The Goal: The Cheque; The Method: The Acceptance Test (part 1/4)

It’s all about The Money.

From the view of the supplier/consultant/contractor/trainer: “I will do the work and I want to get paid in full”.

From the view of the client: “I will pay when I’m happy that the work is complete, and I get the results I want.

(The usual references appear at the foot of this article)

I am convinced that the solution to these problems has to include well-defined Acceptance Tests, and like anything else, practice makes perfect, so let us start today.

The Goal

I maintain that it doesn’t matter whether you are the CEO of Global Wantit or little Jimmy Doit operating out of his spare bedroom.

The Goal ties you together.

The Goal is always includes at least one of the four quantifiers (numeric, date/time, spatial or Boolean)

The CEO says “I want to get to the top of that mountain” where That Mountain might be a plant transfer to another town (spatial), an increase in revenue (numeric), an early retirement (date/time) or splitting off an unprofitable division (Boolean).

Johnny Doit’s job is to get the CEO to the top of the mountain, it being assumed that Johnny is versed in fording rivers, setting up camp, blazing trails and so on. You can just SEE “milestones” barging into this analogy, can’t you? And for good reason.

If the CEO cannot or will not state The Goal in quantified terms, then Johnny must make the statement and get the CEO to agree.

If the CEO can’t agree, then there is no common goal and we should all go home.

If Johnny can’t see a clear step-by-step path arising from The Goal, as stated by the CEO, then it is hold-the-feet-to-the-fire time; or else Johnny should go back to teaching Intermediate Word.

Right now, dig out your current project description or contract. Read The Goal. If you don’t see quantifiers in there, I’m betting that you are headed for failure, whether you are the CEO or Johnny.

Why Projects Fail

IT-Cortex report project failure rates of 60%-70%, where failure is defined as cancellation or significant cost overrun.

An Emerald Insight abstract of a 1995 USA study reports that “31 per cent of software projects will be canceled before completion, and more than half the projects will cost an average of 189 per cent of the original estimates”.

A Cnet-news article reports that “62 percent of IT projects fail to meet their schedules. 49 percent suffered budget overruns. 47 percent had higher-than-expected maintenance costs, and 41 percent failed to deliver the expected business value and ROI“. Also that there exists “a disconnect between the IT department and the business owners who sponsor IT projects. The two often have very different ideas as to what they want.”

A Butler-Group article suggests reasons for failure:

Spiraling costs, Pressure to complete on time and within budget, Creeping scope, internal politics, poor project management.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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