A few years after graduating from college, I landed a job as an RF design engineer at Comsat, in Clarksburg, MD. The work involved both circuit and system level design for satellite Earth station equipment. That was about 20 years ago, and we were building quadrature mod/demod circuit out of mixers, power dividers/combiners, and phase shifters, using a potentiometer to tweak out the unintended sideband and null the carrier. Nowadays, of course, all that circuitry is in a single surface mount RFIC.
There was a very experienced engineer there (an independent contractor, actually) that I had the good fortune to work with who despised making project schedules. Managers put up with his reluctance to do so because his design skills were so exceptional.
If you asked why he wouldn't make schedules, he would say it was because although he could keep his own part of the project on time, the dependencies on other people always made his part late. That actually was the case, and I soon learned the same thing for my own parts of the project. Software development would hold up testing, the PCB layout guys would be backed up and not able to get things done in time for having boards fabbed and populated, etc.
Being a crafty guy, said engineer finally came up with a clever solution. Since Microsoft Project was either very new or maybe non-existent at the time, we made up our schedules in a spreadsheet (DOS version of Lotus 123) to feed to project managers for integration into a top level schedule. Paul's (his real name) solution was simple. He referenced the end dates of all his tasks to a single cell that he could change as needed to re-adjust the schedule as needed if things began to lag - just have the spreadsheet add that number of days to all the end dates and voilà, the entire schedule could be updated and printed just before the morning's meeting. I don't ever recall any PM calling him on it.
- Kirt Blattenberger
RF Cafe Progenitor & Webmaster