Don't panic Mr Mainwaring
Project planning and keeping it on track.
One of the most frustrating things for anyone involved in project work is that even the best prepared plans can go astray. Before the project is anywhere near completion it becomes clear that outcomes won’t meet expectations, resulting in a lack of motivation, stakeholder buy-in, and ultimately an even worse performance. Sometimes projects fail as a result of pure bad luck, but these cases are rare. Projects are more likely to fail because of one or more of the following reasons: The project was doomed from the start
- unrealistic plans and deadlines
- differing expectations amongst stakeholders
- insufficient buy-in and sponsorship from teams and management
- lack of analysis and understanding or the real problems the project is trying to resolve
- change of leadership or key team members
- unmanaged dependencies and risks
- inability or unwillingness to change and adapt to changing stakeholder needs (a particular problem with lengthy projects)
- general poor performance from project teams
So how can you recover a failing project?The first, and most important thing is to not bury your head in the sand. Projects won’t correct themselves and the longer you leave it the harder it is to pull performance round within current restrictions. At Smart Tips, we often work with clients to recover their projects. Whilst each solution is tailor made to the unique needs of that particular situation, the steps and principles behind them are the same. The aim of each recovery mission is to deliver value quickly whilst reducing the risk of future failures.
How we do itThe first step in project recovery is to perform a brief project assessment. This covers four key areas:
- Foundations: What the project was supposed to deliver in terms of benefits, goals and vision.
- Environment: Who and what is involved – and how. We look at the stakeholders, users and governing bodies and understand their relationship to the project. We’ll also consider the constraints and critical dependencies involved.
- Resources: In particular we look at the project team and understand their culture, skills and how they contribute to the project.
- Status: What has been achieved so far, how the project is organised and what controls are in place.