Archive for July, 2007|Monthly archive page

Learning UML

A few years ago I decided to familiarise myself with UML. My first step was to seek some advice from colleagues on what might be a good book about the subject. The book that came highly recommended to me was Martin Fowler’s UML Distilled.

Having used his book to learn UML I cannot recommend it strongly enough. He has done a brilliant job of taking a large subject and condensing it so that you can get up to speed with it quickly and enjoyably. Continue reading

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To Slip or Not to Slip?

I once worked for a project manager who did not update project plans to reflect reality. On one occasion developers were coding furiously, unit test plans had not been written yet and the system test team were sitting around twiddling their thumbs. This manager calmly told me that the project had entered the system test phase.

In my previous blog I mentioned the fact that sometimes it is best not to move a milestone on a plan because the message it sends to your team is that deadlines aren’t fixed and this can lead to reduced motivation. It has since occurred to me that this argument could be used to justify the approach I describe above. This wasn’t my intention but it does raise an important question: when is it best to keep a milestone fixed to improve motivation and when should you allow it to slip into the future? Continue reading

Management and Leadership

It is easy to think of management and leadership as synonyms. Job roles and descriptions often use the terms interchangeably (especially in software companies where titles like “Team Leader” and “Development Manager” are commonplace and often describe the same role). It is also natural for us to group these words together because those charged with providing leadership invariably need to use management techniques as well.

To me the fundamental difference between leadership and management is that where leadership is about making things happen, management is about ensuring things get done. But what does this mean in practice? Continue reading

Thinking Outside the Triangle

One of the most pervasive management concepts is surely the time/cost/quality triangle. This is illustrated as follows:

triangle.jpg

Think of your project as a dot somewhere in the middle of the triangle. If your project is in the middle of the triangle then you are delivering an average level of quality at an average cost in an average amount of time. The idea is that you can move this dot around to be nearer to one corner but it will therefore be further away from the others. So, for example, you can deliver a higher quality product but the cost will go up and it will take longer.

Generally speaking customers want the lot (i.e. best product for the lowest price in the quickest time). Project managers (who understand the triangle idea) know that they can not improve one without sacrificing another. Continue reading