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Conducting a project postmortem after data management project failure

Are project managers ultimately responsible for project success or failure? The mentality around here seems to be that if a project tanks, it falls on the shoulders of the PMs (regardless of whether the project was a good idea to begin with).

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No. Project managers don't operate in a vacuum. Often, people on projects have at best a "dotted line" relationship to the PM. I'd argue that true executive sponsorship is essential for a project to succeed, and PMs cannot mandate that. It's just as facile to always blame people like me (consultants) when things blow up.

Doing a project postmortem on failed IT projects often manifests that there's plenty of blame to go around. I can't see holding a PM singularly responsible for any mess, save for possible cases of intentional project sabotage.

This was first published in March 2010

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