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On project remediation

A significant part of our project pipeline consists of remediation of failed projects. We are being approached by companies that tried to build a solution or a product with another vendor(s) but have yet to achieve what they wanted. While reasons for that differ, I can see specific patterns.


First of all, technical reasons are rarely an issue. Architecture, selected tech stack, or other tech-related factors can cause unnecessary difficulties but never really a problem. We were recently asked to remediate a project with a very decent tech side, great design, quality documentation, and test coverage. Yet, the project was a failure from the client's point of view. So, unless you are doing an R&D project with a high degree of uncertainty, technology is not a problem.


The typical problems are mutual expectations management, meeting commitments, quality of collaboration, and trust. The topic deserves a book, but I would take the liberty of giving a couple of short recommendations to both clients and providers.


Clients:

Coding a solution is essential but not the most critical part of a successful project. The success of your custom development project largely depends on the quality of collaboration with your vendor and investment into adoption. For example, consensus between internal stakeholders, sufficient time for leadership and experts to work on requirements and interact with your vendor, clear ownership over solution implementation and adoption, learning from the feedback of internal and external users, and resources to train your team members and support them in accommodating changes are critical.


Providers:

Your clients may be at different maturity levels in understanding all aspects of delivering and implementing a project. Your job is to guide them through things you know better and maintain maximum transparency and predictability in your work. While the final decision shall always stay with your client, you have to invest in building trust by providing your expertise, recommendations, risk assessment, and ideas on how to do things optimally and sustainably for your client's benefit.

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