Head Off Problem Projects

We've all seen the signs a project is about to blow up — a schedule goes awry, a budget exceeds its tolerance threshold. To prevent this, consider taking a few measures:

  • Secure executive support for major issues. Initial project documentation, such as a project charter and communications plan, will classify your project sponsors and champions, their roles and responsibilities, and escalation procedures. Rely on that, but also position yourself for frequent project status meetings with executives. 
  • Keep communications with sponsors and key stakeholders at a level that allows you to reach out to them when you may need them.
  • Be aware of your project environment at all times. Regularly review project plans against where you are and what's planned to come. It will help minimize the risk of an issue arising when you least expect it — a resource pushed to the point of no return, for example. 
  • Look for lessons learned. Review the project history for potential concerns you may want to monitor and document in your risk log. Meet with other project managers in and outside of your organization to learn about pitfalls they may have encountered and how they handled them. 
Prevention requires preparation, listening and awareness. As you interact with your team, your sponsors and other project managers, be sure to listen and look for pain points that warrant investigation. 

In my next post, I'll talk about recovery steps when facing a troubled project. For now, please share what you do to prevent troubled projects.
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