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  • TROUBLED PROJECTS: UNDERSTANDING AND RECOVERING THEM

    • August 9, 2018
    • Posted By : Purvi Shah
    • Comments Off on TROUBLED PROJECTS: UNDERSTANDING AND RECOVERING THEM

    The Scenario

    A project manager is working on a project to develop a product/service in the retail domain.  Two of its company’s competitors are also competing to get the product/service out on the market as soon as possible.  Clearly, the first entrant would have asignificant advantage.

    The originally planned project duration was 8months.  The project is in its fifth month.  The project performance report clearly indicates that the team is behind the plan by 5 weeks, driven by frequent scope changes, scope creep, inaccurate estimation, and inconsistent stakeholder requirements.  The team is not able to recover this negative variance as they go along.  On top of this, the project team believes that it would need an extra two weeks to fix some of the quality issues currently plaguing the project.  Overall, the project needs about 2 months more.

    Would you label this project as ‘Troubled’? 

    Before committing either a ‘Yes’ or ‘No’, it is important to understand the premise on which one would make a decision here.

    As a project manager, one should be aware of the critical success factor for the project.  What is that one thing that is critical and non-negotiable from a project perspective?

    In the above case, Go-To-Market or ‘Time’ was the critical success factor.  Based on the data available, we should call this a troubled project as there is no hope for the project to be delivered within the original timelines.  Some of the other indications of a troubled project may include –

    • The product/service has more than ‘acceptable’ defects
    • Validity of assumptions
    • The team is working overtime for a fairly long period of time
    • Lack of customer confidence about the outcome of the project
    • Team frustration due to multiple and disparate systems deployed at enterprises
    • The project team and the customer’s team playing blame games and…
    • …Many more

     

    By the way, critical success factors are usually unique to project seven if they are delivered to the same client.

    Now…Recovering Troubled Projects

    Resisting the inevitable intense pressure to ‘fix the project’ immediately, it is recommended that the project manager considers the following –

    • Ask an important question – Do you really need to recover the project?  In the current globalized scenario, due to various reasons, a project may not be relevant beyond a specific timeframe.  If so, it may be better off to kill the project rather than pursuing further.
    • Diagnose the project to unearth issues and root causes.  Some of them may include too many scope changes or creep, inaccurate estimates, significant cost overruns, poor quality etc.
    • Perform an Impact Analysis of scope, time, cost, etc., by objectively quantifying the impact.  This is important for the sponsor/client to clearly understand how much more the project might cost.  It also helps the sponsor/client to prioritize aspects that ‘really’ needs recovery.
    • Create a ‘Recovery Charter’ for the project.
    • Communicate to all concerned the process of Project Recovery
    • Set, monitor,and influence expectations with key stakeholders
    • Go through the steps of Plan–Execute–Monitor & Control–Close like in a normal project.

     

    It is not a surprise to observe that it would still be ‘another’ project.  However, it has some additional flavors such as –

      • Rigorous/detailed planning
      • Close monitoring & control by way of tighter stage gate reviews, milestones, change requests, etc.
      • An extra sense of urgency by everyone on the project
      • Enhanced level of performance discipline
      • Effective communication
      • Strong focus on issues and risks
      • Greater integration between Performing Organization and Client Management

     

    While working on a project to be ‘recovered’, it is important for the project manager not to panic.  This is the time to draw on the collective experience of everyone aided by global good practices.  The project manager will surely succeed if s/he applies discipline, clear communication, and leadership in this endeavor.

    On hindsight, do we need projects to get into trouble before we become disciplined in managing them?

    Where does one start?

    Understand the application of the diverse project management concepts, principles, and techniques based on global practices – the PMP® Certification by PMI enables this journey!

    SRISHA’s PMP Prep Workshop is uniquely designed to equip you with the right skills and insights to help you manage projects better without getting into trouble.

    The question is – “Are you ready?”


    About Author :

    Srikanth PV comes with two decades of global corporate and consulting background across industries with diverse roles including Strategy, Leadership, and Management. Currently, he focuses on driving and creating customer value by building and enhancing organizational portfolio, program, and project management maturity by his impactful consulting and coaching engagements. He is also a former member of the Board of Directors of PMI Bangalore Chapter.

    View his detailed profile on LinkedIn at  https://in.linkedin.com/in/srikanthpvpmp