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Negotiating Achievable Commitments in Software Project Management

Documenting Commitments


When my brother Bruce was an engineering manager, periodically he would discuss expectations with certain individuals on his team. Sometimes Bruce would think a team member had made a commitment, but the team member viewed Bruce’s request merely as a suggestion. To reduce ambiguity, it’s helpful to write a brief summary of each commitment that you exchange with someone else. This confirms the communication and establishes a shared expectation of accountability. A written commitment record also permits tracking actual performance against expectations. Unless I write them down, I find it easy to lose sight of promises I’ve made to others and of things I’m expecting to receive from other people. A simple table such as that in Figure 9-1 is a convenient way to document commitments.

Figure 9-1

Figure 9-1 Template for a commitment record.