Projects do not always go according to plan.
Sometimes they are delayed. Sometimes they go well over budget. On other occasions they simply do not achieve their objectives.
Any one of these things can be a disaster for a project, but these things rarely happen overnight, so there is no excuse for “letting a project go!” You may be given assurances by the Design Team that you ought to “give it a bit longer” and “I am sure it will be OK in the end”.
It is tempting to do, because it avoids any conflict with the Design Team – with whom you need a good working relationship throughout the project.
But, make no mistake, dealing with a project which is suffering is a tough challenge for the Project Sponsor. No one is going to thank you for ignoring a problem at the early stages, so here is our plan for the recovery of a project:
Trust your instinctsIf you think a project is going wrong, you are probably right. It’s entirely appropriate for you to challenge the Design Team or any other member of the project to put things right and if it is a big issue, the sooner you can reveal it the better.
Critically review the factsWhat does your progress report say, and can you corroborate at least two pieces of information to get at the truth? For example, if you think that the project is going to be delayed, look at the cash flow.
Consider the options for putting it rightThere is no doubt that the answer to a cost problem is making savings or, if you can’t get the savings, seeking extra funding. The earlier this is done, the better.
Work with the design team on the solutionYou need to turn around the Design Team to assist you with coming up with the solutions rather than working against you. Do not allow them to become defensive! Your objective at this stage is to select what you consider to be the best option.
Get approval from the Project BoardIt is important to get the approval of the Project Board. If somebody is going to have a different opinion from you, it is best to know early and they may find a better solution. However, if they agree, you know that you have found the best solution.
The delivery of good projects should be without excitement!
Even with bad news, the team should get the management information out to you. It is for you to evaluate.
The conditions of engagement or employment should require that everybody “uses their best endeavours” to complete the project satisfactorily.
Don’t be afraid to be demanding. In the long-term, it is in everybody’s’ interests.