If you work in the IT world, you’ve probably seen projects that have come off the rails and require a major course correction to get back on track. In this blog post, I will highlight the warning signs of a failing project from a recent client, along with the process we follow to get critical initiatives back on track.
This client was replacing an important legacy system as part of a long-term modernization program. The project had been in danger from the start:
- High IT team turnover rate led to new hires that didn’t know the business
- No strong project management on the team
- Selected this project to initiate an Agile development approach
- No Product Owner to represent the needs of the business
After two years only one major module had been delivered and the updated project timeline was three times longer than the original schedule. The alarming and unexpected extension of the timeline was the motivation our client needed to contact Edgewater for help.
Our first step was to conduct an assessment of the project to better understand:
- Major risks
- Staffing and capabilities
- The estimation approach
- User involvement
- Agile adoption
In this case, the findings clearly indicated a project at a high risk of failure.
Given the determination of “high risk”, Edgewater recommended some bold changes:
- Establishing a realistic project schedule with achievable milestones
- Hiring a full-time Product Owner to lead the requirements effort and build the backlog
- Doubling the size of the IT development team to increase productivity and reduce the timeline
- Using a blended team of full-time resources and consultants
- Adding a full-time Project Manager/Scrum Master to lead the Agile development team, keep the project on schedule, and provide reporting to senior management
- The project timeline has been cut in half
- The development team has increased productivity by over 50% and has delivered modules on schedule
- The requirements backlog has doubled
- The client IT team is learning best practices so they will be able to support and enhance the system on their own
- The Project Manager is mentoring the team on Agile roles and responsibilities, and managing the development team
Our client is extremely happy with the productivity improvements, and the users are excited to work on this project. There’s still a long way to go, but the project rescue has been a success.