Seven Steps to Turn Around Troubled Projects

Sunday, June 16, 2019, 6:00 AM | Leave Comment

Not all troubled projects are doomed to failure. At the same time not all troubled projects can be successfully rescued.

However, you need to try. There are entire books written on rescuing troubled projects.

Here are the simple, high-level areas to work through to turn your project around.

  1. Understand project background and context

    The first thing to do is to understand the project background. This includes reading the business case and talking to the sponsor. You will want to understand the project objectives, scope, risks, stakeholders, approach, etc. If this information does not exist you need to create it pretty quickly. Otherwise your rescue project might be in the same boat as the troubled project.

  2. Review and assess

    Next, you need to find out what’s going on today. Why is the project in trouble? Maybe they don’t have a project management methodology. Is the work late? Is the project team unhappy? Are there a lot of problems? Focus your assessment on how the project has progressed and the current state of affairs.

  3. Create a plan of attack

    Now you should have a good idea of the project issues and what it will take to resolve them. You can now create a plan of attack. Focus this work on the future – not the past. Identify the actions to be taken by all of the team to deliver the project successfully. Then take your plan to your sponsor and get their support. Don’t be afraid to ask for more money, time or resources. If you ask now when you are new, you are more likely to get relief.

  4. Deliver some quick wins

    You need to build confidence with your sponsor and your team. Choose a couple items that you know you can hit in the short-term. Be sure to communicate wins to the sponsor, stakeholders and the entire team.

  5. Rally the team

    With your sponsor’s support, get the project team focused on the turnaround. Make sure people know the problems of the past, but also the plan to change things in the future. Tell them what you’ve found, what needs to be fixed and how you plan to do it. Tell them about the quick wins that have already been made, Communicate that if everyone focuses on the plan ahead, you can deliver successfully.

  6. Set clear milestones

    Set clear milestones that everyone understands. Put the milestones and plan of attack on a wall chart to make them visible. Then meet regularly to discuss progress.

  7. Meet the revised expectations

    I am not sure if there is anything worse that taking over a troubled project, creating a recovery plan, and then failing again. At this point you must meet the revised expectations and complete the project.

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This column is © copyright to www.Method123.com and originally appeared in their weekly project management tip newsletter.

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