Project Management Proverbs compiled and some written by Mike Harding Roberts
It takes one woman nine months to have a baby. It cannot be done in one month by impregnating nine women (although it is more fun trying). *
The same work under the same conditions will be estimated differently by ten different estimators or by one estimator at ten different times.
Any project can be estimated accurately (once it's completed).
The most valuable and least used WORD in a project manager's vocabulary is "NO".
The most valuable and least used PHRASE in a project manager's vocabulary is "I don't know".
Nothing is impossible for the person who doesn't have to do it.
You can con a sucker into committing to an impossible deadline, but you cannot con him into meeting it.
At the heart of every large project is a small project trying to get out.
If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything.
The more desperate the situation the more optimistic the situatee.
If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it probably is a duck.
Too few people on a project can't solve the problems - too many create more problems than they solve.
A problem shared is a buck passed.
A change freeze is like the abominable snowman: it is a myth and would anyway melt when heat is applied.
A user will tell you anything you ask about, but nothing more.
A user is somebody who tells you what they want the day you give them what they asked for.
Right answers to wrong questions are just as wrong as wrong answers to right questions.
Of several possible interpretations of a communication, the least convenient is the correct one.
What you don't know hurts you.
The conditions attached to a promise are forgotten, only the promise is remembered.
There's never enough time to do it right first time but there's always enough time to go back and do it again.
I know that you believe that you understand what you think I said but I am not sure you realise that what you heard is not what I meant.
Estimators do it in groups - bottom up and top down.
Good estimators aren't modest: if it's huge they say so.
The sooner you begin coding the later you finish.
Anything that can be changed will be changed until there is no time left to change anything.
If project content is allowed to change freely the rate of change will exceed the rate of progress.
Change is inevitable - except from vending machines.
The person who says it will take the longest and cost the most is the only one with a clue how to do the job.
Difficult projects are easy, impossible projects are difficult, miracles are a little trickier.
If you don't plan, it doesn't work. If you do plan, it doesn't work either. Why plan!
The bitterness of poor quality lingers long after the sweetness of meeting the date is forgotten.
If you're 6 months late on a milestone due next week but nevertheless really believe you can make it, you're a project manager.
A verbal contract isn't worth the paper it's written on.
What is not on paper has not been said.
If you don't know where you're going, any road will take you there.
If you fail to plan you are planning to fail.
If you don't attack the risks, the risks will attack you.
A little risk management saves a lot of fan cleaning.
The sooner you get behind schedule, the more time you have to make it up.
A badly planned project will take three times longer than expected - a well planned project only twice as long as expected.
If you can keep your head while all about you are losing theirs, you haven't understood the plan.
When all's said and done a lot more is said than done.
If at first you don't succeed, remove all evidence you ever tried.
Never put off until tomorrow what you can leave until the day after.
Feather and down are padding - changes and contingencies will be real events.
There are no good project managers - only lucky ones.
The more you plan the luckier you get.
© M Harding Roberts 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
* though found in many variants, the original by Frederick P. Brooks is: "The bearing of a child takes nine months, no matter how many women are assigned."