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Taking over someone else’s project

Taking over someone else’s project

It’s been more than 4 years since I, for the first time, during the student pro-activism phase, stepped into the business world and met many benefits, but also negativities that entails. Since then, there were more than 20 mostly successfully realized projects behind me. I used to have the major responsibility to manage or just take part in heterogeneous projects from the beginning or even join during the final phases and continue someone else’s job. As a financial analyst, I was predetermined to destroy the indestructible balance sheets, blocked the whole Facebook for few hours as a social media specialist, assassinated the meta description from behind as an SEO expert and tangled up myself with numbers as data ninja. Despite all, projects results were pretty much satisfying  and certain lessons about taking over someone else’s (especially IT) project were learned. 🙂

PROJECT ABANDONMENT

When we’re talking about abandoning IT projects, it literally means to stop doing project activities before you’ve finished it and never look back. There may be different reasons for such a situation and greatly depends on the size of the project. During the last 4 years I faced a lot of problems, but 3 crucial problems that kept cropping through the projects and why employees kept abandoning the projects, regardless of the size of the project, budget, age, gender and ethnic structure of employees, number of employees or even a geographical position where the project is implemented, were:

  • Lack of communication – if there’s no appropriate rules and communication level, employees are completely inefficient and ineffective and it simply kills their creativity, innovation, motivation, will and desire to work – anything and certainly won’t complete the project.
  • Poor management – in most cases, project managers that are more financially oriented and often have a big ego and when some problem, especially of a technical nature, came up, they place blame on employees, instead of encouraging them to find the best solution together to achieve optimum results. On the other side, technically oriented project managers, don’t require a lot of attention about adjusting objectives, goals and risks and adjusting the gap between technical requirements and financial possibilities.
  • Ability to adapt – inadequately trained personnel can cause irreparable damage to the project. We live in a modern society which brings enormous changes with it and if we want to progress, we need to continuously improve professionally, renewing and upgrading our skills, acquiring new competencies and polishing our skills.

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RUN AND HIDE

When employees or even a project managers firmly decide to abandon a particular project, there is no return. They corroborate it with the firm arguments, ie. one or more of the above reasons, immediately relieves all physical and psychological problems related to the project and move towards the new challenges. We could agree that there’s nothing controversial about that and it’s the legitimate right of each project employee.

However, if all the required conditions for the continuation of the project are achieved (finance, technical details, the project team etc.), new project manager and especially team members are in a quite rather unenviable position and should make the nearly double the effort to even launch the project, let alone brought it to the end.

PUT THE PIECES BACK TOGETHER

In my brief, but dynamic IT career, whenever I took over someone else’s project, which is at the very beginning, maybe half-completed or which precursors gave up at the very end, it was exciting, interesting and quite challenging but it also brought a lot of problems which I’ll describe bellow:

  • Uncooperative predecessor – I witnessed exceptional inertness, indifference and sometimes even a mild rancor by predecessors who worked on the projects that later I took in. Generally, most of them didn’t respond to phone calls, messages and e-mails promptly and some of them have even decided to completely ignore my request for assistance and cooperation.
  • Incomplete or corrupted data – Sometimes, when predecessors somehow decided to respond to my request for help, I usually got a database with missing data, wrong access data, dysfunctional FTP data, incomplete or damaged website backup or they simply didn’t care about the hosting and domain expiration and whole web sites were irretrievably lost. In those moments, it seemed to me as I’m turning into a Steve Jobs who is trying to present the Commodore as a disruptive innovation and market revolution.
  • Predecessor’s mindset – Which methodology, techniques, and tools are used in the project? Are they generally known, ie. do they fit well in certain niche standards? What is predecessor’s programming/design style? Is he/she a front-end or back-end developer, maybe UX/UI designer or even an economist? Which problems did he/she encounter during the project? What is the real reason for the project abandonment? Did client cause the problem?
  • Unrealistic goals and expected results – Clients usually don’t clearly set project objectives and that’s my opportunity to thoroughly re-examine goals in analytical talk with client and  approach someone else’s unfinished work as if it were a new project.
  • Project budget – Do expect results fit into the project budget? Clients are usually reluctant to pay while at the same time they demand high-quality product/service, speed operation of a cheetah and 24/7 customer support. All of the above is acceptable and absolutely understandable but I can’t do magic if adequate conditions are not provided. Can create an impressive illusion of something quality and durable only.

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To be perfectly honest, I always felt honored that I took someone else’s project, but I also felt the tremendous commitment and responsibility to the client to save, improve and implement the project to the end and thus create the conditions for satisfactory results at mutual pleasure. I can say that taking over someone else’s project takes guts, exceptional self-control, nerve crisis management and a lot of Xanax (if you like synthetic pills) or Valeriana tea (if you prefer natural products). 🙂