Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Hoover Dam and IT

This is a blog entry i wrote at, you need to be member of this site to view the blog.
Anyways i am recreating the same entry here again:

I have been amazed from my childhood about the Hoover Dam. It size made me feel tiny even on pictures and the stories of its construction got etched to my memory for ever. So when I got a chance to visit Hoover Dam during April 2006, I was very excited.
Excited – is a very mild word to describe my feelings. It was something that I dreamt from my childhood and was very happy to see it come through.
As our car approached the dam, my heart started racing.
The sheer size of the construction amazed me. I walked around. Saw the dam from different angles. Oh boy, I didn’t get tired even after spending 4 hours at the dam site.
I purchased books about the construction of the Hoover Dam and started back.

I started reading the book once I reached my hotel. As I kept on reading I was amazed to know the details of the construction the amount of materials used etc., but one detail caught my attention more:

“… was accepted by the Bureau of Reclamation on March 1,1936, more than two years in advance of the scheduled date of completion”

Not only Hoover Dam, the Empire state building in NY was also completed 5 months ahead of its scheduled time.

For me working in IT projects this piece of information made me think, what lacks us in delivering projects ahead of schedule and at the required quality?

Here I chose to use “required quality” as we may have to go for stringent quality depending upon the type of projects we do.

What ails the IT world? Why do projects dont end on time and are plagued with bugs? Though many articles have been written about this I thought we should learn from the construction/civil engineering peers on how they execute these mounumental projects on time and with the quality that is needed.

I pondered through the resources and I observe these may be the reasons:

1. Vision
a. The vision with these projects are created is to be admired. Clarity in thought while conceiving the projects.
2. Design
a. All the design aspects validated by qualified professionals. All the design alternates are considered and the best selected based on the impact to environment, wildlife etc., There are no two ways to design once the design is baselined
b. Design in such a way that parallel activities are always possible
3. Attention to details
a. The attention to details before start of the project, during the project and while completing the project and during each and every activity carried out
4. Coordinated execution
a. There is no blame game between the teams and every one is clear on what they are doing
5. Metrics on progress
a. Collect only Metrics that give information and not confusion
b. Filter the metrics as what the exective needs
6. A leadership that knew what its doing and what the people are doing.
a. The leadership then didn’t use complicates ERP/CRM/SCM systems and accounting softwares to manage their resources (men,material and money)
7. Innovation, which was integrated with the way design and execution, was done.
a. It is inspiring to read the innovation that has been used while constructing the Hoover dam like “large 10-ton trucks were modified to support platforms holding 30 drills which were used to prepare the rock face for dynamiting tunnels through the canyon walls”

These 7 factors provide a huge impact on the delivery of any project. I will not say that the IT projects lack this completely but the maturity in which it has been used by the construction industry even 50 years back is amazing and that is lacking in IT industry.
Have i missed any factors?
We should start looking towards construction industry for more ideas onhow they manage their projects.

So the question is will we see a day when we start delivering projects much before schedule and with required quality? Will IT mature?

what are your comments and views?

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