Published on January 31, 2014
Recovering Troubled Projects Effectively - By Shantanu Bhamare, PMP, MBA Introduction : The outsourcing of IT activities around the world as a result of globalization has driven the growth of global IT outsourcing or IT offshoring. Software projects are increasingly sent from high-cost countries to low-cost offshore countries. However unfortunately IT field is not matured yet compared with other fields where in processes are matured and there is higher chance that project will be completed on time and within budget because of the inherent complexities and uncertainties of software projects, they continue to experience poor performance problems and finally go into troubled state from which may be recovered or may not based on the situation. This article is divided in two parts, in First part we will see how to start New Project in Healthy state, in Second part we will see how to Recover Early Warning / Troubled Project with structured approach. Part I : Starting new project in healthy state. As proverb goes “A good start is half the job done” so we will focus how to start new project in healthy state. We need to have a process that establishes necessary support, relationships, agreements, and procedures to successfully manage the execution of the contract. That provides an understanding of the project’s goals/objectives, the risks, and any delivery constraints learned during the sales cycle. That identifies the Project Management Work Products required to start a new project. As well as the activities to create a collection of plans, processes, procedures and records that direct all project team activities and provide the current state and history of the project. This complete process goes in 5 stages. Stage 1 Initiation : When new project is started send notification to your team which will responsible to start new project in healthy state, this team could be your PMO team or separate dedicated team, for our discussion let’s assume it’s PMO team. Send all documents of the new project like contractual documents, requirement document, Proposal Baseline etc. to PMO team so that they will come prepared for planning meeting. Stage 2 Planning : As we know most the project fail because incompetent Project Managers working on the project. Hence it’s imperative to do validation whether competent Project Manager is assigned to project with right skills, domain knowledge, etc required for the Project. Have Solution walkthrough, Understand Contract, & Project Deliverables, Review: Actual vs. Solutioned, Assess risk and identify need for resolution, set up governance. Have gaps found during reviews documented and then set milestones to close these gaps. Stage 3 Deployment : Create all quality related document as per your organization standards like Project Plan ,Schedule, Staffing-Skills, Rotation Plan, Financials Plan - Tech Environment Plan, Communication Plan, Project Governance, Business Continuity
Pan (BCP), Controls & Compliance, etc. Setup Integrated `Review’ calendar, Signoff with all stakeholders, Agree on baseline. Stage 4 Project Familiarization and Process Orientation : In this stage do Briefing to Project team On Contract & Project, have Process Method & Tools orientation to project team, have PM Plan walkthrough and have On boarding / off boarding plan. Stage 5 Completion of Process: In this stage have Project Management Review (PMR) with Sr. Management team and Quality Team of your organization, have Non Compliance (NC) / gaps documents and work on closing those NCs / gaps. Once quality team verifies that all open NCs/ gaps are closed this complete process of starting new project healthy we can say is complete then after this have periodic Project Management Review (PMR) to ensure there are no residual NCs or new NCs. Part II : Recovery of Early Warning / Troubled Projects. Troubled projects do not go from Green state to Red state overnight, there are always early warning signs, but they are often overlooked or misunderstood. Symptoms of early warning of project could be Project scope changes constantly, unclear and ambiguous business specifications, Communication difficulties between onsite and offshore team members, misunderstanding of requirements by the offshore team, stakeholder involvement and participation are missing , unclear roles and responsibilities, in Project Management Review (PMR) with Sr. Management team there are Major have Non Compliance (NC), in Customer Satisfaction survey customer gives low rating and or there are high escalations from Customer, Project is not meeting timelines (schedule variance) and or project cost is much more than planned (cost variance), Team is de-motivated and or working over time to meet deadlines. According to no of surveys conducted like Schmidt et al., Havelka et al., McKeeman, Jones etc. The ratings were made on a scale of 1-10 (10 = very important, 1 = unimportant). The most important Early Warning Signs identified by clients and vendors as well as their categories are given in table below : Early Warning Signs 1. Project scope changes constantly 2. Unclear and ambiguous business specifications 3. Lack of transparency and openness to discuss about problems/delays 4. Communication difficulties between onsite and offshore team members 5. Lack of documented requirements 6. No quality assurance procedures in place Categories Formal process Formal output Average Client and Vendor Ratings 7.61 7.61 Communication 7.56 Communication Formal output Formal process 7.56 7.39 7.28
7. Misunderstanding of requirements by the offshore team 8. Stakeholder involvement and participation are missing 9. Serious quality issues in deliverable items 10. Consecutive failures to meet deadlines 11. Project manager cannot effectively lead the offshore team and communicate with clients 12. Onsite coordinator cannot communicate effectively with offshore team members 13. Unclear roles and responsibilities 14. Ineffective schedule planning and/or management 15. Lack of communication between clients and vendors 16. Project team members do not have required business knowledge 17. No questions asked by vendor team members 18. No change control process in the project 19. Issues not resolved in a reasonable time 20. Lack of top management support and commitment to the project 21. Project team members do not have required technical skills Communication People Formal output Formal process 7.22 7.11 7.11 7 Communication 6.94 Communication Formal process Formal process Communication 6.83 6.72 6.72 6.56 People Communication Formal process Formal process 6.5 6.39 6.06 6.06 People 6 People 6 Recovery of Troubled Projects is done in following 3 stages. Stage 1 Review & Assessment : Not all Troubled Projects can be recovered. One has to do through Review and Root Cause Analysis done to come to conclusion whether project can be recovered. Some reasons why a recovery is not possible or troubled project should be cancelled like Business benefit cannot be delivered, Political environment is not supportive to continue it further, Sponsor has lost interest, Significant Business needs have changed and or new technology is required, Breach of contract, etc. In this stage do Review and Assessment of all above Early Warning Signs, Identify major Risks, Opportunities, and problems, review all project documents including contractual documents, project finance related documents, etc. and come up with findings. Stage 2 Developing Recovery Plan : If findings of Stage 1 is positive which gives indication that the project can be recovered then develop Milestone based Recovery Plan. Develop a plan which will lead to successful recovery of the project. Some of the corrective actions could be Improving communication, stakeholder management, Re-baseline the project by reducing the scope and or new project budget, adding and or removing resources, resolving problematic technical issues, Increase the process productivity by focusing on shortterm improvements, use of more
automation to reduce timeline, use of better tools & techniques and last option on top of above could be replacing the project manager or bringing in a consultant to manage recovery who is more experienced to head the recovery effort. Stage 3 Executing Recovery Plan : Execute recovery plan as developed with new baselines in order to restore it is healthy state. Getting stakeholders buy in for changes needed to bring the projects back on track, changed could be changes in scope, budget, resources, etc. Validate estimation and come up with new estimation with accuracy, have accurate forecast of project completion date, monitor and control execution with top most priority, keep validating identified Risks and Issues and take corrective actions as necessary, monitor all key stakeholder and keep them informed by distributing weekly status update and last but not least have period review to ensure execution is as per developed recovery plan. About the Author Shantanu Bhamare, PMP®, MBA is a Project Management Professional (PMP) certified by Project Management Institute (PMI), USA. He is a Bachelor Of Engineering in Computers from Pune. He has also done Diploma In Advanced Computing from CDAC, Pune, Mobile Computing from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Bombay & MBA in IT & Finance. He is currently working with TIBCO Software as a Program Manager after 6 years long tenure with IBM as a Deputy General Manager. As well as he is former Vice President of PMI Pune Deccan India Chapter. He over 20 years of professional experience in the IT industry on software projects enabling a wide variety of domains such as eCommerce, CRM, Telecom, Finance and New Product Development. He has been Program Manager for series of Product development and Programs, working for three different continents, projects with diverse work cultures, projects executed remotely and different organizational models with leading teams in the range of 300+ resources directly. He was Chief Guest / Guest Speaker in no of Management colleges like International Institute of Information Technology (I2IT), MIT School of Management (MITSOM) & Department of Management Sciences (PUMBA), Symbiosis Institute of Business Management (SIBM), Indian Institute of Business Management (IIBM), International School Of Business Management & Media (ISB&M) , Foresight Group Of Institutes, Sinhgad Institute of Management, etc. © 2014 Shantanu Bhamare, PMP®, MBA : No part of this article may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, manual, photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without prior written permission of the author. Author Contact Details : Email : firstname.lastname@example.org Blog : http://sbhamare.blogspot.com/ , Website : http://sbhamare.weebly.com LinkedIn : http://www.linkedin.com/in/sbhamare , Twitter : http://twitter.com/sbhamare YouTube : http://youtube.com/sbhamare1 , Facebook : www.facebook.com/ShantanuBhamare
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