While watching the Return of the Jedi a few months ago, I was struck by the similarities between the opening scene and the everyday struggles of finishing projects on time and within budget.
Here’s what happened:
In case you've forgotten, Darth Vader arrives on the Death Star to check in on the status of its rebuild. He tells the overseeing commander that he’s there to get them back on schedule, because the rebuilding of the Death Star is taking too long.
His commander retorts by telling him that they simply don’t have the resources to build it any faster. Darth Vader then proceeds to threaten him saying that if things don’t speed up, the Emperor will come to deal with the situation and he is not as forgiving.
Does this situation sound familiar, albeit in a milder fashion?
How often do project managers find themselves behind schedule and over budget, only to have to report that news to their superiors and be told to find a way to fix it?
I surely hope none of them are threatened by an evil Lord, who is a slave to the dark side of the force, but the news might not always be well-received.
Let’s travel for a moment into our imaginations and pretend that Darth Vader hired Tempo Timesheets, Tempo Planner, and Tempo Budgets together with JIRA to manage the rebuild of the Death Star so that the Empire has an overview of how much time it takes to do the work, plan it out efficiently, and get real-time information about how much it costs to develop things along the lines of a huge laser to destroy planets.
Defining roles and teams
Let’s pretend that the Empire is an organization, Darth Vader the CEO, the commander a project manager, and the Stormtroopers team members.
Building the Death Star is only one of the Empire’s many projects. They also develop things like the AT-AT pictured above and they have an entire galaxy to rule and conquer, after all. The scope of just the Death Star project alone would be huge and take many years to complete, but let’s just break it down into something more manageable.
A project like this would need team members such as: engineers, builders, architects, security guards, and of course a project manager.
Naturally there would be thousands of workers on the death star, but let’s just use these for the sake of example- this is make believe, after all.
Setting up JIRA and Tempo
The commander would first need to a create a JIRA Project for rebuilding the Death Star and scope out the amount of work that needs to be done.
Since this is such a big project, he’d probably want to work within an agile framework and break this work up into sprints to be able to manage the work more easily.
After that, the best thing for him to do would be to create a Tempo Team and add all of the staff working on building the death star. This would make it easier for him to configure and manage the work across Tempo products, saving time in the long run.
Let’s also assume that Darth Vader wants to know what work is capitalized and what is operational, so that the Empire will tax this work accordingly.
For this reason, his commander should also set up Tempo Accounts to more easily categorize the work done as either Capex or Opex.
Plan and manage resources with Tempo Planner
Be careful not to over or under-allocate work to your team members.
In order to be clear from the beginning how much work his team can get done within a certain period of time, the commander can set up team member timelines in Tempo Planner and add the Tempo Team that he just set up to plan for upcoming sprints and plan the work for the storm troopers and builders ahead of time.
It’s important for him to ensure that his resources are being managed as efficiently as possible, since this is a time sensitive project. He also needs to be careful not to over or under-allocate work to his team members.
In the real world, we cannot simply “double our efforts” as the commander in The Return of the Jedi says he will do, so it’s important to get a detailed breakdown of team capacity in order to sync efforts.
Budget and control project costs with Tempo Folio
No project is complete without a budget and being able to control costs.
Using Tempo Folio for financial project portfolio management allows the commander to see exactly how much the project is costing in real-time. If he chooses to use Earned Value Management (EVM), then he can not only compare the planned versus actual costs of the project, but also see the earned value (EV) of work done within a given time period.
A good way to do this would be to set up a folio for each sprint and use the planned effort for the Tempo Team for that time period to automatically plan the costs of the folio.
As team members log their work with Tempo Timesheets on issues within the scope of the folio, those work logs will automatically be converted to actual costs based on the cost rates of the team members.
Track time of work done in Tempo Timesheets
Increase work efficiency and get an accurate overview of time spent.
None of this can work as efficiently as possible without getting an accurate overview of how much time is spent on all of the building, designing, and engineering involved in a complex project like this.
All of the storm troopers, commanders, and builders on the Death Star can painlessly track their work on JIRA issues, allowing the commander to run detailed reports on organizational resources and activities.
This allows him to have a good overview of how much time it really takes to do things like develop an oversized automatic garbage squashing machine and show that to his superior, aka Darth Vader, so they don’t all get choked by the force.
Moral of the story
Don’t manage your projects like the Empire, work smarter by implementing tools to help you be efficient and promote transparency throughout the organization, keeping your team members happy.
Work smarter by implementing tools to help you be efficient.
Tempo products are developed to help teams be more productive by planning, budgeting, and tracking seamlessly in JIRA. Stay in the know and fix issues in problem-solving time, that’s what the good guys, the Rebel Alliance, would do after all.
To learn more about our project portfolio management, resource management, and time tracking solutions for JIRA, see Tempo in action by booking a demo: