Troubled Projects – How to Get Them Back on the Right Path to Success
Many of us as project managers have come across a situation where we have been asked to take over a project that is "in trouble". Some of the reasons for this may include:
- Scope is extending beyond what was originally agreed upon when the project began
- Project spend to date is higher than what was expected by this point in the project and there is significant concern that the project will run out of funds before implementation
- Project is falling behind schedule, and there is concern that the project may not meet the deployment date
What is a newly assigned Project Manager to do?
The first step is to assess the current state of the project.
- Meet personally with the Project Stakeholders, Customers, Project Sponsor and Project Champion to introduce yourself and to let them know that you are on now on the project and that you are preparing a project assessment and plan to move the project to completion
- Meet with the project team and introduce yourself as the newly assigned project manager. Solicit feedback on what they have seen as concerns on the project and opportunities for improvement
- Review the project plan
- Conduct a full budget review
- Conduct an full assessment of project and artifacts to determine state of documentation
The second step is to compile the findings and to set an action plan with recommendations to move the project forward.
- Compile a prioritized list issues with an action plan for each, include resources assignments and due dates
- Update the Risk Assessment with mitigation plan
- Update the project forecast and the project plan
- Prepare an action plan to present to leadership and project team for getting the project back on track
The final step is to present the action plan to the Steering Committee and to obtain agreement of the plan to move the project forward. Communication to both the Steering Committee and project team is essential. Going forward, weekly status reporting that shows progress on deliverables and provides status on the health of the project is critical. Regularly scheduled Steering Committee meetings provide executive management with visibility of the project and to also address any open issues/questions as they arise.