“You keep using that word.  I don’t think it means what you think it means.” — Project meeting blues (technical)

I could have entitled the lede, instead, with a quote from Upton Sinclair.  I don’t usually take colleagues to task in my posts, but this week is an exception only because of the impact of bad conclusions stemming from invalid assumptions.

Attending another project management meeting and heard some troubling verbal arguments on the use of data that provides a great deal of fidelity in documenting and projecting project performance. 

First some background.

I’ve written in previous posts about the use of schemas for well defined datasets (as opposed to unstructured data that defy–for the moment–relational DBMS).  I’ve also written about the economies in data streams and how, in today’s world, the cost of more/better (mo’better) data is marginal, defined by the cost associated with the consumption of electricity in producing such data.

Also note that I am involved in actually leveraging these concepts to the advantage of both government and A&D customers.  My policy is to separate that work from the educational purpose of this blog, plus I observe confidentiality of customer operations though there is a marketing disadvantage as a result, and so these specifics are always avoided.  

But needless to say I am involved in actually doing what others, who are not doing these things, assert is impossible or undesirable or can only be done at great cost.  It’s inconceivable!  

I was reminded yesterday by another colleague that my strict application of confidentiality has contributed to this condition.  But my take is that when the customer is ready to reveal the results, the economics will win out.  Note that many of these things are ideas of my customers that my knowledge of technology has brought to fruition, so my blog posts document discoveries sometimes as they happen.

Here is a paraphrase of what was said (with my annotations):  “I came up using (obsolete software app).”  (Okay, you just dated yourself).  “Providing cumulative-to-date project data is preferable in lieu of monthly period data and I voiced that to (the governing agency).”  (So you prefer a method of calculating period data, which provides much less accuracy and fidelity in reporting.). “Any errors in the period will eventually work itself out.”  (It is almost impossible to take this assertion as being supportive to the argument and undermines the seriousness of the point.)

Now note that the foundation of the argument is based on the speaker’s preference for an obsolete software app, and probably any clones built on that same app structure, not on the efficiencies dictated by the core data in project management systems of record.

This is why I have advocated and written about the need to develop models for project and data management.  When compared to the economic models that do exist, these verbal assertions, which have sounded reasonable in the past, fail to pass muster.

One thought on ““You keep using that word.  I don’t think it means what you think it means.” — Project meeting blues (technical)

  1. I agree with everything you say but… we should never confuse the objectives and benefits of the project with the objectives and benefits of those involved. In my experience few non-project professional people will see a Project as anything other than a day job leading to promotion.

    More automated ‘assured’ project data will reduce the opportunity to obfuscate the true project performance and will reduce the need for client oversight resources.

    Phone: +44 7768 273161

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