My Project has an Identity Crisis

I have written a bit about a major out of control project the last couple of days. Probably this might have raised some eye-brows and the thought of ‘if you are such a professional, why didn’t you take care of it?’. True. That’s a valid point.

As said before, I take pride in my work, and even when a project is bobbing on the waves without direction, if people hire me I will say what I think based on my professional opinion (even when people do not always like the news brief ) and will do my job at the best of my abilities. That does not always mean that I have to agree with every decision that is being made. But, if the owner of a project finally makes a decision, that is what is going to happen.

That does make me frustrated a lot of times. One thing I have learned over the years, also with the failing of my first company, is that the best basis for a project or company, is a solid business-plan. And once you write a business plan honestly (so not to impress a financial institution for a loan or investment ) you can predict a possible future for your production. But it can also show that it has no way of succeeding because a lot of elements that are in play.  But most of all, it gives you a blueprint, a guideline which to live by.

But usually, as with this project, there never was a business-plan or SWOT (Strength, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) Analysis done. It was simply started with the opinion that it should be successful. And now, a year after the launch, all the numbers show quite objectively that this project has failed. But since there is no business-plan, so also not a financial agenda and successs/failure mission statement, this project is kept alive by its owner for the pure sake that he thinks it should be successful. That is also why every time there are more lifelines built in into the system, because it is the opinion of the owner that the project is failing because we don’t do this, or that. But, in this case, a very small business-plan would show that even in a success-scenario the project would cost more money per month than it could ever make. There is no profit margin whatsoever.

So financial predictions are also based on just the thought that we have to make a profit. Our financial plan just shows number so that it financially closes in favor of the company, but does not contain any realistic numbers. For the clients to make money out of their license with this product they have to sell about 40 product through our product to break even a month. Their current sales in total are an average of 10. And the current economic crisis makes those numbers drop only.

But, instead of just unplugging this project and throw it off life-support, the owner requests all kinds of new functionalities in the hope that one might catch on. So our production has now gotten into a identity crisis. It is a news production, a shop, a social networking place, a video site, a wiki, a game site… it is too much.

The concept is not bad, but it is just the wrong time to be successful with it. And I see a lot of projects like this. People clinging on to their ideas, and holding on until it drags them with it deep under water. That is too bad, because a lot of time, effort and money simply goes to waste. While sometimes, just like with this project, it is better to put the concept in a Tupperware container and keep it frozen for a better time.

And it does hurt me from time to time, because I like the owner of the project. He is a good and driven person, but now all I have to offer for him is damage control.

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