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Project Fail

April 1, 2011

We’re getting up to a foot of snow today where I live in New England. Yeah, I wish it were an April Fools joke… Actually, today is a vacation day for me, so who’s the fool posting to the work blog? Well, if I want to keep my DiMaggio-like streak of a post every week since I started this, I’d better at least bloop in a Texas Leaguer today. Oh, and the Sox open today in Texas and are picked by 34/40 sportswriters on SI.com to win it all! Ugh. That can’t be good.

Anyway, today I’m headed down into my basement to continue executing tasks and crossing milestones on the project known as my “Man-Cave.” I’m nearly finished with the framing of the walls with 2×4’s, so let’s look at the potential points of project failure:

Requirements: Mine are unclear, so there’s potential for problems. For example, after framing in the bathroom that walls out one of only 2 basement windows, it occurred to me that glass blocks would be nice to let some natural light into the bathroom. You know what that means: Change Order. It’s best to take the time to identify requirements fully before you begin the project, or else you’re likely to experience some potentially expensive surprises.

Resources: I am the primary resource on the project, and unfortunately I moonlight heavily with a day job, child and grandchild-care responsibilities and occasional weekends on Cape Cod. Plus, my primary resource has a week’s vacation in Paris scheduled at the end of April. Aside from the drain on the project schedule, I lack plumbing and electrical skills, so there unaccounted for cost down the road. Make sure your project resources have both the skills and the available time to get your project done.

Schedules: I don’t have one other than a vague idea that by the time it’s 90 and humid outside, I’ll be relaxing in my cool Man-Cave. That “schedule” still seems plausible, but as the weather improves, am I going to want to be laboring on Man-Cave construction? Make sure you plan your schedule with some flexibility in it. Changing requirements plus resource constraints will conspire to push out your dates.

Planning: I really have no idea what this is going to ultimately cost, but materials are pretty cheap and so far, labor cost is minimal. However, I didn’t plan for the “hammer drill” I purchased to drill holes in the concrete floor, so that added cost. I have a cloudy idea how much plasterers will cost to skim coat all the walls, but not a firm estimate. What about that dropped ceiling? Can I do that? Yeah, I’m just wining it. You can’t. Take the time up front to plan for everything. The more you discover during the project, the more costly it will be to retrofit.

Risks: I didn’t realize my elbow would hurt like this. Is it tendonitis? Also, every time I rev up the Miter saw, I envision the blade flying off and doing all sorts of unspeakable damage. There are risks for this amateur. Your IT project risks may not be physical, although when you consider the events in Fukushima, Japan, not managing risks on a project can have catastrophic results.

So, my advice to avoid, or at least minimize project failure is simple: Measure twice, cut once. On the other hand you can simply outsource the work to someone that really knows what they’re doing.

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