~ By Tim Bryce
Our electronic communications may be very slick, but if neither party knows what the other is talking about, you are going nowhere fast.Bryce's Law
These are interesting times for managing systems development projects. In the old days (as late as the 1980s), whenever a development project was initiated, it was necessary to form a project team at a centralised geographical location in order to expedite communications between project members. But now we live in an age of electronic communications that provides greater flexibility in terms of allowing workers to work just about anywhere; some are at a central office, some are at home, some are consultants operating off-site, some are overseas in Timbuktu. Thanks to such things as collaborative software, the Internet, cell phones, etc., development staffs are as distributive as the systems they are trying to build. Whereas the development staff used to personally know all of the people participating on a project, now it is common for people not to be able to match a face to a name, be it nothing more than a UserID or an email address.
Although electronic communications is useful for instant messaging and exchanging design documents and files, interpersonal relationships are often sacrificed, and this is a vital part of any project. After all, if we do not know anything about an individual, we are less likely to trust and work with them effectively. Consequently, Project and Systems Managers ask me for advice on managing virtual project teams for which I offer three suggestions:
When you think about it, there is actually nothing here that shouldn't be done under normal operating conditions where all participants are on-site and present. Electronic communications simply begs the issue. It also means standard methodologies, like "PRIDE," are just as important today as they were yesterday, perhaps more so. Consider this, without such standardisation, offshore programming is not truly feasible. Collaborative software, the Internet, and all of our other communications vehicles are nice, but without an organised and standardised development environment, chaos will inevitably ensue.
Tim Bryce is the Managing Director of M. Bryce & Associates (MBA) of Palm Harbour, Florida, a management consulting firm specialising in Information Resource Management (IRM). Mr. Bryce has over 30 years of experience in the field. He is available for training and consulting on an international basis. His corporate web page is at: http://www.phmainstreet.com/mba
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