Project Recovery: Why Projects Go Wayward and Strategies to Bring Them Back to Green

In the dynamic world of complex business, technology transformation projects often encounter unprecedented challenges. More often than not most significant projects can involve multiple legacy systems, disparate data sources and formats, and 'capability and capacity' gaps.

The need to mitigate risk in these environments is crucial, however that is not a simple task. Project delays, technical stall, scope change/creep and unforeseen roadblocks can become all too common.

While it's natural for projects to face challenges, what defines a team's capability is their aptitude for recovery. With robust strategies, a proactive approach, and the right expertise at hand, even the most wayward projects can be navigated back to green.

Project recovery teams are generally engaged by organisations when a previous vendor(s) has failed to deliver. Wayward projects go late one day at a time, and by ignoring 'why', those days and their issues compound until it's recognised as a 'cease and save'.

But why do projects generally go off track, and more importantly, how can they be rectified? 


Let's start with why Projects can go wayward

Projects without clear objectives tend to drift aimlessly, leading to wasted resources and confusion. When planning is insufficient, tasks become chaotic, breeding inefficiencies. Scope creep, or the unanticipated growth of project aims, places undue stress on resources, resulting in delays. Poor communication often culminates in misaligned ambitions and missed targets. Without the requisite skills or assets, a project's advancement may falter. Outside forces, such as regulatory changes or global events, have the power to unexpectedly derail a project's trajectory.

Unclear Objectives: A project without a clear and well-defined objective is akin to a ship sailing without a compass. The absence of concrete goals can lead to confusion, misdirection, and wasted resources.

Inadequate Planning: Every project requires a detailed plan, outlining the steps, resources, timelines, and potential challenges. In its absence, tasks can become muddled, leading to inefficiencies.

Scope Creep: Expanding a project’s scope without proper time, budget, or resource adjustments can lead to overexertion and inevitable delays.

Ineffective Communication: Poor communication can result in misalignment, missed deadlines, and mismatched expectations.

Inadequate Skills and Resources: Capability and capacity gaps present from not having the right mix of skills or underestimating resource requirements can seriously hamper a project's progress.

External Factors: Sometimes, external factors such as regulatory changes, market shifts, or global events can disrupt a project's trajectory.


Strategies to bring Projects back to green

Harnessing a project's potential and planning the recovery begins with defining clear objectives; have they changed or are they still relevant?

A scope review generally forms part of the success steps, and once confirmed or adjusted and committed, will enable all the moving parts for a recovery to be realigned.

External factors like regulatory changes or global events can influence the journey, being adaptive can turn these challenges into opportunities, truly unleashing a project's potential.

Project Health Assessment: Start by assessing the current state of the project. Identify the gaps, issues, and areas of concern. Generally this requires external engagement, not an internal approach.

Reset Objectives: Refine and redefine the project objectives to ensure they're clear and achievable. Realigning with core business objectives can also help prioritise tasks.

Effective Communication: Foster open channels of communication. Regular status updates, feedback loops, and alignment meetings can ensure everyone is on the same page.

Scope Management: Reassess the project scope. If necessary, descope certain elements or reallocate resources to ensure that the main objectives are met.

Resource Augmentation: Sometimes, projects may require additional hands or specific skill sets on deck. Consider technology contractor staffing, consultant placement, or temporary staffing solutions to bolster your team.

Implement Risk Management: Identify potential risks and create mitigation plans. Having a proactive approach can help in averting future pitfalls.

External Expertise: Sometimes, an external perspective can provide invaluable insights. Consider bringing in consultants specialising in areas like master data management, data migration, logical architecture or app architecture review or financial system integrations to offer expert advice and course correction.

Stakeholder Management: Ensure that stakeholders are informed, engaged, and aligned with the project's revised direction. Their buy-in is crucial for smooth execution.


Defining when and how to move forward often requires a little help.

While it's natural for projects to face challenges, recovering a wayward or 'red' project requires a mix of expertise.

4impacts project recovery services are delivered in support of robust strategies, using proactive approaches, and the right expertise to navigate even the most wayward projects back to green.

Our cross-industry experience ensures we can identify the best approaches and make recommendations that make sense to your specific delivery and operational challenges to get your projects back on track.

Getting your projects back to green can start with a simple chat


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