There are two factors that are almost prerequisite to project failure. These are:

1. The team does not communicate sufficient details on project status and issues.

2. Stakeholders do not pay sufficient attention to project status and issues (or the lack thereof).

This does not mean that a communicative team and responsive stakeholders guarantee success. There are too many other things that can go wrong. But it does buy you time to identify and correct for issues before they become catastrophic. In the worst case, stakeholders can determine that things are going from bad to worse and can chose to cut their loses by abending the project.

Ultimately, a combination of clear team communication and healthy attention from stakeholders is your best hedge against sudden and costly project failure.

4 Responses to “Projects Fail Because No One Is Paying Attention”
  1. Succinct and spot on … what frustrates and demoralizes (or destroys velocity in agile terms) project participants is when there isn’t a mechanism for teams to get attention on their communicated status and issues by management and/or stakeholders. The longer the delay in recognizing the need for course correction, the great the pain in getting things back on track.

  2. I completely agree, these are the main critical issues for so many agile projects! Especially the PO not being available enough. So what has worked in your experience to boost communication and involvement of stakeholders?

  3. Peter Schuh says:

    Thanks for the comment!

    What works for me is:
    1. Weekly short status meetings that include objective and easy-to-understand metrics (such as burnups).
    2. A project management approach that understands that communicating bad information early is highly preferential to project-derailing surprises later.
    3. An engaged business partner (such as a product owner) who is invested in the project.

  4. Harkens back to Fred Brooks’ question and answer in The Mythical Man-Month: “Question: How does a large software project get to be one year late? Answer: One day at a time!”

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