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Despite all of our best efforts, some projects end up in trouble and they need to be ‘saved’ or ‘shut down’!

Making the ‘shut down’ decision is very difficult but must be considered once a project that is in trouble is identified.  Some of the questions I have used in the past to determine whether a project is salvageable or not are:

  • How much of the currently approved Project Budget is still available to spend?
  • What do the Project Sponsors think went wrong and are they supportive of the effort that may be required to save this one?
    • This will play into the answer about the remaining budget and whether the Business Sponsors are willing to provide additional funding when needed!
    • Will the Recovery effort impact other planned and / or active projects that have a comparatively higher priority?
    • Is the Scope of the project still representative of the Business need that justified the project and its changes to date?
    • Are there known Risks, Issues, and Open Changes that Executive Management, the Business Sponsors, and the Technical Management and staff agree are representative and complete regarding the things that need to be fixed so that the project can be  turned into a success (or at least not a grave failure)?
    • How many of the people and resources that are assigned to the project can remain on the project while we try to salvage it?
    • How many of the people who are or were assigned to this project should NOT be on the ‘salvage’ team and WHY?
      • If some of the project people are negative about the project and its prospects for recovery, they may not be the best people to have work on the salvage team.

If a “Project Recovery Assessment Team” can agree that the answers to these questions regarding this particular project are supportive of a “Salvage Attempt”, then the Executive Management, Business Sponsors, and Technical Management must agree on a Project Charter for this recover effort and prioritize it with other efforts already in planning or underway.

With this agreement, the planning and execution of the project salvaging effort can begin.  If not, then sometimes “You have to shoot your own dog!” as a very wise person once wrote!

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