Project Management

Rescuing Troubled Projects

Metrolina Chapter, , , and Brian Munroe

Even the most seasoned and skilled project managers may, at one time or another, find themselves at the helm of a troubled project. Having a project in trouble does not necessarily signal the project manager is doing a poor job. Projects can go off course for a variety of reasons, and some are outside the span of your control. What are some of the common causes for projects to fall into troubled waters and what are some prudent steps to get the project back on course?

If you poll a group of seasoned project professionals with the question, “What are the chief causes of troubled projects?” you are likely to receive a variety of responses, though there will be some commonly attributed causes. At the macro level, projects generally fall into trouble for one or more of three reasons: 1) Poor Planning 2) Misaligned Expectations 3) Ineffective Risk Management. Let’s elaborate on each of these points.

Poor Planning: Planning is a foundation of project management. Within the context of this article, planning is not limited to the development of the “Project Plan.” Having a well-defined project plan, with realistic estimates and work packages covering each necessary activity to achieve the project objectives, does not inoculate a project from falling into trouble. Proper planning includes identifying all project stakeholders, understanding their …


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"Only those who have been in the frying pan are really qualified to talk about the heat."

- Winston Churchill