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This article was published on December 4, 2017

How to revive your failing software project before it’s too late

How to revive your failing software project before it’s too late
Pratik Dholakiya
Story by

Pratik Dholakiya

Founder of The 20 Media

Pratik Dholakiya is the Founder of The 20 Media, a content marketing agency, and advisor at MoveoApps, a mobile apps development company. He Pratik Dholakiya is the Founder of The 20 Media, a content marketing agency, and advisor at MoveoApps, a mobile apps development company. He regularly speaks at various conferences and events about digital marketing issues. As a passionate marketer, he regularly shares his thoughts and knowledge on high end publications like Search Engine Land, Fast Company and the Huffington Post to name a few. Search Engine Watch, one of the most respected platforms in the search industry, recognized Dholakiya as a "must follow" SEO expert. He has also been named one of the top content marketing influencers by Onalytica three years in a row.

Developers have it easy these days when it comes to code; however, building a ready-to-use software that improves upon existing ones continues to be a big ask. Even Apple has seen their fair share of struggles with project failure. A couple of decades back, they were up against major competition and knew that their 10-year-old OS system needed an overhaul – Windows 95 had recently been released.

Apple was scrambling to launch their new internal operating software with the Copland system that was set to debut in 1996. However, initial beta releases showed some major functionality issues which pushed back project timelines. Eventually, Apple had to scrap the system altogether and start over.

Every DevOps group is in danger of experiencing this type of disaster, no matter how talented the team may be. The downward spiral of budget overages, missed deadlines, and overall disorganization can seem impossible to stop.

But don’t give up yet. Step back, take a deep breath, and appraise the situation before it’s too late. Your project may have a chance, after all. Here are some crucial tips to keep in mind.

Re-evaluate goals

Any good leader will stress the importance of goal-setting before embarking on the next project. The intention is, of course, to keep the team on track, on time, and within a budget. Without a clearly defined purpose, any project will be doomed from the start. In fact, employees listed this reason as the leading cause for project failure.

Before you throw in the towel, step back and rethink your goals. What may have seemed plausible during the planning stage, might be totally unrealistic in reality. The reason can be any, perhaps some unforeseen obstacles came up, slowing down development times resulting in holding up the testing and production. Learn from the past mistakes, adjust timelines as needed, or come up with alternatives, which can work in the meantime.

Don’t be too hard on yourself for missing your initial goals. In fact, only 41% of business projects are completed on time within budgetary constraints. 15% are total failures.

It is difficult to predict the future, but before you throw your hands up, consider resetting your initial targets. Refresh, refocus, and try again.

Determine the source of the issue

Before you (or other team members) start pointing fingers, consider the possibility that it may not be the capabilities of the personnel that are at fault. It could just be the tools they are using. It’s like trying to cut a steak with a butter knife. Sure, it’s possible, but the trouble could easily be solved with a better, sharper tool. Interdepartmental communication is vital to the success of a team project, but if they are outdated or simply not user-friendly, they could be doing more harm than good.

Studies have found that when employees are able to effectively connect with each other, productivity increases. Try implementing more positive and effective communication into the workplace. Focus on in-person meetings rather than wordy emails.

Even more, using a project management software program that is designed for DevOps teams could be the solution to your problems. Nutcache brings the best of Agile and Scrum frameworks into the workflow to keep your team on track for your development plans. Managers assign roles and tasks for defined objectives, and the dashboard opens up avenues for better communication and project tracking.

These strategies can provide better structure, which produce better results and organization that could ultimately save your project from total failure.

Assess leadership

Leadership can make all the difference in a struggling project, but it can also be the leading cause of death. A shocking 71% of businesses agreed that their managers are not fit to lead their organization into the future.

Acknowledging that your leadership may be the root cause of your struggling project can be difficult. After all, no one likes admitting failure or flaws. However, this realization could be the catalyst that turns around a doomed project. Take a self-assessment of your management style and see if there are any weak points.

Be aware that your own ego could be blinding you to obvious missteps in your leadership, too. Asking for constructive feedback from team members and employees can help you get a more accurate and honest picture of yourself.

Impraise provides a great platform for performance reviews that let team members offer suggestions and areas for improvement. The real-time feedback reminds employees to rate management and leadership during project checkpoints, letting you know which tactics worked and what can be changed.

Incorporating regular reviews can strengthen the entire workplace, since regular performance feedback has been proven to increase engagement for both management and employees.

If all else fails, start over

Starting from scratch may require you to swallow your pride, but sometimes it is necessary for the good of the big picture. It’s a problem that project managers and development teams both face: sometimes it’s simply better to scrap everything and work off a clean slate.

First of all, evaluate the reasons why it’s time to scrap the current project and start fresh. Many software teams use the Litmus Test to determine whether or not a total renovation is needed. Of course, this should be a last resort, since it will likely cost your business time, money, and resources.

In conclusion

Before you bow your head in defeat, you want to be totally sure that you have exhausted every option to save your project. Sometimes, little issues can snowball into major roadblocks, so taking a few steps back and patching up leaks in the system can be the saving grace of the operation. No matter what, rescuing a failing software project takes cooperation and effort from everyone involved. Work together with your DevOps team to find any possible solutions, discuss necessary changes, and keep pushing forward.