Q&A Monday: Signs Your Project Might Be Doomed


I’ve recently been given a new responsibility at the company I work for and put in charge of project that I’m pretty sure will be dead long before completion, is there any way to tell?

Clay Rose
Brentwood, NY



I’ve had my share of being on projects that I just had a feeling were doomed from the start, but I’ll try to sketch out some warning signs that the projects might be doomed to fail.  These are only things I’ve noticed that don’t help your project and shouldn’t be considered a definite sign.

  1. Is the Project Top Priority?: In today’s tough economic times, if your company hits a rough patch all but the most important projects may make it, and all projects may get cut.
  2. Is the Project going over a year?: This is a tough one to nail down, because the project may not be projected to take a year, but as we know, nothing goes as planned.  The longer the project run, the easier it is for the project to no longer be worth the time and effort and something else may need to be focused on.  Another pit fall through this, is budget issues, if you project goes into the next year, maybe there will be no funding for it, and it will wither and die.
  3. Is it massive?: In my experience the bigger the project, the more likely it will be to fail.  Bigger projects involve a lot of people and a lot of resources.  Massive projects usually have a multi-faceted objectives, that can bog down a project and grind the work on it to a halt.  Most people will want to tackle the entire project, instead of breaking it down to easier to manage parts.
  4. Are the objectives clear?: Too many times have a sat down with a client to find out their project objective was to “get information quicker” or “speed things up”.  If you don’t have a clear objectives with clear goals and a clear time line, the project is likely to fall apart, with everyone having a different idea  on the best way to complete the project, until times up and it’s not complete.
  5. Does it have a strong leader?: Almost any project manager asked this question, will say “yes, I’m a strong leader”, but if you’ve ever been in a doomed project before, you may have seen otherwise.  Project managers are suppose to keep everyone on track and working together, but some would rather be everyone’s friend and not “rock the boat”.


If  you have any questions that you want Jim to answer, from business servers to home computers, drop him a line at me@jimguckin.com, and he’ll try to answer your question.  Check back every Monday for a new Question and Answer session, and during the rest of the week for other technical insights.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.