Projects Well In Hand: A Methodical Metaphor

During the course of over 3 decades in IT, the author was “blessed” with the opportunity to be exposed to multiple project management methods. Coming from a family background in the construction industry during the 1970’s, the Waterfall method was – and still is – the most comfortable.¬† Critical Path Management in IT is like building a house where grading comes before foundation, foundation before framing, utilities before walls, walls before fixtures, etc. Subcontractors are just like specialized programming teams and have to be scheduled on and off projects at just the right time.¬† At their core, every other IT methodology flows from the Waterfall (pun intended) with various enhancements, overlays, and specialized tools.

GE used Waterfall before the Zombie Apocalypse introduction (and ultimate demise) of Six Sigma. The rise and fall of Six Sigma is discussed in another article. Citi Financial Services used Waterfall and¬† Andersen Method One. At PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC Consulting) it was whatever the customer wanted with an overlay of Stage-Gate quality management and Balanced Scorecard System reporting.¬† At IBM, it was again whatever the customer wanted although IBM’s purchase of Rational Software in 2003 forced a brief but futile dalliance with Rational Unified Process. Some of PwC Consulting’s Balanced Scorecard and other methods were integrated into IBM Cognos after the IBM/PwCC acquisition – but only where the customer wanted to pay for the implementation of Cognos on the projects they were paying IBM to develop!

The “Projects Well In Hand” (PWIH) hybrid framework evolved from long years of ping ponging between “mandatory” methodologies, needing a way to keep sense of it all – regardless of methodology – and still deliver successful projects on time at or under budget. The resemblance to DevOps was kismet as the elements of PWIH simply evolved into a repeating rhythm regardless of the steps required by the methodology ostensibly in use at any given time. It was also the answer given to management every time they asked: “How’s the project coming?”¬† The answer: “It’s well in hand, no worries!”

Project Management Activities

2006 – Kinsey
Unified PM Hybrid


1970 – Lockheed


2001 – Agile Manifesto


1940s – Toyota
1990’s – Western adoption popularized by Womack and Jones


1986 – Motorola
1990’s – Popularized by GE’s Jack Welch


2009 – Patrick Debois, Gene Kim, Jez Humble, John Willis



1996 – Project Management Institute


Define Scope and Objectives, Identify Sponsor, Negotiate Budget, Identify Stakeholders, Create Timeline, Risk Assessment

Requirement Gathering, Scope Definition, Risk Assessment

Initial Planning, Backlog Creation

Value Stream Mapping, Understanding Customer Needs

Define phase: Identify project goals and customer deliverables, project scope, and high-level process map.

Planning: Define scope, requirements, timelines, and resources, set up collaboration and communication strategies.

Initiating: Define project scope, identify stakeholders, develop project charter, identify project goals.


Resource Allocation, Team Assembly, Tool and Technology Setup, Detailed Scheduling, Communication Plan

Design, Resource Allocation, Team Assembly

Sprint Planning, Resource Allocation, Team Assembly

Resource Optimization, Team Assembly, Minimizing Waste

Measure phase: Collect data, determine current performance, identify key metrics.

Preparation: Set up infrastructure, automation tools, CI/CD pipeline, and environment configurations.

Planning: Develop project management plan, define scope, schedule, budget, resources, and risk management plan.


Task Execution, Quality Assurance, Regular Monitoring, Issue Resolution, Documentation

Implementation, Task Execution, Documentation

Development, Iterative Sprints, Continuous Feedback

Value Creation, Efficient Development, Waste Reduction

Analyze phase: Analyze data to identify root causes of defects and opportunities for improvement.

Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery (CI/CD): Develop code, perform automated testing, integrate changes, deploy to production.

Executing: Direct and manage project work, manage quality, acquire resources, develop and manage team, communicate with stakeholders.


Testing and Validation, Feedback Incorporation, Adjustments and Corrections, User Training, Acceptance Criteria Fulfillment

Verification, Testing, Issue Resolution

Continuous Integration, Testing, Feedback Incorporation

Continuous Improvement, Validation, Feedback Incorporation

Improve phase: Develop and implement solutions to address root causes and improve the process.

Monitoring and Feedback: Monitor application performance, gather user feedback, make adjustments, ensure operational stability.

Monitoring and Controlling: Track project performance, manage changes, ensure deliverables meet requirements, manage risks and issues.


Performance Measurement, Impact Analysis, Lessons Learned, Continuous Improvement, Celebration and Closure

Maintenance, Performance Measurement

Retrospectives, Continuous Improvement

Performance Measurement, Value Maximization, Adjustments

Control phase: Monitor the improvements to ensure continued and sustainable success, document the process.

Continuous Improvement: Use feedback for future iterations, measure performance, ensure continuous delivery and improvement of processes.

Closing: Finalize all project activities, ensure all work is complete, obtain formal acceptance, document lessons learned, release resources.

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”

This quote is commonly attributed to Abraham Lincoln, though its origin is uncertain.

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