Show me your plan

I am amazed at how many IT professionals still balk at having to plan and document their work. “I don’t have time for this”. “Do you want me to write about it or actually do the work?”. “That’s what project managers do”.  They’ve no use for a plan (nor status).

I remember when I was working in a large corporate shared services organization ten years ago. One of the IT directors in a business unit left me an agitated message and actually said “I don’t have time to plan” when I had asked him for his plan to support an impending ERP deployment. Another business unit IT director of a company we had just acquired chastised me for asking him to review my SOW for integrating his nine sites into the corporate network. He said he didn’t have time for “make-work”. These were IT directors, mind you. Of smaller companies, granted, but I remember being awestruck. They put these statements in writing and on voice mail.

Fast-forward over a decade later and I am fighting with an engineer over providing a written plan of a major weekend cutover for a customer. I am not asking for a Microsoft Project MPP file or a large document. I am asking for a list of tasks he has to accomplish in order to succeed. So after several days and some screaming, I get an email with 20 lines or so. Armed with something I can share, I asked some of his peers to join a quick meeting to discuss. Turns out his peers forecasted major failure owing mainly to the physics involved with a mass data copy. So the work was cancelled and rescheduled. We had to go to the customer and tell him we didn’t do our due diligence. Multiple resources were inconvenienced.

Hard to believe that in the mature industry we are now in that there are IT professionals – even engineers with advanced certifications – that just don’t get it.