Again at the Oracle Business Forum there was another excellent lecture, this time by David Fulford Assitant Deputy Minister, Ontario Ministry of Finance. He spoke about the installation of IFIS, a province-wide financial accounting system based on Oracle Financials the largest sigle installation of Finacials in the World. What made the address so fascinating was the role played by Mr. Fulford as project leader and champion. It was as if I was hearing an echo of a session I had attended at the PMI-Project management Institute 6 years before in Chicago.
What Fulford was saying had been confirmed in a roundtable discussion at PMI – project leadership is all about an unrelenting round of agreements reached and then clearly communicated to all participants and stakeholders. Focus on the mission statement was so vital, that Mr. Fulford had a small vest pocket Scope card created which clearly delineated the overall purpose and specific goals and targets of IFIS. Just as important the Scope card says what IFIS will not do in this iteration. In effect, Scope Creep was the great enemy of delivery IFIS on time, on budget and within specs. Given the roughly 2-3 year time horizon for delivery of IFIS and its major milestones – this would appear to contradict Agile and Extreme programming methods. But I would argue that they are not invalidated because there was one key ingredient on this project – rough consensus on what needed to be delivered – and then they had negotiated a specific set of deliverables. In contrast, Agile and extreme methods are more appropriate when that initial consensus cant be reached and major stakeholders are saying “show me”. At that juncture, a series of shorter duration but narrower in scope project steps are more effective – until a longer term consensus goal can be reached. In short fit the plannng and project control not just to the nature of the task but also its inherent risks including degree (or lack of) consensus among key stakeholders as to what should be done. But yet again reaching, communicating, and focusing on the goals at hand were missions 1,2, and 3 for this project manager.