6 Warning Signs That Your Project Is Sick
All project managers, in general, expect that things will go well. Also, some people may look for positive aspects, even when all signs are pointing to trouble. The projects are with a finite duration and with clear goals, so this human habit to be optimistic can be very dangerous. If you continue to believe that things are fine when they are not, you will continue doing what you have always done. You may continue your old habits even when a change is in order.
There are several diagnostic measures that a project manager can take to determine if their project is out of control. By identifying certain outcomes of these measures, project managers can sooner identify problems, and they change project behaviors for the better.
Sign 1: Surprises occur
If you face surprise situations in your project it will be an evidence of a problem. Some people love surprises, and some surprises are quite pleasant. For example, receiving a present, or cheerful mail would be a pleasant surprise.
As on the opposite side, unexpected resource changes, surprise requirements changes, and issues that seem to materialize out of nowhere are all strong indicators that a project manager is losing control of his or her project. A very common reason for why project managers are prone to unexpected events during projects is a lack of communication or miscommunication. If the team is co-located, you should have a standing meeting room and you should hold several full team meetings a day.
Sign 2: No honesty
If you want to get a broad perspective on your project – you may face the situation where most items have a comic element.
Instead of directly reporting the bad news, team members might be un-honest in leaving a comment and making it more indirect. A possible cause of this insecurity is a lack of transparency and honest team collaboration.
To overcome this issue, encourage your team, to be honest, and reward them for bringing up bad news within the project. There are, of course, some team members who will seem to report a problem in all aspects, but the price you will pay for their information is well worth the treasure you will find from those team members who would have been un-honest, or silent (which is mentioned below.)
Sign 3: Wrong Information
Another issue that your project may be getting sick is when you are receiving “smelly” information. You always need a timely, accurate, thorough status reports as the diagnostic health reports of projects. If the information you’re getting is behind the times, it will cause you to make poor decisions. This issue, unfortunately, is usually a sign of a lack of attention on the part of the project manager.
Read very carefully the team members’ status reports. Look for quirks in status reports that let you know there is a communication gap, an analysis gap – or worse, both. Look for planned tasks that don’t change. Be strict about dates, and question why dates are postponed. All of these things may look like “blocking and tackling aspects” of project management, but it’s easy to fall into bad habits.
Sign 4: Nobody speaks
A culmination to wrong information is the silence during status and update meetings. If there is little team interaction and little to no discussion, these behaviors are signs that your project may be getting very sick. This unhealthy occurrence can be particularly present in projects with mostly remote team members. It’s far more difficult to perform conversation over Skype, or over the phone than it is in person, and it’s literally impossible to read expression or body language. Thus, in these cases, the project managers should be perpetual and creative in preventing project silence.
Start talking with individuals by calling them out by name, and open the discussion to topics the team cares deeply about related to the project. In short, all team members should take participation when you purposefully move the conversation forward.
Sign 5: No presentations
If the project goals are very small (in reality this is very rare situation), this might be a very good condition. But sometimes, however, is that you’ve discovered another symptom of an unhealthy project.
A healthy project includes a dedicated, highly cross-functional working team. The team usually has a high-level CEO/ sponsor, a project manager who has more hands-on into the project, several technical leads representing various disciplines (network, database, server in the example of a technical project), as well as regular team members. The team may also incorporate business analysts, other process specialists and business stakeholders (if your project is line-of-business oriented).
One last sign of a sick project is rare but dangerous. If your project has any team member who is consciously hiding critical project information from the team and you discover it, you must remove that team member from your team – immediately.