You may be asked at some point to take over a failing project. When joining a failing project, you will have to assess the people, processes, and tools. Today, I want to focus on processes.
When I join a failing project, the first thing I want to understand is whether the scope is clear? I look at the documented scope, but I also take time to understand what people believe the scope is. I frequently find there is a mismatch between what is expected and what is documented. At that point, we take the time to align on scope, clearly defining what is in scope as well as out of scope for the project.
When you have a failing project you are faced with the question of whether to perform project CPR or let it die. There are times when a project shouldn’t be resuscitated, even if it’s not failing.
I had a client that had spent $1.5 on an HCM implementation. They were faced with a product that wasn’t aligning to their needs and a software provider that wasn’t responding to the issues. As painful as a decision as it was, they decided to kill the project and go back out to market for a new solution.
Companies are faced with a need to constantly be evolving and improving in order to effectively respond to the market. This pressure to evolve usually results in a long list of projects the company wants to complete in order to stay competitive, improve profitability, or respond to regulations. When I joined the board of the PMI Mile Hi Chapter, there was a list of 20 great projects we needed to undertake in order to improve the value we were delivering to our customers and ensure we were staying relevant. The team tried to take on all 20 projects. At the end of the year, how many were delivered? None. Companies must reduce the number of in process projects. Do less to do more. Too many projects result in:
When I once joined a project as a recovery consultant, the organization had already spent $10 million on a Salesforce implementation. Despite the amount of money invested, nothing was yet in production. It was one of the top three initiatives in the company. One of the first things I do during a project rescue is to understand the project org chart. As the team was walking me through it, they mentioned that we were to meet weekly with the sponsors. Sponsors? As in more than one? On this project, there were three, each from a different department.
Walking into my boss’ office to tell him I was quitting was one of the hardest moments in my career. I was in tears. I loved my job. My boss was wonderful. My team was fun. The company was a great company to work for. But it was time to leave. At university I took the Myers Briggs test. I remember sitting in class, reading about the best careers for an ENTJ. There was one that stood out to me: CEO. That’s what I wanted. Over time I forgot though, distracted by different career options. In my MBA I took a project management course and discovered an entire career field just for me. I poured everything into project management. I began volunteering at the Project Management Institute, worked on finding a project management job, and in general lived and breathed project management. Life as a project manager was great, but there was still something missing. Continue reading
“Independence is the paradigm of responsible, I am self-reliant, I can choose.” – Steven R. Covey. Covey explained that “we come from a place of assuming that the way we see things is the way they should be.” As individuals, we are often so focused on our own paradigm – the way we perceive, view, understand, or even interpret our projects. This can influence the the steps, effort, resources, or budget decisions necessary to make those projects successful. Continue reading
“Change management” and “sales strategies” are phrases not often used in the same sentence. They belong to two different professional worlds and it is doubtful that many change management consultants see sales techniques as important to their work. Interestingly though, when looking deeper into the concepts behind successful sales strategies, there are several important lessons that directly relate to an effective change management strategy. The following are four sales concepts that should be added to any change management consultant’s tool kit to improve their effectiveness with their clients: Continue reading
I worked for a VP who loved to empower us to get things done. The first time she said it to me, I felt my chest swell and I had confidence we could conquer the world, or at least execute the project. That confidence quickly vanished when I realized we weren’t really empowered. In order to advance the project, we were dependent on other parts of the organization – teams that we had no influence over. Sure, we could have conversations with these groups and attempt to gain buy in, but ultimately, it wouldn’t be enough because the challenges we were facing related back to the priorities that had been set for the entire organization. The conversations and decisions needed were way above our heads. That’s when I realize we had false empowerment. Continue reading
The project was struggling – over budget and behind schedule. It was a critical subproject of a larger program and delivery was critical. Senior leadership decided it was time to change the project manager, and I was brought in to lead a turnaround effort. As I was digging into the details of the project, I came to the conclusion that my predecessor wasn’t a bad project manager (thankfully he was just transferred and not let go). The project needed a different leader with a different style and set of skills. If you have projects in your portfolio that are struggling or the team is burnt out, here are some reasons it may be good to change the project manager: Continue reading
The key when we don’t see eye to eye is understanding where the other person is coming from. That’s not always easy. I found myself in a situation where someone else was assuming the worst about me and I couldn’t understand why. I’m a transparent person; so you don’t have to guess my motivations. Nevertheless, I was shaking my head in disbelief as someone accused me of things I would never do. It wasn’t until weeks later that I finally saw where they were coming from. The person had a scarcity mindset; something I have a hard time relating to since I have an abundance mindset.