Saturday, March 21, 2009

The great unknown

I know I’m repeating myself when I say the #1 cause of project failure is the unknown – the unknown according to Capers Jones is missed requirements and missing design elements….this probably represents the majority of the unknowns. HOWEVER there are other unknowns lurking out there, ready to trip up even Sr. Project Managers….unknowns that could become knowns or better knowns if more time and effort is put forth…some key areas:
  • External impacts – this includes anything external to your groups and project. What if a 3rd party partner changes their API? The HR group decides to give everyone a 3 month longer vacation? IT becomes hot again and your people are stolen (for better salaries) from you?
  • Quality – what level quality of requirements and code are being delivered? To low and the end result will probably be shocking, to high and the cost/effort explodes past expectations.
  • Risks – was your risk analysis effective and provide adequate coverage? Did you include ALL the people you should have? You can only mitigate the risks you know and how good was the mitigation planning? Do they have gaps OR risks in themselves?
  • Productivity – how productive are the people on your team? 
  • Technical limitations – can technology really address the problem at hand? Don’t be to confident, AI was suppose to be solved by now as well as having a moon colony….prototype and test the technology unknowns.
  • Expectations – do you really know the sponsors cost and timing expectations? Make sure that you’re both speaking the same language…what does complete really mean?

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