Thursday, October 08, 2009

Now vs. Someday

Wendy - you really should get the requirements first.
- advice from everyone

As you all noticed, I tend to get ahead of myself. I think it is because I confuse requirements that need to happen NOW vs. "I'd like to be able to do this someday."

I have misinterpreted a "now" requirement as a "someday" requirement and been burned.

I have seen the "someday" requirement quickly becomes a "now" requirement when a higher-up gets involved.

I have experienced getting to the "someday" requirement and realizing that I have to make do with already exists.

This explains why I knee-jerk try to manipulate what I already have at my disposal rather than continue to collect requirements, or grovel to the vendor (I'm not the money person so that never works particularly well), or get the money people to grovel to the vendor ("Try to make do with what you have").

I'm scared to death that I will never be able to deliver.

Definitely not in the "Now" timeframe and probably not in the "Someday" timeframe.

I really should stop taking so much ownership over things I can't control.

I frequently find myself in the situation where the tools and resources were selected and purchased well before any real requirements were put in place. And well before I came along.

Below is an example of what happens during those projects:

The management gives me some tools (5 paper clips, 3 pieces of cinnamon gum and a roll of duct tape) and asks me to get requirements for their use.

Once I have the requirements (make a robotic arm) and have done the gap analysis (erm, I'm not even close to having the right resources), I am given the final set of resources.

We are replacing your 5 paper clips with 5 safety pins, the gum will be fruit-flavored and, oh by the way, we need to take the duct tape. Good luck! (door slams and the resource-providers are only heard from when they complain that you can't get the job done with what they gave you).

This is the situation I find myself in right now. (OK, maybe not nearly that extreme).

We are trying to put a round peg in an octagonal hole.

In this case, we have a useful content library that we are trying to make into an LMS. There are LMSy features available in the content library, but it is missing lots of things that would allow it to perform the requirements I am collecting.

At this stage, I don't know what resource changes will be available once we have the full requirements list.

Will we be able to completely re-evaluate what we are doing and actually purchase the tools we need to fit those requirements?

Or will we have to make-do with what we have.

Past experience tells me to be ready to make do with what we have.

Which is why I try to get an inventory of what we have to work with at the same time as I collect requirements. I am doing this a little too early in any self-respecting project.

Because those "Someday" requirements quickly become "Now" requirements.

And I gonna haveta figure out how to make do with 5 safety pins and fruit-flavored gum.

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