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Topics: IT Project Management
A Crisis Project
Network:701



As a PM you might come across an assignment , where you join in mid of a project which is goung through crisis, which is, Project timelines are not met, Quality of deliverables is questionable and not accepted by the client, Milestone payments are held up, quality of manpower employed is inferior due to the constraint of skill availability, their timing and personal issues are also coming in the way, multi ethnicity team forces are at play, its a total damage, do you see a way out?
How to drive such a project out of this crisis and deliver?
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Network:524



Satish - what you describe is a rescue initiative and it is a specialty of mine having done 7 mid scale ($5-$35 million) assignments over the past 12 years..

The approach I use is modeled on medical triage.

#1 - Get the proper authority to act and have senior management communicate that to the stakeholders.
Often times clients want the problem(s) fixed but they also want to maintain the status quo. This never works. If it did, the issues causing the problem would disappear on their own.

#2 - stop the obvious bleeding
This is a 1st level triage. Depending on what is happening, action here may be as serious as bringing all activity to an immediate halt until #3 can be performed.

#3 - diagnose the root cause(s) of the trouble
Depending on the size, scope and nature of the project, this can take anywhere from a couple of days to 2 weeks to do. The diagnosis yields those things which need to be "fixed" before the project can be put back on track.

#4 - fashion treatment plan options
With the information obtained from #3, treatment options are laid out and discussed/tested among the appropriate stakeholders for validation and approval.

#5 - execute the plan
With all on board and in agreement to a course of action, then the 'doing' begins. For critical, time sensitive initiatives, I typically increase key resource check-in cadence to daily (although I've done twice a day when things needed to be very fast and many resources over disparate time zones were involved).)

It goes without saying that each initiative is different. This model works best for business process and technology initiatives, but I don't see why it wouldn't work for construction, engineering or design projects.
...
2 replies by Rami Kaibni and Satish Sharma
Feb 16, 2017 1:30 PM
Satish Sharma
...
Hello Cris,
I am very much impressed and your approach is very practical. I can vouch this as I had gone through this kind of assignments in real life.

At times it is difficult to give things a halt as the situation case might not warrant, and disparate people group with different knowledge level and understanding do not come to terms of a truce so easily, so you have to quickly move to collaborate and see how the situational boil could be brought down.

But it takes lots of experience and behavioural as well as technical proficiencies to sail through such a situation.
But once again I am very impressed by your methodical approach and can believe this works.
Feb 16, 2017 5:29 PM
Rami Kaibni
...
Cris,

Great and very detailed reply.

Satish,

It happens all the time ans there is always a way out. Sometimes the way out can be without further damage but other time you have to sacrifice something to straighten things up. I also agree with what you've mentioned: It is not easy at all and it takes someone with vast experience to do so.
Network:1341



Simple: Is a mattef of organizational governance. Project manager is accountable for making all information needed for governance people to take a decision. The worst thing you cn do is any other thing because you as,project manager do not have the whole picture.
...
1 reply by Satish Sharma
Feb 16, 2017 1:20 PM
Satish Sharma
...
Thanks Sergio , there was lots of politics and behavioural issues, which led to drastic situation like I described, it is a real life example.
Network:701



Feb 16, 2017 12:59 PM
Replying to Sergio Luis Conte
...
Simple: Is a mattef of organizational governance. Project manager is accountable for making all information needed for governance people to take a decision. The worst thing you cn do is any other thing because you as,project manager do not have the whole picture.
Thanks Sergio , there was lots of politics and behavioural issues, which led to drastic situation like I described, it is a real life example.
...
2 replies by Satish Sharma and Sergio Luis Conte
Feb 16, 2017 3:21 PM
Sergio Luis Conte
...
Sure. I know about that and I faced this type of situation lot of time. But is up to you to absorb responsabilities that are out of,your scope and possibilities to solve. As we,say,in my country, Argentina:I talked with God abput project manager duties and we agree on this: He will not perform as project manager, i will not make miracles.
Feb 17, 2017 7:44 AM
Satish Sharma
...
Interesting example...thanks
Network:701



Feb 16, 2017 12:48 PM
Replying to Cris Casey
...
Satish - what you describe is a rescue initiative and it is a specialty of mine having done 7 mid scale ($5-$35 million) assignments over the past 12 years..

The approach I use is modeled on medical triage.

#1 - Get the proper authority to act and have senior management communicate that to the stakeholders.
Often times clients want the problem(s) fixed but they also want to maintain the status quo. This never works. If it did, the issues causing the problem would disappear on their own.

#2 - stop the obvious bleeding
This is a 1st level triage. Depending on what is happening, action here may be as serious as bringing all activity to an immediate halt until #3 can be performed.

#3 - diagnose the root cause(s) of the trouble
Depending on the size, scope and nature of the project, this can take anywhere from a couple of days to 2 weeks to do. The diagnosis yields those things which need to be "fixed" before the project can be put back on track.

#4 - fashion treatment plan options
With the information obtained from #3, treatment options are laid out and discussed/tested among the appropriate stakeholders for validation and approval.

#5 - execute the plan
With all on board and in agreement to a course of action, then the 'doing' begins. For critical, time sensitive initiatives, I typically increase key resource check-in cadence to daily (although I've done twice a day when things needed to be very fast and many resources over disparate time zones were involved).)

It goes without saying that each initiative is different. This model works best for business process and technology initiatives, but I don't see why it wouldn't work for construction, engineering or design projects.
Hello Cris,
I am very much impressed and your approach is very practical. I can vouch this as I had gone through this kind of assignments in real life.

At times it is difficult to give things a halt as the situation case might not warrant, and disparate people group with different knowledge level and understanding do not come to terms of a truce so easily, so you have to quickly move to collaborate and see how the situational boil could be brought down.

But it takes lots of experience and behavioural as well as technical proficiencies to sail through such a situation.
But once again I am very impressed by your methodical approach and can believe this works.
Network:524



Thanks for the kind words Satish.

You are spot-on with your comments about the difficulty of halting a project mid-flight. And it is not always an option that is easily 'sold'.

That said, much serious damage can happen if the political will is to continue doing the wrong thing while attempting to fix it, because the perception is that progress is being made, when perhaps the opposite is true.

If you haven't already, check out my free diagnostic to tell if an initiative is headed for trouble:
http://cpr1.exertusinc.com?code=PMcom

I'm curious to know how well the tool would have worked with the scenario you described.
...
2 replies by Satish Sharma
Feb 16, 2017 1:54 PM
Satish Sharma
...
I will surely get back, let me have look. Thanks!
Feb 20, 2017 6:06 AM
Satish Sharma
...
Actually Cris, Exertus is the word which worked for me there. Trust leadership I would say the tool extensively used and won over very hostile situation.
Network:701



Feb 16, 2017 1:47 PM
Replying to Cris Casey
...
Thanks for the kind words Satish.

You are spot-on with your comments about the difficulty of halting a project mid-flight. And it is not always an option that is easily 'sold'.

That said, much serious damage can happen if the political will is to continue doing the wrong thing while attempting to fix it, because the perception is that progress is being made, when perhaps the opposite is true.

If you haven't already, check out my free diagnostic to tell if an initiative is headed for trouble:
http://cpr1.exertusinc.com?code=PMcom

I'm curious to know how well the tool would have worked with the scenario you described.
I will surely get back, let me have look. Thanks!
Network:1341



Feb 16, 2017 1:20 PM
Replying to Satish Sharma
...
Thanks Sergio , there was lots of politics and behavioural issues, which led to drastic situation like I described, it is a real life example.
Sure. I know about that and I faced this type of situation lot of time. But is up to you to absorb responsabilities that are out of,your scope and possibilities to solve. As we,say,in my country, Argentina:I talked with God abput project manager duties and we agree on this: He will not perform as project manager, i will not make miracles.
Network:67582



Feb 16, 2017 12:48 PM
Replying to Cris Casey
...
Satish - what you describe is a rescue initiative and it is a specialty of mine having done 7 mid scale ($5-$35 million) assignments over the past 12 years..

The approach I use is modeled on medical triage.

#1 - Get the proper authority to act and have senior management communicate that to the stakeholders.
Often times clients want the problem(s) fixed but they also want to maintain the status quo. This never works. If it did, the issues causing the problem would disappear on their own.

#2 - stop the obvious bleeding
This is a 1st level triage. Depending on what is happening, action here may be as serious as bringing all activity to an immediate halt until #3 can be performed.

#3 - diagnose the root cause(s) of the trouble
Depending on the size, scope and nature of the project, this can take anywhere from a couple of days to 2 weeks to do. The diagnosis yields those things which need to be "fixed" before the project can be put back on track.

#4 - fashion treatment plan options
With the information obtained from #3, treatment options are laid out and discussed/tested among the appropriate stakeholders for validation and approval.

#5 - execute the plan
With all on board and in agreement to a course of action, then the 'doing' begins. For critical, time sensitive initiatives, I typically increase key resource check-in cadence to daily (although I've done twice a day when things needed to be very fast and many resources over disparate time zones were involved).)

It goes without saying that each initiative is different. This model works best for business process and technology initiatives, but I don't see why it wouldn't work for construction, engineering or design projects.
Cris,

Great and very detailed reply.

Satish,

It happens all the time ans there is always a way out. Sometimes the way out can be without further damage but other time you have to sacrifice something to straighten things up. I also agree with what you've mentioned: It is not easy at all and it takes someone with vast experience to do so.
Network:552



Project under crises is like a spoilt child ,very tricky and rather tough to handle and manage even to a proven/experienced babysitter .It is a formidable challenge even to the most experienced and qualified Project manager occupying the chair in the mid of the Project to set the disorder right in a shortest possible time .In such a case where nothing is in order ,Project will take it's toll in terms of time and money to bring the Project back on track .He will have to focus on the causative factors to understand the core issue involved which needs to be addressed, planned,resourced and managed in a collaborative manner to gradually drive the project out of crises .However,this will not happen with out the participation and active support and the will of all the stakeholders . I have yet to come across a Project manager, on a fast track project, who has been able to deliver crises Project with out penalties .
...
1 reply by Cris Casey
Feb 17, 2017 7:29 AM
Cris Casey
...
Having been the "babysitter", I agree with you Chandra. Although I am confused by your last statement "... deliver Project without penalties".

In all of the rescue initiatives I have managed, "penalties" (time, money, resource, quality) were already happening, hence the need for my services. The "trick", as I mentioned above, is to stop future significant penalties from occurring as quickly as possible.
Network:524



Feb 17, 2017 6:43 AM
Replying to Chandrashekhar Thatte
...
Project under crises is like a spoilt child ,very tricky and rather tough to handle and manage even to a proven/experienced babysitter .It is a formidable challenge even to the most experienced and qualified Project manager occupying the chair in the mid of the Project to set the disorder right in a shortest possible time .In such a case where nothing is in order ,Project will take it's toll in terms of time and money to bring the Project back on track .He will have to focus on the causative factors to understand the core issue involved which needs to be addressed, planned,resourced and managed in a collaborative manner to gradually drive the project out of crises .However,this will not happen with out the participation and active support and the will of all the stakeholders . I have yet to come across a Project manager, on a fast track project, who has been able to deliver crises Project with out penalties .
Having been the "babysitter", I agree with you Chandra. Although I am confused by your last statement "... deliver Project without penalties".

In all of the rescue initiatives I have managed, "penalties" (time, money, resource, quality) were already happening, hence the need for my services. The "trick", as I mentioned above, is to stop future significant penalties from occurring as quickly as possible.
...
1 reply by Chandrashekhar Thatte
Feb 20, 2017 12:15 AM
Chandrashekhar Thatte
...
Liquidated Damages/Penalties are applicable on intermediate as well as on completion milestones.Impact of such penalties,especially, on a crises project is unavoidable even to the most experienced and qualified Project manager .
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