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It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye: Tips for Getting Closure on Your Project

Sometimes projects are like villains in horror movies:  they just won’t die.  Even when you’ve doused them in gasoline, set them on fire, then dumped them in a river, they just keep coming back.    A project’s extension beyond its natural or expected life is not good for the project as a whole (even though it might help keep you busy).  Projects are expensive and each unnecessary day spent on a project is hundreds (or sometimes thousands) of dollars that could be allocated elsewhere.   Here are some tips than can help you keep the project moving towards a harmonious end for both the business and IT teams:

1.  Feature Alignment: Make sure that the business understands all of the features that will be delivered as part of the project.  The BRD or other requirements documentation should spell out very clearly the features that will be delivered as well as those that will not.   This sounds very obvious, but it is important and sometimes neglected at the beginning of projects.

2.  Fix my Defects! Here’s a dirty secret about the software industry:  all software has defects!  Not surprised?  Well, unfortunately and often understandably, resources will be asked to stay on a project until “all defects are fixed”.  If you’ve agreed to such a request, get ready to be on the project for a long, long time.   A better plan is to have agreement on the level of severity of which defects will be fixed before project exit–for example, all “Critical” or “Blocker” defects.  There may be disagreement as to what counts as a “Critical” defect, but much ink has been spilled on this subject already.

3.  Confidence is Key Regardless of how many defects are fixed, how well the project is planned, and how proud you are of your team, your users will not be prepared to see their safety net pulled from under them if they don’t feel comfortable using the system you’ve built.  One way to build confidence is by building and measuring user adoption . But sometimes, it just takes a lot of hand-holding and training on how to use the system, and an explanation of the business value.

4. Focus on Business Value No system is perfect, but every system should be built to achieve a business goal.  When everyone is “in the weeds” reacting and focusing on discrete, individual tasks, it’s easy to lose sight of the big picture.  It’s a good idea from time to time to review the project business objectives especially when there is disagreement over which defects need to be fixed before project exit.

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