Lessons Learned the hard way from a failed project – Do we learn from our mistakes

on Friday, 19 April 2013. Posted in SOA

Lessons Learned the hard way from a failed project – Do we learn from our mistakes


People learn best from failure. It drives lessons home like nothing else. Here is an email from a reader:

From: *********** [mailto:***********]
Sent: April 16, 2013 6:33 PM
To: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Subject: Building a Centralized Architecture


Dear Alex,

Pursuant to our telephone conversation today, I did some internal research and we are mostly an Oracle ERP,EPM, (back office applications) with Microsoft and Linux OS, and SalesForce as our CRM. Our companies strategy changed to a more centralized vision, mostly because some big IT projects being executed by us the business went really bad.

The following products ***** finance, procurement, hrms functionalities were not functioning for days.*********

Top management reacted and shutdown these initiatives.The cost was many millions but an excellent lesson learned, for all of us.

Top 4 points: 1- We hired the wrong consultants friendships with management existed that flawed results 2- Groupthink no one dared to challenge status quo, all of us did not foster diverse thinking 3- Project management provided too much of a rosy picture on status reports. 4- Fingerpointing existed and we lacked project members having the walk the talk attitude.

We had to rollback to our previous systems, and then the project was stopped.

My question, we are looking to purchase an architecture methodology mostly to help the organizations grow from our slip-ups we are starting with our SOA approach, governance and SOA operations.

We are looking at Zachman, Gartners, Oracle or TOGAF. Can you provide us your viewpoint on which methodology would you use knowing abit our environment and company.




***Received approval to share this article from the reader.


 The lessons learned for all of us, in my view are as follows:

 1-      Sometimes you think you are so good and so far ahead of the curve that you fall right off the edge

2-      When a project is obviously doomed to failure, get out sooner rather than later.

3-      A square peg in a round hole won't fit any better as time goes on. Problems that go unaddressed will only get worse, not better, over time.


Here is my top 10 advice in an enterprise project environments with high stakes involved:

  1. Hire to elevate knowledge
  2. Stick to the facts always decide with data
  3. Respect your team and make it fun
  4. Listen, learn and execute
  5. Try simplicity every time - while it may sound easy, it's the hardest thing to practice and will force you to get creative every time
  6. Avoid buzzwords
  7. Forego your ego
  8. Walk the talk
  9. Enthusiasm is always infectious
  10. Never give up, nothing is impossible

My view on the SOA Architecture Methodology question

Often the most difficult and important task that any corporation must perform is to select and implement an all-encompassing architecture methodology.

My view all 4 architecture methodologies mentioned above (Zachman, TOGAF, Gartner and Oracle) offer a sound basis to build your company architecture methodology. The only tip ‘never take it as is always customize it to your corporations culture’.

In this case the corporation is in 10 countries and has revenues of about 130 million dollars. In my view they should go with Oracle’s Methodology since they’re back office applications are 90% Oracle based and it was given to them for free. By the way the Oracle architecture methodology in my view is inspired by the TOGAF Methodology.

When it comes to OUM (Oracles Unified Method) The SOA core workflow view answers their requirements .The SOA Workflow View is used to help organizations to execute projects within a SOA environment .

Here is an overall diagram: reference OUM Methodology – SOA Core Workflow View

 SOA Core Workflow VIEW - OUM

Overall, my view is that starting an enterprise project is not like everything else. Nothing important is all that easy. Work hard, Learn from mistakes, Be Optimistic, Try again and Face your fears.

As per SOA methodology, reflect on your corporation’s culture and take into consideration the internal decision making process and vision as per vendor neutrality.

Like always share your thoughts and experiences

Comments (8)

  • James Huang

    James Huang

    19 April 2013 at 01:35 |
    We use Zachman framework, works well with us, have been lucky not too be on a failed project, our corporation went through a failure in 2012 and the blame game was out in full force. Good points and thank you for sharing!
  • Larry Campbell

    Larry Campbell

    19 April 2013 at 02:02 |
    I would also add one point that i learned the hard way working hard doesn’t guarantee success! We created our own methodology but it looks quite similar to TOGAF ADM.
  • Paul Whitten

    Paul Whitten

    19 April 2013 at 02:32 |
    We had stopped a project that was heading in the wrong direction and management took a radical decision and changed the entire team with new players , the project recovered. Your website is filled with great information, for your information our corporations methodology is a derivative of ASAP (The SAP implementation methodology).
  • Ben


    19 April 2013 at 07:54 |
    Use the KISS principle & make the project environment share your own values, I kind of agree with you, the methodologies are all quite similar.
  • Viktor Lam

    Viktor Lam

    19 April 2013 at 20:55 |
    We just customized our methodology from TOGAF, one tip if you do customize be strict at the beginning and check that people adhere to the rules. Some tend to be quite creative if you don't get the borders defined.on a side note, I enjoy your website good practical info.
  • Rabi Patel

    Rabi Patel

    20 April 2013 at 03:53 |
    Alex, I appreciate your transparency and passion to share, your website is filled with important information on enterprise project that can be used daily,you should write more often you inspire others with your writing style. Our architecture method is a TOGAF derivative.
  • Mary Johnson

    Mary Johnson

    22 April 2013 at 00:38 |
    Lots of Good advice, we use Gartner but we customize the deliverables to respect our ongoing changes in our corporation.We just stopped an enterprise initiative, we faced groupthink, no one dared to challenge the plan, we were spending hundred of thousand of dollars a month with no progress but the status reports was all rosy green across the board. At least will know the signs for the next enterprise project, you are correct in saying we learn by our failures.
  • Michael Smith

    Michael Smith

    23 April 2013 at 08:49 |
    I have been in the field for 34 years and in my experiences it all comes down to human nature and the old mighty power struggle game within the corporation. I also think that methodologies do not change the outcome of the project, they all work by providing similar guidelines.

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