A consultants approach to painting

Thursday, Jan 1, 2015 5 minute read Tags: random
Hey, thanks for the interest in this post, but just letting you know that it is over 3 years old, so the content in here may not be accurate.

A few months ago my PO, aka wife, pitched a new project, painting our lounge room. She decided to go to market and find the right people to do the project. Since it’s my home too I decided to respond to the RFP as c’mon, how hard can painting a room really be?

After a couple of different quotes came in I managed to win the work, being the cheapest option (the whole free labor thing won out) but there was a condition, as I don’t have much practical experience I would start with a PoC, painting my study. Based on the outcome of the PoC I might be given the rest of the project.

You won the work, now what?

Since I’ve now won the work I actually have to do it. The problem is that I don’t really have any painting experience (well except that finger painting I did for my parents in high school). Sure I’ve got theoretical experience and I’ve watched those renovation shows but I’ve never actually painted a room and being a good consultant nothing is beyond me, I can adapt on the fly.

The first step though was to approach my PO about scaling up the team from 1 to 2 people and bring in someone with more experience, my father. The PO agreed and I organised for my parents to stay after Christmas so undertake the project.


On Boxing Day we’re at our house after again consuming way too much food and while the project doesn’t actually kick off until the next day we decided to do some preliminary analysis of the work required. We started by stripping the paint off the door frame. After a few hours at this and uncovering that there was a least 5 different colour layers in the paint we approached the PO to renegotiate the project, it wouldn’t be feasible to strip all the skirting boards as well as paint the room. But this is the advantage of an agile project, we were able to identify a problem early and change to reduce risk to the overall project.

The next morning we went out to pick up the supplies that we needed, paints for the various colours that the PO wanted and set to patching a part of the celling which we’d had repaired by not repainted.

To paint the study we would need to move some of the bookshelves away from the wall but we also decided that we’d add some more storage by stacking them. Well good thing that we did the ‘measure twice, cut once’ approach as we found out that our roof was ~5cm lower than we’d thought so we wouldn’t be able to stack the shelves. We presented this finding to our PO and that we’d need a new plan on how to increase the storage within the room. Through some discussions of the requirements we came up with a new plan, the shelves would move to a different wall and use up some whitespace in the room then we could put cupboards on the wall the shelves were originally on.

So we start painting the wall, paint over the patched roof and all goes swimmingly. In fact, the patched roof turned out a lot better than expected. Originally we planned to paint the whole roof but after a few coats over the patch it blended in perfectly meaning we wouldn’t need to do the whole roof. We present our findings to the PO during the demo that evening and talked about the fact that we were running ahead of schedule and planned to increase the backlog and actually do the lounge room.

Fighting scope creep

We’re moving fast through the backlog, we’d achieved our goal with the PoC (to prove we could paint a wall to the required level) and got further through the PoC than we’d expected on the first day and expaded our scope to cover the lounge room and hallway.

But like a true PO they started pushing for more, to paint our spare bedroom. This was going to really push the amount we’d commetted on in the allocated budget. We had to manage expectations, pointing out that we’d need to be doing three coats on the lounge and hallway, two on the feature panel and remounting all the pictures. When our PO realised that we’d be sacrificing quality for quantity the spare bedroom request was dropped.

Finishing the project

At about 8pm on New Years Eve I put the final coat of paint on the door frame, coming in just before the deadline of end of 2014 to finish the painting. There’s a few bugs that need to be fixed up later (a couple of places where the feature colour might have bleed dispite my tape effort) but they are in the backlog to be addressed when there is more time budgeted.

Take aways

Something that is always worth to remember is just how important it is to communicate. Approach your PO early when you find roadblocks or need to increase scope. The more visibility you have on a project the faster you can react to scope changes and even increase scope if needed.

The other take away? I don’t think I’ll be on any home renovation shows any time soon.