Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Schedule Slippage and, um, Golf

Around the Boston area, golf is a seasonal activity (well, for most of us). With a couple days of good weather ushering in Spring's return, I've been itching to hit the links again.

I started playing a few years ago - and I'm not very good, but it's a fun game. Par is usually around 72 strokes for an 18 hole course. I consider myself extraordinarily fortunate to break 100 strokes. Well, ok, I did it once. Alone. In the rain.

So, a typical round of golf for me is to be about 2 strokes over for each hole. On a par 3 hole, I'll get a 5. On a par 4, I'll get a 6. I'm thrilled when I make par for a hole - and occasionally I do. And then occasionally, it'll take me more than 2 strokes over par to get the ball into the cup.

Still, ever the optimist, if after 3 holes, I'm 6 over par, I'll estimate my final score at 78, because I assume I'll make par on the remaining 15 holes.

Of course, I know that's not really what will happen. I'll probably get about a 106, because I'll probably be a similar amount over par on every single hole. And if by chance I make par (or even under par) on a hole or two, I'll probably make up for it by being even more over par on another hole.

Ok, I'll stop talking in code now. This is a real-world problem with the usual approach to updating software project plans to account for slippage. (We lost a day? Add a day to our rosy optimistic schedule.)

If after two months of a six month project, you're a month behind - I've got news for you. You're probably on a 12 month project, not a seven month project.

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