The F Word

The “F” Word

The “F” Word


Is your company or organization developing new software or modernizing an existing one? Is the software project behind schedule and/or failing to exceed customer expectations?

If you are reading this article, then chances are you can answer “yes” to a least one of these questions. But you may be asking yourself why? Why is the project failing when you have assigned a good project manager? Why is the project failing when you hired more development resources to “get it done?”

Good project management practices are simply NOT enough to ensure software project success. When we interview clients regarding why their software project is failing, the standard answer is always some mix of, “the project is a one-off; it’s high-risk; it’s too complicated; it’s cross-functional across lines of business which are not typically directly-coupled.”  We always hear these answers, and more, on failing software projects that we are asked to turn around.

What is the real issue? It is the “F” word in the title of our article, “FOCUS.” Simply put, all failing software projects have this in common… FOCUS. No, that is not some new acronym that you have to track down on Google. Your software project is failing due to a lack of focus.

What does this lack of focus look like? Ask this question (we do!): Does every developer, tester, and manager involved in the software project understand the importance of the project’s success to your business and the cost of failure? We always hear an immediate “yes” during the onboarding interview we conduct with CEOs and CTOs. A further investigation always reveals a different answer within the organization. So, how do we probe to get the real answer? Simple – we ask the right questions.

Here are some of the questions we ask of developers, testers, and managers which always reveal a lack of focus, contradicting the perceptions of the CEO, CTO, and other stakeholders, within the business:

1. How many projects are currently “in progress?”

2. How many projects are apparently “close” to “completion?”

3. Is your work largely dominated by technical issues?

If we hear consistent answers of more than one to questions 1 and 2, we have identified our first two indicators that the “F” word is killing the software project. What about question 3? How is this an indicator that the “F” word is killing your software project? The homework we have for you is to think about your answer and e-mail it to us.

While it may sound cliche, the first step towards an immediate and effective turnaround is driven by the answers to questions we ask. (We provided the first three questions in this article, but you have to contact us for the full recipe).

For CEOs and CTOs, the turnaround comes with planning the focus and focusing the plan. If you have a software project that needs help, contact 4 Horsemen Solutions™ at 1-800-429-5260 or visit our website at

No Comments

Post A Comment