How to Turn a Failed Project into a Successful Program
A failed project is like a huge truck stalled on the side of the highway. This is how Jack S. Duggal of Projectize Group LLC defines the failed project and the role of the project manager who is summoned to “rescue” a failed project.
While “restarting a truck seems straightforward enough”, there are many things that should be done in order to restart and rescue the project.
In an article published in PMI’s Community Post, Mr. Duggal lists the key actions that the project manager should do in such a situation.
It is extremely important to identify the cause of project failure. Reasons for the failure can include:
- Poor leadership or lack of top management real support
- Lost control of the changes
- Poor communication and coordination between various stakeholders of the project: Customers, Vendors, Suppliers, Managers, Resources and others.
Large projects can suffer from inappropriate supportive organization structure or conflicts of interests between the different stakeholders of the project.
It is highly recommended to treat large projects as a Program that consist of multiple projects, rather than one large project. Treating the project like a program can give different perspectives and visions on the project’s performance.
In his article Mr. Duggal points out that “issues that lead to failure typically emanate from one or more of the three themes of program management—stakeholder management, governance and benefits management”.
If the company would like to restart the project, it is recommended to align its approach to project management with these three themes:
- Stakeholder management is a process of creating and maintaining appropriate positive relationships and support with all stakeholders though appropriate management of their expectations, interests and objectives. It is extremely important to identify all stakeholders, re-engage them and revise and renew the vision of stakeholders before you restart the project.
- Governance management “is the process to develop, communicate, implement, monitor and assure the policies, procedures, organizational structures and practices necessary to run the program.” All related processes should be reevaluated and, if required, changed before the project restarts. Be sure that you have strong management support for the project.
- Benefits management “is the process to identify, define, align, prioritize, maximize and sustain the benefits provided by the program”. It is important to review all benefits and to build realization plan that provides intermediate benefits at the early stages of the project. The project manager should think in terms of “deliverables” and not just milestones and tasks.
Restarting a failed project can be a project manager’s finest hour. It is the time for him or her to display leadership,open and effective communications, accountability and commitment, transparency and proper risk management. This includes both risk management in general and credit and cash flow risk management in particular.