I came across an editorial on how the FBI Sentinel project had been problem-plagued and had converted over to Agile. The Sentinel project in turn had sprung out of the FBI’s “Virtual Case File” system which was considered a failure. I’m always interested in lessons learned from projects that struggle to be successful.
“It’s worth noting that the FBI team didn’t start from scratch with Sentinel when it shifted to agile development. Two of the project’s four phases were completed under Lockheed Martin …. The way the FBI changed course midproject is significant because it suggests an escape route for other agencies struggling with elephant IT projects.” Information Week, May 30, 2011, “FBI Recasts Sentinel As A Model Of Agility.”
In are projects really in chaos I mention how many projects, while considered unsuccessful, actually produce something useful that can then be built upon. They usually go through an iteration of “failed” or less than successful projects but eventually get refined into something useful. Sometimes phenomenally useful.
While the FBI’s Sentinel project hasn’t reached a stage of success yet, it’s history does not necessarily mean that it won’t eventually be successful, even with all it’s previous failures. While I don’t mean to encourage this approach, it is just a reminder that oftentimes perseverance on an idea that needs doing can result in something that we all eventually expect and take for granted (e.g., the bridge holds up under us).
What projects that failed or struggled to succeed taught you useful lessons about project management?