Want to ruin your projects? Here are 10 methods to almost guarantee they fail.

Epic Project Failure

We have had numerous blog posts with information on how to make your projects more successful. In this blog post we take a different approach. We will not be emphasizing how to make your projects successful, we are going to provide some insight into what you should NOT be doing if you want your projects to have a positive outcome.

  1. Make sure the project does not have clear goals and objectives – A successful project manager will steer a project toward the best outcome much like a navigator of a vessel. They begin with where they are, consider where they want to end up and then plot a course to get there. Now consider the same navigator only has a rough idea of the final destination. Makes it kind of hard to plot the course doesn’t it? Be a good navigator and begin your projects by making sure you have a clear understanding of the goals and objectives (read more on this topic here).
  2. Executing a project because “everyone is doing it” - One of my favorite Dilberts is when the pointy haired boss asks Dilbert “I was reading an article over the weekend. Do you know Eunuch?” Dilbert replies “I think you mean Unix, and yes I know it”. The pointy haired boss goes “oh..I see..If the company nurse stops by, tell her never mind”. So yes, social media projects are big and mobile interfaces are cool, but are the projects aligned with your company’s goals and objectives? Does the proposed project produce more revenue? Save money? Benefit your customers? Trying to implement a project that is poorly aligned with business objectives should be a big red flag (learn more about selecting the right projects here )
  3. Dragging a project with little or no support from the sponsor - Running a project without a sponsor to provide direction, remove obstacles, and ensure support to move the project forward is a great idea. If the sponsor does not support the project, how can you be expected to successfully delivery it?
  4. Complexity for the sake of complexity - You think your team and project sponsors will be thrilled and excited when you have a project plan with 12 levels of WBS when 2 levels would have done just fine? NOT! Plan and manage to the level that makes sense for the project you are delivering.
  5. Micro Manage the team – Want to have the team frag or subvert you? No problem, start micro managing them. Productivity will go down, team members will quit and your project will be up a creak.
  6. Make sure the project has no ROI or tangible benefits - It’s not about value after all – it’s about working with cool technology. NOT! Most of us like to play with cool technology, but if your project doesn’t help the organization, you will lose support before you finish.
  7. Reinvent the wheel - The organization has a full delivery stack, architecture, and standards that have been licensed and everyone has been trained to use. Why use the same thing? That won’t help our resumes. Let’s experiment and try to deliver with totally new technologies, it will be a learning experience! – NOT! It will be a death march!
  8. Scope evolution mid project - Just like the navigator analogy in point #1. If you are navigating this project and the destination is constantly changing, what are the chances of you getting there without a tremendous amount of waste? Iterative execution…great…agile responsiveness…great. Constant change of scope…. KA BOOM!
  9. Ignore your customers/stakeholders – We met with the stakeholder at the kickoff meeting and spent almost 20 minutes discussing what they want. I got this. No need to check in again. Engaging your stakeholders not only helps to make sure the project is going the right direction but also keeps them involved so that they can clear obstacles and provide support.
  10. Ignore budget constraints – Budgets? We don’t need no stinking budgets! I told them it was a “high level estimate”, they will understand when it is 5x the cost. NOT! It may take a little time for finance to catch on but when they do you might need to polish up the old resume!

This post was written with a little tongue-in-cheek humor to try to make it less boring. But seriously…don’t do any of these suggestions on any of your projects! You’ve been warned!

Level 5 Partners offers mentoring and guidance to help organizations achieve these results. In addition we offer the vPMO, a completely integrated web based solution that can be used to implement the processes discussed in this blog entry.

Please be sure to check it out: Virtual Program Management Office (vPMO)

We love sharing our knowledge and information about our offerings. If you find the vPMO interesting, contact us for a free no obligation demonstration.


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