Computerworld published a list: “11 signs your IT project is doomed”. Linked here. Interestingly, all 11 apply to normal-world projects as well. I may be biased because I have had my fair share of IT projects. My experience has been that most of them fail because of “Red Flag #4: Users have had little/no early involvement”. Around my parts, our IT department tries to solve problems we don’t have with solutions we don’t need. Lately I have spent hours in meetings sorting out the misdirection and miscommunication months after implementation has gone awry! In a parallel world, I have also been in a lot of meetings with Customers and Sales folks sorting out project details. My exact words in many of these meetings, “Guys, we cannot deliver it in the time-frame you are asking. Why did you sell that without asking me first, I need another 2 months before we even started.”
How many of these sound familiar to you Project Managers? Has your project…
- Started without Sr. Management approval?
- Started without a detailed project plan
- Had Project Meetings scheduled without the key players involved (ignoring scheduling conflicts)
- Had End Users not involved in project definition
- Used minimum specifications as the project requirements
- Tested as an afterthought
- Never put a recovery (risk) plan is in place
- Taken expert input and simplified/tweaked without understanding outcome
- Committed to a Go-live/deliverable date that is on is on a holiday / vacation day / unrealistic time-frame
If you can say that one or more of these look familiar, there is a good chance that your project is going to struggle if it hasn’t already. But why?
I really want to answer ‘why’ with a simplified summary… but I don’t think that I can. Project Management has been the most difficult and yet most rewarding task that I have ever faced in my career. There is an incredible amount of complexity involve in any given project, with thousands of unknowns and an infinite number of outcomes. There is not one solution, there is no single answer. Project Management (IT or otherwise) is as complex as it is fluid. As a result there is no simple summary of what to do right.
That said; there are solutions and there are proven ways to work through the complex problems. There are best practices that each of us can apply to our field, there are take-aways and lessons learned. In my world, we have Lean/Six-Sigma. It’s not the end-all-be-all solution, but it could address many of the ‘red flags’ that the Computerworld article lists out. The five steps below are the standard steps which address many of the above issues:
Following a rigid process blindly is a waste of time, but following a broad and robust process intelligently can save time, money and headache. What do you think of these ‘red-flags’? Do they sound familiar? How have you addressed or avoided them in your experience?