It’s slipping! (No, we are not hanging by our fingertips off the edge of a cliff – but sometimes a program manager may feel like that.) I am talking about the schedule. Perhaps you were planning on testing your new technology on an aircraft that will only be available a month sooner than you expected. Now your schedule has been drastically crunched (unless you decide to let your timeline slip so far you will not meet your major milestone.) The main thing you will do at this point is begin to re-allocate resources to attempt to meet the tighter deadline. As you and the other Monkeys in the Middle discuss the options and begin to lay out the new plan, there is a point where no amount of money nor additional personnel on the project will increase the return on investment. In fact, there is a point of where it may even be detrimental to the project as a whole.
One good example is a software intensive system with hundreds of thousands of lines of code. If the code is only 70 percent complete at the time of the schedule change, you can add more programmers to the team, and maybe have them work in shifts. There will come a point where it will not make a bit of difference if anymore are added – they will only confuse the matter. This is much like the Pareto Rule (80-20 rule). In almost anything you do, there is a maximum benefit region and as the curve continues, the impact of additional resources becomes minimal.
Every day our projects walk right up to the edge and look over the side. “It sure is a long way down,” they think as the pebbles bounce happily down from jagged rock to jagged rock. It is up to the Project Manger to bring the plan back from the edge of the cliff and to find the balance that will maximize resources while keeping the cost, schedule, and performance balanced as well. No one said this PM thing was easy. Still, no ordinary job gives you the thrill of adventure quite like being a Project Manager. Should we let our little secret out?
Photo Attributed to: http://www.flickr.com/photos/puroticorico/