“In critical and baffling situations, it is always best to return to first principle and simple action.” Winston Churchill
Sometimes, a new project manager may be required to take over an existing project, which may have been in trouble for various reasons. You can revive a troubled project by going to the basics. Do not mend a rag, it will become worse. The preferred approach is to review and renew the project concept and planning.The following are the key steps to taking over and reviving a troubled or existing project:
- Review the current status, by referencing the existing project documents (project charter, milestones timeline, project schedule, integrated project plan, issues and risks records, and financials).
- Discuss with the existing core project team to review the status, issues and risks, challenges and experiences. Brainstorm options for resolving the identified issues and moving forward.
- Interview and discuss with other key stakeholders (including senior management team) on their expectations, concerns and support.
- Prepare a position paper, indicating the current status, key issues and options for the project realization (or cancellation, if appropriate); and recommend the way forward to the appropriate governing body. The goal is to maximize value and profit or minimize losses.
Depending on the outcome of the review and the approval received, you may have to re-activate or cancel the project with adequate closing documentation.