When we train people in the use of different requirements models, we typically mention three models as being distinct by virtue of the fact that you can know they are complete: the org chart, a system context diagram, and business data diagrams.
Org charts are generally easily available, since every organization maintains one. They are helpful, because they let you understand the organizational structure of your stakeholders, and can help you to ensure that you don’t miss stakeholders for interview purposes. It’s clearly best practice to create one for every project.
But on a recent project, I didn’t bother. I thought knew who the stakeholders were, and didn’t formally create an org chart. The names of people, projects, and clients have been changed to protect the innocent.
About three weeks ago, I had arranged to have lunch with my friend Tommy. Tommy had been a coworker a few years ago, and now worked at a company that had become one of our clients. The company was quite large, and Tommy had taken a position in a branch of the company that I wasn’t particularly familiar with. After the normal pleasantries of lunch, we got to talking about work. Tommy asked me what I was working on.
“I’m on the QTG project right now. We’re scheduled to launch this week, though I’m not sure we’ll be ready.”
“Really? QTG?” he replied. “I’ve been having some problems with those guys. They keep asking for more data in the feed we give them.”
“Wair a minute,” I said. “What feed? What do you work on?”
“I”m in charge of the team that does the IMM Inventory Feed,” he replied.
I was stunned. I’d struggled for weeks with the product manager for the IMM Feed, trying to put a plan together for a working interlock.
Little did I know that if I had only put together an Org Chart, I would have seen who the product manager worked for. That would have let me know that I had the connections to have a conversation with the key decision maker at IMM, and could have potentially saved me literally hours of time that I’d spent in Emails, conference calls, and meetings.
Lesson learned. Never again without an Org Chart!