In Part 1 of this two-part series on examining on a project that is going south on you, we looked at an out of control budget scenario and actions to take in response. Here, in Part 2, we’ll examine the ever growing issues list scenario and the problems of disengaged team resources or a disengaged project client and how to hopefully remedy those situations proactively.
The issues list is growing and growing
This may be one of the single most frustrating situations to be in. It’s happened to me on two projects – both of which I inherited with an already loooong list of outstanding issues that the project team was trying to resolve.
You can fight a fire with a garden hose, but you’re not likely to get too far and when it starts spreading… watch out.
On both projects, I found that I had to halt all current project work and block out time – two weeks on one project and a full month on the second one – to dive into and resolve the issues. Trying to move forward AND to resolve old issues was getting us nowhere. Yes, halting work and focusing key resources on issue resolution ate through the project budget quickly. But had we not done that – and it was a successful action for both projects – the project customer most assuredly would have pulled the plug on their respective engagements, and that would have been a far more significant disaster than an overrun budget with no more income coming in to offset any of it.
Disengaged Customer and/or Project Resources
Whether it’s your project resources or the customer, having critical project resource either unavailable or not fully engaged in what’s happening on the project can be frustrating. But it can also lead to added risks on the project:
- Overlooked issues
- Incomplete deliverables
- Decreased customer satisfaction
- Increased costs
- Extra time spent making decisions
- Completing tasks using less experienced or non-key personnel
The best way I’ve found to keep resources and customers engaged on the project is to keep them busy and keep them accountable.
For your project team, be sure to hold weekly internal meetings before the weekly customer meetings and make your team members responsible for their assigned tasks. Have them participate in the project status calls with the customer.
Likewise, with the customer, find jobs for them to do. Big or small, it doesn’t matter…the key is to give them tasks that they must be accountable for so they aren’t skipping meetings and forgoing project work for their ‘regular’ work. You need them available for key decisions and to review work – hold-ups and delays cost money.
Summary / Call for Input
These are just three areas that I’ve experienced a few times in my project management career. They stick out in my mind because they were incredibly frustrating and significant – for the project, for my customer, and for my executive management. Resolution had to happen, or the projects were going to collapse.
Readers – what are your thoughts? Feel free to share your thoughts on these items or share your own experiences and how you resolved them.