Why Your Project Is Late

Why is your project behind schedule? Have you considered that maybe it’s because you want it to be?

I talked to this guy about six months ago whose independent software company had five or six really well conceptualized vertical market applications.

None of them were actually done yet. Some were at that classic 80% completion mark. And he’d been at this thing for five whole years!

How it happens

Now there are two reasons something like that could happen. One is that the applications are inherently so darn complicated that it really does take that long to get them done. In that case, I’m suggesting it’s not a great idea to try to do five of them at once.

The other reason is that the applications aren’t supposed to get done. As long as they’re not done, they’re in a state of not successful yet. If by some chance the projects do get done, they run the risk of failing in the market, or just not being as cool as planned.

You have to make a choice in these things. Decide whether you want a finished product, or the feeling of constantly working on something awesome. Accept the chance of failure or defer it indefinitely. Do it or… not.

Corporate disease too

It’s not always those solo developers that pull this stunt though. Corporate development teams do something very similar, but they dress it up in layers of process. They’d rather go through a series of “visioning” meetings (if they’re kind of hip) or “requirements analysis” papers (if they’re not so hip). They put every darn change through a committee, as if the original design were perfect and in need of layers of defense. They don’t adapt to get things done faster or better, they defend the status quo–but the status quo is the app not being done.

But as long as you’re buying time with process, it’s okay that the project isn’t getting done yet.

So let’s throw that off

Today, right now, look at your project and task backlog. (If you’re already on a Kanban or Scrum system, so much the better.) Which items can you take care of today? If you can finish a small application, mail out a document draft, or even make the decision to kill off a time-wasting project, your time is well invested.

Why your project is behind

So why is your project behind schedule? Have you considered that maybe it’s because you want it to be? Ask yourself what you’re getting out of that, or what you would do differently if it were done already.

2 thoughts on “Why Your Project Is Late”

  1. I absolutely concur on the corporate disease perspective. I’ve run across many a corporate IT team/manager that wraps themselves in project process and seems constantly busy working on their technology that moves so slowly it will never make it to production before the next major re-org/strategy shift. Teams that are held more accountable for delivery could significantly benefit from this team’s technology, yet have to build around it for they know it will never make it to production. Yet, at the same time, there has to be appropriate “road maps” that indicate future use of this unreleased technology in order to align with the “enterprise strategy” … knowing full well such an architecture convergence will most likely never happen.

    Hence the creation of IT enterprise “spaghetti architecture” which I’ve written about in the past: http://bit.ly/Ya8TQ

    Good perspectives here, thanks for taking the time to write about this topic.

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