Projects Of The Living Dead!


I just can’t take another vampire movie. When did Vampires stop being spirits of the damned and become moody teenagers? True, hanging out with the cast of Twilight is pretty close to being damned, but without the pleasant brimstone aroma therapy. Give me a Zombie any day.  Zombies are reliable… ambling shuffle, limited vocabulary, and a strictly low-carb diet. Plus if you wade into a room full of Zombies with nothing more than a winning smile and a baseball bat, your odds of getting out alive are pretty good. So it’s good practice for your next IT project status meeting.

Lets be polite! The Zombies I’m talking about are the projects. Every year healthy projects turn into shambling Zombies. They’re as good as dead, yet they still wander around, killing programmer hours, taking over servers and gorging on your budget. When a Zombie causes racks up enough damage, you probably get a team together to put it down … but by then new Zombies area ready to take their place. Don’t wait until you have to start picking body parts off the board room floor, know your Zombies early on and take ‘em down as soon as possible. But how do you tell the difference between genuine Zombies and projects with temporary problems?

Remember, you’ve got a huge amount to gain. Out of your entire project budget, let’s say that 5-10% of the budget could be Zombies. If you could cut in half the time it takes to recognize the Zombies and kill them, you could free up 2 or 3 % of your budget, maybe more. Of course, you don’t want to go off on a hunt and kill off all of your C-Suite’s pet projects… that would be a real horror movie! You want to be sure that your Zombie is real. How can you be sure? Simple, you put together your own Zombie hunting guide. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Draw up a list of all of your projects for the last 2-3 years.
  2. When was the start day (when was the project approved)?
  3. When was the end date (when did the project “go live” or get canceled)?
  4. Which went over budget?
  5. Which missed their going live deadline?
  6. Who was the project sponsor (who requested the project)?
  7. Which projects were poorly attended by the sponsor?
  8. After specifications were agreed to, how many changes were made?
  9. Perhaps a few other tracking  ideas come to mind?

Do a little analysis and compare your known Zombies to successful projects. When did projects start to go Zombie? Once they became Zombies, just how many resources did they kill (did their unholy rampage last for a month, a year, longer?). Come up with your numbers on the cost of each Zombie, and then go through your project list. How many potential Zombies do you have? What will they cost? Unlike the guy in every Zombie movie that runs around telling everyone, “The Zombies are coming!”, start meeting with project sponsors and other managers to proactively review projects in danger of going Zombie. You may even be able to save projects that are on the Zombie path, due ot a lack of client time or direction. Either way, a solid process for tracking and killing Zombies will cut unneeded budget expenses and increase the number of successful project. What are you waiting for?  Grab your favorite implement of destuction and start swinging! That’s my Niccolls worth for the day!

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