September 28 & 29, 2020 | Virtual
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Picking up a program or project mid-flight is always a challenge. There are some "it depends" related to the previous person's departure (new job, terminated, outright quit, etc). Here are some things I've done when taking over larger programs.
- Read an program charter/scope documents; if there are also component/project charters and scope statements, read those also
- Review the last 2-4 status reports
- Risk register review
- Meetings with executive sponsors, key stakeholders, project managers, anyone else who can see the bigger picture. Are their roles clearly defined?
- Ask lots of questions; Are we still on track? Are the benefits to be realized still valid? Team attrition. What are the key issues being faced? Why did the last person leave? Are we on budget? Are communications breaking down?
- Meet with the project teams and the previous program manager if available (or find them on social media and ask if you can have a quick call if they're not with the company)
- Frequent team meetings, especially early on, as things pick back up again
These are just some tips and I'm sure others would have more. In any case, it's not easy taking over a project, especially one in jeopardy where the team is angry and the previous person left things in a state of chaos.
Here's a repost of a blog article I'd originally written in 2017 on this topic: https://www.projectmanagement.com/blog-pos...-active-project
Hope it helps!
Kiron's blog is very helpful and a good start as is Jason's commentary. What I would add is "try to stay neutral" during your analysis of project status. Consider facts rather than opinions (typically opinions will be offered without solicitation and others will try an convince you of their take). Regardless if the project is in good or bad shape you will no doubt be different than your predecessor but recognize that the team needs to be convinced. You will be judging them as they judge you.
Look for the good/positive and expand on that.
In my experience, it mattered if I was coming on the project as a "cleaner' or a replacement.
In one project, I had to clean it up to deliver it to Prod. I was the 7th PM on the project with 7th Champion of the project. Creating relationships with stakeholders, taking care of the team - were not in my charter, I had to quickly deliver it to Prod.
Thus, after reviewing Risk Register, Action Items (tasks), project plan, I asked and received estimates how long reminder of WIPs need to get done. Obtained permission to get each WIP done (or not) - and moved the development/QA teams to get is done. People will look at you differently after you get one of these done this way.
On a project where I was just rolling on as a replacement, I would follow Kiron's long-term strategy outlined in the blog.
Peter's comments made me smile and nod in agreement but once the PM establishes a "no-bs aura" then the "opinionated" will lose stimuli to sway you one way or another.
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