Join Early Retirement Today
Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Old 04-13-2014, 09:53 AM   #81
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Northern IL
Posts: 18,282
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ed_The_Gypsy View Post
Is your point that planning and optimization can be short-cut?
...

Your industry may be different than mine.
Everything can be improved and optimized, including planning. If you do it right, it isn't taking 'shortcuts', it is streamlining and improving the process. Eliminating non-value added (is that one for the 'buzzword' thread?) steps, using computers and data to improve the decision process, etc. Making it better, faster, cheaper.

Our lives are filled with examples from many different industries where we get better, faster, cheaper products. It isn't rare at all.

I think the difference in our views on this are not about the industry we are/were in. I think it's that you are talking about a specific situation with your management (and regulatory situation?), versus the broad brush generalization that you can only have 2 out of three (Better, Faster, Cheaper). I stand by my statement that good engineers will routinely provide all three - and yes, that can be difficult/impossible without management support.

-ERD50
__________________

__________________
ERD50 is offline   Reply With Quote
Join the #1 Early Retirement and Financial Independence Forum Today - It's Totally Free!

Are you planning to be financially independent as early as possible so you can live life on your own terms? Discuss successful investing strategies, asset allocation models, tax strategies and other related topics in our online forum community. Our members range from young folks just starting their journey to financial independence, military retirees and even multimillionaires. No matter where you fit in you'll find that Early-Retirement.org is a great community to join. Best of all it's totally FREE!

You are currently viewing our boards as a guest so you have limited access to our community. Please take the time to register and you will gain a lot of great new features including; the ability to participate in discussions, network with our members, see fewer ads, upload photographs, create a retirement blog, send private messages and so much, much more!

Old 04-13-2014, 11:04 AM   #82
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
 
Join Date: Apr 2013
Posts: 5,584
I'd always thought the 'faster, cheaper, better' quote was attributed to Gene Amdahl, when he left IBM to start Amdahl. Thought it was in context of what his organization's goals were. Of course I'm frequently mistaken.

The saying in software was 'time, functionality, and quality' one will be sacrificed. With all else equal.

I agree we can do some projects faster, cheaper, better with more efficient ways of working. These efficiency gains generally come from better tools, processes, and creative thinking. Don't know I've seen one occur because of a SR. management mandate, tomorrow won't be faster, cheaper, better if nothing else changes. Just my sometimes humble opinion.
MRG
Edit: fixed important typo
__________________

__________________
MRG is online now   Reply With Quote
Faster, cheaper, woops!
Old 04-13-2014, 12:06 PM   #83
Moderator Emeritus
aja8888's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: The Woodlands, TX
Posts: 7,165
Faster, cheaper, woops!

Apparently, Sr. Management wasn't on top of the engineers who rolled out the 10/1/13 version of the ACA website. Good thing those folks weren't building a bridge or a pipeline.
__________________
aja8888 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-13-2014, 05:26 PM   #84
Moderator Emeritus
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 4,929
Quote:
Originally Posted by aja8888 View Post
Apparently, Sr. Management wasn't on top of the engineers who rolled out the 10/1/13 version of the ACA website. Good thing those folks weren't building a bridge or a pipeline.
LOL!

That there was a fine example of applying the waterfall model to manage development of a highly interactive system with a number of unresolved requirements and design of back-end components while the front end had requirements and design locked into the contract.

Waterfall model works great when building an office building on a known site. It's not so great for a software system, particularly one to be layered atop other systems with differing requirements and design, and especially one where the folks running the project are changing requirements while it's under implementation!

This sort of project screams for something utterly alien to a typical government bidding process, the use of an agile development strategy of some form. Dynamic Systems Development or spiral model development would be a better fit.

In this particular case, a great example would be HealthSherpa.com, a site initially done by three coders to get a quick and dirty prototype (initial iteration) up and running that demonstrated the basic shopping functions needed. Note that additional iterations would be needed to get the various back end functions (authentication, income verification, subsidy eligibility and calculation, application guidance, and delivery of electronic applications to insurers.)

The point being that incremental development and rollout is arguably the right way to go for large software projects that may have flexible requirements, but such a process is utterly alien to many large non-engineering organizations, particularly those loaded down with powerful management figures that want results instantly, have hidden agendas, and no understanding of engineering. Sort of like most of the folks in that video...
__________________
M Paquette is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-13-2014, 06:37 PM   #85
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
Ed_The_Gypsy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: the City of Subdued Excitement
Posts: 5,293
At our recent company town-hall meeting, there was a question from the floor about what we could do to speed up getting equipment and contracted things through customs. Supply Chain Management stood up and told us that we would have to order equipment earlier. (Real answer: get permission to bribe Customs which is normal here.)

I know! Let's order the equipment before the project starts! And since we already have it, we won't need as much design time!

I have seen this happen. In very rare cases, this will work. Generally, you are going to order the wrong stuff and the project schedule and budget will be hooped because you will still have to order to right stuff.

Some of the companies I have seen are wasting their investor's money like you wouldn't believe.

That's OK. I have worked on many projects that were cancelled and some that should have been. I get paid by the hour. By the way, I get paid to troubleshoot plants with problems. It pays good and somebody appreciates my work. And I do not go to meetings or deal with idiots.
__________________
my bumpersticker:
"I am not in a hurry.
I am retired.
And I don't care how big your truck is."
Ed_The_Gypsy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-14-2014, 05:43 AM   #86
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
bUU's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: Georgia
Posts: 1,914
Quote:
Originally Posted by ERD50 View Post
But it is the engineer's job to push the envelope on all three. That's what progress is all about.
Rather, progress is about pushing the envelope on two of the three, using a surplus of the third to pay for pushing the envelope on the other two.

If you want to build something better and faster, then progress in that regard will cost more money.

If you want to build something better and less expensive, then progress in that regard will take more time.

If you want to build something faster and less expensive, then progress in that regard will be derivable from compromising on quality.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CaliforniaMan View Post
But I do agree that sometimes it is possible to do something in a novel way that results in a much cheaper and better solution and get the project finished, because of its simplicity, faster.
That's only if you start with the novel way already determined. The path to identifying such a novelty is long and hard, and it costs both money and time wasted on false starts.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CaliforniaMan View Post
But it is maybe a once in a career happening. One can never make plans based on finding a novel solution to solve an old problem in a unique way, rather than incremental improvements, but it does happen.
And in a typical environment such as that depicted in the video, the business types who hyper-extend the period of time necessary to realize that achievement (through firing engineer after engineer who cannot do the impossible) think, in the end, that the last engineer magically came up with the novel solution as if it was nothing, rather than acknowledging that the engineer was just lucky enough to be the one hired after all the hard work had already been done, like the tenth person trying to open a tightly sealed jar of jam.

I spent a career assessing the operations of company after company, 100 or so companies every year. None of them listed "sorcerer" in any of their job descriptions.
__________________
bUU is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-14-2014, 07:40 AM   #87
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
2B's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Houston
Posts: 4,330
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ed_The_Gypsy View Post
I know! Let's order the equipment before the project starts! And since we already have it, we won't need as much design time!
Been there -- done that.

I was on a project that was in a remote location. There were three large separators needed based on the conceptual design. Three large separators were ordered before detailed design even began based on the largest separators that could be successfully shipped to the site. Unfortunately, little thought was put into the pressure and temperature ratings of the vessel or the number of nozzles required/desired by various safety reviews. The entire design was done around the low pressure rating of these vessels and the project required additional pumps and relief systems that could have been eliminated with only a slightly higher design pressure.
__________________
The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane -- Marcus Aurelius
2B is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-14-2014, 08:36 AM   #88
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
HFWR's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2005
Location: Lawn chair in Texas
Posts: 12,964
Quote:
Originally Posted by ERD50 View Post
Our lives are filled with examples from many different industries where we get better, faster, cheaper products.

-ERD50
This is much more a testament to engineering than to management...
__________________
Have Funds, Will Retire

...not doing anything of true substance...
HFWR is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-14-2014, 10:15 AM   #89
Moderator Emeritus
aja8888's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: The Woodlands, TX
Posts: 7,165
Quote:
Originally Posted by bUU View Post
I spent a career assessing the operations of company after company, 100 or so companies every year. None of them listed "sorcerer" in any of their job descriptions.
This statement kind of sums it up quite nicely!
__________________
aja8888 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-14-2014, 12:41 PM   #90
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
robnplunder's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2013
Location: Bay Area
Posts: 2,124
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chuckanut View Post
I once worked for a project manager who made up schedules to make his bosses happy and them dumped them on us.

At my megacorp, all schedules are top down. Ditto for budget. They make it worse by forcing us to do bottom-up schedule, and budget planning exercises. The exercises, invariably, become one to "guess" the top down number and fit stuff in to meet it. Hilarious but absolutely "making love" true.
__________________
Pura Vida
robnplunder is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-14-2014, 01:21 PM   #91
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
ls99's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 4,792
Oh, budgets!

While not an engineer, I often had to work up projects within a given budget. Most of the time all was well and projects were approved by powers that be. One event did not go well.

Was given around $360k budget for some winterization mods to transit fleet. By the assisatant manger. Worked up the the plan, submitted it. A wewk later the chief honcho came back from a European fact finding tour. Got called into his office and was informed that budget is only 180k. Rework the plan.

Turns out a few days later there was an impromptu meeting/bitch session called by the outfit's president, who was present in person. Me not happy by the sudden vaporization of $$$ stuck my hand up. The man called on me. I concisely explained the funding problem and asked: So what happanend to $180k. Our manager who was also pesent appeared the have a sudden large load in his trousers with a rather pained expression.

Two weeks later he was no longer employed with us. No one ever explained where the money went, and the whole project diasappeared.
__________________
There must be moderation in everything, including moderation.
ls99 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-14-2014, 01:34 PM   #92
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
NW-Bound's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 19,427
The last 10 years of my working life was as a contractor besides doing some freelance work. What bugged me the most was when I was given a task when others before me had thoroughly messed up, and spent most of the money.

For example, a development job may start out with an allocation of 1,000 man-hours. If that was given to me from start, I would be able to do a nice job for them with no problems. However, they wasted 700 or 800 hrs without producing anything, then called me in expecting me to do the whole thing over with the remaining hours. Hell no! I have declined assignments with that kind of project management, and rather took time off to travel than to become their fall guy. This BS was also a factor in my deciding to ER for real.
__________________
"Old age is the most unexpected of all things that can happen to a man" -- Leon Trotsky
NW-Bound is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 04-14-2014, 03:05 PM   #93
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Northern IL
Posts: 18,282
Quote:
Originally Posted by bUU View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by ERD50 View Post
But it is the engineer's job to push the envelope on all three. That's what progress is all about.
Rather, progress is about pushing the envelope on two of the three, using a surplus of the third to pay for pushing the envelope on the other two.

If you want to build something better and faster, then progress in that regard will cost more money.

If you want to build something better and less expensive, then progress in that regard will take more time.
I'm going to continue to disagree with this. I think you are looking at specific cases, rather than the general case. In the general case, it is the engineer's job to attempt all three simultaneously.

In the specific case, one or two might well take priority, and sometimes it's fine if it costs more if the customer really wants 'faster & better', etc.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bUU View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by CaliforniaMan View Post
But I do agree that sometimes it is possible to do something in a novel way that results in a much cheaper and better solution and get the project finished, because of its simplicity, faster.
If you want to build something faster and less expensive, then progress in that regard will be derivable from compromising on quality.
Now that's simply not true. Many products have become faster and cheaper and yet have higher quality. I'm not sure what's driving your thinking here at all.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bUU View Post
That's only if you start with the novel way already determined. The path to identifying such a novelty is long and hard, and it costs both money and time wasted on false starts.
Sometimes, but not always.

In the process of taking on a new project, one of the things you do is review what was done in the past, as you think of ways to fit in the new requirements. Sometimes, you just see a better way of doing something, something the previous engineers didn't think of, or maybe they could not have envisioned without first taking this step (here you are 'standing on the shoulders of giants'). Hindsight is 20-20, and you often have more hindsight with a new project

And sometimes there are just newer components and techniques available, and these are cheaper, better, faster. So you use them. Often, the newer components are easier to use and design with, so even the design process is sped up.
>> Following comment almost completely tongue-in-cheek:

Some of the naysayers here have me thinking maybe I was a much better engineer than I thought I was!

Or maybe my bosses were better at beating inspiring us to achieve our best!



Quote:
Originally Posted by HFWR View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by ERD50 View Post
Our lives are filled with examples from many different industries where we get better, faster, cheaper products.

-ERD50
This is much more a testament to engineering than to management...

Probably, but I was just trying to point out that it's a lot easier to make real progress if management is providing support.

Heck, I recall a program that a bunch of us got pulled into, and I really thought there was just no way we could make the date they set out. But my peers were in the same boat, so I figured just be a good soldier, play along, and as long as I'm not later than anyone else, I'll survive. Turns out that some top management really went all out to knock down barriers and provide support, and we made the date - much to my surprise.

I got a tee-shirt.

-ERD50
__________________
ERD50 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-14-2014, 09:42 PM   #94
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
Koolau's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Leeward Oahu
Posts: 3,244
Okay, back to the original "meeting" for just a moment. I have sat in such a meeting (where, in effect, I played the part of the engineer - though I am not one.) Half a dozen folks including my boss were there with me. The gist was that a "program" was to be started and I was to dream it up and run it. I pointed out that other than the authority to do it, I had zero (and I do mean absolutely zero) resources (no money, no people, no training, no equipment, no space, no buy-in from internal customers, no precedent, etc. etc. on and on.) The folks more or less ignored me and continued to discuss how important is was to the company to have such a program immediately. Most of these folks WERE engineers, so they knew the task was impossible. Finally, my boss committed me to the project (with time line) and everyone slapped everyone else on the back and walked out. Here's the thing. They had completed THEIR task. They had assigned someone to the project and I was "it". If it didn't happen, didn't work, didn't last, didn't meet internal or governmental requirements, it was MY problem. Not theirs. So, since I couldn't win, why spend any of my time on it. I ignored it, and the programe was never audited nor even mentioned again. What a way to run a company.
__________________
Ko'olau's Law -

Anything which can be used can be misused. Anything which can be misused will be.
Koolau is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-15-2014, 12:30 AM   #95
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
robnplunder's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2013
Location: Bay Area
Posts: 2,124
BTW, the acting was great on the video.
__________________
Pura Vida
robnplunder is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-15-2014, 04:22 AM   #96
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
bUU's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: Georgia
Posts: 1,914
Quote:
Originally Posted by ERD50 View Post
I'm going to continue to disagree with this. I think you are looking at specific cases, rather than the general case.
Rather, I'm looking at the general case, with the acknowledgement that every so often lightning strikes and the laws can be violated.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ERD50 View Post
In the general case, it is the engineer's job to attempt all three simultaneously.
It is always the engineer's job to manage the trade-off between the three.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ERD50 View Post
Now that's simply not true. Many products have become faster and cheaper and yet have higher quality.
Speed, in the engineer's time-cost-quality trichotomy is always talking about how long it takes to realize the product. The characteristic of the product, regarding the product's speed, is covered by the quality side of the trichotomy. The achievement of a new level of speed of the product, which is what you were mentioning, as an aspect of quality, was accomplished at great expense of upfront time and money.
__________________
bUU is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-15-2014, 08:44 AM   #97
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Northern IL
Posts: 18,282
Quote:
Originally Posted by robnplunder View Post
BTW, the acting was great on the video.
Now that I agree with! The engineer actor did a great job of showing that mode where you are thinking 'are you a freaking idiot?' while calmly keeping a poker face and saying 'Let me try to explain it this way.'

Quote:
Originally Posted by bUU View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by ERD50 View Post
I'm going to continue to disagree with this. I think you are looking at specific cases, rather than the general case.
Rather, I'm looking at the general case, with the acknowledgement that every so often lightning strikes and the laws can be violated.
Well, this is just circular. We just disagree, and I certainly do not understand your view. It sounds like an excuse for sub-standard engineering effort to me!

Quote:
It is always the engineer's job to manage the trade-off between the three.
Absolutely - and that is not mutually exclusive to all three progressing at the same time. Yes, apply the trade offs to maximize the net gain for the most important areas. There just is no reason that one has to stay the same or get worse to have progress in the other areas.



Quote:
Speed, in the engineer's time-cost-quality trichotomy is always talking about how long it takes to realize the product.
Is it? Always? You seem to talk in absolutes when they are convenient for you. I'm not sure if this discussion about 'Faster, Better, Cheaper' applies solely to the engineering effort, or to the end product of that engineering effort, or both.

Not that it matters. I gave examples where an engineer might have an opportunity to do all three, one obvious one is when a new component becomes available (take the case where a single chip now integrates several chips and support components, at lower cost and higher quality), and now the engineer's job is easier, faster, and also cheaper - and that often applies to the product as well.


Let me guess - you are going to add in the development costs of that chip? Nope, this engineer didn't invest their time in that, and that previous R&D cost is amortized into the ongoing cost of the chip (which is cheaper than the previous technology). So it is a win-win-win on all counts.

This isn't a lightening strike event. It happens routinely.

Heck, I recall when PCB's were laid out by hand with black tape and razor blades on mylar. PCB design by computer is... faster, better, cheaper. The examples go on and on.


Quote:
The characteristic of the product, regarding the product's speed, is covered by the quality side of the trichotomy. The achievement of a new level of speed of the product, which is what you were mentioning, as an aspect of quality, was accomplished at great expense of upfront time and money.
Sometimes, not always.

-ERD50
__________________
ERD50 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-15-2014, 09:58 AM   #98
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
growing_older's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 2,608
So, not only do these kinds of miscommunication happen so much in working situations that we all recognize them in a silly video about drawing red lines, but even after retirement, ex-management and ex-engineering cannot agree on what the issues are.
__________________
growing_older is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-15-2014, 10:10 AM   #99
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
 
Join Date: Feb 2013
Posts: 5,326
Quote:
Originally Posted by Koolau View Post
important is was to the company to have such a program immediately. Most of these folks WERE engineers, so they knew the task was impossible. Finally, my boss committed me to the project (with time line) and everyone slapped everyone else on the back and walked out. Here's the thing. They had completed THEIR task. They had assigned someone to the project and I was "it". If it didn't happen, didn't work, didn't last, didn't meet internal or governmental requirements, it was MY problem. Not theirs. So, since I couldn't win, why spend any of my time on it. I ignored it, and the programe was never audited nor even mentioned again. What a way to run a company.
One of the things I enjoyed about becoming self employed was that I knew some of the management people I had worked with at my previous megacorp, like the ones in the video, would never succeed in a million years working by themselves. Dumping difficult or even impossible assignment off on another person or group is a skill some managers seem to have perfected to an art form, but when you are working by yourself there is no one else to dump the work on, and spending all day developing processes or mission statements isn't going to pay the mortgage.
__________________
daylatedollarshort is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 04-15-2014, 10:10 AM   #100
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
bUU's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: Georgia
Posts: 1,914
Quote:
Originally Posted by ERD50 View Post
Well, this is just circular. We just disagree, and I certainly do not understand your view. It sounds like an excuse for sub-standard engineering effort to me!
Your comments sound like an excuse for sub-standard management effort to me. Baseless prejudicial comments aside, my comments reflect my first-hand experience with the product realization operations of over a hundred companies. I appreciate those who like to showcase their own personal views of their own personal performance in some unrealistic way, and would do it myself whenever I can rely on the rigor of analysis of such claims to be non-existent. However, when actually managing a project, realistic expectations are those that lead to success far more often.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ERD50 View Post
Absolutely - and that is not mutually exclusive to all three progressing at the same time.
I would be happy for you to provide proof that this is a routine part of the engineering discipline, aside from your own personal, Herculean accomplishment.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ERD50 View Post
Is it? Always?
Yes - always - whenever that trichotomy is the object of discussion. I would be happy to have you provide definitive examples of substantive discussions where cost and quality are the same as what everyone else in this thread has been discussing while speed is "the speed at which the product itself operates" instead of the speed of the product realization process. I'd especially like to see at least one example of such a general discussion where the product that is the result of the realization process is something that doesn't have a speed characteristic, as is the case reasonably often.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ERD50 View Post
You seem to talk in absolutes when they are convenient for you.
I think you're projecting. Let's move on.
__________________

__________________
bUU is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Tags
engineer


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Age 47, software engineer, ready to early semi-retire, but one big variable... headingout Hi, I am... 30 03-09-2008 11:29 AM
28, Engineer, sailor seabourne Hi, I am... 7 09-21-2007 10:45 AM
Software Engineer ranked #1 as Best Job in America........ Cut-Throat Other topics 27 04-13-2006 10:45 PM
engineer humor dory36 Other topics 8 02-07-2004 05:18 AM

 

 
All times are GMT -6. The time now is 04:02 PM.
 
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.