Project Rescue and Recovery
|Author:||Todd C. Williams|
|Released:||March 20, 2011|
Amazon #1 Bestseller in Business and Technical Project Management!
Back from the brink... the first fail-safe recovery plan for turning around troubled projects and keeping the problems from reoccurring.
When budgets are dwindling, deadlines passing, and tempers flaring, the usual response is to browbeat the project team and point fingers of blame. Not helpful. For these situations, what is needed is an objective process for accurately assessing what is wrong and a clear plan of action for fixing the problem.
In Rescue the Problem Project, Todd Williams, President of eCameron, describes how projects go wrong and what to do to fix them. It focuses first on people, then process, and finally technology. By doing this it helps you find the root cause of the failure and helps you prevent it from happening again.
We have assisted the Oregonian in their drive for fair and accurate reporting by supplying objective input on the Cover Oregon failure:
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
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.
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.
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. First, organizations must understand what it is that makes their projects fail. Reasons range from methodology to human failure to poorly understood concepts to scope creep. Analyzing projects as systems uncovers all the factors that can contribute to failure.
"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.
"We can fix this project ourselves." I hear that line all the time. And, of course, you can. It will just be a lot slower and more expensive because consultants cheat. Consultants simply have much more flexibility than employees do. At least consultants that put the client first. For instance, they can... Wait, I am getting a little ahead of myself. We need a little context before making that case. Obviously, consultants cannot do everything. It takes a delicate balance of consultants, employees, and contractors to get the optimal performance out of an organization.