This best practice offers guidelines on managing, recovering, and preventing troubled projects.
How to recognize a troubled project
A project should not be classified as "troubled" if the question is a matter of "How to finish quickly" or "How to catch up." A troubled project is one in which the project is in reasonable danger of even being completed at all, at least within an acceptable timeline or cost. Moreover, if a project has a 50% or greater chance of failure, author and noted software guru Edward Yourdon classifies such a project as a "death march." Clearly, troubled projects need special attention, and "death march" projects often require drastic action.
Common characteristics of a failing project include:
- Vague, unclear objectives
- Lack of executive sponsorship
- A project team with no idea when the project will finish
- Excessive number of product defects
- Team members who are working an excessive amount of hours
- Management who cannot ascertain the project’s status
- Loss of customer confidence
- Project team is defensive regarding progress
- Relations between development and other organizational units are strained
- Team moral is low
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