Project Management - A Tree Swing Story

2020-07-11 09:06:08
Michi Mirai

The tree swing analogy first came in the 1970s and many variants came later on different subjects, such as software and management. It depicts the difference of how each department interprets and implement a requirement in the development of a tree swing. The variation of the cartoon on perception gaps in software development projects first came out in 2003. Then it became popular among the management to address issues when projects did not go the right way. Someone blames the pitfalls in communication, such as not listening to the client, but it also reveals the problems in product development and reminds anyone involved what to do and what not to do.

Look at this cartoon.

(Image Source : )

  1. When a customer describes what s/he wants, it tends to be true that s/he always overstates it.
  2. The product owner gathers the customer's requirement and summaries it.
  3. Engineers follow PO's summary and make it work. Well, to some extent...
  4. Then programmers will write it. However, when you test it, it is not workable.
  5. Finally we have a product, so the sales can start their job by exaggerating its features.
  6. When you want to check the documents to, it is always nowhere to be found.
  7. What the operations build is simply a rope. Gosh, I don't know what to say. 
  8. Customers are billed for extraordinary experiences.
  9. The way Helpdesk solves problems is just simple and "radical".
  10. Voila! It turns out what the customer truly wants is just a simple tire swing.

Communication: the big "C"

A project is about a bunch of various people working together to meet the requirements. The role of a project manager is to monitor details through strategic, efficient and meaningful conversations on a project. "About 90% of the time in a project is spent on communication by the project manager"[6]. As it is known, communication is a very important element of any well-organized project. Therefore, project management is not just tools and processes.

A project is usually done by several departments, which means cross-functional collaboration is required. The information flow from one department to another is done by documents and meetings. Every one should know what the other team member is doing. If one asked for a leave, others could do his work and know exactly where to start. The project could be delayed, if the communication fails that no one knows what he has been doing and replace him.

The importance is also emphasized in Scrum events. For example, the Daily Scrum. Daily Scrum is a time-boxed short meeting for about 15 minutes and held every morning with team members before they they start to do the work for today. It aims to inspect what everyone of the project team is doing and inform what he plans to finish today. By doing Daily Scrum, it keeps every one of the team on the same page.

Choose the right tool

You can also implement a tool to help clarify things in your team. Choosing the right project management tool is what successful project teams must do. Through collaborating and using tools to keep each other on the same page, the gap caused by different interpretations among departments can be minimized. Each team member should enter the efforts in the system and update the hours cost finishing the task. Then, the project manager could oversee and predict the progress of the project.

ZenTao is a Scrum tool, and can help you with:

  • Product management: story management, plan management, release management, product roadmap.

  • Project management: team and effort management, task management, Kanban, tree, list, group views, Burndown chart.

  • Test management: test case, test case library, test suit, test plan, test result, bug management.

  • Continuous Improvement: Jenkins integration, automation testing, Git/SVN repository management, etc.

  • Document management: document library, online preview and editing,

  • Reports: customized reports, built-in reports, and Crystal reports.

  • Dashboard: todo, calendar, tasks assigned to me, and the summary of work for today.

The difference between ZenTao and pm tools is that ZenTao divides the complex project management into four major items: story, task, bug, and case, through which ZenTao supports the lifecycle of application development. ZenTao Cloud is also available now.


Ruth 2020-07-10 00:09:04
Hi course members of PMIGH, please remember your comments should go on your discussion groups page on Canvas - NOT ZENTAO page :)
Emmanuel 2020-02-01 08:17:12
Honestly for me, the ability to get co workers understand clearly the goals of the project is the most critical factor. Of what value is team work when the team cannot see the visibility of the project success right from the point of project initiation.
Write a Comment
Comment will be posted after it is reviewed.