At the end of the building, where the CIO goes
And the air smells of ozone when the AC vent blows
And no music is playing, except the Black Crows
Is the cube of the gifted PM.
And way down the hallway, some people say
If you look far and hard you can still see today
Where the PM once stood, just as long as he could
Before somebody carried the PM away
Who was the PM, and what did he do?
And why was he carried to some place so new?
Far from the building and the projects long ago
The old BA still lives here. Ask him. He’ll know!
You won’t see the BA, don’t darken his hall
He stares at his laptop and waits for the call
He lurks in his cubicle, cool, calm and aloof
Where he makes up reports out of miff-muffered moof
And on special release days in April he peeks
Out past the window blinds and sometimes he speaks
And tells how the PM was carried away
He’ll tell you, perhaps…if you’re willing to pay.
He leans back in his chair, his shoulders a-hunch
And taps on his watch and says it’s time for lunch.
You have to be clever and take up the clue
And invite the BA to come dine with you.
As you settle to eat, he looks anxiously ‘bout,
and begs you be certain that you never shout.
He orders the priciest dish he can find,
and follows that up with a bottle of wine.
Then he grunts, “I’ll call you tonight, I’ll use secure phone,
For the secrets I’ll tell you are for your ears alone.”
He’s good as his word; you move the phone to your ear
And the old BA’s words come through, though not very clear
Since he’s speaking to you through a cloth by choice
In the hopes that it will somehow help disguise his voice
“Now I’ll tell you,” he says, with his teeth sounding gray,
“How the PM came to be carried away…
Way back in the days when the science was new
And the people were eager, but knew not what to do
And the business thought all projects were as easy as pie
I was hired by this place to give it a try.
Then I first saw the list, the Requirements List!
The long standing reckoning of what had been missed
Sorted ‘what would be nice’ and ‘what would be bliss’
And promoting the list were requestors galore
Dancing and happy to see what was in store
Certain their system would soon do much more
But that list! That list! That Requirements List!
All of my life I’d been searching for a project like this.
A litany of needs more urgent than eating
And requestors with funding all plaintively bleating
I felt a great leaping of joy in my heart
And set up my laptop galumphing to start
In no time at all, I had devised a new plan
To knock off each listing as fast as I can
So with great skillful skill and with great speedy speed
I took the first entry. And I sized up the need.
The instant I’d finished, I heard a ga-Roar!
I looked. I turned to see something framed in the door
of the office. My eyes said it was sort of a man.
Describe him?…That’s hard. I don’t know if I can.
He was tallish, and youngish, but sharp dressed and preppy
And he spoke with a voice that was controlled but peppy.
“Mister!” he said in a sibilant hiss
“I am the PM. I speak for the list.
I speak for the list, to give the words meaning
And I don’t like the way that this project is leaning”
He was upset now; I could see his hands tremble
“Isn’t the right starting your team to assemble?”
“Look PM,” I said. “There’s no cause for alarm.
I took the first entry. I am doing no harm.
In fact it’s quite useful to jump in the lead
And convert the entry to a Fine-Something-That-All-People-Need.
The PM said, “Sir! Your actions are hasteful.
If no one can work with you, you’ll find they are wasteful!”
But the very next minute I proved he was wrong,
For just at that minute a user came along
And she thought that the entry on line one of the list
Was understood well, I had gotten the gist.
I laughed at the PM, “You poor stupid man!
You have to get to it as fast as you can!
“I repeat,” cried the PM, “I speak for the list!”
“I’m busy,” I told him. I showed him my fist.
Then I looked back at the screen and in no time at all
Had blown the doc up to hang on the wall
And I reached out to requestors with meetings galore
And promised them results betterer than before
Soon I found I was working full tilt. I was sizing up needs.
IT and the business were as busy as bees
tackling list entries and gathering more.
Soon the requirements list rolled clear to the floor.
Then… Oh! Baby! Oh! How that requirements list continued to grow.
Now taking one entry at a time, or even tackling two
I found that the task was more than I could do.
So I quickly invented a new requirements tracker,
which allowed me to whack out four lines with one whacker.
I was writing down needs four times as fast as before!
And that PM? … He didn’t show up any more.
But the next week he again darkened the door.
He stated, “I’m the PM who speaks for the list and the listers
It seems you’ve forgotten those missuses and misters
They’ve asked me to speak in hopes that you’d heed.
You don’t have a plan to solve the first need
And my poor users are all feeling fright-full
that you will not produce something delightful.
They loved making the list. But they didn’t realize
that with everyone asking it would grow so in size.
So they’ve taken a vote and they found with dismay
that they don’t have a need worth the price they must pay.”
I, the BA, felt sad as I deleted their asks.
BUT… business is business! There were still lots of tasks.
And the project continued despite their sad masks.
I meant no harm, I most truly did not.
But I had to get going, so going I got
I biggered my tracker, I biggered the poster,
I biggered a chart to resemble a coaster
with buckets of needs that I got from the list
and circulated to all so that no one was missed.
I went right on working, finding more needs
And I biggered my bonus, which everyone needs!
Then the PM came back, I was just starting to type
when that old-nuisance PM came back with a gripe.
“I am the PM,” he paused for effect,
“and I speak for the list which now is a wreck.”
“BA!” he cried with a cruffulous croak.
“BA! You’re making this project a joke!
“My poor IT team, how they all like to wail
they can’t seem to make out the head or the tail.
“And so,” said the PM, while pushing a sigh
“They’re all lining up and saying goodbye.
“What’s more,” snapped the PM his patience had failed
“Let me say a few words about your E-mail!
“You churn out new memos day and night without stop
Most filled with Glupp and Schloppity-Schlopp
“And who reads the letters that they get from you?
“I’ve asked everybody and I’ve found that it’s few!
And then I got mad, I turned terribly blue!
I yelled at the PM, “Now listen here, you!
All you do is yap-yap and say what you would do.
Well, I have my rights, sir, and I’m telling you
I intend to go on doing just what I do.
And for your information, I’m just about through!
And at that very moment, out in the hall
We heard the soft rustle as the poster did fall
on the floor ‘neath the feet of the oncoming CIO
accompanied by shouts that the project must go.
He held out his arm and opened his fist
He flatly demanded, “Hand me the list.”
No more list. No more needs. No more work to be done.
All my hopes had been smashed and dashed, every one.
Now all that was left to be seen with my eye
Was a big empty office, the PM, and I
The PM said nothing just gave me a look
When the walls of my cubicle suddenly shook
with the pounding of feet from the people outside.
They picked up the PM. They gave him a ride.
And I’ll never forget the look on his face
As they carried him off to a much better place
That was long, long ago
But each day since that day
I’ve sat here and relived what the PM had to say
Get the resources first, get the team to assemble.
He’d told me that with his hands all a-tremble.
Once the resources are certain I have now realized
Lists are much more easily prioritized.
And the users and listers, once they know the cost,
can easily understand the gain and the loss.
Once the plan is created, and each knows his task
Reading an e-mail about the project is the least we can ask
Each project has potential just like some seeds
Give them clean water, clean air, and meet all their needs
And each of them will become a healthy plant.
But if you rush them or starve them you’ll find that they can’t.
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.