What is a Project Death March
To put it simply, a Death March is the result of trying to do too much with not enough time or money. In other words… Great intentions, poor Project Management. How does this happen?
Generally, like this:
- Someone has a great idea
- Everyone gets really excited about the idea! This is the magical time where anything and everything is possible. Ideas are getting thrown around and the scope begins to expand.
- In all that excitement, a launch date is set
- Work starts, and the true scope of the project is discovered… along with the realistic timeline – which is generally after the ‘set’ launch date.
- Everybody FREAKS OUT! This is when poor decisions are made, like skipping testing, or dumping critical scope.
- But the team is still excited about what this is going to be, so they keep working.
- At some point, the excitement has completely worn off, and the project subsists on the dogged determination of each person on the team until finally…
- Then there’s probably some champagne, everyone is thanked for all of their hard work, and then…
- Start all over with a new idea! (generally without taking time to learn from their most recent experience)
The real problem with Death Marches is that since they generally end with a launch, they are considered to be successful. They are not. Death Marches may work every once in a while, but they’re not sustainable. I’m fairly certain that the phrase “it’s not a bug, it’s a feature!” came out of a Death March project. Your customers deserve better. People who work in places with perpetual Death Marches burn out, get sick or quit, taking all of their institutional knowledge with them. You, your team and your business deserve better.
Whether you’re in the middle of a Death March, or want to break the cycle before you start your next big thing, I can help you understand the risks and help you set a reasonable and sustainable timeline for an amazing launch. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to get started on the right foot.
What is a Project Death March?
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