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Old "Yeller"

Stoplight_yellow Sigh.  It's the same old story.  Boy meets project.  Boy learns to like project.  Project protects boy from evil corporate surroundings.  Project falls sick, threatening those around it.  Boy must decide to put project out of its misery.  Tears stream down boy's face as he raises his shotgun and...

Oops... sorry.... I started channelling classic Disney movies again...

How do you know when your project "gits the hydrophobia"?  (For those who haven't seen the movie, go out and rent it and then reread this post.)  Many projects are ailing and on various roads of sickness.  Knowing how to identify the signs of a project in "yellow status" will take you far in identifying the true status of your project:


  • Is the Project Plan incomplete or not baselined?
  • Are scope changes not reflected in the most current Project Plan?
  • Are quality checks and regular sign-offs missing?
  • Is undocumented rework occurring?


  • Has the project plan been rebaselined (i.e. a do-over, a mulligan) due to slippage or poor estimation?
  • Is significant yet recoverable slippage of schedule occurring (less than 10%)?


  • Has the project budget been loosely defined (e.g., hitting the side of a barn)?
  • Is it difficult to procure funds and resources when needed?
  • Are significant yet recoverage cost overages occurring (less than 10%)?

Other Factors

  • Are signs of stress noticeable yet still manageable?
  • Are there problems with project commitment from relevant executive stakeholders or are office politcs playing a more prevalent role than planned?
  • Are more risk events occurring than originally planned?
  • Is communication sporadic or inconsistent?

Yellow is probably one of the "easier" status colors to report.  You don't have the pressure of justifying green.  You're not under the magnifying glass of red.  People expect things to go wrong.  However, yellow status is not an invitation to become complacent.  Yellow can turn into red in the blink of an eye.  Just keep your project away from rabid, wild animals and nobody gets hurt.


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