11 signs your IT project is doomed

No senior buy-in, minimum spec targets, a 'nothing can go wrong' mentality -- here's how to sense demise before your IT project meets its ignominious end

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Red flag No. 9: The go-live date is a weekend or holiday

Many project leaders plan go-live events for the weekend or holidays because of lower chances of service disruption to employees or customers. While laudable, these windows also tend to be the times when tech support is harder to reach. You may have your primary vendor onsite, but third-party tech support may be closed or on call (and not returning calls in a timely manner), and the same may be true of your team. Talking to your best database troubleshooter over the phone while he's on vacation with his family is never optimal.

Red flag No. 10: Expectations have not been set

When a new system is going in to replace an old system, it's helpful for everyone to understand the new expectations. How is the new system going to act? How are transactions and transaction times different? Who do end-users call if they have problems? How long is the go-live troubleshooting team going to be onsite? A new system will always frustrate people, but if you set realistic expectations and give people accelerated support options, problems tend to go away faster and you end up with more satisfied customers sooner.

Red flag No. 11: Skimp on training

I can't tell you how many project leaders will pilfer the training budget when faced with a budget overrun. Usually it is a smug, supersmart leader who claims the system is so easy that users don't really need all the training. If you hear, "Heck, we'll train every other person with half the classes and they can train each other," or "Our users are pretty good at figuring out things; they can figure this new system out in a few days," you know you're in for failure. It's not just users who need training, but project leaders, troubleshooters, and help-desk staff, too. Be ready to delay the project if appropriate training is not given.

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