Before coming on staff here in 1997, I was an Engineering Manager for NCR Corporation. I served in the Retail Products Division – the group that designed and built all Point-of-Sale systems (basically cash registers and the back-office systems).
At one point in time, we had a Director of Engineering who declared that all new product schedules should have all contingency removed. He said that “contingency in the development schedule is like planning for failure.”
Guess what? Every single new product he produced was late…by a lot.
Everything takes longer than you think
Today no exception. We were implementing new software for scanning contribution checks, and it was supposed to be a simple process. We had done our homework, and the project was only going to require couple of hours (one hour to install the software and one hour to train the team). Instead, we spent all day banging our heads over:
- Miscommunication over a phone number
- An out of date device driver
- A phone line that mysteriously stopped working
- An unexpected conflict between the software and existing processes
None of these issues could have been anticipated…and they are a normal part of any new project. SUGGESTION: Add contingency to every project schedule. Do not assume that everything will happen as you envision in your mind.
Thanks for listening.