Project Rescue and Recovery
What You Learn From Rescue the Problem Project
Rescue the Problem Project
by Todd C. Williams
Todd's first book delivers twenty-five years of project rescue experience. Unlike other books on the subject, Rescue the Problem Project focuses on the process to rescue the project. This is the critical few weeks that transform a failing project to a successful project. Other processes blindly layer processes on top of a project without finding the cause of the failure. Rescue the Problem Project focuses on root cause analysis to determine the source of problems and solve them once and for all.
The book starts by discussing the biggest hurdle in rescuing a project—realization that there is a problem—and proceeds through detailed discussion of the four-step process to recover them—audit, analysis, negotiate, and execute. In addition, it includes a complete discussion of four key processes to prevent failure.
We have assisted the Oregonian in their drive for fair and accurate reporting by supplying objective input on the Cover Oregon failure:
The subpoena shows up at the front desk and the call comes to you to pick it up. That nauseating feeling in your gut is the prelude to a long day… no… a long year. The lawyers want every contract and statement of work, each change order, log, email, document, physical mail, specification, test document, picture, drawing, scratch note, etc. that ever existed on your project. You reflect back on the project and wonder how many times you cut corners in order to get the project done. Well as "done" as it is. After all, the customer never did really accept the final product. Maybe you should have had the project health check performed.
Everyone has been there. Unfortunately projects, programs, and sometimes entire initiatives fail. As opposed to the normal first reaction of finding someone to blame, what is needed is immediate action. Here are some common symptoms that cause projects to fail:
- Scope is increasing rapidly causing both the cost to increase and the project to slide.
- The users are unhappy with the systems performance or there are too many bugs.
- Risks that were never imagined are slowing the progress.
- The project sponsor or other executives are not engaged.
- The customer is not helping define the solution or they are not using it.
However, failing projects are only symptoms of larger problems in the organization that need to be fixed and these are rarely the real issues. Root causes are more likely:
- The concept of the product being built does not match the company goals.
- There are unrealistic deadlines or budgetary constraints placed on the project.
- The company is over their head and trying to do projects that too complex for their skillsets.
- Leadership does not understand how they need to support the project.
- The project is trying to address non-project issues, such as maintenance and executives do not understand the issue.
What Can Be Done
Estimates for the annual cost of project failure are as high as two trillion dollars a year. The rates for projects being at risk are in the 60-70% range, and a quarter of all project's problems are so bad they are simply canceled prior completion. Preferably, all projects will run according to plan. However, moving from a 60% failure rate to 0% is unrealistic. To improve success rates, organizations must first understand what it is that makes their projects fail. Reasons range from methodology to human failure to lack of executive commitment. Taking a systems approach to analyzing projects uncovers all the factors that are contributing to the failure.
Irreconcilable differences. When all else fails, some troubled proejct end up in litigation. When legal means are the only course to recover your damages for a failed project. Be it by court trial or arbitration, you want the best on your side. Using the same techniques as in our Project Audit and Recovery services, we quickly pore over your contracts, statements of work, change orders, emails, deliverables, and other discoverable items to assess your liability, assist you and your council on strategy and exposure, develop an expert report, and testify on those findings. Our successful track record speaks for itself. We objectively determine why your project failed and use that data to help build your case..
In May 2007, the Massachusetts Division of Unemployment Assistance (DUA) signed a contract with Bearing Point, Inc. to modernize the State’s unemployment processing system. The project was called the DUA Quality Unemployment System Transformation (QUEST) Project. Bearing Point filed for bankruptcy in February 2009 and Deloitte announced they would buy Bearing Point for $350MM in March of the same year.
What Filling Execution Gaps Covers
Filling Execution Gaps
Project alignment, executive sponsorship, change management, governance, leadership, and common understanding. These six business issues are topics of daily discussions between executives, middle management, and project managers; they are the pivotal problems plaguing transformational leadership. Any one of these six, when improperly addressed, will hex a project's chances for success. And, they do—daily—destroying the ability companies to turn vision into value.
Without the foundation of a common understanding of goals and core concepts, such as value being critical to success, communication stops and projects fail.
Without change management, users fail to adopt project deliverables, value is lost, and projects fail.
Without maintaining alignment between corporate goals and projects, projects miss their value targets and projects fail.
Without an engaged executive sponsor, scope increases, goals drift, chaos reigns, value is lost, and projects fail.
Without enough governance, critical connections are not made, steps are ignored, value is overlooked, and projects fail.
Too much governance slows progress, companies cannot respond to business pressures, value drowns in bureaucracy, and projects fail.
Without strong leadership defining the vision and value, goals are not set, essential relationships do not form, teams do not develop, essential decisions are not made, and projects fail.
"The government is incapable of running projects. Simply put, their miserably high failure rate proves that government should be out of the project management business." There are plenty of examples of this. We have heard this line, or ones similar to it, time and again and rarely hear how the projects failure reasons support the hypothesis. The reason? The prognosticators purporting this are part of the problem. Coming to that conclusion does not take any superior intellect—just listen to the nightly news. However, to try to get closer to the truth, I candidly and confidentially interviewed a number of government project managers and executives to gather their views. Following is a summary of those conversations.
In order to comply with the Affordable Care Act, the State of Oregon made the decision to build its own Health Insurance Exchange (ORHIX). An online portal to allow applicants was supposed to go live October 1, 2013. As of March 30, 2014 the site was not functional and all ORHIX applications must be processed from paper applications.