Why Project Rescue Plans Fail

Anyone who has tried to rescue a troubled project knows it can be a massive undertaking. From figuring out what went wrong to implementing solutions to get things back on track, internal teams have some big obstacles in front of them. And without the right people, processes, and tools in place, the odds of putting an at-risk project back on the path to success aren’t great.

But why do these rescue efforts fail? If you’re worried about the prospects of returning a floundering project to a healthy state, consider some of the factors that can spell disaster for even seasoned project teams.

You aren’t objective

A key step in saving a project that’s gone off the rails is an accurate and unbiased assessment of the initiative’s problems and the underlying causes behind those issues. You can’t create a plan to fix missteps if you don’t know what’s wrong and why things fell apart.

Unfortunately, taking a step back to evaluate a failing project is extremely difficult for internal teams. Most are too close to the situation and lack the objectivity to effectively assess an at-risk project. Executives may also prefer a more neutral perspective for the evaluation process and greater transparency around the findings before approving resources to rescue the project. 

A partnership with a third-party project management consultancy can be a critical asset when it comes to restoring troubled projects to a successful path. Their objective viewpoint is essential in uncovering earlier missteps and understanding how to shape a workable plan that avoids further problems.

The processes and techniques that led your project to failure can’t save you

If your approach to project management didn’t keep the initiative clear of trouble the first time around, it’s unlikely to deliver different results in the rescue phase. Applying the same techniques to the problem will only lead to the same outcome.

This can be a tremendously difficult truth for project teams to accept, particularly if they’ve enjoyed a good track record of success. But attempting to simply rework a project using the same methodology that got it into trouble will eventually lead to a return to the downward slope.

Enlisting a trusted project management partner can help you implement a methodology that addresses the causes behind your initiative’s issues. With the right techniques and experts to guide your recovery plan, you’ll give your project a better chance at success.

Rescues often become a spiral of resource consumption and escalating time pressures

In their attempts to save a failing project, businesses are likely to throw large amounts of money and personnel at the problem. But without the right methodology, those big bucks and additional personnel can’t fix everything.

Unless a lack of funding or staff was a root cause of the failure, a massive consumption of those resources might not lead to success. It will just become an expensive cycle that can burn through financial reserves and employees’ energy in no time flat. This has another downside that will only further degrade project performance—by depleting your resources in the near term, future initiatives might have even less chance of achieving success because needed staff or budget allocations are no longer available.

Your team may also resort to cutting corners as the target completion date approaches. But even if your project gets to the finish line on time, it probably won’t deliver the expected results.

A proven project management methodology can help turn this self-defeating process around by directing your resources more effectively, instead of simply adding more people and money to a strategy that didn’t make good use of them originally.

PMAlliance, Inc uses a team of highly experienced and certified professionals to provide project management consultingproject management training and project portfolio management.

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