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"Tricks & Traps"

Event Report

On Tuesday, 27th June 2006 at the BCS Centre, London, members of BCS PROMS-G and their guests, were treated to a presentation by Tony Grout, FMI solutions, about the tricks and traps of software project management. We include observations and comments from two attendees.

Following the AGM Tony Grout of FMI solutions presented his “Tricks & Traps” on software project management. Tony is a leading authority on the IBM Rational Unified Process® and has been in the software industry for 20 years.

His presentation was presented in a story entitled “The Software Project Management Journey”. Tony started by explaining that the best way to acquire knowledge is from listening to stories. This is according to Aristotle and psychologists. He did promise that if anything else the audience would take something useful away even if it’s only a great jelly recipe.

Tony started by explaining that software projects are still not arriving at the correct destination. Stakeholders tend to dictate the development timetable rather than trusting the developers’ timelines. He then moved on to team dynamics and communication. Team goals should be well defined and be a focal point. Software development should be split into small chunks and tested while developing instead of at the end. Managing the stakeholders’ expectation and risks were also a theme within the whole story.

Tony then finished by saying it is important to remember that software is built by people and delayed software can derail entire organisations. True to his word the last slide provided a recipe for blackcurrant jelly, however at the time of writing, the validity of this has yet to be confirmed.

Bruce Nicholls

Presentation by PROMS-G Chair, David Reynolds to Tony GroutTony Grout gave a very enjoyable, interesting and informative account of the life and trials of a Project Manager. Tony's tenet initially appeared different to Andy Langridge’s presentation a fortnight ago. Andy's was all about measurement, recording, similar projects, similar staff skills, past history and prediction of an estimate risk area for elapsed time and cost. Whereas Tony's was about how can you derive an estimate at the start of a project, when even you client does not know what he really wants, but is sure he wants it for a fixed price and a predetermined date. However, both were marching in the same direction and successfully overcoming similar problems. This confirmed my view that you really have to attend all meetings to derive the full benefit of your PROMS-G membership.

Some of Tony's main insights:

  • A Project Manager is often appointed after setting up the project with staff and costs;
  • A Project often starts without clear client requirements, yet requires a definite estimate;
  • You have to be up-front and honest with your client, it's a joint journey;
  • A Project Manager has to be pragmatic;
  • You need a quick win, you must produce one deliverable per month;
  • A Project must be a series of one-month bites;
“yes” you heard yourself saying “I knew that”, but then Tony always struck home “did you remember that on your last project” and you replied to yourself “of course I ……..”.

Mike Tyrrell

Tony's presentation is available for download (1410Kb)


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