It’s important that you routinely check up on your “digital child’s” health by taking it to Dr (Software) House.
“Everybody Dies”…according to Hugh Laurie, the protagonist of the Dr. House TV show. In fact, this saying is also true for product development as most IT projects are, unfortunately, bound to fail. A staggering 95% of product innovation projects fail according to Prof. Clayton Christensen, the architect of and the world’s foremost authority on disruptive innovation. The Gartner Group reports that 75% of all ERP projects fail. As McKinsey shows, digital transformation fails 70% of the time.
The numbers clearly show most IT projects are bound to fail. Some of the telltale symptoms that your project is “contaminated” can be spotted once the project is put together. Others, though, appear much earlier and give you a huge advantage by allowing you to rescue a badly-designed project instead of wasting time and money on a project that is ultimately doomed.
Our special Dr. (Software) House IT Health Checklist will help you to quickly diagnose these symptoms and take immediate action to get your project back on the right track. The warning signs that your project may be failing are very specific so you can easily spot them right away.
Read through our article to get a clear picture of what the typical signs of failure look like. If you recognize some of them in your current software project, it might be the right time to reach out to us for a professional IT consultation.
Symptom #1: Shifts in your team or in the management
A lot of projects fail due to circumstances that are beyond the control of the technical team. When you no longer have a friendly person in the management team advocating for your project (or if your current team lead/ expert leaves the company unexpectedly), it can be more difficult (or even impossible) to get new resources ad hoc and continue development.
Symptom #2: The bottleneck pain – Failure of micromanagement
Classic micromanagement is the act of managing minutiae. Sure, it’s your job to oversee the different parts of your project, but if your team members are constantly turning to you for advice, you haven’t set up a self-sufficient team that can act independently and take ownership. Everything’s fine just as long as you don’t take even one day off until the final release.
Symptom #3: Expert recommendations have been replaced with business decisions
If you’re not a technical expert, that’s okay. After all, you can always turn to the right experts who are related to the technology you are currently working on and ask for their opinion. But, if you already did this and then chose a different path which was only motivated based on a sensible business decision, a big red flag will go up!
Symptom #1: You don’t recognize your initial project plan anymore
Once your initial project plan is approved, you set up track your progress in the project. The problem is that a few weeks later, the tasks you’ve tracked online don’t look anything like the ones outlined at the beginning. If your goal is to thwart your plans, overpromising and underestimation are the two skills you’ll definitely want to master.
Symptom #2: You are eating away at your buffer time
Buffer time is your project’s life insurance. It makes room for the inevitable delays that will come along and prevent unexpected issues derailing your schedule. In fact, any further explanation of these benefits is pointless as you have already reserved extra time in the project in case of any changes or sudden incidents… Haven’t you?
Symptom #3: There’s no detailed project plan for software development
The only thing that might be more frustrating than mapping out a detailed project plan for software development is being involved in a project that doesn’t have one. Conduct a project audit to uncover any challenges, be they logistical, financial and otherwise, that affect the outcome of the project. Of course, you don’t need to be reminded of that.
Diagnose your operations
Symptom #1: Your technical documentation is getting out of date
Let’s be honest, most people see documentation as an onerous time-waster that creates extra work. Unfortunately, that train of thought makes it easy for inaccuracies to creep into your work. This is a very real possibility and can happen even easier with these common mistakes –
- You have no standards or systems for documentation.
- You don’t assign an engineer to write the documentation.
- You don’t let the engineer insert the documentation into the source code at the time the code is written.
Symptom #2: Your team is not communicating
50% of a developer’s work is communication. So if you rarely hear from your team, it might not mean that they’re doing well. It may likely be because they are overwhelmed with tasks and simply don’t have the time and resources to devote to communication with you. Remember, it doesn’t matter how well your team codes if they can’t (or don’t have conditions to) communicate properly.
Symptom #3: Users shouldn’t be involved with the project
Never engage users in your project unless you want to develop unnecessary features or solutions that nobody wants. On the other hand, if the invitations have been sent and you have already involved the users, remember that an application or a software product that aims to fulfil all users’ whims is probably going to be too pricey and not profitable.
Broken project requirements
Symptom #1: The uncontrolled increase of a code’s complexity
Part of managing a software project is finding a way to keep users happy and involved while at the same time, making sure that the complexity of the task is being reduced to something that is manageable. Otherwise, the project will become far too complex and the amount of code necessary to complete it will increase hugely.
Symptom #2: Expectations have not been set
If your app or a software product runs correctly, even with a few minor errors, but it doesn’t do what the end customer wants, it will be seen as a 100% failure. Sometimes, the problem isn’t with the code at all, it’s with the exaggerated expectations of the users who have been promised too much and delivered too little.
Symptom #3: You are way over budget
All in all, most of the reasons why your IT project might go over budget start with the same common hurdle, change. Each of the symptoms described above, if not prevented early enough, will eventually have a major impact on the project budget and schedule.
No one wants to waste precious resources and feed a “zombie project” with the brains (and time and money) of their own software development team.
Software development companies, mobile app developers and many other companies involved in the tech world cannot afford to make mistakes like choosing the wrong technology, putting too much focus on flashiness and appearances while losing sight of functionality or, worst of all, wasting resources, money and time.
How many symptoms of potential risk have you spotted in your current project? If you spot even just one, you should be concerned. When your project is not progressing as well as you would like, do not hesitate to take your project to the “IT doctor” who can diagnose the problem. It’s always a good idea to have software engineers review your work.
*Memes source: https://www.reddit.com/r/ProgrammerHumor/