Monday, March 10, 2008

10 signs that your project is about to be cut

Great article from TechRepublic on why projects fail. I've provided 5 reasons, I've encountered first hand. Visit TechRepublic to read the entire list including reader's comments.

Date: February 20th, 2008
Author: Justin James

It is an unfortunate reality in the IT industry: A large number of projects are cancelled before they are complete. This would not be a problem if the IT industry were like many other industries, where the labor pool is made up almost exclusively of permanent employees. But the IT industry is filled with temporary employees, contractors, consultants, and even permanent employees hired specifically for a particular project. So when a project is cancelled, workers lose their jobs. Knowing the signs of an impending cancellation can help these workers land on their feet.

Here are some signs to watch out for:

#2: Changes in management are rolled out

Major changes in management always carry some risk to existing projects. After all, the new head honcho may not see the upside of a project like the previous boss did. Be wary when management changes, especially if it was a sudden and/or involuntary change. When a manager is removed, all of his or her decisions are open for re-evaluation, and that means that your project’s neck is already on the block. Be especially wary if the new leadership is from outside the organization; that can signal that an “axe man” has just been put in charge.

#6: Your project becomes a tool of office politics

Does everyone hate your boss? If so, your project is in their sights. Even good projects are used as weapons in vicious political battles. Your leader’s opponents argue for the cancellation of the project to diminish the prestige or resources of your boss or to cause embarrassment. It’s a shame that executives behave like this sometimes, but it’s a fact of life. When your boss is being stabbed in the back and his or her decisions are constantly being questioned, your project may be vulnerable, regardless of its merits.

#7: Poor leadership casts a shadow on the project

Of course, sometimes your boss’ detractors are right, and your manager really is making a mess of things. If you make fun of your project leaders behind their backs, beware; someone else with a lot more pull is probably sniping at them too. The manager who is obviously inept to the staff is eventually going to be exposed, and when that happens, your project will be at risk, even if it’s going well.

#8: The project is successful, but the product fails

Every now and then, there is a project that is completely successful: The product shipped on time and within budget, all of the goals were met, and so on. And then the product itself completely tanks for one reason or another. Maybe it’s priced too high, or possibly a new competitor came onto the market out of left field with a better product. Your market may have experienced an unforeseeable and severe shift in direction right around the time your product rolled out. For whatever reason, your project was successful by every measure of project success. But the product that resulted is a total failure. You may be given very little time to do something to make the product successful — and if that doesn’t happen, they’ll be closing up shop.

#9: Your project has low visibility

In every company, some employees come in every day for eight hours, and no one seems to know what they do, why they are there, or even what their names are. And when the layoffs come around, those employees are the first to go. Some projects are like this too. For whatever reason, they simply lack publicity or even recognition. Sometimes, this is on purpose; the company is doing something super-secret and wants to keep chatter to a minimum. But most of the time, it is an indicator that your project either is not producing anything useful, or your project leaders are not doing a good job evangelizing your work. Regardless, projects with low visibility are at risk of cancellation. Eventually, someone is going to ask why resources are being spent on it. And if no one can explain the purpose of the project, it will be decided that the project is not needed.

ITIL & IT Service Management

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