PC Possibilities, Inc.

Tom Satyshur Jr . . . providing PC hardware, software and services since 1987 to the Cleveland Ohio area



Project Management


While I have attended a number of project management training sessions and used a number of software packages from mainframes to PCs, most of what I know about project management has come from 15 years of actual experiences while an employee of Systemation (bought by CAP Gemini America in 1989). Systemation was started in 1969 by two former employees of Univac that saw an opportunity to get into the emerging business of software services. 

I joined Systemation in 1978, having spent 7 1/2 years at Chi Corporation, a wholly owned, for-profit corporation of Case Western Reserve University . . . a very unique company at the time. There were about 40 people at Systemation when I joined . . . there were over 550 people generating about $20 million in sales by 1990. The success of Systemation, in my opinion, was due primarily to two factors: the business relationships developed and maintained by everyone from the President to each staff member, and the quality of work performed. There were mistakes but we learned from them and became better professionals as a result.

The project management techniques that evolved were the result of both the mistakes and the successes. For example, every project I managed from 1979 to 1993 for Eveready Battery Company's R&D center was a "not-to-exceed" project where we guaranteed the project, as defined in writing, would not exceed the quoted budget. There were many projects where the scope expanded. But the methodology was flexible enough to permit a controlled expansion . . . with the customer as the decision-maker. The very first project we did for this company went over the initial budget, tripling in size . . . but for each change the customer was the decision maker.  We continued to work for them for years because they saw they could rely on us for accuracy and project control starting from the very first project. More importantly, they remained the decision makers on the project. We could account for every hour of work performed, every change in the project scope, and every extension of the time schedule and budget. And we could give them an accurate "Percent Complete" . . . not a guess but an actual calculation.

The Methodology

The pieces of the methodology are actually well known. The execution requires honesty and discipline. The "trick" is to pull the pieces together into a single execution that is a partnership with the customer.

There are a number of main components of the methodology.

bulleta Project Plan based on specific activities and tasks with both estimated and budget hours and timeframes, organized from high level to detailed task levels
bulletTimesheets that are accurate with both actual and estimated remaining time reported against specific tasks
bulleta Status Summary reporting system that rolls up from timesheet detail
bulleta Work Authorization procedure for out of scope situations that will keep the customer as the decision maker (rather than the programmer)
bulletand, for larger projects, a Project Control Group that enables both Customer and the Project Manager to utilize the user community and the development staff to keep control over the many variances that can occur in a large project

Competitors have labeled this methodology as "nickel and dime-ing" the customer, but very few customers ever said that to me because the results spoke for themselves.

If you want to know more about this methodology then click on one of the links above or feel free to Email us with your questions.

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