Project Recoveries Are Surprisingly Easy (But Expensive)

Project recoveries are really fun.

They appeal to the ego because you are striving to achieve something that the previous team failed to do.

They are also surprisingly easy.

There are multiple reasons for this.

First and foremost, if the project failed and the organization is trying to recover it, there really must be a very good reason for delivering it.

No one spends a lot of money, fails and then makes the same reinvestment if they aren’t absolutely sure that they really need this project to succeed.

Given that one of the main reasons projects fail is a lack of clarity over the business case, you’re already off to a good start.

Secondly, everyone involved is feeling guilty. The reasons the previous project failed were complex, but they have had big discussion, played the blame game and put someone’s head on a stake.

But although the corporate lynching was tremendous fun, people know privately that, well, they could have done just the tiniest bit better themselves.

Most people have a pathological dislike of making the same mistake twice so they are all committed to doing better this time around, or at least, they’ll make different mistakes.

So the only fundamental question to address when you start a project recovery is exactly how much can be recovered.

The depressing answer is usually somewhere between “nothing” and “not very much”.

If the project has gone wrong to the extent that it requires a formal recovery rather than just cleaning up, you have to ask yourself: is there anything at all that you can rely on?

Most of the time not.

And that is why project recoveries are so expensive.

You have to redo (almost) everything that was done so far.

In a nutshell: Project recoveries are surprisingly easy, but they will cost a lot.

Originally published at https://www.henricodolfing.com.

I help C-level executives in the financial service industry with interim management and recovering troubled technology projects.