>MOSS project failure reasons

>Here is a list of the main reasons for MOSS project failure based upon experience (many reasons will also be applicable to non-MOSS projects). Other (occasional) reasons contributing to failure include inadequate business domain understanding, MOSS deployment design and MSFT licensing appreciation but for the sake of focus, only the main reasons are shown here. Reasons are shown in descending priority order:

1) Scope management. Initial requirements gathering insufficient. Incremental scope additions undocumented and outside change management. Little or no architectural analysis of scope shifts before they are implemented resulting in downstream performance, testing and hosting integration issues. High-Level Design (HLD) used as sole written basis for development. HLD is generally insufficient for developers to interpret and develop against. A solution can be to factor in element of client MOSS training during the early analysis stages. This will reduce incidence of client scope expectation being significantly more advanced than what is possible Out-Of-the-Box (OOB). Basically, clients tend to think MOSS can do more than it can – OOB.
2) Configuration management. Robust problem and change management processes missing; inadequately defined or not maintained. Doubly important in a MOSS environment where configuration, content and code (and also data and process) are entwined. Effect of this is that developers become confused as to what they are supposed to be working on and client loses detail visibility. Senior developers may attempt to establish these processes but will generally be ineffective due to inexperience and their relative capability for enforcement. Multiple versions of both requirement and design documents stored in multiple places and little attempt at sign-off coupled with poor client communication means that entrenched positions are swiftly made. Developers can struggle with the same issue for days. If daily updates are recorded in a problem management system, this will be obvious to the Project Management (PM) function through oversight.
3) Project communication. Poor overall project communication. With a focus on gaining hard MOSS technical skills, softer skills such as communication are often overlooked. Developers typically send conflicting messages to client. No team scrums, little articulation of cause and effect in terms of project plan. No “bottom up” captures or extrapolation. Culture of sharing information not engendered at senior developer level. PM reporting limited; when requested at high level and non-specific.
4) Skill levels. Due to initial shortages of MOSS skills, developers have historically been staffed to projects with the effective remit of learning on the job. This is not now the issue it used to be due to wide-scale MOSS training focussing on .NET Web part Framework. There remain key poorly resourced areas e.g. workflow and InfoPath development and engineering experience in MOSS “lockdown” mode.
5) Administrative duties. Not really focussed on operational logistics e.g. reporting status, ensuring adequate vacation cover, maintaining a service incident log, ensuring network access for resources and providing a view to scheduling on upcoming resource requirements. In a market where MOSS resources are relatively scarce, focus on effective resource management is critical.
6) Engineering resource. Insufficient engineering resource can be applied to MOSS projects. This manifests itself as generally assumed acceptance of the client infrastructure and hosting plans and means the team cannot plan and iterate for performance from design onwards.
7) Client relationship. Diminished client relationship. This can be left by default to be built by developers. Without a consistent face being presented to the client through reporting or solution walkthrough, the possibility for a relationship to grow is diminished and client finds it easy to take an aggressive stance to the engagement when required. This is particularly important where a RAD approach is more applicable e.g. MOSS.


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