Communication is essential 12 Apr 2007

Models [charts, diagrams, stories, graphs, etc] are valuable only to the extent that they facilitate communication among human beings. – David West

Communication is the most essential part of a project. Sometimes the artifacts that are generated to help facilitate communication end up hindering it. If the target audience can’t understand the artifacts you’re presenting them with chances are you need to stop trying to explain it to them and find something that they can understand.

the effort required to construct the model must be less than the communication value that arises from its user. – David West

I was once the project lead on a web-based project management application for a Fortune 50 company. The GANTT chart was deemed by the customer to be the most effective form of communication since everyone else in his company used them. In fact, they all used Microsoft Project to generate them.

We spent about six weeks of development per the customer’s direction integrating support to output an exact Microsoft Project GANTT chart replica. At the end of those six weeks the GANNT chart was canceled.

I don’t know why the GANTT chart was canceled for sure, but during the time of development we discovered that our domain experts and our customers didn’t really understand a GANTT chart. They sorta knew what it looked like because it was what they gave to their coworkers and bosses every few weeks to report progress, but they didn’t really understand what they were really trying to capture.

I think that once they understood what they actually wanted and what a GANTT chart actually was that it didn’t make sense to use a GANTT chart after all. But that’s just my speculation of course.

Tools like Microsoft Project are evil, mostly

I don’t like tools like Microsoft Project or any tool that locks you into their process for how you should do things. Or maybe it’s that I don’t like people who use tools but don’t understand how to use the tool or at least what the outputted artifacts (diagrams, GANTT charts, etc).

Thank you to people who don’t effectively communicate

I try to communicate effectively, and I try to constantly improve that communication. People who don’t either of these things will make my portfolio bigger.

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