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Project - Setting up for failure

- A.K. Manjunatha

Though every Project Manager aims at successful completion of a project, the following could be the reasons why projects fail:-

Projects keep businesses running, and thus, managing amicably the various stakeholders towards a common objective is vital. It gets challenging as it is complex and could be new. However, one project which I would like to share the experience is the one which had good revenue return. Project delivering in a short span of time helps to retain the Customer and get more Business.

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The probable reason why the project got delayed beyond expectations and hence led into failure are: -


1. Team not in Sync:

One black sheep at the top, who wants to show that the team cannot function without him, can destroy the team spirit. Wounded ego's need to be addressed. Find facts not faults should be the way to go ahead. What went wrong rather than who did it wrong helps.

Not sharing periodic update to management on the delays has lead to casualness and thus casualty of the project.

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2. Single Point of Failure:

When the architect of the project, working since over a year, is not sharing vital information but just taking in what is important to him, is like a pebble in the shoe. Nobody is indispensable however, when one person with a inflated ego gets too much of importance, the team could go for a toss! If a touch decision was taken on this, the project could be completed in time.


3. Communication & Relation:

Connect is the way to go ahead. Delivery has always been sub-optimal in the last 8 years, due to sub-optimal connect in this team. Not sharing periodic update to management on the delays has lead to casualness and thus casualty of the project. The impact of mistrust with global stakeholders is due to the mistrust in the team.

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4. Commitment through Conviction:

No action of multiple wrong commitments of final dates of project completion by the Engineering Leader. This drained down the Team Confidence. As offering team is distributed geographically, they were losing confidence with the team. A stronger Leadership could have kept R&D Team and offering team on the same page for better results.

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5. Clarity in Roles:

The lack in clarity of the roles is one of the key issue, which lead to additional delays in the tasks completion and piling up of work. For example, work to be carried out by the Architect, adding the requirements or user stories to the tool, was not done for 3 months. The assigned architect had no freedom to carry out her/his work as needed, though after repeated requests.


6. Prolonged Proof Of Concept (POC):

The Proof of Concept was not concluded quickly and carried out for a year. The lesson learnt here - POC has to be looked at Minimal Viable Offering (MVO) required for the customer to go to market quickly.


7. Wrong Project Offering Strategy:

As the project was having three different deliverables, segregating as a separate release for each deliverables and generating revenue incrementally could have been done. We went ahead as a single project for three MVO's. First MVO was completed successfully but not released officially as a separate release. Segregating with the MVO's as a release has put enormous pressure on the team to complete remaining MVO's and not generating revenue for completed MVO.

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