4 Quick Steps to Get Your Project Back on Track
Are there projects in your organisation that are clearly off track but you still continue funding them to keep afloat? Chances are you’re involved in at least one project that needs to be reviewed and updated to meet its final goals. In this article, we’ve collected questions to help you determine whether your project can be recovered, and steps to get it back on track.
Start with gathering data to know whether the project is heading for success or failure. This is the first step to making the assessment of the current state of your projects. When you have enough data, it’s time to ask questions and see what’s going wrong:
- Are there any critical issues that keep opening up but they’re not getting resolved?
- Is your project scope constantly changing?
- Is your project constantly behind the schedule, despite all your efforts?
- Are there any competing deliverables that distract your attention?
If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, this is a clear sign you have to cut off the project – or radically restructure it. After all, nobody wants to throw money on what’s is not going to pay off and can even cause more losses.
If there is still something to be saved, and you decide to keep on and bring the project to a successful end, ask the following questions to determine your course of actions:
- What can be saved?
- What can be delivered within the time and budget that are left?
- Is the current plan realistic?
- Do we have the right team leader to finish the project?
- Is the management doing enough to support the project?
So in case a) something that can be saved and delivered on time and budget; b) you have a solid plan, the right leader and the management team to support the project, then the following four steps will help you get back on track and complete the project successfully.
Step 1: Create an accurate picture of the project’s status
Get as much information as possible to make the correct assessment and make conscious decisions about what to do next. These four question will help collect the key data:
- What has already been completed and what is still pending?
- How critical is the delivery date?
- What functionality must be delivered by the due date?
- Is the team willing to change the project scope, dates, budget?
The last question is extremely important because your team is your key stakeholders, and you should gain their support to make the change work. Ask your team what they think has gone wrong and get their suggestions for improving the situation.
Step 2: Prepare your team for change
Every person involved in the project (including the executives) should understand and accept that the current project needs to be fixed. They should also agree that the existing approach is not working and it should be changed to meet the project goals.
Once everyone has accepted the need to change, agree on what can be delivered within the given time and budget, and establish metrics to control the recovery process.
Make sure your goals and expectations are realistic, and the team has everything it may need (space, equipment, training, a supportive environment) to complete the project successfully.
Step 3: Develop a plan for change and recovery
Consider your new project scope and develop a clear and realistic road map to achieve new objectives. Add several milestones to track your project’s health and notice any deviations early on.
Step 4: Put your plan into action
When executing the new plan, all stakeholders should know they are accountable for the project recovery. Make sure they are on the same page and work in sync.
Clear communication is crucial, so decide in advance how information will be distributed, how urgent questions will be addressed and how decisions will be made.
Check with your success metrics to have a better control over the project recovery and be quick to make changes when any troubles occur.
Getting a project back on track is never easy – it takes much time, focus and commitment. Your team will be performing under great pressure, so don’t forget to recognize their efforts and celebrate positive achievements to keep the team morale high.