Building Bridges

“You're a consultant. Your job is to help organizations build bridges. You have a new client who brings you a proposal that looks like this:

“We have this need for a bridge. We don't know what materials the bridge needs to be made of. We don't know how high the bridge needs to be. We don't know what the bridge will be stretched over. We aren't sure how long the bridge needs to be, and we definitely don't know the weather conditions at the spot where the bridge needs to be built. We'd like you to build the bridge, but we need it done by next month.”

What do you do?”

I think MSF can really be helpful here. For any project, you have 3 main variables: resources, schedule, and features. The more you have of one, the less you can have of the others. If someone wants things done in one month, then you can implement x programmers * y features / 1 programmer month = y features / 1 programmer month. So, they can pay for additional developers (if you have them... if you don't, then you can always outsource), or they can adjust the features, but they can't change the time (envision a triangle here, with each side being one of these).

Now, there is also another factor called “risk.” The key to successful project management is eliminating as much risk as possible from the equation. The more risk involved, the less likely you are to make the deadline. Explain this to the company that is requesting work from you and make it very clear to them (and in your contract) that the huge amount of risk involved in the project must be reduced, or you cannot gaurentee any shipping dates.


  • so let's make it really difficult. let's say the client isn't using an IT process. let's say their using

    S I X S I G M A

    now what do you do?

  • Actually Jesse, I'd say the threshold beyond which adding developers does little good is a fairly low threshold... The communication overhead starts earlier than most people realize. But I totally agree about buying a solution being a zero-developer solution (although it usually causes feature cuts!).

  • Yes, it may be fairly low, but the average development team is also fairly small... especially if you don't work at a company with M in its name :-) I must admit though that the average developer is also so incompetant that, 90% of the time, adding him to any project will have a negative effect, regardless of its scope...

  • Im in SA and im doing a project on bridges 4 technology i need info on truss,suspension,arch bridges. i need to know wich are the cheapest to most expencive, the materials needed,how long it takes and which is the safest.


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