Business Magazine

Rescuing Troubled Projects

Posted on the 20 March 2013 by Litcom

IT Management 150x150 Rescuing troubled projectsThe first step in dealing with a troubled project is to be sure you actually have a project that is in trouble. In some circumstances, there is the perception of a problem when in actuality there really is none at all. In other situations, a project may be in trouble, but the project manager might already have begun a process of damage control. Sometimes the project has problems, but the problems are not significant enough for the project to be considered troubled. For instance, if a ten-month project has been extended an extra week, you would need to decide whether it really is in trouble.

How do you spot a project that has gotten into trouble?

Spotting and fixing problems early can help team members, clients, stakeholders, and sponsors avoid project failure. Some warning signs to watch for include situations in which:

  • There are excessive scheduled delays, continuous changes and missed commitments.
  • The project is already over budget and there is no end date in sight.
  • Team members are exhibiting low morale and seem to have lost interest in the project.
  • Major issues have not been acknowledged or diagnosed.

How do you rescue a troubled project?

Here are 4 tips on how to get that project back on track:

  1. Investigate the current situation of the project

  • When a project becomes troubled, it is vital to review project documentation, such as a project plan and open issues list in order to pinpoint where the error or issues occurred. Conducting detailed interviews with sponsors, team members, stakeholders and project vendors involved in the project will help to identity project expectations and identify whether all viewpoints are aligned. It is also important to identify show-stopping problems. This will help to re-align the project and get it back on track.
  1. Assess and re-cast the project (if it has been derailed)

  • Affirm who the project sponsors and stakeholders are and reconfirm the project objectives. It will help to clarify the project's priorities and risks and determine where the project falls with respect to the organization's other priorities. (Consider whether the project should be cancelled, postponed, or scaled down if it’s low on the list of priority projects).
  • Review the processes for escalating questions, concerns, and problems and determine whether the right resources are available; both people and funding sources. It’s necessary to clarify everyone's roles and responsibilities as well as assess whether you have the right documentation. For example, is the project plan up to date? Are critical issues identified with action items assigned?
  1. Reset everyone's expectations (regarding the original project scope)

  • Present the facts to the sponsor, stakeholders, and team members and obtain input consent from everyone on how to move forward. If the project requirements or deliverables need to be scaled down, or if the budget and schedule need to be revised, negotiate these changes with the sponsor and stakeholders. Don’t forget to align your team and remove any barriers as they occur.
  1. Target for success of delivery

  • Keep the project schedules and issue logs current, and discuss them with the team regularly. Continue to escalate major issues when needed to, whether to a steering committee, management, or other stakeholders as well as reset expectations as needed. In addition, maintain a positive but realistic attitude about achieving the project goals. Recognize team members, celebrate success, and learn from past mistakes. Most importantly continue to communicate!

The Litcom Approach

Our dedicated team has significant experience rescuing troubled projects. We conduct a review of your existing systems and projects, develop a comprehensive profile of all IT-related projects underway, monitor the progress of each initiative, organize the IT efforts to support any business process improvement activities, and identify and bring forward IT-specific value propositions which outline either cost saving or revenue enhancing opportunities. For more information on our IT Management Services, please visit:

For more on how Litcom can help you with your project management needs, please contact us at [email protected].

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