This post is about ditch digging. When I was in high school the motivational statement my folks used to encourage me to go to college went something like this: “If you don’t go to college you’ll be a ditch-digger.”
Oh, this statement sounds familiar to you too? I think it was popular for years. Maybe it still is? So what’s the stigma with ditch-digging anyway?
Let’s come back to this in a few moments. What’s more fascinating to me is that the ditch ever gets completed in the first place.
Consider for a moment what goes into digging that ditch by today’s standard:
- We have to consider the attributes of the ditch
- Why build it?
- How much volume should it handle?
- Big ditch, little ditch?
- How long should it last?
- What are the Service Level Requirements (SLAs)?
- What will it cost?
- We need a site survey. Anyone been out there recently?
- What materials will it be made from? Straw, sticks, bricks, etc.?
- Environmental studies – are any spotted consultants endangered?
- We better pre-qualify vendors
- We’d better issue an RFQ
- Once we’ve reviewed the RFQ responses we need to author and issue the RFP
- We need to review the RFP responses
- None of the responses are from the vendor we REALLY wanted. Issue another RFP.
- Security – what if someone trespasses on our ditch or if the Chinese steal the plans for our ditch?
- Safety concerns – what if someone falls in our ditch?
- IT Needs
- What software do we need to design it?
- Who’s gonna install it?
- We need training on the ditch-designing software
- Is the ditch-digging software SaaS based, because if it isn’t we’ll need a server.
(Um, anyone notice we’ve not broken ground on the ditch yet…)
- Project management
- Do we have an experienced PMP certified PM with ditch-digging project experience?
- Which method are we using? Agile? Waterfall? ILT-9000-2012? (That’s a fake one…don’t hate me)
- We need an issue-tracking system
- IT needs a business case to build the issue-tracking system
- IT has a form we need to fill out for our business case. Anyone seen it? Oh, it’s in SharePoint? Ok then, has anyone actually seen it?
- We need a Risk Analysis with contingency plans
- The PM will want software to manage the ditch project
- Does the PM software integrate with the design software? Call IT. Business Case!
Where do we really get ROI on all of this stuff? Notice we’ve not done a study on ROI yet.
For whatever reason we determined we needed a ditch. Let’s go back to that point I made above.
When I look around me I see everything that’s been made by hands. Hands took tools and built sidewalks, iPads, Pyramids, churches, roads, stoplights and yes, ditches. I know our systems and processes are very useful in optimizing work and the workflow of how we get things “done” in our economy today AND that we’re more productive than ever.
Can you imagine how expensive Stonehenge or the Pyramids would be to build by today’s standards and methods?!
My point -> Don’t ever underestimate the “ditch-diggers” – the employees, the teams, the individuals, the consultants, the worker-bees, the agencies, the companies – the ones who execute against a plan and get it done. They deliver the results. All the planning and analysis, software and systems, science and applications don’t matter if the project is never completed.
Okay, okay … you get it. At some point THE DITCH NEEDS TO BE DUG.