Home > Uncategorized > Hell on Earth, or why project management is so important

Hell on Earth, or why project management is so important

September 28, 2005

Okay, so I know you’ve missed me. That’s right, the three of you who actually read this thing – I know you’ve missed my witty remarks on current events. Where have I been? Working 90 hour weeks where I don’t feel like I’m getting anything done. Sounds great, huh?

I had this great idea a year or so ago that it would be absolutely fabulous to dump our old Nortel Meridian Option 11C PBX at the office in favor of a Voice over IP (VoIP) solution from Cisco. They call their platform the Architecture for Voice, Video and Integrated Data, or AVVID. I’m sure you can tell by what I’ve said already that I know way more about business phone systems than I would have told you I was interested in 6 years ago when I was a senior MIS major in college.

[DAMN! I graduated almost 6 years ago? Crap I’m getting old fast now. We’re off to my 10 year high school reunion next week. But I digress]

So anyway, I was intrigued by Cisco AVVID’s benefits. Things like unified messaging that integrates your voicemail into your Exchange/Outlook inbox and the ability to set up rules that will route people calling you based on criteria you set up really got me excited. I mean imagine this – a certain special someone who you never want to talk to calls and the system routes them to voicemail without even ringing your phone. Too cool! Plus a VoIP phone system leverages your existing data network so there’s no more phone wiring to mess with when you need to move a phone. Just move it.

So somehow the powers that be actually agree with me that this looks like a great idea, and I get tasked with making it happen. Shit. Now let me start off by saying that I’ve been in the consulting world as a systems engineer for the last 4+ years and I’m used to operating in that mode: you see a need on a project and you step in and fill it. Being a client is totally different.

We engaged a prominent phone company headquarterd in Denver to be our “solution partner” on this project. Essentially we wanted, and they offered, a turnkey solution. They sit down with us and figure out what we want and how we want it built, then go off and build it, deliver it, install it, test it, deploy it, and support it. Unfortunately that’s not how it turned out.

I should get going to bed as I have an early start tomorrow (today – heck I need to get up in 6 hours), but let me just say this as a word of warning to you all: a project manager can make or break a project. A great PM can overcome crappy engineers. Conversely, you can have great engineers and a great client who’s willing to shoulder more than their fair share, but if you have a project manager who doesn’t actually manage the project, you’re screwed.

Unfortunately that’s what happened to us. We didn’t get a project manager. We go an admin assistant (essentially) who thought managing a project was scheduling conference calls and sending out a project plan a couple times via email – no need to discuss that, right?

Long story short, the phone project that was supposed to go live by the end of June 2005 now looks like it will go live around the middle of November. Now to be fair, we missed June because I was out for 3 months when Alicea was sick and Kaitlyn came 9 weeks early. But once I was back the launch was pegged for 9/17. Now it’s slipped to 11/14. Nice, huh.

PROJECT MANAGERS people, find a good one and give em all the love you can.

Project Managers [Author unknown]
If you get in my way, I’ll kill you!
– ideal project manager

If you get in my way, you’ll kill me!
– somewhat less than ideal project manager

If I get in my way, I’ll kill you!
– somewhat misguided project manager

If I get in your way, I’ll kill you!
– A tough m. f. project manager(eats glass, live cats, etc.)

If get kill in will way I you.
-dyslexic, functionally illiterate project manager

I am the way! Kill me if you can!
-messianic project manager

Get away, I’ll kill us all!
-suicidal project manager

If you kill me, I’ll get in your way.
-thoughtful but ineffective project manager

If I kill you I’ll get in your way.
-project manager who has trouble dealing with the obvious

If a you getta ina my way, I gonna breaka you arm.
-project manager from New York

I am quite confident that there is nothing in the way, so no one will get killed.
-project manager who is about to get in big trouble

If you kill me, so what? If you get in my way, who cares?
-weak, uninspired, lackluster project manager

If I kill me, you’ll get your way.
-pragmatic project manager

Kill me, it’s the only way.
-every project manager to date.

If we get in each others’ way, who will get killed?
– An utterly confused manager

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