You are a busy PM – your project plate full of challenging projects. Yet someone in charge thinks you need to be the one to take over a project – be it troubled, or just in need of a replacement leader. It’s hard to look “weak” and say, “No”, so you smile and nod. Rarely are you given the right of first refusal. They want you on it and you better take the assignment. Does this still sound familiar? I’m sure most of us have been at this point at some time or another. It’s nice to be wanted, but you get that uneasy feeling that your other work and projects may suffer and you may not come out looking good in the end no matter how well you turn things around on the newly assigned project. So accept it if you must, but do it cautiously, efficiently, and wisely.
When I need to jump on a new project like this, I generally go through a few steps to get up to speed…and for this scenario I’ll assume that the outgoing project manager has little to no ability to transfer knowledge to me as I come on board…the onus for that falls to me.
Here’s what I always try to do and recommend doing if you find yourself in this scenario: