What does Horace know anyway?
I recently spent two days at the Richmond Convention Center at a Latin Convention. Yes, a Latin Convention. I was a parent chaperone of 59 middle school Latin students who, along with 1600 secondary school students from around Virginia, came together to share their love and knowledge of Latin and everything related to the Classics. It was my second Virginia Junior Classics League convention, so I guess I can say I am a believer in what Latin does for the student. I mean if they choose to go to a two day convention and take up to 9 TESTS on subjects related to Latin and Classics, is that a bad thing?
The theme of this year's convention was "Dimidium facti qui coepit habet." It was Horace who said, "He who has begun has the deed half done." It's an interesting quote and one that was discussed in oratory sessions throughout the two days. But can one really say that? Is the starting of a task half the difficulty in getting it done? Using the analogy of an IT project, perhaps Horace was right if we consider that the beginning of an IT project is often defined as the day the vendor walks in the door or IT and Business kick off the in-house project. If that is deemed the beginning of the project then I would argue that the project better be half done! Let's consider what should have been done before that day. . .
Sometime before the kickoff someone identified the need for a new system. From there an analysis was conducted to determine who and what was involved in maintaining the current system, and what does that system really do? Another analysis was conducted to determine what needed to be replaced, or wrapped, and should it be all or only part of the current system. Yet another analysis considered buy versus build. If buy was determined to be the best method, a vendor selection process was conducted. All the while the insurer is identifying who and what is impacted by implementing a new system: processes are identified, people are interviewed, and hopefully a change management program is created to deal with the issues that will accompany the new system. A steering committee was formed and all the key players in the IT department and affected business units were identified and given tasks associated with the system project. I could go on and on about what was done before the project started. Or should I say, the things that should have been done before a project started. If even one of the major tasks is not completed before that day the project kicks off, then Horace will have been wrong and the project will be nowhere near half done on the day of the kickoff. And, sadly, the resulting implementation is going to be much longer than promised.
Horace of course was not talking about IT projects. He probably meant that taking that first step, or being willing to fight, is half the battle. One Latin student made the perfect analogy: Nike’s motto is “Just Do It!” If we apply the Nike motto or Horace’s quote to our life, to IT projects, to anything that may at first be uncomfortable, or a change from the norm, just being willing to begin the deed means you are half way to succeeding.
And, for all those who have begun their IT project journeys, per aspera ad astra!