"Alright, everyone—does that cover everything?"
The RMS team had been meeting for an hour, working through the sections of the Functional Specification. There had been some minor changes, but most of the work the team members had done remained intact. Jane commented, "You know, I was worried about assigning pieces of the Functional Spec to individuals. But when I worked on my sections, they just seemed to flow right out of the work we'd already done. And it looks as if that was true for the rest of you as well."
Tim nodded. "We had discussed the project so much already that putting it on paper almost seemed like an afterthought." He looked at Dan and quickly added, "But it's not, of course."
Dan smiled at the correction. "Good recovery job, Tim." He turned to the group. "I thought it might work that way, especially since one of the guidelines I gave you for Functional Specs was that they should only be as long as necessary to document the project, and no longer. I appreciated the fact that none of you tried to impress me with your ability to churn out verbiage." He smiled at Jane. "Did the project plan and project schedule go as smoothly, once you got Bill's revised plan and schedule?"
"No, those were much harder," said Jane emphatically. Several of the others nodded their agreement. "The Functional Spec covered items we had discussed in here. Our own plans and schedules are about areas that are unique to each of us. I have never had any project management training, so I found it very difficult to estimate the effort needed to carry out my tasks. Also, I've never done a communications plan before, so I wasn't even sure what sort of things to include. The examples from the project at your old law firm were good, but that project was different and it was hard to extrapolate to this project."
"The same was true for me," said Marta. "I appreciated your help with the testing plan, Dan, but it was still a radical departure from what I am trained to do. I'm not at all sure that what I turned in to you is adequate."
"Actually, all of your plans were very good for first efforts from people who are new to MSF," said Dan. "I made some comments and suggestions, and printed them out again. Take a moment to look through what I wrote, and then let's work through them together."
The group spent another hour going through each of the project plans and schedules, beginning with the ones for Development. Dan had prepared a Master Project Schedule, and when he handed it out, everyone immediately saw a number of conflicts and issues. They worked through the schedule step by step, adjusting various activities and deadlines and consulting the company master calendar as they worked.
When they were finished, Tim stretched. "Boy, that's hard work! I never thought project planning would wear me out like this." He stood up to get some water from the credenza. "I thought Jimbo was joining us this morning."
Dan was busy copying the last of the changes onto his copy of the Master Project Schedule. He didn't look up as he said, "I have to send over the finalized documents first. He's going to review them while we work through the Risk Assessment Document, and then he'll join us at the end. He should be here about 11 o'clock." Dan made a final mark with a flourish. "There! That's got it." He called his assistant to take the documents to Jim. "Let's take a ten-minute break, everyone. Oh, and Tim, don't eat any more doughnuts. Jim is taking us all to lunch, and Ferguson and Bardell is buying."
"Don't worry," Tim said, grinning. "I haven't met a doughnut yet that could keep me from my lunch. Servers, yes; doughnuts, no way!"
After the break, Marta led the team through the Risk Assessment Document. They changed some assessments and then added a new risk of unrealistic expectations from management, which they assigned Jane the task of mitigating with her communications plan. Jane pretended to be indignant. "Gee, thanks a lot, guys! I get to deal with the pointy-hairs." When she realized what she had said, she looked sheepishly at Dan. "Oops! Sorry, Dan, I didn't mean you. You're part of that crowd, but your hair hasn't changed. At least not yet."
Amidst the chuckles, Dan waved off the comment. "That's okay, I know just how you feel. But if there is anyone who is secure enough to deal with PHMs, it's you, Jane."
"PHMs?" whispered Marta to Tim.
"Pointy-haired managers," said Tim. "Just look for the cartoons on most of the cubicles."
Dan looked at his watch. "Let's get going, folks. I know where Jim is taking us, and it would be good to get there early." He turned to Bill. "One of our risks is performance. How are the proof-of-concepts coming?"
"Actually, they're done." Bill announced proudly. "Beth is a whiz at writing components, and she had the basics of the ones we were concerned about done by yesterday morning. We spent yesterday hitting on them and running some load tests." He smiled. "It looks as if we can handle up to 500 simultaneous users with our current topologies, and perhaps more if we add some boxes and distribute the components a little more."
"I wonder if your testing was what made my print job so slow," said Marilou. "When were you testing?"
Bill's smile faded. "From about 10 to noon, then again at about 2:30," he said, somewhat defensively.
Marilou nodded. "Yep, that was it. I printed ten pages at 1:30, and they came right out. When I sent over five pages at 2:45, they took forever to print."
"Here's a problem just waiting to happen," Dan thought to himself, but he decided against saying anything to Bill in the meeting. He made a mental note to ask Bill about his testing environment next week. Then he smiled at Bill and said, "Chief, those numbers sound great! Did you actually simulate that many users?"
"Yes. Sam wrote a test script, and we were able to work the application pretty well," said Bill, smiling again. "Beth pointed out some tweaking we needed to do in the component model, and we squeezed another 12 percent out of it before we were done."
"Excellent work, Bill," said Dan. "And the same for all of you. You've all put in extra hours, I know, getting this project plan ready, especially with the changes we got at the last minute. I appreciate your hard work."
Just then, Jim Stewart poked his head into the room. "Request permission to come aboard, Admiral."
"Permission granted." Dan and Bill had spoken at the same time. They looked at each other in surprise and laughed. Bill said, "Sorry—force of habit."
"That's all right, Chief. I should have yielded to my first mate, anyway." He turned to Jim, who had moved to the head of the table. "What did you think of the final version of the project documents I sent over?"
"I thought they were very good," said Jim emphatically. "In fact, this is one of the best-documented projects we've ever had in this company. If your execution is as good as your planning, we should be in very good shape when you're finished." He pulled the documents out of the folder he was carrying. "I do have a few suggestions. Shall we look at them now?"
"Absolutely," said Dan, and the team listened as Jim outlined four proposed changes. A brief discussion followed, during which three of the four changes were adopted and the fourth was dropped. "Are we ready to go to lunch, now?" Jim asked.
"Not quite yet," said Dan. He pulled a flip chart from its place in the corner and turned to a page where he had written six bulleted points. "It's time to see if we have hit the Project Plan Approved Milestone. Remember, major milestones are points in the life of the project where the customer and the project team agree on certain major questions. Here are the six for the Planning Phase. Tell me whether we have agreement on these points, and where that agreement is documented."
The team looked at the six points in silence. Then Jane got up, took the marker from Dan, and went through the bullets, writing beside each one.
"Details of what to build to meet the business need? That's in the Functional Spec. Features of the application, in priority order? Again, the Functional Spec. How long? Master Project Schedule. How to build it, and who builds it? Master Project Plan. Risks of building? The revised Master Risk Assessment Document. And the milestones and deliverables for the rest of the project? In the Master Project Plan." She looked around. "I think we're done," she said.
"No, you're wrong," Bill growled. "We've got one more thing to do before we're finished with the Planning Phase." Everyone looked at him as he continued, "We have to decide whether or not to proceed."
Everyone nodded, remembering the end of the Envisioning Phase. Jim said, "Things sure can change in a hurry, can't they, Dan?"
Dan smiled. "Yes, but that's why we do this the way we do, so we can respond." He paused and then said, "I think we're all ready to move forward, Jim, but you're the one with your neck on the line. What do you want to do? Do you want the RMS that these documents describe to move into the Developing Phase?"
Jim didn't hesitate. "Let's do it. Even though we've cut back somewhat, it still brings a lot of value to the table. And besides," he said, standing up, "I'm seeing what good leadership and teamwork can accomplish, and it's exciting to watch. I want to see what sort of product you can turn out."
"Actually," said Dan, "so do I." He turned to the rest of the team. "It's agreed, then. We have decided to move to the Developing Phase." Shaking hands with Jim, Dan continued, "I think I heard something about lunch. Are we ready to go?"
Jim put on his jacket and straightened his tie. "They've got a table waiting for us. The sooner we get there, the sooner we can start eating."
"Then let's get moving!" said Tim, heading for the exit. Just then, Beth and Sam stuck their heads into the conference room. "Glad you could join us, you two," Dan said.
"Bill said he thought we'd had enough pizza and soda, and it might be time to try some of the other major food groups," Sam explained.
Dan turned out the lights, and the group headed for the elevators.