We’ve all had projects before that started off great and then started to slide into a yellow or even a red position. As project managers it’s our job to do everything we can to get our projects back on track and successfully deliver to our clients. This article will go through some activities and techniques aimed at getting your project back on track.
This is something that should not be a difficult or time-consuming task if you have been monitoring your project properly throughout but as a project manager, you need to get a true assessment of where everything is at with your project. Your active risks, your current and past issues, your team progress all need to be reviewed and assessed to determine accuracy and validity. This is where the rose-colored glasses absolutely need to come off. Unfounded optimism can be a relationship killer. By overstating the state of your project you can set unachievable expectations by your project sponsorship, which will ultimately put your project in even more peril. By gathering and stating a clear ‘state-of-the-union’ of your project, you’re taking the first step in project recovery.
If your project has deviated in to a yellow or red status it’s usually a good indicator that something needs to change in order to do a successful project recovery. There are a number of things that as a project manager you need to assess to see what’s working and what’s not. Perhaps the reporting structure of the team needs to change. Is the scope not well-defined enough? Do the requirements need to be revised for more clarity? Are the technical tools sufficient for the team? Once you’ve identified what’s not working and what needs to be changed, you effectively have your strategy that can be pitched back to sponsorship for getting your project back on track. Depending on the scope of what needs to change on your project will determine how feasible it is to implement your change. It will also serve as a starting point for the conversation between yourself as the project manager and the project sponsor for putting the change into place.
Recovering projects is never easy and often can expose a number of flaws, either in the execution of the project, the organizational environment or even personnel on a project. The primary focus of the project manager needs to be getting the project back on track, which could involve difficult decisions and even more difficult conversations. However at the end of the day the accountability for a successful project delivery falls on the project manager and it’s up to the project manager to do everything possible to make sure the project is a success.
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