Similarities and Differences in Project Management

I'm in Las Vegas waiting to get on a plan to Los Angeles to go to New Zealand for SDC. I led a workshop yesterday for real estate project managers about how to define success and manage some of the early-in-the-project risks.

We discussed issues such as the Hudson Bay start, context-free questions, release criteria, iterative planning, interim milestones, and inch-pebbles. We had many discussions and a couple of simulations. I learned that whether they are in software or real estate, some of the similarities of project managers are:

  • Our customers change their minds, so we need to be able to adapt as the project proceeds.
  • Timeboxes help us and our customers focus on what's important for now.
  • Finding the right person to help define what's driving the project may not be easy whether you are in real estate or software.
  • Hudson Bay starts are useful no matter what your project is.
  • Iterative approaches to planning and scheduling are useful because they help other people see where you lack knowledge.
  • Inch-pebbles are a fine tool to help people break down their tasks and help you see where work is progressing and getting stuck.

And some of our differences are:

  • Because we have ephemeral product and can release more often, we should take advantage of that, to get feedback. When I ran a simulation that allowed them to get feedback every 8 minutes, some of them said, “We want to do this at work!”
  • Their timeframes are long, because their buildings are big. When I spoke about rolling wave planning and planning for one month at a time, they translated that to one quarter at a time. That's often too long for a software project, but that much planning makes sense for them.
  • I'm sure there's a third thing, but I can't remember it.

As with everything, context matters.Every project is different from every other one and every project manager is different.

I had a great time and I'm looking forward to going on to New Zealand and Australian now.

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