One man may find happiness in supporting a wife and children. And another may find it in robbing banks. Still another may labor mightily for years in pursuing pure research with no discernible results. Note the individual and subjective nature of each case.
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One man may find happiness in supporting a wife and children. And another may find it in robbing banks. Still another may labor mightily for years in pursuing pure research with no discernible results. Note the individual and subjective nature of each case. No two are alike and there is no reason to expect them to be. Each man or woman must find for himself or herself that occupation in which hard work and long hours make him or her happy.
Contrariwise, if you are looking for shorter hours and longer vacations and early retirement, you are in the wrong job. Perhaps you need to take up bank robbing. Or geeking in a sideshow. Or even politics. What makes IT organizations create such things? Why would anyone in his right mind agree to participate in such a project?
To many grizzled IT veterans, these are rhetorical questions. Everything, in their experience, is a death march project. Why do they happen? Because corporations are insane and, as consultant Richard Sargent commented to me, "Corporate insanity is doing the same thing again and again, and each time expecting different results.
Because, as consultant Dave Kleist observed in an e-mail note, "Death march projects are rarely billed as such, and it takes a lot of work when being hired from the outside to discover if your hiring company is prone to creating death march projects.
Death March Defined Quite simply, a death march project is one whose "project parameters" exceed the norm by at least 50 percent. In most projects, this means one or more of the following constraints have been imposed upon the project: The schedule has been compressed to less than half the amount estimated by a rational estimating process; thus, the project that would normally be expected to take 12 calendar months is now required to deliver its results in six months or less.
The staff has been reduced to less than half the number that would normally be assigned to a project of this size and scope; thus, instead of being given a project team of 10 people, the project manager has been told that only five people are available.
The budget and associated resources have been cut in half. Again, this is often the result of downsizing and other cost-cutting measures, but it can also result from competitive bidding on a fixed-price contract, where the project manager in a consulting firm is informed by the marketing department that, "the good news is that we won the contract; the bad news is that we had to cut your budget in half in order to beat out the competitors.
And it can lead to a pervasive atmosphere of penny-pinching that makes it impossible for the project manager to order pizza for the project team when they spend the entire weekend in the office working overtime. The functionality, features, performance requirements, or other technical aspects of the project are twice what they would be under normal circumstances. Thus, the project team may have been told that it needs to squeeze twice as many features into a fixed amount of RAM or disk space as its competitor; or it may have been told its system has to handle twice the volume of transactions that any comparable system has ever accomplished.
The performance constraints may or may not lead to a death march project; after all, we can always take advantage of cheaper, faster hardware, and we can always search for a more clever algorithm or design approach to accomplish the improved performance. But doubling the functionality—i. Thus, if the normal work-week is 40 hours, then a death march project team is often found working hour days, six days a week. Naturally, the tension and pressure escalate in such environments, so that the death march team operates as if it is on a steady diet of Jolt cola.
Another way to characterize such projects is as follows: A death march project is one for which an unbiased, objective risk assessment which includes an assessment of technical risks, personnel risks, legal risks, political risks, etc. Of course, even a project without the schedule, staff, budget, or functionality constraints described above could have a high risk of failure—e.
But most commonly, the reason for the high risk assessment is a combination of the constraints described above.
Please help to improve this article by introducing more precise citations. August Learn how and when to remove this template message In project management , a death march is a project that the participants feel is destined to fail, or that requires a stretch of unsustainable overwork. Software development and software engineering are the fields in which practitioners first applied the term to these project management practices. Other fields have since recognized the same occurrence in their own spheres and have adopted the name. Death marches of the destined-to-fail type usually are a result of unrealistic or overly optimistic expectations in scheduling , feature scope , or both, and often include lack of appropriate documentation or relevant training and outside expertise that would be needed to accomplish the task successfully. The knowledge of the doomed nature of the project weighs heavily on the psyche of its participants, as if they are helplessly watching themselves and their coworkers being forced to torture themselves and march toward death.
Death march (project management)