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T-SQL Tuesday #107 Invitation: Death March

There is a famous book in our field written in the 2000’s by Ed Yourdon called “Death March“. In it he details the phenomenon in project management of death march software projects. He observed a trend in organizations who plan software projects to estimate so poorly that completion becomes overwhelming and unlikely.

More companies than ever before could be considered “software companies”. Project planning hasn’t gotten much better over time and we still have terribly managed projects. The best reason to explain this I found on Quora – Why are software development task estimations regularly off by a factor of 2-3? In particular, read the answer by Michael Wolfe midway through the page. It is both a humorous and scary analogy.

On this month of Halloween we are going to discuss our death march project horrors!

Mission Directive

Ed Yourdon's Death March

I invite you to share a story about a project you worked on or were impacted by that went horribly wrong. You do not have to have been a developer. Any role you played whether it was a sysadmin, DBA, business analyst, systems analyst, project manager, consultant, QA, etc. is entry requirements for this.

A word of advice – please change the name of the company unless you want to burn that bridge. For example: instead of saying “I worked for IBM…” you could say “I worked for a large technology consulting company”. I’m not trying to get anyone fired here!

Tell me your project horror stories – the worse the better.

T-SQL Tuesday Rules

The official rules for T-SQL Tuesday are:

  1. Write a blog post about the topic
  2. Include the T-SQL Tuesday logo in your post
  3. Publish your post anytime on Tuesday October 9th whenever that is where you live.
  4. Promote your post by posting a comment to this post with a link to your contribution.

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Want to Host?

If you are interested in hosting a future T-SQL Tuesday then please contact Steve Jones. There is an archive of all the previous T-SQL Tuesday events maintained – check it out.

Thanks for reading! I am looking forward to your stories!


If you liked this post then you might also like: T-SQL Tuesday #104 – Code You Would Hate to Live Without

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36 thoughts on “T-SQL Tuesday #107 Invitation: Death March

    • You are wise not to write anything construed as bad about your clients. Poorly estimated projects: the best I can chalk it up to is people are not good at building abstract things. Thanks for writing and joining in the party (as I read your posts every time!).

    • Hi Allen – that telemetry data project sounds interesting. Politics…seems like they are a part of every project. I had to stop reading once I got to the part about the CUBE in the GROUP BY clause. Once calmed down I returned and read the rest 🙂 Thanks for joining in!

    • Hi Lisa – please extend my condolences to your friend. Trigger looping hell is something I would not wish anyone to have to deal with. Sometimes all we can do is brace for the train wreck. Thanks for dropping some science on us with the entity attribute value table example and participating!

    • Hello Bob – ya know if Google can do it…(great stuff!)

      I’m glad you weren’t part of that project because I’m sure morale was quite low. I too took a different job after my death march project.

    • Ooh that was a good one Matthew! Ah the days of VB, fortran, and burning CDs…the horror! The ending was my favorite: “Well, at least you didn’t send a virus infected demo to your entire prospective customer base like my old boss did”. Thanks for writing this month!

    • Hey Eugene – big projects can certainly have big failures. It was just a simply ERP system project – what could be so hard? . Nice tips at the end of your post game analysis. Thanks for joining in the fun this month!

    • Hey Ron – thanks for writing! I’m honored you jumped into the pool when it was my month to host.Yeah if you’ve never tried to requisition new server grade equipment it will be a shock at how long it can take. Between that and the PM using Excel to manage the project and the VP switch-a-roo with the DBA team I was scared!

    • Hello Andy – it’s all about them deltas. I am not surprised at the 85% of BI projects fail bit. Stay safe from those TPS reports and glad you could use the phrase “Come to Jesus Meeting” in a post. Thanks for writing!

    • Thanks for participating Andy! Ah yes insurance companies and their mainframes back in the day. I was nodding my head every sentence. The ending about the project becoming obsolete / deprecated shortly after delivery…at least you got to be married instead of debugging a hopeless project.

    • Steve – thanks for your contribution! I shuddered when the backup was going to a local workstations and not a network file share. Glad you crossed the finish line in 1 piece.

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