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Derek is a drinker of copious amounts of coffee. He is a thinker of what makes sense. He is a user of Agile and Kanban. He is a writer of an upcoming book. He is a talker of all topics. As an author and motivated project leader, he inspires and empowers project teams. Don't ask him the time because he'll tell you how to build the clock. To pay the bills, Derek is currently an adviser to a Federal Agency Project Management Office. Derek has posted 9 posts at DZone. View Full User Profile

Zombie Projects

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Zombie Project

Oh, you know that project.  That project that just won’t die.  It is all that is unholy in the world of project management.

Where did this project come from?  Who would sponsor such an abomination?  How the hell do we kill it?!

Do you ask yourself those question when that project rears its ugly head?

Now, we all know them when we see them. They don’t seem to have a sponsor.  They don’t seem to have a goal.  They certainly don’t deliver value.  They just putter along (old-school slow zombie not new-school run fast zombie) eating up time, money, and the occasional brain.

What is sad is your project may turn into a zombie project at any time.  You must be strong and vigilant.  I know you were friends.  But, if one of your colleagues or your project become one of the undead, you need to cut your losses and run.  You need to do the right thing and kill it.  Yes, kill it!  It will be the best thing for everyone involved, especially all those people and projects that are not members of the undead.

I recently read an intriguing post by Dr. Samuel Prasad.  He wrote out an analytical approach to identifying if your project needs to be killed.  He lists KPIs frequently used by many companies and successful project managers to identify if a project is healthy or in the danger (zombie) zone.

Bill Jenson, author of Hacking Work, said it’s good but his gut knows it way earlier.  Some out there don’t need an analytical approach.  They just know it when a project needs to be killed.

So, do you know a zombie project that should be put out of its misery?  Before you get all judgmental on me and say every project has a right to exist, think about one thing.  That money and those people being dedicated to support that zombie project could be redirected to your project, hopefully increasing your chances for success.

Thank you to Brian Bozzuto of Big Visible for inspiring me to write this post.

Like the image?  Find it at Pictofigo

Published at DZone with permission of its author, Derek Huether. (source)

(Note: Opinions expressed in this article and its replies are the opinions of their respective authors and not those of DZone, Inc.)



Luca Botti replied on Fri, 2010/10/29 - 3:54pm

One of the principles of Prince 2 (project management technique) is to keep an eye on the validity of the project.

 Simply, at the beginning of the project write a business case, and keep it up to date, verifying that the premises  you have written are still valid.


Emma Watson replied on Fri, 2012/03/30 - 5:11am

Great post, great picture! Thanks for pointing me in the direction of Pictofigo, I will definitely be using their graphics. And can't wait to read more about zombies.


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