Rescuing Your Project: Quick Tips

Paul Naybour

Projects can commonly get into trouble, and there are plenty of ways to get them back on track, but there’s always room for more ideas – like these.
Your project is failing rapidly. You know that, your team knows that, but news of this hasn’t reached the ears of senior management yet, which means there’s still a chance to turn it all around. There are no quick fixes, but there are quick tips which might just be able to help you, because at this stage, any idea has the potential to save the day:
Re-assess The Scope
Go back to the key documents like the charter and statement of work and find out what you committed to achieve at the beginning of the project. Whilst you do this, also write down everything that was added to the project that was not officially agreed to. This will help you see what the expectations of others were, and what the commitments were. With these details clearly written down you can approach your sponsor and talk about what the main focus should be. Basically you are re clarifying what the main focus of the project is.
Completely Change the Schedule
Rather than battling against an unachievable schedule – make a new one that takes into account the current situation. This will essentially wipe the slate clean and give everyone a new focus.
Re-establish the Costs
You will need to be really honest and open and take a good hard look at what has actually been spent, and what the budget is. As long as the amount you are left with is not negative, you have something to play with. Calculate everything that needs to be done against the amount of the budget you have left. If it can’t be done with what is left, take your revised schedule and assess how much money you actually need. Then you have figures to present to the right people, so a decision can be made about the future of the project.
Learn the Lessons Now
Often it is only when a project is finished that you look at learning lessons from it but because of  the status of your project, it is worth looking at the lessons now – in fact that’s true even of successful projects – learn lessons as you go. Certain mistakes will have led you down this path, so you don’t want to make them again if you’re going to try and complete this project successfully. Speak to the team and stakeholders to go over what went wrong and if these issues are avoidable if you continue the project.
Be Honest
Once you have reassessed, collected all of the information and have a clear understanding of where you are, what got you there and ideas for moving forward, you can then present this information to all involved. Stakeholders, senior management and team members should be involved in a discussion about the future of the project.
Start Again
If your plans for moving forward are agreed, you get to start afresh. This doesn’t mean starting again, but it does mean continuing having learnt from the mistakes made so far. So before you go straight into your new plan, start with the best intentions. Communicate clearly, let everyone know how this project will work moving forward. Deal with any outstanding issues and reignite the team’s passion for success.

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