Spotting a failing project

How do you identify a failing project?? Back on May 1, I wrote about why software projects fail. Thanks for the response to the post and the suggestions. Here is a great companion piece from Rick Cook writing for CIO – How to Spot a Failing Project.  Rick introduces this paper by optimistically saying that project managers are getting better and more sophisticated at managing software development. However, even today according to Rick, only one-third of all projects are considered complete successes. He believes that a key to successful project management is to spot problems early while there is still time for course corrections.

I highly recommend his entire article. Here is a peek at a few of his potential pending-failure metrics:

  • Lack of interest including missed meetings, not participating in discussions, or not paying attention
  • A “No-Bad-News” environment
  • Lots of overtime
  • Diversion of resources
  • Missing intermediate milestones

If you have a favorite “tell” that makes you uneasy about a project’s success or failure, please share.

 

4 Responses to “Spotting a failing project”

  1. PM Hut Says:

    I have published a very short article on the symptoms of project failure. Following are some of my favorites:

    * Repeated missed deadlines
    * Constantly Changing Priorities
    * Increasing levels of management’s intervention

    “Waning Support” is probably the same thing as “Lack of interest”…

  2. Bruce McGraw Says:

    Thanks for sharing Michael! I really agree with ” constant change in priorities”. Like your post on this!!

  3. Kevin Brady Says:

    I could think of some other ways to spot a failing project

    1 no sponsor or project board – find one or give up
    2 none accredited project manager with seat of the pants management style
    3 no risk or issue management
    4 no bottom up planning

  4. Asking for Help « Fear No Project – A Project Management Blog Says:

    […] tasks are yellow flags to project managers that may signal the need to ask for help. (see: Spotting a failing project and How to create and use predictive project […]


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