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7 stages of a failed software project

Andrew C. Oliver | July 22, 2016
Know the signs! You might not be able to affect the outcome, but at least you'll recognize when to fasten your seatbelt and update your resume

Don't worry, their stars will not shine as bright as those of hero developers working 12- to 16-hour days making mistakes. On failed projects, the heroes also get the blame.

4. Apathy and despair

In failed projects, at some point you realize that nothing you'll be allowed to do will change its course. This may come from a lack of empowerment, a lack of trust, a lack of resources, or a lack in yourself.

At this point, you stop trying to fix the problem and do what you're told. You are on the ship, you see the giant iceberg, but you don't care anymore. You're tired of the meetings, the recriminations, the accusations, the insinuations, the pressure, and the passing of the buck.

Who cares whose fault it is? Let's come up with a solution. But you're past that. It's too late. You had that conversation. If they didn't listen then, why would they listen now? Sail on into the deep.

5. Delivery and failure

Remember the Obamacare website? Remember how people were baffled why they would release such a thing when they knew it wasn't going to work? I wasn't one of the people wondering. I've been on those projects where everyone knows it's not going to work but they've been told to do it anyway.

Mercifully, most failed projects get defunded, canceled, or deprioritized rather than delivered in a failed state.

6. Relief

After a failed project most people expect to experience more depression than that which actually comes. On any significant project, you've already experienced the depression, anxiety, and fear, so once the project actually fails and you're off the hook and you don't feel those things anymore. Oddly, the feeling you feel is one of relief.

7. Recognition

Project failures tend to be from the top down. The underlying cause is almost always poor communication coupled with a lack of fundamental respect from members of the team. It's important for management to recognize these signs in order to avoid another disaster, but if the people on the project don't feel they can come to management, the failure will repeat itself, because no one in a position to make a difference knows what needs to be corrected.

Source: Infoworld


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