Making Time for a DUL Moment

By Doug DeCarlo

If there were ever a DUL moment on an extreme project, the best time to have one is very early on, during the Initiate Cycle. In this case, DUL stands for "Deliverable Useful Life," and responds to the question, "How much post-implementation support will be required once the deliverable is in the hands of the user population?"

The DUL factor is a much-overlooked consideration on most projects I run into. Why should you care? Knowing what level of DUL (Deliverable Useful Life) the Business Owner has in mind plays a major role in determining scope, quality, budget and schedule. As such, the DUL factor contributes to "Clarity of Purpose," one of the 10 the Shared Values in eXtreme Project Management.

There are three possible levels of post-implementation commitment, depending upon the Business Owner's strategy.
  • One night stand: The project deliverable is a quick fix and is intended to solve an immediate problem. There is no intention of sticking with it. It will not be maintained or upgraded. Once the deliverable serves its useful purpose, we'll remove it and replace it with the real thing. Or with nothing. For example, those doughnut spare tires in the trunk of your car: good for 500 miles, then you junk 'em.

  • Kiss and make up: We recognize that the project deliverable will fall short of what is needed, but we have to get something out there no matter what. Later, we'll ask for forgiveness as we re-engineer it or re-work the weak parts. (Microsoft and most other software providers have made an art out of this.)

  • Long-term commitment: We can't afford to ask for forgiveness. Once it's out there it's gotta be solid. We'll be adding to it, but what we deliver out of the gate has to be done right. Example: we won't be cutting corners on our new line of designer parachutes.
If the strategy is "one-night stand," then you need to get a commitment upfront from the Business Owner to indeed pull the plug. Otherwise those who follow you will be saddled with time and money-draining efforts that can go on for years in a frustrating attempt to maintain a stack of garbage.

If the Business Owner wants to play "kiss and make up," then your job is to ensure that follow-on funding and support is in place.

eXtremely yours,

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