Topic Teasers Vol. 74: Rescuing Failing Projects

Question: A major strategic project in my company has failed! The current project manager has been reassigned and I have been asked to take over. The spotlight will be focused on me and my team, and while we have the chance to be heroes, we can also end up tarnishing our own reputations. Any innovative ways to pick up a messy assignment mid-stream and up our chances of beating the odds for success?

A. Start by meeting with the previous project manager to ascertain which people, vendors, stakeholders and unavoidable events led to the failure. As you plan your own Work Breakdown Structure, restaff with new, more competent employees and other surrounding people.

B. Start by calculating how much you have left in the budget and on the timeline and make sure the plans you create will not further stretch the company financially. This is the most important factor in having your outcomes ultimately checked in the “success” column.

C. Often, teams picking up previously failed projects start with what went wrong, who is to blame and how to avoid making the same mistakes. Find a more innovative approach if you want to have the outcome be positive this time.

D. A savvy first step that will jell your worth in the mind of management is to question whether or not this project should be completed at all. If you can convince them that it is an impossible quest, too expensive or beyond the scope of what your internal team can undertake, they may cancel it completely, leaving you without the risk of failure.

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