Monday, October 3, 2011

Done Right and Done Fast

As a happy homeowner, I occasionally get to do fun things like hire contractors to come in and make the place look better. (Note: Sarcasm present. This is not actually fun. It's both expensive and truly frustrating.) Our last project just finished last Friday, and involved replacing damaged sheetrock and flooring from a water leak in the upstairs, followed by painting, restaining the floors, and hanging a new light fixture. Overall we worked with a good group of people, and I'm pleased with the end result.

But so much of it was like a software project.

We basically did this:

  • demolition (okay, this part was kind of fun)
  • testing for water damage
  • new sheetrock
  • paint
  • floor sanding
  • floor dying/sanding/staining
  • new light fixture
  • touch ups
Fairly straightforward and almost totally linear. If this were a software project, it would be the easiest thing to plan, ever. But then life intervenes.

For each step, we'd get a call from the project manager: "I can have a guy there tomorrow, but my best guy's on another job tomorrow and he can't come until the day after tomorrow." Translation: Do you want it done fast? Or done right?

Or I'd be talking to a worker and he'd say, "I can try the patch with this [weird-looking thing that's what would happen if a drill and a blow dryer had a baby], and it'll be okay but it might warp a little, or I can just let it air dry and come back tomorrow." Translation: Do you want it done fast? Or done right?

(And no, I couldn't pick both. See? Just like software!)

Now the easy thing to say would be: "Do it right! What's another day?" That's easier to say when you're not living in a construction zone. It's also easy to say when you don't have guests coming.... real soon now!

Is this sounding like software yet? Compromises to meet a hard date, check!

So we chose. We can do demolition fast. Testing we didn't get to control. Sheetrock had to be right; that's hard to change. Painting wasn't hard, so we chose the guys who were available (and who did a perfectly acceptable job). The floor had to be right all the way - we walk on it all the time, and any variations in color or finish are both very expensive to fix and really noticeable.

In short, we did some fast, and we did some right. Just like software.

Keep in mind you don't have to make a single universal choice. You get to pick every time you have a choice. So pick frequently and pick what's right for that decision. You can't have fast and right, but you can control what's fast and what's right - and that will give you the closest to your ideal.

No comments:

Post a Comment