Is your project in crisis?

Published on August 06, 2015

Is your project in crisis?


Beautiful sunny morning, you woke up in a good mood, go to work. Today you have another meeting on the status of the project, of which you are the leader. Are you sure you are ready for the meeting?

Below you will find some simple questions, honest answers to which will help you understand whether everything is in order with the management in your project. I sincerely hope that these questions and recommendations help novice managers not to lose their vigilance and confidently lead their projects to success.

1. Do you have a plan for the implementation of the project with detailed tasks at least up to a week?
The project implementation plan, at a minimum, should contain a schedule for completing tasks with the performers responsible for these tasks, as well as evaluating the cost and duration of all tasks. The plan should be clear and agreed upon with the customer and all plan implementers.
2. Do you follow this plan? Check its relevance at least once a week?
3. Do you know all the tasks to be completed this week? Next week?
4. Do you know those who must complete the tasks planned for at least the next two weeks or are responsible for their implementation?
5. Do you have names and contacts of all of them?
6. Are there any reserves in the project that you know about?
7. Do you know what risks may affect the implementation of the project?
8. Do you have a plan to manage these risks?

The risk management plan should at least contain a list of risks that you consider important for the project, with an assessment of their impact on the project. For each risk, there should be a description of the actions associated with these risks that you intend to take. Actions can be aimed at reducing the likelihood of occurrence or weakening the impact of negative risks on the project or, conversely, increasing the likelihood of occurrence and strengthening the impact on the project of positive risks. This plan should also be understood and agreed upon with the customer and all plan implementers.

9. Do you know about problems that arose in the project?
10. Do you know which of the tasks of the project (at least those that should be implemented in the next two weeks) will be completed on time, and which are behind? Do you know the reasons for their lag?
11. Have you planned actions to reduce gaps and address issues you know about? Do you implement these planned actions?
12. Do you track the forecast for the completion date of the project as a whole and its stages?
If you can’t answer yourself affirmatively at least half of these questions, then you can most likely say that your project is in crisis, including because of your non-management of it.
A project crisis is a loss of control over it. If, by answering these simple questions to yourself, you understand that you are starting to lose control, try to determine the cause or causes of this as soon as possible and take measures to eliminate or reduce the influence of these causes.

To understand that your project is in crisis is not so difficult, I will give a few characteristic signs of a crisis in the project.

1. The number of unsolved problems only increases during the course of the project.
2. You do not know the reasons for the lag in implementation or the increase in the cost of implementing planned tasks.
3. At project status meetings, you only talk about achievements and hide problems and risks.

Project management is always associated with uncertainty management, because through the implementation of the project we want to achieve what we did not achieve before, to obtain a result that we did not receive before, or to get it in a new way for us. Therefore, in spite of how well you planned your project, during its implementation there will always be problems that you were not aware of when planning.

It is important to understand the differences between problems and risks. Risks can affect the progress of a project if they happen. Problems are what has already happened and what needs to be dealt with urgently.

It is also important to understand that a large number of problems and risks in itself does not speak of a crisis in the project - the more problems and risks in the project, the higher the qualification requirements of the project manager and project team. A crisis often arises as a result of untimely and inadequate project management, as well as a lack of qualification of the project manager and / or team.

Ask yourself these questions regularly and be honest with yourself when answering. If something went wrong, without delaying, try to find out the cause or identify the problem as soon as possible, and if you identify it, plan and deal with it without delay. Do not go inside yourself, information about the reasons for deviating from the plan, problems and plans for their resolution should be open, because to solve some problems you will need "heavy artillery" in the person of the sponsor, curator and customer of the project.
I wish you success in your projects!

Posted by Oleg Tumasov, Editor-in-Chief, Project Management Magazine.