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Monday, November 2, 2009

My Project's Roadmap Looks A Little Rocky!

The project plans for my new project were all drawn up and presented to my manager a couple of weeks back. It was then time for us to meet with the IT department to find out what they thought of our plans. There were huge dependencies between our project and the work that IT would do. This was particularly true of data retrieval from our systems of record, GUI development and the implementation of our solutions back in the systems of record.

Problems came up almost from the get-go at this meeting with IT. Their priorities were completely mis-aligned with ours, so we weren't talking the same language at any time during this meeting. To make a long story short, they have more important projects to work on before they can get around to providing us data to get our project started. We tried various ways to negotiate with them, but after two or three meetings, it does not look like we are getting anywhere with them.

Obviously, my manager is upset, and I am getting desperate. I drew up a project plan where our part of the project has no definite start or end dates, just a definite duration. I suggested to him that we go up to our director and tell her that we can not be any more specific unless IT commits to some dates. Maybe that would spur her to put her weight behind our cause and cause some movement on the part of IT.

Luckily, I was spared some of this torture because of my Java training, which took up almost all of last week. I was able to pretend that I didn't have a care in the world except learning how to do advanced programming in Java. We had a meeting with IT on Friday, right after the training. In perhaps a sign of things to come, the manager from the IT side "could not make it" to the meeting. We were left discussing irrelevant things with her underlings, knowing full well that they did not have the power to make any decisions or prioritize projects.

But, I have set up a couple of meetings with these analysts to go over some details of the data that we need and draw up some UML's and Entity-Relationship diagrams. At least, I can pretend that I am making progress on the project because this is stuff that we need to get out of the way anyways, before we get the data. My preference would be to get them done right before we get the data, but as far as I am concerned, they can get done even years before we get the data.

My team members have been busy in the meantime drawing up the final versions of the project-related documents (requirements document, technical design document, etc.). In fact one of my team members is on vacation all of this week, so he put in some long hours to finish up his part of these documents. Now, it is my turn to review them thoroughly, make sure that they are consistent and complete, and have them signed off by my manager and director as well as by the user group representatives.

There are a couple of subtle points on the requirements side that require some clarification from the users and one of the users is too busy to give us answers in response to our emails. I might have to physically corner him in his cubicle and hold him hostage until he gives me the answers I need.

So, my calendar looks pretty full for this week even though I am not getting much accomplished. More busy work to keep myself from feeling too guilty about charging my company for 40 hours of work in the week even though what I do (and can do) is barely 4 hours' worth!

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