Monday, 14 June 1999
The commuters in an Amsterdam suburb are very content on the punctuality of their light railway system "tram". Every station has an electronic sign with the expected time of departure. Expected time of departure: 8 to 8 As the trams approaches the expectation becomes more and more accurate. On departure the departure time matches exactly, so the thing always departs on time. As a result the customer satisfaction rate is extremely high.

The commuters are a bit cheated though. They haven't go a clue whether the trams really depart on time. Most of them have forgotten the scheduled departure time. When they miss a tram, they just take the next one, which is amazingly on time again.

  • Better have many trams every few minutes than a long train every hour.
  • Customers appreciate to be notified of delays immediately.
  • The last expectation is the most important one.

Chop a project into pieces

The trams could serve as an example for the software industry. Is it possible to deliver software according to expectations (www.malotaux.nl/...)?

Yes it is, chop every project into the smallest possible pieces. These small pieces are easier to plan than big ones. It is wondrous but a series of small activities are easier to control than big ones. The mistakes are smaller, and can be corrected at an early stage. It's like a tram. The easiest place to catch up delays is at the start of the track.

Here we have the core of the SUMit approach:

  1. Keep the scope small.
  2. Prototype small pieces of functionality on paper.
  3. Implement small pieces.
What to do if you encounter some unexpected delay? Continuously keep your customer informed of the new delivery date. An electronic signboard would be nice, but is not really necessary.

And no, these "Nut's Weeklies" won't hit the market as a paperback, no matter how often I'll get that question. I prefer to write a piece every week rather than writing myself to pieces once a year. For books I refer to the Dutch writer that almost shares my surname: Cees Nooteboom (www.Bol.com/...).

Till next week!