Recovering Troubled Projects

Troubled projects can quickly spiral out of control and rapidly become failed projects, but often they can be recovered.

During Core PA’s many years helping organisations deliver their projects and programs, we have encountered, and fortunately have been able to recover troubled projects.

Troubled projects are the ones that seem like you’re losing control of, often on many fronts (this is usually the case), because there is rarely one distinct reason projects start to experience trouble. It’s most likely there are many reasons, multiple factors and intersecting events that lead to trouble and threaten failure.

Some common themes are:

  • Misaligned scope with desired outcomes and objectives.
  • Little or no grasp on the key risks and influences for mitigating opportunities.
  • Poor culture and communication is another regular feature but it’s often difficult to determine whether it is a symptom or the cause of the troubles.
  • Complexity with large scale, high risk or essential projects. Often there is complexity, and it is easy for projects to fall into traps, become mired in detail and lose sight of the bigger picture resulting in suboptimal outcomes.

Projects are unique by definition and nature, so to understand what’s really going on in your project, an independent review may be a great place to start. After all, you can’t fix what you don’t understand.

At the centre of recovering troubled projects, in our experience, is often:

  • Big picture thinking – keep it simple, combine and simplify when possible, clarify or reset the focus on desired outcomes.
  • Attitudes and culture – get the team aligned and unify them, clarify roles and connect them also to the desired outcomes.
  • Optioneering – stay on top of risks, issues and opportunities. Identify and assess them regularly, involve team members and create a joint sense of responsibility in resolving issues and the direction that is taken forward.
  • Communication – keep key people informed, be routine and reliable, leverage the governance effectively. The hard and the soft skills are going to be necessary to recover your project.

So if your project is important to you and isn’t dead yet, consider a review and get the help you need to turn it around. Take a look at our previous news article, Benefits of Third Party Reviews, and click on the Contact button at the top of this page to get in touch with us.

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