Spot the Eleven Warning Signs Before a Project Fails

John Storts
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Top 10 Project Management Trends for 2012

We had all the necessary talent to successfully complete the task. We had time, money and a reasonable schedule, even if it was ambitious. We had a great software product, and it had high visibility and support with top brass.


But, it failed due to poor communication about staff changes during a "right-sizing" (read: layoffs). Even though the reorganization brought equally qualified replacements to the team, the changes completely disrupted flow of information and collaboration. No one knew exactly who was in charge of what. With so much confusion came chaos. Soon, in the rush to meet deadlines, everyone stopped talking. The ultimate goal was lost, and the project was deep-sixed within a week of the gold software build.


What happened? Looking over IT Business Edge's "Eleven Reasons IT Projects Fail," I figured out what applies to this situation:

  • After the layoffs, a power struggle occurred within the software testing group. The project manager couldn't rein in the egos to put the focus on the project's value. Internal politics robbed energy that should be poured into the project.
  • Once the testing group derailed and staffing was in transition, the feedback from internal and external user groups we collected became unreliable or, in some cases, nonexistent. We had no clear contingency plan.
  • While the identified stakeholders were well documented at the outset, the new personnel changes weren't explicitly stated and kept up-to-date in cross-functional team meetings. In my case, I had no idea who to turn to for collaborating on issues with software documentation and user assistance.


Avoid or rectify these common mistakes before your project is in jeopardy.

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