Friday, May 11, 2007

Project Management Blogs Part 1

I will label this Part 1 upfront, as there are alot out there, and I can't hope to justice to many of them in one blog.
I spent alot of time with this blog so far. I particularly thought the estimating blog was interesting. It is more geared towards IT, but still applicable. The author discusses the "mythical Man Month" which I talk about more later. But one of the points that is important was his comment about how close he estimates labor. He likes to break down tasks so they take no more than 5-10 hours. I agree that using small tasks like that make it easier to chart progress. One of the calendars that I often use breaks down each person on a monthly calendar and they can be assigned projects for 4 hour blocks (morning and afternoon for each day). For the most part I like that system, other than the fact that my estimate sheet doesn't always split neatly into four hour blocks. What i often do to get around that is use the element name on the calendar, and the estimate sheet has each element broken down in to small tasks. The other trick in estimating to keep an eye on is that jobs seem to take more time on paper when you break them out than they do in real life. A classic example of this was once, in a class project, we did time estimates on making a pot of coffee. By the time you calculated getting everything together, making the coffee and so forth, it took more than a half hour, very unrealistic in real-life terms. In terms of stagecraft, I often find the most inflation in cut lists. While it is true that a single cut list can be time consuming, a project will frequently have more than a day spent on cut lists. If all of the cut lists are done at the same time, it usually cuts this time in half if not more. Though, it could be argued that the time in the cut list estimate also includes time spent with the carpenter going over the project.

Nevertheless, the above blog links to some other blogs as well.
Also deals with estimating. In this blog there is reference to estimating by points (a IT term, but I think it could be used in stagecraft) versus ideal work weeks. Here they acknowledge that despite there being 40 hours in a week, you may only get a percentage of that in effective hours. The points as applied to stagecraft, I think, would mean determining how long standard scenery took your shop (1 flat = x hours, 1 platform= x hours) and using that to do a base estimate for labor (this is one way of doing budget estimates also).

Wikipedia has a good article on the "man-Month" reference I used above:
You should go and read the article, but there are some truths in it. brooks law for instance is right there next to the adage "the project expands or contracts to fit the time available". (also used for budget). Granted you can start the project to late to fully realize the project, but it can never start too early! from the link, I also thought the lines of communication was interesting, and the effect on productivity that creates. I have put the book on my reading list.

My last link is:
They have, at this site, a variety of blogs and other tools. Take a look its worth it. Even though much of these are based off of IT work, they are very applicable to the theatre world.

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