I am not on the consult list.
Feel free to cross post.
But given subsequent discussion, perhaps the consult list should be advised
what subjects to review in the latest archives.

My post on Columbus 3 ships was intended as a bit of tongue in cheeky.

I always thought the mythical man month was a big joke, like Dilbert before
there was Dilbert, until I was in a conference on a project that involved
some consultants.  It was a General Ledger package that we were implementing,
that came from these consultants.  There were some decisions needed from top
management how to implement & stupid me suggested that perhaps the auditors
should be told about this so they could reccommend what we ought to have

There was this meeting in the CEO office which included the CEO & some other
top managers, all the leadership & some rank & file from accounting dept,
myself & my IT boss, the consultants in force, the auditors in force.  The
meeting lasted about 4 hours.  Absolutely nothing got decided.

I presented what I had learned about the package relevant to our prior
processing trade-offs & what I felt were the areas that needed an executive
decision.  The auditors had a lot of questions about the capabilities of the
new package that the consultants were not able to answer, but me & the
accountants studying the package were able to answer & in the process this
raised reference to some terminology & functionality of what is done in
accounting that the CEO & other top managers had never heard of before &
wanted explanations of.

So a lot of people in the meeting got a good education about what was doable
in computerized accounting & the importance of some aspects of it, but also
that kind of meeting unweildy.  The consultants were really quite ignorant of
our business & their package at detail level.  The auditors were really quite
ignorant of our business outside the stuff they audited, and the computer
aspects.  Top management was really quite ignorant of the details of several
departments under their authority. IT (me) was really quite ignorant of what
the company needed outside specific requests of me.

Very rapidly any answer by anyone led to multiple questions by people who
needed to understand the framework of what was going on & the importance of
all this.  The meeting gave me a profound respect for the Mythical Man Month.

I think that its discussions of team structuring make a lot of sense in the
context of the kinds of software projects I have been on, but it did not even
address the problem of the meeting I illustrated, which has been all too
common problem of my career.  I think part of the answer to that is an
intranet web site using hyper text to brief staff about what is going on or
being attempted, so they have access to background info ... I have never
actually done that, I just speculating on how best to extricate projects from
the bogging down of intercommunications between all the players.

The last big project I was in was an ERP conversion.
The players included one person from each of several corporate departments
... five all told, plus an executive boss of the project, plus me, plus 3
people from the consultants.
We had a schedule that involved intense education in the new reality,
conversion of data to a series of pilots in which the team would evaluate
what needed modifying or done differently & I would implement this in time
for the next pilot.
A secretary was added to keep the books of special forms up to date for
One or more people filled in forms with what the problem was that they had
Other people would investigate what caused the problem & reccommended either
that there be a modification to how the new software functions, this is a
data conversion issue with reccommendation how do something different, this
is an operations issue where users need to do something different, this is a
bug that the vendor has to fix.  Depending on the aspect of software
involved, there would be a 2-3 person team specializing in that area who
approved or denied the suggestion, indicated whether or not we could live
without this fix, and relative priority to have it implemented.
This meant that I had approx 250 modifications to be implemented in under 2
months.  I told the boss that it was humanly impossible, and made some
suggestions where non-technical people could take over some of my work to
relieve some of the load but that would not be enough.  It seemed to me that
the project design was really great to get the job done with minimum people
(minimum cost) but also mandated SOS to consultants at key moments & I
figured that was part of a deliberate plan.
We had to get a bunch of people from the consultants to help out with the
programming & here the mythical man month principles reared their head.
Although as much as possible no more than 2 people working the programming of
any one area, everyone specialized in know-how ... only a few knew SQL ...
very few knew AS/400 printers ... almost none of the new programmers knew the
flow of info through the ERP ... our programming standards (what objects
belong in which libraries of the library list) existed but not easily
accessible because the first bunch knew them & not need them easy accessible.

eMail@James-W-Kilgore.com (James W. Kilgore) wrote

>  Mac,
>  So true!
>  You should post this on the consult list.  Really.
>  I've been in the biz a long time and I have formulated a 10% increase in
> total time for each additional person on the project.
>  MacWheel99@aol.com wrote:
>  >
>  > > If Columbus sailed across the ocean in 3 months with 3 ships, how
>  > >  long would it take with one ship?
>  >
>  > Certainly less than 3 months because they would not periodically stop to
>  > bring 3 captains together to argue.  Have you read the mythical man
month .
> ..
>  > about how the more people who have to communicate, the less work that
>  > done because more time spent on communicating?

MacWheel99@aol.com (Alister Wm Macintyre) (Al Mac)
BPCS 405 CD Manager / Programmer @ Global Wire Technologies Incorporated
http://www.globalwiretechnologies.com = new name same quality wire
engineering company: fax # 812-424-6838

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