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Zen and the art of equipment specification

A little while back, one of my team leads asked me a question along the lines of Arrrgh! When will I stop having nightmares that I forgot something in our E-Rate application?!?! I finally answered him today. I'm sharing part of my answer because I think it's applicable to all forms of project planning and cost-estimating. A BOM, by the way, is a Bill of Materials -- the list of everything you need to buy to get a project done.
Eventually you will reach a Zen state where you understand that the BOM is the BOM -- it is a map and not the territory. Like all maps, it reflects our best attempt to render our understanding of the territory at a specific point in time. The territory, like all territory, continues to change -- as it has before you drew the map, and as it will do after you have drawn the map.

Don't freak if it's not perfect. The ground will shift under your feet anyway by the time you get to put the plan in motion. Take pride in doing your best: adapt, improvise, overcome.


( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
Jan. 15th, 2009 01:08 am (UTC)
Recently, I joined the management team of a really large network -- by most metrics, probably the biggest network in the world. And whenever we send an engineer out to make an infrastructure change, he goes out with the list of parts that's supposed to be waiting for him when he gets there, the list of contact numbers for people there, people back at the operations shop, people back at the network design shop, a very detailed list of instructions we want him to carry out, and a set of engineering drawings of everything he's going to touch, that are as accurate as we can make 'em. And that engineer has two main responsibilities: 1) carry out the instructions, and 2) look at everything and compare reality to the drawings, and make changes as necessary.

In this way, we've been able to ensure that the drawings are always pretty close. ...but they're never perfect.
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