The Path to Troubled Projects

    3=Execution, 4=Control

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Every project manager wants to be successful, right? We start each project with intentions of delivering value for our organizations. So, how do projects fall into troubled waters? One day at a time. It's a gradual process, one that's often unnoticed.

Slowly, but surely, troubled projects lose momentum. Team members become distracted and fail to complete their activities. Mistakes are made, leading to rework. And rework gives rise to increased cost.

The Catch Up Phase

Next, we move into the "I'll catch up" phase. When checking the status of activities, team members give you the bad news and say they will catch up next week. There's just one problem – it rarely happens.



"We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them."

From Healthy to a Troubled State

Eventually, the project is in TROUBLE. And, it can be in so much trouble that drastic actions must be undertaken. It's time to take a deep dive and assess the project's TRUE condition.

Additionally, we must determine whether the project can be recovered. If so, how? Furthermore, who will do it? What changes need to be made? How can we deliver something of value from a messy situation?

What Causes Projects to Fall into Troubled Waters?

"The thing I've found the most 'head bashing' with in managing projects as an employee or a consultant, is bringing all of the different stakeholders together and getting along like adults (dare I say that). Everyone has their own agendas at the different milestones and in many organizations I've been in, many of the teams worked in silos with poor communications and a narrow focus on only their sectioned deliverable(s)." –S. Cordiner

While troubled projects occur more frequently for less experienced project managers, it happens to the best of project managers. How, you say? Projects may have variables that are outside the control of the project manager, leading to a loss of control.

Strategies for Troubled Projects

So, what can we do? Well, I've created a framework to help you recover troubled projects. Notice the acronym–DARE.

  • Develop a project assessment plan
  • Assess the health of a project
  • Recommend corrective actions
  • Execute a recovery plan/project

Let's explore each of these strategies and why each is important to an actual recovery.

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How to Recover Troubled Projects!

Projects go from green to red one day at a time. Before you know it, things are out of control. Project sponsors are alarmed and team members are confused and tired. Let's transform your troubled projects into valuable products and services.

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