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 Effective Engineering e-Newsletter – 9/2/2004

This is your monthly e-Newsletter from
Effective Engineering Consulting Services (www.effectiveeng.com).  If you would like to receive Effective Engineering e-newsletters as they are published, please send an email to e-newsletter@effectiveeng.com, and we will add you to our distribution list.  Comments and suggestions are welcome and encouraged!


Project Management: Project Planning – Well Begun is Half Done
  By Tom Dennis – President, Effective Engineering [tdennis@effectiveeng.com]

We briefly discussed some Project Management basics in eN-047022 – Project Management: What Gets Measured Gets Done.  In this e-Newsletter, we will look at the steps that need to be put in place at the start of the project planning process.

These are elements that must be put in place, and once there should be applicable for all future projects.
Project Control Systems
(see eN-030911 – Development Methodology Basics: Management of Development) need to be in place to support effective product development.  These include mechanisms to control and track what is happening during the product development process, such as development systems and tools (see also eN-030410 – Use the Right Tools to Do the Job Right), design control systems, configuration management systems, testing processes and systems, bug reporting and tracking systems, bug review processes, product release control systems, etc.

Change Control Systems
(see eN-030911) need to be in place to ensure that there is an appropriate resistance to change.  This forces people to recognize and appreciate the benefits and costs of changes, and concur that the benefits are worth the costs before changes are agreed to and signed off on before being implemented.

Project Management Systems
(see eN-030911) need to be in place to ensure that all relevant parties are properly informed on project status so that informed decisions can be made.  These include regular (often weekly) project review meetings that involve all relevant parties, and often include a Phase Gate Review Process that calls for formal reviews at specific milestones, with proceed or stop decisions made at the gate, and sign-off by all relevant parties.

Product Requirements:
Do you know what your customers really want (see eN-030619 – What Do Your Customers Really Want?)?  Too often products are defined based on what people in the company want and not what the actual customers want.

Development Approach:
In many cases, a “waterfall” development approach, where every activity is thoroughly planned up front and followed explicitly simply will not work.  This may be because some development is needed before the “real” requirements can be fully known.  Or it may be because a “hoped for” approach may need to be tried out and adjusted, or even scrapped, before the rest of the development can proceed.  In general, when there are unknowns while entering product development, a more flexible approach must be considered, more along the lines of “agile development” methodologies (see eN-040527 – Project Management: Build – To Last).

Risk Assessment:
Assess the risks and make plans to minimize them.  Remember the proverb from the last e-Newsletter (see eN-040805 – Project Management Proverbs), “A little risk management saves a lot of fan cleaning” (think about it, when things go wrong, something hits the fan).  By assessing the likely areas of risk up front, a better plan can be developed that at least to some degree takes into account the risks.

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Effective Engineering Consulting Services, All Rights Reserved

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