Lesson #1 From the Virtual Case File Failure
Phil Windley has sussed out the important lesson in the FBI’s recent failed $170 million IT project, the “Virtual Case File”:
[T]he FBI approached this as a single monolithic project. Time and time again, big project[s] fail. I see people making the same mistake in projects I’m familiar with. Iterative approaches can be more disruptive to workflow because they require people adapt to multiple little changes over time rather than one big change sometime way out in the future. Even so, they’re the only way I know how to do projects that work.
Boy, is he right — I can’t count the number of Really Big Projects I’ve seen get sucked down under their own weight. Maybe sometimes that approach works. But more often than not it is a recipe for nothing but transferring large sums of money to consultants — and at the end of the day you’ve got bupkis (just like the FBI).
Incremental! Small! Agile! Is! The! Way! To! Do! It!