Bad Project Management

I have just read a rant by Sean Middleditch about bad project management [1]. He describes his post as “personal, rather angsty, and especially whiny” but I think it’s useful and informative. He makes some interesting technical points about PHP programming (I wasn’t aware that there were so many ways of easily getting things wrong and having difficulty to get them right). But of course this isn’t all limited to PHP, the web site has anecdotes about mistakes of similar calibre being implemented in every language imaginable.

Sean is apparently considering leaving the computer industry after having numerous bad experiences of having highly paid people mess up projects while he gets paid a lot less to try and fix the worst of the bugs and get the systems working in production. I understand what it’s like, I have occasionally idly contemplated leaving the industry after bad projects. However the fun of working on free software combined with the amounts of money that I can earn in the computer industry made me quickly abandon such ideas.

His stories in some ways resemble my experiences in working as a contractor, most of my contracts have been profoundly weird for various reasons (I’ll use the WTF [2] category of this blog to document some of them). I had two theories as to why I ended up in so many strange contracts, one was that I was in some sort of Twilight Zone and the other was that taking contracts based on the amount of money offered puts you at high risk of being employed by people who have no financial pressure to do things in a sensible manner.

My advice to anyone in such a situation is to try and find a contract position paying an unreasonable amount of money. Getting more than $80 an hour (the rate Sean cites as being paid to the idiots who cause problems) is going to be difficult, but getting $50 or $60 an hour is much easier to achieve and should be enough to alleviate the pain of working on doomed projects.

1 comment to Bad Project Management

  • The more money you charge, the less of your time people waste, and the more seriously they take you. Which means you can affect the client more, whether you’re peddling idiocy or wisdom.

    A good rule for an appropriate consulting rate is to think of a high number that you would quote to a client you didn’t want in order to get them to go away, then increase that to the next number that sounds good in the phrase “n dollar an hour consultant.”