At some point, most of us have had to take over a project that is circling the drain. If you can pull it back from the brink, Propelleryou walk away a hero, but these troubled projects come with a lot of risk and a bad rep so rescuing it will be a challenge at best.

First of all, how do you know a project is failing? The obvious signs include budget overruns, not delivering what the customer expected, the project is seriously behind schedule or the quality is not acceptable.

So if you are the lucky one to be parachuted in to save the day, here’s a couple hints for the road to recovery:

  • Conduct a review. Find out just how bad the situation is – the project may be in crisis or a mess, but still considered worth salvaging by the sponsor.
  • Assess everything. Get the facts of the project (scope, schedule, budget, resources, quality, reports, interview team members, discover root causes of problems) so you have a start point for decisions and action
  • Create a plan. Based on the findings from the assessment, there could be changes in the approach for the project (goals, schedules, scope etc).
  • Work the plan – with focus. This is now job 1 so manage and track the action items as if your project life depends on it – because it does. This will be a period of dedication to tactical work, frequent status meetings and reports, a sense of urgency (but not panic) and plenty of communication.
  • Keep monitoring. Once the crisis has been resolved and the project saved, keep monitoring for a period of time to be sure things stay on track.

Don’t be too discouraged if despite your heroic efforts the project gets killed anyway. We call these ‘character building’ projects and they will be part of your project management life. They make excellent lessons learned and a priceless leadership experience.

Do you have a troubled project that needs saving? Contact us at