Project Killers: An Ode to Death by Documentation


The story below illustrates one of the most common project killers – documentation for the sake of documenting, performed at the expense of making true progress towards project completion.

This is the story of one Guru Kumar, a brightly shining Acme PMO star.

Guru was an expert on SDLC, RTM, UML, and Rational Technology

Microsoft Office, and Visio, and Plan, were as familiar to Guru as his right hand

So as soon as the project began, everyone knew Guru would be the ‘man’

First he redid the requirements list, just in case an item was missed

He re-estimated the tasks with pep, to ensure the Plan would have each step

To prevent any false move, every document would be doubly approved

And Guru proved that he could wait, even when the approvers missed the approval date

Days turned to weeks with no code begun, but the documents piled up one by one

Requirements Traceability in 2 different views, Gap Analysis for every screen to be used

Scenarios, Use Cases, Success Metrics and more, each crafted with greater care than the one before

Next came the RAID, test cases, and executive summaries too, each with redundancy about what the project would do

The project team once eager to get started, became very quickly broken hearted

The project with such potential for return, was just about certain to crash and burn

Some dared to ask wouldn’t it be smarter, to start instead with a Project Charter?

That document defines the scope and rules, defines what will be done and what will be the tools

And surely, wasn’t enough about the project known, that the first seeds of a Project Plan could have been sown?

That the other docs would be needed there was no doubt, but would it have been possible to spread them out?

At last Guru felt that the documents were created, but to his dismay found that the team hadn’t waited

New priorities in the Acme business had been found, and some from the team were no longer around

The budget for the project was almost all spent, the investigation begun into where the money went

Guru Kumar found to his dismay that Project Killers are always eager to hold sway

Guru learned that no matter how hard he was working, Death by Documentation is always lurking

He found that the method that works the best, the method that has been tried and passed the test

Is to keep in mind that the project objective is best achieved when you are selective

About the documents you think you need, and discard the rest like a noxious weed

Only create them when needed and ensure that they are living as long as the project endures

Cry not for Guru, his bridge wasn’t burned; Acme realized the lessons he had learned

The Acme PMO once again has a brightest star, the much wiser, and less busy, Guru Kumar.

Jim Lindenfeld, Principal Consultant
Jim Lindenfeld, Principal Consultant

This blog was written by Jim Lindenfeld, who has been actively involved in customer relationship management during his entire professional career.  He is a certified sales and sales management trainer.  He has been involved in the implementation of CRM systems since 1987 and is currently a principal consultant in our CRM practice.

Illustration created and provided by Jonathan Pike, eVerge Group IT Specialist.



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