How to Get a Failing Project Back on Track

Any project can fail for any one of a number of reasons. Even a seemingly simple piece of work that is run by an experienced project manager can come unstuck and cause no end of grief for everyone involved in it.

If this happens then the most important task is to get it back on track as soon as possible. The good news is that there are some things you can try that should definitely help in this respect.

Go Back to the Start

Is there a chance that this project was doomed from the very start? Perhaps you overlooked some vital information or failed to ask the right questions to the right people? Sometimes it takes a while for inherent problems in a project to come to light.

Looking back at the initial requirements document can help you to spot where the whole thing has gone off track. With a bit of luck, you will find out what the problem is before it is too late to fix it. Even if the project has been running for a long time, simply ignoring the issue isn’t an option.

Telling the stakeholders that you need to go back to the beginning isn’t likely to go down well. Yet, the alternative of just ploughing on with a failing project doesn’t bear thinking about.

Think About Your Team’s Training Needs

Could part of the problem be down to a lack of relevant skills? It might be that your team doesn’t have the knowledge that is needed to handle this particular project. If so, getting them trained could be all that is needed to save the day.

If they lack general project knowledge that something like PRINCE2 Foundation could help them immensely. Otherwise, it could be that some sort of specialist training is needed on certain software or a programming language.

Project workers need a wide range of skills, so every training course that they go on helps them to develop and to feel more confident about what the future holds.

Devise a New Plan

A poor plan is one of the biggest culprits for failing projects. If this document has been poorly put together then it is going to cause you no end of problems. Slavishly following a poor plan is going to make everything gradually worse as you progress too.

Could it be that you only need to tweak the plan slightly so that it makes sense and leads you in the right direction again? Or might it be that you need to rip the whole thing up and start again? Either way, the sooner you act the sooner you will have a plan that you can trust.

Look for Fresh Ideas

Sometimes there simply seems to be no way out of the mess that a project has ended up in. If you have racked your brains but can’t find a solution then it is time to look for fresh ideas. There are a number of ways that you can do this.

A team brainstorming session can be a wonderful way of getting hold of fresh new ideas that move the project in a new direction. Alternatively, you could speak to other project managers in the company, to see if they have ever been in a similar situation and can offer you some sensible advice.

Above all, if a project looks to be going wrong there is nothing worse than just standing back with your arms folded and letting it slide further out of control. By talking control of the situation right away you will begin the process of putting things right again.