Practical Steps To Recover From a Project Failure (Project Disaster Recovery)

One of the most difficult things to do is to recovery from project disasters – you know the sort – where EVERYTHING that can go wrong does go wrong.

There are four key activities to undertake when recovering from any major project failure/disaster:

  1. Admit the failure
  2. Salvage what you can
  3. Investigate and analyse what went wrong
  4. Improve the company

We’ll look at each in turn

1. Admit the failure

  • Let the project team and sponsor know
  • Inform the stakeholders
  • Give both time to process the information
  • Let the organisation know
  • Let customers (who are impacted) know

This is the number one priority

2. Salvage what you can

  • Form a swat team with the authority to deal with the issues – simply handing the issue to QA is not sufficient
  • Conduct a project review
  • Identify the deficiencies and conflicts
  • Make the necessary staff changes and let stakeholders know of the changes
  • Develop a salvage strategy
  • Develop a straight-forward salvage plan to implement strategy in the short term
  • Re-scope and split the project if needed
  • Revisit the engagement approach
  • Revisit the development approach
  • Review schedule, cost, scope and progress in the project to date
  • Redefine communications and engagement plans

And separately but in parallel to action 2:

3. Investigate and analyse what went wrong

  • Determine key problem areas – maximum of 8 areas
  • Conduct root cause analysis workshops
  • Identify staff deficiencies (training, etc)
  • Identify estimating, scope and scheduling problems
  • Identify people/conflicts and related issues
  • Look at company operations – is the project compatible or is there a problem with alignment
  • What changes are needed to project resourcing allocation
  • Determine PMO and project prioritization and monitoring issues
  • Look at KPIs and detailed metrics – are the current thresholds OK or do they need to be tightened?

And importantly, we need to:

4. Improve the company

  • Determine key actions
  • Create an action plan or feed the actions into the company’s action/improvement plan
  • Schedule any additional QA audits to track potential problems
  • Determine project management process changes including estimates
  • Determine resource allocation changes needed
  • Assess the technical capabilities of the development teams – do we need to change?
  • Determine several KPIs to measure actual improvements
  • Communicate these improvements to customers, teams, users and other stakeholders.

By being straightforward, we can turn a potentially catastrophic issue (ie. company reputation in the marketplace) into a positive and practical activity.

This entry was posted in agile, alignment, audits, improvement, innovation, KPI, method, metrics, organization change, PMO, problems, process improvement, strategy, templates and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Practical Steps To Recover From a Project Failure (Project Disaster Recovery)

  1. This is an excellent article and complements one I just published: causes of project failure.

    I am interested in republishing your article on PM Hut, please either email me or contact me through the “contact us” form on the PM Hut site in case you’re OK with this.

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