According to recent data and analysis, in 2017 UK organisations lost around £128,000 million for every £1 billion spent in projects because the project performance was poor. Although this is about a 1 percent improvement over 2016, it is still a lot of money lost. A considerable amount of money for any organisation to lose over a year.
Of course, projects will fail. Something would be wrong if every project succeeded. However, it is the job of every PM and organisation to do everything they can to avoid that outcome. Planning at the very beginning of a project is, of course, important, along with setting up plenty of actionable points in case things go wrong. But what about those situations where projects begin to slip quickly. When the project has a strong chance of failure, there are sometimes reasons to admit defeat. The personality of a PM and with all that used money already gone, combine to create a survival mentality, and more often than not failing projects are fought for until the end.
If you firmly believe that there is a strong chance to turn it all around, there are some useful tips and tricks that could have you reaching for a celebratory flute rather than a commiserative pint at the end of the process.
Admit The Reality
One of the hardest things to do with a passion project is to admit defeat. Admitting that the project is at real risk of failure is a brave thing to do, but it is the right thing to do if you want the project to stand a chance of succeeding. Speak to your team members, colleagues and anyone on the same level as you in the project. Speaking to senior management should come later when you have a plan to move forward, they won’t just want bad news.
Switch The Scope
Look at matrixes, charters and statements from the very beginning of the project and figure out exactly what you committed to doing at the beginning. During this process, you can also take a look at the extra weight the project has taken on that was not agreed to. This will provide you with the opportunity to bring some clarification back to the project. To get rid of the dead weight and to strip things back to the core of the project’s purpose.
Use Software to Minimise Project Failures
Using project management software is a useful tool to ensure projects are completed on time and within budget. When deciding what type of software to implement, considering the option of kanban or scrum software will help you weigh up the two approaches to managing tasks. If you’re looking to salvage a project, using kanban software offers a more flexible approach as it allows changes during the process. This lean method helps to introduce structure and a collaborative approach to prevent future issues.
Figure Out The Cost Again
This is an area of project management people tend to fear, especially when a project is failing. This won’t achieve anything though and will only contribute to the project continuing to woosh off course. Be honest with yourself and the situation and take a look at what has been spent and what the budget was initially. Is there any money left? That is great news; it means that you have at least something to utilise. Calculate all future work on the project against the budget that is left. Need more money? Get extremely transparent figures together along with a detailed project plan for the remainder of the project to prove why this new project future won’t fall victim to its previous failings.
What Lessons Are To Be Learnt?
There’s no point in waiting until the end of the project to learn lessons that could be learnt now, and effectively save the project. Mistakes have been made that have led you to this point, and recognising them could help with reviving things.
What Are Your Competitors Doing Differently?
There is a lot to be learnt from successful competitors. According to statistics, 3 out of 4 organisations feel that the economic climate has created a more competitive environment which means project resources and timelines are much more restricted. If you don’t recognise what your successful competitors are doing right, you won’t stay ahead of the competition, and ultimately, this project and future projects won’t have a bright future.
Now You Need A New Plan
Now you have reflected in detail; you need to make a new plan. If this project can succeed, then you need to do everything you can to steer it towards success. This detailed article on the process of saving a failing project is really useful. If you are more of a visual learner, this 10 minute Youtube webinar on project recovery could prove extremely useful.
You have the skills to make this project succeed; you just have to be brave enough to face the truth first. This will help you change the course of the project, so it has a more promising future.