In one of my classes earlier this week, one project manager explained that he spent an entire day each week working the Gantt chart in a scheduling tool. He has a project of roughly 20 developers, a few testers, and a few other people (I’ve forgotten the details).
I asked if he had one-on-ones with everyone every week, even just an informal checkin to see how things were going. No, he depends on his technical leads (4 or 5 of them) to do that. He then integrates everything into the humungous WBS.
That’s not my style. I’d much rather have a less detailed schedule in the scheduling tool (or hire some administrator kind of person to manage the WBS) and spend time with the people. When I spend time with the people on the project, they are less likely to stretch the truth about their real status. I can see demos or other visible progress. And, I’m much more likely to hear bad news early.
This fellow seems to be succeeding, but I don’t think spending a day a week on a WBS is a scalable idea. I prefer to do rolling wave planning and only plan for a few weeks at a time, and block out the rest of the schedule, and keep talking to the people. And, when I work for people who require a long detailed WBS, I hire a project administrator, who has a full-time job keeping the schedule.
My first choice (and second and third choice 🙂 is to manage the project in a way that the WBS works for me, not the other way around. And I choose to work for the people on the project, not the schedule.