The following pages have some wisdom gleaned from my years in
the trenches of IT projects. I must confess some are tainted by
healthy disrespect for leaders who believe anything sold can be
That projects end despite
sponsors is proof that miracles
happen and alchemy is science
Whatever you do is either a lesson learned
or a best practice
When the job is done, the
glory of recent battles
recounted, people realize
whatever worked well had
worked in earlier projects
Stuff that didn't work get
listed as Lessons Learned,
promptly slink into shadows,
bid their time to be called to
action in the next project
(illustration by Manu Cornet)
Project conclusion is independent of Project
The beauty of project health is that the color of the status lies in the
eyes of the beholder. It also seems the act of being observed does
funny things to the project status.
Please do away with traffic signals in the project status report, steering
committees jump red lights all the time.
Go Home plans are more important than
Go Live plans After “Go Live” project members can
not leave as they are indispensable to
the healthy continuity of a solution
someone else judged seaworthy.
Go Live plans are necessary to keep
wolves at bay; but any project
manager worth her salt keeps working
on the Go Home milestone
Escalations early in a project on trivial but
quantifiable issues are Early Warning Signs
An uneasy client who cannot articulate why, tends to choose the most
quantifiable issue even if it is not relevant or significant. On the face of
it this may be a trivial flag raised too early calling attention to the
wrong shadow. If ignored there would be the risk of a lingering grudge
that the client will bear even when they have forgotten why.
Testing is the first casualty of schedule
You may not love deadlines but would be familiar with the whooshing
sound they make as they fly by. They sound like shell approaching the
After the explosion, the recovery squad gets into action. Innovative
thinkers turn the already aggressive project schedule to an impossibly
unrealistic one. The first casualty is always testing.
These were just five of the laws of projects that I shared here. I am
afraid that I may have stretched your patience. But before you flip
over to the Thank You slide I propose a little game.
How about voting for the one(s) you like best. Simply click on the
Twitter icon ( ) in front of it and I will help you tweet the law. Go
ahead, try it out!
Whatever you do in a project is either a lesson learned
or a best practice
Project conclusion is independent of project status
Go Home plans are more important than project Go
Escalations early in a project on trivial but quantifiable
issues are Early Warning Signs
Testing is the first casualty of project schedule slippage
Thank you for making it to this page. If you are still
here and have an appetite for elaboration on any,
some or all five you may go to my blog entry for the
full text version.
I hope you have tweeted the law you liked the most!
Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you
have a feedback or have a question for me. Follow
@obligent on Twitter.
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