Project running late? Project over budget? Prepare to read what should be the absolute obvious.
It’s not uncommon that software projects either run late or run over their allotted budget. Most of the time, at least in my own experience, this is either down to an insistence on an unworkable methodology shoehorned in by an evangelist to ‘increase efficiency’ or the usual blatant and inept mismanagement in the comedy Keystone Cops style.
Let’s list out and examine some ways that you really don’t want to handle a failing project in the modern game of software engineering if you’re unlucky enough to be in charge or made a terrible mistake and entered management.
1 — Adopting an Unsuitable Methodology
Many software projects are small affairs and as such are easily managed by allocating tasks from a tiny text file, circulating them directly by email, and keeping everyone in touch via simple text messaging.
Let’s call it “developer self-organisation” as we tend to know what we’re doing and can be happily left alone for long periods to just Get Stuff Done.
Others, albeit slightly larger, do benefit from some organisation such as a wiki of some sort, a message board, and perhaps some kind of lightweight milestones just to keep things vaguely on track. You might even need to slip in a weekly meeting to that management knows what’s going on.
Only the largest require the big guns of actual Gantt charts, specific ‘collaboration’ software, and designated managers to run the show — or rather to keep even more managers away from the actual workers.
The problem, as you may have guessed, is that many projects (and more importantly their laughably either inept or inexperienced managers) go all in on some complex methodology they’ve never used before, let alone understand, right from the start in the illusion of it making things better.
Obviously, if it’s expensive it must be worth having!
They believe the inevitable hype that “this one single method” will make everything just right, make it come in on time and in budget, and basically defecate out the right sort of Excel spreadsheets and charts so that they can do absolutely nothing and expect…