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Most of us have been involved with an underperforming project or program at some stage. Sometimes we inherit them, sometimes we have unexpected factors occur when we are at the helm. Regardless of how we get in to trouble there are three key steps to get back on track as quickly as possible.

Step 1. Pause

There are many advantages to pressing pause for a short time when a project or program is not going to plan. While it can be a difficult decision to further delay a struggling job, it is much better to pause – course correct and continue than it is to carry on unabashed and hope things get better. A pause may not need to relate to every piece of work on the project, but it should, as a minimum relate to the governance cycle, as you will need the Sponsor and the key stakeholders focused on the next step.

Step 2. Evaluate

When you get agreement from stakeholders that a pause is a good idea a War Room should be established to hear from the key people on what is going wrong. This can be sometimes be challenging as there may be multiple perspectives and there can be organisational politics or hierarchy involved. The chances of this kind of dysfunction occurring are obviously less in well-functioning Agile environments but things still go wrong from time to time and teams can lose their perspective with teams failing to deliver on MVP for customers or to deadlines. Any delivery methodology in itself is not a precursor to delivery success.

The War Room should deliver at least some indications of the main issues and some initial thoughts on how to progress. When there are mixed views on the issues and how to resolve them, it can be helpful to get some external assistance in to provide a professional view on how to proceed and get back on track quickly. At Pledge Consulting we offer a 17 Point Project/Program Pulse check which looks at all the elements of project, program or portfolio delivery to quickly pinpoint the issues and provide the organisation with a heat map of health and a detailed roadmap to get to green.

Step 3. Reset & Continue

The roadmap to green will provide a detailed view of the project and may form the basis of a project re-baseline exercise.  Following the reset, work will recommence in earnest and the regular governance cadence will be reinstated. The roadmap will act as a navigation tool to guide project recovery and  to ensure that if elements of delivery are still not firing there will be early warning and clear actions on how to handle the issues. Need help getting your projects back on track, quickly? Talk to us today – we are here to help.