October 25, 2009

Eats, Shoots and Leaves !!

That's about the red Panda you find in the Himalayan mountains. And sure enough they don't go around shooting as the title suggests. Its about red Panda's food habit and I intend to say that they eats shoots (mostly bamboo) and tree leaves. An unintended comma distorts whole intended meaning of the sentence. Which could have been avoided had attention to detail been paid.

Paying attention to detail does help. Be it professional front or personal life. You put clothes in the washing machine , put required detergent , let in the water and switch on the machine. But did you put the water outlet at proper place? Missing to pay attention to detail on the process of getting your cloths clean using washing machine can flood your entire house. I did that twice :-O.

Shipping application/delivering product/concluding project on the deadline promised looks to be a wishful thinking. But I know this is very much possible had attention to detail is paid at various stages of development cycle. To begin with, estimation goes wrong and this has cascading effect on the project time line. Lets take example of software development. One thing is for sure that developers are a helluva optimistic lot of people. The time estimation is usually based on gut feeling and experience. And that is certainly not a scientific way of estimation. Experience could be one parameter but coming out with the estimation solely based on it will not give you justifiable estimation.

Striving to do the task right first time should be the approach taken. Once a task is assigned it is very important to understand ,before you begin with implementation , what needs to be done. Then comes how it would be done. Essentially what all activities or sub tasks would lead you to completion of the task. So understand and analyse the task and break it down to several sub tasks. Once this is done , write down all the sub tasks. Review the list for some missing steps/detail. Refine the list based on self review.

Now get the list of sub tasks peer reviewed. Iterate through above two if needed. Then consolidate the list of sub tasks. Essentially now you know all the steps leading towards completion of task. This list help you in having control of what needs to be done and will help you arrive fairly accurate estimation of time. At any point of time during the development you can correctly measure the progress and rightly adjust the time line, if needed.

I categorise the whole process : paying attention to detail. Though this is against the normal instinct , inertia acts against this once included as part of regular process will significantly help one to be in total control of development process.

3 comments:

Dominic M said...

"Striving to do the task right first time should be the approach taken." totally agree with you on this. :)

Good to see your blog.

Ankur Chandra Srivastava said...

Good article Amit..
Definitely breaking a task into sub-tasks with dates and clear-cut responsibilities put around that is key to good project management. Also, important is recognizing dependencies between those sub-tasks and which of those can be executed in parallel to leverage full bandwidth of the team.

Amit R Verma said...

Thanks Dominic and AC.