door. Unless you're the CEO. And even them, I've seen at least one CEO slap his forehead when dealing with SAP.
The glasses are empty again. All is quiet at the table.
Hey! It's three dollar shooter night at the bar!
Senior Product Development Professional
DJ, this is an interesting perspective to share with our audience.
Ok, now IT managers and pros--tell us your experiences and provide your comments...