Failing IT project? Get it back on track!

You’ve just realized that your project is failing. failing it projectThat it isn’t going to be on time or within budget. That you’ve bitten off more than you can chew. There’s that sinking feeling, and then the panic sets in. But, before you start breathing into a brown paper bag, take a second. It might not be as bad as you think it is. We’ve outlined the three-step process that will help you get from the initial discovery that your project is failing through getting your project back on track. Let’s get started.

 

3 Steps to Getting Your Failing IT Project Back On Track:

1.    Evaluate

Once you’ve realized that your project is failing, take a look at everything. Go back to the original project scope agreement, and see where the problems have arisen. Has the project grown into an unrealistic scope? Did you underestimate how difficult the project would be? Is your team unfamiliar with the technology? Is a piece of third-party technology giving you trouble?

Once you’ve pinpointed where you’ve gone wrong, figure out how you can go forward without repeating these mistakes. Do you need to cut the project scope? Do you need additional monetary or personnel resources? Do you need technical issues to be resolved?

Once you know where you’ve gone wrong, and what needs to be done to fix it, the next step is to decide whether or not you can complete the project with what you have. If you can, get your team back on track. If you know that you won’t be able to complete the project with the current time, money or resources with which you’ve been allotted, you’ll need to speak to your stakeholders.

 

2.    Communicate

When preparing to speak with your stakeholders, prepare an analysis of what went wrong and what needs to be done to fix it, as well as recommendations for moving forward. Make sure that you have several plans of action. For example, you might have alternative scope plans for products that would be produced on-time while you also draw up calendar schedules that encompass the current project scope.

Bring these findings, needs, and alternative plans to your stakeholders. Talk to them about what they can and cannot live without. You’ll have to negotiate with them in order to get realistic features, schedules, and budgets.

If they want the project to go on as is and on schedule, they’ll have to be willing to fork over the extra money for resources. If stakeholders want the project to be within the schedule and budget though, they may opt to decrease the project’s scope and leave features for future iterations.

In order for this project to be a success down the line, honest communication is necessary. Everyone needs to be on board with what the newest project scope entails as well as the estimated schedule and budget. Unfortunately, this is one of the hardest parts of the project recovery process. Don’t let it fizzle out here, but continue to come up with plans that will solve your stakeholders’ issues.

 

3.    Implement

Once you have agreed on a new project scope, build a new project schedule and scope agreement. Make sure that the calendar and the agreement are realistic, with the most important functions being the ones tackled first. The only way this project is going to be successful is if you have properly planned the project and stick to it’s scope.

Bring the new schedule and scope agreement back to your stakeholders and have them sign off on it. Then? Get back to work. Make sure that you’ve learned from your previous mistakes – whether it be scope creep or lack of resources. You don’t want to have to go back to your clients with another failure, do you?

 

Realizing your project is failing is one of the worst feelings. However, in the majority of cases, if you realize it early enough, the project can be salvaged. You just need to determine why your project isn’t going to plan and then bring these findings to your stakeholders. Once you negotiate a new project plan, stick to it. If you plan the new project scope correctly, you’ll be able to salvage the project. Props to you.

 

What would your biggest piece of advice be to people who are dealing with a failing IT project? Let us know in the comment section, or join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or LinkedIn.

 

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Thanks to Jim Linwood for the use of their respective photographs.