13 Signs That Your Project May be In Deep Trouble

13 Signs That Your Project May be In Deep Trouble

Obviously, the only way you can know for sure whether your project is in trouble or not is to (a) have a properly estimated plan and (b) be monitoring properly against it. Those issues are discussed elsewhere on www.fastproject.org.

However, there are a number of signs I have seen over the years which are guaranteed to raise the hairs on the back of my neck and may be indicative of major trouble.

Since some of these are not exactly objective or measurable, I’ve tried to give an indication of how reliable they might be.

 

1 No Plan

No plan at all. Or a poorly estimated / sketchy plan.

Probability that the project is in trouble: Certainty

 

2 No Effort in the plan

The plan is actually a timeline. It doesn’t contain estimates of the amount of work to be done (Effort).

Probability that the project is in trouble: Medium High. Also very likely that people are working very long hours in order to stick to the timeline and keep the project on schedule.

 

3 Stories

Stories are great in novels or in movies; they’re generally very bad in projects. If you (a) ask the team what the project is about or (b) ask to see a copy of the plan or (c) ask for the status (especially this) and they give you a story: ‘This happened and then that happened and then so and so did this and that person went there …’

Probability that the project is in trouble: High.

 

4 GGGGGGR!

No, it’s not an expression of frustration or anger – though if this happens to you, you’ll be frustrated and angry and probably a whole lot more.

It’s when a project manager reports a project Green – On Target, week after week and then suddenly jumps out of the cake and announces that it’s Red – In Big Trouble.

Probability that the project is in trouble: Very High – Certainty. This project should be the subject of forensic examination to determine what’s going on. If it were me, I would also tell the project manager that if s(he) ever did anything like that again … well, you know!

 

5 No status reports

Assuming that (ideally, weekly) status reports have been issuing, if the project manager misses a week, I’d be very concerned. If they miss two weeks in a row, my experience has been that it’s a certainty that the project is in major doo-doo.

Probability that the project is in trouble: Missed 1 week – Medium. Missed 2 weeks in a row – Certainty.

 

6 ‘Everything’s under control’

You ask the project manager the status of the project and this is the answer you get.

Probability that the project is in trouble: Medium. My experience has often been that everything’s not under control.

 

7 ‘This is a very aggressive schedule’

Somebody – usually a boss, very senior / important boss, stakeholder, project sponsor or customer – says this.

Probability that the project is in trouble: For me personally in my career, this has proven to be a Certainty. My experience has been that anyone who says this has usually parted company with reality. To be balanced though, let’s call it High.

The good news though, is that it’s often said at the beginning of projects and so you have the chance to do something about it before it grows into a nightmare.

 

8 ‘We have a high level plan’

You ask whether a project has a plan and this is what you’re told.

Probability that the project is in trouble: Certainty. In my experience this means the project has no plan to speak of.

 

9 Heavy multitasking

The organization is one where people are doing lots of multitasking i.e. they’re spread across many (i.e. more than a handful of) things.

Probability that the project is in trouble: Medium High. Also very likely that people are working very long hours in order to stick to the timeline and keep the project on schedule.

 

10 ‘We’re 90% done’

The terrifying ‘we’re 90% done’ which usually means that 90% of the scheduled project time has gone – not that 90% of the thing has been done.

Probability that the project is in trouble: Medium High.

 

11 ‘We don’t have time to plan it, just go do it!’

Somebody – usually a boss, very senior / important boss, stakeholder, project sponsor or customer – says this.

Probability that the project is in trouble: High.

The good news though, is that it’s often said at the beginning of projects and so you have the chance to do something about it before it grows into a nightmare.

 

12 ‘Great!’

You ask the project manager the status of the project and this is the answer you get.

Probability that the project is in trouble: High if it’s accompanied by any of these http://uk.businessinsider.com/how-to-tell-someones-lying-by-watching-their-face-2016-1. Probably good to know about these anyway!

 

13 ‘You’ve got to work smarter, not harder’

Somebody – usually a boss, very senior / important boss, stakeholder, project sponsor or customer – says this to the project team. (Usually at a time when the team is already working crazy hours anyway.)

Probability that the project is in trouble: High.

 

 

—o0o—

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: