Project Recovery – The Next Step Towards Getting Back On Track

Keeping a software project on track is something easier said than done. The mere act of bringing together a group of individuals with unique thoughts and opinions is bound to result in conflict and unforeseen problems. So is it really a surprise that a high percentage of projects eventually drift away from best-laid plans?

As we discussed in our article, Is Your Project Failing? – Top 11 Checks, the first step is recognising that you have a problem. Once you have accepted this fact, it is time to get back on track before it is too late, and your project is destined for the dustbin.

To give you a helping hand we have pulled together some top tips on how to revive a failing project, that we hope will help guide you back to success.

Do you know what it is you are trying to deliver?

Project Delivery

Unless you really know and understand the scope of your project then you can’t say for sure that it actually needs saving. Write yourself a list of requirements, whether that be using a formal requirements management tool, agile user stories or just a list of features. Having a list gives you the means to measure the amount of the project actually completed. Ideally this list is then used to create a bunch of tests that prove you’ve met the needs of the project. After all if you can’t prove something works, then how can you say it’s done?

Check #1 – if you haven’t got your list then start now.
Check #2 – if you don’t have a bunch of tests then stop development and put them in place immediately.

Do you know what’s been done?

With your feature list in hand, assess what’s been done and what hasn’t. Use your tests to evaluate whether it actually works or not. Just because a developer says it’s done, until you can see it working and passing your tests then it’s not.

Check #3 – if you don’t know which features have been actually been completed you need to find out now.
Check #4 – ensure that your developers know what they are expected to do to pass the features that remain on your list.

Check List

What can you multi task?

Using A Keyboard

Having established the planned features and exactly where you stand in their completion, you will know how desperate the situation is. It’s now time to get down to solving the problem. Look at your list of requirements, are they like building a house where the foundation must be finished before starting on the wall, or is it possible to develop multiple features at once?

Check #5 – challenge your existing dependencies and break as many connections as possible.

Are you doing the important stuff?

When projects get into trouble there is a huge temptation to drop all of the things that help drive the quality of a project. This then leads to fire fighting and general panic, and later burnout and still no project finished. It’s imperative to still ensure testing and reviews take place to build a foundation of stable and reliable development.

Check #6 – don’t fall to the temptation of ‘just write the code’, keep project quality alive and kicking.

Important Signs

Are you putting a square peg in a round hole?

Missing puzzle piece

There is a gut reaction when projects begin to drift to simply throw more bodies at the problem. After all, more people working on a feature will mean it is finished faster. This could not be further from reality. All this will achieve is a mass of useless resources, maybe a fight over the best solution and a waste of time and money. Rather than try to brute force speed through numbers, it may be quicker and more cost effective to ensure that team members are allocated to tasks in areas where they are most productive.

Check #7 – if you don’t know the capabilities of each of your team members, you should make it your top priority.
Check #8 – have the capabilities of your team been matched to the development requirements of the remaining features?

Contact Zircon

Address: Telephone: Key Contacts:
Bellefield House
Hilperton Road
BA14 7FP
Tel: 01225 76 44 44
Fax: 01225 75 30 87
Sales & Marketing Director: Phil Cooper
Business Development Manager: Arron Dando