Here a few comments on "IT" Projects. Some were learnt the hard way (and then learnt again and again).
Do you have a sponsor? You Do? Great than everything will work out just fine (and I will win the lottery tomorrow). Are you sure you have the right sponsor? Not so sure anymore? Does the sponsor have the most to win or most to lose? If the project was assigned a project manager before agreeing on the sponsor then that’s a clue that the ride will be bumpy? If you don’t have the right sponsor try your best to change the sponsor. If you can’t then try to get someone else stuck with the project instead of you.
Can the project be split-up? Nothing wrong with splitting it up. If you face resistance from people that don’t like splitting up projects give it a positive spin and start talking about a “program”, “roadmap” etc. maybe you can get them to accept your approach.
No, it’s not your Baby!
Don’t get attached to the project. Don’t get too excited about the technology you will get to implement. If you do then please go get a life! Be objective, be stiff. It’s OK to not even be convinced with the project’s value. You have to deliver the deliverables on time, budget and quality. The value is usually someone else’s problem (usually this secretive entity is called “the business”). On the other hand if it turns out that you are the one making the business case and promises of value that can only be realized by the business itself then you likely have setup yourself up to fail.
Is everyone who will be assigned a significant task in this project part of the project team? Get them all into the team. They need to become part of “we” else they will be outsiders and you might get to regret that.
Do you suspect someone will be a trouble maker? Every project has someone who isn’t convinced, is too busy, and has more important things to do. Expose them, assign them a task very early on in the project and act according to the results.
If you project team isn’t dedicated to the project then you will constantly compete with others on the attention of your team members. They most likely have other responsibility that are more significant than your own project. Don’t forget that! Your resources will never give you the attention you expect (and they can’t since they are not dedicated to your project). You will need to follow-up not frequently but continuously to keep them on track and pull them back.
No project is too small not to plan for it. You only know that you need or don’t need a plan until you actually start developing one. Bare minimum you need a charter and schedule. Small projects usually turn out to be more problematic than you anticipate.
Eisenhower said “Plans are useless, planning is everything”. No plan is ever final until you achieve your goal. Assuming you don’t have either a crystal ball or a time machine then it’s OK to update the plan.
At the closure of the project we get to declare if it was successful or failed. If it failed, then it most likely did already early on. It’s just not easy to see failure early on. It’s like a parasite on your back, everyone can see it but not you. It will keep growing until it crashes you with its weight. When you acknowledge its existence it’s already too late. Don’t misread the signs, don’t keep hoping things will get better. They probably won’t if you don’t make changes that have impact and address the root causes of your problems.