Managing the project – The way it comes to me

Let me start with a disclaimer 🙂

All views mentioned here are strictly my personal ones. They do not bear resemblance to any particular work that someone else is doing or not.

I am no manager by designation, neither am I the typical kind, nor do I feel I possess the shrewdness to handle tricky clients. But life is about testing out the odds and a chance to give it a try was my luck.

“To be or not to be is the question”

-William Shakespeare

“To do or not to do is also the question

To do it ‘how and when’ is the bigger question

To be happy about it is the biggest question”

– (Guess who :))

It’s been more than a year now I started managing the project (names not mentioned on purpose). It’s been a lot more learning and un-learning that I had to do in this year to reach the stage that the team is in today. Over the last 10 years, I worked with many teams, many projects, many products. When we work, we are expected to learn. When we learn, we are expected to grow. When we grow, we are expected to make others grow.

However, all seems good to read, all seems good to hear, all seems good to write this :). When we actually work (rather when I worked), I learnt that most of our time we learn “what not to do” and “how not to do” rather than “how to do”.

Let me explain with an example (a single one) here –

In my previous organization, it was a product which started as a 1.0 for a startup. That’s important to know, to stress on the chaos that this mode usually works in. I joined 3 years after the product was initiated and the version had reached 3.0. Over the next 4 years I worked in the most critical part of the product living through bits and bytes, a lot of shit that reverse engineered code can

offer, fixing bugs in code which even GOD would not want to understand. Let’s cut it off here on the complexity. That’s not the point here. The point is one of the best developers I met in my life, the best team together spent years working on something where they didn’t get time to even blink, forget about time to think. The aim was “time-to-market” and it was always “asap”. People ran fast, faster, fastest. No new requirement came in new, it was always like “Oh! This was required yesterday.” Eventually the time taken to finally get the product out of the door and the quality both were not to the mark.

Switch from the old product to the one now. Same work. One fifth of the team. Estimate of 1/3rd of the time. Lot of bias on knowing how we executed things in previous one. Fortunately, I knew, I have learnt that the old way is not the right way and didn’t let any of that bias come in the way of execution of this one. The same amount of work, with quality at least 10 times better and bug count 1/50th and performance twice as better is what we see now.

Lot of credit to be given to the client who understands that time is essential to get things the way they want. We often see examples of 1 month schedules eventually taking 6 months when everyone knew it would take 6. The result is always a chaos, lot of unhappy stake holders and frustrated teams. This is true for almost 99% of the startup products / projects. I don’t mean to say any particular part is right or wrong, this the way many systems work. I mention this particularly because I was part of both the systems and I can tell for sure the later is much better. How to achieve that depends on many factors which are not in control of one person in particular but all of them put together.

The sheer fact that out of 10 years this is first time I got to be part of a smooth end-to-end execution, in itself shows how difficult it is to be part of it. There are many questions which I don’t want to put down here in particular, that each person who makes a difference in overall outcome should ask himself / herself. If productivity, client satisfaction, team satisfaction, happy faces are the intentions of every one, why do most of the executions always fail to achieve it? There aren’t simple answers to it.

To be frank, the products (All of them) I worked in first 4 years of my career didn’t even see a single day of light in the market. Things that I learnt out of it, only ensure that I see many more days of light in the industry 🙂

Keeping our eyes open, asking the right questions, doing the right things, being at the right time and right place are some points to make things “happy”.  But as always, “right” and “wrong” is always a perspective.  And as far as there are perspectives, things move according to that.



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