Project Management by Dummies

by Curtis Poe

A few years ago I was doing some work for an organization that held sporting events for developmentally disabled people. This organization needed some software to manage an event they were staging and during the RFP (Request For Proposals) process, there were, to the best of my knowledge, only two finalists. One was a company which had already written the software for the organization and had used it successfully to run several events. They had done this for free because they believed in the organization's mission. They were only charging for the extensive setup, configuration, and data entry that would be involved.

The other company was newly involved with the organization, didn't have any software written and their proposal was at a considerably higher price as a result. This company, however, was donating a large amount of money to the organization, even though they hadn't worked with them much and didn't understand the actual needs of the organization. Guess who won the contract? The company with the proven and free software, or the company who was donating a lot of money but had no software and little experience in this area?

The company with no software took the organization's rule book and used this as a spec for the software they were writing. They went away for several months and they came back with software that everyone agreed matched the rule book yet was completely useless. After several improvements, the software still failed to be useful. Why? Humans. They forgot that they were dealing with people instead of rules and they didn't talk to the people who actually ran events.


Timothy Johnson
2006-08-06 20:11:10
Awesome post! Back in my developer days, my best projects were those where I actually locked the user(s) into a room with me and we developed specs together, stepping through the process line by line until our understandings matched (both for current state and for the change). The people aspect is so underappreciated in projects yet so critical for success. Thanks for reminding us of this relevant issue.
2007-01-15 14:57:28
Great post - if you have a mailing list could you add my email address which is
2007-05-25 14:04:01
Excelet post! Well done!
John Willow
2007-05-25 17:48:23
hi..just to say nice friend also wrote about it on so if you want check it out..

best regards

John Willow

2007-06-30 13:57:11
A great post, apart from the last paragraph...

You get up and leave to "get back to proper work" but miss some random extremely important info.

It's more important to have the meeting structured well, something managers never do well. Treat the problem directly.