Project Practitioners > Troubled Projects Troubling You - Some White Papers to help you make it Right!

Troubled Projects Troubling You - Some White Papers to help you make it Right!

By Jerry Perone

Standish reports continue to indicate that the number of troubled projects rises each year.  On these troubled projects, private companies and government agencies lose millions.  Over time, I've been called in to help fix some of these projects.  I never like getting that phone call, hearing a worried voice on the other end of the line, knowing that they're in dire need of some help.  What I can say is that I love to make it right - taking a troubled project and fixing it, getting that terrible creep away from the scope or ensuring that a project is back on schedule.  Best of all, I know I've helped save millions of dollars.


One troubled project I worked on stands out more than others.  I was placed on a team responsible for assessing and recovering a troubled project for IBM, the sole provider of technology operations for the 2000 Sydney Olympics.  IBM created and ran the Technical Command Center for the games, and problems were developing with some of the projects.  After my team’s assessment, we were able to get the project back on the right track.


Working with that team allowed me to further my conclusion that the root cause of almost all troubled projects is a failure to follow the fundamentals of project management.


Some of the fundamental recurring problems I’ve seen with various projects include:


• Poor requirements
• No risk management
• Lack of resources
• Scope creep
• Lack of funding
• Poor communication


Funny enough, although these are the fundamentals of project management, they are not the real reason projects fail. If you want to get down to causes and conditions, if you want to uncover why projects fail then you need look no further than the project manager.  Sorry, PMs.  It’s you.


Don’t sweat it…don’t forget it! By that, I mean don't beat yourself up if you're working on on a troubled project and things can't seem to get right. I hate to think of anyone beating themselves up over a project.  If my self criticism stands in the way of successful project performance, the idea of self criticism is suddenly and completely ineffective.  But we must remember as project managers that it is us!  If a troubled project is behind schedule, it’s our fault.  If there was no risk management, it’s because we didn’t conduct a thorough risk analysis; or maybe, we didn’t conduct one at all.  No wonder the project is about to fall short of our goals.


The solution to troubled projects: I have a series of three white papers that can help you begin to get your troubled projects on the right track.  The titles are:


1. How to Assess and Recover Troubled Projects
2. Assessing and Recovering Challenged Projects
3. Troubled Project Triage: Active Assessment and Project Rescue


If you would like one of these helpful white papers, please email me at:  Since I’m giving these away for free, I can only give one to each person.  It’s your choice.  Just send me an email!  I’ll get back to you quickly, and you’ll be one step closer to resurrecting your troubled project.


Next week, tips to help you avoid tipping your projects into troubled water.


Don’t find yourself up a creek!  Keep your projects on schedule.

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