10 signs your project is failing

Senior advanced engineer and project management specialist Aidan Foley flags 10 development warning signs to watch out for and gives his top tips on nipping them in the bud before a full-scale crisis ensues

Aidan Foley, Reaction Wheel Assembly

1.       1- Sign: The project manager is worried about losing the job so avoids any situation that involves confrontation.

Solution: Project managers shouldn’t worry about things outside of their control. Just do the job that your hired to do.

2.      Sign: Customers’ expectations are too high and are misunderstood by the estimation team.

Solution: Eliminate the misunderstandings by meeting the expectations.

3. Sign: The customer representative accepts work verbally, but refuses to put it in writing.

Solution: Ask the customer what they would like to see so they would be willing to put it in writing.

 4. Sign: Functional managers are providing the wrong resources to assist with the scheduled tasks.

Solution: Inform the functional manager of the quantity and the calibre of the team required, and why that is required.

 5.  Sign: Management warns the project manager against raising issues with customers during the planning phase.

Solution: Advise management that not raising issues can lead to misinterpretation, additional costs, extra labour, schedule delays, inadequate product and so on.

 6.  Sign: Management directs the project manager to ignore vague contract terms.

Solution: Advise management that vague terms also lead to misinterpretation, additional costs, extra labour, schedule delays, inadequate product and so on.

7.    Sign: Duration estimates are down-sized by your management, but ultimately take as long as you say they will.

Solution: Request management to document their down-sizing request to show before and after estimates, and why they feel their estimates should be considered better.

8. Sign: Your management wants to start working, and worry about planning later.

Solution: Initiate the job, and start the planning at the same time.

9. Sign: Your customer is too busy on other programmes, is too weak in support and is unable or unwilling to delegate.

Solution: Request replacement(s).

 10.10.   Sign: Your project is based on your CEO’s dream, but no one is clear about its business value to the company.

Solution: Quantify in terms of net profit or percentage the business value to the company.


Profile: Aidan Foley

Project Management Professional Aidan Foley is a trained mechanical engineer with experience across a wide spectrum of projects.

He is employed in the aerospace, defence and aviation industries and has achieved various certifications in this sector. His current role as a senior advanced engineer involves assisting project engineers on the Reaction Wheel Assembly (RWA) satellite activities, commitments and deliverables.

Foley says he particularly enjoys helping his colleagues to improve their performance in a number of areas including technical aspects, costing, scheduling, and quality and risk management.

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