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Is Your Project Worth Saving?

Paul Naybour Paul Naybour

Published: 18th May 2016

Project recovery is a term that you will hear throughout the project management world. It is important to understand what it is, because it is almost bound to come up at some point in your career as a project manager.
So just what is project recovery?
Everything involved in trying to keep a struggling project afloat is part of the project recovery process, for example dealing effectively with the risks and issues that have led to the project struggling to stay on track. So dealing with the struggling project but also possibly ending the project is part of the project recovery process. So everything that would take you on the journey which leads to the decision about whether or not you are going to save the project, then the following tasks that lead to completion, are all project recovery.

How do you know when a project should be saved?
Often, people involved in project recovery are generally of the mindset that the project is going to be rescued. This is a common assumption, and makes sense as PM’s are generally so optimistic that they usually see drowning projects as a challenge, but it isn’t necessarily the right path. Everything that caused a project to be ‘born’ and set up initially could be very different now further down the life of the project. Business goals and priorities could have changed, as could budgets and other resources.

project recovery

Everything that was set up in the beginning has to be reviewed again before a proper decision on the projects destiny can be made. Check the current situation against the initial situation, then assess what can happen going forward. Sometimes the project can be recovered, maybe by adapting the requirements, costs of schedule but sometimes the only viable option is to close the project before completion. Costs will inevitably be incurred whatever decision is made but it is so important to make the right decision with the project to avoid losing more money that necessary. Throwing more time, money and resources into a bad project is the worst possible decision you can make.
Recovering The Project
If you have decided that the project can be recovered, then you need to think about how that is going to happen. How this is done depends on each individual project, and it does depend too on the organisation you work for, the amount of support for the project, the current market conditions and the industry you work in.
At the heart of project recovery is the effective management of all the factors that are against the project. So a new plan is beneficial, plus troubleshooting and improved team collaboration. everyone involved in the project recovery must be committed to its success, and everyone who is committed is clear on their roles and responsibilities in taking the project to completion. Just in the same way that a PM needs to gain the commitment of those involved at the start of the project so it’s the same in order to recover a failing project.