Chapter 2. The Concepts

Table of Contents
Data and interface
Integrated Software
Existing Software

Data and interface

While developing ToutDoux, how to structure data was treated as a fundamental question. How could the imposition of a particlar layout (data definition) be avoided?

Indeed, since every project has

every project lends itself to a different - almost unique - approach to project management.

Often, a simple table is more efficient since the creator has near-total control over its form and content. This can be true even for large and complex projects, where GANTT is easily rendered and unintelligible mess. The separation of structure from data reminds me of the LaTeX approach to wordprocessing, with its distinction between form and content. And given the efficiency of LaTeX when compared to the classic "PAO WYSIWYG" model, the application of this principle becomes vitally important.

To take the example of a business - an autoparts supplier - I found one particular change in procedure to be particularly striking. First of all, project leaders were forced to change their timeframe from five to three years. On the other hand, an increased diversity of products and participants increased the complexity of providing service.

The tools used were :

In the conception phase, the GANTT diagram served to coordinate activities (technical prerequisites and critical path). In the management phase, it was used to evaluate the risk of of remaining tasks in terms of milestones. However, only the project leader used this diagram. Inevitably, he alone took on all of the great responsibilities related to deadlines (product development, contacting suppliers, equipment production, ...). Questioning this approach permitted the introduction of a new management tool called "the source matrix". It was nothing more than a table whose lines contained a breakdown of products and whose columns contained technical and management data (product/purchased, standard cost, price of supplier A, price of supplier B,...). This table was added to and used by all those involved in the project (project leader, buyers, technicians, designers, ...). It allowed the project to advance in both a more efficient and a more flexible manner. It could be read at many different levels. It permitted self-assessment and espcially a better division of responsibilities.

With regard to GANTT, I have used and greatly appreciated such a graphic display. What my example is trying to get across is that the design of any tool should be based, above all, on the available data.