Defined vs. Empirical Process Control

How many would admit to facilitating that "perfect" phased-gate resource-leveled MS Project plan only to face a massive re-plan caused some new cross-functional dependency? How long did it take to institute the change? The following every-day examples are more likely:
  • Your plan is hereby obsolete - due to critical new feedback from the voice of the customer
  • Your progress reports are inaccurate - "actuals" materially deviate from "planned"
  • Your functional requirements need to change- caused by vendor performance issues early in the "execution phase"
In those types of projects, manufacturing process control* theory argues for empirical process control, such as the Scrum agile process
  1. "It is typical to adopt the defined (theoretical) modeling approach when the underlying mechanisms by which a process operates are reasonably well understood.
  2. When the process is too complicated for the defined approach, the empirical approach is the appropriate choice."


  • In the first case, the Project Plan creates the cost and schedule estimates - it's a plan driven (command-and-control "waterfall") type of project.
  • In the second case, the Product or Services Vision creates the feature estimates - it's a value and vision driven (agile) project.
Learn to recognize the difference between the two, formalizing your type of project early in the inception phase, before any commitments are made!

* Process Dynamics, Modeling, and Control

Ogunnaike and Ray, Oxford University Press, 1992

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  1. Posted July 15, 2009 at 9:50 am | Permalink

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  2. Posted July 31, 2009 at 9:57 am | Permalink

    That's good man, keep it going.

  3. Posted August 5, 2009 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

    Good story for me but please more details.

  4. Posted August 6, 2009 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

    Good information to me.

  5. Posted September 19, 2009 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

    Stunning blog and good article. High 5 for u man !

  6. Posted January 6, 2010 at 11:37 am | Permalink

    This is a very good stuff man. But you can be more specific next time. See ya !

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