what’s pushing it off the rails and how
to get it back on track—quickly.
“There is a limited window of
opportunity for a troubled project to be
easily recovered,” says Mr. Munroe.
“And the longer you wait, the more
time-consuming and expensive it can
be—if a recovery is still possible.”
Mr. Monroe points to a project he
recently helped salvage. Two buildings
on a remote office campus were going
through an IT equipment retrofit. The
project was in the final phase, which
involved connecting the buildings to
the main IT network via fiber optic
cable. However, no one noticed that the
cable would have to cross a railroad
track—which required an easement
permit that would take 12 to 18 months
Just two weeks before the project’s
scheduled end date, Mr. Munroe
received an emergency call and drove 14
hours to the site to deal with the situation.
After numerous meetings with the
stakeholders, he was in the parking lot
when he noticed a series of towers that
Mr. Munroe says, “we could have
applied for the railroad permit early on
and gotten the project done on time
and within the original budget.”
PICKING UP THE PIECES
Troubled projects can frequently be
traced back to a lack of comprehensive
upfront planning and a solid objective, says Geoff Vincent, principal
consultant at CITI, a change management consultancy in Newport Pagnell,
“One of the key tests to determine
whether a project is capable of succeeding
is whether the mission of the project is
well-defined,” he says.
Too often the answer is no—and
that’s a huge problem.
“Without a mission, there is no
alignment, no definition of what ‘good’
looks like, and everyone has different
goals,” he says.
In those situations, scope creep is
inevitable and costs can balloon.
When Mr. Vincent is brought in to
rescue projects, he begins by helping the
—Alex Julian, PMP, Resource IT Solutions, São Paulo, Brazil
“A rapid decline in executive commitment, redirection of funds away from a project or increasing vocal
dissatisfaction among the main customers and stake-
holders are all ominous signs that a project is failing.”
fed wires high over the terrain. Mr.
Munroe reached out to the tower owners, who agreed to use those static lines
to run the fiber optic cable to connect
“It was four times the cost and added
four months to the project—but the
project didn’t fail,” he says.
It did provide a painful lesson in
doing your homework.
“If the team had done proper stake-
holder planning and risk assessment,”
team define the objective, even if the
project is already in the works. He also
talks to key people on the team, identifies
stakeholders and reviews project docu-
ments before making any assumptions
about what—or who—caused the
problems in the first place.