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The elephant in the corner

Ron Collett
1/24/2012 05:14 PM EST

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Neo10
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re: The elephant in the corner
Neo10   3/14/2012 2:38:45 AM
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Absolutely spot on Ron, I am sure every one of two engineers agree to this cause. The problem is not just the PMs but goes all the way to the unlrealistic expectation set by the customer by his/her choices. I have seen people change their cell phones every 6 months for the next shiny gadget. The word Q takes a beating and as long as the world doesn't care much then it's alright, I guess. And of course enviably not everyone can be Apple in that they want to do next.

eyall
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re: The elephant in the corner
eyall   2/8/2012 7:08:48 AM
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It seems to be common. I faced such organization behavior too.

Tom Kozas
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re: The elephant in the corner
Tom Kozas   2/3/2012 8:08:26 AM
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A lot good points made based on experience and insight. Is the conclusion; "All major projects or programs, authorized by upper management, were based on ignorance or deception. Because. if upper management really new or understood the actual costs upfront, no major project or program would ever get started in the first place." The lack of project predictability seems to cut across industries. i.e Calif high speed rail, Oakland Bay bridge, a room addition for a house, ... All unexpected costs.

zeeglen
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re: The elephant in the corner
zeeglen   2/1/2012 11:36:09 PM
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A way around this is to multiply your conservative estimate by four times, then when the bean counters divide by four you get the time you really need. Unfortunately the bean counters eventually catch on to this, so you must multiply your next estimate by 8, next by 16...

WKetel
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re: The elephant in the corner
WKetel   1/28/2012 1:15:50 AM
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My observation has been that sales or marketing will promise anything to get the order, and then engineering and production are blamed when delivery does not happen as promised. This was in the industrial equipment realm, not chip design. Once, a salesman with integrity told us that he would really like the order, but he could not make that delivery. He told us what he could make. Another company claimed no problem with the delivery date, and then wound up being several days later than the supplier that we did not go with. Worse yet, the transducers cost more and were not quite as good. Their catalog got a big red "DO NOT USE" note at that point. I seldom forget a betrayal, and I do take it personally.

peinal
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re: The elephant in the corner
peinal   1/27/2012 8:34:37 PM
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If you think this only occurs in semiconductor design, you're sadly mistaken. I've worked designing HW and SW in military/aero, telecomm, and govt and they all have the same elephant in the room. I once refused to sign a proposal that the govt. required for the preparers. I refused because my initial conservative estimate of 10K hrs was cut to 4K hours on a project that would've been 3x more complex than the last one we did (which took 6K hrs). See what I mean?

Charlie_Edmondson
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re: The elephant in the corner
Charlie_Edmondson   1/27/2012 8:30:39 PM
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There is another side to this problem. A few years ago I was on a project (systems, in this case) where I was the chief hardware designer. My manager was an expert on schedules and budgets, a wiz at anticipating senior managements requests, and an all around good guy. Our hardware team was always on time, on budget, and had a lot of fun. The SOFTWARE side, unfortunately, was run by a PHB who was always promising things he couldn't deliver, was way over budget, always behind on the schedule, and continually complaining he didn't have enough resources, money, people or time. When the phase of the project I was working on came to a close, the company laid off the entire hardware design team, and spent the next year 'persuading' the hardware manager to quit. Why? Because he had OBVIOUSLY been featherbedding his budgets and schedules, and not driving his people hard enough. They promoted the software manager... again!

RCollett
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re: The elephant in the corner
RCollett   1/27/2012 5:57:56 PM
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Prabhakar, So you're saying that in your experience the engineering organization frequently pads the schedule (timeline)?

prabhakar_deosthali
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re: The elephant in the corner
prabhakar_deosthali   1/27/2012 11:01:45 AM
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The main reason why schedules are dictated and not requested is that the management thinks that the engineering is always adding a lot of cushion to the timelines to be able to work in a relaxed manner.Mnay of the engineering guys actually do it so that after the squeezing out by the management they get the REAL schedule .

RCollett
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re: The elephant in the corner
RCollett   1/26/2012 10:29:33 PM
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Frank, what you describe of course is a rationale approach to a challenging situation. However, my observation -- based on the Numetrics customers, which is fairly substantial -- is that the situation is actually getting worse. It's because the enormous competition in the semiconductor industry. We need look only at the industry's M&A activity during the past few years, as well as the companies forced out of business (e.g. the latest being Trident, which recently filed for bankruptcy). The greater the competition, the greater the need for best-in-class management.

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