Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Signs Of A Project In Trouble

Recently I had a contract at one of our local banks (to remain un-named in this post). After about the first week, I knew we were all in trouble.

  • I was a new resource being brought on less than two months away from  the scheduled delivery date of the first release.
  • The primary developers on the project were all working 10, 12, 14 hours per day 6-7 days a week - for the last several months, and the whole short time I was on the project.
  • They claimed to be doing "Agile", but our standup meetings were lasting 45 - 60 minutes each day.
  • Their "burn down" chart was an Excel spreadsheet (a very clever one) with a worksheet for each sprint that only the Scrum master could update, and was updated during the standup by everyone giving their hours worked rather than the number of hours remaining.
  • Reviewing past sprints I realized that their initial estimates of effort compared to the actual effort recorded was off by 30% - 150% over the various sprints. Yet they kept making the same sorts of estimates at the beginning of each sprint.
  • Their concept of velocity was based on how many effort hours they achieved, rather than how much work was completed.
There were other factors too numerous to mention at this point. This bank is also known for simply defunding projects. In the last 30 years, I've worked there a total of 3 times. This was the first project I was on that was de-funded, but each time there was some project that was suddenly de-funded.

So, after two months of being on the project, one day it was announced that they had failed to receive further funding from the internal customer to complete the deliverable that was due a month earlier...

Fortunately, I had anticipated this, and already had another contract lined up. A happier place to work, at a higher rate of pay, with more control over the product deliverable.

O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!