Resurrecting a previously shelved project can be a trying experience—time and effort is needed to re-evaluate the project’s original scope, your team must identify areas that need to be updated, new data needs to be assimilated into the mix, and someone (you?) will be expected to shepherd the whole thing through the approval process for what may be the second time. Unfortunately, some Project Team teams have developed habits that look like time savers at first blush, but can actually spell disaster for their projects in the end. If you’re preparing to restart a shelved project, take a minute to ensure your team isn’t setting itself up for failure.
The “fresh start”
Yes, restarting any project will require that you incorporate a lot of new information, as well as updated objectives and timeframes. But many Project Teams seem to feel that evaluating the project’s original data is a waste of time. While you’ll likely modify much of what was decided during the initial research and planning phases, remember that everyone else involved in the project—from budget approvers to end users—will have the original data in mind. Instead of fighting that uphill battle, save some energy and use the starting point that everyone else is using. Updates that are made as the process moves on will be easier to understand (and explain), and your entire organization will be on the same page.
The “no research needed”
Just the opposite of the “fresh start” approach, some project managers simply pick up right where they left off months (or even years) ago. Rarely will today’s budgets, end user needs, stakeholder support, overall objectives, and timelines match what your team came up with originally, so if anyone tells you that this project doesn’t need any extra attention, don’t you believe them. It’s critical that you evaluate the original plan and modify it to fit today’s needs, expectations, and available resources.
The “add on”
Because restarted projects have an air of familiarity about them, it’s a little too easy to create room on your plate for them when your team is already booked. Even though you may know what the project needs in terms of support, don’t shortchange it—or your Project Team—by not giving your team’s full attention to proper planning and scheduling.
The “this is already late”
Too often, end users and stakeholders erroneously view shelved projects as being simply behind schedule. Because they’ve been waiting for the benefits the project will bring, they’re likely to be anxious to get things going quickly, and to compress the timeline at every opportunity. Don’t let your team get caught in the hurry-up mode. Instead, clearly explain the process and timeframe to get things rolling again.
The “vendors are hungry so this should cost less”
Vendors may be more eager than usual to earn your business, but it’s a mistake to assume that you’ll be able to complete a restarted project for less than the original budget. Prices for materials may have gone up since you last received quotes, and services might also be more expensive.
The “budgets are tight so let’s do everything in-house”
If you had originally planned to leverage outside help for a project, don’t expect to completely reverse that plan without some consequences. Do you have the skills and expertise within your Project Team to accomplish everything that needs to be done? Does your team have the time to tackle those parts of the project they would normally contract out? Sacrificing the quality of the work or the project’s schedule may not be worth the dollars you’re saving on the front end.