Some time ago I was involved into a so called death march project. In spite of the Brook's law, I was hired when project was in the yellow zone. Several weeks after I started on my new job, I've been asked and pushed to work overtime even though I didn't have chance to get a grip on the project (actually, it was a probationary period). Even though I didn't have the whole picture of the project, almost from the beginning I started to realize that project was savagely mismanaged.
Not diving into the causes of mismanagement (there are chances that several unpleasant risks might have been triggered all at once putting project into the yellow zone and manager just had to cut the corners), I would like to know what is the project management's ultimate responsibility for the failed project? There's been a discussion about whether it worth considering project failed or not. But let's assume that top-level decision has been made and this decision makes it clear that project has failed. What will be the responsibility/punishment of project manager for the failure then? Probably this should be covered before project is started (even written down, sealed, signed, whatever), but what if the responsibility for the failure has not been discussed and agreed? What is the default option in this case?
Possible answers are:
- Damaged reputation (both person and company)
- Shutting down the project
- Torments of conscience
But that seems to be in some way incomplete and each solution might not be applicable in many cases.
Maybe project manager is not the only person who should be responsible for the failure? If not, then who else? Team as a whole, architect, business analyst lead, qa lead? How the responsibility could be shared in this case? After all, who decides?
I would like to get a clear understanding of how to deal with project manager who failed the project due to the mismanagement. Are there any best practices or any case is individual? Should there be some kind of investigation done by upper management in order to reveal mismanagement? If there are some generally accepted measures against people responsible for failure, especially project managers, I would like to hear it from you.