Project management – road to recovery

Rescuing a project is not easy and can be very challenging but saving the day on a project can be very motivating and a satisfying achievement. We take you through an approach to use as a guideline to help get a project back on course:

As Management Consultants, we sometimes find ourselves performing project rescue for our clients. Projects fail for numerous reasons; such as poor planning, poor leadership, competing priorities or inaccurate cost estimation are to name but a few of the most common causes.

Rescuing a project is not easy and can be very challenging but saving the day on a project can be very motivating and a satisfying achievement. Below is an approach to use as a guideline to help get a project back on course:

Identify the root cause of the problem

Initial efforts should be focused around identifying the problems. Whilst this may sound simple, in reality you may find difficulties in determining the exact root-cause that is placing the project at risk.

Re-evaluate the goals of the project, breakdown what the plan was and determine whether estimations were accurate or not. Holding interviews and analysing key project stakeholder concerns can help identify the problem(s) and find solutions to progress forward.

Determine a new course of action and set new goals

Involving appropriate stakeholders to discuss the root cause is a valuable activity. Keep discussions focused on the problem and work as a team to define the course of action that will recover the project. Define the new goals and the changes required for successful delivery, for example:

  • Are there going to be changes in stakeholder expectations and commitments?
  • Will there be a new process introduced to manage risks/issues more effectively?
  • Are there any additional factors that need to be budgeted for?

Implement solution to recovery

The solution to recovery that will help the team to reach the project goals will need to be detailed and communicated to all involved. There should be no ambiguity about what needs to done and when to get the project back on track. It’s also important to seek approval from Senior Management and the Project Sponsor.

Reflect the changes in all project documents

The Project Manager should ensure all project documentation reflect the corrective actions taking place in order to recover the project, and again, communication is vital to ensure everyone involved in the project stays focused. Recovery actions should become part of the project scope and plans should be re-baselined taking the recovery actions into account.

Defining a simple process and recovery plan in conjunction with the key stakeholders –  and then sticking to it –  will help to turn things around. Rescuing a project is hard work however developing this ability is a valuable skill to have in your Project Management toolbox.

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