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Rescue the Problem Project: A Complete Guide to Identifying, Preventing, and Recovering from Project Failure


Back from the brink: presenting the first fail-safe recovery plan for turning around your most troubled projects!

When budgets are evaporating, deadlines passing unmet, and tempers flaring, the project team must to do more than point fingers of blame. With up to 65% of projects failing to meet goals and of those 25% canceled outright, what is needed is an objective process for accurately assessing what’s wrong—and a clear plan of action for ...

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Rescue the Problem Project: A Complete Guide to Identifying, Preventing, and Recovering from Project Failure

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Back from the brink: presenting the first fail-safe recovery plan for turning around your most troubled projects!

When budgets are evaporating, deadlines passing unmet, and tempers flaring, the project team must to do more than point fingers of blame. With up to 65% of projects failing to meet goals and of those 25% canceled outright, what is needed is an objective process for accurately assessing what’s wrong—and a clear plan of action for fixing the problem.

Rescue the Problem Project provides executives, project managers, and customers with the answers they require. Turnaround specialist Todd Williams has worked with dozens of companies in multiple industries resuscitating failing projects. In this new book, he reveals an in-depth, start-to-finish process that includes:

Techniques for identifying the root cause of the problems • Steps for putting projects back on track—audit the project, analyze the data, negotiate the solution, and execute the new plan • Nearly 70 real-world examples of what works, what doesn’t, and why • Guidelines for avoiding problems in subsequent projects.

Many books explain how to run a project, but only this one shows how to bring any project—and just maybe your entire organization—back from the brink of disaster!

Advance Praise for Rescue the Problem Project:

“Whether you are trying to prevent, identify, or recover a failing project, this book shows you how to analyze the interaction between people, process, and technology.” —Jackie Barretta, Senior Vice President and CIO, Conway, Inc.

Rescue the Problem Project addresses what everyone on the team, from the CEO to the individual contributor, needs to know about recovering projects. Furthermore, it suggests actions to guide corporate change and create an agile and aggressive company.” —Dick Albani, Vice President (retired), TRW, Inc.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“If you are a project leader determined to succeed…read an excellent book: Rescue the Problem Project.--Manager’s Minute

"If your project is troubled and constantly reporting a status of Red or Amber, then get your hands on a copy now.” --A Girl’s Guide to Project Management

“Reading his book is like being paired with the best mentor around and I read it like I do good fiction; totally absorbed.” --Change for Action

"Whether you are a seasoned project manager or at the beginning of your career, this book is for you if your project is in the red." --Project

"Project team members and managers responsible for overseeing any kind of project, whether formally designated or not, will benefit from reading this book and keeping it as a reference." - Quality Progress

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814416822
  • Publisher: AMACOM
  • Publication date: 3/20/2011
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

TODD C. WILLIAMS, PMP is a senior project audit and recovery specialist with over 25 years of international experience.

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Read an Excerpt

The Recovery Process

Rescue the Problem Project is for anyone trying to find the missing link in managing a project, regardless of whether it is in trouble. The project manager, customer,project sponsor, executive management, steering committee member, or individual contributor all have something to learn here. Although this book teaches how to recover a failing project, failure’s harsh lessons bring knowledge. The book is full of lessons to keep a project on track. The focus is to show what to do for a project that has gotten into serious trouble; trouble that is at the point of impasse where the team cannot come to consensus on the issues facing it. At this stage of the project, everyone is defensive; finger pointing and laying blame is the norm. The project has stalled.

These lessons teach a number of techniques to become a better manager and transform you into a leader. When recovering a project, solid teams are required. With red projects, teams are often beat up and demoralized. Therefore, the recovery manager must allocate a significant amount of time for rebuilding the team and regaining the respect of its members.

As outlined in Chapter 1, and discussed in detail in each section, this book will lead you through a series of steps that make up the recovery process once there is a realization of a problem. These steps are:

0. Realization of a problem: Management must realize there is a problem to solve before the process can be established.

1. Audit the project: Objectively determine the problems on the project.

2. Analyze the data: Determine the root causes for the problems and develop a solution.

3. Negotiate the solution: Meditate an acceptable solution between the supplier and customer.

4. Execute the new plan: Implement the corrective actions to the problems, and run the project.

Critical to success is management’s realization that a problem exists. This is step zero in the process (see Figure 1-2 on pg. 9). It is a prerequisite to all other steps. It enables you to build the outline of any process. For example, before planning a trip to the grocery store, you must realize that you need food. Then, you can plan the steps of the trip. Without this step, the problems and subsequent corrective action plan lack upper management’s endorsement, and the recovery will fail from a lack of its support. Chapter 2 discusses this.

It is worth pointing out the four integrally numbered steps of this process are a negotiation process:

Audit the project – Acquire data about the subject. Determine the customer’s goals based on what is truly valuable in the product—the items critical to quality. Analyze the data – Determine the options to meet the request. Look at the data accrued and determine the options available to solve the problems. Highlight the proposed solution’s advantages.

Negotiate the solution – Propose the options. Barter around the recommended solution to address concerns voiced by the customer and management. Achieve the highest value for all stakeholders. Execute the new plan – Close the deal. Document and implement the agreed on solution.

Chapter 14, which focuses on the negotiation process’ proposal and bartering step, discusses these. That being said, this book only covers the aspects of negotiation relevant to project recovery. You should spend some time with a good book on negotiation. Recommended Reading lists two such books.

Excerpted from Rescue the Problem Project by Todd C. Williams. Copyright © 2011 by Todd C. Williams. Published by AMACOM Books, a division of American Management Association, New York, NY. Used with permission. All rights reserved.



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Table of Contents


Acknowledgements xv

Foreword by Tom Kendrick xvii

Introduction xix

PART I Understanding the Process and Realizing

a Problem Exists 1

1 The Basics of the Recovery Process 3

2 Management’s Responsibility in

PART II Auditing the Project: Understanding the Issues 31

3 Assessing the Human Role in Project Failure 33

4 Auditing Scope on a Red Project 49

5 Determining Timeline Constraints 63

6 Examining Technology’s Effect on the Project 73

PART III Analyzing the Data: Planning for Project Recovery 81

7 Determining and Initiating Remedial Action 83

8 Building an Extended Project Team 93

9 Considering Options for Realigning Technology 109

10 Assessing How Methodology Affects the Project 119

11 How Agile Methodology Can Assist in a Recovery 131

12 How Critical Chain Methodology Can Assist in a Recovery 157

13 Comparing the Relative Value of Methodologies

PART IV Negotiating a Solution: Proposing Workable Resolutions 183

14 Proposing and Getting Agreement on a Recovery Plan 185

15 Dealing with “Unprojects” 205

PART V Executing the New Plan: Implementing the Solutions 213

16 Implementing Corrective Actions and Executing the Plan 215

PART VI Doing It Right the First Time: Avoiding Problems

That Lead to Red Projects 221

17 Properly Defining a Project’s Initiation 223

18 Assembling the Right Team 231

19 Properly Dealing with Risk 239

20 Implementing Effective Change Management 253

Appendix: Files on the Rescue the Problem Project Web Site 263

Endnotes 265

Recommended Reading 267

Index 269


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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 16, 2011

    Good resource with useful information and approaches.

    Ideally, we would never need a book like this. But, that's not the reality of the world. Todd Williams provides us with some very useful information about why projects go wrong and how the issues can be addressed. There is also a great list of additional resources. That said, the writing is occasionally a bit choppy. The case studies are too brief to be of real value and, unfortunately, are often simply stories of how the author came in to save the day. There is an absolute bias for agile methodology, but standard methodologies are not ignored and their value is usually represented fairly. You probably won't agree with all of the author's conclusions, but the book is still a useful tool.

    Bottom line - good book to have available for reference. Still looking for a great one.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 14, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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