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Re: OT: The mythical man month - have we learned nothing?

by brian_d_foy (Abbot)
on Feb 20, 2006 at 19:20 UTC ( #531499=note: print w/ replies, xml ) Need Help??


in reply to OT: The mythical man month - have we learned nothing?

In The Career Programmer, Christopher Duncan points out another problem that's related to this: forecasters think that they can get 8-hours of coding out of a programmer wach day.

In reality, you have to come up with some fraction (say, 6/10ths, which is optimistic) and assume that's the part of the day that the programmer can actually be useful, for whatever reason.

It's not that we haven't learned anything, it's that the people on the other side aren't us. No one really makes some life decision to be a project manager. It just happens, usually on the way to doing something else. There is some training available, but there certainly isn't a concensus on what it should be. :(

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brian d foy <brian@stonehenge.com>
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Comment on Re: OT: The mythical man month - have we learned nothing?
Re^2: OT: The mythical man month - have we learned nothing?
by g0n (Priest) on Feb 21, 2006 at 12:55 UTC
    It's not that we haven't learned anything, it's that the people on the other side aren't us. No one really makes some life decision to be a project manager. It just happens, usually on the way to doing something else. There is some training available, but there certainly isn't a concensus on what it should be. :(
    In my other response in this thread I made reference to Prince2. Prince2 is a pretty rigorously defined methodology for project management. I do have some reservations about it, particularly the lack of emphasis on thorough design and specification, but generally it provides a well defined framework for making sure things get done.

    Sadly, what often tends to happen in the real world is that project managers have little training or expertise beyond generalist management skills (what I have taken to referring to as 'the cult of the manager'), project assurance and quality review are at best mere paper exercises, and involvement in definition of the project and progress assessment tends to be assigned based on importance in the hierarchy rather than appropriate skills or knowledge. For instance, the person assessing the compliance of a deliverable against specification and quality criteria is often a manager who will never, ever use it.

    There has to be someone in the project with a degree of technical understanding, and with the authority to enforce decisions. It doesn't have to be the project manager (although from a day to day point of view that makes everyones life easier) - in theory it should be the 'senior user' and 'senior supplier' members of the project board, to whom the PM reports. In reality it seems, it's usually no one.

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