How to tell if your project is failing

Written by Rhona Aylward


Rhona is Deputy Everything Officer at Psoda, where she does everything except code. After starting life as a microbiologist she moved into PMO leadership roles around the world before settling in New Zealand with her family.

If we’re being honest, most project managers know if their project is starting to fail or is already failing. Whether they speak up or not, is another question.
However, if you’re not the project manager you’re less likely to pick up on signs the project might be in trouble. So, if you’re involved in a project, but not the project manager, what are the signs you should be looking for that hint a project is in trouble?
Here are a few…

Stakeholders only hear good news

When you ask your project manager how things are going and all you hear are good things, worry. The same is true if you get projects status reports that are always green. No project is ever green all of the time!

Poor communication

Strong lines of communication are a key part of project success. If you’re in a situation where communication is frustratingly vague or key people are difficult to get hold of, watch out. It can be a sign that the project is in trouble!

Deadlines are slipping

It’s not uncommon for the odd project deadline to slip. If it’s a consistent thing then it’s a cause for concern. It can be a sign the project hasn’t been planned properly, that there aren’t enough resources or there has been a massive change in scope. All of those things are red flags and are reasons to be concerned.

Shoddy management

There’s nothing worse than a management team that changes its mind every five minutes. You end up going over and over things which should have been agreed up front, wasting time and money. If your project is constantly being re-engineered, then it’s time to start worrying.

Project resources are getting reallocated

One day Alan the BA has disappeared, the next day it’s Shannon the developer who has been reallocated. Losing the odd resource during the lifetime of a project is to be expected. It’s when you lose team members left, right and centre that there is cause for concern.
So what can you do if you notice some, or all, of those signs in a project you’re involved with? My advice is act on them quickly! If you leave things too long, the chances of your project failing significantly increase.

Psoda plug

With Psoda you can track and monitor everything to do with your projects. You can access to real time project information, spot check projects without the project manager’s input and run customised reports. This gives you the visibility you need to catch signs a project is heading for trouble – before it’s too late! Why not try it for yourself with a 30-day free trial? Register here.

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