Project Proverbs

Below are some project proverbs I've trawled from the Internet plus some project related quotes I like: enjoy but beware, many of them hold some uncomfortable truths!

Project Management Proverbs

  • The same work under the same conditions will be estimated differently by ten different estimators, or by one estimator at ten different times
  • You can con a sucker into committing to an unreasonable deadline, but you can't bully them into meeting it
  • The more ridiculous the deadline, the more it costs to meet it
  • The more desperate the situation, the more optimistic the situatee
  • Too few people on a project can't solve the problem - too many create more problems than they solve
  • You can freeze the clients specifications, but they won't stop expecting
  • Frozen specifications and the abominable snowman are alike :- they both are myths, and they both melt when sufficient heat is applied
  • The conditions attached to a promise are forgotten, and the promise is remembered
  • What you don't know hurts you
  • A client will tell you anything you ask - but nothing more
  • Of several possible interpretations of a communication, the least convenient one is the only correct one
  • What is not on paper has not been said
  • No major project is ever installed on time, within budget, and with the same staff that started it
  • Projects progress quickly until they become 95% complete; then they remain at 95% complete forever
  • If project content is allowed to change freely, then the rate of change will soon exceed the rate of progress
  • No major system is ever completely debugged; attempts to debug a system inevitably Introduce new bugs that are even harder to find
  • Project teams detest progress reporting because it vividly demonstrates their lack of progress
  • It takes one woman nine months to have a baby. It cannot be done in one month by impregnating nine women (although it is more fun trying).
  • The same work under the same conditions will be estimated differently by ten different estimators or by one estimator at ten different times.
  • Any project can be estimated accurately (once it's completed).
  • The most valuable and least used WORD in a project manager's vocabulary is "NO".
  • The most valuable and least used PHRASE in a project manager's vocabulary is "I don't know".
  • Nothing is impossible for the person who doesn't have to do it.
  • You can con a sucker into committing to an impossible deadline, but you cannot con him into meeting it.
  • At the heart of every large project is a small project trying to get out.
  • If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything.
  • The more desperate the situation the more optimistic the situatee.
  • If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it probably is a duck.
  • A problem shared is a buck passed.
  • A change freeze is like the abominable snowman: it is a myth and would anyway melt when heat is applied.
  • A user will tell you anything you ask about, but nothing more.
  • A user is somebody who tells you what they want the day you give them what they asked for.
  • Right answers to wrong questions are just as wrong as wrong answers to right questions
  • Of several possible interpretations of a communication, the least convenient is the correct one.
  • The conditions attached to a promise are forgotten, only the promise is remembered.
  • There's never enough time to do it right first time but there's always enough time to go back and do it again.
  • I know that you believe that you understand what you think I said but I am not sure you realise that what you heard is not what I meant.
  • Estimators do it in groups - bottom up and top down.
  • Good estimators aren't modest: if it's huge they say so.
  • The sooner you begin coding the later you finish.
  • Anything that can be changed will be changed until there is no time left to change anything.
  • If project content is allowed to change freely the rate of change will exceed the rate of progress.
  • Change is inevitable - except from vending machines.
  • The person who says it will take the longest and cost the most is the only one with a clue how to do the job.
  • Difficult projects are easy, impossible projects are difficult, miracles are a little trickier.
  • If you don't plan, it doesn't work. If you do plan, it doesn't work either. Why plan!