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3 Lessons From Failed Projects

There are lessons in failure, no matter what the general corporate credo might be in many IT organizations across the world. Point in fact, failure is sometimes the only way to really figure out what works and what doesn’t. If you (or your organization) can get past the feeling that mistakes are bad, you’ll find out just how beneficial a failed project can be! Take for instance Andrew Makar, who shares in this post from TechRepublic three lessons he’s gained through the failure of a project.

First, he learned that the project schedule is your friend. The more detailed the project schedule is, the more it will help in keeping you on track. A good schedule also provides early warning for a project going off-track, which is very hard to fix late in the project lifecycle.

The Inescapable Triangle

Secondly, don’t think that you can escape the project triangle (time, cost, scope), even if you’re an executive. Even if what you want to add to the project’s scope should have been there to start with, you’re still going to affect the outcome and timeframe of that project. The lesson here is to adopt a change management process that everyone follows.

The final lesson is that project heroics only lead to project failure.

In that same troubled project, the team had hired an external consultant as the lead developer. The developer had a lot of control over the project executive since he was producing the actual product for the project. The executive had confidence in the developer, yet the lead developer spent all day in meetings gathering requirements and little time developing during the day. He would spend another eight hours working until 2 a.m. writing code and repeated this cycle day after day. He wouldn't share the code base with the internal IT staff. During our daily checkpoints, he insisted his code would be ready by the launch date if people would “just leave him alone so he could work.” No working code was ever delivered.

About Matthew Kabik

Matthew Kabik is the former Editor of Computer Aid's Accelerating IT Success. He worked at Computer Aid, Inc. from 2008 to 2014 in the Harrisburg offices, where he was a copywriter, swordsman, social media consultant, and trainer before moving into editorial.

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