Unfortunately, things don’t always go as planned on the projects we run as project managers. That easily goes without saying because we’ve all had projects that experienced bumps in the road or redirections at some point during the engagement. If it’s minor, then you can fairly easily redirect the project and activities, reassign things where necessary, make slight adjustments to the plan and budget, and be moving forward very quickly in the right, new direction.
If the problem, issue, redirection, or project change is more major, then replanning is going to involve more extensive processes to make sure that you and project team have everything covered. If you find yourself in this situation, I have found that there are six key questions or actions to consider – basically as a checklist – to make sure you’ve covered all of your bases. After all, it can almost be like a mini (or major) restart on the project. You don’t want to miss some critical replanning process or task and have to deal with it later on.
Here’s my list…. Ask yourself these questions: Did you…
Determine what is the cause for replanning?
It’s extremely important to fully understand and document the cause for the replanning effort. When budget issues come up later on – and they will if much rework is involved – the more documentation on why you are off target (due to the replanning and project restart) and what the underlying causes were will help you keep the customer informed and hopefully save some customer satisfaction along the way. And the problem may have ultimately been the customer. Sometimes the customer may not remember that 18 months later when the project finishes $75,000 over budget. Document it now to save your neck later.
Determine what areas (e.g., cost, schedule, quality) of the project are affected by the replanning? The negative and positive impacts?
Every customer – and probably every PMO director and executive leadership team – is going to want to see this type of information on a big project and definitely if the amounts and affects are significant. Update the project schedule to show the variances that will result. Update the budget plan so your customer and management understand fully what affect the replanning will have on the project financials.
On the plus side, there may be positive impacts of the replanning and redirection effort. Maybe it was due to improved functionality in the software you’re providing that will greatly help the customer. Or maybe it was due to a major new requirement requested by the customer that will provide them a much better solution to meet their needs. Replanning isn’t always bad, not always negative. Document both the positive and negative aspects of the replanning effort and what it means to the final solution.
That is Part 1 of this two part series on stopping to rethink and replan a project in distress. In Part 2 we will look at our resource requirements as well as data requirements and what input we need from our available expert stakeholders and other resources to help us get back on track.