Troubled Project: Project Recovery Strategies and Plan

A troubled project can be specified as a project where the difference in between what is expected and what has actually been achieved surpasses the appropriate tolerance limitations, pushing into a course that will unavoidably lead to failure.

By evaluating the nature of the tasks, we can say that any project is identified by a difficulty, whether for its intrinsic intricacy or its brief due date or low cost. To this regard, any project requires a level of control and management different from normal engagements, sometimes demanding a differentiated effort from the project manager and his/her team.

Nevertheless, when the variances go beyond an acceptable limitation of tolerance we have a troubled project that needs a particular effort. In this case, a specific technique strategy becomes necessary, by defining a possible recovery and even choosing for a very early termination.


Techniques for Project Recovery

When your project experiences trouble, there are usually several courses of action you can take to recover from troubles and attempt to make sure that the group meets critical project targets. Amongst your basic alternatives are those listed below, not in any certain order except for the first and last alternatives.

Push for compliance

Most of the times, your first strategy need to be to attempt to preserve the original plan. In other words, don’t simply presume that potential modifications should immediately be accepted or accommodated. Occasionally a firm idea of the dedication and an offer of support could suffice to promote better performance.

Recover in later tasks

This is occasionally a better alternative than trying to deal with the instant issue. Be sure that future strategies are reflected in the project schedule. However it’s still essential to circle back and determine what is triggering the deliverable or performance problem.

Add resources

Get added help. Make certain to think about the potential boost in project expense– and the possibility of decreasing returns when resources are added. Having three times the resources on an activity doesn’t necessarily mean it will be completed in one-third the time.

Accept substitutions

When something is unavailable or expected to be delivered late, consider substituting a comparable item. Be sure to consider any potential effects on deliverable performance.

Use alternative work approaches

Sometimes it’s possible to find a more expedient way to achieve the work. Nevertheless, changing work approaches often has an impact on cost and/or schedule.

Accept partial deliverables

Delivery of just some of the products you require may permit you to keep the project progressing.

Offer incentives

Offer a bonus or other inducement to improve performance. This strategy is often directed at suppliers. Penalty clauses may have the same effect, but are negative. This may deal with direct workers, but it’s not typically the best inspirational route to take with workers and it normally doesn’t have a high success factor.

Renegotiate cost and schedule targets

Explore the possibility of extending the due date or increasing the budget plan, if it helps. This will probably be easier if you can show that problems are because of estimating errors rather than performance problems. Renegotiating those targets won’t solve anything if there’s a real underlying performance issue that needs addressed. Otherwise, you’ll continually be experiencing the same issue or problems over and over again and just be losing time, money, and customer satisfaction fast.

Reduce scope

Reduce the quality and/or performance demands of the project deliverables so as to reduce the work required. This should ordinarily be your last course of action, when maintaining cost or schedule targets is of paramount importance. It’s imperative that stakeholders agree prior to you take this strategy. It’s never ever a perfect situation to lower performance expectations since it will nearly never review well with the customer. Again, use this as a last resort.

Recovery plan success factors and lessons learned

When conducting the assessment of the troubled project and its possible recovery it is possible to say that some of the lessons learned need to be presented again:

  • Always prioritize. There is never time or money to address all problems.
  • Be aggressive. Look for the issue and find the solutions.
  • Proactivity. Do not wait for problems to be solved by themselves.
  • Develop accountability lines. Know who is responsible for what within the project.
  • Praise experience. The authority to choose should be transferred to the most skilled person and not necessarily to the greatest hierarchical position.
  • Find the problems. Try to identify the problems in a structured way and as a team, thus avoiding that the project be found due to its problems.
  • Do not micromanage. Details prevent the whole from being easily identified.
  • The genuine problem may not be evident. It is not always that what needs to be solved is what is more apparent in the project. Check what is behind the curtains.
  • Look for and evaluate the impacts.
  • Never ever miss opportunities. A chance lost can be one of the biggest troubles for the project.
  • Poor decisions hurt. Making a wrong decision is as harmful for the project as not deciding at all.
  • Contextualize opinions. Outside opinions need to be inside a context and must be integrated.


Finally, it is important to break the cycle that created the problem. You should always remember the rules of Newton’s Law. This law states that objects in motion tend to stay in motion unless an outside force opposes them.



Preventing a project from ending up being a challenge needs proactive action. First of all, recognizing that a problem exists is itself already a problem. when are confronted with a troubled project, the very first thing to do is to accept that there is a problem and swiftly determine its magnitude, and the actions that ought to be immediately taken. In a project this close to threat, any day lost is a day that will never ever be recover …

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