Starting a project late is worse that finishing it late

Over the last few years of reading Glen Alleman’s “Herding Cats” blog, I have come across the refrain “Risk Management is how adults manage projects” many times.  Today, I chased down the source of this quote to Tim Lister’s 2004 “How Much Risk Is Too Much Risk?” talk. I’m glad I did. Among the many gems on risk management there, my two favourites are linked to Tim’s refreshing focus on value, and the accountability of the client.  The first key idea is:

Starting a project late is worse that finishing it late

and the second:

The only reason to quantify cost (schedule and budget) is to have something to compare to your quantification of benefit.

which doesn’t make too much sense without Tim’s explanation.  If you are curious, effort to dig up this talk and read it will be rewarded.

Alternatively, check out Tim’s talk at InfoQ London 2014 “Risk Management is Project Management for Grown-Ups” which contains this thought of the day

All the projects with benefits but no risk were completed a long time ago.

Risk and Safety discussion

Having identified our risks we then proceed to characterise the source, the causal mechanisms, the consequences, identify controls and finally apply some sort of ranking to the risk. Sounds fairly straightforward and objective doesn’t it…


Although dangers are real, there is no such thing as objective risk or real risk. Even the simplest, most straightforward risk assessments are based on theoretical models, whose structure is subjective and assumption laden and whose inputs are dependent on judgement

From Matthew Squair’s excellent “System Safety” lecture slides.

IT Service Management Reading

Adopting IT Service Management disciplines is a journey for the service provider (and the customers). Here is a partial list of references which have guided me. Implementation Guidance  (book), Gene Kim et al. An opinionated pathway to … [Continue reading]

PMQu: A Quality Tool for Project Information in MS Project


(Article published first in "The Critical Path", PMI Sydney, April 2015) The open source add-in for MS Project called “PMQu” assists project managers to create, and maintain, quality-checked project information. Earlier in this series of articles, I … [Continue reading]

WBS and Schedule Network coherence at scale

Add and Prune Dependencies Algorithm animation

(Article published first in "The Critical Path", PMI Sydney, February 2015) As argued in a previous article[1], common definitions of “deliverable” in the WBS and schedule network may be maintained by having “Start” and “Finish” milestones in the … [Continue reading]

Having a common definition of “deliverable” in both WBS and the schedule network.

Critical Path Article 01.01

(Article published first in "The Critical Path", PMI Sydney, December 2014) Having a common definition of “deliverable” in both WBS and the schedule network assists project managers to build a common understanding of the project scope and progress … [Continue reading]

“Ready for use” and “Ready to use”

I am prompted to write because of a useful paper: "Perspectives on the Formal Authority Between Project Managers and Change Managers"  in the October/November 2014 Project Management Journal by Julien Pollack and Chivonne Algeo both of the University … [Continue reading]

Kazakh Notes now free download on Google Play

Back in 1991 in my first year in Kazakhstan, I wrote an introduction to Kazakh Language for English speakers called "Kazakh Notes".  I have just uploaded it and made it free on Google Play: Kazakh Notes. While preparing the manuscript for upload - I … [Continue reading]

Classic moments in automated geolocation


I found this today courtesy of Google's auto geolocation and mapping algorithms! … [Continue reading]

Foundations of Project Management

This is a collection of references to articles and ideas that I refer to constantly to refresh my vision for Project Management. Bent Flyvbjerg on Reference Class Forecasting. Mel Conway on How committees Invent. The collaboration patterns of … [Continue reading]

“Cybersecurity as Realpolitik” by Dan Geer

"Cybersecurity as Realpolitik" by Dan Geer, at BlackHat 2014 is a thought provoking and informative discussion of the behavioural economic interventions that might increase Cyber Security. 8/10 Is there any real difference between a system that … [Continue reading]

Expected % Complete MS Project Custom Column

I attended Angela Chellas' MS Project Advanced workshop today (excellent course) and there was a question about how to figure out what % complete that a task should be if it was on track.  Based on elapsed time, the Expected % Complete for tasks and … [Continue reading]

PRINCE2 Joined-Up

The core of PRINCE2 project governance guidance is summarised in the introduction to the business case ... The ongoing and ever-present decision regarding the Business Case is whether the project can (still) be justified. This is based on whether … [Continue reading]

Portable Bank Account Numbers

As you are probably aware, the Australian telecommunications regulator mandated mobile phone number portability which eliminated a major source of 'lock-in' previously available to phone companies. Today banks enjoy a very similar source of … [Continue reading]

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion


Cialdini's book is a must read for all sentient beings. The facts on the ground are too numerous for our minds to accommodate so we consistently adopt mental shortcuts that make us vulnerable to the compliance practitioner. Forewarned is … [Continue reading]