Posts Tagged ‘project in crisis’

Rescuing a failing project – A 4 step plan

Thursday, June 28th, 2012

Projects can fail for numerous reasons. Original budgets may not match the practical realities of a project, or the responsibilities and roles of team members may not have been clearly outlined at the beginning of the planning process.

A general lack of clarity about the direction of a project, and a failure of communication between different stakeholders and parties can also delay success and lead to confusion about responsibility over project delivery.

However, there are ways to rescue a failing project, which involve engaging with a four step plan that reviews, revises and resets goals and communication for a project, while working out the best forms for its delivery.


1 – Reviewing Problems

The first step in rescuing a project is to review the problems that caused it to fail, or be delayed. Re-evaluate the original goals of a project, and break down what the plan was, and whether overestimations were made.

Moreover, check that anything was not picked up on in the planning stage, and bring in as many different viewpoints as possible. These viewpoints might include managers, team members, sponsors and stakeholders. At this stage, it is also worth making a hard decision about whether a project can be saved.

2 – Revise and Set Out New Goals

If a project goes ahead, draw up new goals and a set of differentials that will ensure a better delivery. Are there extra factors that need to be budgeted for? What are the expectations and the input of stakeholders and sponsors? Can a system be put into place that can deal with risk, and that can swiftly respond to any problems?

Getting this structure right before setting a deadline is vital, as it ensures that no one in a project team feels like they don’t understand how to react to any obstacles during their work.

3 – Ensure New Expectations Are Met

Ensuring that these new expectations are met does mean being pragmatic about budgeting and the restructuring of a team. What needs to be reduced, and how can communication be managed to speed up the process of a project to best meet deadlines and priorities?

Moreover, it is important to decide what the focus of particular parts of a project will now be, and how much of a budget can be realistically spread out to hit the parts of a project that need the most attention.

4 – Decide When the New Project Will Be Delivered

A clear deadline needs to be made for when a project will be delivered, which will need to be agreed on amongst a team and other parties. Again, communication is vital to ensure that everyone stays on the same page.

A software project management tool is particularly recommended for achieving this communication, as it can enable realtime conversations and an exchange of information.

Similarly, by restructuring a management team and ensuring that there are contacts that people can rely on to troubleshoot any problems, it is possible to refocus a project into something that has shared aims and failsafes.

While rescuing a failing project does require a lot of hard work, by creating a strong team environment, and by establishing a clearly structured management structure, the original goals of a project can be revived and clarified for all involved.

Amy Henderson

Amy Henderson has been involved in running a business in the past. Amy enjoys writing on business/technology related topics and is currently guest blogging on behalf of Iris who specialise in small business software.