For large projects, the size can be 50+ people working for 1.5 to 3 years, which is more than 100,000 man-hours/year. If the project is about to sink, new skills will be required which are not available in the project team.
It can be surprising how such entity which can have wealth of skills and resources are not capable to save the project. In fact the ship captain and crews will step aside (either voluntarily or forced) and leave the helm for rescue consultants till the ship becomes ready for normal operation.
A usual ship trip is a project with known risks, but when the drama happens the ball game becomes different and new skills will be needed to manage a very different kind of project.
Though the rescue consultants are not capable to run the project, they are able to rescue it from the failure caused by the crew who are able to run it!
Software/IT projects which are close to sink are characterized by any of the following:
- Budget is drained while we are still way far from achieving the project objectives.
- We became sure that we will not be able to deliver against externally committed deadlines.
- Even a small functionality increment can not be shipped to the client.
- People who rely on this project for their own delivery lost faith in the project team.
This above list can be so long. Each item above describes factual and visible failure caused solely by the crew and their management. When any of the above happens, I would suggest a new project should be started to deal with the new realities. The project scope can become so different and implementation approach will definitely change.
Rescuing the ship (IT project) can help in saving of:
- Huge investment of the organization,
- Organization reputation, and
- The trust of its clients and employees.
Organizations who come that close to sink, have deep cultural issues which prevent them from learning. The risks associated with a ship trip or software project can be identified up-front and continuously mitigated to large degree, it is not trip to a new planet.
Either normal project or rescue project, Agile mindset should be employed for continuous maneuvering based on relentless identification of impediments.