Unlike sinking ships at open sea, sinking projects don't have life boats, However, Just like sinking ships, sinking projects always exhibit signs of their impending doom (Yes, impending is correct)
So, how we do identify a sinking project?
Well, just like Jeff Foxworthy answered life's greatest mystery of whether one is being a redneck or not by stating....:
You Might Be A Redneck If:
We will do the same...:
You Know Your Project Might be Sinking If:
- Your project's stakeholders start practicing the arts of nail biting and hair puling (their own)
- Your project manager starts conversing in his or her own lingo while humming “eh, yeah, we are Ok”
- Your developers have given up and started spending most of their time on social networks & reddit looking for cute kittens
- Your project manager starts adding the project scope without any considerations to budgets, resources or schedule constraints
- Your Gannt chart looks like this
- All of your team members start talking to their invisible childhood friends
- Your project status reports & communication are scarce
- Your project manager says everything is going according to plan without having to produce his or her magical plan
- Your team start practicing the art silent communication
- Your developers starts calling in sick to interview with other businesses
- Your build process fails and you are told everything is under control
- Your deliverable schedule is changed to weekends and national holidays
The millions dollar question is what are the steps needed to bring this titanic to sea level?
Inexperienced managers would want to ask questions like how did we get here? who is responsible for this? why wasn't any of this communicated?
Don't do that. While the validity, value and/or necessity of any of these questions are not in doubt, this is not the correct time to demand answers and start watching the good ole blame game fold in front of your eyes.This is the time for you to own it and be a leader (not a manager)
Good leaders always shine in crisis, In order for you to shine and achieve such miracle, you have to be organized, committed and have the will to be the best cheerleader ever (without the outfit please, especially if you are a guy). Here is some ideas to assist you in your journey to the promised land of project management:
- Familiarize yourself with everything related to this project. This includes charts, project charter, scope, project vision etc…
- Meet with the all of your team members (project manager or Project owner (if you are an Agile org) to discuss the project’s current state (initial scope vs current scope, initial schedule vs current schedule and initial budget vs current project and the projected budget)
- Be a 100% clear that your primary objective is help finding a cure to the ailing project (don’t play the blame game. Seriously don’t)
- Write a detailed rescue plan (don’t name a single document detailed plan and share it everyone)
- Communicate your plan with your team, don't just send an email
- Meet with the project sponsors and ask them to recommit to the project based on the rescue plan
- Let your team know that you are here to help in anyway (even to get them coffee while they work). Your offer has to be sincere, don’t just say it, do it!
- Keep a close eye on the progress of your team and ensure their buy-in to your plan
- Start communicating religiously and make sure you give credit to at least a single team member when you send out your communication (yes, people like to be recognized for a job well done)
- Don't play the favouritism game (you cannot manage if you are seen as unfair)
Learn from your and others mistakes :-)