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Who butters your bread?

There are many different project management styles and theories floating about with strong proponents of each type or flavor. I've pretty much come to the conclusion that there can be no reconciliation about which is best as they all are "best" for something. Let's take the example of the typical cost-loaded schedule used in Earned Value Analysis.

Where did this method first evolve? Well, it evolved in an environment which had a strong tradition of issuing contracts. The natural language in such an environment was $ and work packages. It is no wonder that it spread (even if slightly modified) from there to large public works projects where once again $ paid for work done is the name of the game. Specs in this environment have to be quite strict and well developed because you get what you pay for. If you want more or want to do something different then Ron Tutor ends up with a new airplane. The project schedule and inspection reports are almost certainly going to end up in court as "Exhibit A" being presented by one lawyer or another. Is it any wonder that people in that industry would be suspicious of any scheduling or management practice which did not account for and document everything? Of course. They are motivated by money.

However, what makes/saves money for one industry does not always work the same for another. A schedule as a legal document is superfluous and wasteful when you have an internal team which is working on a project. Typically you want them to complete their work as efficiently as possible. This means looking forward and only looking back to see what went wrong so you won't do it again. Fixing the issue of the day is more important than counting the hours spent idle due to it. The balance of priorities is different and so the management response is (should be) necessarily different.

So the question remains, which is best for you? Well, to look at it cynically, the answer is whatever will make you the most money. Balance the cost of the system against the results. I'm still trying segue to one of my favorite Dilbert cartoons but am having trouble doing it gracefully, so here it is.

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