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5 Steps to Recovering a Troubled Project or Program

Project and program managers are no strangers to managing trouble, but familiarity does not equate to mastery. In a post at her blog, Elizabeth Harrin reflects on what she learned from a webinar by LeRoy Ward, Executive VP at ESI, about the steps to recovering from dangerous scenarios. Managing trouble really isn’t much trouble after all.

The Troubled Project / Program

A troubled program is one that loses its business case as time progresses, sees stakeholders and/or leaders change in an unstable way, that encounters severe technical failure, or that experiences any sudden absence of resources. Saving one begins with the right mindset:

Don’t focus on the wrong issue. The wrong issue is how you can catch up and finish on time. The right issue is how do you finish at all and gain something realistic benefit without ending up with a failed project…You need to regain control. ‘Control’ is the scope, dates and roles on the programme which have been lost in through planning or execution in the first place. The way out of this is to make big, targeted changes quickly.

5-Phase Turnaround

Ward’s webinar outlines five phases to save or otherwise salvage the failing program / project, whether you’re brought in as damage control or trying to tame your own unruly beast:

  1. Define the charter.
  2. Develop an assessment plan.
  3. Conduct an assessment plan.
  4. Develop the recovery plan.
  5. Execute the recovery plan.

In one to two days, a defined charter should have the effect of getting the sponsor and steering committee behind the new assessment plan and ought to include a program history, assessment approach, and action plan. Without distracting the project team, the next step will involve assessment of the program. You’ll need to establish an assessment team and decide how to review critical documents.

Conducting the assessment plan will involve establishing a “war room” to assemble a team who will help you identify and prioritize major threats. After that, you’ll be developing a recovery plan. That means coming forth with a workable schedule that recuperates customer confidence in management and establishes a new baseline. No turning back, the recovery from failure must not fail!

At long last comes the moment of truth. Executing a recovery plan involves thinking with the goal of recovery in mind. Of course, recovery may involve a program that may not deliver everything it originally promised to deliver, or one that is successfully shut down.

Read the original article at:

About Eric Anderson

Eric Anderson is a staff writer for CAI's Accelerating IT Success. He is an intern at Computer Aid Inc., pursuing his master's degree in communications at Penn State University.

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