A couple of weeks ago, we wrote a blog post entitled “7 Reasons IT Projects Fail.” If you read it (which you should, by the way), you know exactly why IT projects fail and how to prevent them from doing so.
While that’s great and all, it doesn’t help you to spot a failing IT project. So how do you do it? How do you determine if what you’re working on is on its way to being terminated? Don’t worry. We’ll give you 10 signs that your project is, or is on its way to, failing.
1. Milestones Aren’t Met
When you first plan out your project, you set milestones. If the milestones aren’t being met, it’s obvious that your project is falling behind. You need to figure out ways to get your project back on track without causing more bugs.
2. Team Disinterest
Unfortunately, due to conflicting goals, a significant portion of the management/team is oftentimes uncommitted to the project at hand. This lack of commitment (signaled by little attention and participation at meetings) ensures that the project lacks the proper resources, resources that will allow the project to meet goals and ultimately succeed.
In order to combat team disinterest, you need to make sure that everybody is on board with the direction of the project as well as the long-term goals it supports. Sometimes, this can be cleared up by voicing the goals and priorities and their correlating strengths and weaknesses.
3. Poor Communication
There’s a saying that goes, “If they’re communicating, they’re collaborating.” With this logic, it’s no surprise that a project is likely to fail without proper communication.
When upper-level managers are kept in the dark about deadlines that weren’t met, and the low-men-and-women on the totem pole aren’t sure what’s expected of them, a project will fail. It won’t be on time, and it will fail to meet management’s expectations.
If the people in your project aren’t communicating, it’s a sign that your project may be on its way to failure. Communicate with everyone who is involved with the project. Only by clearly stating expectations and sharing bad news will a project be able to stay on track.
4. Inconsistent Management
If those leading the projects keep changing their tune, odds are a project is going to fail. If it keeps changing course, how can it possibly meet its goals? It can’t.
If you’re in a leadership position, remain as consistent as possible. Otherwise, your project is likely to fail.
5. Lots of Overtime
Is your team suddenly working a lot of overtime? If so, this could be a sign that the project is running behind. Oftentimes, Project Managers will have the teamwork overtime, as it is a fast fix that draws less attention than if they were to say that there is a problem.
6. Your Team Gets Pulled On To Other Projects
In this case, this isn’t a sign that your project is failing – though your project will start failing if people continue to steal your resources. While loaning your team members out once in a while doesn’t seem like a big deal, the time and resources diverted can add up. If your resources continue to get diverted your project will shortly be in trouble, so be aware of this.
7. Lack of Metrics
If your team doesn’t have any clear metrics, your project could be in trouble. You need these analytics to keep your project on schedule, which ultimately keeps it on its path to success.
If you don’t have metrics, you have no way of knowing whether or not the project is failing. You’ll just have to take people’s word for it. You know that you don’t want to do that.
8. Disjointed Team
Not every team is a big old happy family. Loyalties or differences in techniques/beliefs can cause your team to break down into competing factions, or even worse, into a free-for-all. If this happens, your project will be in trouble as competition and a lack of communication will keep the project from being on time.
9. More Issues Added Than Resolved
With any project, there are going to be issues. However, if you are adding issues to the list faster than they are being resolved, your project is on the fast track to going nowhere. While stopping a project completely to resolve the issues may not be the direction you want to go, it may be the only way to get the project back on track.
10. Project Management and Business Management Aren’t On the Same Page
While project management and business management may initially collaborate on a project, that initial agreement may not last long. If there is any disagreement, the project may be in danger of being terminated, as business management tends to win out over IT.
If you see any of these 10 things happening on your project, you need to address them quickly. If you don’t, your project is going to be a lost cause and all of your hard work will have been for nothing. And you don’t want to have your tech genius blown like that, do you?
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Thanks to Horia Varlan for the use of their respective photographs.