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Why your project failed?

I have contracted with lots of different groups and moving within the same company to save failed projects or project in trouble or impossible to implement and helped these groups to achieve company goal. What I have noticed is that less the managers or groups know less they realize more knowledge or experience can help them. Less they know, less they understand they need help because they don't know what they need. They think they are just fine until it is too late and a group or company goes under because of it.

I give you an example of one of the project I worked on at Nortel. I was assigned to write project specification for a product working with a director group with 100 designers and testers. During my research to get information to write the product specification I discover deficiency in the hardware they wanted to use that would cause the system reliability and availability unacceptable to the customer and did not meet customer requirement. I proposed design change in one of the interface card and firmware used in the system. The management did not agree with me on this item so I refused to write the specification the way they want it to not expose this deficiency. We had a large meeting with the president of the company with 20 people in that meeting looking at two different presentation to see if they need to change direction or stay on course and move me out of the way to another project activity. I am not the greatest in politics and making things look good when they are not.

The result was that I was moved to different project for 1 year implementing and releasing one more product that made the company lots of money. After a year development, they complete the project and released it to the customer. The customer starts validating the product and had lots of the test cases failing in the area that I proposed to change.
This was a large project and lots of money involve. The customer rejected the product and they went back on the drawing board after getting lots of this equipment on order for this project. The management came back to me and one of my team members to come back to the team and help.

Me and my team member both having experience over 15 years at that point came back and have a solution designing a new complex interface card with microcode firmware and some software to save the project. I and he had to work for 4 months for day and night having design review between two of us at 3 am in the cafeteria to get it done (defining specification to validated working product).

This project was completed and customer accepted this solution. The director group was dismantled and all people in the group were laid off and absolved in other groups in the company and some in the same group. The management groups were smart people with good intention, they were with software background and good intention for the project. They just did not have the knowledge and background to manage the system and hardware level because of lake of knowledge and experience in that area.

You see this in lots of companies when a software designer or manager is successful in their area, they get promoted and manage groups that are out of their area and lots of time they destroy groups or project because of not having the background to identify good or bad direction to go. You will always have engineers to not agree with each other and managements have to make decision to go one way or another. The wrong decision in these cases can destroy a project or company. Not all engineers can present a case in 1 hour to sell you their point of view, Remember they are not lawyer or sales man, they are engineers. So what do you do, Follow the sales man or lawyer to save your project or the reason to drive your decision and if you don't have the knowledge or experience to lesson to the reason then you will make the wrong decision.

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