Our pastor is a foreman and today in church he told us this story:
One day a couple of years ago, a job I was working on with, oh, about 60-65 guys was behind almost two months. I got a call from the office, apparently they wanted to see me right away. I went to them and they told me to give 20 guys the pink slip.
“Why?” I asked, “We’re two months behind!”
“The computer said to,” they answered calmly.
“But have you seen the mountain of pipes we still have to put in this building? We’re behind as it is we need these guys!”
“Doesn’t matter. Computer says to fire ‘em, out they go.”
So, reluctantly, he went and gave the 20 men their pink slips and last checks.
This is where computers should not be used: to model people. It’s one thing to keep a schedule on a computer, it’s quite another to do something because the computer (which definately did not have all the data) said to. Computers are perfect for mathematical modelling like is used for hurricane prediction, ice core planning, and other scientific fields, but a computer cannot model the human mind. They are not yet that powerfull. My pastor’s point was a completely different one, but my point is this: Businesses should not use computers to map progress of a project. They should have people do it. People can handle the complexities of it more efficiently than any computer that a business has access to. Storing the current status of a project on an intranet is a perfectly fine and usefull thing to do, but having the computer determine the status of a project is a bad idea. In this instance the job took almost 6 months longer than it was supposed to. More than likely nobody will ever read this, but during this story I got several pointed glances from my pastor. I was just glad I don’t do project or cost/benefit modelling! Our pastor could stare down Chuck Norris.