Sunday, June 3, 2012

Ditch the gantt chart

Machine vision work is all project-based, and most of us think we’re pretty good project managers. Yet despite our skills at compiling gantt charts that show the customer when his system will be operational, too few projects are 100% successful. Oftentimes we’ve negotiated some variance from the original requirements, or at least, from the customer’s perception of the original requirements, so we still get paid even though the system doesn’t do everything originally expected.

Truth be told, this isn’t really a very satisfactory way to build long term relationships. So what’s to be done?

I suggest taking ten minutes to read Michelle Bangert’s article, “How to Manage Machine Vision Integration”, published in the Vision& Sensors supplement to Quality magazine. Now having myself taken the time to become Project management Professional, I can say with authority that this single article isn’t going to solve all your problems. But it will hit the number cause of customer dissatisfaction: mismatched expectations.

Michelle’s article has some great advice from authorities on vision integration, such as John Nagle and David Dechow, and they all say much the same thing: make sure you and your customer share a common understanding of what is to be delivered.

Yes, that’s easy to say, and who is going to read a ten page specification line by line? But when you’re the vendor the onus is on your to manage your customer. And if you do it well you can actually create a barrier for your less thorough competitors.

Coming soon from MV4U – I’m experimenting with a checklist tool to predict the likely success of a vision project. If you’d be interested in being a guinea pig collaborator , let me know.

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