How To Rescue or Ruin a Development Project

An easy-to-follow guide to saving development projects, with some useful tips if you're determined to see them fail.

How To Rescue A Development Project

We start with my simple formula for saving a failing project. To begin, inspect the following list:

  1. Delivery Date
  2. Features
  3. Quality
Now pick two.


How To Ruin A Development Project

For those who prefer to see a total disaster of a project, I have also included a number of useful tips to help your project fail. Remember - the more of these you can include in your day-to-day running of a project, the more spectacular the crash.

  • Pick 1 and 2 above.
  • Pick 1, 2, and 3 above.
  • Ensure your deliverables are not adequately defined.
  • Choose an arbitrary delivery date - try to ensure that it bears as little relationship to the amount of work as possible.
  • Have more than one project manager tracking the same items.
  • Insist on frequent, lengthy status updates.
  • Remind developers as often as possible how important the project is.
  • Telephone developers frequently to ask them - "how's it going?"
  • Automatically say yes to any new feature requests.
  • Insist on arbitrary daily builds. To ensure maximum effectiveness of this strategy - make sure you demand more than a day's work between these daily builds.
  • Prioritise design features such as logos or new features above bug fixes.
  • Ensure that your code is comment free. This helps to waste more time maintaining it.
  • Make sure that server-side / web API development is performed in complete isolation to client-side development.
  • Defer problems until the last possible moment.
  • Throw more people at the project. This works best if the additional resource is located remotely, and to guarantee complete chaos - make sure developers are working on overlapping areas of the code.
  • If morale seems a bit high, make your developers work the entire weekend for a Monday delivery deadline, and then pull it at the last minute. Repeat until morale becomes suitably low.
  • If the above doesn't seem to be working, schedule a delivery for Christmas and use it as an excuse to cancel any parties they had planned. When delivery slips again, make them work between Christmas and New Year. That should do the trick.
  • Make sure you hide any trouble from stakeholders. There's nothing they like more than nasty surprises.

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