Project Management Laws

  • If it can go wrong it will – Murphy’s law.
  • If it can’t possibly go wrong, it will – O’Malley’s corollary to Murphy’s law.
  • It will go wrong in the worst possible way – Sod’s law.
  • Work expands to fill the time available for its completion – Parkinson’s law.
  • Finely chopped cabbage in mayonnaise – Coleslaw.
  • A two year project will take three years, a three year project will never finish – (anyone know who’s law this is?)
  • Murphy, O’Malley, Sod and Parkinson are alive and well – and working on your project.

 

Project Management Proverbs

  • It takes one woman nine months to have a baby. It cannot be done in one month by impregnating nine women (although it is more fun trying).
  • The same work under the same conditions will be estimated differently by ten different estimators or by one estimator at ten different times.
  • Any project can be estimated accurately (once it’s completed).
  • The most valuable and least used WORD in a project manager’s vocabulary is “NO”.
  • The most valuable and least used PHRASE in a project manager’s vocabulary is “I don’t know”.
  • Nothing is impossible for the person who doesn’t have to do it.
  • You can con a sucker into committing to an impossible deadline, but you cannot con him into meeting it.
  • At the heart of every large project is a small project trying to get out.
  • If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.
  • The more desperate the situation the more optimistic the situatee.
  • If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it probably is a duck.
  • Too few people on a project can’t solve the problems – too many create more problems than they solve.
  • A problem shared is a buck passed.
  • A change freeze is like the abominable snowman: it is a myth and would anyway melt when heat is applied.
  • A user will tell you anything you ask about, but nothing more.
  • A user is somebody who tells you what they want the day you give them what they asked for.
  • Of several possible interpretations of a communication, the least convenient is the correct one.
  • What you don’t know hurts you.
  • The conditions attached to a promise are forgotten, only the promise is remembered.
  • There’s never enough time to do it right first time but there’s always enough time to go back and do it again.
  • The bitterness of poor quality last long after the sweetness of making a date is forgotten.
  • I know that you believe that you understand what you think I said but I am not sure you realise that what you heard is not what I meant.
  • Estimators do it in groups – bottom up and top down.
  • Good estimators aren’t modest: if it’s huge they say so.
  • The sooner you begin coding the later you finish.
  • A verbal contract isn’t worth the paper it’s written on.
  • What is not on paper has not been said.
  • If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.
  • If you fail to plan you are planning to fail.
  • If you don’t attack the risks, the risks will attack you.
  • A little risk management saves a lot of fan cleaning.
  • The sooner you get behind schedule, the more time you have to make it up.
  • A badly planned project will take three times longer than expected – a well planned project only twice as long as expected.
  • If you can keep your head while all about you are losing theirs, you haven’t understood the plan.
  • When all’s said and done a lot more is said than done.
  • If at first you don’t succeed, remove all evidence you ever tried.
  • Feather and down are padding – changes and contingencies will be real events.
  • There are no good project managers – only lucky ones.
  • The more you plan the luckier you get.
  • A project is one small step for the project sponsor, one giant leap for the project manager.
  • Good project management is not so much knowing what to do and when, as knowing what excuses to give and when.
  • If everything is going exactly to plan, something somewhere is going massively wrong.
  • Everyone asks for a strong project manager – when they get him they don’t want him.
  • Overtime is a figment of the naïve project manager’s imagination.
  • Quantitative project management is for predicting cost and schedule overruns well in advance.
  • Good project managers know when not to manage a project.
  • Metrics are learned men’s excuses.
  • For a project manager overruns are as certain as death and taxes.
  • If there were no problem people there’d be no need for people who solve problems.
  • Some projects finish on time in spite of project management best practices.
  • Good project managers admit mistakes: that’s why you so rarely meet a good project manager.
  • Fast – cheap – good: you can have any two.
  • There is such a thing as an unrealistic timescale.
  • The more ridiculous the deadline the more money will be wasted trying to meet it.
  • The first 90% of a project takes 90% of the time the last 10% takes the other 90%.
  • The project would not have been started if the truth had been told about the cost and timescale.
  • To estimate a project, work out how long it would take one person to do it then multiply that by the number of people on the project.
  • Never underestimate the ability of senior management to buy a bad idea and fail to buy a good idea.
  • The most successful project managers have perfected the skill of being comfortable being uncomfortable.
  • When the weight of the project paperwork equals the weight of the project itself, the project can be considered complete.
  • If it wasn’t for the ‘last minute’, nothing would get done.
  • Nothing gets done till nothing gets done.
  • Warning: dates in the calendar are closer than you think.
  • There is no such thing as scope creep, only scope gallop.
  • Anything that can be changed will be changed until there is no time left to change anything.
  • If project content is allowed to change freely the rate of change will exceed the rate of progress.
  • If you can interpret project status data in several different ways, only the most painful interpretation will be correct.
  • A project gets a year late one day at a time.
  • A project ain’t over until the fat cheque is cashed.
  • Powerful project managers don’t solve problems, they get rid of them.
  • If you’re 6 months late on a milestone due next week but really believe you can make it, you’re a project manager.
  • No project has ever finished on time, within budget, to requirement – yours won’t be the first to.
  • Activity is not achievement.
  • The first myth of management is that it exists.
  • Managing IT people is like herding cats.
  • If you don’t know how to do a task, start it, then ten people who know less than you will tell you how to do it.
  • A minute saved at the start is just as effective as one saved at the end.
  • People under pressure do not think faster.
  • If an IT project works the first time, it is wrong.
  • If you don’t plan, it doesn’t work. If you do plan, it doesn’t work either. Why plan!
  • Planning without action is futile, action without planning is fatal.
  • The person who says it will take the longest and cost the most is the only one with a clue how to do the job.
  • Planning is an unnatural process, doing something is much more fun.
  • The nice thing about not planning is that failure comes as a complete surprise rather than being preceded by a period of worry and depression.
  • Projects happen in two ways: a) Planned and then executed or b) Executed, stopped, planned and then executed.
  • It’s not the hours that count, it’s what you do in those hours.
  • Good control reveals problems early – which only means you’ll have longer to worry about them.
  • If there is anything to do, do it!