The System Engineering Guide


Development Approach: tg-logo-smWhile many developers prefer to “just do it”, we provide the minimal guidance it takes to “just do it right the first time”. Starting with the classic waterfall life cycle (the easiest approach to manage, but long out-of-favor among advanced teams), developers can add concurrency, iteration and staging as their ability to manage complex development matures.

Multiple Paths: Build or Buy? Accelerated Requirements or Staff it Thin? Based on the Systems Engineering insights and efforts of Dan Myers, with Requirements Solutions Group, THE Guide provides a process for selecting your development path, and positions you to press for more cost-effective options.

WiSDM: The Online Guide (TOG)

THE Guide reference materials are published in web-based format. Even in the early 1990s, we chose to make online access the format for THE Guide. Today’s version is available by subscription: See our Web-inspired Systems Delivery Methodology

We designed The Online Guide as a Project Management Office Portal or Intranet. This also gives you access when away from the office. You can still print activity and reference pages for assignment, using your web browser.

This move allows us to add never-before-available information, such as the descriptions for the Medium Project Guide, and other great features, without adding multiple binders to your desktop.

THE Guide has always been a highly scalable “lean without mean” process; now it is even more useful, as your teams use it online.

Methods For Multiple Project Sizes

Does one sized method fit all your needs? Or is one size all that is available to you?

In today’s world you need to provide a range of product sizes to meet your customers’ needs. The same is true with system development methods: The same method cannot meet everybody’s needs.

Most methods are built for applications of a certain size range. This is great if your projects are all that size, but when you are working with significantly different-sized applications, you must modify your approach.

For example, a method that is targeted for a 24,000 work-hour project will scale nicely to work with half as large a project. With adjustment, it can work with a project that is one-third of the methodology design target.

But it will prove to be too much for a 6,000 hour project! We call this phenomenon “The Fourple Factor”.

Many commercial methodologies are built to manage very large projects. This is because in larger projects there is more risk—and more risk produces more revenue for the consulting firm! Or, more recent arrivals to PM claim to sell scalable methods. While some truly are, we have been developing (and adapting) truly scaleable methodologies for over 25 years.

Using THE Guide For Large Projects

Those very large methodologies have their place. You’ve read the research reports about how 95% of all very large projects consistently fail. They need help! The best approach, where possible, is to break larger projects down into multiple medium projects, each having quicker benefit realization. Our Large Project approach uses multiple concurrent iterations of our Medium Project Guide. The way we scale Medium projects upwards is by adding multiple teams, with team members full time. Then we stage the project for quicker results your customer can use.

Of course, to get this much work done that quickly, you need the right resources.

Our project modeling approach uses our Plan By Example tool to show how many people, with which skills, you need to meet your timeline. Staff according to our model plan, and you will have a quick start.

A perfect plan! But the more you vary from our success model, the greater the cost, higher the risks, and lower the quality!

THE Guide For Today’s Projects

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Our Project Guide provides perfect planning and support for projects that are 360-3600 hours of effort. The key to this project size range: it is the most that a team of up to seven of the right people, working half time, can complete in six months. It is also the most efficient delivery of project work: Smaller projects have too many delays; larger projects require more layers of management, and more intra-team overhead and communication.

Why half time? Few practitioners have the luxury of working full time on today’s projects. A caution: less than half time can make the cost per unit of deliverable soar!

THE Guide provides a 4-phase structure, with four milestones and key work package reviews. Phases last three to six weeks, and projects last three to six months.

Plan By Example shows how to finish the project quickly and effectively; for those without the right staff availability, our “Thin Staffing” model is a useful fallback.

Want To See More?

See this overview of THE Guide in action, in this (17mb) video: THE Guide Processes: Capturing Project Knowledge.

Co-Pilot: Small Project Guide

lrn-co-pilotEnterprise-wide, your staff spends up to 75% of their time in project-related work.

They probably spend much of this time in smaller, urgent jobs that are not managed as projects, but as “work that must be done by the end of the month.”

The net result is that up to half of the work in your organization is not managed like a project, it “just happens.” As a result, your products or services cost more than they should, and your customers are not happy.

What if you could finish each project faster with great documentation, than without it? That’s what you can do with our active document template, the Small Project Document File (Speedy File). And, our phase roadmaps help you plan phase efforts, then track their progress.

Universal PM Methodology

Co-Pilot: Small Project Guide is a universal and consistent method (imagine: project consistency for your entire enterprise!) for any small project (up to 360 hours of effort). This repeatable process has business analysis activities that help you solve the right problem or seize the right opportunity.

Its project management activities help teams complete each project better, faster and cheaper, while speeding and improving documentation.

Business Analysis Methods: Apply problem analysis and problem-solving skills to solve the right problem right, the first time. Get better definition of Solution Requirements, earlier!

Project Management Methods: We scale project methods to the minimum you need for success, with more reliable estimates.

Speedy File from Co-Pilot: Small Project GuideActive Documentation: Your projects are self-documenting, with the online Small Project Document File (The Speedy File). Or, for very small projects, use our VSP templates, and for the tiny “Just Effectively Do It” projects, use our 1-page JEDI template.

Next page: The Project Guide