Tuesday, July 29, 2008

What is a failed project?

Karyn and I have a running conversation in the comments of her last post.

Last night, I started thinking....what is a "failed project"?

Is it the project that gets through implementation, then just doesn't work - or worse, harms your business? (This was my initial definition. Now I'm not so sure.).

Is it the project that never makes it past the analysis stage?

Is it determined by the ROI (or lack thereof) for the amount of money/time/resources spent?

I know we go into projects looking for measures of success.

Do any of us define when to give up? Where spending more money/time/resources doesn't make sense?


Unknown said...

In managing e-learning projects in HE, I constantly remind myself of a quote I remember from some wise man not so long ago...
"A lesson learned at any cost, is never too expensive."

One project we have running at the moment involves a great deal of repurposing existing materials and as such, IPR and copyright is a huge issue.
Whilst the overall project is to redevelop a module to be made up of 60% externally sourced and repurposed content, I believe it is the processes we go through that are more important than actually delivering the quota.
If we manage to learn more about copyright and IPR, gain experience in finding, negotiating and repurposing that content, and raise awareness as to how this might be better for academics than reinventing the wheel, then I believe we will have succeeded.
So back to your original question. Can a project fail. Only if you are very stupid. Another quote, this time from a school teacher whilst studying for my A-levels.
By failing to prepare, we are preparing to fail.

Peter Reed

Wendy said...

I've just returned to higher ed after a number of years in health care. That is one of the things I find so appealing and refreshing about the culture - if you learn (and apply) the lesson, it's not a failure.

Sadly, in the corporations I've worked in, that attitude is a real tough sell. They are interested in quotas and objectives and ROI. The "Lessons Learned" document, if done at all, is usually promptly shoved in a drawer - never to be looked at again.

Wendy said...

BTW Peter - thanks for the comment. You reminded me why I am so happy I changed jobs!