Wednesday, November 14, 2007

It's Hard Out There For a PMP

Too often, I'll get a question from a business analyst or project manager along the lines of "How much effort would it be to add this column to this table?"  It drive me nuts on two levels. 

  1. I have enough control issues as is.  I don't care much for letting some developers touch my database, much less a project manager doing data modeling for me.
  2. What's the freaking requirement?  What's the client want?

So often as engineers, we hear the solutions from the functional folks, and rarely ever hear the business problem.  When asked this question, I'll usually ignore it completely and try to work backwards.  I'll respond with "What are you trying to do?", and the response will be something like, "I want to search for this and I was thinking we can put it in this column."  And as you'd expect we'd do this for a couple rounds until we get to the requirement.  Sometimes it's like pulling teeth.

I understand it's hard for PM's and BA's with a technical background.  I'd have a hard time with it too.  What I worry about is that not every engineer will challenge the "How hard is it to add this column?" question.  What you'll almost always find, is that once the requirement is defined, the solution ends up looking nothing like what the project manager had in mind.