Have you ever been involved in a project that went wrong? You are not the only one!
In previous blogs in this series, we have tried to answer the questions Why do we need Data Warehouse models, what are the main building blocks of Data Warehouse models, and How to mitigate risk, control costs, and assure quality and fast deliveries in the DWH project.
Many DWH / BI projects are not delivering on their initial expectations – they are running late, over the budget, and not providing expected functionality. There are many reasons why projects can go wrong; usually, in my talks and classes, I am trying to emphasize a lack of management commitment, the organization’s resistance, or some people in the organization to change or bad data quality. Even the projects that are well defined and prepared (see my previous blog on risk, cost, quality and timelines) can go wrong at some point. The truth is very simple – the main reason why your project went wrong is because you were not managing the project well. It is as simple as that.
Try to imagine Formula 1 racing car situation. The car was well-prepared for the season, the driver was mentally and physically prepared, and the team won the first two races. Results in the next few races were still good, but in the second part of the season, they started to fade, and they placed only third in the championships that seem secured only months ago. Everybody was doing the same things for the whole season, but somehow wins didn’t happen. Well, there may be different causes for that. The most likely reason is that your competitors were not just sitting and waiting – they have made the improvements in their cars and setups to become a bit better. Your team may become a bit too confident and self-satisfied with initial results and not hungry for wins anymore.
There may also be some other external influences that you did not experience in first races – maybe rain tires do not work well or tarmac at South American circuits is different than one at European. Overall, you were just not focused enough to take care of some or many little things that went below your radar and the final result was not as expected.
The same situation may happen with the DWH / BI project (or any complex IT system implementation project). For the project’s whole duration, you must manage the project well and be sure you are not missing small first signs of potential issues. If you slip from the timelines just a few weeks, it will be tough to get back on track, putting additional pressure on the whole team. Here is some fundamental advice to follow:
- Don’t make your project plan too ambitious or impossible to deliver. You cannot put two liters of water in a one-liter bottle.
- Don’t let some initial successes make you feel over-confident in your team and deliverables.
- Communicate timelines and deliveries with the team on a daily basis to engage everyone in their and overall responsibilities
- Make sure that everything that is delivered is thoroughly tested before the delivery
- Try to anticipate and prevent problems in advance
Following this simple advice will help you stay on track and remember – always stay focused, don’t underestimate any task, and overestimate project team members’ capabilities, including your own!