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You've identified a number of project-leader level problems, though it looks like the project was suffering from a bigger problem that you might not have has as much visibility on:

No Effective Executive Sponsor

The role of (or even the existence of) an executive sponsor is often invisible to the developers in the trenches. An executive sponsor is the person on the executive staff who is motivated to see a project through to completion. They cut through high-level roadblocks and keep things moving. Projects without sponsors tend to drift around, subject to corporate weather patterns, until some momentary crisis gives the project temporary momentum. Lots of people (including Security) will happily say NO to you unless you have a sponsor.

Here are some warning signs that indicate that the project had a serious sponsorship problem:

  1. The project took 18 months until a development task lands.
  2. The development task lands not in Engineering, but in the hands of someone in Marketing who didn't yet speak Perl.
  3. Seven months later, after doing some tests, Corporate has lost the handoff.
  4. In the meantime the original sponsor has left.
  5. People think they're powerless, and unable to get vital information from Security.

With the possible exception of Corporate losing the handoff, these aren't project manager or product manager level problems. If they were, an effective sponsor would have had the the project/product manager replaced.

I try never to get involved with a project that doesn't have a real, live, politically protected executive sponsor. Life is too short to be a ping-pong ball.


In reply to (dws)Re: A Cautionary Rant by dws
in thread A Cautionary Rant by footpad

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