Project Management

Subject: Project Management
From: George Hayhoe <GFHayhoe -at- AOL -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 20 Sep 1995 10:43:17 -0400

Just can't resist adding my $0.02 to this thread.

I recently completed a contract on which I headed up a group of four writers
responsible for producing resumes for a proposal worth $6 billion in
potential business to my client. The proposal manager was another contractor
who apparently has no idea how to manage a project except to produce Gantt
charts, even if the data they contain is meaningless.

During my first week on the project, before the other writers arrived, I was
told to produce a formal schedule for interviewing candidates, drafting
resumes, revising them, editing them, etc. The problem was that we had no
idea at that point whose resumes we needed to write, when those people would
be available for interviews, or even when their names would be available (as
it turns out, we didn't get the last three names till 48 hours before the
proposal was due to production, but that's another story). It took me two
days to convince the proposal manager that it was pointless to make a
schedule when we had only the ending date, not the starting date.

Formal planning is vital to the success of any complex project. You must
define the tasks, estimate the effort required to complete each of them, and
identify any dependencies as early as possible. But you can't really devise a
schedule or know what resources you need until you have sufficient
information--like the starting and ending dates. Otherwise it's just a
keep-busy exercise.

(BTW, I must admit to feeling more than a bit justified when our 150 pages of
resumes got a "go" following the red team's review of the draft. Only three
other proposal sections got that nod, two of them one-pagers, and the third a
section that had been originally written months in advance when the draft RFP
was initially released.)

--George Hayhoe (GFHayhoe -at- aol -dot- com)

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