In the narrow alley, the police shuffled around the huddled, still figure under the coroner's tarp. The lead detective knelt down next to the body and lifted the corner of the tarp for a peek. He winced.
"What do you think?" he asked the forensic technician.
"Definitely suffered from budget and resource issues, but I'm not sure if that’s what killed it.”
"Looks like there was a struggle."
"Could have been a lack of communication between the stakeholders and the project team about deliverables, got it pulled in different directions. Maybe it changed ownership a couple too many times. Hard to say. I found this under the body," said the tech, handing the detective a small book. The detective flipped through it, then gave it back. "It's the project’s schedule," he said, as he pulled his sunglasses out of his jacket pocket.
"I guess," said the detective, slowly putting on the sunglasses, "this is one milestone it's going to miss."
Later, back in his office, the lead detective sat at his desk and studied the notes from the coroner. The cause of death was still uncertain, but the coroner had several ideas. For that matter, so did the detective. Failed projects were nothing new to him, he’d seen plenty, and all the different reasons for them.
- Sometimes the problem was the project itself. If it wasn’t the right fit for the organization and its goals, it shouldn’t have launched in the first place. A system for project request and approvals could ensure that all initiatives were properly reviewed and approved by decision makers.
- A lack of communication was also typical in events like this. Poor status reporting could allow a troubled project to quietly drift past the point of saving. Detailed status reports were a necessity, and timely reporting had to be enforced.
- Poor budgeting, lacking a baseline or means to track the variance between its planned and actual time and costs, would quickly lead to cost overruns.
- A poorly mapped Work Breakdown Structure could easily send a project over-schedule, and either overload or squander resources.
- Little or no time given to identifying potential risks and planning contingencies for them could could easily derail the project if those risks came to fruition.
Of course, the culprit was almost always a lack of resources, most often due to poor allocation. Successful organizations were able to track workloads and assignments, organizations that lacked those tools felt the repercussions in their project portfolio.
He leaned back in his chair and sighed. According to Gartner, by 2015, 80 percent of IT organizations, under extreme pressure to deliver the right resources to projects in a time, would reach their resource breaking points.
His caseload wasn’t going to get any lighter.